Another Middlegrade, though I think this one leans older than Woundabout. And besides that, they’re very different in tone and scope.
(also, scheduled publication there is wrong – I believe they mean fall of 2016)
This one I’ve been working on for a while, but not talking about it too much, because it’s really hard to explain. My new editor, Steve (who has tattoos, ear plugs and is generally bringing up my coolness by leaps and bounds through association) and I actually had to go back and forth on the release blurb up there a little.
So let me see if I can explain it more. Essentially, the story follows Nick Reeves. It opens on the day they take his mother to the home – she supposedly has early onset Alzheimer’s, but Nick doesn’t buy it. She forgets things, sure, but not the way the internet tells him Alzheimer’s means. He thinks that they’re all assuming she has Alzheimer’s because of something that happened with her father, who died before Nick was born, back in Germany, around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Nick has tried everything to get his parents to realize that his mom is better than they think, but no one believes him.
Meanwhile, there’s also Wellhall, a new video game, and the 4th in a series Nick loves… and often played with his mom. In the games, Nick plays Severkin, a gray elf, and this game takes place in the gray elf homeland and the capital of Wellhall, a divided city – above the elves, below the dwarves, their longtime enemies, only recently at peace. It’s also the first game in the series with online play.
Nick can’t find anything of his mother’s that she’s left behind, but Severkin encounters something that Nick believes may be his mother, trying to communicate with him through the game, and telling him how to save her (yes, that will remain vague and mysterious).
That’s the basic premise. There’s a lot of other stuff – Germanic mythology, fall of the Berlin wall, starting junior high at a new school where some old classmates bully you, race issues (Nick’s father is black) plus Nick’s new friend and fellow gamer, Nat (who is actually really major in the story, but for some reason doesn’t get into even the long summary). The narrative itself goes back and forth between Nick and Severkin – which is written like a high fantasy novel. Lots of different things coming together. So it’s hard to explain. Or at least, it’s hard to explain briefly.
I’m really really proud of it. It was difficult to write, I had all these disparate ideas and I could see them fitting together, but I wasn’t sure I could make anyone else see it. But it came together. It’s one of the more complex, literary things I’ve sold, and I’m so thrilled to be at Knopf and to be Steve’s first title! Steve seems to really really get it – he mentioned Skyrim right away, which I told him was absolutely the shibboleth. He already has some great suggestions for the book, and he really loves cats, which means he’s got to be a good guy, right?
Also, if you’re worried, I think the book will be very easy to access if you don’t play video games, too. Like I said, there’s no game talk – just these two stories. I worked hard to make sure Severkin’s story could stand alone – it just has more meaning, knowing Nick’s story, too. Anyway, it won’t be out for a while, but I hope you guys are excited. And of course, feel free to ask me any questions you have in the comments. I’ll be happy to answer them.
I’ll have some more news in the new year, but until then, have a happy happy New Year!