Posts Tagged: book discussion

The Pageturn Interviews Paul Durham

Posted by | March 17, 2015 | No Comments

Today we’re lucky enough to interview Paul Durham, author of the middle grade tween fantasy adventure The Luck Uglies, which received TWO starred reviews. Booklist called it “by turns funny and heart-stopping . . . a bona fide page-turner,” and Kirkus said it was “sparkling. Layers, nuance, wit and a thumping good story make this a must-read.” The Luck Uglies was also a Booklist Top 10 First Novels for Youth in 2014 and on the NYPL 100 Best Titles for Reading and Sharing  List of 2014. What a debut!

This tween fantasy adventure trilogy has legends come to life, a charming wit, and a fantastic cast of characters—and is imbued throughout with the magic of storytelling. The Luck Uglies #2: The Fork-Tongue Charmer, goes on sale today, so read on for the full scoop on this truly delightful middle grade series!


The Pageturn: Where did the idea for The Luck Uglies begin? And how did you develop that idea?

Paul Durham: The Luck Uglies originated as a short story for my oldest daughter. For years I had tried unsuccessfully to publish my adult crime fiction, until eventually I quit writing altogether. One year, my then-six-year-old asked me if I could write her a story as Christmas gift. I had never written for children before, but was willing to give it a try. I didn’t intend to seek an agent for the work, nor to have it published. My goal was far more modest but even more important—simply to finish something for my daughter.

What started as a short story turned into so much more. I wanted to write a fantasy about good and evil and everything in between, but I also wanted it to be, at its core, a book about a very real family. Every week my own family would gather around the fireplace and I would read a new chapter out loud. I worked in our family pet, characters inspired by our friends and neighbors, and even dialogue spoken around our dinner table. When it was done, my little audience adored it, and the book would have been a success even if no one else ever read it. I’m very lucky that other readers have come to enjoy it as much as we do.

TP: Were you inspired by any specific region or folklore? For instance, it feels particularly appropriate that #2 publishes on St. Patrick’s Day!

PD: My goal was to write a book that felt timeless in setting, but that was set in a unique and entirely unexplored world. Toward that end, I researched Irish and Scottish myths, early colonial American culture, and secret societies throughout history. Then I threw them in a cauldron and stirred. Village Drowning and its denizens became a stew of faintly familiar ingredients blended in way that, I hope, readers haven’t quite tasted before. The Bog Noblins, for example, do not exist in any established folklore, but were inspired by the highly preserved, Bronze Age “bog bodies” pulled from peat bogs in Northern Europe and Ireland.

TP: Who is your favorite character in the book?

PD: I know many authors like to cop out on this question and profess love for all of their characters, but I’ll go out on a limb and share two. Rye is dear to me, of course. It was important to me to create a strong female protagonist and to infuse her with strengths and flaws that kept her human. That said, I think Rye’s strongest traits are gender-neutral, and I love that many male readers also identify her as their favorite character. My other favorite is Harmless. His relationship with Rye represents the heart of the story. Their dialogue as that relationship unfolds was even more fun to write than the all the swordplay and monsters. I adore Abby and Lottie too…oops, there I go.

TP: Can you suggest any books readers of The Luck Uglies might also like?

PD: For classic fantasy, I always recommend Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series. It’s a personal favorite and I’ve even hidden several Easter eggs referencing that great work within The Luck Uglies series. Maybe I’ll have a contest to see how many of them my readers can find. I think they’d also enjoy Jonathan Auxier’s work—The Night Gardener or Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes.

TP: And if you could cast the movie, who would star?

PD: I would definitely need the guidance of a casting director to find a young unknown actress with the chops to play Rye. As for Harmless, I think he would be best played by one of those 40-something action heroes who has entered a different phase of his life and career. Maybe a father to young children who could appreciate the nuances in the character. Who would that be? I don’t know. Robert Downey Jr.? Johnny Depp? Ben Affleck when he’s done with Batman?

TP: What were your favorite books as a child? Favorite books now?

PD: As a child, Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series was at the top of the list. I also remember being drawn to A House with a Clock in its Walls, by John Bellairs. These days, my favorite books still tend to fall into the category of middle grade fiction. I’m especially fond of those that can be haunting, smart, and humorous at the same time. The Graveyard Book and Coraline by Neil Gaiman are favorites, as is the The Bartimaeus Trilogy and the new Lockwood & Company books by Jonathan Stroud. I also found the The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate to be wonderful for very different reasons. Applegate proves that compelling children’s books need not always feature a child protagonist, and creates a wonderfully authentic, layered and believable voice for Ivan the silverback gorilla.

TP: Do you have any advice for aspiring kid writers?

PD: I’m fortunate to get to speak with a lot of kids during my school visits and workshops, and I always tell them four things.

1) Practice, as often as possible by writing creatively in your free time.

2) When you’re not writing, read. Good stuff, ideally, but you can learn what not-to-do from the poorly written stuff too.

3) Don’t be afraid to imitate your favorite writers’ styles, especially early on. As a kid, I originally learned how to write action sequences by mimicking the descriptions I found in popular movie novelizations (I can’t believe I just admitted that). The point is, your own voice and style will develop over time as you discover what works best for you.

4) You don’t need to start out by writing an entire book—that’s like running a marathon without ever going out for a jog first. Every novel starts with just one sentence. Try writing just a short paragraph of description, or a few lines of interesting dialogue, or a poem. That’s all practice that will pay off in the long run. See tip #1 above.

Thanks, Paul! The Luck Uglies #2: The Fork-Tongue Charmers, goes on sale today. If you’re new to Paul’s series, check out the first book, The Luck Uglies, here. And learn more about Paul, here!


Posted by | September 19, 2012 | 1 Comment

Yesterday we brought you an inside scoop on UNRAVELING, and today we’re giving you some insight into the author herself, Elizabeth Norris.  Be warned: by the end of this, not only will you be dying to read the book, you’ll be sighing with envy at Elizabeth’s romance and craving banana pudding.

Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

When I was first learning to read, my mom bought me a collection of picture books about characters from the Disney movies and I read them over and over again until I could practically recite them. Then in fourth grade I read A Bridge to Terabithia and it was the most incredible story. I begged my mom to buy me a copy since I had to give the school its copy back. Right now, I’ve just started reading Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, and it’s wonderful.

What is your secret talent?

I’m not sure if it’s a talent, but I always manage to find myself in strange or awkward situations that make hilarious stories after the fact. My friends in college used to joke that I should put all my embarrassing stories together in some kind of memoir and title in Only in My Life.

Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.

My sister. Whenever we’re together it’s like the stars have aligned and everything is hilarious.

My current obsessions are…

I recently discovered the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery and I swear I have dreams about it. I’m also super obsessed with Game of Thrones–the books and the television show. I feel like Westeros is a real place and I want to go visit it (but after the war ends).

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

There are a lot of highs and lows when you’re writing a book and even more when you’re trying to get published. You have to savor the highs and let them inspire you, and then let the lows roll of your back.

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

…feels something.

Tell us more about how UNRAVELING was born.

Like most of the crazy stories in my life, this once starts with “So I met this guy…”

Only, I didn’t actually “meet” the guy in a traditional sense—I became friends with him over the internet. He was a friend of a friend, funny, intelligent, charming. We traded meaningless comments or jokes with friends, but the more I got to know about him, the more it seemed we had in common. We liked the same movies and television shows, we both loved to read and to write, and we just seemed to be on the same intellectual wavelength. We recommended books to each other and we could talk about anything and everything.

And somewhere along the line, I realized he had become my best friend—and then we met, and it just felt like we belonged together (I’m a hopeless romantic, I know). Of course, he lived in another state and neither one of us had any ambitions to ever move so we started muddling through a long distance relationship, making up our own rules and trying to figure out what worked best for us.

Which got me thinking about long distance relationships. They’re hard—flawed and tragic. Most of them are doomed from the beginning. The emotional highs and lows in that type of relationship add an intense stress to even the most calm lives.

In June 2010 (during one of those emotional lows), I thought about how universally unfair it was, that I’d finally found this guy who was perfect for me, who really belonged with me, and yet he actually also belonged somewhere else. And that was the moment of inception of UNRAVELING. Because at its heart, it’s a star-crossed love story. Janelle and Ben are from different worlds, and in their darkest moments, they find each other.

I am also a huge science fiction and fantasy nerd, and I hate the perception that science fiction isn’t cool so I wanted UNRAVELING to be accessible to people who don’t know a lot about science or who don’t normally read science fiction. I love shows like Fringe and The X-Files and I wanted to do something with science fiction that was very grounded in reality. I spent about two months thinking about the plot and writing down character ideas in a notebook while riding the subway, and then I started writing pieces of dialogue and a few key scenes. And then before I knew it, the book was almost complete.


Thanks Elizabeth!  UNRAVELING is on sale now.  And you’ll be happy to know that this won’t be the last you’ll hear from Ben and Janelle. Check back next summer for more!


And that wraps up our Summer New Voices!  We’ll be back January to share our amazingly talented debut writers of the winter with you.  Until then…


Posted by | September 17, 2012 | 1 Comment

It’s just two days before the beginning of your junior year when you’re hit by a pickup truck. And killed. And brought back to life. And somehow, you know that it was the loner you’ve never spoken to before that did it. And then, as impossible as it seems, things get even weirder. Sucked in yet? We certainly were. Welcome to UNRAVELING, the debut thriller/sci-fi/romance by Elizabeth Norris.

Let’s hear from Elizabeth’s editor, Kristin Rens, about how she knew immediately that UNRAVELING was something really special:


“I knew I wanted to publish Unraveling before I even finished reading the first page.

From the moment I met Janelle, the main character, I was pulled in by her lively, no-nonsense voice and her take-no-prisoners style—she’s tough, and she’s strong, and she’s loyal to the folks she loves—and her voice is so vivid that I knew within minutes that this was a character I would follow to the ends of the earth. And the fact that she’s up against a clock-ticking countdown that just might lead to the end of life as she knows it? Well, that was the icing on the cake.

In the current wave of paranormal and dystopian YA, Unraveling feels refreshing and different—it’s a high-stakes thriller, a Veronica Mars-esque mystery…and it’s got a light sci-fi twist that would even appeal to readers who don’t necessarily consider themselves sci-fi fans (I know, because I’m one of them). And holy cow, does Liz Norris know how to write a love story—because at the heart of Unraveling is the sweeping romance between Janelle and Ben Michaels, who in many ways are the ultimate star-crossed lovers.

Liz was a high school teacher for a couple of years before she became an author—and it shows in her writing, and in her characters. Because more than anything else what makes Unraveling such a compelling read is that she’s a writer who knows teens—knows how they talk, how they act, what they want. And this comes through in every page of the book—in Janelle’s relationship with her brother Jared, which is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time; in her sarcastic yet fiercely supportive dynamic with her best friend Alex; in the romance between Janelle and Ben, which is sweet, and tender, and completely believable. And there’s a depth and complexity to the characters and to their story that makes Liz a very special writer indeed.

I like to call Unraveling the love child of I Am Number Four and the TV show Fringe. But it’s also very much its own story, one that keeps surprising you as you read. And the result is a breathtakingly romantic sci-fi thriller about one girl’s fight to save her family and her world.

I absolutely love it.”

Thanks Kristin! We also want to share a few of the great reviews that UNRAVELING has received:

“Leav[es] the reader wanting more and begging for a sequel to this multilayered debut.”
— Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

“Readers will enjoy the nonstop action and romance.”
— School Library Journal

“A satisfying puzzle full of novel twists and provocative clues.”
— Publishers Weekly


Read a hearty excerpt of UNRAVELING here– the book is out in bookstores now. And come back tomorrow for an interview with Elizabeth herself!


Posted by | June 12, 2012 | No Comments

I’m not sure I know anyone as knowledgeable about children’s books as my colleague, National Accounts Manager Heather Doss.  She’s our human encyclopedia at meetings, a whiz in the booth at conferences, and an all-around terrific lady.  And today you are the lucky recipient of her genius!  Heather pulled together a round up of Classics, Redone:

“I’ll admit it: I’m a fan of the twisted classic genre. Whether it’s a retelling of a fairytale, myth or novel from the past, I love when authors take something you think you know and turn it on its head to give it a new perspective. While I think there will always be a place in curriculum for those classics we all read in high school and college, a remake can bring a fresh audience to them, and help to create a new fan base. Lucky for me, our Harper lists are chock full of titles that have a classic background:

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Bethany Griffin has reimagined Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic horror story “The Masque of the Red Death,” creating a breathtakingly real city that’s coming apart at the seams, a riveting romantic triangle, and a heroine faced with heartbreaking choices. Hauntingly dark & romantic at the same time!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

TIGER LILY combines the rich mythology of Peter Pan and the lush setting of Neverland to create a truly unique teen romance; told from the point of view of Tinkerbell & focusing on the Indian Princess whose backstory is vague in the original story.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about the choice between protecting your heart and opening yourself to the one person who could break it; inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION.

Entwined by Heather Dixon

In this retelling of the classic tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” the eldest princess must fight to save her family—and her heart—from an ancient dark magic within the palace walls; a romantic fantasy with a darker edge.

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, finally gets a chance to set the story straight in RADIANT DARKNESS. She wasn’t taken to the underworld against her will—she fell in love with Hades, and chose to be his queen and leave her overbearing mother behind.


Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Part dystopian, part sci-fi thriller, part romance, LOST GIRL is an electrifying YA debut about a clone fighting against the system that created her—and finding the courage to be true to her humanity; loosely inspired by FRANKENSTEIN.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

In this horror novel loosely inspired by Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, ten teens head to a house party at a remote island mansion off the Washington coast…only for them to be picked off by a killer one by one.

The Turning by Francine Prose

A mind-bending and chilling retelling of THE TURN OF THE SCREW for modern teens, by nationally acclaimed, former President of PEN and award-winning author Francine Prose!”

Thanks, Heather! We love this trend (if you can even call it a trend!), since it’s so helpful when booktalking and recommending new favorites. Any other great classics-with-a-twist that we should read?


Posted by | May 30, 2012 | 1 Comment

Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to Tim Carvell, debut author of the uproariously funy middle-grade novel PLANET TAD. You can read a FREE, NICE AND HEARTY EXCERPT HERE. Yesterday we gave you a few words from Tim’s editor, Rosemary, and today we hear from the man himself…


(I mean… how great is this? If that mottled blue/gray background doesn’t pull you right back to middle school, I don’t know what will!)

Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

When I was 9 or 10, I loved “A Cricket in Times Square”, but I think I loved its sequel, “Tucker’s Countryside”, even more, because I’d much rather read a book whose hero is a talking mouse with a cricket sidekick than a book whose hero is a talking cricket with a mouse sidekick.

As for what I’m reading now, I just finished “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street”, by Michael Davis, which is pretty great — not just because it’s got weird tidbits like the fact that Oscar the Grouch was originally orange, but also because, for some reason, it’s got a whole chapter that’s just behind-the-scenes stories about Captain Kangaroo’s love-hate relationship with his writers.

What is your secret talent?

I can wiggle my ears. (It’s not so much a “secret talent” as “a talent I have that I’ve been asked not to do in public”.)

Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.

A talking animal. I don’t know why, but it does.

My current obsessions are…

Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time with Finn & Jake”, because it’s got such a simple premise, but it keeps finding new directions to go, and new sorts of jokes to tell. Jenny Slate’s “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” shorts, which are very, very funny but come from a place of pure sweetness. And Jon Klassen’s “I Want My Hat Back”, because the drawings are hilarious, and it manages to tell a perfectly-paced joke in book form.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

Just keep writing — the more you write, and the more feedback you get, the sooner you’ll get better at it, and the quicker you’ll develop your own voice. Also, don’t write a book about an orphan who goes to a British wizarding academy. It’s been done.

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

Actually, that’s about 90% of what I’d hope for right there — that a person would read my book. But if I could ask for more beyond that, it’d be that a person reading my book would laugh.

Tell us more about how PLANET TAD was born.

The original idea for “Planet Tad” came back in 2005, when two editors at MAD suggested that it might be fun to do something in the voice of a young blogger; after I’d written the column for a few years, the book came about thanks to Rosemary Brosnan at HarperCollins, whose sons really liked the column. She asked if I’d be interested in expanding it to book length, an idea that really appealed to me, because it was a chance to explore Tad’s world a little more fully, and tell stories in a little more depth. Writing the book was a lot of fun, both because it was a chance to do writing that’s both a little more personal and a little lighter than my day job, and because it was a chance to revisit my awkward younger self. Tad’s pretty much a younger version of me, and I have really vivid memories of my middle school years — and not just the classrooms or the hallways of my school, although those are pretty much what I picture when I’m picturing Tad’s environment. What I remember even more vividly are the emotions of what it was like to be in, say, eighth grade — that weird mixture of not wanting to feel like a kid anymore, but being confused, daunted and hopeful about the adult world, all at the same time. Hopefully, a little of that — alongside the jokes about video games and lemurs — comes through in the book.

Thanks Tim, for sitting through our grueling, sweat-inducing, pulse-poundingly hard-hitting barrage of questions!


Posted by | May 29, 2012 | 1 Comment

Based on a MAD Magazine blog of the same name, PLANET TAD is a seriously funny look inside the mind of twelve-year-old Tad, nerd extraordinaire.  Capturing one full year in the life of Tad, this laugh-out-loud illustrated (by Doug Holgate) novel—written in a captivating blog format—will capture the hearts of everyone who reads it.  One day at a time.

And not only is Tim Carvell the author of this laugh-out-loud funny middle grade novel, he’s also the head writer for the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Yes, that’s right. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Which leads to the fact that this book has been blurbed by two pretty exciting fellas:

  • “This book will make you laugh. If you’re not into that sort of thing, consider yourself warned.” –Stephen Colbert
  • “Hilarious to anyone who ever went through, is currently in, might go to, or flunked out of middle school.” –Jon Stewart

And if those glowing endorsements are not enough to make you ask CAN I PLEASE GET MY HANDS ON THIS EXCITING BOOK?! (the answer is yes, it’s on sale now!), consider these words from Tim’s editor, Rosemary Brosnan:

I have a confession to make: For years I have raced to the mailbox to filch my son’s copy of MAD Magazine before he has a chance to read it. I’ve been reading MAD since I was twelve, and it’s an addiction I can’t give up. One of my favorite features has been the blog PLANET TAD by Tim Carvell, which has appeared in the magazine since 2006. Fresh and funny, its perfectly on-target voice and humor capture the life of a nerdy middle-school boy—his awkwardness with girls, the travails of living with a clever little sister, his funny takes on popular culture.  The author, Tim Carvell, is the head writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has won five Emmy Awards writing for the show. It seemed natural for me to call Tim and ask him to write a PLANET TAD book. Perhaps then I could stop stealing my son’s copies of Mad.

When I met Tim, I found him to be extremely likable…and I thought perhaps he had been a little bit like Tad when he was a kid. How else would he have come up with this blog? Happily, Tim agreed to write a PLANET TAD book; he wrote about two-thirds new material, and we took the other third from the published MAD pieces.  PLANET TAD is a hilarious look at a year in the life of twelve-year-old Tad, revealed in his own blog. It’s a year-in-the-life you’ll never forget, in which Tad takes a summer job wearing a hot dog costume, has an unwilling turn onstage in his little sister’s school play, learns a painful lesson about sunburn, attends an embarrassing Halloween party, and is ignored by every girl in his school.

I think this is the kind of book kids are going to pass around to one another. I would have hidden it inside Johnny Tremain myself. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Cory, a seventh grader, says:

“You will laugh your head off, and if you don’t you probably didn’t read or if you did you didn’t understand it.”

Happy reading!

Return tomorrow when we Open The Book with Tim Carvell, and post a free excerpt of PLANET TAD.  In the meantime, take a peek at the video trailer here!


Posted by | May 18, 2012 | No Comments

This Wednesday, we plied our local librarian friends with coffee and treats to meet us very very very early in the morning to hear about our Fall 2012 titles, straight from the mouths of our truly masterful editors. Our attendees live-tweeted under the hashtag #harperfallpreview and it was really exciting for us to see those enthusiastic tweets roll in. Thanks, guys!

Everyone with their listening caps on.

Greenwillow Editor Martha Mihalick (follow her on Twitter @MarthaMihalick) and VP/Publisher Virginia Duncan holding up the f&g of Michael Hall’s September 2012 title, CAT TALE, one that prompted a lot of great discussion. We always learn something new from librarians!

Balzer + Bray Editor Kristin Rens and VP/Publisher Alessandra Balzer holding books from their fall list: DEFIANCE, by C.J. Redwine, and THE OTHER NORMALS, by Ned Vizzini.

Now, for some great This Meets That’s:

  • “Dan Brown for 10 year olds” — THE SECRET PROPHECY, by Herbie Brennan.
  • “Scott Westerfeld meets Lauren Oliver” — THE LOST GIRL, by Sangu Mandanna.
  • “The Goonies meets The Walking Dead” — GRAVEDIGGERS: MOUNTAIN OF BONES, by Christopher Krovatin.
  • “My So-Called Life meets Twilight” — DRAIN YOU, by M. Beth Bloom. (full disclosure… this one killed me!)

Can you believe that in a little more than a month, we’ll be at the ALA Annual meeting in Anaheim, California?  Because we sure can’t (cue folders flying, frantic packing).  But if you’ll be there too, please make sure to stop by, say hello, and grab galleys of the titles above.  Booth #2558– see you there!


Posted by | April 27, 2012 | No Comments

Even though it feels like we JUST got back from TLA (and more on that terrific show later), we’re heading to Molly’s hometown Chicago tomorrow to exhibit at the International Reading Association next week. Will you be there, too? If so, come by booth #2240 for our wonderful author signings (listed below) galleys, teaching guides, posters, bookmarks, booktalking, and friend-making.

1:00–2:00PM, Henry Cole

*9:30–12:00PM, I CAN READ GOES DIGITAL– swing by our booth Tuesday morning to take a photo with your favorite I Can Read costumed characters, see demos of I Can Read books on the iPad and Nook, and enter a sweepstakes to win your own ereader or tablet loaded with an I Can Read library!*

12:30–1:00PM, Jan Spivey Gilchrist

1:00–2:00PM, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Peter Reynolds

2:00–2:30PM, Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campos

2:30–3:30PM, Patricia McCormick

3:30–4:00PM, Stuart Murphy


9:30–10:30AM, Laura Numeroff (do you like donuts? If so, make a point to come to this one!)

11:00–11:30AM, Jody Feldman

11:30AM–12:30PM, Rita Williams-Garcia

See you there!


Posted by | February 14, 2012 | 1 Comment

Today we’re introducing you to Christina Meredith, debut author of KISS CRUSH COLLIDE and one of our Winter 2012 New Voices. Yesterday we shared an excerpt of the book (READ IT HERE!), and a few words from Christina’s editor, Virginia Duncan, on why and how this story spoke to her. Appropriately, this story is really about one girl’s summer of getting to know herself– so today, let’s Open the Book and get to know Christina…


Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

I am going to go with my favorite book, ever, for this — The Cheer Leader by Jill McCorkle. If you are anything like me and pick up the mood of what you are reading, be careful with this one… It is so good it makes me crazy. Right now I am finishing up my next novel and am so very, very close to the end that I am not reading much of anything. Which kills me. I am staying alive through a steady drip of magazine articles and Yahoo headlines. I scan the headlines and then make up the rest. My current favorite? Dog shoots man with own gun. There are so many places you can go with that.

What is your secret talent?

I do a killer Irish accent.

Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.

A well-dressed monkey always makes me laugh.

My current obsessions are…

Fast zombies, Fincher movies, and fair-isle sweaters. And the letter F, apparently.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

Make sure the loudest voice inside your head is your own.

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

…is lit up. Awake and alive and ready for more.

Tell us more about how KISS CRUSH COLLIDE was born.

We all know it’s there.  We’ve felt it:  the spark, the heat, the magic. It rushed past me one day — a teenage girl on the back of a motorcycle.  She was hanging on tight to the dude in front of her, leaning in and looking past him toward the road that was rolling out before them.  Her parents must love that, I thought, immediately followed by, look how far and fast we will go sometimes to find ourselves. I started writing. I chased that idea down. I imagined a girl who had it all, but hadn’t made any choices for herself.  I remembered summers where nothing seemed to happen, but everything changed.  Then Porter came along, with his muscle cars and his sturdy silence, and the days became long and sunny.  He brought the poetry. I kept coming back to the alchemy of attraction and how ignoring it seems to lead to a life of robotic decay.  How the first guy a girl really, really falls for takes her away from her family and how they have defined her.  How sweet and scary it is to find your own way.  But, most of all, I loved the idea that someone can just show up and suddenly your life starts to sparkle.  I still do.

Thanks Christina!


Posted by | February 13, 2012 | 1 Comment

We haven’t forgotten about New Voices, and we hope you haven’t either!  Our next book in this series promoting debut authors, KISS CRUSH COLLIDE, by Christina Meredith, we’ve been saving for this very week, so perhaps you can guess what it’s about?  Good answer– love.  While this is a steamy novel about that kind of attraction that hits you like a truck and holds you prisoner, it’s also a novel about family, duty, obligation, and understanding.

Don’t just take our word for it: READ AN EXCERPT, free, here:

Leah’s life is going according to plan. Her mother’s plan. Cheerleading captain, valedictorian, college, and then marrying her high school sweetheart. Just like her two older sisters. But Leah wants more. More than Shane’s right hand on her thigh as he drives her around. More than the stifling life set out for her. So when the guy who parks cars at the country club offers her his strong, tan hand, he’s not just helping her out of the car. He’s pulling her into a whole new path, one filled with surprises, and journeys, and freedom. A classic American love story between the daughter of privilege and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Greenwillow publisher Virginia Duncan, Christina’s editor, had this to say about KISS CRUSH COLLIDE:

When I first read Kiss Crush Collide (it was called Counting Cars then—which is a fun title once you’ve read the book and actually counted the cars), I fell hard for Porter and his green eyes. Who was this guy? And isn’t he pretty much the stuff of a dream summer romance?

Leah intrigued me. She has everything. Beauty, brains, money—and she already has a boyfriend to die for, and parents and sisters who love her and only want what is best for her. The thing is, Leah isn’t sure what “best” means anymore. She isn’t rebelling. She isn’t freaking out. Or doing drugs. She’s just become vaguely uneasy in her own skin.

Enter Porter.

Reading this manuscript made me remember seeing Dirty Dancing for the first time. It made me want to go on a John Hughes movie jag. Reading this manuscript made me remember how much I love contemporary fiction. I admired the rawness of the story and the honesty of the writing. Do I think Porter and Leah are headed for a happily-ever-after-forever future? No. But I love the idea that a single person can change your life forever and open your eyes to a path you might never have seen or attempted by yourself. And I love that this can (will!) happen on a golf course, or in the school parking lot, or in the kitchen breakfast nook, or next to the old quarry in a borrowed car—rather than in a far-flung dystopia. Thanks, Christina!

Read, ruminate on love in all its forms, and stay tuned for tomorrow, when we’ll Open the Book with debut novelist, Christina Meredith!

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