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Something Old, Something New: Loosely Connected Short Story Collections

Short story collections, I have always found, are a hard sell. Unless your name is Stephen King, those seem to circulate well. In theory, it seems like short stories are a good idea of reluctant readers, and a great way to try and find a new author. But nope, a hard sell.

But occasionally, there are books that aren’t true short stories, but a collection of short stories that are connected in some way, usually by a reoccurring device or character. For today’s Something Old, Something New feature, I have a couple of those for you.

Something Old: Whirligig by Paul Fleischman

Brent Bishop is a 17-year-old boy who has just been involved in a terrible accident which results in the death of a girl named Lea. The truth is, he was trying to kill himself, but instead Lea is dead. Lea’s mother asks Brent to drive to four different locations and place a whirligig there in Lea’s honor. What comes next is 4 short stories about the various characters who find the whirligigs:

  • Weeksboro: Two 13-year old girls named Steph and Alexandra.
  • Bellevue: A 10-year old Korean-American boy named Tony.
  • Miami: A Puerto Rican man called Flaco.
  • San Diego: A 16-year old girl named Jenny. (from Wikipedia)

Whirligig was released in 1998, making it 16 years old now. At the time that this came out, I had been a YA librarian roughly 5 years. It was a fairly interesting story, though definitely not a big shelf mover. Fleischman is a classic YA author and new YA readers may want to check out some of his earlier works.

Something New: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
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5 Things I’d Like You To Know About My 2014 YA debut, Let’s Get Lost (by Adi Alsaid)

This Isn’t Just Leila’s Story

Coming from Harlequin Teen August 2014
Let’s Get Lost is four coming of age stories linked together by a mysterious girl named Leila. Yes, Leila’s the protagonist of the book, and we are following her journey from Louisiana to Alaska to go see the Northern Lights. But it’s not just about her. We only see Leila through the characters that she meets along the way.
So it’s not just her story. It’s the story of what Hudson treasures in Mississippi, and what Bree does to feel alive. It’s Elliot’s story of heartbreak, and Sonia’s story of recovering from grief. Each part of Leila’s journey is different because it’s not told through her eyes, it’s told through the lens of someone else’s story.
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories with multiple perspectives. I think since I was a kid I’ve wanted to know what’s going on in everyone’s heads, not just my own. I’ve always appreciated fiction’s ability to put me in other people’s shoes, and it’s no surprise that when I start writing my instinct is to try out as many voices as a given story will allow.
I wanted to tell Leila’s story but leave room for other characters to have their share of the spotlight. The result, I hope, is that the book has a little bit of something for everyone: romance, mystery, adventure, humor.

More is Coming!

If you haven’t heard much about Let’s Get Lost, you’re not alone. The promotional efforts are just gearing up now. The only thing we’ve really announced is that the book will be released in August 2014. Teen Librarian Toolbox, is probably the first site other than my own blog (http://www.somewhereoverthesun.com) where you can find much about my YA debut.

But rest assured, more is coming.

We’ll be rolling out a slew of promotional materials throughout 2014, leading up to the release of the book: bookmarks, videos, postcards, and, of course, ARCs. We’ve been working on a lot of fun stuff, and I’m excited to share, but all in due time.

I will be attending the ABA Winter Institute in Seattle this January as well as the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. If there are any librarians and booksellers out there who will be attending, come by and say hello, I’d be happy to chat about my book or anything else, really. Food. I like talking about food. I expect plenty of ARCs to hand out at those conferences and more throughout the year.

And as soon as I get my hands on some definitely expect a few contests and giveaways on my site. For cover reveal, blurbs, reviews, giveaways, appearances, and more updates, follow me on Twitter (@AdiAlsaid) and Facebook (facebook.com/adialsaidauthor). 

Traveling and #LetsGetLost

It’s always hard for me to say what inspired a certain piece of writing. Most of my ideas come from a variety of sources, or they come from nowhere at all, just a thought that shows up in the middle of the night and begs to be written down. Especially with a book like Let’s Get Lost, which aims to be about more than one thing, it’s hard to point at a facet of my life and say, “That’s where the inspiration came from.”

That being said, it’s hard to argue with the fact that my own traveling and wanderlust helped shape the story.  Like that urge to see into others’ heads, I was born with the impulse to see new places. After getting the opportunity to do just that—I spent some time in Israel when I was eighteen and have taken a couple cross-country road trips in the U.S—I’ve become convinced of travel’s ability to make you a little more yourself. That, in my opinion, makes traveling the best backdrop to a coming of age story.

After writing the book, I’ve been sharing some of my own travels on Twitter, Instagram (@uhhdee), and my blog (http://www.somewhereoverthesun.com). Readers can search for #LetsGetLost to not only find out more about the book, but to read about and see pictures from my trips. And since I like traveling so much I’ll even do it vicariously, I hope readers will share pictures from their travels, too.

In an interesting twist, Let’s Get Lost actually inspired me to visit a few places this past summer that I hadn’t been to yet, recreating a few scenes from Leila’s journey. I’ll wait until ARCs are making the rounds to share what specific scenes I’m talking about, but suffice it to say that swimming in the Mississippi is quite a bit of fun.

Who is Likely to Enjoy Let’s Get Lost

Fans of John Green, The Spectacular Now, Eleanor & Park, and other contemporary YA literature should enjoy Let’s Get Lost. If you like a variety of characters trying to figure themselves out with a dose of adventure and maybe the occasional heartbreak, then hopefully this book is for you.

If you’ve ever been on a road trip and a car passed by your window and you started to imagine who the people inside were—where they were headed and where they were coming from, what their day-to-day worries might be, and how those worries compared to your own—you’ll probably enjoy Let’s Get Lost. 

More About Me

Since Let’s Get Lost is my YA debut, you probably don’t know much about me. Let me introduce myself.

I was born and raised in Mexico City to Israeli parents and attended an American school, where I slowly but surely fell in love with the English language. I’ve been writing stories since the sixth grade, when a homework assignment to use vocabulary words in a sentence led me to discover the joy found in making stuff up on paper (I don’t remember the exact word or sentence that did it, but I remember it was something very typically 12-year-old boy, something about a sniper rifle). I wrote throughout high school and college, mostly unfinished short stories and rambling entries in notebooks.

In January of 2010, after attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, I packed up my apartment into my car and drove to the California coastline to become a writer. Since then, I’ve returned to my hometown of Mexico City, where I write and coach high school and elementary basketball. I’m often guilty of the sin of taking pictures of food and sharing on Twitter and Instagram, but I can’t fight the fact that I’m in love with food and it loves me back. I’m a huge fan of music, too, but as anyone who’s ever heard me sing will attest, music does not love me back.

My favorite kind of books are character-driven, with the kind of writing that elicits a physical response: laughter or tears or a confused look around the room wondering why no one else seems to be affected by the words in front of you. It doesn’t really matter what genre the book is (or considered to be), if I’m shaking my head or smiling or furrowing my brow while reading, that book has done its job. And those are the kind of books I wish to write.

Adi Alsaid on Goodreads and Twitter