Posts Tagged: young adult

He Said, She Said

Posted by | January 13, 2014 | No Comments

In He Said, She Said, I set out to tell a simple love story about Omar, a popular, but shallow boy, who literally tries to change the world to get the attentions of Harvard-bound Claudia, a talented girl who’s uninterested in him. (Okay, maybe that’s not so simple).  During this writing journey, an assortment of books and quotes and poems I’ve loved began to creep up on me, begging to be included in the story. And they wouldn’t stop. So I let them in.

He Said She Said is most definitely a tale of teenage love. But it is also an ode to the power of Pablo Neruda, Pat Conroy, Marjory Wentworth—the poet laureate of South Carolina—Alice Walker, and all of the writers who shaped me. The writers who helped this callow-schoolboy-now-writer find his voice. It’s a testament to the transformative power of love and words, in helping us become better people.

You see, I grew up in a home where my father was a writer, professor, and book publisher, and my mother was a storyteller who taught English at the local college.  We didn’t watch television. Correction: We couldn’t watch television. If we were lucky, we’d catch reruns of Lucy or westerns on Saturday, but only when my father was travelling. Our house was a Wal-Mart of books. And reading was our hobby. Our play date. And when we misbehaved, our punishment. While my friends entertained themselves with board and video games, my shelves were lined with Eric Carle, Nikki Giovanni, Eloise Greenfield, and Lucille Clifton’s Everett Anderson’s books. I knew those books, word for word. This is what I know: In my home the words came alive. There were read-alouds before breakfast and reader’s theater after dinner. We were shown that there were whole new worlds present in each page. I have an appreciation for books, much like athletes who’ve played football since pee wee league, or musicians who’ve played piano since they could walk. Sure, I write because I can, because I love the way words can get together and dance. But, the most important reason I write is because I want others to fall in love with the power of words just like I did (even when I didn’t know it).

And find their own voice, just like Omar does in He Said, She Said.

Kwame Alexander has written fifteen books, owned several publishing companies, written for television (TLC’s Hip Hop Harry), recorded a CD, performed around the world, produced jazz and book festivals, hosted a weekly radio show, worked for the US government, and taught in a high school. Recently, Kwame was a visiting writer in Brazil and Africa. He resides in the Washington, DC, area, where he is the founding director of Book-in-a-Day (BID), a program that teaches and empowers teenagers to write and publish their own books.

New Voices, a Word from the Editor: Not a Drop to Drink

Posted by | September 26, 2013 | No Comments

Yesterday we heard from Mindy McGinnis about her fantastic debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink. Today, we hear from her editor, Sarah Shumway. Sarah, take it away!

There’s nothing like falling into the spell of a new voice, a striking view of reality, and into the life of a character you know you’ll never forget.  Falling in love with a book is sometimes a thing that happens gradually over the course of a story, but sometimes the first words on a page signal that the feelings are going to come tumbling out of a book and straight into your heart. The very first words of Not a Drop to Drink have that spark for me: “Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond…”

The books I’ve always loved most are those that show me something that I’ve never even imagined and make it real, make me feel. And I love wild books – ones where characters, especially strong girls, have to work to squeeze a good life from a harsh world. I started young with those books, as in Laura Ingalls in the Little House books and Karana in Island of the Blue Dolphins. I love books that challenge me, along with the characters, to rise above difficulty, limitations, and to become more than we knew we could be.  And Lynn, the heroine of Not a Drop, is such a strong character. Not a doubt there. She’s strong in a way that is more than physical or emotional. She’s real. She’s a product of her circumstances, stubborn and rough, but she discovers her heart.   And her story pushes every one of my “appeal” buttons: that strong and distinctive heroine, a gripping survival story, beautiful, sometimes poetic writing, a vivid setting in a fully-realized world, and plot twists like WOAH.  Oh, and it has some good kissing.

One of the most interesting discussions I’ve had with Mindy and with my colleagues here at HarperCollins is about how to categorize this book – is it dystopian? Post-apocalyptic? But I’m kind of proud to say that it really defies genre. While Not a Drop has plenty to offer fans of hugely popular dystopian fiction, what I appreciate is that it’s more than that. It’s different and special because it’s not about challenging a world gone wrong, but it’s about challenging people to be stronger in their own lives and hearts.  And when the trends have come and gone, I think Mindy’s book – Lynn’s story – will persist in grabbing readers’ hearts and imagination, the same way that the frontier or desert island books many of us loved as children and teenagers are still perennial favorites.

I’m so proud to have helped bring Mindy McGinnis and Not a Drop to Drink to an audience. Almost two years after I first read a draft, this book still makes my heart pound, my spine tingle, and my fingers itch to turn pages, and I hope all readers will feel the same when they get their hands on it.

Sarah Shumway is an editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books.

New Voices: Opening the Book with… Mindy McGinnis!

Posted by | September 25, 2013 | 1 Comment

Imagine a world where water is the hottest commodity. Author Mindy McGinnis has done it in a thrilling, terrifying way in her debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink.

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

Of course, after reading this fantastic dystopian novel, we jumped at the chance of having Mindy come by and open the book with us!

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

Choosing is so hard! I’ll say A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Right now I’m reading Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Tucholke.

What is your secret talent?

Um… I can flip a stack of quarters off my elbow and catch them in my palm. Also I have very fat thumb pads.

Fill in the blank: _______ always make me laugh.

British men.

My current obsessions are…

SHERLOCK, local history and the roots of criminal profiling.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

Do your homework. Half the battle is learning the industry.

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

Didn’t steal it from the library.

How did you come to write this book?

I watched a documentary called Blue Gold, which is about a projected shortage of potable water on our planet due to overpopulation. It was a horrible thought – we all need water to survive, and it’s something we can’t make. I went to bed very grateful for the small pond in my backyard, and that night I dreamt I was teaching a young girl how to operate a rifle so that she could help me protect the pond. I woke up and thought, “Hey… I wrote a book in my head just now.”

I asked myself what this child would grow into, and my main character, Lynn, was the answer. I don’t plot at all, I simply write. With Drink I was very fortunate in that the book really wrote itself. It wanted to be told. Lynn’s transformation from isolationist to human being had to be slow and believable, but not at the expense of pacing. I knew I needed supporting characters that could make this an interesting read without lots of explosions and fight scenes. Stebbs walked in and saved me there!

Thanks, Mindy! You can find Not a Drop to Drink in stores now!

September Girls

Posted by | July 29, 2013 | No Comments

 

Image by ModHero

Image by ModHero

September Girls, by Bennett Madison, is creating quite a sensation in certain circles. Oh, THAT book, some of you will nod knowingly. The book that is causing so much controversy on the blogosphere, which is addressed wonderfully in this interview with Bennett.

Hopefully others will also nod knowingly but say yes, THAT book, that book that has received five starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, BCCB, and School Library Journal and glowing praise from authors E. Lockhart, Jenny Han, Sara Zarr, and Nova Ren Suma.

I happen to agree with Maureen Johnson, who praised Bennett as “one of the best YA writers around” for his last book The Blonde of the Joke. I’m biased, of course—I’m his editor. I’m also a woman, and I grew up with three brothers—two details about myself that speak to my belief that September Girls is actually quite feminist, and that it pretty accurately portrays teenage boys.

September Girls took Bennett longer to write than he expected. He said in this interview with The Rejectionist that his editor was skeptical of the idea. To be fair, I wasn’t skeptical of his ability to write an amazing book (even though I didn’t really know what it was about!). I had faith in him.

What I MIGHT have been skeptical of were the delivery dates he kept promising me, especially since he kept sending me drafts with notes like this along the way:

infinite caveats apply. there’s a lot of stuff i already know i want to work on, change, recast, etc etc etc. but i wanted to get you a draft, and this is a draft. i’m pretty sure it’s free of TK’s and sentences that trail off without an ending but i could be wrong about that.

And this:

THE POINT IS, there’s still a lot of work to do on this and I hope it’s complete enough at this stage that you’re able to see where it’s going and give me some thoughts on what is most important to handle. There will be another draft, so read it with that in mind I guess. Basically I can barely bring myself to send it but I could keep working on it forever so here goes nothing.

And my favorite:

I looked over your letter and I’m in total agreement with 90% of it.

I’m so proud of September Girls––it’s been called mesmerizing and lovely and haunting and surprising and intoxicating, and even though some readers clearly haven’t gotten it, I’m thrilled that the book is creating conversation, and inciting readers like Emily May to speak up and talk about it in such an eloquent, thoughtful manner. I hope you have a chance to read it, and that it works its magic on you.

Tara Weikum is the editor of September Girls by Bennett Madison.

SOMAN CHAINANI AND ELLEN OH, AUTHOR PALS

Posted by | May 14, 2013 | No Comments

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…

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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.

 

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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!

 

GUEST POST: LIZ COLEY, AUTHOR OF PRETTY GIRL 13

Posted by | April 22, 2013 | No Comments

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.

Thanks, Liz!

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.


TURNING THE PAGE WITH… GARTH NIX!

Posted by | November 8, 2012 | No Comments

A CONFUSION OF PRINCES, Garth Nix’s first teen novel since ABHORSEN, came out earlier this year– did you read it? We did, and we were completely enthralled: it’s a sci-fi, action/adventure tale set in a totally fascinating world where thousands of mostly-immortal superhuman Princes compete to rise above the rest while operating within a dangerous, traitorous Empire. And you know, fighting epic battles in space. But above all, it’s a coming-of-age story that you’ll find complex and moving. And it received three starred reviews (SLJ, Horn Book, and Kirkus), to boot!

Today we are lucky enough to hear from the man himself, as Garth graciously agreed to be subjected to our shockingly rigorous line of questioning…

What time is your alarm clock set for?
As it is shared with my wife Anna, who is an early riser, the alarm usually goes off about 6:00am. But if I am honest, my actual rising time is around 8:00am and sometimes later, if I stayed up working and didn’t go to bed till 1:00 or 2:00, as is not unusual.

Favorite book from childhood?
I have many, many favourite books from childhood. How could I select just one? Today I will choose KNIGHT’S FEE by Rosemary Sutcliff, tomorrow I might choose THE DARK IS RISING by Susan Cooper, the day after that TARAN WANDERER by Lloyd Alexander, or perhaps CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY by Robert Heinlein, or DOWN WITH SKOOL by Ronald Searle, or LEAVE IT TO PSMITH by P. G. Wodehouse or THE GOLDEN GOBLET by Eloise Jarvis McGraw or UNCLE by J. P. Martin . . . there are too many wonderful books to choose from!

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what job would you like to have?
I have had many different jobs, mostly in publishing. My favourite was being a literary agent, helping other authors get their work published, and that is probably what I would go back to being if I wasn’t being a full-time author.

How many stamps are in your passport?
I think I am on my fifth passport since I was 19. The current one has about twenty stamps in it. Sadly, some countries don’t stamp passports anymore, it is all stored electronically, so I don’t have as many in the current passport as I would once have collected. The best passport I had was in my late 20s, which had lots of weird and wonderful visas and entry/exit stamps from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Favorite word?
Sorcerous.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished reading the fascinating non-fiction book THE TIME TRAVELLER’S GUIDE TO MEDIEVAL ENGLAND by Ian Mortimer.

Finish this sentence: “I always smile when…”
…I come home from a trip away and see my family.

Funniest (or most interesting) question from a fan?
I get lots of interesting questions, but one that really stumped me was someone at a book event who asked me: “Why 996 steps?” I had no idea what she was asking. She repeated the question. Eventually it turned into a very specific question about the number of steps down from the well in the Abhorsen’s House, in my book ABHORSEN and why that particular number. The answer being that I had no idea, it just seemed the right depth.

 

Thanks Garth! Be sure to check out Garth on Twitter, Facebook, and at his website.

NEW VOICES, OPENING THE BOOK WITH… ELIZABETH NORRIS

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…

NEW VOICES, OPENING THE BOOK WITH… KIERA CASS

Posted by | September 12, 2012 | No Comments

Yesterday we brought you a few words from the editor on the dystopian YA debut, THE SELECTION, and today we ask the author herself, Kiera Cass, the really tough questions…

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

My favorite book from childhood is probably The Giving Tree. I was BFFs with a tree for a week in the first grade because of that book. And I’m currently making my way through Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

What is your secret talent?

My secret talent? I can touch my tongue to my nose. It’s pretty magical.

Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.

This picture ALWAYS makes me laugh. I have a pinterest board of ridiculous things to look at when I get stressed, and it helps me every time!

My current obsessions are…

…cranberry apple juice, Rob Pattinson, cupcakes, and Dance Moms.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

I always tell aspiring writers to learn everything they can now. There’s so much happening behind the scenes of making a book that it’s a bit dizzying sometimes. There are lots of great blogs out there, helpful authors on twitter, and informative books. I also make a series of Behind the Book videos on my YouTube channel to show others what it’s like to get your first editorial letter or deal with doubt or any of the other things that pop up along the journey.

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

… just has fun reading it. I write stories to entertain myself, and I hope that other people can just enjoy the ride with me.

Tell us more about how THE SELECTION was born.

The idea for THE SELECTION came from thinking about Esther and Cinderella. I always wondered it Esther maybe liked the boy next door before she was shipped off to compete to be queen. Even if she lost, she was never coming home. What was going on in her heart? And Cinderella never asked for a prince. She asked for a night off and a dress. Did getting a prince make her happy? Or was being a princess too much for her? Those two thoughts meshed in my head, and I knew I wanted to write a story about a girl from a humble background who would get the attention of a prince, but she would already be in love and not want him. And I knew she would go through something (which ended up being the Selection) that would show her more of the world than she was ever prepared to see.

I fell in love. Every time I get to sit down and work on The Selection, I get excited. I really hope that people stick with America, Aspen, and Maxon through all three books, because I think their journey is fantastic!

 

Thanks Kiera!  You’ll be happy to hear that THE SELECTION is available for purchase now.  And once you’ve read it, you’ll be equally happy to know that the next in the trilogy, THE ELITE, is due out in Summer 2013.

NEW VOICES, A WORD FROM THE EDITOR: THE SELECTION

Posted by | September 11, 2012 | 1 Comment

The idea behind our next Summer New Voices pick is almost too good to be true– Cinderella meets The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor? But that’s what THE SELECTION by debut novelist Kiera Cass is, no exaggerations, we swear.  We fell for the main character, America Singer, as she’s torn not just between two boys, but between two possibilities for her future. After all, who among us wouldn’t feel at least a little bit tempted by a chance to be royalty?

Kiera’s editor, Erica Sussman, tells us why she fell for THE SELECTION:

 

“Move aside William and Kate! There’s a new royal romance to fawn over.

I am a total sucker for a happy ending, a sweet romance, and healthy helping of drama. So when The Selection was pitched to me as a lightly dystopian Cinderella meets The Bachelor, I knew it was right up my alley. What I didn’t realize was how head over heels in love I would fall for it. Even now, I can remember finishing the book and desperately wishing I had the next one right then and there; I needed to find out what was going to happen. Right from the start, I was swept up in America Singer’s world. The poverty she leaves behind for the glittering gowns of palace life. The competition with other girls for a prize she doesn’t even care about. Her all-encompassing love for Aspen. And her steadfast friendship with Prince Maxon, which blossoms into an unbelievably sweet courtship.

One of my most favorite things about The Selection is its author, Kiera Cass. From the moment I first corresponded with Kiera I couldn’t stop gushing about her enthusiasm, her kindness, her humor, and her intelligence, all of which bubble over in everything she says. And her videos? Well, her videos are a masterpiece in and of themselves. From the first one I ever watched – in which she celebrates her book deal with epic dancing, I was hooked. If you haven’t checked out her YouTube channel, please do. I promise, it’s impossible not to watch her videos without smiling:  http://www.youtube.com/user/KieraCass.”

 

Thanks, Erica! And check out an excerpt of THE SELECTION here.  And stay tuned tomorrow for a few words from Kiera herself.

 

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