Selected Works

A Rather Adult Young Adult Novel, 2014
A Young Adult novel, 2012
Adults and Young Adults
A 2010 Green Earth Book Awards Honor Book
Younger Readers
A new twist to a very old story. Beautifully illustrated by Heather Solomon.
A tall tale from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Winner of the 2002 Charlotte Zolotow Award for best writing in a picture book. Available in hardcover and paperback.
Works in Progress
A middle grade novel
A collection of essays about Fairy Tales

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Transformations in Writing

Such A Beautifully Designed Book!

August 18, 2014

Tags: Beetle Boy, Carolrhoda Lab, Writing life

Everyone I show Beetle Boy to remarks on the book's design. Everyone! I am so proud of how it looks and so grateful to the design team at Carolrhoda Lab. The cover is stunning with its raised purple on the beetle and the shiny white of the background. It is without a doubt the most artfully designed book of my entire career.

From the Blog of Andrew Karre, Editor for Beetle Boy!

August 11, 2014

Tags: Beetle Boy, Carolrhoda Lab, Four Secrets, Writing Life

My editor at Carolrhoda Lab posted a wonderful blog last week about the special gifts of what he called "the long view," a nice way of commending older writers who continue bringing unique visions to their sometimes formulaic genres. He also commends The Horn Book Magazine for its historic reach and appreciation for good literature regardless of trends. The blog is here.

Thank you to Andrew Karre at Carolrhoda Lab Books.

Another Starred review for Beetle Boy

July 22, 2014

Tags: Beetle Boy, Carolrhoda Lab, Writing life

Publishers Weekly has given Beetle Boy a starred review. "A potent story about the power that the past exerts on the present." A young man haunted by flashbacks of his powerless childhood. And by his nightmares. Struggle and redemption. No easy answers. Read the review in its entirely here

When YA is Less Teen and More Adult

July 17, 2014

Tags: Beetle Boy, Carolrhoda Lab, Writing life

My new YA novel BEETLE BOY belongs somewhere between what we know as young adult fiction, and literary fiction that deals with childhood trauma. Several friends who have read the novel--authors themselves--asked me why it was published as a YA novel. And part of the answer lies in the grey area of fiction for teens that is Carolrhoda Lab.

I am very lucky to be part of the Carolrhoda Lab family, and I use the term 'family' with intentional irony. Andrew Karre, my editor at CL (he also edited Four Secrets, 2012) has created a list of YA's that flourish in the aforementioned grey area, particularly the novels on the list that are realistic and contemporary (Carrie Mesrobian's SEX AND VIOLENCES, 2013 and Blythe Woolston's FREAK OBSERVER, 2011 are two highly acclaimed examples). Carolrhoda Lab is Karre's imprint and part of the umbrella publishing company that is Lerner Books, based in Minneapolis, and including many other imprints and presses. Here is their home page. More specifically, the home page for Carolrhoda Lab is here.

When people ask me this question (why YA?), I can't help but think that some readers assume I have a category firmly in mind when I write a novel like BEETLE BOY. I do not. A story germinates and surfaces and unfolds. The focus sharpens. The pages slowly become novel-length. I don't think about genre. That comes later, if at all. My recent work is alive and kicking the grey area between adult fiction and edgy YA fiction and I am strangely and ironically comfortable here, ironic because I am so much farther from adolescence than when I began writing for teenagers 30 years ago.

BEETLE BOY is necessarily harsh. Reviewers have described it as "demanding," "riveting," and "chilling." It is from my heart of darkness and is not meant for children or pre-teens or any reader who prefers fantasy realms and happy endings. But yes, absolutely, it is a YA novel.

The Girl

August 3, 2012

Tags: Renata, Four Secrets, Carolrhoda Lab

Renata, self-portrait
Renata to Mrs. Shield, the Social Worker: "I still dream about that hallway. I still see their terrible faces and still feel their angry thoughts around me. I feel how much they wanted to hurt me."

Renata to Nate: "Sometimes I see things that have already happpened. But it's kind of a jumble. It can be very noisy and confusing." She closed her eyes. "Please tell me that you believe me."

from FOUR SECRETS, Carolrhoda Lab, October 1

Illustrations by Bill Hauser

Discussion Guide

June 18, 2012

Tags: Four Secrets, Carolrhoda Lab

Discussion Guide recently created by Carolrhoda Lab for FOUR SECRETS:

see it here


June 11, 2012

Tags: Four Secrets, Carolrhoda Lab

Crows & Secrets
These came in the mail while I was at Mothfest in Indiana, surprising me. Glossy and stark and bundled--hundreds of bookmarks. I think they are beautiful. Can't wait to hand them out--take one! take one!