Though the “overnight success” story tends to make headlines, debut novels are more often the result of years of hard work and dedication. This month, we’re highlighting four debuts that deserve some time in the spotlight.
Putting a playful spin on school, these picture books depict life in the classroom as a grand adventure, filled with good friends, fun activities and teachers that are wise beyond words.
Most of the time, interviews about an author’s new novel take place a year or so after the book’s completion. So it might take a bit of doing for an author to feel up-to-date, especially if he or she is already ears-deep into the next project. Carlos Ruiz Zafón had to travel much further back in time when he spoke with BookPage from his home in Los Angeles about his fourth young adult novel, Marina: A Gothic Tale, which was first published in his native Spain in 1999.
Stories of human survival and hope after an apocalyptic event are well worn at this point. As a result, the themes and tropes of these tales often feel so trodden and predictable that they become little more than echoes. Then, there are stories like California.
With her 2012 novel Dare Me, Megan Abbott transformed high school bullying into a startling tale of reckless teenage chaos. In her new novel, The Fever, another group of young women find themselves at the center of pandemonium, as one by one girls fall to a mysterious infection that causes terrifying, gruesome seizures. The author shares how this haunting tale was inspired by a real-life “mass hysteria” outbreak in Le Roy, New York, in 2012.
Set on the beaches and back alleys of Los Angeles, The Prince of Venice Beach is the tale of a homeless runaway who lives an easy life off the grid—until his only means of income turns morally complex.
Seventeen-year-old Robert “Cali” Callahan ran away from an endless cycle of foster homes when he turned 14.
In this fascinating and deeply creepy novel by South African author Sarah Lotz, four commercial flights go down on the same day. Everyone on board perishes except three children: a British preteen named Jess; an American boy named Bobby; and a Japanese boy named Hiro. The children are uninjured, but their personalities have changed.
Who fired the first shot on Lexington Green on the morning of April 19, 1775, remains in dispute. Both the British regulars and the American rebels vehemently denied that it came from their side. What is agreed on is that after that first shot was heard, there was immediately sporadic and then volley fire from the British regulars. In June, there was the catastrophic Battle of Bunker Hill. While the result was indecisive, it was a self-proclaimed British victory at a staggering cost.
When people think about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, they often think of the iconic pink suit she wore on the fateful day that her husband, John F. Kennedy Jr., was assassinated in Dallas. Many people thought it to be a Chanel; however, it was a knock-off—made, like most of Mrs. Kennedy’s clothing, by an American dressmaker. Nicole Mary Kelby imagines the lives of one of those dressmakers through the lens of that famous outfit in her new novel, The Pink Suit, a luxurious narrative about Jackie Kennedy, a young seamstress, and the creation of the pink boucle suit.
Joshua Ferris, who previously examined the culture of the contemporary workplace (Then We Came to the End) and family life (The Unnamed) turns his attention to social media in To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. At first, the novel seems to be a satiric look at the way Facebook and Twitter could be used to hijack a person’s identity. But as the main character heads toward an existential crisis, it is clear that Ferris is also exploring how technology both connects us and reinforces our isolation.