As we, at last, enter some form of Spring, we wanted to give you a peek at snippets of some of the excellent children’s fiction* coming out over the next two months – perfect for reading outdoors when the sun’s out (or hiding indoors when it’s not)!

*Age recommendations are in brackets next to the title

EVERY SHINY THING by Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison (8+)

About Every Shiny Thing

In this beautifully constructed middle grade novel, Lauren’s autistic older brother has recently been sent to a therapeutic boarding school, and it seems to Lauren that her parents are unfairly ‘living it up’ now that he’s gone. Lauren joins a simplicity group at her Quaker school and recruits Sierra, her new neighbour, for the group. She misunderstands the group’s anti-materialism mission and slowly begins to take things from her parents and to shoplift, using the money she gets selling stolen goods to give to kids on the autism spectrum. Meanwhile, foster kid Sierra has been in a toxic relationship with both of her parents, as an enabler and caretaker. Sierra realises she’s falling into the same enabling patterns with Lauren. And Lauren must learn that what she is doing is not fighting injustice, however good her intentions. Told in alternating viewpoints between Sierra’s verse chapters and Lauren’s prose chapters, this is a story about fairness for young readers first grappling with an unequal world.

Out now!

THE GIRL WITH MORE THAN ONE HEART by Laura Geringer Bass (8+)

About The Girl With More Than One Heart: 

When Briana’s father dies of a heart attack, she feels a new heart grow inside her body. Through this heart, her father’s voice speaks to her. It guides Briana through her grief as well as her new, not-so-normal life at home. When her mother’s own grief becomes debilitating, Briana feels like she’s solely responsible for her autistic little brother, Aaron. As she begins to spend much of her time and energy caring for Aaron, she begins to wonder: did his special needs hurt her father’s very fragile heart? The voice of Briana’s ‘new heart’ helps her to navigate the messy uncertainties, as she balances her first feelings of romance, making new friends, and following her dream of writing for the school newspaper. And as Briana finds strength and knowledge in herself, she’s finally able to let go of her new heart and rely solely on her own.

Out now!

LUMBERJANES: THE MOON IS UP (Book #2) by Mariko Tamaki (illus. Brooklyn Allen) (8+)

About Lumberjanes: The Moon Is Up: 

Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin—Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley—love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counsellor Jen . . . and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella’s, where the woods contain endless mysteries. As the camp gears up for the big Galaxy Wars competition, Jo and the gang get some help from an unexpected visitor—a Moon Pirate! Book Two will focus on Jo, the ingenious inventor of the group who also happens to be trans.

Pub date: 08 May 2018

BOOKISH BOYFRIENDS by Tiffany Schmidt (14+)

About Bookish Boyfriends:

Boys are so much better in books. At least according to Merrilee Campbell, 15, who thinks real-life chivalry is dead and there’d be nothing more romantic than having a guy woo her like the heroes in classic stories. Then she, her best friend, Eliza, and her younger sister, Rory, transfer to Reginald R. Hero Prep–where all the boys look like they’ve stepped off the pages of a romance novel. Merri can hardly walk across the quad without running into someone who reminds her of Romeo.

When the brooding and complicated Monroe Stratford scales Merri’s trellis in an effort to make her his, she thinks she might be Juliet incarnate. But as she works her way through her literature curriculum under the guidance of an enigmatic teacher, Merri’s tale begins to unfold in ways she couldn’t have imagined. Merri soon realizes that only she is in charge of her story. And it is a truth universally acknowledged that first impressions can be deceiving…

Pub date: 01 May 2018

THE ACCIDENTAL BAD GIRL by Maxine Kaplan (14+)

About The Accidental Bad Girl:

After getting caught ‘in the act’ with her best friend’s ex on the last day of junior year, Kendall starts senior year friendless and ostracised by her peers. She plans to keep her head down until she leaves for the prestigious Young Astronomers Talent Search program in three months. But after discovering her online identity has been hacked and she’s being framed for drug theft, Kendall is drawn into a tenuous partnership with the mastermind of a drug ring lurking on the outskirts of her Brooklyn private school. The longer she plays the role of ‘bad girl,’ the more she becomes her new reputation. If she wants to preserve her only chance of escaping high school early, repairing her tattered reputation, and ultimately saving her neck, she’ll have to decide who she really is, and own it. Friends and enemies, detectives and drug dealers—no one is who they appear to be. Least of all Kendall.

Pub date: 15 May 2018

Happy Spring-Reading!


The town of Glory is famous for two things: businesses that front for seedy, if not illegal, enterprises and the suicides that happen along the Indigo River. Marsden is desperate to escape the “bed-and-breakfast” where her mother works as a prostitute—and where her own fate has been decided—and she wants to give her little sister a better life. But escape means money, which leads Mars to skimming the bodies that show up along the Indigo River. It’s there that she runs into Jude, who has secrets of his own and whose brother’s suicide may be linked to Mars’s own sordid family history. As they grow closer, the two unearth secrets that could allow them to move forward . . . or chain them to the Indigo forever.

With a fresh concept and gorgeous prose, this novel is an intensely atmospheric read for young adults and adults alike.

Along The Indigo publishes on 20 March 2018, order your copy here.


Firstly, a bit about the book – which is out now

The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . . something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too. Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.

Rachael Allen is the author of 17 First Kisses and The Revenge Playbook. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two children and two sled dogs. Visit her website here.

We fell in love with Spencer’s taxonomy charts in the book so we couldn’t resist asking Rachael to make a taxonomy about… Taxonomy! See her beautiful hand-written creation below:

a taxonomy of why i wrote taxonomy

From sibling relationships to neurodiverse characters to peach ice cream (x3), not only does A Taxonomy of Love span 6 years of the characters’ lives, it also incorporates some of the most important aspects of family, friendship, love and loss while subverting stereotypes in the process.

If you’re still not sure, you can dive into an extract here!

Let us know your thoughts at @ACBYA using #TaxonomyOfLove

Devil & the Bluebird | Chapter Preview

The Devil and the Bluebird

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass. Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places.

In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a captivating depiction of loss and hope.

Dive into this captivating book today, click here to read the first two chapters!

RoseBlood by A.G Howard | Cover Reveal


The RoseBlood cover has officially been revealed! We cannot WAIT for this to arrive at A&CB HQ.


This YA novel from New York Times bestselling author A. G. Howard marks the beginning of a new era for fans of the Splintered series. Rune Germaine moves to a boarding school outside of Paris, only to discover that at this opera-house-turned-music-conservatory, phantoms really do exist. RoseBlood is a Phantom of the Opera–inspired retelling in which Rune’s biggest talent—her voice—is also her biggest curse. Fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the Splintered series will find themselves captivated by this pulse-pounding spin on a classic tale.

Rune, whose voice has been compared to that of an angel, has a mysterious affliction linked to her talent that leaves her sick and drained at the end of every performance. Convinced creative direction will cure her, her mother ships her off to a French boarding school for the arts, rumoured to have a haunted past.

Shortly after arriving at RoseBlood conservatory, Rune starts to believe something otherworldly is indeed afoot. The mystery boy she’s seen frequenting the graveyard beside the opera house doesn’t have any classes at the school, and vanishes almost as quickly as he appears. When Rune begins to develop a secret friendship with the elusive Thorn, who dresses in clothing straight out of the 19th century, she realises that in his presence she feels cured. Thorn may be falling for Rune, but the phantom haunting RoseBlood wants her for a very specific and dangerous purpose. As their love continues to grow, Thorn is faced with an impossible choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or save her and face the wrath of the phantom, the only father he’s ever known.

A. G. Howard brings the romantic storytelling that Splintered fans adore to France—and an entirely new world filled with lavish romance and intrigue—in a retelling inspired by a story that has captivated generations. Fans of both The Phantom of the Opera musical and novel, as well as YA retellings such as Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, will devour RoseBlood.

Roll ON January 2017!

Coming to a Bookstore Near You…

2016 Young Adult

We are naming 2016 The Year of YA! We can’t help it, we have some incredible YA books coming your way over the next 12 months. Today we are here to show you the best of the first half of this year.

The Edge of Gone

This March we are publishing On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis. This thrilling, thought-provoking novel from one of young-adult literature’s boldest new talents is sure to satisfy fans of Otherbound.

January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time. A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter—a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister? When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis | March 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

Seven Ways We Lie

In Seven Ways We Lie, a chance encounter tangles the lives of seven high school students, each resisting the allure of one of the seven deadly sins, and each telling their story from their seven distinct points of view.

The juniors at Paloma High School all have their secrets, whether it’s the thespian who hides her trust issues onstage, the closeted pansexual who only cares about his drug-dealing profits, or the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. But it’s Juniper Kipling who has the furthest to fall. No one would argue that Juniper—obedient daughter, salutatorian, natural beauty, and loyal friend—is anything but perfect. Everyone knows she’s a saint, not a sinner; but when love is involved, who is Juniper to resist temptation? When she begins to crave more and more of the one person she can’t have, her charmed life starts to unravel.

Then rumours of a student–teacher affair hit the fan. After Juniper accidentally exposes her secret at a party, her fate falls into the hands of the other six sinners, bringing them into one another’s orbits. All seven are guilty of something. Together, they could save one another from their temptations—or be ruined by them.

Riley Redgate’s twisty YA debut effortlessly weaves humour, heartbreak, and redemption into a drama that fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins will adore.

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate| March 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

The Steep and Thorny Way

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters | March 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings find escape from their constrained lives via their rich imaginations. The glittering world of Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy world of Gondal literally come to life under their pens, offering the sort of romance and intrigue missing from their isolated parsonage home. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as the characters they have created—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink and Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families in a thrilling, suspenseful fantasy.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley| March 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99


Vivian feels left behind when her older sister, Audra, runs away from home. She believes that Audra will return and pays careful attention to the clues around her. Then, inexplicably, writing begins to appear in a blank notebook.

When Audra does come back for Vivian, she’s in the company of a strange man. The three of them run away together and practice wilderness survival. While Audra plans for the future, Vivian continues to gather evidence: Who is this mysterious man, and does he have any connection to the words appearing in her notebook?

Klickitat is a haunting story, full of atmosphere and awakening, crafted by one of today’s most startling literary talents.

Klickitat by Peter Rock | April 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

This is the Story of You

On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But then a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, upending all logic and stranding Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland. Nothing will ever be the same. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing disappears. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on-to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future. Gripping and poetic, This Is the Story of You is about the beauty of nature and the power of family, about finding hope in the wake of tragedy and recovery in the face of overwhelming loss.

This is the Story of You By Beth Kephart| April 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £11.99

Devil and the Bluebird

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.
Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places. In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a captivating depiction of loss and hope.

Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black | May 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

Gena Finn

Gena and Finn would have never met but for their mutual love for the popular show Up Below. Regardless of their differences-Gena is a recent high school graduate whose social life largely takes place online, while Finn is in her early twenties, job hunting and contemplating marriage with her longtime boyfriend-the two girls realize that the bond between them transcends fanfiction. When disaster strikes and Gena’s world turns upside down, only Finn can save her, and that, too, comes witha price. Told through emails, text messages, journal entries, and blog posts, Gena/Finn is a story of friendship and love in the digital age.

Gena/Finn By Kat Helgeson and Hannah Moskowitz| May 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £11.99

Vote for your favourite at @ACBYA!

Watch this space for more YA news!

Courtney Sheinmel on Seeing Things Through

We’re all told not to compare ourselves to other people. And if you’re like me, you may mean not to, but you sometimes do anyway. There are times when I can’t help but hold myself up against friends who write beautifully and speedily, and find myself wanting.

And I did that while I was writing Edgewater. I did it a lot.

The spark of the idea for Edgewater came when my friend, the writer Lauren Oliver, said, “You should write a Grey Gardens YA, with sisters!” I had long been obsessed with the documentary Grey Gardens, about a mother and daughter who lived in a famous crumbling mansion, called (you guessed it) Grey Gardens. I’d also seen the Broadway musical, and the movie starring Drew Barrymore.

I thought the idea for a young adult novel was a magical one, and I loved thinking of sisters in that kind of house. I imagined one of them would go with the flow of the chaos, and one would be itching to get out. I couldn’t wait to get started, and then…

And then I procrastinated. I worried I wouldn’t be able to do Lauren’s idea justice. I started a file on my computer called simply “GG.” I added a sentence or so a day. I was also writing my young readers’ Stella Batts series, which was a good excuse not to spend too much time on GG. But sometimes I’d think that if Lauren had given the idea to another writing friend, or kept it for herself, the book would be finished, and it would be brilliant. I could make myself feel pretty bad that way.

A couple years passed, and eventually the “GG” file bulked up. My fear of not writing it started to outweigh my fear of writing it, and so I made a concerted effort, every day, to get at least a thousand words on the page. The idea no longer felt magical when I was the middle of crafting the story around it. But writing never feels magical to me while I’m doing it. It feels like wading through quicksand. It feels impossible. I thought up a mantra that I kept repeating to myself: “It’s not impossible. It’s just hard.” Finally I finished a first draft, got feedback, and went back in to fix things. Rinse and repeat.

Now Edgewater is a real book that I can hold in my hands, and you can hold it in yours. And that’s where the magic comes in, again. I had nothing but the “spark” Lauren had given me, and now, amazingly, four years later there’s a three hundred paged book. I’m proud that I wrote it—that it’s mine, with my name on it. I didn’t return the idea. I didn’t give it away, or let it die.

And that’s one of the things I love best about writing: seeing things through (even though sometimes it takes longer than I want it to). The end product may not look like anything my friends have ever written, and I’m okay with that.

Edgewater is out now! 


Michaela MacColl – Why Classic Authors?

Her protagonist in Nobody’s Secret was based on Emily Dickinson.

Her protagonist’s in Always Emily were based on Charlotte and Emily Brontë.

Her protagonist in The Revelation of Louisa May was based on Louisa May Alcott.

We asked Michaela MacColl about her love affair with these classic authors.

Michaela MacColl

Why Classic Authors?

I chose to write about classic authors because of a chance conversation with a librarian. One of her students had just finished reading Promise the Night, my novel about Beryl Markham’s childhood. The student came to her and said “I want to read more. The author mentioned Beryl Markham’s memoir, West With the Night. Do you have that?”


I was floored. My book had led this kid to an amazing piece of literature. I had got her hooked on Beryl Markham the author, and she wanted more. I could give her more!

So I pitched an idea to Victoria Rock, my editor at Chronicle. Literary mysteries. And I mean literary in its classic sense – my protagonists are teen versions of famous writers. I find (or make up) a mystery (usually murder if I can find a body) and write the story in a way that recalls that author’s literary style. So Emily Dickinson finds the body of an enigmatic stranger in Nobody’s Secret – their meeting is a riff on Emily’s famous poem, I’m Nobody, Who are You? In Always Emily, Charlotte and Emily Bronte’s personalities are as different as their masterpieces.  The sisters have to come to a meeting of minds on the moors as they both get hold of a mystery from different ends. The story’s based on a local scandal and of course there’s a handsome stranger, reminiscent of Heathcliff. And my latest, The Revelation of Louisa May finds sixteen year old Louisa May Alcott trying to juggle a philosopher father, missing mother, invalid sister, a fugitive slave and a romantic interest all at once in 1846 Concord Massachusetts. When someone is killed (and believe me, he needed killing!), Louisa is the only one who can investigate and clear her famous friends, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and even her father, Bronson Alcott.

Always Emily_1

I fell in love with all these women when I wrote these books. They may not have had exciting lives, but their work more than makes up for that. Emily Dickinson hardly left Amherst and spent the last 20 years of her life as a recluse, her poems still feel modern 160 years later.  Emily Bronte died young and never married. Her only published novel was Wuthering Heights. But Heathcliff’s and Catherine’s love story doomed by jealousy and revenge still resonates with audiences today. Her sister, Charlotte, was intensely pragmatic and a bit of a household bully, but wrote perhaps the first first-person novel that explored a woman’s feelings in Jane Eyre. And Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women written in 1869 has never gone out of print and has spawned at least four movies (with a new one in production). Louisa was raised in devastating poverty due to her father’s principles (that involved him not working for a living) and her life’s goal was to be rich from her writing. Little Women and its many sequels made her a millionaire.


Ironically, everyone of my subjects so far were profoundly influenced by one writer… Jane Austen. For Emily, Jane proved that a woman could write. Charlotte envied Jane’s success, but thought her books were bloodless and lacked passion. And for Louisa, well Jane Austen showed her that a woman could make a handsome living with her pen. By the way, the next literary mystery from Chronicle? Jane Austen finds a body!

One Thing Stolen, The Cover Story

It happens. Hopefully, not often. But it happens. A final novel cover design was reconsidered at the 11th hour, scrapped, and we started over.

Set in Florence, Italy, One Thing Stolen is the story of Nadia Cara, a teen suffering from a rare neurological disorder. As she slowly loses her ability to speak, she gains a profound artistic drive and begins stealing objects to weave into elaborate handmade nests. Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom no one but herself has seen. While her father researches a 1966 flood that nearly destroyed Florence, Nadia wonders if she herself can be rescued—or if she will disappear.

The book was originally entitled Mud Angels after a group of people who helped restore the city of Florence after the devastating flood in 1966. The editor and I discussed various directions the cover could take, and we kept coming back to the imagery of a nest. It was a strong recurring theme throughout the book, and we felt the symbolism of a nest – an empty one in particular – spoke to both Nadia’s new artistic obsession and her deteriorating state of mind.

Mud Angels

Of the original rough concepts, we were most interested in pursuing the look of options G and H. We felt a more graphic style would stand out well on the shelves in stores and online. During these early discussions, the title changed to One Thing Stolen. We hired a wonderfully talented illustrator and executed a gorgeous cover. Done! Well…not quite.

Ultimately, the book is about language and beauty, imagining and knowing, and the deep salvation of love. And it’s a bit of a mystery. Even though we’d created a gorgeous cover with the nest imagery, it just didn’t say enough about the story and Nadia as a character. We didn’t feel the cover was doing its job well enough to really represent the story and to sell the book. So I started over with a new round of concepts that spoke more to those ideas and themes and which also gave more of a sense of place to ground the story.

One Thing Stolen Cover Art

Of these concepts, we decided to explore A and E. A definitely felt mysterious but also a bit creepy. We did like the drama of the tight shot of a girl, though. E had all the right elements (the skyline of Florence, a strong character, allusion to something amiss with the color from the painting seeping into her head), but the girl felt too old. We took each direction a bit further.

OTS_blog_post_covers.indd OTS_blog_post_covers.indd

Even though the story is quite moody, there are some bright and hopeful moments. After much discussion, we decided to go with the brighter cover and took a close look at how each girl option changed the tone and mood of the character and cover. In the end, we chose a girl similar in pose to the original concept but who felt the right age to represent Nadia.

Though the path to the final cover took an unexpected turn, the final design truly represents the book in a way our original cover didn’t, so it was well worth the effort and long hours to make it happen. Once you read the book, I hope you’ll agree.




A Love Letter to Europe: Travelling Far to Write Close by Beth Kephart

Going Over
Travelling Far to Write Close

A few weeks from now, my husband and I will pack our modest bags, shine the lenses on our respective cameras, and sail through the air toward Krakow, Poland.

“Your new novel is set in Krakow!” my friends say, almost a chorus now.

“No,” I say.

They wink. They smirk.

“No.” Again.

No one believes me.

Indeed, it is true that I carry the world into my stories. That I believe in landscape as character. That I have rarely been able to leave my travels alone. Into my memoirs and novels I’ve floated El Salvador, Juarez, the south of France, Barcelona, Portugal, Seville. My two most recent books—Going Over and One Thing Stolen—begin, like so many others have—in a foreign place that alerted and surprised me.

Going Over, which is set on opposite sides of the wall in the Berlin of 1983, was inspired by a trip I took in the summer of 2011. It was nearly an accidental trip; Croatia had long been the plan. But in the final moments of planning, I stopped pressing computer buttons, lifted my head, and said, to my husband: “What about Berlin?”

I’d heard about the Berlin’s colour from friends who had traveled there. I’d heard about the collisions of the newly raw and the steeped history. I’d heard that you could walk for miles. I’d read Book of Clouds, Chloe Aridjis’s Berlin novel, which suggested the power of that city’s skies. Tugged toward Berlin, we went, and once you are in that fabled city, once you have touched the remains of that wall, once you have gotten yourself lost in the Turkish community, once you have sat on graffiti steps with graffiti artists, you are in. I returned home with photographs and a more quickly beating heart. Months later, in a conversation with my editor, Tamra Tuller, the idea for a Berlin novel based on an actual East Berlin escape attempt was born.


The idea for One Thing Stolen, which is set both in West Philadelphia, where I teach (at the University of Pennsylvania), and Florence, Italy, emerged from merging of memories, the discovery of a book called Dark Water (Robert Clark), and an inexorable need to tell a story about artistic passion and a rare neurodegenerative disease. I’d been to Florence more than once. I’d seen the art and (again) the colour. But it wasn’t until I read Dark Water, about the terrible 1966 flooding of the Arno, that I realised that Florence as a city had endured the kind of treacherous loss faced by those succumbing to bewildering cognitive decline.

To tell this story, I returned with my husband to Florence. Rented an apartment off of Santa Croce plaza so that I might recreate that apartment in the novel. I set off to meet the Mud Angels—the heroes and heroines of that flood—so that I might build into my story an authentic Angel. I spent an afternoon learning leatherworking so that I might reliably create another character who is a leather genius. I walked and ate and took photographs—long before dawn and long after midnight. I walked looking for the details that would keep my imagination vivid throughout the long writing and rewriting process.


When I hold these books in my hands I am holding some semblance of my own discovery and adventure. I want that for my readers, too—to take them somewhere, to invest them with something, to show them the world beyond themselves, to do something meaningful with story.

Will meaning happen to me in Krakow? Will I find the start of something? I’m leaving all expectations at home. I will allow the city to happen to me.

Beth Kephart blogs at