How Actor-Director Andrew McCarthy Flipped the Script on His ‘Terrible’ Novel Project

Just Fly Away alighted in bookstores March 28

Just Fly Away reflects the author's Westfield, N.J. roots.
Headshot of Richard Horgan

Algonquin Young Readers

New York Times children’s books editor Maria Russo hints at the top of her piece that she was formerly among the hordes of teenage girls crushing on actor Andrew McCarthy. All these years later, she got the chance to meet up with the 54-year-old artist of many stripes to discuss his intriguing Young Adult effort.

Just Fly Away is written from the point of view of Lucy Willows, a 15-year-old teenage girl who is compelled to flee her New Jersey home for New York City. It’s a narrative perspective that McCarthy did not come to lightly:

Before dedicating himself to his Young Adult book, Mr. McCarthy spent seven years working on a novel “about a married guy who had a one-night fling and had a child and spent 25 years keeping it a secret.” It was terrible, he said. Then, one day, while waiting for a plane to take off, he started writing from the point of view of his favorite character, the 15-year-old daughter.

McCarthy told Russo that after he completed the YA book, he ran it by one of his younger Greenwich Village neighbors. The teenage girl approved.

McCarthy these days does a lot of TV directing, for series like Blacklist and Orange Is the New Black. However, he also, last year, had a substantial recurring role in ABC-TV’s The Family.

Previously on Fishbowl:
Maria Russo Rejoins The New York Times

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.