Talk of the Stacks: Andrew McCarthy

“Pretty In Pink” actor speaks on coming of age in his recently published YA novel.

Artwork by Taylor Daniels

Artwork by Taylor Daniels

Update: Andrew McCarthy is still a heartthrob! The charming and personable actor, writer, editor, director, travel writer, novelist (the list goes on), spoke last month at Hennepin County Library’s “Talk of the Stacks,” event about many things, but particularly about his new YA novel “Just Fly Away.”

Middle-aged locals were giddy with excitement, chatting about the book and McCarthy’s debuts in various films. The doors opened at 6:15 p.m., filled up by 6:40 p.m., and started promptly at 7 p.m. McCarthy first spoke briefly on “Pretty in Pink,” explaining that he could read a crowd and knew that’s what everyone was hoping to hear. He noted that, similar to his novel, “Pretty In Pink” is also a story about coming of age. It was also his first big introduction to his career. McCarthy first found his place on the stage after trying out for a play in high school. He recalled it to be “an absolute moment of knowing.” His acting and travel writing experience taught him to differentiate good plot lines and dialogue from bad.

As a novelist, McCarthy refers to himself as an “accidental YA author.” “Just Fly Away” first began as a story about marriage, secrecy, and family as told from an adult’s perspective. He worked on the draft for no less than seven years.  Aware that it wasn’t quite right, he continued to return to these themes of family and secrecy. “You can play all sorts of tricks on yourself just to keep going,” he said, referring to his adamancy of the first draft.

As a novelist, McCarthy refers to himself as an “accidental YA author.”

Finally, after messing around and writing from the daughter’s perspective, McCarthy effortlessly wrote 100 pages and knew he found his groove. “When I admitted to myself that I was writing a YA book, I completely dried up,” he said. “But I paid attention, stayed out of the way, and trusted the process.” He did admit to validating the book with his 15-year-old neighbor, just to make sure he was really capturing a teenage girl’s perspective. McCarthy referred to the moment he started writing from the daughter’s perspective several times as a similar “moment of knowing” as when he first stepped on stage. “Just Fly Away,” is available at various locations including Target, Barnes & Noble, and online at Amazon.