THE GIRL AND THE GROVE will be out with Flux on May 8th, 2018!
Me and the team at Flux all agreed that the original title didn’t quite sound Young Adult, and the story isn’t entirely about the magic. It’s more about the character’s journey as she wrestles with identity. So I really love this new title. Thank you to Flux’s Mari Kesselring and Megan Naidl and my agent Dawn for the brainstorming session. I’m so happy with the result.
Anna Hecker queried me on my birthday last year, with one wonderful gift.
Her next novel.
It was wild to me, to discover that there weren’t any YA novels about EDM… Electronic Dance Music. Considering the current popularity of The Chainsmokers, the easy listening joy that is Owl City, and my absolute favorites, Daft Punk, how hasn’t this been explored?
Well. Enter Anna with When the Beat Drops.
In Anna’s latest novel, she introduces readers to Mira Alden, a teen girl who wants nothing more than to ace her audition to the prestigious Fulton Jazz Conservatory. See, she’s essentially a teen jazz prodigy, writing beautiful music with her best friends as a somewhat band-geek outcast. And then she falls into the EDM scene when her sister comes home… and discovers a surprise gift for DJing.
The book is Pitch Perfect and Save the Last Dance meets This Song Will Save Your Life, with a heavy splash of Daft Punk, as a teen girl has to choose between what she thought was always her passion, and the exciting new world she’s getting swept up in. There’s drugs, toxic relationships, and oh my, so much music.
I fell in love with this book hard, and loved pitching it around while listening to dance music. Some of my favorite YA contemporary reads are music-filled, like Ashley Poston’s The Sound of Us and We Own the Night, Charlotte Huang’s For the Record, Nina LaCour’s The Disenchantments, and Morgan Matson’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. I can’t wait to see Anna’s book on shelves and lists with these.
Sometimes, books start in the quirkiest of places.
Like in a Facebook conversation with a friend from back home.
Steve Clark, a storyteller from back in Philadelphia who I’ve seen numerous time at various First Person Arts events, sent me a message one fateful day. He’s one incredibly gifted guy, and my goodness, I look forward to seeing his book in stores one day. And when he brought up his friend, I was happy to take a look at the project, and recommend other agents for it, in the event it wasn’t for me.
Bassey and I exchanged really long emails discussing her work. The essays she’d written. Her poetry and time with Def Poetry Jam. The articles for places like The Root, Essence, XO Jane, and more. She wanted to put together a book that would help push her mission… erasing the stigma around mental health for women of color.
My wife often writes about mental health, on her blog Down to Utopia, so this was something really close to me. I absolutely had to be the agent who worked on this project with Bassey.
We spent a lot of time pouring over this project together. And the resulting book, Making Friends With Giants, is a memoir about living with mental illness, and my goodness, I can’t wait for it to be out there in the world, making a difference. It’s my hope people will pick up Bassey’s story, and feel less alone.
And I’m thrilled to say Making Friends With Giants will be published by Harper Perennial in 2018. Here are the details, from Publisher’s Marketplace:
Go ahead and follow Bassey, her editrix Erin Wicks, and Harper Perennial on Twitter, and wish them all the congrats. And here’s to making books that help make the world a better place.
Before I moved away from Philadelphia, I spent every other weekend holed up with my YA writing group (hi Randy, Lauren, Katherine, and Julie, I miss all of you terribly), fussing over a book that was challenging the hell out of me.
Much like the drive to curate my adoption-themed anthology Welcome Home, I wanted to write a novel for adopted kids. Teens who were wrestling with finding a sense of identity, the way I did when I was younger. I wanted there to be magic, friendship, a diverse cast of characters. I wanted to talk about how we treat the world around us, and how it reflects on how we treat one another.
I wanted a lot.
I affectionately referred to this book as “The Nena Book” whenever I talked about it, as my wife pushed me to try and write this. To talk about transracial adoptees (like me), and to write a story that was incredibly close and personal to me.
It was absolutely the book of my heart. And now, it’ll be published by Flux in the Spring of 2018. Read more