Q&A with Phoebe North

“All Tomorrow’s Parties” was originally meant for an anthology that didn’t go to press. Its loss was our gain; readers can find Phoebe North’s short story in the July/August issue [on sale now]. Phoebe is new to Analog—get to know them below….


Analog Editor: What is the story behind this piece?

PN: The central setting of this story—an early concert at a New Jersey high school of a later-influential protopunk band—is real; the Velvet Underground really did play a suburban high school in the mid sixties. Several years ago, I was invited to participate in a time travel anthology with comic artist and writer John Leavitt. Our goal was to put together a collection of time travel stories featuring hipsters visiting places less often visited by other time travelers. Though the anthology fell through, the central notion and setting stayed with me.

AE: How did this story germinate? Was there a spark of inspiration, or did it come to you slowly?

PN: My short stories always come to me in one fell swoop, leaving me little time to put down the keyboard (or clean my house). Though the story came quickly, I was very glad to finally have an opportunity to include the sardine scene, which also really happened, several years ago during my tenure at an MFA program, where a bunch of writers played sardines in a falling down mansion the inhabitants had dubbed “Shrimpfest.”

AE: How did the title for this piece come to you?

PN: “All Tomorrow’s Parties” is, of course, a song by the Velvet Underground. Though it’s a title that has been used by other authors, it was too perfect not to use here.

AE: Are there any themes that you find yourself returning to throughout your writing?

PN: Since the writing of this story, I’ve come out as trans. It’s interesting to look back on works from before this threshold, as they often deal with feelings of inauthenticity and otherness. Sometimes I suspect I was signaling something to myself, but not quite getting the message. These themes continue to feature in my work, of course, though my characters are more often fully embodied now—as, I hope, I am.

AE: What other projects are you currently working on?

PN: I’m currently deep in edits for my next book, which is tentatively scheduled for 2021 with HarperCollins’ YA imprint Balzer + Bray. It’s the story of a brother, a sister, the fictional kingdom they invent, and what happens when one of them is lost to it. I’m also working on a historical fantasy/horror novel I’m calling The Mysteries. Set in a Hudson Valley alternative school in 1980, it features a charismatic and perhaps psychic teenager who slowly takes over the school, leading to the downfall of the student body—and one young man who both falls in love with him and endeavors to stop him.

AE: What are you reading right now?

PN: In the past year, I read John Crowley’s Engine Summer for the first time, and then immediately read it for a second time. I’m fascinated by the novel’s central trick, and I’m afraid it’s ruined me for other books. I also recently read Daisy Jones & The Six, which was good fun and made me want to start a band.

AE: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming writers?

PN: Don’t stop writing. Even one word a day is better than none. If advice feels bad, it’s okay to politely ignore it. They’re your books, first and foremost.

AE: What is something we should know about you that we haven’t thought to ask?

PN: I’m learning how to juggle, and my garden this year is looking better than ever.

 

AE: How can our readers follow you and your writing?

PN: http://www.phoebenorth.com

http://facebook.com/phoebenorthYA

http://instagram.com/phoebenorthauthor


Phoebe North, a graduate of the University of Florida’s MFA program in poetry, is the critically acclaimed author of Starglass and Starbreak. A new novel will be forthcoming from HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray in 2020. Writing from a home in the Hudson Valley, they also enjoy gardening, spending time with family, listening to obscure music on outdated formats, and fighting off the fear of death by curating an astonishingly comprehensive social media presence. Follow North on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/phoebenorthauthor.

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