Carney, Jeff 1962-
Carney, Jeff 1962-
Born 1962, in KY. Education: Vassar College, A.B.; University of Illinois, Chicago, M.A.
Office—Department of English, Snow College, 150 E. College Ave., Ephraim, UT 84627. Agent—Liz Darhansoff, Darhansoff, Verrill, Feldman, 236 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]
Snow College, Ephraim, UT, associate professor of English. Previously worked at a Renaissance fair in WI, and as a clerk in a clothing store.
The Adventures of Michael MacInnes (young adult novel), Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.
Jeff Carney notes on his home page that although he did well academically while attending boarding school, he was expelled for making some "bad choices." He was admitted to, and graduated from, Vassar College, but he knew that his first novel would be set in a boarding school.
Carney's debut young adult novel, The Adventures of Michael MacInnes, is set in 1924 at a Maryland prep school. "There's lots of swashbuckling fun to be had in this period piece," wrote Paula Rohrlick in Kliatt. Michael MacInnes is an orphan and "madman poet" who is attending on scholarship. His independent thinking causes a stir, particularly when he publishes controversial articles and embarks on other adventures with his best friend, Roger Legrande, who is hiding his homosexuality. In one of their adventures, they destroy a bootlegging operation (the story is set during Prohibition), to save the other students from a tainted product.
School Library Journal reviewer Sharon Morrison compared The Adventures of Michael MacInnes with Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War, "without the excessive violence and with touches of humor."
Carney told CA: "I attended a private elementary school that encouraged creativity in many forms. For me this meant writing and theater. The first thing I remember writing was a rehash of some Beverly Cleary stuff. Another was cribbed from the cave section of Tom Sawyer.
"I suppose I'm influenced the most by writers who stand out from the crowd. J.D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Walker Percy, Tim Powers. Writers who have something rebellious to say or a really unique vision to offer.
"These days most of the intensely imagined parts of my stuff come during the outlining stage, which is very quick, loose, and freely-associative. My outlines run to thousands of words. Then comes the more businesslike stage of drafting. I hate it. But it must get done. Revising text that exists is always a pleasure. I can turn off the business man and let the juices run again. And again and again, as needed.
"I'd like my readers to look at the world with fresh eyes and challenge the status quo. Things are as they are only because we collectively agree that they must be so. But if enough people are inspired (by others as well as me), then maybe we can work to make things a bit better. I am especially skeptical of the rigidly corporate society that today's young people are growing up to take for granted. Maybe it's naive, but I'd like everyone to spend a summer or even a year living in a hut by Walden Pond. Not the original (it would get crowded and smelly) but everyone's own private version of Thoreau's great laboratory of the mind. We need a better sense of what matters. (Hint: money isn't it.)"
Asked the most surprising thing he has learned as a writer, Carney said: "That after a published book (and a few unpublished ones) I'm still the same me. I think that's a good thing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2006, review of The Adventures of Michael MacInnes, p. 1011.
Kliatt, January, 2007, review of The Adventures of Michael MacInnes, p. 10.
School Library Journal, November, 2006, Sharon Morrison, review of The Adventures of Michael MacInnes, p. 130.
Jeff Carney Home Page,http://www.jeffcarney.net (April 21, 2007).