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Andrew McCarthy Adds Young Adult Author to Resume with 'Just Fly Away'

Algonquin Young Readers

In the 1980s and early ‘90s, Andrew McCarthy’s face was instantly recognizable for his acting work in movies such as Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire. You can’t mention his name without invoking the term “Brat Pack."

McCarthy was in many other films, as well as director on such high-profile projects as Orange is the New Black and Grace and Frankie. He is also an award-winning travel writer and is editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler.

In fact, McCarthy contends that travel work has changed his life. "Travel isn't necessarily supposed to be fun in my mind...I just become revealed to myself when I travel. It helped me walk through a lot of fear that I possessed in my life," he says. "Travel has been sort of the university of my life. My growth has come from hitting the road alone and then being confronted with issues that were revelatory to me."

Credit Mitch Teich
Andrew McCarthy in the Lake Effect studio.

More recently, his life went down another path - writing. McCarthy's young adult novel,  Just Fly Away, tells the story of 15-year-old Lucy Willows, who discovers a family secret and concludes that her life will seemingly never be the same. She runs away to the home of her mysteriously estranged grandfather where she learns more about her family’s secrets and lies.

"I love the notion of escape, and I often feel like we're escaping to the very thing we need to find as opposed to running away from things," he says.

For years, McCarthy had been writing a book about secrecy and what it does to a marriage. However, his favorite character was the fifteen-year-old daughter.

"Suddenly I was just writing from her perspective and her point of view, and everything about the book then changed," he explains.

Diving into the YA genre was an interesting experience for McCarthy: "Young adult literature seems to be very direct emotionally and unapologetic and tackles issues head-on right there in front of your face."

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.