Nova Ren Suma, at 18, was no angel. She lived in Woodstock, a town known for its rampant use of marijuana, among young people as well as adults, and she did not abstain. Her family situation was known to close friends and confidantes as “difficult,” and she used drugs and alcohol to escape. She…
"A few years ago, I found myself the unwitting co-star in a midlife cliché. Eight weeks into what was supposed to be a two-year move to China, my then-husband admitted that he’d been having an affair with his secretary in Shanghai. Hence, our move. Hence, my return to a full-time job after finding that our finances had been ravaged. Hence, a writing pace that had dwindled to a few halfhearted sentences a day. And that right there was the crux of my writerly problem: my heart had been ripped in half.
But far, far worse, I watched helplessly as my kids fell into emotional catatonia, prone and unmoving on the rug for days after they learned that their father was leaving us…in a country where we barely spoke more than ten words of the language and hardly knew anyone. Weeks later, when my pre-teen son grunted at his dad on the phone, no longer even deigning to form words, I knew then that the most tragic legacy of the ensuing divorce wasn’t a broken family. It was my children’s broken hearts.
So I did what I think any writer-mom would do: I wrote my kids a love letter. A long love letter that became Return to Me, a novel that illuminated the pain and upheaval of betrayal. A novel that detailed the power of true, abiding love. A mother’s love. It spilled over with love. Sass, not so much.”
More from author Justin Chen about the Books of Her Heart, including Return to Me and her latest A Blind Spot for Boys, can be found today on my blog.
I was so thrilled to share the gorgeous cover of my new novel, The Walls Around Us, which was revealed on Tumblr Books (the first-ever cover reveal by Tumblr!) earlier this week, on August 4! This author couldn’t be happier:
This is a novel about killer ballerinas, a girls’ juvenile detention center, and yes, ghosts. It’s told in two voices, one still living, and one long dead. And it’s very me, in all the ways a novel can belong to a writer, so I think fans of Imaginary Girls and/or 17 & Gone are really going to like this and see how all of these books connect and feed off one another. When talking cover art with my editor, I truly had no idea what to suggest. I’m no cover designer—and I like to keep my mind open and blank for the space where the cover will one day be, so I don’t get my heart set on anything too specific.
And yet I knew I didn’t want a girls’ face on the cover. I didn’t want a photograph at all really, at least nothing too specific. I didn’t want a dirty ballet slipper or an orange jumpsuit behind bars or a coil of barbed wire. I wanted something that translated the mood and voice of the book into an image that would be striking enough to call readers closer… Not that I had any worldly idea what that might be.
When Algonquin emailed me this cover image to ask what I thought, I was stunned to delicious silence and then began smiling like a maniac. It was everything I wanted but didn’t know how to put to words. It is EXACTLY right. It speaks to the kind of writing inside the book, and to the twisty slope of the story you’ll be reading. It feels timeless to me. It feels so very evocative. It feels like a book for YA readers and for adult-fiction readers, too—which is important to me. And it will resonate even more once you’ve read the story and know why the artwork of the flowering vines was chosen.
The designer, Connie Gabbert, could not have done any better—and I am so honored and thrilled to have this cover on my book! I couldn’t love it more. Thank you, Algonquin and Connie! And thank you, Tumblr Books, for sharing in my celebration and revealing the cover to your followers!
Now that you see my cover, I hope this entices you to pick up the book on March 24, 2015! If you are a reviewer or media person, you should know that ARCs will be available THIS month—as in very soon, as in August—and you should get in touch with my publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, to get a hold of one.
People have been asked if I will be doing an ARC giveaway. It depends on how many ARCs I get, but yes… I am pretty sure I will be able to part with one. Stay tuned!
Hey Nova :) First: I really really love the cover of your new book! And I cannot wait to read it. Second: is there any chance that you'll be giving away arcs to readers outside from the US?
Thanks! I love the cover of the new book too! (Pinching myself.) The ARCs of The Walls Around Us will be ready *this* month… as in very soon. Like maybe even this week or next. I don’t have any yet myself though. If I get more than a couple, I could be persuaded to do an international ARC giveaway yes. :) We’ll have to see how many my publisher sends me!
“It’s OK not to be a genius, whatever that is, if there even is such a thing…the creative life may or may not be the apex of human civilization, but either way it’s not what I thought it was. It doesn’t make you special and sparkly. You don’t have to walk alone. You can work in an office — I’ve worked in offices for the past 15 years and written five novels while doing it. The creative life is forgiving: You can betray it all you want, again and again, and no matter how many times you do, it will always take you back.”—
Tomorrow—Monday, August 4!—my new book cover will be revealed on books.tumblr.com, and in the meantime, my publisher Algonquin has been sharing little teasers from the book, to hint at some secrets and to hopefully draw you in…
Here are all the teasers my wonderful publisher has shared on Tumblr (each image links to the original Tumblr post, if you want to help me share them there!):
So I’m down in Florida for a week of writing and while I was in the insane clog of crowded madness that was the JetBlue gate at LaGuardia Airport, I needed to find wifi so I could share some NEWS about my cover!
First, rewind back to September of last year and this was what The Walls Around Us looked like when I was writing it:
If you want to see what The Walls Around Uslooks like now—it’s…
So I’m down in Florida for a week of writing and while I was in the insane clog of crowded madness that was the JetBlue gate at LaGuardia Airport, I needed to find wifi so I could share some NEWS about my cover! If you want to see what THE WALLS AROUND US looks like now—it’s looks really damn good, that’s not a spoiler—you will soon be able to see the cover. Tumblr (!!!) is revealing it one week from today, on Monday, August 4, on books.tumblr.com… This is the first time Tumblr is doing a cover reveal, and on a personal note this is the first time one of my books has ever even *had* a cover reveal. There will be teaser excerpts from the manuscript revealed this week, too… Please keep an eye out and celebrate with me. I often feel like a very small person in a very large and crowded room (much like that JetBlue gate at LaGuardia airport), and this feels surreal and very thrilling and thank you for listening!
Here is what Tumblr said about it today (plus, thrown in, an “Orange Is the New Black Swan” reference!)…