Sardines Cover Reveal…coming at the end of this post, I promise!
When I was born my parents had two immediate reactions. Red hair?! Big feet?!
The red hair was temporary but the latter is still true. I walk proudly on my size 11.5 skis.
When I first saw this cover I also had two reactions. The first was that it is beautiful, and the second was that the kids looked so young! Up until this point the characters in all my books have been high school age. The characters in Sardines are in 6th grade so it makes sense that they wouldn’t look like high school kids, but still. These 6th graders are young but they’re dealing with big stuff, like mental health, missing parents, bullies and figuring out their identities. Big stuff requires big friendship and that’s exactly what they find, sometimes in ways they least expect.
So here it is. My characters: Lucas, Robbie, Cat, Anna and Finn as imagined and executed by the amazing Erwin Madrid, designed by Catherine San Juan. I hope you’ll read their story when it comes into print this fall from Quill Tree Books, Harper Collins.
Thanks to everyone for their patience (Lauren MacLeod, I’m looking at you) and support (friends, family, twitter and Valerie Cole you’re all over it)!
I hope all of you local folk can make it out to celebrate next Friday night! More details here.
In the mean time here is a list of things you can do to show your love and support for AUTHORS IN GENERAL (not just me-really)
*Buy books – I know, duh, right? But seriously I don’t have an endless budget for books or a house big enough to store them all. But when I love an author, I buy their book. Also books make great gifts!
*Ask your local library to get books by authors you love.
*Write reviews of books you love on sites like goodreads and amazon -seriously, this can make a HUGE difference. Even a short review. Books with more reviews get promoted more on those sites.
*When you go into a bookstore -ask the employee where the book is. Even if they don’t have it this helps spread the word about their title.
*Social media is great for learning about new books. If you love something, let people know!
This, in my mind, is the difference between writing for and about teenagers.
There are problems and they are not resolved.
I have a book coming out this week and one of the things on my mind, besides the fact that I’m a teacher and I’m going back to school and my kid is starting first grade and I selectively forgot to do all the major cleaning projects I thought I might tackle over the summer, and the damn Subaru dealer won’t call me back about replacing my faulty airbags, yeah besides all that. I’ve been thinking about the fact that not everyone will like my book.
Art and literature is subjective. I accept that because if I didn’t I’d be an idiot/insane. In WIRED MAN AND OTHER FREAKS OF NATURE there is a lot of (teenage) drinking and some drug use. I didn’t think that much about it when I wrote it because it was consistent with my high school experience. I did most of the things my characters did without any major related tragedies. This is not to say I condone those behaviors -whether I do or not is not the point -the point is they happen.
SOME PEOPLE think that if you write YA fiction, you should write books in which teens who have sex regret it, or get pregnant or a disease. If teens drink or do drugs they should regret it or get in car accidents or develop addictions. That way no actual teens will read the book and think these things are a good idea. As though teens (or any of us) might be more influenced by fiction than the trusted people around us. SOME PEOPLE like things tidy and morally unambiguous. That’s not the kind of fiction that interests me whether it’s written about teenagers or adults. It’s not what I’d choose to read so it’s not what I choose to write.
There are problems in WIRED MAN AND OTHER FREAKS OF NATURE. Big problems about friendship and identity, about moving past life in high school and reconciling the future with the past. There will be some resolution because a story needs that. But life is messy and often times morally ambiguous and I think it’s okay for teenagers (and all of us) to know that too.
I wrote this book about two years ago -my first book took about four years to go from draft to publication. The point is it’s fun to celebrate with all the people who have supported me and this book along the way.
When: SEPTEMBER 9TH AT 7PM
Where: MECHANICS HALL LIBRARY 519 CONGRESS ST. PORTLAND, ME
What: Cupcakes, Reading, Wine/Beer in a really cool old school library!
And they are gorgeous! Thanks to the amazingly talented Laura Otto Rinne at Lerner Books. Carolrhoda Lab and Lerner have set the bar pretty dang high for any future books I may be lucky enough to get published. Check out the amazing inside cover.
Both Wired Man and The Other Way Around were so beautifully designed inside and out! With less than two months until this baby launches into the world I’m super psyched to share my favorite quote from the Publisher’s Weekly review (which you read in full here if you so desire.)
“It’s a keenly observed, emotionally deep examination of wounded, insecure teens trying to find their way.”
If you want to pre-order this bad boy feel free to use any of the links below.
The book launch party was a blast. I’m so grateful to everyone who came out -I think we had fun! And to Chris and Bill and everyone at Longfellow Books who helped make this happen. And yes, that was my mother scraping the poster with my face on it off the front of your store so she could keep it -more on her later.
So many friends, colleagues, former colleagues, cousins, former roommates, teachers, students and of course family. I read two short pieces from the book. One as reader’s theater with the incomparable Liz Hardcastle who was not at all intimidated by the three pages of notes on her intonation that I gave her, and one on my own. Afterwards I was so excited to be done I tried to grab a cupcake and run. But then there was my mother -who stood up (I’m not making this up or exaggerating) and demanded that I answer some questions. Because being a mother is never done and sometimes when your kid tries to turn and flee you have to stop her.
“Was I too obtrusive?” she asked later. We all know what the right answer is don’t we? In all seriousness, I couldn’t be more grateful. Everyone had incredible questions and answering them turned out to be my favorite part. Because I was talking about something I love with people I love.
So many of you who aren’t lucky enough to live in Maine have been so supportive -posting pictures of the book as it arrives at your door and sharing your excitement as you read it. Everyone of those messages is like a big old hug and makes me feel even more blessed. I’d like to share with you what I said as an introduction on Thursday night -so it can be just like you were there. That and a few photos.
Thanks for the love.
The only thing I knew when I was seventeen and applying to college was that I wanted something different from high school and didn’t include fraternities or sororities –which seemed to me at the time like an extension of everything I disliked about high school.
My tour guide at Oberlin College was named Bony. He was a very large, purple haired gay, dance major from the Philippines. And I remember thinking to myself as he toured us through a student cooperative where the people threw food at us –if this guy can be comfortable here to be himself, I’ll have no problem.
I ended up living in that very same cooperative my sophomore year. My roommate and I were far and away the preppiest people to live there, maybe ever. But, And, I loved it. I loved being a part of something that seemed so dangerously different from everything I’d been told was important about being a grown up. The Other Way Around is a little bit of a love letter to that experience. It’s about finding a group of people that make you feel at home, even if they are very different from you and everything you’ve known before.
I don’t pretend to live some radical anarchist vegan lifestyle. I never have and probably never will. But I know that it’s out there. I have sat through a conversation where people argued about whether or not eating honey was exploiting the labor of the bees. And somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I was taking notes, probably with a bemused look on myself. Someday, I must have told myself, this will be useful to you.
I am so grateful that you are all here tonight to celebrate me and The Other Way Around. It really means everything that you’re here to share in the story and the sharing of the story. Because, as Lance who frequently accuses me of embellishing the truth for the sake of comic timing can attest to, or my parents who made constant trips to the library or book store know, I do love a good story.