Back in October, Publisher’s Weekly announced my new book deal with Harlequin Teen. It’s about a boy named Carlos from Mexico City who is struggling to come to terms with his older brother’s violent death. Only, Carlos can still see his brother Felix, he can still talk to him, and at every chance he gets Felix is telling him to go. To leave the life planned out for him and pursue his love of cooking.
I’ve been hard at work on it since the announcement, and am in the thick of revisions right now. After countless emails and almost 90 pitched titles, I’ve finally been given clearance to share the title and its release date! But first…
Also, a little more about the book, and why I chose a bit of a departure from my usual realistic contemporary YA. Readers familiar with Let’s Get Lost and Never Always Sometimes know that I write character-driven coming-of-age stories with romantic slants. While this next book keeps those elements, I wanted to play around with tone and magical realism.
This book is darker than anything I’ve done, because it dives into Carlos’s grief surrounding his brother’s sudden death. This was heavily influenced by Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell. It’s an album so good that it immediately made me feel like writing a story that captured its feel. I don’t know if I’ve succeeded yet, but that’s what revisions are for. Even if I don’t succeed, I think any story touched by Sufjan’s music is automatically beautified.
I’ve also been wanting to write a story that breaks with the constraints of the real world for a while now, hence the whole dead brother thing. I’ve always loved reading books that are character driven but portray a world slightly different from the one we live in. When I read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, as well as speculative fiction YA titles like More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera and Noggin by John Corey Whaley, I was emboldened to try something a little weirder for my third book.
Oh, and cooking. There’s cooking in the book. Because I want to portray what it’s like for a teen to find their passion, to feel like they discovered what their life should revolve around, and the struggles of trying to master that passion. Also, as anyone who follows me on Instagram knows, I like inspiring food jealousy. So, prepare to be hungry. I expect lots of food to be spilled on these pages.
Now, without further ado…
The title of my next book, releasing April 25th, 2017, is:
North of Happy
*cue confetti explosion*
Fun, right? Again, a ton of titles were pitched back and forth, and a lot of the ones I came up with were pretty terrible. But, I’ve found that the process of choosing a title is basically all the people involved in the book throwing ideas at each other until something sticks.
Okay, I gotta get to finishing this book up. A huge thanks to to YA Interrobang for hosting my announcement! Sorry about all the confetti on the floor.