March 11 at Mysterious Galaxy

Join me and fellow YA authors Elizabeth Briggs and Emily Skrutskie this Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego! It's part of Elizabeth's tour to launch her novel FUTURE THREAT, and we'll be talking about speculative fiction world-building in a changing world, writing kickass female characters, and the ups and downs of being an author. 

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore

March 11, 2017 at 2 p.m.

5943 Balboa Avenue, Suite #100, San Diego, CA 92111

The Memory Trees cover reveal!

I am absolutely delighted to reveal the cover of my second novel, The Memory Trees, posted first by the fantastic folks at YA Books Central. Check out that post for my thoughts on the cover and a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Shallow Graves.

The Memory Trees

coming October 10, 2017

Sorrow Lovegood's life has been shaped by the stories of her ancestors: brave, resilient women who have lived for generations on a capricious apple orchard in Vermont. Sorrow and her family take pride in their land and its strange history. Their offbeat way of living may be ridiculed by the townspeople--especially their neighbors, the Abrams family--but for the first eight years of her life, the orchard is Sorrow's whole world.

Then one winter night everything changes. Sorrow's sister Patience is tragically killed. Their mother suffers a mental breakdown. Sorrow is sent to live with her father in Miami, away from the only home she’s ever known.

Now sixteen, Sorrow's memories of her life in Vermont are maddeningly hazy; even the details of her sister's death are unclear. She returns to the orchard for the summer, determined to learn more about her troubled childhood and the family she left eight years ago. Why has her mother kept her distance over the years? What actually happened the night Patience died? Is the orchard trying to tell her something, or is she just imagining things?

The Memory Trees is a darkly magical novel about a mysterious family legacy, the bonds of sisterhood, and the strange and powerful ways we are shaped by the places we call home.

December 27, 2016 debut

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, a legendary bounty hunter—that is, until her father is murdered. The alleged killer is none other than Cohen Mackay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart.  

She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a force to be reckoned with.

"Debut author Summerill makes use of familiar story elements—avenging a parent’s death, a potential betrayal by an estranged first love, a main character with unrealized power—but incorporates them into an richly described world populated by engaging characters."
-- Publishers Weekly

December 6, 2016 debut

If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they'd think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn't know that all the plans she's made for them are just dreams, and that she's the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family. 

When Amelia's abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can't imagine leaving Miami--and Ethan--for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan's awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app. 

As Liam and Amelia get closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The "new and improved" Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and choice she never dreamed she'd have to make.

December 2, 2016 debut

Ellery wants to die. Nothing is going right. Her younger sister is dead, and her family is in a shambles. But on the day that she tries to end it all, even the gun won't work. When she tries to return it, she's intercepted by a security guard who also happens to be a boy in one of her classes, Colter Sawyer.

Colter recognizes Ellery's desperation and begins working hard to earn her trust. Why does this cute boy care about my worthless life?, Ellery wonders. But as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Colter has very good reasons for his vigilance, deep, personal reasons. And whether Ellery likes it or not, he won't let go. 

"Ellery’s voice is engaging and authentic... Sadness gives way to redemption and an unforced hope in this thoughtful read."
-- Kirkus Reviews

November 29, 2016 debut

Everyone in Phoebe Ferris’s life tells a different version of the truth.

Her mother, Meg, ex-rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story—the post-fame calm that Phoebe’s always known. Her sister Luna, indie rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn’t like. And her father, Kieran, the co-founder of Meg’s beloved band, hasn’t said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago.

But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she’s determined to find out how she fits in to this family of storytellers, and maybe even to continue her own tale—the one with the musician boy she’s been secretly writing for months.

This soul-searching, authentic debut weaves together Phoebe’s story with scenes from the romance between Meg and Kieran that started it all—leaving behind a heartfelt reflection on family, fame, and finding your own way.

"McNally is a polished storyteller, her prose alive with vivid descriptions, the excitement of romance, and an artist’s yearning to create."

-- Publishers Weekly

My review: This is such a beautiful book! It's the story of a family told past and present, from the points of view of both a daughter and a mother, It's like being invited to spend one dreamy, lyrical week with this family of poets and musicians. They're a complicated, fractured family, sure, with problems and rifts pushing them apart, with secrets and misunderstandings, and they all feel so incredibly REAL. 

The way McNally writes them and their relationships with each other is stunning. I love the different versions of each person they see, the different stories they all remember and cling to, and the fact that they're all carrying their own version of the truth. They're people who have hurt and disappointed each other, but there is so much love and hope and understanding here too.

I don't even know how to explain it except to say that reading this book feels good. It feels like wandering through a beloved city on a summer afternoon, or listening to a favorite record on scratchy vinyl, or sharing a starlit walk with a loved one. It's that kind of feeling, warm and so full of life, and I am in awe of Janet McNally for capturing it so well.

November 22, 2016 debut

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

"Dennaleia and Amaranthine’s narratives combine to create a powerful and exquisite love story that also provides incisive political commentary and cautions against zealotry, vengeance, and intolerance. The central mystery is intriguing, Coulthurst’s worldbuilding is excellent, and the book’s explosive conclusion both thrills and satisfies."
-- Publishers Weekly starred review

My review: Oh, my heart! This book! My heart! I love this book so much. It's intriguing fantasy with magic and politics and ponies, all wrapped around a ridiculously satisfying slow-burn romance between two fantastic characters. The world feels realistic and lived-in, with just the right amount of world-building detail to make it easy to follow all the political strains and alliances and dangers. 

I especially love the magic--it feels small and subtle at first, a little thing that hardly seems worth all the fuss various political/religious groups are making over it, but then... it isn't so small and subtle anymore, for reasons which I shall not divulge because SPOILERS, and then all at once this world's magic is terrifying. AND I LOVE IT.

But most of all what I adore about this book are the main characters, Denna and Mare, and their relationship. It's such a delight to watch these two young women who are very different people from very different lines, with very different sets of expectations and burdens on them, slowly come to like and appreciate each other, to see each other's strengths and flaws clearly, and to work together when all kinds of forces are trying to push them apart--and, of course, to fall in love, which happens so naturally and so perfectly I barely even noticed when I shifted from "aw you'll like each other eventually" to shouting JUST KISS ALREADY at the book every three pages. And sometimes I would mix it up and shout NO REALLY YOU LIVE IN A VERY DANGEROUS WORLD JUST KISS ALREADY.

So, yes, it's the kind of book that had more shouting a lot because I was REALLY VERY CONCERNED for these characters and their dangerous, magical world, right up until the end when I wasn't shouting anymore but sighing a deep sigh of happy satisfaction, because literally every single thing about this book is fantastic. Including the horses. I love it.

November 15, 2016 debut

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

My review: Crushing oppression, sci fi adventure with a hint of magic, weird geology, terrifying creatures, and an entire planet that is trying to kill you? What's not to love?

I had a lot of fun reading FLASHFALL, even though it's the kind of sci fi post-cataclysm adventure that's about a world that's been wrecked and all manner of terrible things happening to people who really don't deserve it, which doesn't sound fun AT ALL, but there's so much action it works out. The world-building is delightfully nasty and imaginative--there are critters that make my skin crawl!--and there are constant obstacles thrown up every time our beloved characters make any progress. 

But I was rooting for them! Especially Orion, who is so determined to kind a better life for herself and her loved ones, even in the face of a system that is rigged to defeat her at every turn. 

All in all a really enjoyable sci fi (with a bit of weirdness that may or may not be magic) book that takes place in a world I find endlessly fascinating but absolutely do not ever want to visit under any circumstances. EVER.

upcoming new short story

I have a short story in the December 2016 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction. It's called "The Cold Side of the Island" and it's about getting older, losing people, childhood friends growing into different people, and most of all it's about finding a dead thing in the woods. 

The full list of my short stories is here.

Lacie missed the funeral. She overslept and didn't get out of Providence until after ten, and any chance she had of making up the time vanished when the storm turned I-95 north of Portsmouth into a skating rink. A pile-up slammed traffic to a crawl for the better part of the afternoon. Snow whipped across the road in horizontal streaks, scouring the windshield like sand, rocking the car with sudden gusts.