Category Archives: YA Books
It’s such fun to see our authors supporting other authors– what a generous and smart crew of talented folks writing books for children! An example: Ellen Oh, author of this winter’s fantasy YA-debut PROPHECY, interviews Soman Chainani, author of the just published middle grade debut, SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, on The Enchanted Inkpot today.
Both of these authors are the kind of accomplished, multi-talented people that make us feel a little inadequate (but in a good way, we swear!)– they’re total movers and shakers, and, you heard it here first, doing big things. Also, they both have terribly snazzy websites and gorgeous author photos!
A little bit more about each of their books…
PROPHECY, by Ellen Oh
She’s the demon slayer.
She’s the most feared girl in the whole Kingdom.
And now she’s on the run.
Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…
Murdered kings, traitors, and a demon invasion sends Kira on the run with the young prince, who may be the true heir to the Dragon King’s throne, destined to reunite the seven kingdoms. But without the lost treasures, there will be nothing left to reunite. With only the guidance of a cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.
Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first in a three book series.
- Marie Lu, author of the LEGEND trilogy, raved of PROPHECY, “What an adventure! I fell in love with the lush, richly woven world of PROPHECY. Kira is truly a force to be reckoned with. When I finished my journey with her, all I wanted was more. Spectacular!”
- Watch the trailer for PROPHECY here.
THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, by Soman Chainani
The School for Good and Evil series unleashes a dazzling new fantasy world, one in which ordinary boys and girls are trained to be perfect heroes or perfect villains. Book One subverts the assumed roles of our indelible heroines, when witch-girl Agatha is “mistakenly” sent to the School for Good, and wannabe-princess Sophie to the School for Evil. As rivalries bloom and jealousy sets in, Agatha and Sophie discover that these fates may not be a mistake, after all…
- Gregory Maguire, author of WICKED, had this to say about THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL: “Invention in overdrive, indulging in a gnarly smackdown of folklore conventions, THE SCHOOL OF GOOD AND EVIL is a comedic education by a writer primed to shoot to the head of the class.”
- And Entertainment Weekly said this: “If I could bewitch you all to read it, I would.”
- Download the discussion guide here.
- And watch the AMAZING trailer here!
Fans of dark realistic fiction, this one’s for you . . . PRETTY GIRL 13, by Liz Coley, follows the story of a girl with multiple personalities who’s trying to piece together the mystery of her kidnapping and captivity. Liz Coley kindly offered to share with us some of the fascinating research and background information that went into writing a character with dissociative identity disorder.
From Liz Coley:
E Pluribus Unum: From Many, One
A Brief Introduction to Dissociative Identity Disorder
What is dissociation?
Most likely everyone has experienced the simplest level of dissociation, when part of your mind detaches and does its own thing, leaving no memory behind. You might drive for fifty miles without realizing the passage of scenery and time; daydream away an entire class; tune out all sounds in the room while you write an article about DID. Part of your mind is in touch with your environment on some level (you didn’t crash; there are some notes on your page; you responded automatically to a question from your boyfriend or girlfriend), but your thoughts are “elsewhere.” You don’t remember driving, writing, or speaking. That’s quite ordinary, but it gives a hint to the flexibility and mystery of our mental processing power.
What is identity?
Philosophers and psychologists can debate this question. I am neither, but I’ll suggest that at the simplest level, our identity is who we think we are; it is based on a stream of memories and consciousness that reboots every morning when we wake. My grandmother insisted she felt like exactly the same person on the inside as when she was a nine-year-old girl emigrating from Romania to the U.S. on a filthy ship with huge, black roaches; she was the same person who skipped school the day everyone’s hair was cut off to prevent lice. She was the same person who married three times, had one child, and worked as a bookkeeper in middle life. She was the same person who, in her sixties, crocheted ponchos, sewed pantsuits, and stitched together teddy bears for me. In her eighties, she disappeared down the rabbit hole of Alzheimer’s. Perhaps at that point, her sense of identity was lost to herself except in moments of lucidity, but we knew who she was because we had seen the continuity from the outside.
Imagine, though, holes and jumps in memory. Imagine feeling like you are a stranger in your own body. Imagine not knowing how you got here or why you own certain things. Imagine not having that sense of continuity of your own identity. Imagine waking up as a different person.
What exactly is dissociative identity disorder?
By the late 1970s, psychiatrists had recognized about one hundred cases of what was then called multiple personality disorder (MPD), a condition in which the patients demonstrated different identity states with some degree of mutual amnesia. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association formally recognized the condition, renamed dissociative identity disorder, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) among the personality disorders. The criteria for DID were (in layman’s terms): the presence in one person of two or more distinct identities that alternately take control of the person’s behavior, and an inability to remember events that cannot be accounted for by ordinary forgetfulness. Beyond that, the symptoms in the patient cannot be otherwise explained by substance abuse, a medical condition, or fantasy. (DSM-IV 300.14)
The number of diagnoses exploded through the 1980s, particularly in the United States, leading to controversy and debate over whether DID had been underreported or misdiagnosed in the past or whether it was a “fad” diagnosis projected by overenthusiastic therapists onto suggestible patients. Estimates of the prevalence range from one in ten thousand people in the general population to one in one hundred people in mental health treatment, but no firm numbers based on epidemiological studies are available. For a good recent discussion of the difficulty in counting cases, see “The Problem of Prevalence” by Karen Johnson.
Where does it come from?
DID is a human defense mechanism at the most basic level. It is widely believed to develop as a result of repeated childhood physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect in some individuals who have the capacity to compartmentalize their experience. One aspect of the person’s mind and memory absorbs the traumatic abuse events and then switches off, leaving the dominant personality in a state of amnesia about the terrible times. Increasingly complex reactions to trauma can splinter the personality into multiple coping states for different situations. This is called the traumagenic explanation.
The controversial counter-explanation is that under hypnosis, patients generate false memories of abuse or portray themselves as having multiple personalities to conform to a therapist’s prompting or expectations. This is called the iatrogenic explanation.
In favor of the traumagenic explanation is physical evidence that doesn’t rely on self-reporting. Scientists have been working for several years using PET scans, EEGs, and fMRIs to study the brains of people with a diagnosis of DID compared to neurotypical controls. These studies have been able to capture changes in brain structure and also document physiological changes during alter-switching. The research is ongoing. A multinational, multicenter project headed by Dr. A.A.T. Simone Reinders now coordinates much of this research into the imaging and psychobiology of DID.
How do different personalities coexist?
A gatekeeper or librarian or master controller seems to be a common executive function to monitor the switching between the personalities sharing a single mind. Sometimes the identities take it upon themselves to step aside or step forward. Some identities may be mutually aware, even listening in on each other’s encounters, while others are isolated and unaware. Each one, however, considers him- or herself a person with a personality, autobiographical history, tastes, and what is called “agency,” that is, the ability to make choices and initiate actions. Chronological age, sexual identity, and handedness can differ among personalities, as can allergies, abilities, and states of health. These independent personalities are referred to as alters.
This condition may persist for years into adulthood without the patient being aware of what’s happening. The first notice may be long periods of amnesia, finding oneself in a strange place or wearing strange clothes, or being told of unremembered events and behaviors. DID is often associated with other issues, such as substance abuse, depression, anxiety, or PTSD, which may be the initial reason for an individual seeking counseling.
While a person may develop alters as a defense mechanism to preserve the ability to function, ultimately the sharing of waking life between personalities with different memories and goals can create chaos and despair. That’s why the goal of treatment is to deal with the compartmentalized traumatic memories, desensitize the emerging dominant personality to the emotional content of them, and allow/convince the personalities to reintegrate. As the alters have their own sense of survival, reintegration can be extremely slow, complex, and even incomplete. Some patients consider their treatment successful when they attain a stable way of living with more than a single personality still inhabiting their mind. The alters may switch or share control depending on the skills and temperament needed at a given time. Fully integrated individuals comment on how “quiet” it is inside themselves when the competing, conferring alters fuse and think as one.
How can I find out more?
The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation and the Sidran Institute offer much more detailed information, links to many resources, and lists of therapists who specialize in this area.
Next week we’re exhibiting at one of our very favorite conferences of the year (shh, don’t tell anybody!)– the Texas Library Association Annual Conference. If you’ll be there too, we’d love to meet you! We’re HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #2232, and we have so many fun things to give you! Galleys, discussion guides, reading kits, smiles, stories– you name it, we’ve got it.
We also have some very very stellar authors at panels and signing in the Author Signing Aisles. Check it out!
THURSDAY, APRIL 25TH:
11—12 Peter Lerangis
11—12 Chris Rylander
11—12:30 Jon Klassen
12—1 Bob Shea
1—2 Patrick Carman
1—2 Kelley Armstrong
2—3 Kiersten White
2—3 Melissa Marr
3—4 Tera Lynn Childs
3:30—4:30 Amy Krouse Rosenthal
FRIDAY, APRIL 26TH:
10:30—11:30 Seymour Simon
2—3 Jarrett Krosocszka
3—4 Jennifer Archer
We can’t wait! And none of us have ever been to Fort Worth before, so if you have any recommendations, let us know! See y’all soon.
Later this week we’re heading down to one of our very favorite states, Texas, with some star authors, to exhibit at the International Reading Association Annual Conference.
Will you be in San Antonio too? If so, come visit us at HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #3451! We’re going to be giving out oodles of galleys, teaching guides, bookmarks, and other materials– with lots aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
Here’s where you can find our authors:
SATURDAY, April 20th
2:00–3:00PM, JANE O’CONNOR, Anderson’s Booth #1003
SUNDAY, April 21st
1:00–2:00PM, WALTER DEAN MYERS, HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #3451
1:00–2:00PM, JON SCIESZKA, Anderson’s Booth #1003
2:00–3:00PM, SEYMOUR SIMON, HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #3451
MONDAY, April 22nd
MO WILLEMS IRA Closing Keynote:
“A Hippopotamus Wouldn’t Fit on the Page and Other Reasons that Mo Willems Writes About Pigeons”
Convention Center Exhibit Hall D
Book signing immediately following
12:00–1:00PM, MICHAEL HALL, HarperCollins Children’s Books Booth #3451
Come by our booth and say hello!
We love listening to Chris Crutcher. He always has the most interesting things to say. Luckily his new novel, PERIOD 8, is full of things to talk about!
Watch Chris Crutcher discuss the truth and when to tell it, what it means to live a good life, and PERIOD 8. Make sure you stick around until the end for a special message to teachers and librarians!
Download the PERIOD 8 discussion guide and get talking . . .
If you checked in with us yesterday, you read the behind the scenes editorial perspective of Michael Hassan’s debut teen novel, CRASH AND BURN. Today Michael responds to our notoriously strenuous, sweat-inducing Opening the Book questions…
Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?
I was always into books and a real sucker for the Dr. Suess stuff, can probably still recite Green Eggs and Ham by heart, but the first book that made me want to be a writer was Les Miserables, which I would probably have named as my favorite book, except for the Princess Bride by William Goldman, who is primarily known as a screenwriter, but has written some incredible novels.
I am currently re-reading several William Goldman novels, including Marathon Man and the Color of Light. You can learn a lot as a writer from reading his books. .
More importantly, I am back to reading hardcovers and paperbacks after spending too long with e-books. While I’m a techno nut, the truth is there is nothing better than holding a real book, being able to thumb back and forth through the pages and knowing exactly where you are at any given point.
What is your secret talent?
I play keyboards. I am, in fact, really bad musician and have been fired from some pretty talentless bands when I was younger. Thankfully I record nothing so no one has to know. Until now.
Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.
Mean Girls. I could watch this movie constantly and still laugh at every line.
Also, fart noises and Gilbert Gottfried, not necessarily in that order.
My current obsessions are…
Headphones, I have like 20 pairs. I need loud music when I’m working.
Also, Uncharted 3D, in fact almost every videogame, movie and documentary in 3D.
Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?
Know where you are going before you start. Make an outline and stick to it and then keep on going without looking back until you hit THE END. And then, take whatever you’ve done and put it on the highest shelf in your room for 6 weeks without looking at it.
And then make a new outline and start over with the brightest red pen you can find.
And don’t, under any circumstances, get stuck playing Uncharted 3D or watching anything else in 3D. In fact, disconnect your television and your internet and throw away your iPads, playstations and smartphones.
Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…
Forgets that they are reading;
misses a train stop because they need to finish a chapter;
recognizes the characters so much that they find it difficult to believe that its fiction;
Buys another book the second they finish this one;
Or is inspired to write one themselves.
Tell us more about how CRASH AND BURN was born.
I was challenged by my son, who has ADD to write something that he would be willing to read. Spending time with him and his friends, playing videogames and watching movies, I wanted to come up with a form of entertainment that they would consider to be as fast paced and captivating, something that would make them think differently, more deeply about themselves and their world. Using him and his friends as models, I went back in time and thoroughly researched the everyday occurrences in the world they lived in, the language they used, the legal and illegal drugs they were experimenting with and the social interactions between them and the adults in their world. When I realized how difficult the struggle was for most kids, I knew that I had something that I wanted to write about.
Thanks Michael! CRASH AND BURN (which has received 2 starred reviews– from Booklist and BCCB!) is on sale in stores now.
Next in our Winter 2013 New Voices series is teen debut novel CRASH AND BURN, by Michael Hassan, a book that quite literally stopped us all in our tracks the first time we heard Michael’s editor, Jordan Brown, formally present it. Today I’ll let Jordan’s powerful words speak for themselves…
Of all the qualities of a manuscript that get me interested in working with an author, one of the most exciting is when I feel like I’m reading the work of someone who looks for untold stories in places where we don’t expect to find them. Of course, the most prominent plot elements of Michael Hassan’s debut novel Crash and Burn—the story of a profoundly troubled senior who takes his school hostage at gunpoint, and the profoundly untroubled student who stops him—are, sadly, not unusual or unobvious ones. But what is unique and unexpected about Mike’s story is the perspective from which he chooses to tell it.
Steven “Crash” Crashinsky is unlike any of the teen male characters one finds in contemporary teen literature. He is not the brooding, complicated, brilliant outcast; he’s not the bad boy with a heart of gold; he’s not the irredeemable jerk; he’s not the heartthrob who can distill his interior struggles in a moment but is still paralyzed by indecision. He is all of these things, and none of them. He is the kind of male character who is remarkable only for being so typical: a teen whose self-image has been defined by his learning disabilities, whose behavior has been shaped by society’s indulgent “boys will be boys” attitude, who has realized that life’s a lot easier when you just don’t care. He’s the kind of teen we all know, and yet the kind we don’t often find populating teen books—perhaps because he’s the kind we don’t often find reading teen books.
But he is not unreachable, as Mike’s knockout of a first novel shows us. This is a book—one of the first I’ve seen—that speaks directly to these young men, telling a story they need to hear. The element of the book that was paramount to both Mike and me in the editing process was keeping Crash’s voice and experiences as authentic as possible. And thus we have a story that doesn’t pull any punches, that reads more like a chronicle than a novel, that speaks to these readers in a language they can understand.
Crash and Burn is not a book for everyone. The truths it draws out and elucidates don’t provide many answers for the desperate struggles today’s teens experience. But I’m a big believer in the idea that the process always starts with asking the right questions. And Mike asks these big questions while writing a story that is hilarious and frightening and touching in turn; one about friendship and tragedy, first love and first hate; one that shows us that the untold stories can sometimes be the most important.
Thanks Jordan! And don’t forget to visit us again tomorrow for an interview with the author, Michael Hassan.
What is your secret talent?
Secret talent? If I tell, it won’t be a secret anymore. But since I’ve never passed up on an opportunity to brag (that might not be a true statement), I will tell you that I am super good at proving I’m not a robot. I rock word verification on blogs and websites. Seriously, I have like a 99% success rate at figuring out those impossible to read words. Is this a talent?? I think yes.
Fill in the blank: always makes me laugh.
My husband (He is so funny. The main reason I married him, by the way).
My current obsessions are…
twitter, garden salsa Sun Chips, naps (I’m only obsessed with naps right now because I haven’t been able to take them and I need a nap so bad).
Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?
Read read read and keep writing. Make sure you are constantly feeding your mind with new books and plots by reading whenever you can. And when you are done writing a book and it’s ready to query, start immediately on your next one. Don’t spend a lot of time editing a book over and over (note: I’m not telling you not to edit. Definitely edit.). But keep moving forward.
Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…
Laughs, loves, and appreciates the friendships in their lives.
Tell us more about how Pivot Point was born.
Like with other books I’d written before Pivot Point (books that were not published) I find inspiration in life: things I see, movies I watch, experiences I have. My husband and I often discuss plots or ideas that would make a good book. Pivot Point was inspired by the movie Sliding Doors. I love that movie. I love the idea of one pivotal choice that can change everything; The idea of exploring alternate realities and seeing how small decisions can change outcomes. We may not have mental abilities like the people in this book, but I truly feel like choice is power. We have the power to choose to work hard and follow our dreams or to give up. We are in charge of our fate, our destiny, and that is power.
Thanks Kasie! PIVOT POINT is on sale in bookstores now– and once you read it, you’ll be happy to know this happy news: there will be a book 2, out next year!
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, a special type of clairvoyant, whenever Addie is faced with a choice she is able to look into the future and see both outcomes. So when her parents ambush her with the news that they are getting a divorce and she has to pick who she wants to live with, the answer should be easy.
However, as Addie searches her two possible futures, one where she leaves with her father to live off of the paranormal compound and the other where she stays with her mother and the gifted in the life she’s always known, she realizes how hard the choice really is. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through…and who she can’t live without.
This one was love at first sight (or should we say love at first read) for us: it’s bright, fun, well-plotted, and clearly the beginning of a very promising career for Kasie! Let’s hear why Kasie’s editor, Sarah Landis, loved it immediately too…
When the agent pitched Kasie’s novel to me, it immediately reminded me of one of my favorite rainy-day movies, “Sliding Doors”, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve been let down more times than I can count by a great idea that doesn’t come through in execution. But in this case, not only did it live up to my expectations, it exceeded them! Addie is such a winning protagonist. She has attitude, spunk, intelligence, and a sense of humor (girl heroines rarely have a sense of humor!). The whole idea that one decision can potentially alter the course of your life has always intrigued me. I think we’ve all made a decision and then wondered… What If? In PIVOT POINT, when Addie is faced with a decision, she has the ability to look down both of those roads and decide which one has the better outcome. But…as we find out, knowing both paths doesn’t necessarily make choosing any easier. In fact, sometimes it makes it even harder.
PIVOT POINT had me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how it was going to end. As editors, we see the same recycled plots over and over, and I feel like I’m rarely genuinely surprised. And I totally was! When I first read it, the ending was so good but so, so frustrating. Without giving anything away for anyone who hasn’t read it, I begged and pleaded with Kasie to change the ending (that is how strongly I felt about these characters fates). The way she revised the ending is so completely perfect now. That brings me to what a dream it is to work with an author who you know is going to be around for a long time.
Thanks Sarah! And don’t forget to check back tomorrow to hear from Kasie herself.
In Chris Crutcher’s upcoming novel, PERIOD 8, a group of students comes together every day during Period 8 to talk about (in the author’s own words) “the important things: hopes, dreams, fears, and the comedy and tragedy of their lives.” Teacher Bruce Logsdon, who runs Period 8, has only one rule—you have to tell the truth. No question is off-limits, no topic is forbidden, as long as the discussion remains honest.
If you’ve read his books or seen him speak, you know that frank treatment of tough subjects is a Chris Crutcher hallmark. Perhaps you are thinking, “Hmmm. I wonder how much of this Bruce Logsdon character is autobiographical.” We can’t exactly answer that for you, but we can offer you this exciting invitation . . .
In the spirit of Period 8, Chris Crutcher is taking real-life questions from teens, and he will answer them in a video to be posted on our teen community website Epic Reads.
Do your teens have burning questions they’d like to ask him? (Who doesn’t, right?) Encourage them to submit their questions on Epic Reads, and check back at the end of March for some video answers from this very wise man.