Tag Archives: young adult fiction

Welcome to the Spotlight I.W. Gregorio and None of the Above

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I’m super pleased to shine the spotlight on debut YA author I.W. Gregorio and her outstanding novel None of the Above. Stayed tuned below for a chance to win a copy!

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None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (Balzer & Bray/2015)

What I thought would be a mostly “issue-driven” story, turned out to be exactly the kind of story I adore. Krissy Lattimore, a senior in high school, is a star hurdler with a college scholarship, two best friends, and the best boyfriend ever. But when she decides to lose her virginity, Krissy is in such pain that she has to stop. After a visit to an ob-gyn, she learns she is intersex – while female, is lacking female reproductive parts and has some male parts. She is both horrified and scared. After telling her best friend, the news immediately gets out to her school. Krissy is subjected to some horrid bullying. She refuses to go back to school and is filled with confusion about who, or what she is. With the support of her father, aunt, and some surprising friends, Krissy slowly starts to come to terms with herself. A deeply layered story of love and self-acceptance that will resonate with every reader.

Spotlight on I.W. Gregorio:

Please tell us about your journey from the spark of the idea for Krissy’s story to publication.

When I started seriously writing YA, I had a lot of ideas running through my head. After my first attempt at a novel (which was, no surprise, a thinly veiled autobiographical novel), I brainstormed a lot about stories that I was uniquely qualified to tell, and struck on the idea of writing a YA Middlesex.

The idea percolated in my head for a while, not really taking form until my first experience with an intersex teen during residency (you can read about it in all the gory details here). That encounter, and the timing of the Caster Semenya track scandal, are what really inspired me to come up with a character and a plot.

It took me a long time to actually write NotA – residency and children and all – but when I was done I had a lot of great feedback – but unfortunately realized based on a lot of that feedback that I had to switch the story from dual narrative to single POV, which pushed my timeline back a bit. Once I got Kristin’s voice down though, I landed an agent fairly quickly, and I had a deal within a month with a dream editor.

One of the nicest surprises about this book, for me, was that while much of it dealt with Krissy’s diagnosis of being intersex, it is not what I’d call an “issue book.” This is very much a story about love and self-acceptance. I am a sucker for romance – so please tell me a little about how this part developed in the storyline. Without giving anything away, what were the challenges and joys to developing Krissy’s love interest/s?

The main challenge that I had from day one was that I had to really think about what teenage boy would be mature enough, and empathetic enough, to date an intersex girl. Because let’s be honest, a lot of teenagers are insecure and uncomfortable with anything outside the norm. What kind of kid wouldn’t blink if his girlfriend had testes?

So Darren was born, and I had such a good time writing him (he was originally a POV character and almost universally everyone liked his parts better). I wanted him to be geeky, but also funny, and for him to have his own insecurities. Because I always envisioned Kristin as an everygirl, a girl-next-door, I deliberately didn’t push her character too far, didn’t take too many risks with her voice. With Darren, though, I could cut loose.

You are a surgeon by day and an author by night – plus a founding member of the We Need Diverse Books campaign, as well as a wife and mother. How do you find the time and energy to do it all? How do you manage your time?

I honestly don’t know any more! To tell the truth, I had my second child the day after I got my book deal, so I really don’t know what it’s like to write a book with two children! The biggest challenge lately has been finding time to balance promotion and writing. Because you really have to be in the right head space, and also have time for the characters to breathe.

The keys I’ve found in the past, however, have been to just carve out an hour or two every day and get the butt in the chair. For me, that time was pretty much from 9pm to 11pm. Luckily I have a husband who is a creator himself (he’s a musician), so I don’t get any sad puppy eyes when I can’t spend time with him at night!

I. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. After getting her MD, she did her residency at Stanford, where she met the intersex patient who inspired her debut novel, None of the Above (Balzer & Bray / HarperCollins), which is a Spring 2015 Publishers Weekly Flying Start and a Capitol Choices Nominee. She is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™ and serves as its VP of Development. A recovering ice hockey player, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

For more about I.W. Gregorio and her book, check our her web site, and follow her on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Here’s a link to the Epic Reads book club guide.

For a chance to win a copy of this book, for yourself, a friend or child, or a library/school, just follow the directions below.

1. Comment on this post by Saturday September 5th by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and announced here on Tuesday, September 8th.

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

Thank you and good luck!

 

 

My Summer Reading List

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Summer is officially here! Even though I read throughout the year, summer brings to mind long leisurely days of reading. Ah, if only this were true. I would love a full 8 weeks of reading, of losing myself in story! Here are some of the books I hope to read this summer:

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (adult fiction) – I’ve long wanted to read one of Ann Patchett’s novels. A good friend with whom I share reading tastes raves about this one.

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (adult mystery) – I became a fan of the Flavia de Luce series after I read the first in the series and then remained a fan with the second. I’ve fallen behind and can’t wait to catch up. I mean, who can’t love an 11-year-old girl who is fascinated by chemistry and is able to solve mysteries the local small town police can’t? And it’s set in England, so a plus for me!

The Princess of Iowa by M. Molly Backes (YA fiction) – This cover and title caught my eye while browsing at a bookstore, recently. It’s about a teen girl who loses her friends and identity after a tragedy, and finds solace in a creative writing class. The reviews (which I didn’t read in full because I hate spoilers and I like to make my own decision without being influenced by complete strangers) state that this is a debut novel. Intriguing! So happy to see more contemporary YA!

Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham (YA fiction)- Another book that caught my eye while browsing at the bookstore. What is says on the cover: 1 Concert, 2000 Miles, 3 Ex-Best Friends. That hooked me enough to put this book on my list. I have a growing fondness for road trip books (see In Honor by Jessi Kirby and Amy & Rogers Epic Detour by Morgan Matson).

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (YA fiction)- Saw this book on The Reading Date, one of my new fave blogs to get reading recommendations. Lucy says the book is about first love and family. My favorite kind of story!

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (YA fiction) – Another recommendation from Lucy over at The Reading Date – road trip, girl band, male POV.

I’ll continue adding books to this list and no doubt I won’t get through all of them this summer, but I will definitely attempt it! What books are on YOUR summer reading list? I want to know! Happy reading!

Recent Reads

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Books I’ve read and enjoyed recently:

Heist Society by Ally Carter    Hyperion/2010 MG/YA fiction

Teenager Katarina Bishop had left the life, pretty much disowning her family of thieves by pulling the ultimate con job and landing at one of the most prestigious boarding schools, until Hale gets her expelled.  She returns to the life she vowed to leave when she learns her father’s life is in danger – a powerful criminal believes Kat’s father has stolen from him. Without the blessing of her Uncle Eddie (head of the family), Kat forms her own crew to rob The Henley, a reknown London museum. The chemistry between Kat and Hale is positively electric, and when Kat adds Nick, a virtual stranger to the crew, sparks fly. The suspense is tense and exciting, the characters a fun mix, and the story fast-paced!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson    Harper Collins/2011  YA fantasy

On her 16th birthday, Elisa marries a man she’s never met, the king of a neighboring kingdom, to form an alliance for her father, also a king. While Elisa’s older sister will someday rule her kingdom, Elisa is to leave her home forever for a strange land, accompanied only by her lady-in-waiting and her nurse. Elisa is the bearer of the Godstone, a blue stone that resides in her navel, connected to God and a duty she must somehow fulfill. When she arrives in her new home, she wants nothing more than to entice the handsome king to fall in love with her, but she soon learns he keeps a mistress. Elisa is kidnapped and learns of the ravages of war, she must decide what she should do. There is a wonderful love story within this adventurous and fantastic tale! Looking forward to the next book!

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson    Simon & Schuster/2010  YA fiction

In the aftermath of a tragic car accident that killed her father, Amy (age 17) has stopped driving and her family has fallen apart. Her mother has put their home on the market and moved to CT to start their new life. Amy is to follow after school lets out. Since she doesn’t drive, her mother arranges for the son of a family friend, Roger, to drive her from CA across the country. For their own personal reasons, Amy and Roger decide to take a long detour, ignoring her mother’s precise driving instructions. Along the way they make discoveries about the country, themselves, and each other, leading to important revelation and a growing friendship that turns into something more. The author mixes humor with the story to keep the story from being dark, while expertly delving deeply into both characters’ emotions. Loved this book! Thanks to The Reading Date for suggesting this book!

Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society Novel) by Ally Carter   Hyperion Books/2011  MG/YA fiction

This is book two in the Heist Society series, and Kat Bishop and her crew are back for yet another adventure. I don’t want to give a summary here in case I divulge spoilers for book 1 (see above).  Let’s just say that i hope there’s a book 3 in the making!

What have you been reading lately?