As part of The Dead Girls Detective Agency blog tour, I’m pleased to welcome author Suzy Cox to tell us all her darkest secrets about her debut YA novel.
1. ‘Hotel Attesa’ wasn’t its original name
At first, I called the place where the Dead Girls (and boys) are sent to live while they’re trying to solve their own murders ‘Hotel Obmil’ (get it?!). But my editor, the amazing Lindsey Kelk, who writes the I Heart… series, very nicely told me it was way, way too obvious. ‘Sala di attesa’ means ‘waiting room’ in Italian, so I borrowed that instead.
2. The Attesa actually exists
Well, kinda. When I was trying to dream up a spooky New York home for the Dead Girls, I couldn’t stop thinking about a night I spent in the Washington Square Hotel [www.washingtonsquarehotel.com/] in the Village. It’s this gorgeous old art deco place which used to be a hang-out for artists and writers – everyone from Bob Dylan to Joan Baez has stayed there. You can feel the hipster history dripping in every cranny. The July night I stayed was super-hot – New York fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot – and I got ten minutes sleep, max. Every time I almost drifted off, I was convinced there was someone in our room, watching me. I didn’t say a word to my husband until we were on the plane home (he doesn’t sooo believe in the supernatural), but to my surprise he admitted he’d had the same feeling too and been really freaked out. I’ve been too scared to stay again since!
Which brings me onto Number 3…
3. I’m scared of ghosts
Ghosts stories terrify me. I watched Paranormal Activity two years ago and still have nightmares about a poltergeist grabbing me in the night. If I so much as see a trailer for a scary movie on TV after 9pm, I know I won’t sleep. I think that’s why I loved writing Dead Girls so much – I got to create some nice friendly ghosts that I can control! If something goes bump in the night, now I know it’s only Charlotte. And who could be scared of her?
4. Camels in a Freeway came from a film
When I was trying to think of a cool name for David’s band, Little Miss Sunshine was on TV. There’s a scene where the family are driving thorough the desert in that beat-up yellow camper van and they pass a totally bizarre ‘watch out for camels’ sign… and my band name was born.
5. I’ve never lived in New York…
…though I’d really, really love to. But I have been there six times. I wrote the New York in Dead Girls’ from memory – and with a map of the city laid out on my London living room floor. Hands up, I’m totally obsessed with New York. For me, it’s the most magical, beautiful city in the world. If I had to be marooned in one place for eternity, it would totally be Manhattan. Not that I’m jealous of Charlotte. Because she is, well, dead.
6. I learnt to speak American from TV
Growing up (erm, and even now, tbh) I had a bit (read: major) of a problem when it came to American teen TV. Good Morning Miss Bliss, Saved By The Bell (original, College Years and New Class), My-So Called Life, 90210, California Dreams, USA High, Buffy, Sweet Valley High, The OC, Gossip Girl… I have spent SO much of my life watching them all. Before Dead Girls, that was known as ‘time wasting’. Now I call it ‘legitimate research’.
7. Dead Girls has a different ending in America
But I’m not going to tell you what it is, or it’ll ruin Dead Girls 2. The UK one is the version I wrote first and a little darker, I guess. I hope readers like it as much as I do.
The Dead Girls Detective Agency is on sale now and published by Much-In-Little, an imprint for Constable and Robinson.
To find out more about Suzy Cox: