Coming April 9th, to a bookshelf near you is TEASE by Amanda Maciel and we have the exclusive cover reveal!
Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault. At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, have been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.
In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment – and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.
In this powerful debut novel, inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: a story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page.
Ready for the cover? Here it is in. . .
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While we love the way it looks online, it doesn’t really quite match what it looks like in real life. So, we snagged a proof of the cover. LOOK AT ALL THE SHINY.
A Q+A with Amanda Maciel
1. You’re an editor yourself, and TEASE is your first novel. How did it feel being on the other end of the editing process?
Very, very exciting! I think a lot of editors also love to write, but don’t always have the nerve to cross that line—it’s a much more public job than editing, for one thing! I’d written for newspapers and done a few freelance things over the years, and never really thought I’d write a real novel. Now that it’s happening, I think it’s as much of a dream come true as it is for any debut author—and maybe a little more so, since I know firsthand how many talented writers there are in the world!
2. TEASE was inspired by real life bullying in the town where you went to college. What made you want to write a novel about these events?
Quickly let me first emphasize that the book is very loosely based on that case. But the geographic familiarity, and having a friend who works in that school system, definitely made me think more carefully about what happened to those kids. Sometimes stories like these are so awful you just want to turn away—but everyone in that situation felt very real to me. I couldn’t stop thinking about all of them, how hard life was in the aftermath of a young person’s suicide.
3. TEASE offers a new perspective on bullying—from the point of view of the accused bully. Why did you choose to tell the story from this angle?
Every time one or a group of minors are brought up on criminal charges, my immediate, instinctual response is to think, Is that really the answer? In the wake of a tragedy, everyone wants a solution, but I think we’re much too quick to criminalize young people in this country, to put them into the system. Obviously something is very broken that these cases of suicide linked to bullying keep happening, but prosecuting young people—when even adults are allowed much worse behavior, consequence-free—really bothers me. It’s so reactionary, and it’s not fixing the real problem. In fact, I would argue that it’s part of the larger problem—that we are an angry, revenge-oriented society, rather than a community interested in empathy, and the structural change needed to make that our shared focus.
4. As both a writer and an editor, what advice would you give aspiring YA writers?
It’s what everyone says, but it’s true: you have to write! There is a lot of courage, even willful foolishness, involved in writing. You have to sit at your desk and put the words down, trying your best to make them interesting words. No one can do that part for you. So much of publishing is about timing, but as a writer you really can’t focus on that—you can’t try to write something timely or chase a trend. You have to feel truly passionate. As an editor, I will come back to authors who are passionate and hard-working, even if the timing didn’t work out on the first project. It’s very satisfying when things finally come together—but the writing is always the thing, the most vital ingredient.
5. What do you most want your readers to learn from reading TEASE?
Oh, that’s a tough one! I certainly didn’t set out to teach anyone anything—I would be woefully under-qualified for that job! I just wanted to explore the idea that there’s enough empathy to go around, you know? We spend a lot of time, especially when dealing with a specific tragedy, finding the Bad Guy, the person to blame. It makes us feel safer to think that the people involved were easily identifiable as good and evil. But it’s not always—or ever—that simple. And it doesn’t have to be. We’re not preventing another tragedy by simplifying the one that just happened. Every person you know is a complicated mess. That’s just how people are. If we can try to not hate each other, or ourselves, for being messy and complicated—if we can stop to see how much we have in common, how we all feel vulnerable and scared a lot of the time—I think the world would be a much less frightening place. So if the book helps people think about empathy and the possibility of extending it as far as you can, I would be very, very happy about that.