Today is November 29, which means there are four months left until the release of The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin! I started the countdown two months ago with a book teaser. Last month, I shared some of my book research. (As a reminder, here’s a link that lists out what I’ll be sharing each month until release.)
This month I’m sharing my playlist, which you can find here!
Most of the music is actually from the era, and includes several songs mentioned in the book. But it also includes a few newer recordings. Some come from the Babylon Berlin soundtrack and from Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester.
I don’t usually listen to music as I write or revise, but I adore listening to related music when brainstorming or thinking about a story. Hope you enjoy this musical glimpse into this quite musical book!
Today is October 29, which means there are five months left until the release of The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin! Last month, I began my monthly release countdowns with a book teaser. This time, I’m here to share some of the book research I did as I was writing and revising. (As a reminder, here’s a link that lists out what I’ll be sharing each month until release.)
Like most historical fiction authors, I absolutely love research, and I especially loved researching the world of Berlin in 1932 for this novel. Besides reading general works of nonfiction about the era, most of the books I read fell in one of four categories:
Journalism: Along with reading issues from many periodicals from 1932, these books were great resources for me.
Guidebooks: The Moreck and Hessel books are reprints of guidebooks from the time, but the book in the center is actually from 1929 (purchased from a used bookseller).
Memoirs: I read several others, but these are a couple I purchased in non-electronic form. The one on the left contains stories from several women, and the one on the right is by singer Claire Waldoff (who makes an appearance in the novel).
Fiction: These stories all take place in Berlin in the 1930s, all by authors who lived there at the time.
Overall, these books represent just a portion of my research, but hope they are useful for anyone wanting to learn more about my process and about this world.
With less than six months to go until the release of The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin, it’s time to start a countdown with fun tidbits leading up to the release. Looking forward to sharing each of these with you! For now, please do check out the short teaser (link below). Full trailer to come at the end of January!
My critique partner Michelle Mason will be launching her debut YA novel a week from today! What is a critique partner, you ask? Well, critique partners are fellow writers with whom you swap chapters or manuscripts. I’ve lost count how many Michelle and I have exchanged, but I know we’ve read several manuscripts for each other over the years, offering feedback and brainstorming help, as well as consoling one another when the inevitable rejections stream in and celebrating our victories together. In sum, critique partners are invaluable. And now, after so many years of cheering for each other, I am excited to celebrate her and her book! The title is Your Life Has Been Delayed.
Here’s the blurb:
Past and present collide in a captivating YA debut about a girl who takes off on a flight and lands . . . twenty-five years later.
When Jenny boards her flight back from New York, the biggest things on her mind are applying to Columbia and reuniting with her brand-new boyfriend. But when she and the other passengers disembark in St. Louis, they’re told that their plane disappeared-twenty-five years ago.
Doesn’t it sound awesome? (Spoiler alert: it is!) Oh yeah, and for anyone watching the Netflix series Manifest, this is totally the YA version!
I know a lot of people didn’t have the energy to read much this year (totally understandable!), but reading is normally one of my escapes, and it was even more so this year. I’m closing in on 100 books for the year (two left to go), but I’m more than halfway on both of the last two, so I can safely say they won’t be favorites. As usual, most of my reads this year were YA titles, along with some MG, a handful of adult fiction, and a healthy stack of nonfiction research titles.
Also as usual, some of my favorite books of 2020 were YA historicals!
WE ARE NOT FREE by Traci Chee. This beautifully-written book showed me how little I knew about Japanese internment camps during WWII, despite having read several books about the subject already. It was a National Book Award finalist, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it picks up other awards down the road. Fourteen POVs! One of them in verse! So many feelings!
DARK AND DEEPEST RED by Anna-Marie McLemore. Simply gorgeous writing! This queer retelling of THE RED SHOES set in 1518 in Strasbourg made me swoon. McLemore often makes my personal best-of lists, and this was one of my favorites yet.
A CLOUD OF OUTRAGEOUS BLUE by Vesper Stamper (author/illustrator). This (1348) plague book felt incredibly relevant today (oof), and the beautiful illustrations alongside the lyrical text brought the story to life. A orphaned teen with synesthesia illuminating manuscripts when the Black Death comes to town? Yes, please.
Besides historicals, something else I always love to read are books in verse. Two of my favorites this year:
THE BLACK FLAMINGO by Dean Atta. Somehow I missed that this came out in 2019 in the UK, but it was out here in the US this year. This coming-of-age story about a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London was just stunning.
PUNCHING THE AIR by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. This powerful book about a Black boy wrongfully incarcerated showed me so much I didn’t know about the prison system. So much emotion in these pages.
I also found myself wanting to escape into the Before Times, so some of the contemporary novels out this year but written in the Before were favorites of mine, including:
MAD, BAD, & DANGEROUS TO KNOW by Samira Ahmed. Travelling to Paris in this dual-timeline (present day and 19th century) was a delicious escape, and unraveling the mystery of a Muslim woman connected to Alexander Dumas made for a gripping read!
THE LIFE AND (MEDIEVAL) TIMES OF KIT SWEETLY by Jamie Pacton. This feminist story is about a teen who wants to be a knight at the medieval restaurant where she’s a serving wench so she can earn more to help her family and attend her dream college. With a diverse set of characters and an honest look at poverty, this book offers a unique take on the college-bound YA novel.
Finally, books I loved in other genres and categories:
STAMPED: RACISM, ANTIRACISM, AND YOU by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Nonfiction! This was such a fantastic non-history book (you’ll get this if you’ve read the book). I listened to the audiobook with my family, and we all learned so much history we didn’t know. The audio version was especially fantastic.
EFRÉN DIVIDED by Ernesto Cisneros. Middle grade! I loved quite a few middle-grade books this year, but this one really captured my heart. Efrén’s parents are undocumented, and when his mother is deported to Mexico, he must not only help with his young siblings and make do with very little, but also try everything he can to get his family back together. So many feelings in this lovely book. Dreamers and their families deserve to stay here!
UPRIGHT WOMEN WANTED by Sarah Gailey. Adult fiction! This book came out in 2019, but I didn’t read it until this year. It’s got an old west feel, but it’s set in a near-future United States, with a group of queer librarians delivering subversive literature on horseback. I loved everything about it.
What about *you*? Please share your favorite books of 2020 here!
Some exciting audiobook and paperback news to share about White Rose! These formats will both be released less than a month from now (on January 12, 2021).
I’d really hoped for an audiobook someday, so this truly a dream come true. The narrator (Nicola Barber) has a great voice for Sophie Scholl, and I can’t wait to listen to the whole book. Please take a look over at libro.fm, where it’s currently up for pre-order. And there’s a sample available right there!
I’m also thrilled that the paperback is scheduled to release on the same day. You can pre-order from your local independent bookstore, or if you’re looking for a non-amazon way to get it shipped to you, you can find it on bookshop.org.
You can support any listed independent bookstore (click “Find a Bookstore” up top to search), or you can support individual enterprises, like What’s Her Name, a fantastic podcast I love about women from history.
In thanks of all the support for White Rose so far, I’m currently running a giveaway over on Twitter. I’ll be personalizing two hardcover copies for the winners. Enter over there by 17 December!
Yesterday afternoon I had the great pleasure of attending the virtual launch of Friends & Anemones, a poetry anthology for kids.
FRIENDS AND ANEMONES: Ocean Poems for Children, is a fun and informative collection of original poems and art by New England authors and illustrators. Hands join fins in an adventure through kelp forests to meet sea otters and whales. Attend an underwater birthday party! Voyage through tempests to bottom-of-the-ocean volcanos and mysterious creatures in the deep, deep darkness. This book is a valuable ecological and poetry resource for parents as well as librarians and teachers. The Writers’ Loft brings together authors and artists from all over New England to collaborate, because writing doesn’t have to be a solitary pursuit!
The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA curated this project, with Kristen Wixted and Heather Kelly editing. I was lucky enough to serve as one of the judges, along with fellow poet Matt Forrest Esenwine, and I even have a poem in the book myself! It’s wonderful to now see all the beautiful poems and illustrations in their finished forms.
Please do order your copies through Bookshop.org to support The Blue Bunny bookstore, which hosted the event! Happy reading!
I’m so excited to share that HMH Versify will be publishing my next YA historical novel-in-verse, THE MOST DAZZLING GIRL IN BERLIN!
I have been working on this project for a long time, but I continue to love it as much as I did when I began the very first draft. The Weimar Republic was a fascinating and complex era, and Berlin was most decidedly the hub of its universe. Finding out what it was like to live then and there–especially in the queer community in Schöneberg–totally captured my heart. I hope it captures readers’ hearts too!
For any other writers (especially those writing historical fiction) who might want to know how long my projects have taken me:
I wrote my first draft of (a very different version of) WHITE ROSE in 2005, and it was published in 2019 (14 years).
I wrote my first draft of (a very different version of) THE MOST DAZZLING GIRL IN BERLIN in 2013, and it will be published in 2022 (9 years).
It’s been a busy few months in many ways, but I’ve been the lucky recipient of three pieces of lovely news about my debut novel, White Rose:
It’s been named on the longlist for the Massachusetts Book Award (in some fantastic company with fellow Massachusetts authors)!
It was named on the shortlist for the 2020 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (again in fantastic company, including the winning Lovely War by Julie Berry).
Finally, White Rose has been named the 2019 Malka Penn award winner! This annual award is for works addressing human rights in children’s literature, and I’m so incredibly honored. Read all about the award and the amazing honor books here!