June 14, 2016 from Candlewick Press
In her first novel for young adults, New York Times best-selling author Liz Kessler tells a story about finding a kindred spirit and becoming your true self.
Ashleigh Walker is a mediocre student with an assortment of friends, a sort-of boyfriend, and no plans for the future. Then a straight-from-college English teacher, Miss Murray, takes over Ash’s class and changes everything. Miss Murray smiles a lot. She shares poetry with curse words in it. She’s, well, cool. And she seems to really care about her students. About Ashleigh. For the first time, Ash feels an urge to try harder. To give something — someone — her best. Before she knows it, Ashleigh is in love. Intense, heart-racing, all-consuming first love. It’s strong enough to distract her from worrying about bad grades and her parents’ marriage troubles. But what will happen if Miss Murray finds out Ashleigh is in love with her?
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You can find Kessler at her website
I'm happy to have Liz on the blog today! Welcome, Liz! (and stay tuned for a giveaway below)
Although this was your first novel, you put the project on hold due to the possible negative outcomes of being a gay author writing a coming out story. Looking back, do you wish you made the leap sooner or are you happy with the timing overall?
Actually, I didn't put it on hold. My agent sent the book out to publishers but everyone rejected it! Times were very different then and whilst I would have loved it to have been published at that time, I would have to say I'm even happier that it is out now. I think because I have a higher profile now as a published author - as opposed to completely unknown - there is even more chance that my book might have an impact and might reach readers who could really benefit from its message.
In light of the recent event in Orlando where members of the LGBT community were targeted and gunned down, what can members of the LGBT writing community do?
Most people I know, including myself, have been utterly stunned and grief-stricken over the last few days. But as the days become weeks and months, the sadness will I hope turn into action and lead to ultimately making positive change in the world. I don't believe that I can tell others what they should do - but I can tell you what I have done. I chose to come out on my Facebook author page, which I had never done. You can see the post here if you like:
I believe that by standing proud, uniting, speaking out and supporting each other, we will show that we are strong and that love, community and humanity will ultimately win.
What recent book speaks to your former teen self? What book do you wish you had growing up?
Gosh. Interesting question. You know, rather than just one book, I guess my honest answer is that I wish I'd had the sheer choice that is out there now. I've read some books lately that I have adored, like David Levithan's Two Boys Kissing, Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You The Sun, the non-fiction This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson and many, many more. The explosion of LGBT books in YA is an incredible and wonderful thing right now, and I feel truly honoured to be part of it.
I am thrilled to be able to giveaway one copy of READ ME LIKE A BOOK to one lucky US winner. Fill out the fancy doo-hickey below to be officially entered. Good luck!