Taken By Storm is one of my favourite books, ever. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard she had two follow-up books planned, Unbroken Connection and Cayman Summer. I couldn’t wait to get more of Leesie and Michael’s story.
I didn’t set out to write young adult novels. I was raised around literature of all kinds, but it was poetry that called my heart. My grandmother and father both recited poetry to me when I was young, so “writer” meant “poet” to me until I was finished with my master’s degree (my thesis was a manuscript of poetry). After my master’s degree, I went to graduate school again and wrote academic things, then I had a baby, then I got a full-time job, and then there was no time for writing!
Then, about 15 years after my high school graduation, a classmate called me and told me a secret. She and I had a very difficult relationship when we were young, and I hadn’t spoken to her since we graduated. In the course of the conversation, she told me why she’d been so mean to me from eighth grade on: she had a crush on me.
My brain said two things to me after that confession: “wow, that explains a lot!”, and “wow, that would make a good novel.” So a novelist was born.
I wrote 10 pages of SKY in 2002 and took them to a workshop on writing children’s literature. People liked them–I was rather surprised. Then they sat on my shelf for a year, in part because I thought, “I’m a poet! I don’t write young adult novels!” In 2003, I began again, and had the novel drafted by the end of 2004. At that point, I realized I really *was* a novelist. Not a very good one, maybe, but a novelist all the same. In May of 2005, I found an agent, and he took SKY out (at the time, the title was TANGIBLE PEOPLE), but it was soundly rejected. Back to the drawing board, and in the course of revision, the title was changed to CONTENTS MAY EXPLODE UNDER PRESSURE. I also started a new novel in early 2005, so I worked on both at the same time, though I mostly focused on the new novel. In early 2007, I parted ways with my agent. Then, in the summer of 2007, I submitted the new novel to Andrew Karre at Flux (they take unagented submissions), and waited to hear back from him. When he contacted me, he told me he didn’t think my second novel was quite right for them, and he asked if I had more. I sent him CONTENTS, and we shaped it together. It was purchased by Flux in May 2008 and published in September 2009. A long journey!
As you know, the novel is called THE SKY ALWAYS HEARS ME AND THE HILLS DON’T MIND, which is not the title it went to Flux with. As I was revising for Andrew, I wrote that line in the text (on the first page, actually), as Morgan’s first justification of why she shouts her problems out on her hill. As I wrote it, I thought, “Oh, they’ll make me throw that line out. It’s too cheesy, too silly.” When Brian Farrey (the current Flux editor) told me it was the title of the book, I was floored! Then I moved it away from the first page, so the title wouldn’t be “given away” too soon (I like it when titles are mysteries, so to speak, until the middle/end of the book). What also surprised me about the title was how long it is–originally we’d been thinking about two-word and one-word titles. It was a big jump to ten words!
In part, I wrote the book for the real-life Tessa, to let her know that it was OK to have told me her secret, and it would have been OK for her to tell me way back in high school. It would have been surprising and strange, especially since we thought there weren’t any lesbians or gay men in Central Nowhere (they were there all the time!), but still OK. The book is not “I kissed a girl and I liked it, and I did it just so boys would watch me.” The book is “I kissed a girl and I liked it for real, and now I don’t know what to do with those feelings.” Had it really happened in high school, the real-life Tessa and I would have worked it out together.
There you go–how SKY came to be, and how the book got its title. Thanks for allowing me to guest post.
Lauren Mechling, author of the Dream Girl books, here. I have hijacked Bee’s blog in order to convey some Very Important Information.
You might not know it by looks alone (no pink hair, no metal bar through my septum), but I’ve become a total hacker worthy of her own “Dragon Tattoo” installment. And I’m not just talking about how I’ve cracked the code and broken onto Dreamcatcher’s Lair. My new book MY DARKLYNG, which I co-wrote with Laura Moser (my hilarious co-author on the “10th Grade Social Climber” books), is a YA thriller chockablock with multimedia awesomeness that will be appearing in serialized form on the awesome website Slate.com. The first installment runs today, and there will be more excitement every Friday for the rest of the summer. Also: it’s free!
Slate is calling MY DARKLYNG its “juicy summer read for vampire lovers (and haters!).” It’s about a normal 10th grade girl named Natalie Pollock whose own fiction addiction gets her into major trouble. She’s been reading Fiona St. Claire’s yummy “Dark Shadows” book series since middle school and when she sees a post on Fiona’s blog about an open casting call for the model for the next book’s cover, well, she can’t resist. What she had thought was just a random field trip turns into a dark and terrible new-best-friendship, scarier and more thrilling than any of Fiona St. Claire’s vampire novels.MY DARKLYNG is different from anything you’ve ever read before–it’s a first-of-its-kind story told in simultaneous platforms. Huh? you ask. Okay, so here’s the deal: While you are perfectly free to follow the MY DARKLYNG chapters on Slate and leave it at that, we have been milking the magic world of the Internet for all its worth. Why limit a story to mere words? What about pictures and videos and weird Tweets and scary Facebook wall posts that bring texture to the story and bring the characters to life? With that in mind, we found real (and really awesome) teenagers to play our characters. Here’s a picture:
Pretty, right? Expect to get to know these faces really well over the course of this book.Without further ado, this is the Slate page that will host the chapters.Here is Natalie’s Facebook page–well worth “liking” so you can follow when weird things start happening on it.
Natalie’s Twitter page is here.
Fiona’s (the vampire writer) Twitter page is here.
Natalie’s best friend Jenna tweets here.
James (the vampire model) tweets here.
And Fiona’s loving sister Tilly uses this Twitter page.
Now YOU can help make our great experiment in Internet fiction even more amazing. There is an upcoming scene that has a missing detail. We need to come up with something that Natalie and her best friend Jenna got in trouble for doing at a slumber party. Please write in your suggestions in the comments section. The winner will be chosen in a week and featured in MY DARKLYNG–if your answer is selected, it’ll be like the story is actually winking at you from the screen.
I know this is all a bit much to wrap your head around. Sorry for any confusion–just read the first installment and take it from there. Please please post comments or send us emails telling us how you’re finding the series. We can be reached by my website.
And if you find yourself feeling afraid, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
your humble hacker,
Two years ago Noelle disappeared. Two long years of no leads, no word, no body. Since the abduction, Tessa, her best friend, has lived in a state of suspended animation. She has some friends, but keeps them distant. Some interests, but she won’t allow herself to become passionate about them. And guys? She can’t get close—she knows what it is like to really lose someone she cared for.And then, one day, the telephone rings. Noelle is alive. And maybe, just maybe, Tess can start to live again, too.A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath a kidnapping can have on the victim, and on the people she left behind.