"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Featuring Joy Preble and THE SWEET DEAD LIFE

Today I am thrilled to featured my friend and fellow young adult author, Joy Preble! For those who don't know Joy, you should totally go to her next signing and meet her. She is fun and smart and just a (wait for it) *joy* to be around :)

Seriously, though, I mean it.

Joy is celebrating the release of her brand new young adult novel, THE SWEET DEAD LIFE.

THE SWEET DEAD LIFE by Joy Preble (Soho Teen, May 14, 2013)

“A smart, sassy, supernatural mystery chock-full of heart, hope and fun.”
New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith

"The Sweet Dead Life is mischief and mayhem, zippy one-liners, mystery and a tiny bit of tragedy. A-word: Awesome."
—E. Lockhart, author of The Boyfriend List and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

“There’s a whole lot going on here: poisonings, blackmail, sibling relationships, romance, and abandonment, in addition to angels, but the unifying thread is Jenna’s clever, bitter, self-aware, and loving voice ... Preble’s lively descriptions and unusually well-drawn, caring sibling relationship (a topic not usually explored in teen fiction) are especially  noteworthy.”

“Hallelujah! A paranormal tale of angels that’s not a romance, making it a novel that breaks the mold.”

I'll be signing with Joy at a number of events coming up (you can check my schedule here to see which ones).

Joy has agreed to answer a few questions for us! Thank you, Joy!


Hi, Joy!

PJHoover: You’ve just run into an old classmate from high school and you tell them your latest book just came out. They ask what it’s about. What do you say?

JoyP: I would say that THE SWEET DEAD LIFE is a Texas makeover of the angel book. 14 year old Jenna has had a bad, bad year. Her dad has been missing for years now. Her mom is depressed, unemployed and barely climbs out of bed. Her older brother Casey has had to quite football to work 2 jobs to support the family and spend most of his time stoned. And now Jenna is sick and getting sicker and no one can figure out why. When she has a seizure and Casey drives her to the hospital in their beat up Prius, they crash. And it takes Jenna awhile to realize that her brother has returned as an A-word-- that is, as her guardian angel. His mission? To protect Jenna, save her life, and find out what’s been happening to their family -- a something larger than what they uncover in book 1. Plus there are breakfast tacos, kolaches, and cowgirl boots. And Jenna -- who I hope you will all love. Basically, we originally pitched this book as FALLEN meets VERONICA MARS meets Judd Apatow movies like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. Which should make you realize that it’s an angel book that’s a comedy and not a romance. Cheers to that, right?

PJHoover: I love hearing happy publication stories. Can you tell us the path to publication for THE SWEET DEAD LIFE?

JoyP: I’d worked with my editor a few years ago when he was at Sourcebooks. And when he moved on to start the Soho Teen imprint at Soho Press, he asked if I was interested in writing a novel about a girl whose stoner brother comes back from a fatal car accident as her guardian angel. And I said, “Oh yes.” And then I said, “I’m going to set it in Texas.” After which I wrote some sample pages and Soho/Random House liked them them and we we went happily on from there! In fact, so happily that I have just finished the sequel, THE A WORD, which arrives in May 2014!

PJHoover: What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned or the thing that surprised you the most while researching and writing THE SWEET DEAD LIFE?

JoyP: Hmmm.... I did learn that there are a lot of angel books and movies and TV shows out there. But none are also a tragi-comedy set in Texas. With German pastry. And Texas football. And Tex-Mex dinner specials.

PJHoover: When it comes to marketing, what do you think makes the biggest difference in whether a book is successful?

JoyP: I was just blogging about that for my post on YAOUTSIDETHELINES! Basically, what I said there is that it’s like most advertising-- you actually don’t know until it succeeds. And then you can look back and say, aha! That’s why my Bookscan numbers started going crazy! Honestly? If you’re consistent at something -- blogging, tweeting, whatever-- it will always work to a certain extent. I half-joke that my initial platform was being nice and working hard. But seriously, that sort of worked for me. And of course you can be lucky and have the 100k or 200k publisher’s marketing budget and lots of coop money at the chains like BN and ads on ShelfAwareness and PW newsletter and endcaps in the stores and festive tote bags.... and all that works, too. For a while. But all that said, I honestly believe that the main thing that sells books is a good book that attracts readers or reflects the current zeitgeist (good word, right?) and that garners word of mouth. Word of mouth is everything in selling books. And the trick is for that to spread to places where you aren’t physically present. Like Iowa. and North Dakota. And Maine. So if you’re reading this and you live in one of those fine states, please buy a copy of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE. It will put your state on the map! Trust me on this.

PJHoover: What is next? WIPs? Future publications? Please tell all!

JoyP: As I said above, I’m working right now on THE A WORD, which is the sequel to THE SWEET DEAD LIFE and which arrives May 2014. The sampler version will be making the rounds of the summer trade shows, I think, so if you’re at ALA or maybe even BEA, you can ask for a Spring 2014 sampler at the Soho Press booth! And tell them that you’re asking because you must find out what happens to Jenna and Casey! Now! Beyond that, I hope to be able to tell you about more projects soon!

Just for fun:

PJHoover: There are tons of books out there. Tons! What are five awesome reasons why your book has to be the one for them to read?

1. In the words of Kirkus Review, “Hallelujah! A paranormal tale of angels that’s not a romance, making it a novel that breaks the mold.
2. There’s kolaches.
3. Casey is the best big brother ever.
4. In the words of Booklist, Jenna’s voice is “clever, bitter, self-aware and loving”
5. it’s set in Texas! We used to be our own country. This is huge!

PJHoover: If the apocalypse came, would you still find a way to write? If yes, then how and why?

JoyP: Yes, but only zombie awareness books. Cause that would be, you know, useful. And movie reviews of Zombieland -- which is the best zombie apocalypse movie ever. Although if it was a non-zombie apocalypse, all bets are off. Cause then I’ll be hoarding vitamins and antiobiotics and fresh water and trying to remember how it was that they got the power back on in the Revolution show and thinking that if this becomes like Hunger Games, I’ll definitely die before I get off that platform and really I would never volunteer as tribute. But with zombies, at least I memorized the rules from Zombieland and if nothing else I know to check the back seat and double tap so I can make it a few weeks and maybe at least write a poem about how zombies suck. You know. That’s how great literature is born, right?

PJHoover: Finish this sentence, and tell us why. Writing is a lot like…

JoyP: ...poking your eyeballs with redhot toothpicks followed by periods where you think you’re a genius followed by the realization that you suck followed by moments of enlightenment and a need for peanut butter, red wine, yoga class and Jack Daniels. Possibly all at once.

PJHoover: Mummy vs. Bigfoot... Who would win and why?

JoyP: Bigfoot. Why? Because my son dressed as the Mummy for Halloween when he was three and while we were trick or treating this crazy rat terrier from down the block, unwrapped him and it was simultaneously hysterically funny and sad and I think we’re all still laughing and thus CANNOT TAKE MUMMIES SERIOUSLY. Like ever.

PJHoover: Please share your favorite inspirational thought with my readers!

JoyP: Sit down. Stop whining. Get to work. It could be worse. At least no one spit on your head. (that last part comes from my teaching days when I had this student who would hang over the second floor railing and spit on people. So when I’d come home, my husband began asking, “Did anyone spit on you today?” If the answer was no, I was a winner!

PJHoover: Thank you so much for being here!



"I found out two things today: One, I think I'm dying. And two, my brother is a perv."

So begins the diary of Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad year. Her mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her older brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs—difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. Really sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.

Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her, looking pretty good. Better than ever, in fact. Downright . . . angelic. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that her brother didn’t survive the accident at all, and she isn’t just sick; she’s being poisoned. Casey has been sent back to help Jenna find out who’s got it out for her, a mystery that leads to more questions about their mother’s depression and their father’s disappearance.

About Joy:

Joy Preble is the author of the popular and highly acclaimed Dreaming Anastasia series. A former English teacher, Joy grew up in Chicago and is a graduate of Northwestern University. She is now a full time writer and lives with her family in Texas, where she has learned to say "y'all" without any hint of irony. A tireless advocate for literacy and great books, she is at the center of the all-important Texas YA scene.

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