Happy Saturday and welcome to my stop on the Iphigenia Murphy blog tour!! I am so excited to be a part of this tour, and I’m even more excited for you to discover Sara’s favorite scenes from her book, how she chose the names for her characters, and some fun facts about Iphigenia, Corinne, and Anthony that didn’t make it into the book! Plus, follow the rest of the tour and enter to win a print copy of Iphigenia Murphy!
Iphigenia Murphy by Sara Hosey
Published by Blackstone Publishing on March 10, 2020
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Thriller, LGBTQIA+
Running away from home hasn't solved Iphigenia Murphy's problems. In fact, it's only a matter of time before they'll catch up with her. Iffy is desperate to find her long-lost mother, and, so far, in spite of the need to forage for food and shelter and fend off an unending number of creeps, living in Queens' Forest Park has felt safer than living at home. But as the summer days get shorter, it all threatens to fall apart.
A novel that explores the sustaining love of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and the indelible bond of family, Iphigenia Murphy captures the gritty side of 1992 Queens, the most diverse borough in New York City. Just like Iffy, the friends she makes in the park--Angel, a stray dog with the most ridiculous tail; Corinne, a young trans woman who is escaping her own abusive situation; and Anthony, a former foster kid from upstate whose parents are addicts--each seek a place where they feel at home. Whether fate or coincidence has brought them together, within this community of misfits Iffy can finally be herself, but she still has to face the effects of abandonment and abuse--and the possibility that she may be pregnant. During what turns out to be a remarkable journey to find her mother, will Iffy ultimately discover herself?
Do you have a favorite scene, quote, or moment from Iphigenia Murphy?
There is a scene early in the novel when a creepy, dangerous guy follows Iffy and attempts to assault her. At first, she finds herself unable to move, to run, to fight back.
People often say that there are two reactions when you’re threatened: fight or flight. There’s actually a third and it’s quite common, especially among those of us who have been raised to be polite, to be quiet, to not assert ourselves. We freeze.
In that scene, though, even though she initially freezes, Iffy does wind up fighting back. She thinks to herself that she is just so tired of being abused, harassed, and intimidated and she is able to rally herself to respond. This scene, in some ways, is almost like a wish-fulfilment or a dramatization of the ways we often wish we’d acted when we’ve failed to stand up for ourselves. I’m not advocating violence, but I do think it’s a satisfying scene because it’s a moment when someone is able to effectively channel her rage and to escape a dangerous situation.
If Iphigenia, Corinne, and Anthony were to hang out with characters from other YA books, who would they be and why?
Although they are set in slightly different time periods, I feel like Iffy, Corinne and Anthony would get along really well with Eleanor and Park from Rainbow Rowell’s very excellent novel, Eleanor and Park. Like Iffy, both Eleanor and Park are really into music and I think these three would just endlessly swap mix tapes.
More significantly, Eleanor has experienced abuse and bullying. Like both Corinne and Iffy, she has survived difficult times and she is self-reflective and wry and smart. Corinne and Iffy would love her. And I think that Anthony and Park would find themselves connecting in a lot of different ways as well: they’re both sensitive guys who really don’t like conflict but who nevertheless sometimes find themselves in potentially loaded situations; they are also young people who know what it’s like to be a racial minority and to feel the weight of others’ expectations about how and who they should be.
How did you choose the names for your characters?
Iffy is named for Iphigenia, a character that Iffy’s mother had read about when she took a course in Greek Drama in college. In the play The Eumenides, the character Iphigenia is sacrificed by her father, Agamemnon. He does this so that the winds will blow and his ships will sail and he’ll have success in war.
This might remind you of a similar plot that they used on the show Game of Thrones, in which a father sacrifices his daughter. Unlike in that show, however, in The Eumenides, the sacrifice of the daughter doesn’t go unavenged. Instead, Iphigenia’s mother murders Agamemnon.
This story has long resonated with me personally—I was just always so taken with the idea of the mother avenging the daughter. But I also put it in the book because it is clearly a story that resonated with Iffy’s mom too—she gave her daughter this big, difficult, heavy name in part because she knows her daughter will be able to handle it.
So, Iphigenia has this really significant first name, but her last name, Murphy, is an Irish name that’s very common in New York and in Queens. The contrast between the two names—one so exotic and unique and the other so familiar—brings into focus, I think, the conflict in Iffy’s own identity. She is trying to figure out who she is and who she belongs to. She’s been disconnected in so many ways from her mother and her mother’s legacy and history. So part of the novel is reconciling those two halves of herself.
What can you tell us about Iphigenia, Corinne, and Anthony that we may not find out in the book?
I actually wrote an epilogue because I personally needed to know what happened to the characters and even though it wound up not being included in the book, knowing what would happen next was helpful to me in understanding the journey and the character’s development and desires. Here’s just a little bit of info about what happens next to our Iffy:
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Iphigenia has a rough couple of years immediately after the action of the novel. She does go to Monticello for a while (to live with Anthony), but that doesn’t work out. She winds up moving back to Queens and staying with Anne and Anne’s girlfriend, getting a GED and going to Queens College. While at college, she takes a class in Urban Studies and one of her assignments is to write an essay on homelessness. She calls Corinne to tell her this and they have a good laugh; Corinne tells Iphigenia that she “better get an A.”
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Sara Hosey holds a PhD in American literature from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and is an associate professor of English and women and gender studies at Nassau Community College. Her book, Home Is Where the Hurt Is: Media Depictions of Wives and Mothers (McFarland, 2019), looks at representations of the domestic in popular culture. Sara grew up in Queens and now lives in Sea Cliff, New York, with her partner and their children. She is working on a second novel.