Thursday, November 06, 2014

Behind the Scenes of The Map to Everywhere: origins

I’m so excited that it’s finally release week for The Map to Everywhere, the first in a four book middle grade fantasy adventure series I’m co-writing with my husband, John Parke Davis! YAY! In honor of the release, I wanted to share a bit about the origins behind the series because this entire journey really has felt like a dream come true.

From an early age I knew I wanted to be an author even though I wasn’t really sure how one became such a thing. During my final semester in college I realized that if I wanted to write for a living, I’d better get started actually writing something I could sell. So I picked up a romance novel I’d begun drafting years before. I finished that book in 2000 and shopped it to agents, and while I got a few positive responses, nothing much came of it. I then wrote a second romance but by that time had come to the realization that perhaps I needed to look into a more stable career.

So I went to law school. Classes had only just begun when I found myself sitting at the apartment complex pool one day reading my torts textbook. A fellow first year law student named JP said hello and we got to talking. It didn’t take long for us to realize we had a lot in common — we’d both been born and raised in South Carolina, we both enjoyed the outdoors, and we both loved to write.

A year later, JP and I began dating. Upon graduation we moved to Charlotte together to start careers in law. It didn’t take long for me to realize, however, that while I’d loved the study of law, the practice wasn’t as exciting. And so I asked myself: if I could do anything with my life, what would it be?

The answer: I’d be an author. But I hadn’t been doing much in the way of fiction writing over the previous years. At the same time, JP also realized that he wasn’t writing as much as he wanted. So together we decided to change that.

I committed to writing a book a year for ten years in the hope that by the end of a decade I’d have sold one and started a career as an author. JP committed to a project with his brother called The Story Game. The premise was simple: every week one of them would throw out a pitch and they’d have a week to write a two page story centered around that pitch.

This project spawned some amazing stories — some of which JP later sold, one of which inspired my first published novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and several that I thought would make amazing novels.

But one story had always stood out to me. It was about a wizard and a ship’s captain sailing a river of pure magic called the Pirate Stream. It was the kind of story that reminded me of what made me fall in love with reading as a kid, and my first thought was that it would make an amazing middle grade book.

I really, really wanted this book to exist and I really, really wanted to be a part of it. It had so completely taken hold of my imagination that I proposed we co-write it. And for years, all we did was talk about it. During long walks we’d discuss character or plot, we’d share bits of stories we’d loved growing up, and we’d talk about how one day we’d really have to sit down and start writing.

I’m not sure that I ever expected that day to come, but in early 2012 I was looking for a new project to focus on and I said, “Let’s do it. Let’s write the Pirate Stream book.” JP readily agreed but even so, it still felt like a bit of a lark. Besides, who knew if we’d even be able to write together — sure we’d been integral parts of each other’s writing process as first readers and editors, but it’s another thing altogether to be co-writers *and* spouses.

And then we started writing and it worked. Like, it *really* worked. We built off each other and the story grew in really amazing and unexpected ways. We were able to assert our ideas without overwhelming one another and compromising came much easier than expected. Plus, it was fun!

By the end of the year, we’d sold it in a four book deal and this week, that first book — The Map to Everywhere — hit shelves. Often I think back to that moment in 2006 when we both sat down with the goal of being able to make a living writing in ten years. I’m not sure either of us would have expected our paths to lead us here, and certainly not as co-authors of a middle grade series.

Truly it has been a collaborative effort in every sense of the word. When one of us felt that our goal may not be within reach, the other was there to keep the faith. And at the heart of it all is our mutual love of story and of each other.

This post originally appeared on Magical Words.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Daughter of Deep Silence

So let me take a break from all the middle grade, The Map to Everywhere news for some other exciting news: I have a new young adult novel coming out this summer!  And I finally get to share more information about it!

First, the title: Daughter of Deep Silence

Next, the pitch: A delicious tale of revenge and identity from Carrie Ryan, the bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The release date: June 2, 2015

And finally, the description:

In the wake of the deadly devastation of luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace, rescued from the ocean after torturous days adrift with her dying friend Libby, knows that the Persephone wasn’t sunk by a rogue wave as survivors Senator Wells and his son are claiming—it was attacked.

To ensure her safety from the obviously dangerous and very powerful Wells family, Libby’s father helps newly orphaned Frances assume Libby’s identity. Frances has spent years in hiding, transforming herself into Libby, and she can no longer allow the people who murdered her entire family and Libby to get away with it. After years of careful plotting, she’s ready to set her revenge plans into motion—even if it means taking down the boy she’d once been in love with: the senator’s son.

The game has just begun, and Frances is not only playing dirty, she’s playing to win.

I feel like I want to add in an ominous, "dun dun dun!" (if you'd like an actual sound effect, try this).

As of right now, there aren't any pre-order links available, but they should be live shortly (and I'll update this post when they are).  But since the announcement was going live today, I wanted to scoop the info here first :)  In the meantime, you can find more information on the Penguin website here.

Some additional answers to questions you may or may not be asking:

- This is one of the books I sold to Julie Strauss-Gabel at Dutton last year -- back then it was titled Turnabout (the original announcement is here).

- It's a young adult romantic thriller -- nary a zombie or paranormal creature in sight!

- It's also a stand-alone.  

- I've seen the cover mock-up and it's gorgeous!

- Erm... am I forgetting anything? If so, let me know if the comments!

Yay for being able to share such fun news!! I'm excited!! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Banning Books = Fear

Growing up, I went to a religious school.  At graduation, the priest giving the commencement address said that we should always question our faith.  Because if we do so and it causes us to lose our faith, then our faith wasn’t strong enough to begin with.  And if we do so and we do not lose our faith, then it only makes our faith that much stronger.

At the time, this idea blew my mind.  It’s not that I’d always been told to blindly accept various things in life, but it’s the first time I remember someone in such an official capacity not just telling us that it’s okay to question and doubt, but that it’s a good thing.

Since then, this fundamental idea has formed a core part of my identity.  You do not convince people to your position on a matter by withholding the possibility of other options.  You do so by facing challenges against your position head on.  You need to lay out all the arguments — both the good and the bad — and explain why the bad shouldn’t matter.

Knowledge is power.  Information is power.  And the easiest way to control a population is to limit its access to information.  To take away their ability to form any opinion other than the one you want them to.  Which is why book banning is so problematic.

Books are how we create communities.  They are how we step outside of our own identities and into those of others — they’re how we learn empathy.  The only reason to ban a book is fear.  Fear that once a book opens someone’s eyes, you will not be able to force them closed again.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Three Starred Reviews for The Map to Everywhere

So I wrote this blog post but it got really long so decided to break it into two.  Here's part one, which is really the crux of it: The Map to Everywhere has received three starred reviews!!  I'm completely awed and excited and overwhelmed and excited again!!  Here's what they had to say:

"Vividly cast.... Multifaceted characters, high stakes, imaginative magic, and hints of hidden twists and complexities to come."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Wholly original.... This is an ambitious undertaking, and strong readers who enjoy adventure fiction and fantasy will inhale the first book in what has the potential to be an extraordinary series."—School Library Journal, starred review

"The unique details, expert plotting, charming characters, and comic interludes combine in a tantalizing read that’s made even more appealing by the promise that the story will continue in future volumes." —Booklist, starred review

What makes this even more special and wonderful has been to share this entire experience with my co-author, JP.  Apparently, I made a good choice to write with him since he is currently three for three on starred reviews!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Signing in Raleigh with Kami Garcia on October 3!

Hey y'all! I'm super excited to announce that I'll be joining Kami Garcia at Quail Ridge Books on October 3 to celebrate the release of the second book in her Legion Series: Unmarked!  I've never done a signing at Qual Ridge and am so excited to finally get the opportunity!  Plus, it's Kami Garcia! She's awesome!

For more info, click here.  Hope to see y'all there!

When: Friday, October 3, 2014 at 7:00PM
Where: Qual Ridge Books: 3522 Wade Ave., Raleigh, NC 27607
What: I'll be interviewing Kami Garcia about her latest release, answering questions, and signing!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Upcoming to-dos!

Hello all! There are a few odds and ends, events and whatnots, I wanted to give shout outs to!

Signing in CLT 9/3!!
First, the fabulous and wonderful Margaret Stohl, author of the Icons series and co-author of Beautiful Creatures & Dangerous Creatures, will be signing with Brendan Reichs, co-author of the Virals series, at Park Road Books in Charlotte next week! The signing is at 4:30 on Wednesday, September 3d -- I can't wait to see y'all there!  For more details, click here.

Pre-order Now!
Second, another fabulous and wonderful author, Beth Revis, just announced that she has a new book coming out and happily, the release is only a couple of month away!  The Body Electric is a sci-fi Blade Runner meets Total Recall -- I read a draft and couldn't put it down!  While you can pre-order the book everywhere, she's doing a special, signed, limited edition through her local indie, Malaprops, which you can order through her website, here.

Pre-order now!
Third, speaking of pre-orders and local indies, don't forget that you can pre-order my next book, The Map to Everywhere, through my local indie, Park Road books!  Not only will your book be signed (and personalized if you like!), it will be shipped out to you with special goodies such as a poster of the cover, stickers, and a special letter.  To order you can call (704-525-9239) email ( or buy through their website here (some folks have encountered an error page while checking out but Park Road says it's just a glitch and to click through it).  If you want Map personalized, don't forget to leave a comment with the name you want the book made out to!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

ALA Bound!

Preamble: at ALA this year JP and I will be signing galleys of THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE in the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers booth (#422) on Sunday from 3-4!  Come grab an ARC and say hi! More details here.

A few years ago I was able to attend ALA (the American Library Association's annual conference) in New Orleans and it was amazing!  Imagine a massive convention center filled with books and book lovers -- pretty much heaven, right?  There's really nothing quite like strolling the aisles, gazing at all the booths, and hearing all the excitement.  Plus! Friends! One of the things I love about a conference like this is that everyone has a shared passion so it's super easy to strike up a conversation pretty much anywhere -- standing in line for a signing, hanging out in a booth, randomly wandering around the hotel with a massive tote bag filled with ARCs :)

So I'm super excited that, thanks to the wonderful folks at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, I get to return to ALA this year to promote THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE, the first book in the middle grade fantasy adventure series that my husband, JP, and I are writing.  There are a few things that make this ALA feel even more special than usual.  First, that JP will be there. He's been hearing me rave about library conventions for years and now he gets to see it all first hand.  Not only that, but he gets to experience it as a debut author (squee!!).  

Me & Laini Taylor at the ALA 2011 LBYR party - hijinks!
(photo courtesy of Laini's blog)
Second, the conference is in Vegas -- which just in its own right means there are likely to be high-jinks and shenanigans.  But the other connection is that in November 2012 my agent submitted The Map to Everywhere just before the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) convention... which also happened to be in Vegas.  I was lucky enough to be there promoting Infinity Ring: Divide and Conquer.  What I didn't know at the time was that my future editor was also there, reading Map along with her co-workers and preparing an offer.  So returning to Vegas to promote Map feels a bit like coming full circle! 

But more than anything, what has me excited (and, lets be honest, really really nervous) is that I get to get out there and talk to people about MAP for the first time.  I know I haven't said much about this book on the blog (I've become a bit superstitious about talking about books before they're well and done), but I truly, truly love it.  Of course I love all the books I've written in different ways, but I had the same kind of feeling writing MAP as I did writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth -- that this book is special to my heart.

Perhaps part of that feeling came from the fact that I wrote MAP with my husband.  This is a book that we'd talked about for years, planning out worlds and story lines while taking long rambling walks with our dog.  We didn't yet have concrete plans to actually write it, but that didn't matter because the joy was in the imagining of it.  At the heart of MAP is our love of stories -- our desire to write the kind of book we fell in love with as kids.  Those are the books that sparked our imaginations -- that taught us to daydream and think big.

Those books are the reason we are where we are today: packing to head off to a convention with 20,000 other book lovers.