Published by Greenwillow Books on October 4th 2016
Genres: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository
Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?
Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.
Were there any funny stories while you worked on Spare & Found Parts? Or maybe, at that time, the book had a different name, which now makes you smile?
Spare & Found Parts actually comes from the working, rough project title of the novel, which – prepare yourself – was actually Sexy Frankenstein Project. I know, I know. This was something that my editor and I had a good cackle over during our first phone conversation. The initials, SFP, were scrawled over all my handwritten notes – I handwrite everything – and when I was trying to come up with a Serious Title, I stared at the three letters every day, and Spare & Found Parts just crawled out of them. I definitely have the handwritten page this happened on somewhere, too, amongst the heaps of notes now stored away. The project originated with a dare, from my husband CB and my friend Deirdre Sullivan (also a novelist) around the time that sexy monster books were everywhere, just post-Twilight. Something very serious and magical arose from what was originally a giggling session: trust that the book is now not very sexy, and not very Frankenstein either! It grew limbs and turned into something completely different.
What inspired and/or helped you in the process of writing?
This novel happened in fits and starts over the course of several years, and the majority of the first draft arose during a time when I was working full-time as a copywriter at a start-up. My agent, Simon Trewin, had encouraged me to pursue it, and had given me a deadline, which I was committed to completely. I would come home to our little apartment in San Francisco, where my best friend was living with me & my husband at the time. They’d watch TV, I’d sit with my back to them, rude as anything, headphones in, and write out my whole heart. I was realizing more and more every day that I couldn’t continue to copy-paste-and-edit restaurant reviews for the rest of my life, and in the morning in the office I’d listen to Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech. 19 minutes long, every morning, to remind me that art had to be made, despite everything else. After I quit that job, I nannied a lot, did a lot of babysitting, so I’d put on podcasts while pottering around with other folks’ children – specifically Welcome To Nightvale – to keep me inspired, to remind me that there was work to be done, worlds to be built. I worked in a terrific bookshop too, and seeing so many gorgeous books around me every day kept me determined. My friends and peers supported me completely, as did my family. They knew I was doing a mad thing, putting all my faith in this book: but they got me through to the other side.
Can you share your most favorite quote from your book? If it’s too spoilery, then your favorite quote from another book.
Oh wow, I’m a little nervous at this, but I’ll leave you with –
Julian didn’t even notice the kettle was missing.
Does that count as a teaser? 😀
How long did it take you to write your novel? What was easier to write: the beginning or the ending?
All told, from 2011 to the end of 2015. It was written in Dublin, then San Francisco, Lisbon, then Dublin again and Valentia Island, Kerry. The beginning has stayed more or less the same: Nell Crane finds a mannequin hand on the seashore. The prologue was one of the last things written, as it happens, though I won’t spoiler that for you. The ending has changed four times: finding the right place for Nell to wind up was challenging. She’s an unusual gal, and finding out what she really wanted was a journey in itself. The ending that exists now – if this was a choose-your-own-adventure or a video-game with multiple paths, would be the True Ending. There are a couple of far less hopeful ones, one that’s utterly bizarre, and one that’s such an awful cliffhanger that it was far too cruel a thing to do to any reader. None of it was easy, but all of it was an adventure.
If right now someone told you that he can perform any of your three wishes, what would you then wish for?
I have three wishes in mind, but I honestly feel that if I breathed them aloud, let alone committed them to paper, I’d break any chance of them ever coming true. I’m all about secrets.
If you could, would you write a letter to your main character? If the answer is yes, what would be the main theme of the letter?
I’d wish her luck and courage, tell her I’m sorry for putting her through the ringer, congratulate her for being an excellent thief. I’d tell her I saw Daft Punk live in concert once, I think she’d like that. I’d have to tell her where I was the day David Bowie died. I’d promise her I’ll see her again someday.
Thank you so much for your amazing answers, Sarah! I hope everyone is going to pre-order this book now!