E. Lockhart and Libba Bray: YA Authors and Pop Culture Aficionados

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Sometimes, Parnassus gets lucky enough to bring a tremendously popular YA author to Nashville (see: John Green). And sometimes, we get so insanely fortunate that we’re able to host two beloved New York Times-bestselling YA authors at the same time. That’s the case next Wednesday, October 4, 2017, when E. Lockhart and Libba Bray (yes, both!) will join us here on the bookstore stage.

Lockhart’s new book, Genuine Fraud, tells the suspenseful story of a young woman who uses her diabolical smarts to reinvent herself again and again; and it’s every bit as compelling as We Were Liars. Bray’s latest, Before the Devil Breaks You, marks the third installment in her fantastic Diviners series, about a group of young people with supernatural powers in the roaring 1920s.

We hope you’ll spread the word about E Lockhart and Libba Bray’s upcoming event. As a bonus, we’re delighted to present their responses to our Authors in Real Life quiz. Here’s what they’ve been up to in their off hours:


I’ve been listening to…

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 10.23.45 AMLockhart: Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.”  What I hear when I listen to it is an expression of all the anger, resentment, and ugliness that’s inside me and so many other women, put into the shape of entertainment. That’s precisely what I’m trying to do in Genuine Fraud.

Bray: Now you’ve done it. We’ll be here all day. I’m a total music freak, and I make playlists for every book I write. As I work on Diviners #4, it’s been a lot of Aaron Copeland. Also: Mamie Smith, Buddy Guy, Goblin’s soundtrack from Suspiria (also one of my favorite horror movies), Ray LaMontagne’s Ouroboros, PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem, and Arcade Fire. My son and I were just listening to the new Queens of the Stone Age LP, Villains, which I’m really digging. I was saddened to hear about the death of Michael Friedman, an enormously talented theater composer. Since then, I’ve been listening to the soundtracks of two musicals of his, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Fortress of Solitude. And I will listen to the soundtrack from Hedwig and the Angry Inch anytime, anywhere. When I want to feel good, I listen to a playlist called “Roller Rink,” which has a lot of 1970s funk and soul on it (Stevie Wonder, The Sylvers, The Jacksons. The Weather Girls, The Staple Singers, Johnny Nash, The Isley Brothers, The Ohio Players, Sly and the Family Stone). Last, I’ve been going over some tracks I’ve worked on in the studio. When I feel stymied while working on a book, I sometimes write songs instead. It’s the equivalent of kicking a stuck Coke machine, only in this instance, the Coke machine is my uncooperative brain.

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Bray: “I think this is a good shot of me. Really captures that ‘I’m on deadline’ feeling.”

I love to watch…

Lockhart: I binge-watched Jessica Jones.

Bray: Anything that helps me avoid writing. There’s some truly great TV happening right now. I’ve been into Legion, Master of None, Handmaid’s Tale, The Expanse, and Insecure. I’m also a big horror fan, both books and movies, and I watched a psychological horror movie recently that I thought was pretty terrific called The Invitation. It felt like commentary on Trump’s America. I can’t say enough good things about this film. Go watch it.

Something I saw online that made me laugh, cry, or think…

Lockhart: The We Need Diverse Books Foundation advocates in really creative ways for diversity in publishing. They argue that broadening the kinds of people involved at all levels of book-making is a concrete way to change the conversations we have in the world on a gazillion subjects. They are one of my favorite places to donate my charity dollars and they have really helped opened my mind, for which I’m grateful.

Bray: Made me laugh: Chuck Wendig and Sam Sykes’ hilarious back-and-forth tweet-riff on 80s horror movie tropes in which Sam is a hapless camp counselor who just might accidentally be a serial killer and Chuck Wendig is the calm, knowledgeable expert there to answer his questions. Seriously, it’s a gem — and I would 100% watch this movie.

Made me think: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article, “The First White President,” in The Atlantic and Robert Browne’s article, “Colin Kaepernick Has a Job,” in The Bleacher Report. Both are brilliant and full of uncomfortable, unflinching truths about America.

Made me cry: This is embarrassing, but I can’t think of anything that has made me cry recently. I’m not a big crier as a rule. Which is not to say that I haven’t read some truly heart wrenching things on the Internet, but I tend to be so horrified that it stops any flow of tears. Well, you know what makes me cry? Kubrick movies. Man, that is messed up. I am A FREAK. I wish I were better at that whole crying thing. It’s really cathartic when it happens. Shit. What if I’m really a robot, y’all? Can robots still eat fried chicken? Because if not, THAT would truly make me cry.

Best meal I’ve had recently…

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 10.28.48 AM.pngLockhart: I own a number of Yotam Ottolenghi’s amazing cookbooks. I was in London in early August and ate at Ottolenghi (Spitalfields location). Eating his food was really a thrill. I haven’t been so excited since I saw Gloria Steinem.

Bray: Not sure but I’m certain it involved fried chicken, which I would eat every day for the rest of my life if I could. I suppose my life would be pretty short then because: fried.

A creator who’s doing something I envy…

Lockhart: My talents don’t run to design, but I saw the Rei Kawakubo exhibit at the Metropolitan and that woman is a force.  Her brain is doing things mine cannot do, and it was so exciting to witness her creations.

19-lincoln-in-the-bardo.w245.h368.jpgBray: There are so many creators whose work I love/envy/admire. George Saunders’ humor and sheer inventiveness blows me away all the time. Ditto for short stories by Kelly Link, Ted Chiang, and Alyssa Wong. Noah Hawley’s heightened, skewed work on Legion is mind-bending. (And OMG — Aubrey Plaza and Jemaine Clement!) Issa Rae’s Insecure is so real I feel like I’m in the room with the characters. Donald Glover’s Atlanta is weird and specific, funny as hell one minute, heart-in-your-throat the next. With Master of None, Aziz Ansari, Lena Waithe, and Alan Yang never take the story where you think it will go and they always keep it true. What else? In comics, I love Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine DeLandro with Bitch Planet. Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang with Paper Girls (I also loved Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man). Music: Beyonce blew me away with “Lemonade.” I mean… bow down. I’m absolutely crazy about Hurray for the Riff Raff. And I just saw Kohli Calhoun play a show at Rockwood Music Hall, and she was mesmerizing — deeply personal lyrics and kind of a Regina Spektor vibe.

I’m sure I’m forgetting oodles of creative people whose work I find inspiring. I’m drawn to people who are creating from a deeply personal, political, paradigm-shifting place. I’m a big fan of the irreverent, surreal, absurdist, transgressive, and darkly humorous. I love creators who take risks with form and content and who are not afraid to marry heart to that as well. Fortunately, there are lots of people out there pushing all of those boundaries and making truly meaningful, personal art.

A book I recently recommended to someone else…

Lockhart: I’ve been telling everyone to read Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. Everyone so far has loved it.

Bray: Genuine Fraud by the always amazing E. Lockhart. She’s so smart, and her writing is sharp, incisive, and muscular.

The last event I bought tickets to was…

Lockhart: Roxane Gay at Brooklyn Academy of Music.  I went with Libba Bray, actually!

Bray: Either Roxane Gay’s talk or LCD Soundsystem’s upcoming concert.

Most meaningful recent travel destination…

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E. Lockhart appreciating “the wonder of the planet we live on.”

Lockhart: I went to Tulum, Mexico, in August. The trip was full-on tourism — eating, snorkeling, looking at Mayan ruins, a lot of swimming. Nothing different from what anyone else would do there – and of course complicated in the way that tourism always is — but it helped me slow down. I was able to appreciate the wonder of the planet we live on, and to remember how lucky I am.

Bray: Barcelona. I had never been to Spain. Now, all I can think about is how to get back.

I wish I knew more about… 

Lockhart: Politics. I have become increasingly politically active since about six months before the presidential election, but there is still a lot I don’t understand.

Bray: Everything! I am insatiably curious. I wish I had a better understanding of: theoretical physics, music theory, economics, meditation, world religions, filmmaking, drumming, Garage Band, and iMovie. The last two I could probably learn more about by going to the Apple store. You know, with all that spare time I’ve got.

Favorite thing about bookstores…

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Shop dog Frankie: “Did she say cats?”

Lockhart: Besides the books? Bookstore cats.

Bray: There’s something electric about stepping into a bookstore. All those lives, those secrets whispered into the pages. All of those possibilities. I always read the staff-favorites cards, and that’s usually what I use to guide my purchases. It’s great to find out what someone loves, what has resonated with them, and why. So — thank you, Bookstore Staff-Who-Make-Favorites  Cards.

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This event is free to attend and open to the public. Want to join the signing line and meet the authors? To have books signed by each author at this event, you must purchase a copy of the author’s new book from Parnassus Books, either in-store, over the phone, or online. To have books signed by E. Lockhart, you must purchase Genuine Fraud; to have books signed by Libba Bray, you must purchase Before the Devil Breaks You. To have books signed by both authors, purchase both books. More important details at this link.