Radical Is Coming!

I've been fairly quiet online lately. With recent events, I've been doing more listening than speaking, and reading, and trying to make sense of many, many things.

But I've also been somewhat withdrawn because I should be starting to ramp up to the September 13, 2016 launch of Radical, and my heart hasn't much been in the self-promotional place. I'm not sure I'd be more inclined to be in book-promo mode if the book were other than Radical, but it has definitely not felt like a good time to be promoting a book about guns. Oh, Radical is about more than guns, including family, trust, what it means to survive,  and a young, butch, queer girl's first romance. But it's also about guns. And the survivalist movement. And the economic and social factors that are causing some Americans to feel alienated from their government, and from many of their fellow Americans.

Radical cover for reveal (1)It's a book that asks more questions than it answers, and I know it's a book that may cause mixed emotions. But I love this book. I love it with all its sharp edges and all of its complicated emotional bits. And because I love it, I have to promote it.

I've been working on Radical since 2012, and it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. (And I've passed the bar exam in three different states!) Many drafts, shifting characters, twisting story, and working very hard to get the nuances and details right — of my character's love of guns, of the survivalist movement, of a teen's first sexual experience, and of this queer girl in a hyper-masculine pocket of our world.  I loved exploring Bex's relationship with the very upper-class Lucy  — which spawned many hours of skimming YA novels for the sexy bits and considering how we as women think and talk about our own bodies — even when I struggled with the shifting sands of a relationship between two girls who don't know each other very well at all.

And now we're sending Radical out into the world knowing that it's a book which not everyone will  enjoy or be comfortable with. But it's a book of which I am incredibly proud. One I hope finds its way into the hands and hearts of readers.

It's been encouraging that reviews are starting to come in, and other people love it too:

In this provocative novel, Kokie (Personal Effects) takes on the controversial subject of gun ownership in America. . . Kokie writes with nuanced sympathy, condemning the government’s heavy-handed tactics and Bex’s tunnel vision, contrasting her need for self-sufficiency with her desire to belong, and examining gender identity and sexual orientation. It’s a complex recipe of volatile ingredients that Kokie uses to deliver an unsettling story that’s both timely and necessary.
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Readers of all sexual orientations will relate to Bex's intoxicated blend of nerves and anticipation regarding Lucy. . . Kokie takes her time developing characters and setting the plot in motion, creating a believable lesbian protagonist who wants to belong to a world that doesn't particularly want her. A hard, cleareyed look at coming of age in a prejudiced world.
Kirkus Reviews

Attending the American Library Association Annual Conference last month in Orlando was a nice reminder of the vast generosity of the world of readers, and especially the world of librarians.

ALAPanel2016I participated in a wonderful panel Friday night at The Pop Top Stage with the fabulous Robin Stevenson, Alex Gino, and e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, moderated by the equally-fabulous Ingrid Abrams, called “It's Not Just a G Thing.” It was a terrific experience engaging in conversation with these wonderful, smart people about the need for more diversity within queer literature for children and teens, the ways in which young readers connect with these books, and how we can help them find a wider readership.

ALA2016withValEdwards
Then I signed ARCs of Radical on Saturday morning, which was awesome — seeing old friends, meeting online friends for the first time in person, connecting again with people who read Personal Effects, and meeting new librarians, bloggers, and readers who had heard about Radical and came looking for an ARC. (Pictured here with the wonderful Val Edwards).

ALA2016withAndreaKekla
And I got to spend time with my amazing editor Andrea Tompa. (Here I am with Andrea and with my good friend and editor-sibling Kekla Magoon).

And now I am home, gearing up for the launch of Radical and working on something new (shhhh, we don't want to scare the little wip. Don't look at it directly!). With that in mind:

  • Radical comes out on September 13, 2016, and once again you can order it from my beloved independent book store A Room of One's Own. (You can read more about Room here). For those who do order or pre-order from Room, I'd be happy to go in and autograph or inscribe Radical for you before it is shipped.
  • Some of you have asked what you can do to help support me and Radical. Pre-orders are lovely and show such amazing support for the book. If you are so inclined, pre-order from Room or from your favorite bookseller.
  • In addition to pre-orders, if you enjoy Radical, and would recommend Radical to other readers, that would be awesome — in person, online, leave reviews at bookseller sites, etc. Nothing supports a book more than recommending it to others.
  • For those of you in the Madison area, we are going to have a launch party at A Room of One's Own on Friday, September 16, 2016, at 7pm. (More details to follow, but save the date!)
  • And there is also another event or two in the works. I'll be updating my news and appearances page soon with a few additional fall events, and I'll tweet and Facebook them, as well. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has already read Radical, and who has been so supportive in these crazy times as I worked on, obsessed over, and as I begin to celebrate this book.

And if you are thinking, “Hey, that looks awesome! Can't wait to read it!” there's an ARC giveaway happening on Gooodreads until July 31. Go enter!

And while I'm promoting Radical, check out the other fall releases from some of my SCBWI-Wisconsin friends!
SCBWIFallReleases

 

By E.M. Kokie

Author of young adult fiction, including PERSONAL EFFECTS (Candlewick, 2012) and the forthcoming RADICAL (Candlewick Press, Fall 2016). Often opinionated. Sometimes Sarcastic.

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