Happy Thursday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for MY LAST SUMMER WITH CASS! I’m so excited because today I have an interview with Mark Crilley to share with you! This book is truly amazing and I’m so so excited to for you to find out more about it!
My Last Summer with Cass by Mark Crilley
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on March 16, 2021
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Graphic Novels
This One Summer meets The Edge of Seventeen in this poignant coming-of-age YA graphic novel about two childhood friends at a crossroads in their lives and art from the author of Mastering Manga.
Megan and Cass have been joined at the brush for as long as they can remember. For years, while spending summers together at a lakeside cabin, they created art together, from sand to scribbles . . . to anything available. Then Cass moved away to New York.
When Megan finally convinces her parents to let her spend a week in the city, too, it seems like Cass has completely changed. She has tattoos, every artist in the city knows her. She even eats chicken feet now! At least one thing has stayed the same: They still make their best art together.
But when one girl betrays the other's trust on the eve of what is supposed to be their greatest artistic feat yet, can their friendship survive? Can their art?
What would you do if you spent the day with Megan and Cass? Where would you go to eat, hang out, relax, etc.?
Well, if I could arrange to make that day take place in New York City, I’d love to have them take me to all the places they went in the story. We could have dim sum at the same Chinese restaurant where they went, tour the Museum of Modern Art, and of course pay a visit to the studio in Brooklyn where they did their painting. That last one might be a little tricky, since it’s a location that I invented completely out of thin air. But hey, I’m spending the day with a couple of fictional characters here: Anything’s possible!
In addition to the dim sum, I’d love to have Vietnamese tacos with them. That is a type of food that I thought I’d made up just for the story, but then I Googled and found that they actually exist! Sadly, I have never had one.
If Megan and Cass were to hang out with characters from other books, who would they be and why?
Wow, this is a great question. Well, the title character from “My Name is Asher Lev,” by Chaim Potok, would be a great choice. He’s probably even more obsessed with art than they are! I was going to say Holden Caulfield from “The Catcher in the Rye,” since he’s all about New York City, but he would probably accuse both of them of being horrible phonies, so maybe not such a great choice. I don’t know if this counts as a character, because she exists in real life, but I love the idea of them hanging out with Raina Telgemeier: the childhood cartoon version from her graphic novels, like “Smile.” Raina could take them on a little tour of San Francisco, and heaven knows, they’d have plenty of artistic things to talk about.
Would you rather be a superhero or a supervillain? And what would your powers and name be?
Oh, I’d make a lousy supervillain. I’d go around apologizing to everyone for my misdeeds all the time, and all the other supervillains would be just standing there, shaking their heads in embarrassment. Sadly, I wouldn’t be a terribly convincing superhero either. But I guess I really need to be Extra Hours Man, with the power to squeeze a few more hours into the day when I’m under deadline. Three more hours in the morning and a couple more in the afternoon, let’s say. All the school kids would hate me, though. They’d be like, “Dude, you’re making the day longer! Just STOP!!”
If you were trapped on a tropical island and you could choose 3 books to take with you, which 3 would you choose?
Wow, this is a tricky one! I’m actually a huge fan of nonfiction, and that is the sort of book I read most of the time: biographies, and books that delve into a particular period of history. I think I’d select Michael Palin’s “Diaries: 1969-1979” as one of them. I could reread that one endlessly and always discover new things to appreciate. I’ve got to take at least one graphic novel with me, and it would have to be Chris Ware’s “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.” Truly a masterpiece, and I’m sure each rereading of it would newly captivate me. And this is a complete cheat, because I’m not sure this book actually exists, but I would love to have the complete works of the Japanese haiku poet, Kobayashi Issa: every haiku he ever wrote, in the original Japanese, with English translations, and with carefully researched notes that provide context for each poem. Probably a book that has yet to be written. But come on, you’re banishing me to a deserted island here: cut me some slack!
What was your favorite bit of research you ended up not using?
Well, this story is quite autobiographical, so the process of creating it was more about drawing upon my own memories than doing a lot of research. But there was going to be a scene in the story where Megan, as a child, goes to a museum exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe flower paintings. Though I never got further than the “rough sketch” version of that scene, it was fun looking at various O’Keeffe paintings and reproducing them for that moment in the story. A trace of this idea remains in the final book, actually: in the childhood scene where Megan and Cass are doing self-portraits. In Megan’s self-portrait, you can see O’Keeffe-like flowers in the background of her artwork.
What is your favorite quote, scene, or moment from My Last Summer With Cass?
Well, some of my true favorite moments and scenes are a bit too spoilery to describe in detail; I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone! But there is an extended sequence that I really enjoyed creating: the events that occurred at the rooftop barbecue party. We get to see Megan, who has lived a pretty sheltered life, finally start to loosen up and have some fun. That was originally supposed to be just a single scene. But once I started creating it, I was getting into things so much that I couldn’t resist expanding it into a series of three or four mini-scenes. As a result, you feel as a reader that you lived Megan’s experience of that party, from beginning to end. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything quite like it before.
Mark Crilley was raised in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Kalamazoo College, he traveled to Taiwan and Japan, where he taught English for nearly five years. It was during his stay in Japan that he created the Eisner Award–nominated comic Akiko on the Planet Smoo, which spawned a series of graphic novels and prose novel adaptations. In 1998, Mark Crilley was named to Entertainment Weekly’s It List of the 100 most creative people in entertainment.
What do you think about My Last Summer with Cass? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!