Home Book Reviews 2014 Debut Author Intros: Episode 8

2014 Debut Author Intros: Episode 8


Welcome back to the seventh episode of the 2014 Debut Author Intros! Every weekend in December we will be featuring some of the most anticipated authors of 2014. Take a look below at todays authors!


6612545Stephanie Diaz, author of Extraction

Stephanie Diaz is 21. She grew up in sunny San Diego, wishing for rain. She studied film production in college. When she isn’t lost in other worlds, she can be found singing, marveling at the night sky, or fangirling over television shows.

Her work is represented by Alison Fargis of Stonesong. The first book in her debut YA sci-fi EXTRACTION trilogy will be published by St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of Macmillan, in July 2014.

You can follow Stephanie on twitter: @StephanieEDiaz.


Can you tell us about your debut book, Extraction, in 15 words or less?
A fearless girl, Clementine, must battle to save her planet from destruction.
When can we expect a cover reveal for Extraction?
I’m not sure, but I’ve seen a cover I absolutely adore. I hope to be able to share it soon!
How many books are going to be in the Extraction series?
Why science fiction?
I’ve always been obsessed with stars and planets and spaceships, so it seemed natural to write a story where I could include all of those things.
People are saying that fans of Divergent, The Hunger Games, and Ender’s Game are going to enjoy this book. What makes Extraction unique?
EXTRACTION has some traits that relate it to the books you’ve mentioned. The main character, a girl as brave as Tris, is removed from horrible circumstances reminiscent of Katniss’s world and thrust into a militaristic society with some similarities to Ender’s. But Clementine’s story takes a different route than the others. The evils of her society stem from a bigger threat–the poisonous moon orbiting her home. The moon affects her whole world. And there are lots of secrets related to the moon and its history that make EXTRACTIONvery different than anything else out there.
What was your favorite scene to write?
One of my favorite scenes involves an ocean cliff. But I don’t want to give anything away. 🙂
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
Some scenes near the middle of the book went through the most changes throughout revisions, so I probably had the most difficulties with those.
What else are you working on?
I have a couple projects in the works. Currently I’m working on a brand-new, unrelated sci-fi. Can’t say much about it, as it’s in the very early stages. But I love it so far!
What was your first reaction when you found out that you were being published by St. Martin’s Griffin?
So much excitement! I actually found out I had an offer minutes before I had to commute to school for an early class, so I had to drive for half an hour before I could call my agent to hear the details. It was one of my most anxious drives ever. But worth it.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to so many! Especially THE MURDER COMPLEX by Lindsay Cummings, STITCHING SNOW by R.C. Lewis, and ASK AGAIN LATER by Francesca Zappia.
“Welcome to Extraction testing.”Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves Promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon’s lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet’s leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too.

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don’t want her running—they want her subdued.

With urgent writing, fluid dialogue, and a cast of unforgettable characters,Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers ofHunger Games and Ender’s Game and leave them breathless for more.

6925957Mary Elizabeth Summer, author of Trust Me, I’m Lying
Mary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, and her evil overlor–er, cat. TRUST ME, I’M LYING, a YA mystery, will be released by Delacorte in Fall 2014.
Can you tell us about your debut book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, in 15 words or less?
It’s equal parts law-breaking, disguises, family secrets, and snark, with some romance on the side.
When can we expect a cover reveal for Trust Me, I’m Lying?
The cover is mostly finished but it’s still not quite 100% done. So, soon maybe. But the reveal is not officially scheduled yet.
Is this a standalone or can we expect a sequel/companion novel?
There will be at least one sequel. And an e-short between the first and second novels!
Why contemporary?
Well, I thought about setting the story two hundred years in the future, but I’m not really that creative when it comes to world building. 😉
What was your favorite scene to write?
Oh, it was so freaking awesome! It has this one part where *REDACTED* and then she *REDACTED* but her love interest *REDACTED* and she had to totally *REDACTED* (All spoilers have been redacted from this interview answer.)
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
It was a scene between the protagonist, Julep, and her best friend, Sam, which had a lot of lovely banter. BUT I sneakily reworked my favorite banter-bits into other scenes, so I didn’t really have to cut them. (Writer Tip #478)
What else are you working on?
Right now, I’m working on Julep 2. But I have another book that’s mostly done about an evil reform school.
What was your first reaction when you found out that you were being published by Delacorte?
Emma Stone Wow
In short, disbelief, followed by a brief moment of exhilaration before being crushed by an avalanche of panic.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
Unfair question! There are so many I can’t wait for. But if I had to pick just one, it would have to be Michelle Krys’s HEXED. I wants it! *grabby hands*
Trust Me, I’m Lying:
Julep Dupree is a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at a swanky Chicago private school. When she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel.
5830205Bethany Crandell, author of Summer on the Short Bus
Bethany and her husband Terry live in San Diego with their two daughters and a chocolate Labrador who has no consideration for personal space. She writes Young Adult novels because the feelings that come with life’s ‘first’ times are too good not to relive again and again. Bethany eats too much guacamole, thrives on tear-inducing laughter, and is still waiting for Jake Ryan to show up at her door.

Can you tell us about your 2014 debut, Summer on the Short Bus, in 15 words or less?

Honest. Irreverent. Funny. (I’ll save my leftover words for scolding my children)


When can we expect to see a cover? 

*eyes the calendar* Any day now.


Why contemporary?

I’ve always loved experiencing real life situations through the eyes of unique, unforgettable characters. (I blame John Hughes for this).  I’ve 13635790written one very light paranormal, (which required huge amounts of world-building guidance from my fantasy writing crit partner), but even then my leading lady, an angel, was still frequenting Starbucks and watching reality TV. I don’t think my brain is wired for anything more complex than contemporary.


What was your favorite scene to write?

Hands down the drunk scene.

I have no idea if readers will think it’s as funny as I do, but I still crack up every time I read it. Drunkspeak makes me giggle.


What was the hardest scene to edit out?

*whimpers* There was a scene I referred to as The Wild Rumpus Scene. The characters were in a state of chaos; yelling, cheering and screaming, “Piss! Piss! Cock & balls!” at the top of their lungs. It was awesome!  My mom, oldest sister and I shared buckets of happy tears over that scene. Cutting it was painful but necessary.


Is this a standalone or a series?

Standalone. I think you could work it into a series, but you’d have to swap out MCs to do so.


If you could cast anyone to play some of the main characters, who would you choose?

Well, there’s a Zac Efron lookalike in the book, so obviously he’s on the top of my wish list. Anna Sophia Robb would be an amazing Cricket. She’s got just the right amount of sass to pull it off, or maybe Maddie Hasson. I see something very Cricket-like in her mannerisms. Also, Jamie Brewer is so talented and endearing, I’d love to see play the role of Claire (one of the campers).


Are you currently working on anything else?

Yes! I’m revising my first manuscript. Another contemporary–surprise! The details are under wraps, but I’m pretty sure I may get a lawsuit thrown my way for this one. Seriously.


What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

Oh man, that’s a tough one.  I predict that 2014 is going to be a big year for YA. There are some seriously talented people unveiling books next year. (Swing by some of the debut blogs, www.yavalentines.blogspot.com, or www.onefourkidlit.wordpress.com, sometime and you’ll see what I mean.)

To answer your question more specifically, there are several books that have piqued my interest on title alone.  A. Lynden Rolland’s, OF BREAKABLE THINGS, THE BREAKUP ARTIST, by Philip Siegel, and THE MURDER COMPLEX, by Lindsay Cummings to name a few. I don’t plan on getting much sleep in 2014.


Summer on the Short Bus:

Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell.

Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there’s life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she’s ever had.

Summer on the Short Bus is a very non-P.C., contemporary YA with a lot of attitude, tons of laughs, and a little life lesson along the way.


GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13635790-summer-on-the-short-bus?ac=1


7026053Skylar Dorset, author of The Girl Who Never Wa

Skylar’s first story was a tale of romantic intrigue involving two feuding factions of squirrels. Think “Romeo & Juliet” but with bushy tails and added espionage. She was seven.
Since that time, Skylar’s head has been filled with lots of characters and lots of drama. She is delighted to be able to share some of it with all of you now, because, honestly, it was getting pretty loud and crowded in there.
Skylar is a born-and-bred New Englander, which is why Boston was a natural setting for her debut novel, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS. Skylar shares her home with a cardboard cutout of the Tenth Doctor, lots of Mardi Gras beads from the time she spent living in New Orleans, and a harp she’s supposed to be teaching herself to play. She’d like to get a dog.

Can you tell us about your debut, The Girl Who Never Was, in 15 words or less?

A Boston teenager finds out she’s half-ogre, half-fairy-princess…and her mother’s trying to kill her.


What genre is The Girl Who Never Was?

 YA fantasy.


When can we expect a cover reveal?

Good question! The cover designers are doing their thing, and I am eagerly awaiting what they come up with!


What was your favorite scene to write?

There’s a scene where the main character, Selkie, gets to have a heart-to-heart with her friend Ben. It’s in the middle of her trying to save his life, sandwiched in what is otherwise a very tense time, and it was an opportunity to let both of them be very vulnerable and honest, and I really enjoyed writing such a quiet (swoony, romantic) scene for the two of them, considering that a lot of the rest of the time they’re too busy undergoing adventures!


What was the hardest scene to edit out?

 I feel like I have the hardest time cutting lines of dialogue instead of scenes. Like, I get really attached to a good zinger and then I don’t want to cut it! There was a scene where the characters hang out in an apple orchard an talk. It was a lot of dry exposition in retrospect and, even though I liked the apple orchard setting, it seemed out-of-place and didn’t end up having an impact on the rest of the novel, so I cut that scene, but I saved all of my favorite lines from that scene and moved them to other parts of the novel.


Is this a standalone or a series?

It is a series. There will be a sequel coming, and there may also be a short story and a novella in the same universe.


Are you currently working on anything else?

 Right now I’m editing the sequel and writing the first draft of a novella that fits in between the two books.


Did any music inspire you while writing The Girl Who Never Was?

 I listened non-stop to Andrew Belle’s album “The Ladder” while writing the novel. I highly recommend it.


What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

 I am looking forward to a ton of the debuts. I belong to some great groups, including OneFour KidLit and the BookYArd, and everyone’s books just sound so tremendous!


The Girl Who Never Was:

THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?

When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.

Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.


GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17708622-the-girl-who-never-was?ac=1


Duncan Fall 2013 LGP©-4S.L. Duncan, author of The Revelation of Gabriel Adam

I’m a writer and traveler seeking stories from inspired locations – a connection of prose to place. The first book of my YA book series, THE REVELATION SAGA, releases 2014 from Medallion Press. I am represented by John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Photo (c) Lindsey Griffin.

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

An archangel is born human to stop the second war between Heaven and Hell.


What is the title of the first book in the Revelation Saga?

The Revelation of Gabriel Adam


When can we expect a cover reveal?

I’m told to expect a cover within a few weeks. I’m trying not to freak out. Or check my email every ten minutes.


What was your favorite scene to write?

That’s a tough one. I had a scene that I cut early in the process. It was about Gabe’s first exposure to the Student Pub scene at Durham University and involved a game called Kings. It was completely indulgent and had to go. But I’m fond of several. My antagonist was a blast to write, so I’ll say the first scene in New York that introduces Septis. It’s darkly fun.


What was the hardest scene to edit out?

Well, I dropped my favorite, but like I said, it was indulgent. So, that wasn’t a hard decision to make. While nothing stands out specifically that was difficult to cut, there were several scenes that were rich with research I’d done for the book. I’m still convinced it was interesting to read, but at the end of the day it stole from the driving narrative, and slowed the book down tremendously.


What authors do you look up to?

So many! I think Andrew Smith is really pushing some boundaries in an interesting way. Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist really made impressions. As far as heroes, Michael Crichton ignited my imagination growing up. And who wouldn’t want a career trajectory like he had?


Can you tell us the titles of the other books in the series?

I would LOVE to! But I can’t just yet. I can tell you that they release in 2015 and 2016.


Are you currently working on anything else?

I am! I’ve got a story about a boy surviving the London Blitz that I’m editing right now for my agent to submit. Looking forward to sharing it with everyone!


What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

I’m very excited for Mindy McGinnis’ sophomore effort. I found her debut, Not A Drop to Drink, to be a refreshingly dark YA novel and I can’t wait to see what she’s got next.


The Revelation of Gabriel Adam:

Seventeen-year-old Gabriel Adam is used to relocating a lot. When a mysterious assassin burns his home to the ground, Gabriel’s father reveals the truth of why they are always on the move: Gabriel is one of four archangels, born human and sent to stop Armageddon. Now Gabe must set aside dreams of attending NYU to try to fulfill his newly discovered role.

Racing against time, Gabe and his father travel to the English university town of Durham, hoping the last surviving member of an ancient religious sect can guide them. With the assassin in pursuit, Gabe must shoulder the weight of his new life and an impossible destiny as protector of the entire human race.


GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18397323-the-revelation-of-gabriel-adam?ac=1


6468876Jenny Martin, author of Tracked

Jenny Martin’s YA debut, TRACKED, will be released summer 2014 by Dial/Penguin. Jenny is a librarian, a book monster, and a certified electric-guitar-rawking Beatle-maniac. She lives in Dallas with her husband and son, where she hoards books and regularly blisses out over all kinds of live and recorded rock.

Can you tell us about your 2015 debut, TRACKED,  in 15 words or less?

Han Solo, meet Phee Van Zant…a daring street racer who transforms from rebel to revolutionary.


When can we expect a cover reveal?

We’ll be cooking up something awesome for the reveal, which will be in ’14. Stay tuned!


What was your favorite scene to write?

Can I cheat, and pick two? I loved writing all the racing scenes, but there’s an especially climactic one in the second half. In real life, I’m not daring (at all) when it comes to risking life and limb, so pushing Phee to the limits of her racing abilities was crazy fun. I got an adrenaline rush drafting ‘the big race.’ And afterwards, I loved switching gears, and scribbling out of one of the emotional climaxes of TRACKED. For now, all I can say is that it’s about about a spitfire girl and a loyal boy and the starry drift that’s pushing them apart. I still cry every time I read that scene. Sorry, Phee, I had to do it.


What was the hardest scene to edit out?

 There is a scene between Cash and Phee that, to me, was very tender and illuminating, one that was written in TRACKED’s third act. I think there are bits of it that reveal the growing bond between these two characters, and how vulnerable they both really are, behind all the bravado and false armor. But in the interest of pacing the scene had to be cut. Someday, I hope to share ‘The Shakespeare Scene’ as a deleted extra. (Hint: shades of Sonnet 19 may or may not appear in it.)


What authors do you look up to?

Wow, this is a really tough question. I’m going to skip listing Young Adult authors altogether. Is that a cop-out? Maybe. But there are just too many amazing YA authors out there, and too many I keep on a very high pedestal. That list is fifty three name long, so I’ll share my favorite all-ages novelist/artist/storyteller, Neil Gaiman. There is so much richness in his work, and anytime I need to reawaken my sense of wonder, I pull one of his books off my shelf. It seems that in everything he writes–whether it be in an evergreen like The Graveyard Book or a special edition American Gods or a volume of Absolute Sandman–the words fly like a grappling hook. Grab hold and prepare to drop into the well-dark depths of the soul or soar into the great beyond-the-stars. I love pretty much everything he creates. (Sidenote: If you ever meet Mr. Gaiman, and you turn into a sobbing, incomprehensible mess, don’t worry. It’ll be okay, and you’ll never forget how incredible he is. You’ll never forget that comforting hug.)


Is this a series or a standalone?

TRACKED is the beginning of a series.


Are you currently working on anything else?

I am currently drafting TRACKED’s sequel, and I’m also working on a couple of other side projects–the first is a creepy, twisty Young Adult horror novel and the other is an epic adventure with a sci fi/fantasy edge. In the Fourteenery, we’ve code-named it ‘doomed love story of doom.’


What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

 Gotta say, I can’t wait for Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY to arrive in 2014. Her realistic take on life and death and the choices we make is powerful and heartbreaking. Alice is brutally sharp and brutally beautiful, and I know you guys are going to love her as much as I do. This excellent debut belongs on a million shelves.



Phee Van Zant, a wisp of a girl who’s far more Han Solo than Princess Leia, tends to drive her way into trouble. More than reckless, she’s one of the most daring street racers on planet Castra. But Phee transforms from rebel to revolutionary after a taking a no-win deal to race the corporate rally circuit, where she’s catapulted between the boy who’s been running alongside her all her life and the intense, castoff rogue who prepares her all too well for the road. This YA debut is set in the future, yet in a galaxy not so far away.

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15821923-tracked?ac=1


unnamed (2)Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of City on a Hill

Kelly Loy Gilbert is the author of a still-to-be-named YA debut coming from Disney-Hyperion in Spring 2015.  She’s an unapologetic night person, a third-generation Chinese-American and a new mom.  When she’s not glued to her keyboard writing and listening to the same songs over and over on loop, she serves on the NaNoWriMo Associate Board and volunteers with teen writers.  Her work has appeared in various publications, including The Kenyon ReviewThe Toast, and Brain, Child Magazine.  Kelly belongs to The Freshman Fifteen and theYA Buccaneers, and is represented by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary.

Twitter: @KellyLoyGilbert

Website: kellylgilbert.blogspot.com

Can you tell us about your 2015 debut, City on a Hill, in 15 words or less?

Teen baseball phenom Braden must testify about his hero father’s alleged hate crime.
Or, in another version: Why won’t my editor let me call this book INSERT AMAZING TITLE HERE K THX.
(Yes, we’re title-searching.)
When can we expect to see a cover?

Believe me, as soon as I get one I’ll be brandishing it like baby pictures all over the internet! (I’m a 2015 debut so no word yet on when one will be out, though; it’s still on the early side.)
What was your favorite scene to write?

This one starts out as a story from my own teenage years, which most of my scenes and stories do not.

Once there was a boy I knew; he was a friend of a friend and after we met briefly once we started talking every day online.  We talked a lot about music, because it was one of the most important parts of his life (he would grow up to be in a band, actually), and there was one song in particular (called “Between You And Me”)  that he sent me to listen to and talked about all the time.
Nearly a year later we were going to be at the same event together, and it was this awkward tension of knowing each other really well online, but not at all in person, and when I arrived I saw him across the room and I knew he saw me, too, but because we were young and silly about those things we were both too shy to say hi to each other.  He had a guitar with him (he was that type) and we spent the whole night on Not Talking until from across the room I heard the wandering guitar chords that had been drifting over to me all night shift and take shape into something familiar, and I recognized the chords of Between You And Me, and when I looked over–since I knew that was a hello–he was watching and waiting for me.
We weren’t romantically involved ever–in fact we lost touch and I saw him last year at a mutual friend’s huge wedding and couldn’t quite work up the nerve to go say hi–but that moment always stayed with me.  One thing I love about YA novels is that, when you’re in high school, your world might end because of another person and you still have to sit next to her in first-period chemistry the next morning; there’s a lot you can’t say, because you’re too shy or too scared or just because you can’t, and so you have to develop a language and a code of survival.
There are two scenes in the novel where characters are similarly weighted down with a past and a present too fragile to speak about directly–once with Braden and his older brother, Trey, and once with Braden and Maddie, the girl he loves.  Those were my favorite scenes to write!
What was the hardest scene to edit out?

This is such a good question.  In an earlier draft I had a scene where Braden got a concussion after being (deliberately) hit in the head by a pitch when he played the team of the nephew of the man Braden’s father maybe-accidentally-maybe-on-purpose killed.  The injection he got for the CT scan reminded him of lethal injections, and broke him.

I loved the scene, but it was slowing things down.
Is this a standalone or a series?

A standalone, although someday maybe I’ll return to the characters and the world–they’re real to me, and I miss them.
If you could cast anyone to play some of the main characters, who would you choose?

For Maddie, who’s adopted from China: Nadia Hatta, although she’d have to be convinced to come from Taiwan.
For Trey: Derek Phillips.  I’m a big fan of his Billy Riggins from Friday Night Lights, and I think he nailed what it looks like when you hate yourself, and yet life goes on.
Are you currently working on anything else?

Yes!  A novel about estranged family, quantum entanglement, bone marrow transplants, and a funny, flawed, kind Asian American guy named Danny who’s holding onto a secret only his best friend/ex-girlfriend knows.  (And he’s about to discover a family secret his parents have been keeping from him and his critically ill brother, thought he doesn’t know that yet.)
I’m also serving on the NaNoWriMo Associate Board, working with some teen writers, blogging with the Freshman Fifteen and YA Buccaneers, and snuggling with my new baby girl.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

So many!  I’m definitely dying to read Michelle Krys’ HEXED and Emery Lord’s OPEN ROAD SUMMER.  And it physically pains me to have to wait until 2015 to read THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND by Kathryn Holmes and CITY SAVAGES by Lee Kelly.


City on a Hill:

Braden Raynor’s hero is his father: Mart is successful, faithful, and a pillar of their Central Valley town of Lantera. Until he kills Frank Seid, a Middle Eastern police officer from the poor, minority-dense town of La Abra, with his car, and Braden is the only witness. As his father awaits trial in jail, Braden’s outcast older brother flies back from New York to take care of him. Trey is everything Braden is not: rude, faithless, and a bitter enemy of their father, but for reasons no one will confess.

Devastated at being separated from his father, and tormented by Trey’s moody silences, Braden’s only relief comes from baseball. His dad had been in the minors before his career as a conservative-Christian radio host and had been Braden’s pitching coach since Braden could hold a ball. And Mart’s unyielding demand for smarter, faster, more perfect pitches had paid off. Braden was Lantera’s star pitcher and already had scouts buzzing.

But as Mart nears trial, Braden can no longer hide behind his sliders and curveballs. The network news is painting Frank Seid’s death as a hate crime, and Frank’s nephew, Alex, is on La Abra’s baseball team. Braden’s memory of the accident that killed Officer Seid is hazy, and pressure from his incarcerated father via his smarmy lawyer is making him question his Christian understandings of truth and justice.

As Lantera’s game with La Abra draws nearer, tension with Trey, the Seids, and his faith reaches a breaking point, and Braden must choose between lying for a father whose backbreaking love is all he’s known, or leading his life as he’d been taught, like a city upon a hill, watched by the world.

City on a Hill is a heartbreaking novel of faith, family, and baseball, with Gilbert’s light, sophisticated touch on subjects of immense pathos and depth.


GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18398627-city-on-a-hill?ac=1


6968601Rachel Searles, author of The Lost Planet

Rachel Searles grew up on the frigid shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she spent her childhood studying languages and plotting to travel around the world. After college, she lived abroad in Munich and Istanbul, working as a cook, a secretary, a teacher, and a reporter for the Turkish Daily News. She now lives in Los Angeles with her rocket scientist husband and two cats, and spends her free time cooking her way through the Internet and plotting more travel. THE LOST PLANET, coming January 2014 from Feiwel and Friends, is her debut novel.


Can you tell us about your debut, The Lost Planet, in 15 words or less?

A boy with no memory is hunted through the galaxy with two unlikely allies.

Why did you decide to write middle grade?

It wasn’t so much a conscious decision to write middle grade as that this was simply the story I wanted to tell, so I guess I naturally gravitated toward writing for that audience.

What was your favorite scene to write?

There’s a certain scene where a beloved character is on the verge of death…wicked as it sounds, I enjoyed wringing the drama from that one quite17454743 a bit!

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I cut so much from the original behemoth draft of THE LOST PLANET, by now I’m pretty desensitized to dropping scenes. If it’s not working, it’s got to go. CHOP!

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

I might try YA some day if I ever come up with an idea that really grabs me, but right now all the bright and shinies in my idea folder are MG, and I’m happy that way.

Are you currently working on anything else?

I’m doing revisions on the sequel to THE LOST PLANET right now, and working on synopses for future projects, including more potential books in the LOST PLANET series as well as a MG dark fantasy.

What authors do you look up to?

Two of my favorites are Laini Taylor and Maggie Stiefvater, for combining beautiful writing with magical story-telling, and I look up to John Green for the way he uses his platform to champion intelligence, common sense, and being awesome.

What is the best book you’ve read recently?

I just finished Claire Legrand’s THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, and I really enjoyed the fantastically sinister descriptions and headstrong main character.

What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?

I can’t wait to get my hands on Amber Lough’s Middle Eastern historical fantasy THE FIRE WISH–it sounds like just my thing! And Natalie C Parker’s BEWARE THE WILD sounds so deliciously creepy. There are so many good books coming in 2014, I can’t wait!


The Lost Planet:

This is what the boy is told:

• He woke up on planet Trucon, inside a fence he shouldn’t have been able to pass.
• He has an annirad blaster wound to the back of his head.
• He has no memory.
• He is now under the protection of a mysterious benefactor.
• His name is Chase Garrety.

This is what Chase Garrety knows:

• He has a message: “Guide the star.”
• Time is running out.

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17454743-the-lost-planet?ac=1


7393959Joshua Bellin, author of Survival Colony Nine

I’ve been writing novels since I was eight years old (though admittedly, the first few were very, very short). I taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to writing fiction. SURVIVAL COLONY NINE is my first book, but the sequel’s already in the works!
I love to read (mostly YA fantasy and science fiction), watch movies (again, mostly fantasy and sci-fi), and spend time in Nature (mostly catching frogs and toads). I’m the world’s worst singer, but I play a pretty mean air guitar. I also like to draw, and if I can figure out a way to do it, I’ll put up some of my artwork on the page!
Oh, yeah, and I like monsters. Really scary monsters.

Can you tell us about your debut, Survival Colony Nine, in 15 words or less?

Humans survived the wars that destroyed the planet. But can they survive what comes next?

What was your favorite scene to write?

I love monsters, and there’s one scene where my narrator, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn, confronts the creatures I call the Skaldi: monsters with the ability to consume and mimic human hosts. That was the most intense and fun scene to write; my fingers flew over the keyboard as fast as Querry’s heart raced!

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

Querry’s an amnesiac, who lost his memory before the action of the book begins.  This presented some challenges as a writer, because there were so many things my narrator doesn’t know. So early in the drafting of the book, I wrote a scene in which Laman Genn, the commander of Querry’s survival colony, catches him up not only on his own past but on the history of the planet since the appearance of the Skaldi. In the end, though, I realized it was too much information; it slowed the book down and took away some of the mystery. So even though I liked the writing and thought the scene contained vital information, I took it out, letting the information emerge more gradually and naturally throughout the story.

What authors do you look up to?

Well, I’ve always loved fantasy and science fiction, and some of my favorite authors in those genres are J. R. R. Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, Ursula unnamed (1)LeGuin, and Stephen Donaldson. But I’m also really impressed by a lot of today’s YA authors, including Suzanne Collins, James Dashner, Cassandra Clare, Chris Howard, Scott Blagden, Erin Bowman, Amy Christine Parker, Eliot Schrefer, and Mindy McGinnis. That’s only a partial list; I could have easily named fifty YA authors whose writing I admire!

Is this a standalone or a series?

That remains to be seen. I did write a sequel, titled Scavenger of Souls, that extends Querry’s story. But the tale told in Survival Colony Nine is complete on its own. Personally, I think readers will want to learn more about Querry and the fate of the survival colonies after they read Survival Colony Nine—but I’m just the tiniest bit biased!

Are you currently working on anything else?

I’m always working on something else! I have a list of about fifteen projects I want to get to, and the hardest part was deciding which one to tackle first. During this year’s NaNoWriMo (the first time I participated), I wrote most of a YA sci-fi/romance tentatively titled Freefall. But I’m also in the very early stages of a book I’m thinking of titling Myriad, which has to do with a teen who assists Death. That’s all I’m saying about it for now—partly because I don’t want to give too much away, partly because I like to discover what my books are about as I write them!

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

There are a number of 2014 debuts I can’t wait to read. In fantasy/sci-fi, I’m looking forward to Austin Aslan’s The Islands at the End of the World and John Dixon’s Phoenix Island (I guess I like islands). In terms of realistic fiction, Phillip Siegel’s The Break-Up Artist and Dahlia Adler’s Behind the Scenes sound like a lot of fun. I was also looking forward to Stephanie Oakes’s Minnow, but then I heard its release was moved back to 2015. So that gives me something to look forward to the next year!


Survival Colony Nine:

In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race.

Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. He has to–because heat, dust, and starvation aren’t the only threats in this ruined world.

There are also the Skaldi.

Monsters with the ability to infect and mimic human hosts, the Skaldi appeared on the planet shortly after the wars of destruction. No one knows where they came from or what they are. But if they’re not stopped, it might mean the end of humanity.

Six months ago, Querry had an encounter with the Skaldi–and now he can’t remember anything that happened before then. If he can recall his past, he might be able to find the key to defeat the Skaldi.

If he can’t, he’s their next victim.

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18457362-survival-colony-nine?ac=1


unnamedElissa Sussman, author of Stray

Elissa Sussman is a fairy tale nerd and lover of freshly baked bread. Her debut, STRAY (Greenwillow, Harper-Collins), is a homage to both. She lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and their rescue mutt, Basil.


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

Magic is a curse and princesses who stray from The Path are redirected as Fairy Godmothers.

Ok, that’s sixteen, but let’s pretend “Fairy Godmother” is one word. OR here’s a shorter, more mysterious description:

Magic. Fairy Godmothers. Bread. Wolves. Princesses. Cute gardeners. Curses.


What was your favorite scene to write?

Anything involving food. I like to do extensive research, so I spent a lot of time eating. Nom nom nom.


What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I’m terribly heartless when it comes to editing. I tend not to get too attached, which makes it easier when your editor recommends cutting over 100 pages from your manuscript. If my words were my children, I could probably give Miss Hannigan a run for her money. (I knew I could throw a musical reference in here somewhere.)


Is this a standalone or will it become a series?

STRAY is the first in a series of six. I’m an obsessive planner so each book is already outlined out in an enormous series bible complete with maps and timelines.


What else are you working on?

The second book in the series is next on my plate. Each book follows a new character and readers will meet one of the protagonists of the second book towards the end of STRAY.


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

I was thrilled, especially because I was already a big fan of the imprint. One of my favorite books – ENTWINED by Heather Dixon – is a Greenwillow title and my love of that story is one of the reasons my awesome agent approached them.


What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

There are so many amazing books coming out! I’m excited for all my fellow OneFourKidLit authors, but especially looking forward to Erica Cameron’s SING, SWEET NIGHTINGALE, Tess Sharpe’s FAR FROM YOU, Kathryn Rose’s CAMELOT BURNING, Heidi Schulz’s HOOK’S REVENGE and Amber Lough’s THE FIRE WISH.



Elissa Sussman’s STRAY, set in a world where magic is a curse and where princesses who stray from The Path are redirected and become fairy godmothers, pitched as THE HANDMAID’S TALE meets Grimm’s Fairy Tales, to Greenwillow, in a two book deal.

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17617617-stray


photo-headLisa Maxwell, author of Sweet Unrest

Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest   (Flux, Fall 2014). When she’s not writing books, she teaches English at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.

Can you tell us about your debut, Sweet Unrest, in 15 words or less?

Yankee girl moves South, dreams about guy from past, meets him in the present. Voodoo.

That was horrible. It’s much better than those 15 words sound. Promise :O)

When can we expect a cover reveal?

Soon, I hope! I’ve seen the first draft of it, and I love it. It’s atmospheric and spooky and just plain lovely. I’m hoping to be able to show it off early in 2014.

What is the release date for Sweet Unrest?

Right now nothing is set in stone–fall 2014. October is the last I’ve heard.

What was your favorite scene to write?

My favorite scene was the scene where Lucy, my main character, meets Mama Legba, this old Voodoo Queen in New Orleans. Lucy is not a believer–not even a little bit, but Mama Legba reads her cards anyway. It’s the scene where Lucy starts to think that maybe, just maybe, there’s something more to the world than what can be seen, and even though Mama Legba is a minor character, I love her.

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I had this really creepy scene where Lucy goes out to an old slave cabin to find answers about what is happening to her. In the scene, everything was inky dark and the air veritably buzzed with malice–I thought I really nailed the spine-tingling thing. But it happens in the middle of the night, and when I was editing, I just couldn’t figure out why a smart girl like Lucy would go anywhere alone in the middle of the night…especially with a murderer on the loose. Unfortunately, it had to go.

Is Sweet Unrest a standalone or is it going to be a series?

Right now a sequel/companion novel is in the works. It will most likely not be told from Lucy’s point of view, though. At the end of SWEET UNREST, Lucy’s story is kind of finished, but her friend Chloe’s is just beginning.

What are you currently working on?

I am finishing up revisions on a super-dark remix of Peter Pan, where Hook is the good guy and stories are the most dangerous thing, and I’m working on the companion novel to SWEET UNREST as well as a Middle Grade.

What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?

This is a very hard question– there are so many! I just read Emery Lord’s OPEN ROAD SUMMER, which was amazing, and I’ve heard really great things about Lindsey Smith’s upcoming SEKRET. Susan Vaught’s INSANITY is incredible, and Kate Kayrus Quinn (who was my favorite debut from this year) has another one coming- (DON’T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME.


Sweet Unrest:

Moving halfway across the country the summer before your senior year would be enough to give anyone a few nightmares, but when Lucy Aimes moves to an old plantation just outside of New Orleans, she starts having vivid dreams about the past that feature a boy from her present.

Both in dreams and waking, Alex’s striking green eyes and easy charm are hard to resist, but when it becomes clear that the events she’s been dreaming about really did happen more than a century ago, she has to figure out whether she’s falling for a ghost.

Lucy must learn to survive in a world where souls walk free and dreams become powerful portals to the past, where Voodoo queens hold court and ancient curses still shape the future. But when her decision to trust Alex puts Lucy’s family in danger, she discovers that her often terrifying dreams contain the key to saving them all.

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18402202-sweet-unrest?ac=1


ImageKate Asha Boorman, author of WinterKill

Kate Boorman is an independent artist and writer from the Canadian prairies.  She was born in Nepal (where she was carried up the Himalayas in a basket) and she grew up in a rural Albertan town (where she rode her bike to Girl Guides).  She has a Master of Arts in Dramatic Critical Theory and a work resume full of an assortment of jobs, from florist to accordion accompanist to qualitative research associate. She lives in Edmonton with her family, where she schemes up opportunities for them to travel the world. Kate is represented by Michael Bourret of DGLM.

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

An isolated settlement, terror in the outlying, forbidden woods; one gutsy heroine uncovering secrets.

What genre is Winterkill?

Fantasy/alternate historical.

When can we expect a cover reveal?

I don’t know— I’m a Fall 2014 release so I’m guessing the spring?

What was your favorite scene to write?

The scenes in the creepy woods were my favourite to write.

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I….don’t remember. I actually love revision, so nothing painful comes to mind. I feel like any scenes that had to go, HAD TO GO. Like, yesterday.

Is this a standalone or part of a series?

It’s part of a trilogy in the UK/Commonwealth (Faber & Faber), so far just one book in N. America (Abrams/Amulet).

Are you currently working on anything else?

I’m writing the sequel. And trying not to indulge the voices that beg me to work on the interplanetary sentient-bugs MG, or the futuristic illegal seed-trade YA, or the gothic re-telling of Vasilissa the Wise… the ideas need to get in line!

What is the best book you’ve read recently?

Tough question! I’ve read so many great 2013 releases….  how recently? I’m reading a superb, non-fiction, years-ago released book right now: Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, which is lovely and hilarious. For YA, I recently read Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow and thought it was fascinating, and beautifully written.

What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?

Another tough one! There are roughly three dozen debuts I’ve put on my TBR list already. Two of my crit partners have books coming out, so I’m pretty excited about that. They are: The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy (a MG contemp with an adorable all-boys family, PLUS cat barf jokes!) and 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen (a YA contemp with hilarity and depth… and, wait for it….kissing).  I also read Livia Blackburne’s e-novella Poison Dance and am looking very forward to her debut novel Midnight Thief.



The novel is set in an imagined puritan, medieval-style world, where main character Emmeline has the chance to repair her family’s tarnished reputation when the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage. However, Emmeline’s dreams urge her into the woods beyond their settlement and into danger.

Faber will publish as its lead YA title in autumn 2014, with publisher Thaxton saying it will appeal to fans of Moira Young and Patrick Ness.

GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17853596-winterkill

Comments are closed.