The Scuttlebutt Sets Sail
with questionable seaworthiness--and book recommendations, too
Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Scuttlebutt. I’m honored that you’ve signed up to get occasional updates from me about books and writing, and, as a habitual newsletter ignorer myself, even more honored that you’ve chosen to open this email. It’ll be worth it, I promise!
News about Books
If you’ve been following my social media feeds over the past few months, you might have caught a couple pieces of recent good news. First, I’ll have a new novel out for middle-grade readers in early 2024. It’s called Wicked Marigold, and it’s about a princess who has no luck being as good and perfect as any reputable princess should be, so she moves in with an evil wizard and decides to become wicked instead. I’m working on revisions with my brilliant editors at Candlewick right now, and I can’t wait to share more information about the book with you soon. For now, you can add it on Goodreads if you’re active over there. And if you’d like to read a deleted scene from a previous draft, well, here’s a smidgen of backstory I wrote about one of the book’s most mysterious characters. I don’t think it’ll show up in the final version of the text, so you’ll be one of the few readers who know about it. (I told you opening this newsletter would be worth it!)
Once upon a time, very far away, there was a land that stretched from the mountains to the sea. A wildwood had grown across that land once, but as the years went by, the people who lived there worked to clear it away. They chopped trees and pulled weeds, built houses and planted fields, raised children and threw parties, and filled their homes with laughter.
To old Gentleman Northwinds, these things were inconvenient. He didn’t care for the houses or the fields, the children or the parties, or especially the laughter. After pondering what might be done about it all, he put on his favorite white silk top hat, turned to his cauldron, and summoned up a cold, fierce wind that blew through the kingdom, loosening roofs and ruining crops. It was so cold that the children playing outside started to squabble. It was so fierce that every party was forced to end early. And instead of laughter, the air was suddenly filled with a cacophony of disagreements and grievances, fears and suspicions—which was just how Gentleman Northwinds liked it.
I promise the rest of the book is not even remotely this spooky.
If you’re a regular audiobook listener, you might be interested to know that my mystery novel for kids, The World’s Greatest Detective, is now available as an audiobook. Thanks to Tantor Media for picking up the audio rights earlier this year, and to Kitty Kelly for the splendid narration.
Finally, I know it’s been harder to track down some of my books lately, especially The Terror of the Southlands. That book is still in print, but all the supply chain issues in publishing these days have meant major delays for reprinting all kinds of books, especially backlist titles that are no longer the top priorities for publishers. The e-book editions of all my books are always available even when physical copies are hard to find, and if you prefer reading your books on paper, your local library system may have copies on the shelves. Like The World’s Greatest Detective, the whole Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series is available to download in audio form, which I highly recommend if you’ve got some long holiday travels coming up.
News about Events and Other Good Things
My website has a fresh new design, and I hope you’ll check it out. Like the previous incarnation of my site, it was designed by Jenny Medford at Websy Daisy. I’ve added a few new features to the site, like a clickable FAQ and a page with information about how to book me for an author visit. Let me know if there’s any more information you think I should add!
If you’re in the Pittsburgh, PA area like I am, you’ll be able to find me at Kate’s Kids Book Bash, where I’ll be signing books alongside a bunch of other wonderful children’s book authors and illustrators from Pittsburgh and beyond. The event’s on December 3, and local indie Riverstone Books will be on hand to oversee book sales. If you and your young readers are in the neighborhood, please swing by; I’d love to see you.
I also wanted to let you know about a literary event—for adults, this time—that I’m particularly excited to attend. On February 20, Patricia Lockwood (author of No One Is Talking About This) will be in conversation with my wonderful pal Clare Beams (author of The Illness Lesson) at Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. The event is both in-person here in Pittsburgh and virtual everywhere else, so I hope you’ll save the date for what I’m sure will be a fascinating discussion.
What I’ve Been Reading
Earlier this year, our family read the Cilla Lee-Jenkins books by Susan Tan together as read-alouds. This trilogy about Cilla’s adventures growing up as a biracial kid in the Boston area is funny and sweet. I think these books have a sort of modern-day Ramona vibe, and I truly loved them!
The Myrtle Hardcastle mysteries have also been favorite read-alouds in our house. My husband and I are longtime fans of Elizabeth C. Bunce’s YA novels, and we are devouring this new middle grade series about a plucky Victorian-era girl detective and her daring governess.
On my own, I read The Language of Seabirds by my friend Will Taylor. I love all of Will’s books, but this one, about twelve-year-old Jeremy navigating all the wonderful and complicated feelings that come along with a first summertime romance with a boy named Evan, is extra-special. It made me laugh and cry and feel lucky to have this book to share with my own kids in a few years.
Questions from You
I’d love to use this space to answer your questions. If there’s something you’d like to know about writing, publishing, or anything else—I’m great at giving questionable advice and having an opinion on pretty much any topic—please click through to leave a comment, or send me an email. I might answer your question in a future very occasional issue of the Scuttlebutt.