Author of the best-selling MERCILESS series, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, BURNING, and BREAKING. I'm currently working on the last installment of the Merciless books, & starting a new series to be announced later this year.
Companion novel to Burning.
Prep school gets a twist of supernatural suspense in this commercial YA thriller.
Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Underhill Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school—or her demanding mother—her two best friends became the family she never had. When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Underhill Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There’s a reason the students of Underhill are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth…
Suspenseful and scintillating, with hints of the supernatural, this fast-paced thriller will keep readers hooked.
3 Ways to Tell If Your Book Idea is “Good”
My second major failure in life occurred during the winter of 2012.
I was twenty-seven years old, and my first novel had just gone on submission. It was a twisted little mystery about a teen journalist in Omaha Nebraska. My main character was passionate, her friends snarky, and her love interest hot. There was indie music, absinthe, hidden tunnels and vintage clothes. It was everything I am, distilled into book form. I didn’t just think it would sell—I thought it would sell big.
I remember emailing my agent to ask when he thought we’d hear news:
“By April Fool’s Day?” I’d asked, hopeful. We had an ongoing joke about how I always seemed to get good news on holidays.
“By St. Patrick’s Day!” he’d written back.
That…is not what happened. St. Patrick’s Day came and went, as did April Fool’s Day and Mother’s Day and Flag Day.
No one wanted my weird, wonderful story. The novel I’d considered the book of my heart wasn’t going to be published after all.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, “Book of My Heart” is something we throw around a lot in the writing world. It means that book you have to write. When writing students struggle to find a story, their teachers generally urge them to dig deep, to find the story that lives inside their soul, the one that keeps them up at night.
But what happens when you write that story, and it just isn’t good enough? How on earth do you figure out what to write next?
This was the conundrum I was faced with after experience my second major failure in life (my first major failure had to do with college and is a much more boring story.) I knew I was going to be a writer—even after failing to find a publisher for the “Book of My Heart” I had no doubt about that—but I no longer trusted my ability to choose an idea. It seemed that my instincts were faulty.
I decided that I needed a new method for determining how to choose a new project. I was looking for a fool-proof way to decide when to work on something and when to push it to the very back of my desk drawer, never to be seen again. And it had to be super quick and easy, because I have the attention span of a goldfish.
1. You can’t stop thinking about it
I wrote the first chapter of BREAKING while “The Book of My Heart” was still on submission. It was about a group of boarding school girls wandering around the woods at night, after hearing that one of their own had been found dead. It was spooky and atmospheric but, after my earlier book failed to find a home, I didn’t trust my instincts. I put it aside to write THE MERCILESS novels, under the pseudonym Danielle Vega.
I had a blast writing about teen exorcisms, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that spooky chapter I’d written years before. In fact, I kept pulling it up at the oddest times to add a detail here or a line of dialogue there, until it was perfect.
2. Your crit group gives you the green light
One year, between MERCILESS deadlines, my crit group and I headed to a retreat in the mountains. It was writer heaven, complete with miniature cabins, hiking trails through the trees and a fridge stocked with sparkling water. I wasn’t actively working on anything at the time so, one night, I pulled my spooky boarding school chapter up on my computer and read it out loud. My group was into it. They told me to keep going. They blamed me for the nightmares they had that night (the woods were kind of spooky after dark…)
3. It’s hard
The first chapter of BREAKING came out perfect, like Athena leaping fully formed out of Zeus’s head. I thought the rest of the book would be just as easy to write. Oh how wrong I was. It wasn’t just hard. It was hard.
While I’ll be the first to admit how amazing it feels to write something that just…flows, I truly believe that the really good ideas challenge you in some way. With the MERCILESS, I knew I wanted to see if it was possible to write a novel that felt like my favorite 90s slasher movies. With BREAKING, the challenge was even harder. I wanted to write a slow burn horror story, something chilling and psychologically creepy, that stuck with you long after you closed the book. And, the more I worked on it, the more I challenged myself. Could I allude to the fairytale princesses who shaped my main character growing up? Could I play with the line between best friend and mean girl?
The end result is something special. Not a “Book of My Heart,” maybe, but something I’m deeply proud of. I can’t wait for you all to read it. BREAKING hits the shelves June 6!
Now I want to know, what are you working on? Is it a book of your heart? Or something more complicated, like BREAKING? Tell me in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @vegarollins.
By: Danielle Rollins
Publishing Date: June 6th, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Three winners will receive a copy of Breaking (Danielle Rollins) ~ US Only
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
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