In January 2009 I decided to write a book. I’ve always written, always made up strange worlds and sent characters hurdling into them, always dreamt of monsters. But until that day, I was scattered: a screenplay here, a few essays there. Some poems. None of ‘em went very far.
I’d read all the Harry Potters and loved them, loved how they immersed me in the world so thoroughly and stayed grounded and exciting. And I wanted something more… I’d just finished Junot’s Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao and Walter Mosley’s Six Easy Pieces and the combined ferocity of those two singular and relentlessly truthful voices lit a fire inside me. Octavia Butler’s work stoked that fire and Stephen King’s On Writing reminded me that writing a book was something that can be done, long as you sit down and do it.
So I did.
I was working graveyard shifts on an ambulance in Brooklyn, getting home at dawn and waking up at noon and writing, plotting, thinking, pacing. Mosley and Butler and Díaz gave me permission to write in my own voice, and I wanted to use that voice to take a seat at the table of magical Young Adult literature and urban fantasy.
So I did.
The book I wrote over the next few months is a world away from the book that I’m finishing edits on now. I tore it apart and put it back together more times than I even want to remember. I discarded characters and recycled them into other stories. Nathan Bransford guided me through many of these revisions and helped me understand mechanics of plot and how to raise the stakes.
Fast forward fast forward fast forward through countless submissions and rejections, agents coming and going and in the meantime, I did what they always tell you to do after you finish a story and send it out: I started another. And then I started another. And that’s how Salsa Nocturna was born.
Today, it’s with a tremendous amount of joy and excitement that I announce that this book, the book I started five years ago in the basement of my Brooklyn apartment and have finished and started again many times since then, will be released from the same publishers that brought Harry Potter to the US, Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Imprint, in the summer of 2015.
The book is called Shadowshaper and it’s about Sierra Santiago, a Puerto Rican teenager in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn that learns how to bring her murals to life with spiritual magic. I’m grateful to my amazing editor, Cheryl Klein and my always fantastic agent Eddie Schneider for making this all happen and believing in this story and this voice.
As you can imagine, I’m over here mamboing my ass off.