Author Chat with Marc Favreau (Crash)!
Today we're excited to chat with Marc Favreau, author of Crash. Read on for more about Marc and his book!
Meet Marc Favreau!
Crash tells the story of the Great Depression, from the sweeping fallout of the market collapse to the more personal stories of those caught up in the aftermath. Packed with photographs, primary documents, and firsthand accounts, Crash shines a spotlight on pivotal moments and figures across ethnic, gender, racial, social, and geographic divides, reflecting many different experiences of one of the most turbulent decades in American history. Marc Favreau's meticulous research, vivid prose, and extensive back matter paints a thorough picture of how the country we live in today was built in response to the widespread poverty, insecurity, and fear of the 1930s.
A Chat with Marc Favreau:
1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Well, first and foremost, I’ve got an in-house audience of two boys who are really my primary inspiration. In my experience -- and we are a house full of readers -- kids pass through a long phase where their imaginations are fired by good stories. And this is a golden age of fiction for a young audience. Our kids (meaning, kids today) are bookish at a level that I think might be unprecedented. But at the same time, as a reader of nonfiction, I have always struggled to find nonfiction books for my kids. Of course, there are outstanding examples, from Steve Sheinkin to Philip Hoose to Tanya Lee Stone. But anyone who walks into a bookstore knows that the nonfiction shelf is usually just that – a shelf.
And the reason that matters to me as a parent has to do with how I see my own kids developing. An early adolescent is starting to look at the world through the eyes of a young citizen. She or he wants to understand their world, to figure out what makes it tick, and to grapple with why things are the way they are. Just the other week, my son took an overnight bus to the March for Our Lives, and he came back fired up, thinking about the Constitution and about voting and about how ordinary citizens can have an impact on American politics. So that’s what motivates me: giving these young adults the stories and the information they need, and that will push them to become active citizens.
2. Who is your favorite character in the book?
I think there can’t be enough said or enough written about Eleanor Roosevelt. She’s such an inspiring American hero, and it’s only in quite recent years that she’s beginning to get the credit due to her. She was one of the most powerful forces behind the New Deal. She, on her own initiative, desegregated the White House for the first time in US History. She forged very public alliances with the leading African American political figures of the time. She invited the educator Mary MacLeod Bethune to the White House, repeatedly, and she made a point of very publicly embracing her on the front lawn, and leading her into the house as a respected dignitary. She was always on the move, traveling thousands of miles to promote the New Deal, social reform, equal right for women and African Americans. If I were to write a YA biography she’d be at the top of the list.
3. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
There is a chapter in CRASH called “The Blind Spot”, about the African American experience of the Great Depression, that I am most proud of. Black people suffered the worst effects of the Depression – they were the first to be let go from jobs, they had almost no recourse when evicted from their homes, and the landowners they worked for demanded more of them, when less was available. And yet what’s so amazing to me is that this same period is also the time when African American people started to fight back against racial segregation and oppression, on a national scale. We think of the Civil Rights Movement as beginning in 1954, but in fact, the movement to end Jim Crow began in the depths of the Great Depression. It’s an amazing story of bravery, of a willingness to risk everything when really your very survival was on the line. This is one of the most important chapters in the book, and the one I was most committed to telling.
4. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I had a writing teacher in the eight grade, Mrs. Waldron, who used to say “think before you write.” I never really took that advice seriously, and for years I believed in the approach of writing, writing, writing – every day. But as I’ve gotten more experienced, the thinking part has come back to the forefront of my process: reading, note-taking, sketching, mulling things over. It’s not totally either-or, obviously, and sometimes I just start writing when the spirit moves me. But my best writing days are those that begin with a roadmap that I have designed myself.
5. What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I have to say that I absolutely love the typeface of the title, CRASH. It’s big and bold – and red! It captures the force and immediacy I had in mind when I first started thinking about the book. I remember the moment when I first came up with the title. I knew it would stick, and it did. And the title type treatment perfectly conveys why I think this title works for my book.
6. What was your favorite book in 2017?
No contest: John Le Carre, A Legacy of Spies. (See #9). 9. What’s up next for you?
I am writing a history of espionage and the cold war, for YA readers, entitled SPIES: The Epic and Secret Clash Between America and the Soviet Union During the Cold War. I’m incredibly excited about it.
I’m writing on deadline, but I wish I had ten more years to do the research. I’m about to make a trip, for example, to a huge archive of espionage books at Georgetown University. I’ve learned about every gadget, technique, everything tried out and perfected during the height of the Cold War.
7. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Definitely revising! I love writing, but (oddly, perhaps) I feel most creative when I am re-shaping text that is already on the page. When I am editing, it is easier for me to hold in mind the larger blueprint that is guiding a section or book chapter. I also enjoy folding in anecdotes or details from my research notes – pieces of the puzzle that didn’t fit until I had more of the larger picture assembled.
8. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Yes. My day job is as an editor for The New Press, a nonprofit book publisher. I work there for the love of it. We publish books on a whole range of topics, both fiction and nonfiction, regardless of their commercial potential – because we believe that books can change hearts and minds.