Writer/actor/director Andrew McCarthy is coming out with his first fiction novel titled JUST FLY AWAY about a 15-year-old who runs away to live with her grandfather.
Some people may recognize the name of Andrew McCarthy as that of one of the 80’s heartthrobs of the “Brat Pack” (which included fellow young and hot actors Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, and Demi Moore to name a few.) But he’s since grown away from that label, all the while keeping a steady pace in Hollywood as director in shows like Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and NBC’s The Blacklist.
McCarthy had already written The Longest Way Home, a travel memoir published in 2012. He also wrote for National Geographic Traveler.
Now, he’s ventured into the YA territory with Just Fly Away, which tells the story about 15-year-old Lucy who finds out that her father has an 8-year-old son with another woman, and runs away to Maine to live with her grandfather. It’s an odd transition, but so is hearing about an 80’s celebrity writing about travel. Here is some of what he had to say during an interview with Publisher’s Weekly.
You are a middle-aged man, whose previous experience is as a travel writer. How did you come to write a YA novel with a protagonist who is a teenage girl?
It doesn’t seem like a natural transition? I didn’t start out as a YA author. I was struggling for seven years on a novel about a marriage told in the third person, from the husband and father’s point of view. My favorite character in it was the 15-year- old daughter. One day I was sitting on a plane waiting to take off, and I just started writing from her point of view, in the first person. I started writing with the words, “My father is an asshole, he’s got another family living across town,” which was the story of the [original]novel. This guy had an affair and had this child that nobody in his family knew about. Suddenly, I started writing from the girl’s point of view and it liberated everything I’d been struggling with for years. I [already]knew all the characters, I knew where they lived, I knew everything about the family; but it was just an entirely different story, with this girl discovering her brother across town. And the story took off. So, I didn’t intend to, but this girl spoke up one day and I listened.
Are you concerned that scenes as Lucy smoking pot and being intimate with her boyfriend will arouse controversy among some parents and librarians?
It was just part of the story; it would be disingenuous of me not to mention [such subjects]. People experiment with drugs when they are teenagers and people experiment with sex when they are teenagers. It’s not like they are strong parts of the book. Avoiding it, to me, is not making it not so: it’s just sticking your head in the sand. After I wrote it, it did occur to me, whoa, is this going to be a big deal? [Lucy’s] limited experience with sex is a joyful experience for her—but it doesn’t dominate the story; it’s just a loving kind of moment. I don’t have an issue with that. People who do—God bless them.
Why did you choose the title, Just Fly Away?
It might refer to that moment in the book when these two misfits just want to escape. It’s hard; they just want to leave, they just want to fly away. Two people who are very alone fantasize about leaving, together. I guess that I experience that, being a travel writer. There’s something thrilling about leaving, just leaving. And I like the “just” part of it, because I like the minimizing of something of such magnitude. Teens tend to do that. And Lucy certainly tends to do that: minimize something that is very important.
Just Fly Away hits stores March 28, 2017.