Putting the YA in FRIYAY: 5 Reasons to Read The Downstairs Girl

For National Hat Day on January 15th, we put the spotlight on Stacey Lee’s upcoming The Downstairs Girl and if you’re not already convinced you should read it based on the gorgeous cover, here are five more reasons to pick it up in August.

1. Features a Chinese-American girl in 1860s America

Protagonist Jo Kwan is independent and determined. Despite spending most of her time in the shadows, she slowly finds her way into the light.

2. Jo Kwan leads a double life

Jo spends her days working as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of Atlanta’s wealthiest men. But at night, she writes a newspaper advice column as “Dear Miss Sweetie”.

3. Swoony romance

Jo finds herself falling for her publisher’s handsome son, but she has to hide her true identity from him. Do we need to say more?

4. Stacey Lee is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books

In addition to being a critically acclaimed author, Stacey Lee works with WNDB to promote diverse literature to a young audience.

5. A fascinating insight into suffragists and the New South

There are very few YA novels that cover this particular time period, and Stacey has done extensive research to make sure her New South setting is as realistic as possible.

The Downstairs Girl comes out August 13th, 2019. Add it on Goodreads here.

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Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Tess of the Road

Tess of the Road_YA
You fell in love with Seraphina, now meet Tess!

Tess of the RoadTess of the Road
By Rachel Hartman

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess sets out on a journey, pretending to be a boy. Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl–a subspecies of dragon–who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hartman_RachelAs a child, RACHEL HARTMAN played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters, and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of Seraphina. Rachel earned a degree in comparative literature but eschewed graduate school in favor of bookselling and drawing comics. Born in Kentucky, she has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada.

Q&A with Rachel Hartman

What books inspired Tess of the Road?
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell made me realize I had a particular story to tell. I think I also subconsciously drew from Don Quixote, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Jane Austen as well.

What are you favourite fantasy novels?
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson

What books do you think Tess would read?
Anything fast-paced that made her laugh.

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: The Game of Hope

The Game of Hope_YA

Who run the world? Girls! Today we’re highlighting the often untold stories of women in history. The Game of Hope is the debut YA novel by international bestselling author Sandra Gulland. Join the conversation online by following @PenguinTeenCa and using the hashtag #HerStoryTeen.

Q&A with Sandra Gulland

What inspired you to write a YA novel?
Before I became a novelist, I was a book editor, and for over a decade I edited young adult novels for reluctant readers. But even so, it took at least two months to consider. It takes me years to write a novel, and I have to feel passionate about it and fall in love with it. So, I reread books about Hortense and covered our dining room table with plot points on index cards. I needed to see if there was a story there, a story about Hortense’s teen years, an enchanting story.And there was. And it was one I very much wanted to write.

What books did you consult while working on The Game of Hope?
I posted the complete list to my website and it comes to about 150 books and magazine articles, so I’ll spare you the details and generalize. I read Hortense’s two-volume memoir, The Memoirs of Queen Hortense, two decades ago, and it was time to reread them, as well as biographies about her. I read books on etiquette, period dance, and costume, of course: the details of daily life are what interest me the most. The book on sex that Caroline Bonaparte was so enthusiastic about, and which horrified Hortense, was also an amusing discovery. I read quite a lot on Madame Campan, including her letters to Hortense, as well as a little epistolary novel she wrote about two fictional girls in her wonderful school. A historian and I even shared the expense of hiring a researcher in Paris to find a set of letters in the National Archives written by one of Campan’s students. (Yes, you could call me obsessive.)

You’ve written a lot about various historical periods in France. What do you love about French history?
There is something about French history — at least the periods I’ve studied — that is so idealistic (even when it’s brutal), and at the same time almost theatrical. There is often a hint of humour, and I adore that.

What surprised you the most about the lives of teenage girls in post-revolutionary France?
There were many things I already knew, yet I was still surprised that teenage girls were expected to marry. They were so young! Also, it was rare for girls to be educated at all, much less well-educated. Campan’s school was amazingly creative and intellectually challenging. I would have loved to have gone to that school.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gulland_SandraSANDRA GULLAND is the author of the international-bestselling Josephine B series, chronicling the life of Napoleon’s second wife. Now, Sandra turns her keen eye for history and her love of story to Hortense, the teenage stepdaughter of Napoleon, in her first YA novel The Game of Hope.

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Blood Will Out

Blood Will Out_YA

Blood Will OutBlood Will Out
Jo Treggiari

Silence of the Lambs for teens – a gripping YA thriller that will keep you up all night reading!

Ari Sullivan is alive–for now.

She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. Told in alternating perspectives of predator and prey, Blood Will Out is a gripping addition to the YA horror genre, perfect for fans of There’s Someone Inside Your House and The Merciless.

Q&A with Jo Treggiari

What was the first scary book you ever read?
I’m sure it was either Carrie or It by Stephen King.

Why did you decide to write half of the book from the predator’s perspective?
Can I be creepy and say that the fledgling serial killer started to speak to me and demanded that I tell their story?

What books did you consult while working on Blood Will Out?
I read biographies and true crime books on John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and Ed Gein.

What books do you think Ari would read?
Before the action in the book takes place, I think she probably read Jane Austen and romantic YA. Afterwards, she probably read books about survival, weapon-making and criminal psychology.

What are you reading now?
Like everyone else I am reading Children Of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Treggiari_JoJO TREGGIARI was born in England and raised in Canada. She spent many years in San Francisco and New York, where she trained as a boxer, wrote for punk magazines and owned a successful gangster rap/indie rock record label. She now lives in Nova Scotia where she co-owns a carefully curated, community-active bookstore, Lexicon Books.

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Confessions of a Teenage Leper

Confessions of a Teenage Leper_YA

Not your average sick lit, Confessions of a Teenage Leper is an insightful and sardonic tale of a cheerleader who finds her world turned upside down when a surprise diagnosis not only changes her plans, but how she sees the world. Read on to find out how author Ashley Litlte was inspired by a class project and a visit to a leper colony in British Columbia.

Q&A with Ashley Little

Little_AshleyWhere did the idea for this story come from?

While I was doing my undergraduate degree in creative writing, a prof assigned our class a historical fiction piece. We had to find something in British Columbia’s history that interested us and then research it using three different sources (microfiche, interviews, encyclopedias, maps, etc. i.e. not the Internet) and then write a short story about it. I found out about a place called D’Arcy Island; a leper colony on a tiny island off the southern tip of Vancouver Island, not far from where I was going to university, in Victoria; it ran from 1891-1924. I did my research and wrote a short story from the perspectives of four men and one woman who had lived there. The idea had always stayed with me because it was so haunting, and the people sent there lived in really poor conditions and were basically sent there to die, not get better.

So, about ten years later, I decided it was time to write a novel about D’Arcy Island; I went to the island and stayed three nights and visited the orchard they had kept and saw the foundations of the buildings that had housed them. I did about six months of research towards a historical fiction novel and then one night, Abby Furlowe started talking to me, and it turned into something completely different than I had planned. But instead of fighting it and trying to force myself back to the D’Arcy Island piece, I listened to Abby and went along with her on her journey, and I’m glad I did.

Why did you choose Hansen’s disease?
I think the disease provides a great metaphor for feeling like a freak, an outcast; a feeling a lot of young people struggle with in their teenage years.

Were you ever a cheerleader?
No. All the cheer details were from research. But I do have a great respect for cheerleaders now after finding out how athletic and demanding a sport cheer is.

Describe your book in six words.
Mean Girls meets The Elephant Man.

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Kens

Kens_YA
Raziel Reid’s first novel When Everything Feels Like the Movies was a national sensation, selected as the first YA novel for CBC’s Canada Reads and winning the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature in 2014. But some critics took issue with the book’s language and representation of sexuality, National Post columnist Barbara Kay going so far as to describe it as a “values-void novel.” Now Raziel Reid is back with another savvy and at times shocking book. Kens is a sharply-drawn satire of consumer culture and the impact of social media on the lives of teens.

KensKens
By Raziel Reid

Ken Hilton rules Willows High with his carbon-copies, Ken Roberts and Ken Carson. It can be hard to tell the Kens apart. There are minor differences, but all Kens are created from the same mold, straight out of Satan’s doll factory. Soul sold separately.

Tommy Rawlins can’t help but compare himself to these shimmering images of perfection. He’s desperate to fit in, but in a school where the Kens are queens who are treated like Queens, Tommy is the uncool gay kid. A once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Ken changes everything for Tommy, just as his eye is caught by the tall, dark, handsome new boy, Blaine. Has Blaine arrived in time to save him from the Kens?

Raziel Reid on Satire

Reid RazielWhat does Kens mean to you?
Kens is a satire about all the things that make me sad. All the things that make me scared. All the things we try (and fail) to protect each other from. I laughed at them. And I took away their power.

There aren’t a lot of YA satires in the world. Why did you choose to use this format?
Satire in literature is a device that serves to give us an electric shock from the page so that we don’t risk becoming apathetic or complacent. In the Trump era, satire is perhaps more essential — and at risk — than ever before. In a single tweet the President of the United States can decimate a comedian’s career. The Trump administration constantly undermines the first amendment and attacks the freedom of the press, creating a rippling wave of censorship as recently seen in the firing of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers for his satirical depictions of Trump.

Satire highlights, blows up, twists, and exaggerates social and political ideas to make you heal them. To give satire a trigger warning is counter-intuitive. The whole point of satire is to trigger you. Hopefully with a bit of laughter and fun. Nothing heals faster.

What authors inspired you during the writing of Kens?
My favorite satirists are considered adult fiction writers, although I read them in my teens. Writers like Bret Easton Ellis, George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, Chuck Palahniuk, and Evelyn Waugh. Young Adult satires are rare, but Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens inspired me as I wrote Kens for its hilarious commentary on unrealistic beauty standards and consumer culture.