The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo by Darrin Doyle


by Darrin Doyle

Commercial Fiction
St. Martin’s Press

5 autographed copies will be given away on Friday, February 19, 2010!

About the Book:

In this charming novel, Darrin Doyle paints a captivating portrait of the all-American family—if the all-American family’s youngest child ate an entire city in Michigan with a smile, that is. Doyle has a flare for writing about family dysfunction with a twist. With a unique blend of realism and fantasy, The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo is the moving story of the hauntingly beautiful Audrey Mapes, who began her illustrious “career” by downing crayons by the carton only to graduate to eating an entire city one bite at a time. With vivid, acerbic wit, Doyle details the life of the world’s most gifted “eatist” through the eyes of Audrey’s sister, McKenna. Through her eyes, we see the real tragedy of the Mapes story is not the destruction of a city, but rather, the quiet disintegration of a family who just didn’t quite know how to love.

Exclusive Interview with the Author!

1) Your characters seem so alive and real…what’s your secret?

When I’m writing a character, I want to depict the whole person, good and bad. This means letting the characters surprise me, so I put them in situations that make them uncomfortable, situations that demand their full attention or threaten them in some fashion. Real people tend to show their true colors when they’re under duress, and fictional characters are no different. Their only hope for redemption is trial by fire, so I strike the match.

2) Which authors/books are you most influenced by?

I love the poetic language of Vladimir Nabokov, the spookiness of Shirley Jackson, the “So it goes” humor of Kurt Vonnegut, and the blunt psychological observations of Flannery O’Connor. Contemporary writers who influence me are Aimee Bender, Lorrie Moore, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and George Saunders, to name a few.

3) This would make a great film. Any talks of turning your book into a movie?

Thanks! I believe it has great potential as a movie, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that somebody else agrees. A director like Tim Burton, Peter Jackson, or Guillermo del Toro could make it into an amazing film.

The characters have strong personalities and distinct physical traits that would be visually compelling – such as Toby, the bodybuilding teenager, or Misty, the mother who quietly roams the house in a canary robe, wearing a distracted look on her face, or the nuns who visit the house in pairs, “like Noah’s precious cargo.”

There’s also a lot of room for cool CG effects! For example, when Audrey eats the crutch in front of a Lollapalooza audience, or when she’s videotaped with night-vision camera hunched on a snowy lawn, devouring a portion of a brick wall. It would be a terrific blend of fantasy, reality, humor and drama.

4) What kind of research did you have to do to bring this story to life on the page?

I researched the city of Kalamazoo, but I kept the research to a minimum. I didn’t want the novel to become a sprawling epic about the city itself. I wanted to focus on the characters and to include just enough history and local landmarks to provide a sense of reality. I allowed myself the freedom to fictionalize the city’s landscape in an attempt to capture the essence, the mood of Kalamazoo as I experienced it when I lived there for thirteen years.

I also researched eating disorders, prosthetic feet, toys from the 1980s, and expensive flower bouquets – to name a few!

5) If you could have one super power what would it be?

I’d be surprised to hear of a writer who didn’t want the power of invisibility. We’re all voyeurs who enjoy watching people act and react, because this is where we find inspiration for our fictional characters. But on the other hand, flying would be pretty cool…

About the Author:

DARRIN DOYLE was born and raised in Michigan and even lived in Kalamazoo. (Fortunately, he was not there during Audrey’s “renovations”) His short stories have appeared in Puerto del Sol, The Long Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, Antietam Review, Laurel Review, and, Night Train, among others. He currently teaches fiction writing and literature at Central Michigan University. Visit the author online at:

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2 Responses to The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo by Darrin Doyle

  1. Sheila Deeth February 13, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Kalamazoo’s a real place? Neat interview and introduction. Thanks.

  2. stacybuckeye February 16, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    Fun interview. I lived in Michigan for a few years but never made it to Kalamazoo.