Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for RED DIRT by Anna Jarzab releasing August 29, 2017 from Harlequin Teen. Before we get to the cover and an interview with the author, here's a note from Anna:
Hi, YABC! Thanks for having me here today to reveal the cover of my new novel, RED DIRT. Like most authors (and most everybody who’s not a professional designer), I have a hard time coming up with what I think covers for my book should look like, and only once has anything I’ve said ended up being close to what the cover actually looked like. This is not that cover, by the way—for this cover, I don’t think I had any ideas at all. Which is probably for the best, because my ideas are often terrible and HarlequinTEEN turned out an amazing cover for RED DIRT. I hope you like it as much as I do!
~Anna Jarzab (RED DIRT, Harlequin Teen)
Ready to see?
Scroll, YABCers! Scroll!
Here it is!
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The small town of Lake Bittersweet, Oklahoma, ain't no paradise, but Sammy Lester has lived there her whole life, and she'll most likely be buried there, too. Don't matter that she barely graduated high school, or that money's tight, or that her ex-con father's on the verge of losing custody of her six-year-old half sister Decca. Sammy can't leave Lake Bittersweet. She's got nowhere else to go.
When she meets charming city boy Brayton Foster, things start looking up for once. Then one dark night, her father, Bobby Ray, goes missing, and Sammy knows in her bones who's to blame. Local drug kingpin Redbreast Tuller and his family of criminals have unfinished business with Bobby Ray, and it seems they finally caught up with him. But the sheriff is in the Tullers' back pocket, and nobody in law enforcement cares about finding Sammy's dad.
As she struggles to keep her family--and her new relationship with Brayton--from falling apart, Sammy realizes that if she wants answers, if she wants someone to pay, she'll have to handle it her damn self. Because in a place like Lake Bittersweet, justice ain't something you're given--it's something you take.
Anna Jarzab is a Midwesterner-turned-New Yorker, and a frequent visitor to a town similar to the one in RED DIRT. By day she works in the children’s book industry and by night she is the author of such books as All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, and the Many-Worlds series.
Interview with the Author
1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
For the last five years, I’ve spent every Memorial Day weekend in Oklahoma at a friend’s house on Lake Tenkiller. The first year I went, I’d never been to Oklahoma before, but as soon as I arrived I knew I wanted to set a book there, and I knew I wanted to call it Red Dirt, after Oklahoma’s iconic red clay soil. It took a few more visits for the story and characters to fall into place, and I certainly took liberties with the setting to fit the book’s needs, but the sense and spirit of the place was there right from the jump.
2. Who is your favorite character in the book?
Assuming it’s cheating to choose the main character, I’m going to go with a wild card here and say that Gypsum Tuller, a secondary character in the novel who showed up in the story pretty late into the book’s development, is my favorite. Gypsum is easier to like than to trust, her motives are difficult to pin down, and there’s something about her that makes you feel like she’s living a whole second life off page just as strange and interesting as what Sammy (the book’s main character) and the reader see. Sammy has a few moments where she wonders if Gypsum’s not just a tiny bit magical, and to tell you the truth, so did I when I was writing her.
3. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
There are two scenes that spring immediately to mind. Both take place pretty far into the book, so I don’t want to spoil anything, but they’re two of the most intense scenes in the story, and they’re connected—one sort of comes about as a consequence of the other. They’re both emotionally dark, with Sammy backed into a corner and under physical and psychological threats she doesn’t quite know how to confront. I knew I was going to write them early on, but I write linearly so it took me some time to reach them, and when I did I was so excited, it felt like a gift. I’ve probably thought about and worked on those scenes more than any other in this book, including the romantic scenes, which I spent a lot of time on. ;)
4. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing
you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I don’t know if I’ve really learned anything, but I’ve come to the conclusion that you have to be willing to accept imperfection in yourself and your writing before you can ever improve it. I have a very straight-A student type personality and I’m always worried that if I make even one little mistake, people will think I totally suck forever. In reality, that’s not how almost anything works, and certainly not the creative process. Every book is a mountain you have to climb on your hands and knees, humbly and slowly and gracelessly—but ceaselessly—until you reach the top. Everyone stumbles, everyone struggles, and also everyone who keeps going gets there eventually.
5. What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I like that it gives you a real sense of place and sense of character at the same time.
6. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2017?
Call me a fool, but I have higher hopes than I probably should that The Winds of Winter will hit shelves sometime this year. :)
7. What was your favorite book in 2016?
Can I cheat and have two? They’re really different. The first is Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, which is probably one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Ruta is a truly brilliant writer, and Salt to the Sea is a masterpiece that makes me well up every time I read a single line of it. I cannot say enough about the attachment I have to that book. The second is Steadfast by Sarina Bowen, a contemporary romance novel that I read in September, while I spent basically a whole month on jury duty, and then re-read and re-read and re-read, which I never do. It just broke my heart and also filled it up with gladness. I read a lot of romance novels because I love them, but I’ve never had quite as emotional a reaction to any romance novels as I did to that book.
8. Which character gave you the most trouble when writing?
They all gave me trouble insofar as I had to make careful decisions about how they were all going to speak. I went back and forth a lot in the early years of writing this book regarding whether or not I was going to write it in dialect, and if so how much, and it took a lot of adjusting to figure out the exact right balance per character without making it obnoxious for the reader. I got there eventually, but I can’t tell you how many arguments I had with myself about how Sammy’s brother Denver, who grew up the same way she did but has been putting himself through college and actively trying to shed his country accent, would talk! I hope at least a few readers notice those subtle choices because I agonized over them for a long time.
Three winners will each receive a galley of RED DIRT, when available.
Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.
During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:
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