Julie-Strauss-GabelThe publication of Isla and the Happily Ever After is a journey that has spanned five years and taken me to Atlanta, San Francisco, New York, and, most especially, to Paris. But before I traveled the world with Stephanie Perkins and her three strong, smart, romantic heroines—Anna, Lola, and Isla—our story begins, uncannily, in my own hometown.

I was coming from an appointment and had just missed a train, keeping me longer in the town that had witnessed my own teen years. Stuck in that station, as I read the manuscript I was not just in the familiar geography of my adolescence, but also transported back to its awkward, exciting promise.

From that first manuscript, for Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins has realigned my thinking about contemporary romance for young adults. She is an author who understands her field so well, and she celebrates and then breaks the mold in subtle, smart, unexpected ways. It’s no surprise that Anna (and, after, Lola) quickly became a book so close to readers’ hearts. Only rarely do we get to discover a new talent both as comfortingly familiar and completely fresh as Stephanie.

Amazingly, we now find ourselves celebrating the publication of Isla and the Happily Ever After, the third book in this (very) loose trilogy. Fans have been waiting breathlessly to return to their beloved School of America in Paris, and to meet Isla at long last. Isla joins Anna and Lola to complete a triumvirate of incredible and vulnerable young women who find love and, most importantly, discover themselves.

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Lindsay sits down with Damien Echols and Lorri Davis, authors of the memoir YOURS FOR ETERNITY. The book reveals their love letters written to one another while Damien was on Death Row for a crime he did not commit.

Read more here.

Edit: Due to an audio malfunction, we removed a clip where Damien mentions a few of the documentaries made about him. The titles mentioned were “Paradise Lost” 1, 2, and 3.

Twitter question credits: @cupcake_stacy and @talley_johnny


photoSome picture books begin with a submission from a literary agent. Some with an art sample mailed to an editor’s office.  Others, like Peanut Butter & Cupcake!, begin with a calendar and a bookstore and a blog.  I’d been a big fan of Terry Border’s blog Bent Objects for years. I’d laugh at his images of bananas cuddling (without their peels!) in bed and a packet of sugar holding a little umbrella over her head to stay out of the rain.  Then, in December of 2012, I went to a bookstore to buy myself a new wall calendar to hang in my office. I came across Terry Border’s 2013 Bent Objects calendar, with a little slice of bread covered in peanut butter handing a flower to a little slice of bread covered in jelly on the front.  The image made me smile, and I recognized the artwork from Terry’s Bent Objects blog, so I bought the calendar.  When work started up again in the new year, I push-pinned the calendar to my wall and showed it to my boss, Philomel’s publisher Michael Green.  He looked at the calendar, looked at me, and said, “Picture book?” “Oh!” I answered. “Yes! Picture book!”

So I did a bit of online research and found Terry, then found his agent, and discovered that Terry had been thinking about writing a book for kids for a while. He aged down that little slice of bread covered in peanut butter, and put him in a new town, on a quest to find a friend. Every sketch Terry sent over had me chuckling, and the final art was hilarious and clever and had me running to grab the rest of the Philomel editorial group to show them what had just arrived on my screen.  From Hamburger (who can’t be friends with Peanut Butter because he has to walk his hot dogs), to Egg (who cracks up), to Soup (who dips his spoon into himself to communicate), to French Fries (who’s running late and has to “catch up”), every little food object has a personality and a food pun all his—or her—own.  Of course, after Peanut Butter’s friendship overtures get turned down again and again, he finds one little food item who isn’t too busy to be his friend: Jelly.  (But let’s hope they don’t try to hug!)

I read an early proof of this book to my niece over Facetime, and she giggled each time Peanut Butter told the other kids that they’d “go together like peanut butter and….soup!” (Or egg or hamburger or French fries…) I have no doubt that kids and their grown-ups will enjoy this toast to friendship and food and fun.  Because, really, kids and funny stories?  They go together just like peanut butter and jelly.

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