At Teenreads, we usually publish guest blog posts around the time that an author's book comes out. That way, if the post makes you want to read the author's new book, you don't have to wait around for a month...or two...or three...before it hits the shelves. At the same time, though, sometimes it's fun to learn about a book before it's release date --- especially when it's almost a year in advance. It's like being invitied to a private party!
With this in mind, we're so excited to be the first people to REVEAL the cover, about the book copy and an excerpt for Ann Stampler's (WHERE IT BEGAN and AFTERPARTY) newest book, HOW TO DISAPPEAR. Read Ann's post below, learn all sorts of brand new info about the book, AND enter to win a copy of HOW TO DISAPPEAR, AFTERPARTY and WHERE IT BEGAN in a special AFTERPARTY tote bag. You want to win? Tweet #HowToDisappearReveal to @teenreads on Twitter by Friday at noon and we'll tell you if you've won!
BLOG POSTand COVER!
Everyone who’s ever had a conversation with me knows that I’m a very poor summarizer. I like details a lot --- juicy, unexpected, rich details --- and when I don’t have a keyboard with a “delete” key in front of me, I tend not to edit them out. At all.
My agent says that I have an elevator pitch to the moon. To which I reply, “this is why I’m a writer and not a public speaker”.
All this makes me the absolute worst conversationalist when it comes to spoilers. My family flees the room when I talk about movies because, inevitably, I give away the ending, the plot twist and the amusing tidbit that flashes on the screen during the credits.
At least with the first two novels I’ve got it down. I go, “Oh yeah, WHERE IT BEGAN opens with the narrator lying in the wet grass at night in Hidden Hills, looking up at a full moon through the branches of a eucalyptus tree …which is wrapped in her boyfriend’s wrecked car. The keys are in her hand and she has no memory of who she is or how she got there.”
Same thing with AFTERPARTY: “At the beginning, the protagonist tells us that good girls don’t usually kill their best friend. She’s standing on the roof of a derelict Hollywood hotel when she says this, and her best friend’s body is splayed on a hydrangea bush below. And, oh yeah, there are sirens in the background.”
Then I attempt to smile enigmatically. If this doesn’t work, I change the subject to something easy, such as religion or politics.
Here’s the thing. When you have a brand new book that’s about to come out, enigmatic smiling doesn’t cut it. Saying, “Okay, so HOW TO DISAPPEAR is a mystery/thriller in two voices,” doesn’t cut it. You have to say what your book is about. But unfortunately, in the case of a mystery/thriller it’s almost impossible to tell what your book is about without giving something away. Especially if you’re me.
So here goes: HOW TO DISAPPEAR is about a slightly wild small town Midwestern girl, Nicolette, who’s on the run. And Jack, the straight-arrow son of a criminal family who’s blackmailed to track her down and “get rid of the problem” or everyone he loves pays the price.
Why is Nicolette on the run? Does it have anything to do with the dead body that’s dragged through the woods on page one? Not telling.
Are Jack and Nicolette reliable narrators? Is anyone in this entire book a reliable narrator? Are you a reliable narrator? Not telling.
Was “psychos in love” actually considered as the tagline for this book? Only by me, and then only because I’m unreliable.
Are things in HOW TO DISAPPEAR as they first appear to be? You’ve got to be kidding.
Have you seriously written a book with blood and a body count and horrifying secrets which you still claim is character-driven? Yes.
HOW TO DISAPPEAR will launch in early summer, 2016. Until then, I’ve taken a vow of silence.
Want to win copies of HOW TO DISAPPEAR, plus Ann's earlier books,WHERE IT BEGAN and AFTERPARTY, plus an AFTERPARTY tote bag? Tweet at @Teeneads with the hashtag #HowtoDisappearReveal by Friday, August 28th! We will DM you if you won.
There is a body in the woods.
The flash of an electric yellow blanket in the moonlight, unfurling as it’s dragged along. A glimpse of nylon binding at the edges, sweeping the ground at the corner where the arm has fallen out.
At the end of that limp arm, a hand is trailing through the leaves into the darkness. But I have seen the fingers curled like talons, the fingernails all broken, the blue polish chipped away.
Shoes shuffling through the leaves.
And then the digging of the hole.
I’m crouched between a fallen pine tree, soft leaves and pine needles underfoot, cocooned in darkness. I pause to catch my breath. My heart’s banging so hard that it could crack my ribs.
A walk in the woods, that’s all it was. That’s what I tell myself now, when it’s too late to do anything about it, when it’s done — when the kind of person I am and will ever be is thrown into unanswerable question.
When all I want is to pretend it never happened.
But how do I forget that there were pine needles stuck in the laces of my sneakers, and that they were wet with blood? How do I pretend I never felt the handle of the knife pressed hard against my palm.
I’m not Catherine Davis.
My hair isn’t brown.
And I have never lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’ve never even seen the state of Oklahoma, despite what this convincing but completely fake ID says.
Or technically, not fake.
Just not mine.
Cat Davis. Born in Oklahoma City (where I wasn’t born).
Got so drunk she didn’t even notice when her license was stolen right out of her bag nineteen years later. At a frat party (where I shouldn’t have been) in Galkey, Texas (where I didn’t want to be).
Stolen by me.
Morally speaking, this wasn’t my most glittering moment. But it definitely answered that Sunday school question of whether I’d steal bread if it would keep me from starving.
The license just seemed like one more untrue thing to stuff between me and my past. A tiny piece of laminated plastic I thought of as my ticket out of the obituary column.
One more little thing I needed to make it to the age of seventeen alive.
That and a different-looking face, and a different-shaped body, and bulletproof skin.
That and a heart of stone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ann Stampler is the author of the young adult novels AFTERPARTY and WHERE IT BEGAN as well as half a dozen picture books. Her work has received an Aesop accolade, the National Jewish Book Award, Sydney Taylor honors, the Middle East Book Award and Bank Street Best Books of the Year mentions. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband Rick.