RSS Feed

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!

Posted on

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!

Posted on

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)

Celebrating the release of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE: An interview with Kate Karyus Quinn!

Yesterday, June 11, was release day for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE by Kate Karyus Quinn. I was so excited to interview Kate recently about her awesome book. Here’s what it’s about:

The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series.

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese’s fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

Another Little Piece

Nicole McInnes: I really enjoyed ALP. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever read, and I’m so excited for the book to be officially out there in the world. So, what are your plans for release day?

Kate Karyus Quinn: My launch party is on my release day, so I plan to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. So, yeah, really not that different from my average Tuesday. (Nicole’s note: be sure to check with Kate’s blog, Twitter feed, etc. to get an idea of how release day went!)

NM: ALP is one of those books that resists being placed into a clear-cut category. What’s your favorite way to describe it for readers who don’t know what to expect?

KKQ: Yes, it definitely straddles several different categories, and one of the reasons I love writing YA is that we have the ability to do that. I called ALP a paranormal mystery when I was sending out query letters. HarperTeen has categorized it as literary horror. Honestly, I think it is all those things – and there is a little romance in there too!

NM: Your main character, Annaliese, is so intense and multi-faceted (for reasons which become clear throughout the story). Of all of her personality traits, can you name a few you most admire?

KKQ: I think what I most admire about Annaliese is her courage in trying to find out what has happened to her, even as the truth leads her to darker and darker places. I also love how she comes to love the people in Annaliese’s life and how that makes her a stronger better person.

NM: How did you keep track of the multiple points of view that sometimes weren’t as multiple as they seemed?

KKQ: Well I am terrible with naming characters and then coming back to them fifty pages later and calling the same character by a different name. So mostly I try to keep track by going back to what I’ve already written and trying to remember not to contradict myself.

NM: With which of your characters could you most closely relate, and why?

KKQ: Probably the mom. She is an incredibly anxious person, who worries a lot and I definitely have quite a bit of that in myself as well.

NM: Did you draw on your own high school experiences when it came to writing about some of the everyday unpleasantness of high school life?KKQ: Yes. I was a lot like Annaliese, in that I was a quiet and shy girl who tended to crush on boys from afar. I was so concerned that the objects of my crushes might ever get a hint of how I felt that kept a good distance between myself and them, and would have been completely mortified if one of them had ever really talked with me.

NM: Which scene in the book was your favorite scene to write, and why?

KKQ: The final scene was my favorite. Usually I am a pretty slow writer, but the last twenty pages just flowed out of me and just felt so very right. It wasn’t the ending that I thought it was going to be when I started the book, even halfway through I didn’t know how it was going to end. It is embarrassing to admit that I really wanted it to end with an awesome kick-ass fight scene. Once I admitted that this didn’t at all fit with the book I was writing, I was able to find the ending that had been right for it all along.

NM: What’s the best way for readers to find you online?

KKQ: is probably the one best place and from there you can find my blog, contact me via email, and find links to all the other places where I am online.

Nicole’s note: Here are some of those links, including places where you can order ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE:

Kate’s Twitter

Kate’s Facebook page


Order ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE at Barnes & Noble



The HarperTeen Browse Inside feature where readers can read the first 80 pages

Debut Week Madness: Stephanie Kuehn’s first ever Charm & Strange Event at Kepler’s Bookstore!

Posted on

OMG people, I can’t believe it–only one more day until CHARM & STRANGE is out in the world!!!

I feel so lucky to have met Stephanie early on in my writing career–first online, then in person–and I cannot tell you HOW LONG I’ve been waiting for CHARM & STRANGE to debut. I feel like I’ve been reading snips of it FOREVER; amazing snips that made me want to devour the story in one, big, wolfish bite. *CHOMP*

charm and strange cover kuehn

For those of you who are totally unfamiliar with Steph’s work, you’re in for a real treat. Steph is fascinated with the mind–in fact, she’s getting her PhD in psychology right now–and that fascination translates into some of the most complex and flawed YA characters I’ve ever had the good fortune to read. Plus, Stephanie herself is just an amazing person–SuperIntelligent, funny, practical, warm…AND awesomely random enough to bust out WHAM! medleys on crowded Santa Monica boardwalks at the drop of a hat.

Given all that, you can imagine my excitement at being a part of Steph’s very first event for Charm & Strange at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park (near the San Francisco Bay Area). We were joined by panelists Shannon Messenger, S.J.Kincaid and moderator Kirsten Hubbard.

First, we all met beforehand at Cafe Borrone for some sun and delicious food (and COOKIES, YUMMMM!) That’s Stephanie on the far right:

Cafe Borrone Stephanie Kuehn

Then, we headed next door to Kepler’s, where we posed with our respective books (that’s Steph with Charm & Strange on the far left):

Keplers Bookstore Charm & Strange

One of the first things we did on the panel was play Two Truths and a Lie, and here were Stephanie’s (animal themed) answers:

1. Stephanie was once convinced by a friend that ducks have four legs.
2. One time, Stephanie put money into a vending machine, and a kitten came out.
3. Stephanie was once a member of a band called Kitten Breath.

(So….which one do YOU think is a lie?)

Next, we answered questions from our lovely moderator, Kirsten, where Stephanie explained how she was drawn to YA because she remembered being a teen and feeling & thinking certain ways, and wondering if she was totally alone in her thoughts or if anyone else out there experienced and felt the same things that she did. She also mentioned that she reads a lot in the genre, particularly darker stories. She had the good fortune to meet her current agent, Michael Bourret, at the SCBWI conference before signing with him, where she found herself very impressed by a panel he did with editor Julia Strauss-Gabel.

Kepler's bookstore panel 3

Kepler's Stephanie Kuehn

Then, after chucking candy at random into the crowd (note: when attending YA events, consider wearing a hard hat), we all signed books, and I got to nab my very own copy of Charm & Strange, WOOT WOOT!

Kepler's Stephanie Kuehn & Debra Driza

Grab your own copy starting on Tuesday, June 11th, at an indie or chain bookstore near you!

Barnes & Noble

(A huge thank you to Kepler’s Books and Shannon Messenger for putting this wonderful event together!)


CHARM AND STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn releases this coming Tuesday, June 11, 2013! To kick off her celebration, today we are featuring a summary, several nice blurbs, a great teen review from School Library Journal, ways to learn more about Stephanie AND a sneak peek at Chapter One!

CHARM AND STRANGE, St. Martin’s Griffin arriving 6/11/2013

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.


“Twisted, and twisting. Relentlessly compelling. Lush storytelling. A must-read.”— Ellen Hopkins, New York Times bestselling author of Triangles, Fallout and Tricks

“…haunting…Charm & Strange is a shocker of a page-turner that unravels brilliantly from both
ends.”—Lisa McMann, New York Times Bestselling author of Dead to You

“Charm and Strange is a story of blood and family and the animal inside—and it’s ferociously real.”— Blythe Woolston, author of Catch & Release


“Andrew Winston Winters knows there’s a wolf living inside him, and it is a pure manifestation of evil…” CLICK HERE FOR FULL REVIEW


Interview at Teenage Writeland

Interview with YAvengers

Blog tour info from Itching for Books



Chapter One


I don’t feel the presence of… CLICK HERE FOR FULL CHAPTER


CHARM AND STRANGE releases from St. Martin’s Griffin this coming Tuesday, 6/11/2013, but you can order it now!

ISBN-13: 9781250021946 | ISBN-10: 1250021944

Pre-order from Indiebound; Barnes and Noble; iTunes;  Amazon; Powell’s

Add on goodreads

Congratulations, Steph! All best wishes to you and your debut YA novel, CHARM AND STRANGE!

%d bloggers like this: