New Children’s and YA books by Charlotte Authors – In the world of children’s and YA literature, Charlotte is gaining a reputation as a happening place. Charlotte is home to many successful children’s and YA authors, and they are always bringing out new books. Three recent examples are Amalie Jahn’s A Walk Between Raindrops, Rebecca Laxton’s The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry, and Anna Sortino’s Give Me a Sign. I contacted the authors of these books and asked them about their new novels and their experiences as Charlotte writers.
Amalie’s A Walk Between Raindrops is a YA novel about two sisters who win an all-expense paid, fourteen-day trip to the best amusement parks in the country to ride rollercoasters. The sisters have a strained relationship, but they attempt to heal their relationship over the course of this trip. Here is what Amalie sent me:
A Walk Between Raindrops received a star from Kirkus Reviews, which called it “a superior, sisterly road drama with a last-act surprise.” Any Charlotteans who’ve spent time at Carowinds will recognize the scenes taking place at the Carolina theme park, along with other parks along the east coast like Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and Six Flags. I spent my childhood riding coasters all over the country, but despite the number of coasters I’ve sampled over the years, the Fury and Intimidator are definitely at the top of my list (although these days amusement park rides require Dramamine.) Please don’t ask me to ride the Nighthawk with you, though. Once was enough, thanks anyway.
After a ten-year stint writing for young adults, I recently sold a middle-grade series to Pixel + Ink who will be publishing the first book in the series, Team Canteen and the Magic Boa, in Fall of 2024. For more information about my books, visit my website: https://www.amaliejahn.com/
Rebecca’s The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry is a middle-grades mystery with an environmental theme. Here is what Rebecca sent to me:
My family moved to Charlotte twenty years ago. When we relocated here, our daughters were seven and four, and then our twins were born two weeks later. We love the Charlotte area; it’s been a wonderful place to raise our family.
I’m a reading specialist, and I started teaching reading in schools and private clinics in 2009. A few years later, I took a children’s literature class at UNC Charlotte just for fun and loved it so much I enrolled in the graduate program to study children’s literature and creative writing. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to do what I love—teach kids to read and write books for them. It’s so fun! There’s a very supportive writing community here. I’m a member of Charlotte Lit and our local chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators where I facilitate a monthly critique group. Without the opportunities provided by these groups and UNC Charlotte, I would not be a children’s author today.
The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry is set in one of my favorite places—Black Mountain, North Carolina. In the story, thirteen-year-old Emma learns there’s a proposal to destroy the community monarch butterfly garden to build a ski resort, so she and her best friend Sophie rally their middle school environmental club to protest. But when it turns out homegrown celebrity Chester Scott and his teen son Jeb are the ones behind building the resort, Emma decides to make friends with Jeb to try and change their minds.
Then when a mysterious death threat is left at the Scotts’ house, Emma and Jeb team up to investigate, and begin to uncover supernatural secrets on the mountain. Meanwhile, Emma’s decision to befriend the enemy tests her friendship with Sophie, and Emma soon finds everything she loves in jeopardy —her friendships, the butterflies, and her family.
The chapter heading illustrations were drawn by my daughter Gracie, who studied art in Charlotte at both the Holt School of Art and Braitman Studio. She graduated from Central Academy of Technology and Arts in 2021. Recently, the novel won a Gold Mom’s Choice Award and three Purple Dragonfly Book awards. You can learn more about the book at my website https://www.rebeccalaxton.com/
Anna’s Give Me a Sign is a YA romance novel. Here is what Anna sent to me:
I recently got to do a launch event at Park Road Books for my debut Give Me a Sign, and was so glad to be welcomed to the Charlotte community! This spring, we moved here to be closer to my partner’s family.
Give Me a Sign is a YA contemporary romance novel following seventeen-year-old Lilah as she becomes a counselor at a summer camp for the deaf and blind. Wearing hearing aids, she’s always felt caught in between hearing and deaf, not sure where she belongs. Pitched as Jenny Han meets CODA, this story is all about love, identity, and Deaf pride.
It was such a delight to write a story like this, full of representation I didn’t have growing up. There’s something truly universal about the “stuck in the middle” feeling that a lot of readers can relate to, even if they’re not deaf themselves, so it’s great to see the positive reception this story is getting. Currently I’m putting the finishing touches on my next YA novel, On the Bright Side, which releases summer 2024! Those interested can find out more at http://annasortino.com/
Amalie, Rebecca, and Anna are all part of a community of children’s and YA authors. For readers who are interested in joining this community, the South Boulevard Branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has an upcoming event just for you. Meghan Anderson, one of planners of the event, sent me the following information:
Do you want to write a children’s book? Charlotte has a wealth of children’s book writers and illustrators. South Boulevard Library is hosting a round-table discussion event with some of the best children’s book authors and illustrators in our city including Ashley Belote, Halli Gomez, Matt Myers, Maya Myers, and Derick Wilder. We will have picture book writers and illustrators, middle grade writers, and young adult writers. You will be able to rotate through each table where you can pick the brains of these fine creators to best access their knowledge, advice, and processes. Think of it like a mix of speed dating, industry inside information, and professional development! This event is open to all who are interested and at every level of the process, whether that be just in the idea stage or have already begun their writing or illustrations. If you’re interested in attending, please register at the link below!
Registration Link: https://cmlibrary.bibliocommons.com/events/649b05170225e3df1083b51f
Location: South Boulevard Library
4429 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28209
Date and Time: Thursday, August 17th from 5:45pm- 7pm
I thank Amalie, Rebecca, Anna, and Meghan for helping me with this week’s blog post and for their contributions to the community that I call Storied Charlotte.