Teenreads.com: What was your inspiration for GIRL PARTS? Was the idea something you had been thinking about for a while?
John M. Cusick: It was three-fold. At 16, I felt like I’d been born yesterday; everything was so new, vivid and strange, and I wasn’t sure at all how to relate to it. Rose really is born 16. Secondly, I’ve noticed how people (myself included) may connect to characters in books more immediately than to real people. In this sense Rose is a metaphor for fiction, a teaching tool for human empathy (Sakora’s ridiculous shock-therapy notwithstanding). Finally, I’m a big sci-fi geek. I love robots. I can’t help it.
TRC: The novel begins with a suicide and a power outage. In what way are these events symbols of the themes you explore in the story?
JMC: Poor Nora becomes a caged bird who rattles through the rest of the novel. She wants to connect with people, and feels she must destroy herself to get their attention. But the immediate result is the ultimate disconnect; suicide severs her from everyone else. What some of the characters, and I hope the reader, discover is that we are all connected in ways we can’t always see. Nora’s death starts a chain reaction that ends with Charlie Nuvola, a boy she never met, changing his life, and David Sun, a boy she barely knew, driving his car into a lake. On a metaphysical level I wanted to symbolize this interconnection by having Nora communicate from beyond the grave, in a snagged necktie, a crossword puzzle, and elsewhere.
TRC: Would you consider your book satire? Is it critical of the Computer Age and its technologies and possible sense of alienation? Or do you think of it more as a coming-of-age story with a technological twist?
JMC: Any satire is directed at oblivious parents, bonehead school administrators, and shady drug companies like Sakora. (I’ve had at least one reader confuse Sakora’s psychobabble for my own sentiments.) As to our technology-rich society, I’m not sure I was satirizing so much as observing what seems to be out there. Something is lost when we cease to communicate face to face. I’m an Internet fiend, but I do believe we need one part web to nine parts “real” life.
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