Friday, April 3, 2015

Corina Vacco

Corina Vacco trespassed on toxic land and wrote the first draft of her debut novel, My Chemical Mountain, while parked in her car at the foot of a radioactive landfill—this book went on to win the Delacorte Prize for a First Young Adult Novel, was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and made the shortlist for the 2014 Green Earth Book Award.

From Vacco's Q & A with Karma Bennett for Alibris:
I’ve read My Chemical Mountain, but could you describe it in your own words?

My Chemical Mountain is a coming-of-age story about three lifelong friends whose reactions clash when a rogue chemical company kills one boy’s father and blatantly contaminates their blue collar town and favorite summertime swimming hole. It’s a story about revenge, eco-terrorism, landfill folklore, industrial wonderlands, undying loyalty, imperfect love, and huge mistakes.

Your book has a really strong environmental theme. How did that come about?

When I was living in New York, one of my friends invited me on a “toxic tour” of her neighborhood. We visited a contaminated landfill, a radioactive creek, and some boarded-up homes. She and her husband told stories about growing up amid unspeakable pollution—splashing in puddles the color of anti-freeze, navigating their bikes down the landfill’s slopes, crazy stuff—and I was blown away. My main character’s voice appeared in my mind soon thereafter. I asked him questions: What is it like to live near one of the most poisonous landfills in the world? Why do you and your friends swim in the creek when you know it’s not safe? Are you furious about what happened to your father? He answered, “Yeah, I’m furious. And I want revenge.” I ended up driving out to the industrial yards alone, parking my car at the foot of a radioactive landfill, and...[read on]
Visit Corina Vacco's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: My Chemical Mountain.

Writers Read: Corina Vacco.

--Marshal Zeringue