14 Nov 2014

Last Train to Babylon: A Novel by Charlee Fam

Last Train to Babylon: A Novel
By: Charlee Fam
Releasing October 28, 2014
William Morrow Paperbacks / Harper Collins

It’s been five years since Aubrey Glass left her Long Island hometown and since then, she’s crafted five perfect suicide notes—just in case. Now, her former best friend has gone and killed herself—Rachel always did have to be the center of attention—and Aubrey can’t believe her luck.
But Rachel’s untimely death doesn’t leave Aubrey in peace. There’s a voicemail from her former friend, left only days before her death that Aubrey must face—and worse, a tasteless after-party, disguised as a memorial for Rachel, that promises the opportunity to catch up with everyone…including the man responsible for everything that went wrong between her and Rachel.
As the event approaches, memories of friendship tangle with painful new encounters while underneath it all, Aubrey feels the rush of something closing in, something she can no longer run from. In one devastating night, everything will change. As the past and present collide, facing the future will force Aubrey to confront herself and decide what will define her…what lies behind or what waits ahead.

LAST TRAIN TO BABYLON is a gripping novel of twisting relationships and raw emotions pulled taut by a touch of delightfully dark comedy as a young woman faces the demons of a past she’s buried and discovers that the life she desires is one she must demand from herself.
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Do dreams ever inspire your writing? What did you last dream about?
When I was writing Last Train, I had this crazy dream that I was filming a low-budget indie movie. All I remember is driving this old van over a cliff, Thelma and Louise style. It all happened in slow-mo, and there was this slow, haunting version of Pat Benatar’s “Invincible” playing in the background (yes this dream had an actual soundtrack). It was very The Cure-esque, and to my knowledge no version of this song exists. So I ended up writing it into the scene at the bar when Aubrey first talks to Eric. I googled Pat Benatar just to make sure I had the lyrics right and found out she’s from town of Babylon on Long Island. I had no idea and definitely took it as a sign.
Last night I dreamt that it was two hours before my wedding and I’d forgotten to get my eyebrows waxed. It was stressful.

When did you first start writing? And when were you first published?I wrote my first “book” in first grade. I had this really awesome teacher who would bind them for us. It was about Bats.
I started writing seriously in college. I was a creative writing major at Binghamton, so I took a lot of required fiction workshops. I worked a lot of those stories into Last Train.
I found out I was getting published for the first time a little over a year ago, and Last Train finally comes out this month!

What is it about 'chick lit' that appeals to you the most? Do you read other genres?

I generally read contemporary, realistic fiction, because I like being able to relate to the characters. It’s what I like to write, so I draw inspiration every time I read it. I tend to steer towards books that are character driven and pack an emotional punch. I have a pretty sick sense of humor, so I like anything that can pull off dark comedy. I can also always go for a good mystery or anything psychological.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
The day after her ex-best friend’s suicide, 22-year-old Aubrey Glass reluctantly returns to her hometown on Long Island to mourn Rachel, the girl she cut out of her life five years earlier.
In the days leading up to the funeral, and the infamous After Party - which has sort of turned into this bizarre High School reunion - Aubrey finds herself in the midst of a Girl Interrupted-esque meltdown. The book alternates between past and present, slowly revealing Aubrey and Rachel’s complicated relationship and everything that went wrong between the two friends years ago.

What inspired you to write it?
Anxiety has the power to bring out the worst in people, and it’s something I’ve personally struggled with, so that inspired much of Last Train.
On the surface, Aubrey is an unlikeable character. She says and does some really awful things, but underneath it all, she’s really struggling with some dark and confusing emotions. She snappy and rude and uses dark humor as a shield. She’s insecure and hurting, and I wanted to give her a voice. In Aubrey’s mind, she’s surrounded by insensitive jerks. In turn, she’s bitter and angry and comes off just as thoughtless. But there’s more to her story. And everyone deals with their past in different ways. I really wanted to embrace that through her relationship with Rachel.
Rachel and Aubrey have a long-winded history, and they certainly bring out the worst in each other. I’d even say that their friendship turns toxic. We’ve all been there, where we stay in a friendship that breeds negativity because it’s familiar and comfortable. And on top of their own issues and anxieties, they’re both submerged in a culture where slut-shaming and victim-blaming are the norm. In turn, they absorb that mindset themselves. It’s a sad reality that I’ve seen first hand. I wanted to shine light on that dialogue in a real way and show the devastating repercussions.

Have you ever spotted anyone reading your books anywhere?

Not yet!

Who designs your covers?

My publisher and I went through a good number of covers until we found one that everyone really loved. My final cover was designed by Mumtaz Mustafa and the photograph was taken by Ilona Wellmann.

If your latest book was made into a film, who would you cast?
Troian Bellisario in Manila. Cecile Van Straten derivative work: Lpdrew
I always thought Troian Bellisario, a dark-haired Jennifer Lawrence, or Margaret Qualley would all make great Aubreys. I could see Joan Allen as Aubrey’s mother, Karen. Emma Roberts as Rachel maybe. Adam would need to be someone with dark hair and gray eyes -- maybe someone like Douglas Booth.

What's your favourite Chick Lit book that made it to the big screen?
Sex and the City.

What were the last two books you read?

I’m half way through Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. Before that, I read The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.

Name one female author who you think deserves to be better known.
Maria Semple

Where do you write?
On my couch or the back room of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? And did you follow the dream?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t think I had the stamina. So there was a time when I thought I’d be a doctor. I was obsessed with ER as a kid and would read all of my mom’s nursing school books and practice med school interviews in the mirror. I think it made me more of a hypochondriac than anything else. I was also horrible at math and science. I went through a five minute phase my freshman year of college when I announced I’d be an anesthesiologist. My mom was over the moon. Then I got a C - on a test and changed my major to creative writing.

In the movie of your life, who would play you?
Any of the characters I chose for Aubrey, because I kind of wrote her in my own image.

Speed Round...
Top drink to make you tipsy? 
Pinot Grigio
Shopaholic or shopadon't? Shopashouldn’t? But do.
Sky high heels or closer to the ground? Depends on the occasion.
E.L. James or Jilly Cooper? Neither?
Cry baby or tough cookie? Tough until it builds up and I explode about once a year.
Exotic beach or enchanted forest? Beach

Charlee Fam is a twenty-something novelist living in New York City. A Long Island native, Charlee graduated from Binghamton University in 2010 with a degree in creative writing and several awards to her name. LAST TRAIN TO BABYLON is her first novel.
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1 comment:

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