That bundle of images is from a #NovelAesthetics I tweeted last year.
And now that book is actually happening.
Before I moved away from Philadelphia, I spent every other weekend holed up with my YA writing group (hi Randy, Lauren, Katherine, and Julie, I miss all of you terribly), fussing over a book that was challenging the hell out of me.
Much like the drive to curate my adoption-themed anthology Welcome Home, I wanted to write a novel for adopted kids. Teens who were wrestling with finding a sense of identity, the way I did when I was younger. I wanted there to be magic, friendship, a diverse cast of characters. I wanted to talk about how we treat the world around us, and how it reflects on how we treat one another.
I wanted a lot.
I affectionately referred to this book as "The Nena Book" whenever I talked about it, as my wife pushed me to try and write this. To talk about transracial adoptees (like me), and to write a story that was incredibly close and personal to me.
It was absolutely the book of my heart. And now, it'll be published by Flux in the Spring of 2018.
Here's what it's about.
THE DRYAD OF FAIRMOUNT PARK is YA contemporary novel with a heavy splash of magic. In it, a recently adopted teen girl, Leila, discovers that her connection to nature and passion for environmental activism are part of her unique and magical genetic makeup, and a grove of trees that holds the secret.
With her best friend Sarika, she has to rally her environmental science club, passionate local activists from around the Internet, and a cute young park ranger with a one-winged owl, to save this magical grove in Philadelphia's large historic park.
All of this, while wrestling with bullies at her new high school, and struggling with words like “Mom” and “Dad” for Lisabeth and Jon, her new adoptive parents that want nothing more than to love her.
If she doesn’t, she’ll never get the answers she seeks, and the city of Philadelphia might face a catastrophic environmental collapse, as long-hidden magic fades from the city.
And there you have it. It's kinda like FernGully, but in the city. Though I should stop saying that. I'm not sure anyone remembers that movie but me.
I'm so thrilled that the book found a home with Flux. They're doing my adoption anthology this Fall, and they've published books by a bunch of authors I adore, like Fonda Lee, Emily Skrutskie, Helene Dunbar, and more.
Thanks for taking this one on, Mari and team!
Speaking of thanks, there are a lot of thank yous in the mix here, as Dryad came together as a result of a lot of people.
A massive thank you to my darling wife for pushing me to try and write something that challenged me, and reading the roughest of drafts. Dawn Frederick for saying okay when I said "I have a book about magic, adopted kids, trees, and some of those kids and trees are magic." Adi Alsaid for that inspiring Mexico writing trip. Zoraida Cordova for telling me to keep the magic. My writing group up top.
And the many beta readers who took the time to read this thing over the past year and a half, from when it was a loose rough draft to a manuscript I was trying to polish... McCormick Templeman, Heidi Schulz, Tristina Wright, Shveta Thakrar, Elizabeth Keenan, Laurel Amberdine, Alisa Hathaway, Rebecca Enzor, Brenna Ehrlich, Thomas Torre, Willa Smith, Natasha Razi, Leah Rhyne, Amber Hart, McKelle George, Jenny Kaczorowski, Nic Stone, Samira Ahmed, Kim Liggett, and Bill Blume, for taking the time to give me feedback, despite your wild schedules.
This is actually going to be the very first YA novel of mine to be in print, that you can pick up at a bookstore. It's true! The Geek's Guide to Dating was humor. My Inked series with Bloomsbury was all digital. The anthology might have my name on it, but it's not really mine. It's a collection of stories from many.
It's an intense feeling. My first in-print YA novel. I'm just so happy right now.
So. Here's to Spring 2018.
I can't wait for you to meet Leila and Sarika.
And a one-winged owl named Milford.