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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Liking Jeffrey Dahmer

I’m at ALA in Chicago this week and spending a lot of time talking about Jeffrey Dahmer. It reminds me that a writer should  probably “like” his/her main character. Even if it’s simply liking how terrible they are. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a long couple months (years!) with someone you don’t look forward to spending time with. Drafting, editing, promotion, discussions with readers… it’s a long-term relationship for sure.

And I still look forward to spending time with Jeff.

In Project Cain, Jeff Jacobson is the first-person protagonist and teenage clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. In Cain’s Blood (the accompanying adult thriller), Jeff is the “side-kick” of the protagonist and still, alas, the genetic copy of this infamous murderer. That’s two books I had to hang with this kid (with one entirely from HIS point of view), so it was doubly important he become someone I wanted to spend so much time with.

Many main characters are some idealized version of the author himself/herself…. Always fun to spend time with.  But I couldn’t do that with Jeff Jacobson. (1) My own teenage issues weren’t the “search for self” variety Jeff faces in Project Cain, those many of my students face, or many of my adult friends assert to have faced back in the day.  (2) Jeff IS the clone of an actual person, and as this novel is partly an exploration of Nature/Nurture, I’d hoped to explore that nature stuff by focusing as much on the actual person as possible.

So, I went to the source.  I went to Dahmer. Filmed interviews. Court transcripts. Memoirs by family and friends. Lurid biographies. In the books’ acknowledgements, I make a crack about one of my sons asking me to “please stop talking about Jeffrey Dahmer.” True story. Because I’d spent months with the guy and wanted to share every new discovery right away.

And, I’ll admit, I started to “like” him…

Yes, Dahmer did terrible things and should 100% have been punished for those crimes. And yes, a hundred times I wished I had access to more information on the VICTIMS; wished I could flesh out their humanity in my own mind and on the page as well as I might with the gobs of info I now had on Dahmer. Yes, thirty-year-old Dahmer comes off as creepy and robotic, dead-eyed and monotone, and you can’t see/hear him without thinking of the god-awful things he’s done.

But I was mostly focused on teenaged Jeff Dahmer.

Fictional Jeff Jacobson is sixteen. Who was Jeffrey Dahmer at sixteen?  Midwest kid. Book smart. Boy Scout. Quiet. Interested in science. Enjoyed lifting weights. Shy. Fighting depression with no meds, therapy or parental notice. Crying himself to sleep. Not quite sure how to make friends. His parents fighting constantly, a year or two from divorce. Realizing he was homosexual in a time/place even way more difficult than it can be today.

THAT kid I kinda liked. THAT kid was breaking my damn heart.

Fiction is all about What Ifs: What If Dahmer’s parents had just divorced sooner instead of screaming at each other for a decade? What if a concerned teacher had noticed he’d started showing up to school drunk and actually gave a shit? What if Dahmer were raised in the 2000s and there were a couple more people around to say: “You’re homosexual, huh? Well, there are millions here enjoying a wonderful life and it’s the most natural thing in the world.” What if he’d gotten some therapy, been put on the right depression meds, etc.

THIS is the Dahmer I thought about and Jeff Jacobson ultimately became the “idealized” version of that guy. Those same frailties, temperament, and promise. What, I imagine, Dahmer might have been. Could have been. Should have been. You get the point.

In Project Cain and Cain’s Blood, Jeff Jacobson is horrified to discover he is the genetic offspring of a terrible killer. But he’s thinking only of the adult Dahmer. As he discovers himself through the course of the novel, he’ll spend more time with the  teenage version of Dahmer… and hopefully reach — with readers — the same conclusions I did.

The Book Cellar hosts debut author Demitria Lunetta and authors from the Class of 2k13 at booklover’s event

From 4 – 7:30 p.m., readers can meet fourteen debut YA and MG authors, buy books and celebrate Lunetta’s release IN THE AFTER.

One of Chicago’s favorite independent booksellers, The Book Cellar, is hosting an author event of dramatic proportions on June 28, bringing together fourteen Young Adult and Middle Grade debut authors sharing their stories and journeys and signing books from 4-7:30 p.m.. The event, hosted at The Book Cellar (4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave) promises a story for every reader, and was created as part of the celebration of author Demitria Lunetta’s debut release, IN THE AFTER, a post-apocalyptic thriller about an all-too-possible future.

“Each year, a group of twenty Young Adult and Middle Grade debut authors from traditional publishers come together to spread the word about new books that we hope will get kids excited about reading,” explains Lunetta. “Now is an amazing time to be a reader—or librarian—and we’re thrilled to bring so many different authors together in one place for this signing.”

The event begins at 4 p.m., with the following schedule.

4pm – Middle Grade Authors (Reading and Book Signing)

Liesl Shurtliff – RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN – MG Fantasy (Alfred A. Knopf BFYR/Random House)
Tamera Wissinger – GONE FISHING – MG Contemporary Adventure (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)
Polly Holyoke – THE NEPTUNE PROJECT – MG Sci-fi (Disney-Hyperion)
Tara Sullivan – GOLDEN BOY – MG Contemporary (GP Putnam & Sons BFYR)

5pm – Young Adult Authors (Reading and Book Signing)

Debra Driza – MILA 2.0 – YA Sci-fi (Katherine Tegan Books)
Caela Carter – ME, HIM, THEM, & IT – YA Contemporary (Bloomsbury)
Kate Karyus Quinn – ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE – YA Literary Horror (Harper Teen)
Jennifer McGowan – MAID OF SECRETS – YA Historical Fiction (Simon & Schuster BFYR)
Nicole McInnes – BRIANNA ON THE BRINK – YA Contemporary (Holiday House)
Demitria Lunetta – IN THE AFTER – YA Post-apocalyptic (Harper Teen)

6pm – Young Adult Authors – preview for upcoming releases (Reading with Swag Signing)

Lydia Kang – CONTROL – YA Sci-fi (Dial/Penguin)
Mindy McGinnis – NOT A DROP TO DRINK – YA Post-apocalyptic (Katherine Tegan Books)
Geoffrey Girard – PROJECT CAIN – YA Sci-fi (Simon & Schuster BFYR)
K. A. Barson – 45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS) – YA Contemporary (Viking Children’s Books)
Cristin Terrill – ALL OUR YESTERDAYS – YA Sci-fi (Disney-Hyperion)

To learn more about this one-of-a-kind event, visit the Book Cellar’s website at

About The Class of 2k13

The Class of 2k13 is a group of Young Adult authors who are celebrating the debut of their first YA and Middle Grade novels in 2013. Featuring stories that range from Middle Grade poetry to mature YA horror, from tales of undersea adventure to contemporary challenges both in and out of high school, from historical espionage to futuristic thrillers, the Class of 2k13 offers readers, libraries and schools a wide range of great fiction options. To learn more, visit them online at or connect via Twitter @TheClassof2k13.

Launch Day!

IN THE AFTER is Almost Here!

Hi guys!

It seems strange that IN THE AFTER is releasing tomorrow (Tuesday 6/28)…considering that my process took 2+ years from signing with Harper Teen to actual real live hold-in-your-hand book. It’s got me looking back on my writing career and everything I’ve done to get here and how easily I could have given up. When you want to be a writer, you have to deal with a lot of rejection & criticism and it’s easy to think that it will never happen, but then you keep with it. Each step, (getting an agent, going on submission, getting a publisher) is a hard won accomplishment and now, with my book so close to actually being out, it’s a bit surreal.

So…what do all you writers out there want to know about the publishing process…in general or specific to my journey. Ask, and I’ll do my best to answer! And if you’re in a book store tomorrow, go and check out my book-baby. The cover feels really fantastic (no joke, the cover feels amazing). It looks like this:




demitria lunetta nameplate Read the rest of this entry

Mindy McGinnis Re-Enacts ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE by Kate Karyus Quinn… Kind Of

Q & A with Demitria Lunetta on IN THE AFTER!

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demitria lunetta author page Hello! I’m so excited for Demitria Lunetta’s release of IN THE AFTER next week on June 25th from HarperTeen! I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this book and it was the definition of unputdownable. Demitria let me pester her with questions. Here we go!

 I was entranced by how Amy and the little toddler she cares for, Baby, communicated in total silence. Did you always know this would be a major part of the book from the beginning?

Thank you! When I first came up with the premise for IN THE AFTER, I knew I wanted my creatures to be unique…they have poor eyesight and are very sensitive to sound. I built my post-apocalyptic world around this concept. As a result, my characters living in the After would have to be painfully quiet. I loved the idea of two people relying on each other for survival, living in complete silence. Amy, my teen MC, and Baby, the child she care for, only have each other to communicate with. Over the years they’ve created their own version of sign language. I realized that this language that only they shared linked them together throughout the novel, and often highlighted the unbreakable bond between them.

What was the weirdest (or most fun, or most gross) thing you had to research for this book?

The weirdest thing I had to research was what actually happens when a lobotomy is performed. It’s a very small part of my book, but I think of all the horrors present, including flesh-eating creatures and the end of civilization, the threat of a lobotomy is the scariest. It’s so frightening to me because it used to be an acceptable medical procedure, resulting in drastic behavior changes and often ending with a non-functioning comatose patient. In the mid twentieth century, thousands of people were lobotomized in order to treat depression, manic behavior, violent tendencies and was even recommended to cure moodiness. Some people had their children lobotomized because they were too willful, or defiant. I still get chills whenever I think about it.InTheAfter - hi-res

Plotter, or pantser?

I think about a story for a long time before I start to write. I finished the first draft of IN THE AFTER in four months, but I thought about the plot and characters for about three months before that, sometimes jotting down my thoughts. While I don’t have a long complicated outline or pages and pages of notes I definitely carefully consider a story before I begin writing.

Have you stockpiled your own pantry for the apocalypse? If so, what’s in it? And also, what advice do you have for the paranoid masses out there who know it’s coming?

While I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about “the end” in theory, I am not at all prepared for an apocalypse of any kind. I have mostly fresh and frozen foods…I might have a can or two of tuna fish somewhere. There are so many ways in which the world could end, how could I ever be prepared for them all? I have a strange respect for doomsday preppers, they’re so committed to their view of the apocalypse. I’m more of a “whatever happens, happens” kind of girl, so at the end of the world I’ll be gorging myself on slowly melting ice cream and hoping for the best.

Thanks Demitria! I’ll have some of that ice cream too, but let’s hope the apocalypse doesn’t happen. I like my ice cream cold, after all. 🙂 Congrats on your upcoming book release next week!

IN THE AFTER is available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

The Class of 2k13 Takes Chicago!

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Watch out, Windy City, because the Class of 2k13 is headed your way! Mark your calendars and join us!

Friday, June 28, 2k13

First stop, 11:00 am: ALA–the American Library Association’s annual conference and exhibition. (Click the link for the full panel description and location deets.) The New York Times Bestselling Author of the DIVERGENT series, Veronica Roth will lead a panel discussion on all of our upcoming books. There will be Q&A, a trivia contest, and prizes!

At 5:30–7:00 in the Exhibit Hall at the Macmillan Library Booth (#2103), Stephanie Kuehn will be signing CHARM & STRANGE.

Next stop: The Book Cellar. This is our first group event. Our books range from timeless fantasy to up-to-the-moment contemporary to futuristic sci-fi, harrowing thrillers to thrilling romance. You won’t want to miss it.

At 4:00 pm, middle grade authors will read excerpts from their books.

Tamera Wissinger – GONE FISHING – MG Contemporary Adventure
Polly Holyoke – THE NEPTUNE PROJECT – MG Sci-fi
Tara Sullivan – GOLDEN BOY – MG Contemporary

At 5:00 pm, young adult authors will read excepts.

Debra Driza – MILA 2.0 – YA Sci-fi
Caela Carter – ME, HIM, THEM, AND IT – YA Contemporary
Kate Karyus Quinn – ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE – YA Literary Horror
Jennifer McGowan – MAID OF SECRETS – YA Historical Fiction
Nicole McInnes – BRIANNA ON THE BRINK – YA Contemporary
Demitria Lunetta – IN THE AFTER – YA Post-apocalyptic

Each of these authors will signing books as well.

At 6:00 pm, young adult authors will give sneak-peak readings of their upcoming releases. Some may also be signing swag.

Lydia Kang – CONTROL – YA Sci-fi
Mindy McGinnis – NOT A DROP TO DRINK – YA Post-apocalyptic
Geoffrey Girard – PROJECT CAIN – YA Sci-fi
K. A. Barson – 45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS) – YA Contemporary
Cristin Terrill – ALL OUR YESTERDAYS – YA Sci-fi

Then, the Class will round out the day with the raucous celebration of Demitria Lunetta’s release of IN THE AFTER!

Some of us will be meeting up with bloggers from 7:30–9:30 at the M  Lounge.

Join us, won’t you? If you just can’t make it to Chicago, join us on Twitter. @TheClassof2k13

Some of us will stick around the Windy City for a few more days. Here’s where to find us:

On Saturday, June 29 (At ALA)

Liesl Shurtiff will be signing RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN at 10:00–10:30 am at the Random House Booth
Tara Sullivan will be signing GOLDEN BOY in the Penguin Booth from 1:00–2:00.
Polly Holyoke will be signing THE NEPTUNE PROJECT at 1:30 in the Exhibit Hall, Disney Hyperion Booth (#2620)
Mindy McGinnis will be signing NOT A DROP TO DRINK at the Harper Children’s Booth
Signed copies of BRIANNA ON THE BRINK by Nicole McInnes will be available at the Holiday House Booth.

On Sunday, June 30

Tara Sullivan will be doing an event at Anderson’s bookstore in Naperville, IL (just outside of Chicago) at 3:00.

On Monday, July 1

Cristin Terrill will be signing ALL OUR YESTERDAYS at the Disney Booth (#2620) at 9:30–10.
Tamera Wissinger will be signing GONE FISHING at 9:00-10:00 in the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Booth (#2501) at the McCormick Place Convention Center. Then she’ll be participating with a number of other poets for Poetry Blast! and read from GONE FISHING on the Pop Top Stage at the McCormick Place Convention Center from 10:00-11:30.
Jennifer McGowan will be at the Simon & Schuster YA Debut Fiction Author Reception, moderated/hosted by Ellen Hopkins, at 5:30–7:30.

On Tuesday, July 2, the Class will be home with sore feet.

We hope to meet you in Chicago! (Or at least on Twitter. @TheClassof2k13 #2k13Books)
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