Posts Tagged: teens
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.
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…
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…
Back in January, the lovely and talented Lili Wilkinson won a Stonewall Book Award Honor in the Children’s and Young Adult division for her young adult book (and U.S. debut) PINK, a lively and resonant look at a teen’s attempts to don a new personality and figure out who she really wants to be. What a treat to be able to share her remarks here, read at the Stonewall’s ALA Annual celebration by Lili’s wonderful editor, Anne Hoppe.
Now, on to it!
“Good evening. My apologies for not being here – Australia is a very long way away.
I’d like to start by thanking the Australian publisher of Pink – Allen & Unwin, in particular my editors Jodie Webster and Hilary Reynolds.
And if it’s not too awkward for her to read this out loud, I must also thank the wonderful Anne Hoppe and everyone else at HarperCollins. Pink is the first of my books to reach American shores, and you have given it such a warm welcome and loving home. Thank you for the gorgeous cover. Thank you for putting it into the hands of teenage readers. Thanks especially for your help in translating the book into American while keeping its Australian setting and flavour.
And of course thanks to my fabulous agent Kate Schafer Testerman, for working so tirelessly to find my books homes in the US.
The book is dedicated to publisher and writer extraordinaire David Levithan, and I wanted to take a moment to explain why.
Many years ago David came to the Reading Matters conference in Melbourne, which I used to help organise. David made an impassioned speech about how teachers, publishers, parents, librarians and other “gatekeepers” have a responsibility to help young people kill the vampires.
… This was pre-Twilight, I should add.
David was referring to a song called Die Vampires Die from an off-Broadway musical called Title of Show. A vampire, in this case, is “any person, thought or feeling that stands between you and your creative self expression.” They creep around and whisper in your ears, saying things like “Your teeth need whitening. You went to state school? You sound weird. Shakespeare, Sondheim and Sedaris did it before you, and better than you.” They tell you you’re not good enough, and you can’t help believing them.
One of the ways we could help young people kill these vampires, suggested David, was by making sure that every teenager could see themselves reflected on the shelves of their libraries and bookshops. And, in his opinion, when it came to books about gay teenagers, we were failing to do that.
The speech received a standing ovation, and I’m proud to say that the Australian publishers, teachers and librarians in the room listened, and since then things have started to change.
But I got to thinking. I’d read books about gay teenagers. Not many, certainly. But I had read a few – David’s not least among them. But I couldn’t think of any books I’d read about the teenagers who aren’t sure. And really, who’s sure about anything when they’re sixteen? I wanted to write a book for those teenagers. I wanted to write a book that said – there are some things you never have to definitively decide on. You don’t ever have to put yourself in a closed-off, past-the-point-of-no-return box, and you really don’t have to do it when you’re sixteen. It’s okay if you’re not sure.
So I wrote Pink.
Books about girls often don’t win awards. We focus a lot of our attention on getting boys reading. I visited an all-girls secondary school recently where not one book was studied that featured a female protagonist. And funny books with pink covers are even less likely to catch the attention of academics and awards judges. When you get home, have a look at how much academic analysis there is of authors like Meg Cabot, Maureen Johnson, Cathy Cassidy or Louise Rennison. Is it because their books are shallow and insubstantial? Cabot’s The Princess Diaries is about a teenage environmentalist who brings democracy to a small European principality. Just because a book is funny and romantic, doesn’t mean it has nothing to say.
Someone asked me the other day why all of my books feature strong, female protagonists. Confused, I repeated what Joss Whedon had said when he was asked the same thing: “Because you’re still asking me that question.”
I love writing about strong, funny, flawed girls who are curious about the world. I love writing romance. I love writing books that make the reader think, that encourage them see the world in different ways.
Which brings me back to Pink, and to my thank yous. More than anything, I want to thank the judges that saw fit to recognise Pink. It means so much to me that a funny, romantic pink book from the other side of the world is to be given such a prestigious honour, to sit alongside amazing writers like Brian Farrey, Ilike Merey, Paul Yee and of course Bil Wright.
The importance of organisations like the American Library Association, and awards like the Stonewall, cannot be overestimated, and as an author I am immensely proud to have that sticker on my book. It’s also lovely that it matches the cover.
My final thank you is on behalf of the teenage readers who have written to me and come up to me at schools and festivals to tell me how Pink made a difference to them. It’s a thank you to the gatekeepers: the publishers, teachers, librarians and parents who make sure that all teenagers are reflected on bookshelves. Thank you for fighting the good fight. Thank you for helping to kill those vampires.”
Thank you, Lili! We’re honored to be your publisher, and inspired by your words.
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:
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 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 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.
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.
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.
COMING FALL 2012:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
Wow– we have some really fantastic books to wish a Happy Book Birthday to today! They’re ALMOST Leap Year book babies, but not quite…
PANDEMONIUM, by Lauren Oliver. In the highly anticipated sequel to DELIRIUM, Lena completely transforms herself into a warrior for the resistance in order to push Alex and her old life far from her mind and heart. Epic and yet heart-breakingly close, you’ll savor every minute of this one.
PARTIALS, by Dan Wells. Humanity’s only hope… may not be human at all. In this exciting thriller, a small group living on what used to be Long Island may be the only humans left after a devastating robot revolution, and Kira finds herself unexpectedly at the forefront of their survival.
Z IS FOR MOOSE, by Kelly Bingham, illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky. Fiesty but well-meaning Moose inserts himself into every page of this ABC book that’s already garnering multiple terrific starred reviews!
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.
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!
Things might be a little quiet over here at the blog this week, because the team is packing up and heading to Dallas, Texas to attend the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. We love this conference– we catch up with old friends, make new ones, promote our terrific upcoming books, and scope the scene for what’s about to pop onto our radar.
If you’ll be at Midwinter too, please stop by our booth (#1528) and say hello! We have LOTS of galleys to give out, including UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi, Sara Pennypacker’s middle grade SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS, Adam Rex’s first-in-a-trilogy COLD CEREAL, and PANDEMONIUM, Lauren Oliver’s follow up to DELIRIUM*. Plus you absolutely must meet Penny, Kevin Henkes‘ newest mouse, whose sweet story is sure to win a place in your heart.
See you in Dallas, y’all!
*Limited quantities available.
Meet Veronica Rossi, debut author of UNDER THE NEVER SKY, We featured an excerpt (read it!) and words from Veronica’s editor in yesterday’s post, and today we’re excited to introduce you to the woman herself. You won’t be surprised to learn that Veronica is a fine artist after jumping into the world of this dystopian teen story; every scene, from electrical storms to virtual joyrides, is incredibly visual, vivid and alive with suspense and danger. UNDER THE NEVER SKY just received a star from Kirkus (full text a bottom)– congrats!
Let’s Open the Book with Veronica and see how she holds up under the cold, hard scrutiny of our incredibly thorough and very intimidating interviewing skills…
Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?
Growing up, I loved anything by Judy Blume but I think Forever will always have a special place in my heart. Right now I’m just starting CATCHING JORDAN by Miranda Kenneally. It’s about a girl who plays football and I can already tell I’m going to love it.
What is your secret talent?
It’s not a huge secret, but I’m an oil painter. I worked as an artist before I began to write.
Fill in the blank: My husband/kids always make me laugh.
My current obsessions are…
German chocolate. My Mac Air (which I have named Romeo.) And lately I’ve been a little obsessed with re-watching and reading my old favorite movies and books. Right now, PERSUASION by Jane Austen is calling to me.
Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?
One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given is to read your work aloud. It really helps!
Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…
…Has a blast! I also hope that, for those readers who seek it, the story’s deeper themes resonate, and that they fall in love with the characters and the world.
Tell us more about how UNDER THE NEVER SKY was born.
I came to UNDER THE NEVER SKY after spending six years on a writing project that never went anywhere. I was frustrated, and feeling like I had failed, but it was a good time to re-evaluate what type of story I really wanted to work on. I spent weeks journaling and reading non-fiction. I read survival guides and science journals, and slowly the characters and the world of UNDER THE NEVER SKY took shape. When I look back now, I see that time as a real turning point. This story means much more to me than anything I’ve ever worked on because I built it on themes that are very meaningful to me. I’m interested in exploring our dependence on technology, and I was able to do that in NEVER SKY. Aria’s journey is one of learning how to exist in the present, and appreciate life moment to moment, and that’s something I work at daily… or, rather… moment to moment! And, because the world in NEVER SKY is crumbling, every single character in the story wrestles with big, interesting questions. What matters most in their lives? Where do they fit, in a deteriorating world? How do they face adversity? These questions make for great writing material!
The next book in our New Voices program is UNDER THE NEVER SKY, the first in a trilogy by debut YA author Veronica Rossi. Foreign rights have already sold to 25 countries, and film rights were optioned by Warner Brother’s, so we’re by no means the only ones excited by this spectacular novel!
OUR SPECIAL TREAT FOR YOU: Click here to read an exclusive, free excerpt!
This novel is pure dystopian pleasure: Dwellers spend most of their time in virtual realms through a device implanted in their eye (ouch!), residing in enclosed cities for fear of the wild and dangerous outside world: The Death Shop, which is desolate, ravaged by horrifying electrical storms and peopled with cannibals. When teen Aria is forced from her comfortable enclosed city, Reverie, and framed for a crime she didn’t commit, she must reluctantly depend on Perry, an Outsider and therefore a barbarian, to help her survive this wasteland and return to her home. But she’s surprised to learn that Perry needs her help, too, and that maybe he isn’t a barbarian after all…
We asked Veronica’s wonderful editor, Barbara Lalicki, to tell us why she loves this book:
HER WORDS TRANSPORTED ME.
I began reading Veronica Rossi’s debut novel on a sunny afternoon. How quickly I was lost in the Aether light of the Never Sky! The world of Dwellers and Outsiders is so fully imagined, I could feel Aria and Perry walking around. Sensory detail, as when Perry shows Aria how to know if a berry is poison, captivated me. Not since Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet had I felt this fully immersed in a perfectly evoked landscape, and, like Hatchet, Under the Never Sky is an extraordinary survival adventure. That it’s set in a future with elements that are familiar combined with the strange, intrigued me.
For instance, Aria is “fractioning” when she uses the Smarteye, a device that allows her to access such Realms as the Beach, where she and her friends gather while also being in another place. In today’s fraught world, haven’t you found yourself working with split concentration? I could relate.
I don’t usually fall for romance, but the push-pull of the evolving relationship between Aria and Perry, who’ve been taught to hate each other, had me enthralled and nervous all at the same time. Would Aria and Perry part ways? It seemed terribly possible.
I knew I wanted to publish Under the Never Sky even before I turned the last page! Throughout, the novel is suspenseful. It’s mind-stretching, ultimately hopeful–and I loved it.
The agent told me that Veronica Rossi had trained as a painter, and it still intrigues me to think about how that helped her to shape this marvelous novel. I hope you will find many enjoyable hours with Aria and Perry in their harsh, yet often beautiful world.