Western North Carolina has a thriving community of authors who write for the middle grade and young adult market. In 2015, several of these authors had their work released by the country’s major publishers, and 2016 is shaping up to produce another bumper crop. Here’s a partial list of MG/YA releases by local authors to look forward to this year:
• Quest Maker, by Laurie McKay (HarperCollins): Prince Caden, future Elite Paladin of the Greater Realm, continues to try and find a way home from the Land of Shadow (aka Asheville, N.C.), where he and the young sorceress Brynne are trapped with some of their world’s greatest villains.
• The Maypop Kidnapping, by C.M. Surrisi (Carolrhoda Books): 13-year-old Quinnie’s mom is the town sheriff of Maiden Rock, ME. But when Quinnie’s beloved teacher goes missing, Quinnie leads a relentless, sometimes misguided search for her — against her mother’s orders.
• Unforgivable, by Amy Reed (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins): In a return to the story of Evie, the cancer-survivor protagonist of Reed’s 2015 release Invincible, Evie’s boyfriend Marcus relates the continuation of their intense romance and his struggle to confront the loss of his mother and brother.
• The Hunt, by Megan Shepherd (Balzer + Bray): The Hunt continues the series about teens abducted by aliens and placed in a human zoo begun in The Cage. Note that in November, Delacorte will publish another book by Shepherd, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, an MG novel in which a young girl hospitalized during World War II must find colorful objects to protect a winged white horse named Foxfire from the Black Horse, who hunts by colorless moonlight.
• A World Without You, by Beth Revis (Penguin/Razorbill): In Revis’ first contemporary novel, a teenage boy suffering from delusions is convinced that he can travel through time to prevent his late girlfriend’s suicide.
• The Monster War, by Alan Gratz (Starscape): Having discovered the monstrous secret of his origins, Archie Dent is no longer certain that he is worthy to be a member of the League of Seven. But with new enemies to face, he realizes that he may not have the luxury of questioning his destiny.
• Serafina and the Twisted Staff, by Robert Beatty (Disney/Hyperion): Serafina’s victory in the first book of this series has made it impossible for her to keep hiding in the basement of Biltmore Estate and now, caught between her secret life and high society, she teams up with her friend Braedon and a feral boy (who seems to live in the forest) to defeat a new evil.
• Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America, by Constance Lombardo (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins): Mr. Puffball and his friend, the movie star El Gato, travel across the country to get some high-flying footage for their buddy film before their studio dumps them for Benedict Cumbercat and Jude Claw.
• Be Light Like a Bird, by Monika Schroeder (Capstone Young Readers): In this middle grade novel, a 12-year-old girl, whose life is thrown into upheaval following the death of her father, struggles to discover the person she’s meant to be.
• Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, by Jaye Robin Brown (HarperTeen): A look at the conundrum of having faith and being queer, this is the story of Jo Gordon, the out lesbian daughter of a moderate evangelical minister, and what happens when the minister marries for the third time and they move from Atlanta to small-town Northern Georgia.
• Wish, by Barbara O’Connor (FSG/Macmillan): 11-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same wish since fourth grade, and when her irresponsible parents cause her to be sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of N.C. to live with family members she doesn’t know, she needs that wish to come true more than ever.
• Blight, by Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow): The story of a girl who works as a border guard for one of the corporations that have taken control of a future North America.
Know of another local middle grade or young adult book due to be published this year? Please add it in the comment field!