The time has arrived–huzzah!–to reveal the cover of my new book, which will be released in September by Scholastic Canada. I’ve been privy to the draft version for a while, but now everyone can see what I’ve been secretly clapping my hands about:
Yes, it’s about geeks. And opposites. But so many other things too, like brownies. It’s the story of 16 year old Gretchen, whose love of poetry makes her a geek, even though she’d hate to use that word on herself. It’s also the story of James, Gretchen’s crazy-smart chemistry tutor, and Dean, James’s cousin. Together, these three are unstoppable. Nothing can ruin their good times. Gretchen can forget being dumped by her former best friend, James doesn’t have to worry about being bullied for being different, and Dean–well, Dean can focus on trying to get Gretchen to go on a date with him. Until one night that changes everything and everyone. Suddenly Gretchen has to find her way through a world she doesn’t recognise and make a stand for what’s right. Poetically, of course.
The idea for the book came from two different places: the poetry of high school and the social hierarchy of high school. I was interested in the poetry because at the time, I was finishing a Master’s in writing and poetry was one of my focuses. I also wanted to explore the world of high school through the lens of poetry. [Confession: as a high school student, I co-authored an epically long rhyming poem about the trials and tribulations of grade 11. It was a work brilliant to no one but its authors.]
The second perspective, how the social environment of high school works, was fascinating to me because I had been on the periphery myself but always wondered what made the different cliques tick. I still don’t know the answer, and there probably isn’t just one, but working on this book forced me to come up with some interesting possibilities. I was one of those kids who hated being stuck in school–I just wanted to graduate so I could explore the world and move beyond the limits of adolescence, become someone new. So I guess going back there through this book was a way for me to try again, meditate on what it all meant, but from a (hopefully)wiser place.
So I recently went back to the source to find out what was really going through my head when I was 16. I dug out the Holy Binder that contains not only the aforementioned epic poem, but a cringingly large collection of memorabilia from a teenage life. Circa 1995-1996. This time capsule contains way too much stuff to process in one sitting, so I was only able to skim the surface (and believe me, that’s a relief). But I did find a few things to share here.
A randomly selected page of the epic poem of Grade 11. You may notice the rhyming couplets. Particularly the awkward revision of “prance” to rhyme with “France.” This is the kind of writing that takes a lot of courage to read almost 20 years later. I am working on that.
And of course this doodle on the back of the binder. I don’t think I need to say anything else.
So in the coming weeks, there will be more on all things TOOG. (Doesn’t this acronym remind you of cave-man speak and a failed palindrome of TOO GOOD all at once? Yes, that’s just what I was going for with this title.) And maybe even more teenage reminiscing. Maybe.
Excellent side note: It’s been really interesting to hear other authors and bloggers talk about where book covers–specifically YA book covers–are going, and have been. Check out these amazing infographics from Kate Hart.