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W's YA Summer Reading Series

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June 16, 2017

Now that summer's here, you'll want plenty of books to read poolside or at the beach. Here are four buzz-worthy YA novels to check out, where to buy online, plus Q&As with the authors themselves! 

Keeping the Beat by Marie Powell & Jeff Norton


It was supposed to be the best summer of her life. Instead, seventeen-year-old Lucy finds her best friend, Harper, shot dead in an LA swimming pool. How did things go so wrong? Their band, Crush, was once the top prospect to win an international talent contest. But things fell apart when Lucy discovered Harper’s real reasons for starting a band — which had nothing to do with music. Meanwhile, her other bandmates are throwing themselves into sex, drugs and rock and roll. Can Lucy get the rest of the girls to play to her beat?

Purchase a copy here

What was the inspiration behind your novel? 

Jeff and I have both worked in Hollywood and lived in London, and we thought this premise offered a great opportunity to play with the culture clash between those two worlds. That being said, KEEPING THE BEAT isn't really about reality shows, Hollywood glamor, or mysterious murders (not a spoiler, I swear).  It’s about the sorts of friendships that define us and make us who we are. I've been lucky enough to have friends who transformed my life and my identity as we all grew up together. We wanted to explore those relationships and talk about how they can be a positive and negative influence on our lives. 

Do you have any tips for aspiring YA authors on how to get published? 

Write! Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. What am I forgetting? ... oh yeah: WRITE. The hardest part about being a professional writer is just keeping your fingers on the keyboard and finishing things. Inevitably, you reach a point with a story where it seems hopelessly awful and you should just give up. Just as inevitably, that's the moment just before you really figure it out. So if you're writing a book and your brain tells you to give up, KEEP GOING! I promise, it will get better.

Who are your favourite authors (YA or other) and what books are on your to-read list for the summer? 

For YA, I love Kiersten White, Leah Bardugo (can't WAIT for my pre-order of her Wonder Woman book to come in), Sarvenaz Tash (KEEPING THE BEAT fans will love The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love), Sabaa Tahir …  I could go on and on! There's a ton of great YA  fiction out there right now. Also, this isn't a book but I'm riveted by Teen Vogue at the moment—some of the best reporting out there on what's happening in world events. 

Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant


Being a math genius is not exactly a ticket to popularity for seventeen-year-old Eva. Even worse, whenever she touches another person or their belongings, she gets glimpses of their emotions, secrets and insecurities, making her keep her distance from everyone. So when Eva realizes she can touch Zenn, a handsome and soulful artist, without getting visions — only sparks — she finds herself drawing closer to him. But then she discovers the history that links them, and the truth threatens to tear the two apart. Readers will swoon over Zenn and connect with Eva, the most fully drawn prodigy in teen fiction today.

Purchase a copy here.

What was the inspiration behind your novel? 

​When I started ZENN DIAGRAM, my daughter was a freshman in high school and I was reminded of how hard teenagers try to avoid vulnerability. They don't want their peers to see any cracks in their armor, any emotional shortcomings or issues. It is often a struggle for adults, too, but for teens it feels like a matter of survival. It got me thinking about what would happen if people couldn't hide their secrets. What would it be like to feel another person's struggles simply by touching them? And since teens especially crave intimacy and romance and physical touch, that "gift" would create quite a bit of loneliness and isolation. Eva was born out of this thought process.

Do you have any tips for aspiring YA authors on how to get published? 

My tips for authors in general (YA or otherwise) are pretty generic, but completely true: keep writing. Keep practicing your craft and researching the process. I am a big believer that if you have some talent and don't give up, you will get published eventually.

Who are your favourite authors (YA or other) and what books are on your to-read list for the summer? 

I don't read nearly as much as I should, but my favorite YA authors are the usual: John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Collins. When it comes to YA, I like funny, romantic books that are a tiny bit quirky (or, in the case of Suzanne Collins, devastatingly dystopian). As for must-reads for the summer, I've got my eye on When Dimple Met Rishi, The Sun is Also a Star (I'm a bit late to this one), and my friend Clara Kensie is re-releasing the first of her Deception So series of romantic thrillers in August (Deception So Deadly), so I'm definitely going to check that one out.

Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi


Sixteen-year-old Kai’s life is shattered forever by a letter from her sister, Jen, which begins, “If you are reading this, I am already gone.” Jen has committed suicide. Heartbroken and furious, Kai gets caught in a downward spiral, self-medicating and lashing out. When her parents decide to send her to a summer camp for grieving teens, she resists. But eventually, sharing her feelings with kids who understand helps her move forward … and even fall in love.

Purchase a copy here

1. What was the inspiration behind your novel?

JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY is based on what happened to me when I was fifteen. I fictionalized a portion of it, but honestly, a lot of the emotions and events were spot on. I would say Kai and I shared the emotional spiral of anger and despair. This was probably the hardest book I will ever write since it's so close to my truth. There were many dark days having to recall all that I went through at such a young age. It's also the first time I've talked about it since then. 

I never did go to grief camp, but in writing this book, I felt like I did all these years later. It was quite cathartic—even when it felt like I was climbing Mt. Everest. 

When I set out on this journey, my hope was that anyone feeling left behind by a loved one might see themself in this book and feel less alone, and hopefully seek out their own path to healing. The stigma of suicide can be isolating, especially if no one is talking about it. That's how it was for me.  

Grief is a universal feeling. No matter how you lose a loved one, it's devastating. Suicide is especially crippling since it's sometimes so difficult to understand.

2. Do you have any tips for aspiring YA authors on how to get published?

My best advice is to never give up. It is a hard road but when it does happen, I promise that all of the rejections and revisions are worth it. Also, make sure you surround yourself with other writers and take their notes and suggestions to heart. With JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY, I was so close to it, I needed other perspectives to stay on track. I'm grateful to all the people who read it and those who rejected it but gave me notes. It made this book so much better. 

3. Who are your favourite authors (YA or other) and what books are on your to-read list for the summer?

I'm a huge fan of Jack Kerouac, J.D. Salinger, Maya Angelou, and Jennifer Weiner. I adore so many YA authors, but just to name a few: Ellen Hopkins, Veronica Rossi, Angie Thomas, Jandy Nelson, and Sara Shepard.

On my to-read list: Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert, Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, and so much more! 

Textrovert by Lindsey Summers


It’s bad enough when high-school senior Keeley mistakenly swaps cell phones with a stranger. It’s even worse when the stranger turns out to be an obnoxious, self-centered boy named Talon … who’s just left for football camp with her phone. Reluctantly, the two agree to forward messages for a week. As Keeley gets to know Talon through their texts, she finds out he’s more than just an egocentric jock. In fact, the two fall for each other, hard. But Talon has been keeping a secret. One that makes their relationship all but impossible. Will Keeley ever be able to trust him? 

Purchase a copy here

What was the inspiration behind your novel?

Funnily enough, it came from a real life experience. I was walking my dog one day when I noticed a cute guy in front of me. His phone dropped out of his back pocket, and when I picked it up, I noticed we had the same model and color. It was an unpopular phone at the time, so it truly was a crazy coincidence. When I gave it back to him, we flirted for a while. Nothing came of it, but I always wondered “what if  … ” and that’s how TEXTROVERT was born.

Do you have any tips for aspiring YA authors on how to get published?

My experience is different from most because I don’t have an agent. I uploaded my story on a reading and writing platform called Wattpad, and I started getting noticed by publishers when it gained traction with readers. Currently, it has amassed over 90 million reads online.

The best advice I can give is to write a story that excites you. Don’t worry about trends or what’s hot on the market now because that will always change. But if you write a story that you’re passionate about, it will show in your writing, and resonate with your audience.

Who are your favourite authors (YA or other) and what books are on your to-read list for the summer?

Some of my all-time favorite authors are Nalini Singh, Lisa Kleypas, C.L. Wilson, and Lurlene McDaniel. They can do no wrong in my eyes. This summer I’m excited to dive into When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata.

 

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