2014 Debut Author Intros: Episode 5


Welcome back to the fifth episode of the 2014 Debut Author Intros! Come back every Saturday and Sunday this December to get a first look at this coming years debut authors. Take a look below for todays authors!


6549106Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth about Alice

I’m an English teacher, writer, wife, and mom who writes books for and about young adults. My debut novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, will be out in the spring of 2014.

My favorite things include chocolate, pepperoni pizza, and this super hilarious 1980s sitcom about four retired women called The Golden Girls. I can basically quote every episode.

I live with my husband, son, one rescue dog, one fat cat, and another cat that is even fatter than the fat cat.

When it comes to what I read, I love realistic young adult fiction (duh), creative nonfiction, super scandalous tell-all memoirs and unauthorized biographies, and basically anything that hooks me on the first page.


Can you tell us about your debut, The Truth About Alice, in 15 words or less?
Small Texas town. Girl with a bad reputation. Friday Night Lights meets Easy A.
Why contemporary?
I’ve always loved to read and write contemporary, even when I was a teenager.  I think it’s because I find real life utterly fascinating.  I’m one of those people who loves to people watch, and I always think that the people we walk around with in our everyday lives – at work, at the grocery store, wherever – each one holds all these stories of heartbreak, love, and sacrifice inside of them.  I just love telling that kind of story.  I’m amazed and in awe of people who can write fantasy and science fiction and do all that complicated world building, but I’m just too taken by everyday life, I guess!
Can we expect to cry over this one?
There are some scenes where you may need a tissue or two, yes, but without spoiling it, I do think the book ends on a hopeful note.  But yes, you certainly might plan to keep a box of Kleenex nearby.
What was your favorite scene to write?
Without giving away spoilers, I loved writing almost every single scene involving Kurt, the awkward genius, and Alice, the bad girl.  There’s one set around Christmas that 16068341was my absolute favorite to write, and it still makes me smile to think about it.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
My book switches point of view several times, and in early drafts, there were several additional characters.  I think it was just too overwhelming for me and I think it would have been confusing for the reader.  I combined characters and eliminated one entirely – her name was Carmen and she was sort of this edgy, punk rock girl that everyone else thought was a witch.  I was sad to eliminate her, and I’m actually thinking she may have a story of her own one day!
Is The Truth About Alice a standalone?
Yes, it is.  But I still think about the characters and can’t rule out revisiting them someday in some sort of partner book.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Right now Rainbow Rowell is number one with a bullet.  I wish I could eat her brain.  Eleanor&Park was sheer genius, and I adored Fangirl so much, too.  I also love E. Lockhart and her Ruby Oliver books.  Laurie Halse Anderson is another writer who blows my mind.
Are you currently working on anything else?
Yes, and thank you for asking!  I just finished the first draft of another stand alone that is also set in a similar type of small Texas town.  It’s about a young woman growing up in an extremely religious home – it’s almost cult-like.  She’s quite isolated and knows little to nothing about the world outside.  It’s about how she breaks out.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

I had the opportunity to read an ARC of Julie Murphy’s Side Effects May Vary, and it’s amazeballs.  It’s a contemporary that has just the right mix of humor and tragedy.  I adored it and can’t wait to read it again when it officially debuts!


The Truth about Alice Synopsis:

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.


GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16068341-the-truth-about-alice?ac=1


Screen-shot-2013-04-25-at-4.07.18-PMKate Hattemer, author of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

Kate is the author of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy (Knopf, Spring 2014) and The Land of Ten Thousand Madonnas (Knopf, Spring 2015). Visit her website here.


Can you tell us about your debut book, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, in 15 words or less?

Yes, by eschewing syntax:  reality TV, arts academy, long poem, betrayal, corruption, friendship, heroic gerbil.

Why Realistic Fiction?

I taught high school Latin for three years after college, and that was a big part of how I ended up writing contemporary YA.  My students were brilliant, hilarious, and deeply engaged in their worlds, with a really endearing mix of sincerity and irony.  I wanted to write for them and about them.

I looooooove that cover! What were your thoughts when you first saw it?

“I am so relieved that the cover is being designed by a professional and not by me.”

What was your favorite scene to write?

I had a lot of fun writing the scenes in which the narrator is tormented by his four-year-old triplet sisters.  I hate it when fictional kids 18209360are precious, when they lisp out tidbits of great wisdom.  I wanted to make Ethan’s sisters as devilish, irrepressible, and downright weird as all the four-year-olds I’ve ever had to share a house with.  And I have seven younger siblings.

Is this a standalone?

I’m pretty sure it is.

How on earth did you come up with that title?

Tortuously, and with help.

What was your first reaction when you learned you were getting published by Knopf Books for Young Readers?

I had to keep the news to myself for the afternoon, so I ended up channeling my glee into all the chores I’d been putting off for months.  I remember trying to replace a lightbulb in a ceiling fixture and almost falling off the chair because I couldn’t curb the maniacal giggles.

What are you working on next?

I’m revising my next novel, which is forthcoming from Knopf in Spring 2015.  The backdrop of The Land of Ten Thousand Madonnas is the life and death of a seventeen-year-old boy with a heart defect; Jesse lived with his father, an art-history professor who wallpapered their apartment with postcards of Mary. One year after his death, his three cousins, his best friend, and his girlfriend are sent on an enigmatic journey to Europe.  This book involves heroism, but not of the gerbillic kind.

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

Definitely my cousin’s!  We were born only nine days apart, so I love that we’re debuting in the same year.  Arna Bontemps Hemenway’s book of short stories, Elegy on Kinderklavier, is coming out in summer 2014 from Sarabande Books.  He’s brilliant and I can’t wait to see what he’s done.


The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy Synopsis:

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they’ll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.


GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18209360-the-vigilante-poets-of-selwyn-academy?ac=1


6993187Adrianne Strickland, author of Wordless


AdriAnne Strickland shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can’t seem to stop. Her debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, is coming 2014 from Flux Books. Visit her website here.

Can you tell us about your debut book, Wordless, in 15 words or less?


Wordless Tavin Barnes must stop a ruthless group that knows how to control the Words.


How many books are going to be in the Words Made Flesh series?


My plan is for a trilogy, so for now the answer is three!


Why Science Fiction?


It’s a mix of fantasy and science fiction, so not straight sci-fi. I didn’t so much set out to write a sci-fi novel as the story itself took me in that direction and required those elements.


What was your favorite scene to write?


When Tavin and the female lead, Khaya, are alone at the bottom of a lake. I don’t want to say much more about it than that so I don’t spoil it. You’ll have to read it to find out what happens! 🙂


What was the hardest scene to edit out?


There wasn’t anything too terrible. The very worst I can think of was a fun scene that introduced an antagonist who hounds Tavin 17605075throughout the book—and who just so happens to be the Word of Death—and it was full of lots of sinister forebodings. Too much, in fact, giving away too much too soon, so I had to take it out and introduce the antagonist in a different way.


What else are you working on?


In addition to Wordless’s sequel, Lifeless (due out in 2015), I’m working on a middle grade adventure.


What was your first reaction when you found out that you were being published by Flux?


A lot of screaming and dancing around and disbelief, followed by intense relief that I would now get to write the rest of the series. I don’t let myself write sequels until I know there is a future for the first book, and I really wanted to, in this case.


What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?


There are SO many amazing books coming out in 2014, and I’m especially looking forward to a lot of my fellow Flux authors’ books.  But a debut in particular that’s coming out very soon (January) that I can’t wait to read is Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty, because I’m a huge sucker for both Graceling and Beauty and the Beast, and it has been called a combination of the two.


Wordless Synopsis:

In Eden City, the Wordless, or illiterate poor, would never even dream of meeting one of the all-powerful Words who run the city-state. Much less running away with one.

When a drop-dead gorgeous girl literally falls in his lap during his routine trash run, seventeen-year-old Tavin Barnes isn’t sure if it’s the luckiest day of his life, or the beginning of the worst. Because Khaya is also the Word of Life, meaning that she could either heal a wound with a touch or command an ivy bush to devour a city block, depending on her mood.

By helping Khaya escape the seemingly idyllic confines of Eden City into Europe beyond, Tavin unwittingly throws himself into the heart of a conflict that is threatening to tear the city apart… if not the world. Eden City’s elite will stop at nothing to protect the shocking secret Khaya hides, and enlists the help of the other Words, each with their own frightening powers—like the ability to spark a fire, raise a flood, or kill with a touch—to bring her back.

To survive, Tavin must confront the mysteries of his past… and risk sacrificing what he cares about most.


GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17605075-wordless?ac=1

4519247Livia Blackburne, author of Midnight Thief

Livia Blackburne started writing her debut novel MIDNIGHT THIEF while
conducting research on the neuroscience of reading at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Since then, she’s switched to
full time writing, which also involves getting into peoples’ heads but
without the help of a three tesla MRI scanner.  She still blogs about
the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and writing at

Can you tell us about your debut, Midnight Thief,  in 15 words or less?

An acrobatic spy breaks through Palace defenses. A young knight vows to capture her.

When can we expect a cover reveal?

Soon! I’m still waiting for the go-ahead, but probably sometime in November.

Why High fantasy?

It’s what I read and loved growing up – Tamora Pierce, Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis.  When I decided to write, this is naturally what I gravitated 17566814to.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Hmm, can I do this without spoilers? I really enjoyed my fight scenes. Midnight Thief is fairly action heavy, and I joked once that my idea of character development was “add more knife fights.” But there’s a grain of truth in that. Kyra gets into a lot of fights, with both friends and enemies, and you’d be surprised at how character relationships come through in these moments of confrontation. I guess when you’re staring down a knife blade, all your issues come out [=

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I’m a sparse writer, and I tend to add during revisions rather than take out. The first draft was 64,000 words. The final draft is something like 96,000.  So I didn’t cut out too much, and the scenes I did cut really did need to go. They simply didn’t add anything to the story.

What authors do you look up to?

My biggest influence for Midnight Thief is Tamora Pierce.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve reread the Song of the Lioness, and I

think Midnight Thief is in the same tradition of girl power fantasy. Some other authors I really admire are Megan Whalen Turner for her brilliant plots and characters, Scott Lynch for his overflowing wit, Laini Taylor’s magical world building, and Erin Bow’s beautiful and heartbreaking storytelling.

How many books will be in this series?

I’m not sure yet! I have ideas for two more books, but nothing is set in stone.

Are you currently working on anything else?

Yes! I’m working on an unrelated YA high fantasy.  I can’t say much about it yet, but there are scorpions and a hot love interest with

cauliflower ear.

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

Oooh, that’s like asking who my favorite child is (if I had children, that is). I’m going to cheat here and point you all to The Fourteenery (fourteenery.tumblr.com), a debut author group that I’m lucky to be part of. There are so many great books coming out next year.


Midnight Thief Synopsis:

Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.
But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

In her arresting debut novel, Livia Blackburne creates a captivating world where intrigue prowls around every corner—and danger is a way of life.


GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17566814-midnight-thief?ac=1


tumblr_inline_mpyikorU0F1qff4rmMG Buehrlen, author of The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare

When she’s not writing, M.G. moonlights as a web designer and social media/creative director. She’s the current web ninja lurking behind the hugely popular website YABooksCentral.com, a social network for YA (and kids!) book lovers.

These are the places you’ll find M.G. hiding: in her creaky old house nestled in Michigan pines, sipping coffee on her porch, cooking over campfires, and dipping her toes in creeks. M.G. is represented by Holly Root of the Waxman Leavell Agency.


Can you tell us about your debut, The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare , in 15 words or less?

Here goes: Time travel. Reincarnation. Limbo. Gangsters. Shootouts. TWISTS. Kissing. Blue eyes. Robberies. Blood. Lies, lies, lies.

When can we expect to see a cover?

This month, I hope. Just saw my first cover comps, so the final should arrive soon. *excite*

What was your favorite scene to write?

There’s a particular twist I didn’t see coming until it spilled out onto the page. I’m usually very aware of every twist and turn ahead of time, but 17878473this one surprised me, and it’s quite possibly my favorite part of the entire book.

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

There were a lot of scenes that took place in Limbo that didn’t need to be in the first book of the series. I didn’t realize it until I finished the book, but man, cutting those scenes to save for later was tough. Knowing which information to tell, and when to tell it, is tricky business.

How many books will be in the Alex Wayfare series?

I have four books planned for the series, and maybe a novella in there somewhere.

What made you want to write about time travel?

It’s funny, I didn’t set out to write time travel at first. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to write contemporary, historical, or sci-fi, so I asked myself how I could write a book with all three elements. Time travel was the answer. 57 LIVES is about a modern teenager (contemporary) who can travel back in time to her reincarnated pasts (sci-fi) to relive historical points in time. It has all the story-telling elements I love in one package. Plus, I’ve been a huge time travel fan my entire life. Quantum Leap, Bill & Ted’s, Hermione’s Time Turner, Doctor Who — you name it. If it’s a time travel story, I’ve devoured it.)

Are you currently working on anything else?

I just finished co-writing the first book in a middle grade series with CJ Redwine, which was SO much fun. Other than that, I have a few other books I’m currently plugging away at: another sci-fi fantasy, a gritty, urban contemporary, and a post-apocalyptic. I always have a few going at once.

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

Oh geez, there are so many greats arriving in 2014. So, so many. I run YABooksCentral.com so I see a lot of debut announcements cross my desk. One that particularly stands out for me at the moment is PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG by Anne Blankman. I’m a sucker for kick-ass, high-stakes historical, and this one sounds like it fits the bill. The main character is an old family friend of Hitler’s, so, you know, I’m totally there.


The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare Synopsis:

For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.

But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.

It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.

Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.

And will stop at nothing to make this life her last.


GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17878473-the-fifty-seven-lives-of-alex-wayfare?ac=1


kristiKristi Helvig, author of Burn Out

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist turned sci-fi/fantasy writer. You can find her musing about space monkeys, Star Trek, and other random topics on her blog. Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, kids, and behaviorally-challenged dogs.


Can you tell us about your debut, Burn Out, in 15 words or less?
One of the last people alive discovers her fellow survivors are deadlier than the planet. (15 exactly!)
I love that cover, who designed it?
Thanks—I love it too. A. Castanheira from Egmont USA designed this uber-cool cover. I loved that they asked for my input and think the cover fits the book perfectly.
What was your favorite scene to write?
Hmmm…probably the scene where James checks Tora’s injured ribs in her room.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
Fortunately, I didn’t have to edit anything out. I tend to be a bare bones writer, and then have to flesh things out afterward.17620859
Is this a standalone or a series?
What was your favorite quote from Burn Out?
When Tora pulls out her gun, aims it at Markus, and says, “My father told me a girl should never be alone with a boy without protection.”
Are you currently working on anything else?
I’m working like mad on the sequel to BURN OUT for my publisher, and I’m also finishing up a YA urban fantasy.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
Oh, that’s too hard to answer. I’m part of a 2014 debut author group, the YA Valentines, and there are 13 books coming out next year by my fellow Valentines that I’m dying to read!
Burn Out Synopsis:
A futuristic blend of Beth Revis’s Across the Universe and Lenore Appelhans’s Level 2, Burn Out will satisfy the growing desire for science fiction with a thrilling story of survival, intrigue, and adventure.Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone–her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun–one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in.When family friend, Markus, arrives with mercenaries to take the weapons by force, Tora’s fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James. Tora must quickly figure out who she can trust, as she must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father’s request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.
7058718Jessie Humphries, author of Killing Ruby Rose
Hey, I’m Jessie. Full-time Mother, Part-time Attorney, Half-witted Writer, Full-blown Lunatic. Represented by the fabulous Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary. My debut, KILLING RUBY ROSE, will be published by Amazon Children’s Publishing Summer 2013.
Can you tell us about your debut, Killing Ruby Rose, in 15 words or less?
Ruby Rose might have killer looks —but only her victims will know how killer she really is.
What genre is Killing Ruby Rose?
Contemporary Young Adult Thriller. Sometimes I call it a legal thriller because I’m an attorney, but I don’t think that’s what anyone else calls it. So whatev.
When can we expect a cover reveal?
Geesh, I hope soon. I don’t have exact dates, but let’s hope for March 2014.
What was your favorite scene to write?
There’s a beach scene that takes place early in the morning, after a night’s rain so there’s a double dose of fresh air from the ocean breeze and the dissipating storm. Ruby is an early riser and often heads to a spot by the Pier where her and her dad used to surf together in the mornings before school. Now that her dad is dead, and she’s been forced to kill a known child predator, she’s goes to reflect among the peaceful and soothing elements. The whole scene is very relaxing, from the cool air to the soft sand between her toes–until a half-naked surfer, named Liam Slater, comes walking up to take her breath away. His wet suit is hanging dangerously low around his hips, the water drips in beads off his hair and down his chest, and she can’t seem to think straight in his presence. It was way fun to get the sizzling attraction between them going here.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
There are a lot of action scenes in my book, involving complicated action-y moves. With my obvious tendency to make up words, 😉 I had to do a lot of revisions to make sure 1) it made sense; 2) was physically and technically possible; and 3) there wasn’t any distracting description to slow down the action. There was one particular scene in a warehouse where some very bad dudes have Ruby’s back against the wall (literally and metaphorically) and she has to “Jason Bourne” her way out of the situation. Let’s put it this way, the dudes may or may not get the full Ruby Rose experience with knee thrusts, knife slices, and a few bullets with the names “bad dudes” written on them (this time only metaphorically).
Is this a standalone or a series?
Yes, it will be a series, currently entitled the RUBY ROSE SERIES. Very original, I know.
Are you currently working on anything else?
My most current project is a contemporary YA set in France. It’s got a murder mystery, and some legal twistyness (see how I make up words), but it’s not nearly as action-oriented as RUBY ROSE. I would say there’s far more kissing in this French one, which makes sense, right? Hello, French kissing anyone? Oui!
Did any music inspire you while writing Killing Ruby Rose?
Yes, and I even mention some of the music in the opening scenes: The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Also, at the end of the book, Ruby’s best friend mentions that the national media has began dubbing Ruby as the “Taylor Swift of Justice.” So there’s some definite Taylor Swiftiness music going on there. In fact, Taylor could write some killer songs for this story! I’ll have to give her a call.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
Well, there’s three:
THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN by Meredith McCardle, GILDED by Christina Farley, and GATES OF THREAD AND STONE by Lori M. Lee. All three of these authors happen to be my pub sisters at Amazon Children’s Publishing/Skyscape, and we will all be debuting together in 2014. We are planning some awesome events, including a tour with school visits, bookstore signings, and giveaways galore.
Killing Ruby Rose Synopsis:
In sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks, her killer SAT scores, and even her killer taste in shoes—but only her victims will know how killer she really is. Not that child rapists and murderers who beat the system every time deserve to be called “victims.”Daughter to Orange County District Attorney Jane Rose and fallen SWAT Sergeant Jack Rose, Ruby not only knows the law, she believes in it. That is, until someone starts manipulating her into breaking it. Or more like crushing it when she is forced to murder, and the term “legally justified” becomes debatable.Torn between satisfaction that one less monster is roaming the streets and shame for the blood on her hands, Ruby tries to find the real murderer behind it all. But in her search, the body count keeps rising, turning her into something she never dreamed possible: A teenaged serial killer. Ruby must find out who is using her and stop him before she finds herself walking death row, wearing one of those horribly baggy orange jumpsuits that even Hollywood royalty can’t pull off. The closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a long-held family secret that threatens to destroy everything and everyone she’s ever held dear—including Mr. Pre-season Favorite for Most Beautiful Eyes of the Senior class, a.k.a Liam Slater.With a gun called Smith strapped to her leg, a cellphone in her cleavage, a penchant for martial arts, and a shoe closet (called Gladys and the Pips) to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl’s forced to kill, wouldn’t the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada Peep-Toe Pumps?
unnamed (3)Heidi Schulz, author of Hook’s Revenge

Heidi Schulz is a writer, reader, and giraffe suspicioner. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, HOOK’S REVENGE, will be published by Disney•Hyperion on September 19, 2014, followed by her picture book debut, GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING, by Bloomsbury Kids in Fall 2015. She lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband, their teen daughter, a terrible little dog, and five irascible chickens.

Connect with Heidi at HeidiSchulzBooks.com or @Heidi_Schulz on twitter.


Can you tell us about your debut, Hook’s Revenge, in 15 words or less?

“Jocelyn must avenge her father, Captain Hook, killed at the jaws of the Neverland’s crocodile.”

Fifteen words exactly! *high-five*


Why did you decide to write middle grade?

When I started writing Hook’s Revenge, I didn’t know it was middle grade. I had a story to tell and that’s where it happened to fit.

I have since fallen in love with writing in this category. I think my voice naturally tends to be middle-grade and I find it to be an enjoyable space to spend my creative time.

Middle grade kids are just starting to figure out the larger world around them and their place in it. It can be a difficult time, but also exciting and still full of wonder. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather hang out.


What was your favorite scene to write?

That’s hard! There are so many. It might be when Jocelyn meets Peter Pan for the first time. As she is a girl on a pirate ship he mistakenly thinks she must be in need of rescue, and perhaps also looking for some boys to mother. She quickly corrects him of those notions.

It was really fun to look at Peter in this way, not as the hero, but as a bit of an adversarial annoyance.


What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I cut three whole chapters of backstory right off the beginning in early revisions. It was important for me to know the characters’ pasts in such detail, but not for readers. Even though it isn’t in the final book, writing it definitely wasn’t wasted effort.

Maybe one day I’ll post it on my blog.


Are you planning to write in the YA genre or will you stick with MG?

Who knows? I don’t have plans to write YA, but I also didn’t have plans to write picture books. My first one, Giraffes Ruin Everything, comes out in 2015. I’m open to the idea, if the right story presents itself.


Are you currently working on anything else?

I have some picture book ideas I am developing. I am also working on another MG, but it’s so early in the process, I don’t have a lot to say about it yet. Other than this: I like it.


What authors do you look up to?

This is a tough question because there are so many! Once of my all time favorite writers is Roald Dahl. He really understood children and what they like. He was able to take the most terrifying, horrible situations and make them accessible and hilarious (The Witches andGeorge’s Marvelous Medicine come to mind). And who else could write a successful children’s story revolving around a middle-aged romance and a pet tortoise (Essio Trot)?

Sometimes, when I am stuck, I’ll pull one of his shorter works off my shelf and quickly read through it for inspiration. Even if it doesn’t help with my problem, it’s always time well spent.

As for more current authors, off the top of my head I’d have to say: Tom Angleberger, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Rainbow Rowell, Mary Roach, and Catherynne Valente for reasons from command of language to understanding their audiences to the way they connect with readers.

I went to readings for both Tom and Daniel in the last year and they were so funny and completely engaging to everyone in the audience, regardless of age. I hope to be able to have even a fraction of that ability when it comes time for me to do readings.


This question is more for my own personal curiosity [; Where’s the best place to eat in Salem, OR?

Hands down, Word of Mouth Bistro. They have the most incredible breakfasts! Their crème brulee French toast with a side of vegetable hash is enough to make me push over little old ladies to get some. Sorry little old ladies, I love you, but the food is just that good.


What is the best book you’ve read recently?

I recently read an advance copy of Emma Trevayne’s amazing MG, Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times (out in May). It is an incredible adventure through an alternate steampunk version of London with magic and fairies and cake and clockwork dragons. I love it so very much.


What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?

Another hard question. There is such an abundance of amazing books that will debut next year.  It is so hard to pick my most anticipated. Still, I think I’d have to go with The Actual and True Adventures of Becky Thatcher By Jessica Lawson. I read the first page on Write On Con in 2012 and was instantly hooked by the voice. I couldn’t wait to read the rest and was thrilled when I saw the PM announcement that it had sold.

I will admit that this answer may be a bit of a cheat because I happen to have an advance copy of this on my kindle right now and am enjoying it every bit as much as I expected to.


Hook’s Revenge Synopsis:

Captain Hook’s daughter, Jocelyn, is charged with avenging her father’s death at the jaws of Neverland’s crocodile.
The tale is narrated in the vein of Lemony Snicket — if Lemony Snicket were an irritable, retired pirate who disliked children.

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18401242-hook-s-revenge?ac=1


7084159Lori M. Lee, author of Gates of Thread and Stone

Lori is an avid writer, reader, artist, and lover of unicorns. She should probably spend less time on the internet (but she won’t). She has a borderline obsessive fascination with unicorns, is fond of talking in capslock, and loves to write about magic, manipulation, and family. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and a friendly pitbull.


Can you tell us about your debut, Gates of Thread and Stone, in 15 words or less?

Magic, manipulation, and a girl who risks everything to find her brother.

When can we expect to see a cover?

I wish I knew! Not for several months yet, I imagine, but I’m super excited about what the team at Skyscape will come up with!

What was your favorite scene to write?

The climax sequence. It contained some of the most difficult moments to write, which I can only hope will resonate with readers.

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I’ve been extremely fortunate in that there’s been very little I’ve needed to cut. Basically every scene from my first draft is still in the novel in some form or other.

Is this a standalone or a series?

There will be at least two books, so a duology at the least. Maybe more, depending on where book two goes (that’s right, it’s not written yet!), but for now, definitely two 🙂

Are you currently working on anything else?

There’s the sequel, of course, but I’m also brainstorming how to rewrite a book I drafted last year about a girl and a monster. Then there’s a dark fantasy that’s been brewing in my mind for over a year now that I’d love to finally get down on paper.

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

I can only pick one?! Hmm… I’m really excited for MarcyKate Connolly’s MONSTROUS, which is about a girl created from the various parts of different creatures. From the moment I first read the query on her blog ages ago, I knew I had to have this book in my life.


Gates of Thread and Stone Synopsis:

A teenage girl must keep her ability to manipulate the threads of time a secret, but when her brother goes missing, she risks getting caught up in a revolution in order to save him.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17904985-gates-of-thread-and-stone?ac=1


7181862Jessica Love, author of Push Girl

Jessica Love is a middle school English teacher who lives in Southern California with her husband and their dog. She’s working on her Master’s Degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Spalding University, and her big love is contemporary YA romance. Jessica spends all of her free money on concerts, constantly tries to prove that blondes have more fun, and is pretty much always on the internet.

Co-written with Chelsie Hill from Sundance Channel’s reality TV show Push Girls, Jessica’s debut novel PUSH GIRL is out June 3, 2014 from St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne.


Can you tell us about your book, PUSH GIRL , in 15 words or less? 
Drunk driving accident leaves a dancer paraplegic. She adjusts to wheelchair life, and drama ensues.
What was your favorite scene to write?
My favorite thing to write is always the romancey stuff. And, yes, there is a romance in this book! So any of the romantic scenes were super fun 17934647for me. I always have a good time when my characters are making out.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
It was just one line, actually. There was a really funny line that referenced an organization mentioned in the book. But when we changed the organization and the funny line had to be changed, too. I was so bummed to hit delete! PUSH GIRL is a pretty serious story, but I tried to add as much humor as I could. I hated cutting the line that made me laugh the most, but I tried to make up for its absence with humor in other places.
Is this going to be a standalone or will it be a series?
It’s a standalone.
Are you currently working on anything else?
I am working on a YA contemporary romance that I love, and I’m hoping to get it polished up soon. And I have lots of ideas floating around for other things to work on.
If you could cast anyone to play some of the characters, who would you choose?
Well, the book is a fictionalized version of the life story of my co-author Chelsie Hill, so I would love to see Chelsie playing Kara! Sure, she’s not a professional actress, but she’s absolutely beautiful, and she sure would rock it!
What couple do you ship from a different book?
Currently MAJORLY shipping Blue and Gansey from Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. I’m hoping this ship isn’t as destined to sink as the first chapter of the first book has led us to believe.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
I can’t wait for everyone in the world to read OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord! This book is so awesome. All of you contemporary romance fans out there better line up now to get this one…it will blow you away!
Push Girl:
An inspiring, real, and fresh young adult novel about how life can change in an instant by Chelsie Hill, one of the stars Sundance Channel’s unscripted series Push Girls, based on her own lifeKara is a high school junior who’s loving life. She’s popular, has a great group of friends and an amazing boyfriend, and she’s a shoe-in for homecoming queen. Even though her parents can’t stop fighting and her ex-boyfriend can’t seem to leave her alone, Kara won’t let anything get in the way of her perfect year. It’s Friday night, and Kara arrives at a party, upset after hearing her parents having another one of their awful fights, and sees another girl with her hands all over her boyfriend. Furious, Kara leaves to take a drive, and, as she’s crossing an intersection, a car comes out of nowhere and slams into the driver’s side of Kara’s car.When Kara wakes up, she has no memory of the night before. Where is she? Why are her parents crying? And, most importantly — why can’t she feel her legs? As Kara is forced to adjust to her new life, where her friends aren’t who they seemed to be and her once-adoring boyfriend is mysteriously absent, she starts to realize that what matters in life isn’t what happens to you — it’s the choices you make and the people you love.Co-written by “Push Girls” star Chelsie Hill, whose real life closely mirrors Kara’s experience, this novel will open the eyes of readers everywhere who have never met someone who lives with paralysis.
unnamed (2)Robin Talley, author of Lies We Tell Ourselves
Robin Talley grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, writing terrible teen poetry and riding a desegregation bus to the school across town. A Lambda Literary Fellow, Robin lives in Washington, D.C., with her fiancée, plus an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. When Robin’s not writing, she’s often planning communications strategies at organizations fighting for equal rights and social justice. I’m online at http://robintalley.com/, on Twitter at @robin_talley, and on Tumblr at http://robintalley.tumblr.com/.

Can you tell us about your book, Lies We Tell Ourselves, in 15 words or less?

Virginia, 1959. A black girl integrates an all-white school ― and falls for a white girl.

Why historical fiction?

I actually didn’t set out to write historical fiction. The other books I’ve written have all been set in the modern world. But when I first started seriously looking into what the school desegregation process had been like in the 1950s, I knew I wanted to write a book that took place against that setting. Of course, I didn’t realize then how much research that meant I was signing on for, and how brutal some of it would be. The 1950s were a really, really, really different time. Let’s just say we’re all really lucky to be living now instead of then.

What was your favorite scene to write?

There’s a scene where the main character, Sarah, sings a solo at a concert in front of her entire school ― which is a very big deal, because Sarah is black and nearly everyone else at her school is white, and she feels like she has to prove herself to them. It’s a very empowering moment for her, which was wonderful for me to experience as a writer ― because sadly, empowering moments are few and far between in Lies We Tell Ourselves.

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I cut a major subplot early on in the drafting process. It included a clandestine romance for Judy, one of the key secondary characters in Lies We Tell Ourselves. I’m sad Judy doesn’t get any action in the final cut, but it was the right call for the story.

What is one of your favorite quotes from Lies We Tell Ourselves?

“Are you going to kiss Ennis?” Ruth asks, startling me into a blush.

“It isn’t right to kiss on the first date,” I say. Even though I’m planning to do exactly that.

Are you currently working on anything else?

Yes! I usually have at least 3 projects in the works at any given time. I like to stay busy!

What is the best book you’ve read recently?

I really loved Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. The voice in that story is amazing.

What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?

Anomaly, by Caroline Richmond. It’s got an incredible premise ― it’s set in an alternate history where Germany won World War II and colonized the United States, and it’s up to one girl to lead the resistance movement to overthrow the Nazis.

Lies We Tell Ourselves:

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

GR: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15828079-lies-we-tell-ourselves

7133283Kathleen Hale, author of No One Else Can Have You
Kathleen Hale was born and raised in Wisconsin. She graduated from Harvard in 2010. NO ONE ELSE CAN HAVE YOU is her first novel.
Can you tell us about your debut, No One Else Can Have You, in 15 words or less?
I can do it in three! “Girl hunts murderer.”
Speaking from experience, this is a pretty creepy book to read late at night. VERY CREEPY. Did you ever freak yourself out with some of the scenes?
This probably makes me look like a total psychopath, but I found the creepiest scenes extremely therapeutic to write. All the clues I’d been planting throughout the text were finally coming to fruition. Not to mention, I’d spent a lot of time with my protagonist, Kippy, by the time I wrote the book’s creepiest scenes. In a way it was sort of fun to put her through the ringer.
I’m 269 pages into the book (I’ll be finished when this actually posts lol) and I still have NO IDEA who the murderer is. I have a few suspects…but I just don’t know. Did you originally know who it was going to be or did it just eventually come to you?
I knew who it would be before I started writing.
What was your favorite scene to write?
Probably the scene where Kippy gives Ruth’s eulogy. 
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
I edited out so many parts, and have read the book so many times in its various forms, that it’s hard to remember what the story was before it became what it is now. But there were a lot of funny names that I had to get rid of so that the book wouldn’t feel too satirical. There was one street name in particular, Fangboner Road, which I was pretty attached to. That’s an actual road sign, by the way. I passed it while driving from Wisconsin to New York.
I feel like this is going to be a standalone, but I also feel that it could probably be taken further. Are you going to leave it or 18052934continue it?
I actually just finished with the sequel! It’s coming out in 2015.
Are you currently working on anything else?
I’m still editing the sequel and starting a new, standalone project that is not part of a series. We’ll see what happens!
What on earth inspired you to write about a small town murder?
What else is there to write about?
Have you ever actually been to Friendship, Wisconsin?
Nope! I chose it for its name, and because I loved what I saw on my Google Streetview tour.
What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?
Ooh, good question. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy looks great.
No One Else Can Have You:
Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.