The Debut Club: An interview with Cordelia Jensen, author of SKYSCRAPING

Sweet Sixteener Laura Shovan recently spoke to Fearless Fifteener Cordelia Jensen about her debut YA novel-in-verse, SKYSCRAPING (June 2, 2015 from Philomel/Penguin Random House).

About the Author: 

Cordelia JCordeliaJensenAuthorPhotoensen is the debut YA author of the verse novel Skyscraping (Philomel/Penguin Random House.) She was Poet Laureate of Perry County, PA in 2006 and 2007. Cordelia holds a MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches creative writing in Philadelphia, where she lives with her husband and children. She is represented by Sara Crowe.

Find Cordelia on her website, Goodreads, and Twitter.


9780803739260_NearlyGone_JKT.inddMira is just beginning her senior year of high school when she discovers her father with his male lover. Her world–and everything she thought she knew about her family–is shattered instantly. Unable to comprehend the lies, betrayal, and secrets that–unbeknownst to Mira–have come to define and keep intact her family’s existence, Mira distances herself from her sister and closest friends as a means of coping. But her father’s sexual orientation isn’t all he’s kept hidden. A shocking health scare brings to light his battle with HIV. As Mira struggles to make sense of the many fractures in her family’s fabric and redefine her wavering sense of self, she must find a way to reconnect with her dad–while there is still time.

Told in raw, exposed free verse, Skyscraping reminds us that there is no one way to be a family.

SKYSCRAPING is available for purchase at AmazonPowell’s, Books A Million, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound. Continue reading

The Debut Club: An interview with Holly Bodger, author of 5 TO 1

Sweet Sixteener Darcy Woods recently spoke to Fearless Fifteener Holly Bodger about her YA Dystopian half-verse novel, 5 TO 1 (May 12, 2016 from Knopf Books for Young Readers).

HollyBodgerAbout the Author:

A long-time resident of Ottawa, Canada, Holly has been working in publishing since she graduated with an English degree from the University of Ottawa. 5 TO 1 is her debut novel.

Find Holly on her websiteTwitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Goodreads.


Bodger CoverAbout 5 TO 1:

In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife. Sudasa, though, doesn’t want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

5 TO 1 is available for purchase at Amazon, Powell’sBooks A Million, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

Darcy: One of the (many, many!) things I loved about 5 to 1 is the unique way you handle the alternating POV. We have Kiran’s chapters told in prose, while Sudasa’s are told in verse. Did you know from the story’s inception you’d want to structure it this way? Or did your characters bosstalk you into it? 

Holly: The original version of this novel was actually only from Sudasa’s POV. It wasn’t until I received feedback that the world building was not working in verse that I got the idea to add a second POV. Of course now I can’t even imagine the book without Kiran! It is as much his story as Sudasa’s and I really feel like we need both in order to see the whole picture.

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The Debut Club: An interview with Marie Jaskulka, author of THE LOST MARBLE NOTEBOOK OF FORGOTTEN GIRL AND RANDOM BOY

Sweet Sixteener Ruth Lehrer recently spoke to Fearless Fifteener Marie Jaskulka about her debut YA verse novel, THE LOST MARBLE NOTEBOOK OF FORGOTTEN GIRL AND RANDOM BOY (April 7, 2015 from Sky Pony Press).

SONY DSCAbout the Author: 

Marie Jaskulka writes fiction and poetry for readers of all ages. She grew up in Philadelphia and Northeast Pennsylvania, and graduated from Saint Joseph’s University with a BA in English and a concentration in writing. After tutoring and teaching for a few years, she ventured north to Fairbanks, Alaska, to earn an MFA in writing and to contemplate the meaning of life under the aurora borealis. Now she lives and writes in the Pocono Mountains.

Find Marie on her websiteTwitter, and Goodreads.




Forgotten Girl, a fifteen-year-old poet, is going through the most difficult time of her life—the breakup of her parents, and the paralyzing depression of her mom—when she meets Random Boy, a hot guy who, like her, feels like an outcast and secretly writes poetry to deal.

In THE LOST MARBLE NOTEBOOK OF FORGOTTEN GIRL AND RANDOM BOY, their poems come together to tell their unique love story. The two nameless teenagers come from opposite sides of the tracks, yet they find understanding in each other when they lay bare their life stories through the poems they write and share with each other.

Through verse, they document the power of first kisses, the joy of finally having someone on their side, the devastation of jealousy, and the heartbreaking sadness of what each of them is simultaneously dealing with at home and hiding from the world. Finally they have someone to tell and somewhere to tell it in their marble notebook.

THE LOST MARBLE NOTEBOOK OF FORGOTTEN GIRL AND RANDOM BOY is available for purchase at Amazon, Powell’s, Books A Million, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

Ruth: How did you make the decision to keep your main characters nameless? Did you have names for them in your head or in a prior version?

Marie: They never had names. I started writing the characters’ dialogues and they used a lot of pronouns. He was named first, when she called him a Random Boy. Then as I kept writing, when it came time to give actual names, it became a sort of a game–how could I word it without saying their names? I found it really natural to not give names because when you’re writing poems in your journal, how often do you include your own name? Except for the occasional bubble-letter doodle, I never do.

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The Debut Club: An interview with Stefanie Lyons, author of DATING DOWN

Sweet Sixteener Nisha Sharma recently spoke to Fearless Fifteener Stefanie Lyons about her YA contemporary novel-in-verse, DATING DOWN (April 8, 2015 from Flux).


About the Author:

Stefanie Lyons holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she’s organizing her locker, crushing on boys, practicing her clarinet, or getting ready for prom. In her head, that is. Because her teen years were great. Stefanie resides in Chicago. DATING DOWN is her first novel.

Find Stefanie on her websiteTwitter, and Goodreads.




Dating DownAbout DATING DOWN:

When a good girl falls for a bad boy

She thought she loved him. She thought she could change him. She thought if she just believed in him enough, his cheating and his drugs and his lying would stop, and she’d be his and he’d be hers and they’d love each other forever.

But for Samantha Henderson, X–the boy she will not name–is trouble. He’s older, edgier, bohemian . . . and when he starts paying attention to Sam, she can’t resist him. Samantha’s family and friends try to warn her, but still she stays with him, risking her future and everything that really matters.

As moody and vivid as it is captivating, DATING DOWN is told in scenes and bursts of poetry that create a story filled with hurt, healing, and hope.

DATING DOWN is available for purchase at Amazon, Powell’s, Books A Million, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

Nisha: Out of all of the parts in Dating Down that I enjoyed, my favorite was the writing itself. The verse in Dating Down is beautifully lyrical. Did it come naturally or was it a stylistic decision?

Stefanie: The verse part was a bit of a surprise. I heard a voice and started writing from it. It was languid and quiet, which struck me as odd. I went with it because Sam, the main character, is insecure and filled with self-doubt at the start of the book, so it fit. Also, I was reading a lot of Emily Dickinson, Anne Sexton, Anne Carson, and Allen Ginsberg at the time—so, duh. 😉

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