Leila Sales

CHERRY MONEY BABY has arrived!

 

 

 

Basically, this is me today:

tumblr_m9l8tqkTo31qehi9co1_500

 

It was almost three years ago I had the idea for CHERRY MONEY BABY– while washing dishes, as it happens. After countless drafts (on laptops, notebooks, and index cards) and months of revision, I’m so thrilled Cherry and company have arrived. And I feel such intense gratitude to the many, many people who helped bring this book into being, including Scott Treimel, Deb Wayshak, Lucy Earley, and all the phenomenal folks at Candlewick Press, my friends Evan Simko-Bednarski, Helena Fitzgerald, and Vicki Lame (who kept me sane through most of 2011), my parents Kate and John, and of course my GFF and first reader, Sarah Elmaleh (who voiced the audiobook, people!).

So if’n you like a story about hopes and dreams, glitz and fame, fast-cars, burritos, trailer parks, high heels, Converse All-Stars, Daisy Dukes, Louis Vuitton, British architecture, rented wombs, caviar, orange marshmallow circus peanuts, Italian cinema, Edward Hopper, She Hulk, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Auto-Tune the News, push-up contests, pregnancy tests, Alice in Wonderland, envy, champagne, and Pop Rocks…

…this is the book for you.

CMB Final Cover

Buy It / Read It / Review It:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound

Goodreads

What folks are saying:

STARRED REVIEW, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:
Author/literary agent Cusick (Girl Parts) gives Cherry a sarcastic and often profane voice. The supporting cast—Cherry’s blue-collar father, her chill boyfriend, and Ardelia’s caustic manager—round out a plot that continually surprises. Cherry is a highly memorable character, prone to violent outbursts but possessing a strong moral compass, a rare smalltown girl who isn’t consumed by anxiety over getting into college or out of town—even when she has the chance to dip her toe into the pool with some big-time celebrities. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)

“Cherry Money Baby is fabulous in every sense of the word! It’s earthy and smart and moving, laugh-out-loud funny, surprising, inventive, suspenseful, and — Oh, Hell — just gorgeously written!” — Tim Wynne Jones, author of Blink and Caution and The Uninvited

“Smart. Funny. A terrific read. I love that Cherry loves her family and loves that things aren’t perfect. I want to be her friend (though she might beat me up).”— Carol Lynch Williams, author of Waiting and Glimpse

“A witty and wise exploration of living big, living small, and figuring out which size will make you happiest. Unpredictable, smart, and deliciously satisfying.” — Lindsey Ribar, author of The Art of Wishing

“Beautiful, insightful, and unpredictable — just like Cherry herself.” — Leila Sales, author of Past Perfect and Mostly Good Girls

“Cherry Kerrigan–rhymes with “heroine”–will kick you in the teeth with her vim, wit, and homespun charm. John M. Cusick’s sophomore, but never sophomoric, novel captures the thrill of a teen’s unexpected adventure with an adult’s wry eye toward the inevitability of the unexpected. Cusick’s nuanced premise that home is who you are weaves the entangled threads of class, change, and circumstance into a tightly plotted, full-hearted bildungsroman.  CHERRY MONEY BABY is better than cherry cola.” — Laura Goode, author of Sister Mischief

Advertisements

Pub Stories: A MAD, WICKED FOLLY

At conferences I’m often asked What do you actually do all day? On camera, my job would look fairly boring: a Warhol-esque single-shot film of me staring at a computer, getting up every few hours to fetch a Red Bull from the office fridge… Truth is, what I get up to varies from week to week. Every book has a different story, from conception to sale to shelf. In my experience, there’s no real “usual way” a manuscript gets rep’d, sold, and published. The best I can offer is anecdotes. So here, for your enjoyment, is one book’s (ongoing) story:

I was sitting on my couch one Saturday afternoon, having just finished a four-hour marathon of the Masterpiece Theater program Downton Abbey. In case you live in a cave, and read this blog on printed transcripts winged to your dark little fissure by carrier pigeons, Downton Abbey is an immensely popular Edwardian soap opera following the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family, their romances, exploits, and financial disasters. It’s smart, sexy, and addictive.

Now, I’m of the opinion that young adult trends follow television and visual media. I’d seen twenty-somethings and teens swooning and speculating online over the Crawley’s romantic entanglements, and thought this needs to be a book, if it isn’t already. Waiting for a brilliant Edwardian y.a. to drop in my lap would take too long, so instead I tweeted I was in the market for a Downton Abbey for teens.

Sometime that evening, a freelance writer and farmer named Sharon Biggs Waller was scrolling through her feed and spotted my tweet. It just so happened she had an Edwardian y.a. she’d not yet been able to sell. In fact, historicals can be difficult to place; Sharon had shopped her manuscript, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY, before there was a swoon-worthy cult hit to compare it to.

Sharon queried me via my agency’s online form. The first line of her cover letter hooked me utterly. I mean, how can you not love this?:

London, 1909. When 17-year-old Victoria Darling poses nude for a forbidden art class, she gets dismissed from her posh French boarding school.

SOLD. I requested the full manuscript and read it overnight. I discovered Victoria was a bold, forthright, talented, passionate protagonist, ahead of her time and yet steeped in the attitudes of her era. The story had romance and high stakes, but on a deeper level, something I hadn’t known I’d been looking for: an examination of women’s suffrage, gender politics, and sexism that would resonate with a contemporary audience. It was a deeply-felt and socially relevant story wrapped in a delectable crust of Edwardian fashion and romance. Smart and sexy. Agent catnip.

The next day I called Sharon and offered representation. She agreed, we popped the metaphorical champagne, and I put together a list of editors I hoped would love FOLLY as much as I did (including a few editors who’d contacted me after I’d tweeted about signing Sharon- Twitter for the win, again). Responses began to roll in. Editors offered notes, some wanted to speak with Sharon directly. Particularly exciting was the afternoon I was away at a conference in Salt Lake City and had to keep excusing myself to “run to the bathroom,” dashing outside to field calls from excited editors, relaying that info to Sharon, then hurrying back to the conference in time for my phone to ring again (I’d switched my ringtone to the Downton Abbey theme song, for luck).

After some back-and-forth, we placed A MAD, WICKED FOLLY with Leila Sales, a brilliant editor (and y.a. author herself) at Viking books, an imprint of Penguin. After so many phone calls and emails, Sharon and I were able to meet in person last month when she came out to NYC for lunch with Leila and me. Afterwards I took Sharon for coffee and she pitched me ideas for future projects (one of which I so wish  I could talk about now. But soon, boy, soon.)

Now, Sharon is revising A MAD, WICKED FOLLY, which will be released by Viking in 2014. Sharon and I found each other via twitter, but I’ve picked up clients at conferences, via their blogs, at parties, and of course, through the slush pile. Every story is different.