Although Screaming Divas is classified as a historical novel, I first wrote this book about fifteen years ago when it still would have been contemporary. Shortly after I finished it, I signed with one of the top agents in the biz, and she began to send it out. No one bought it. Her enthusiasm fizzled. I moved on to other things.
I wrote an adult novel, edited two anthologies, wrote a picture book, and another young adult novel. Every once in awhile, though, I would dig Screaming Divas out of the drawer, decide it wasn’t half bad, and put it through another round of revisions. I thought it was too late to publish a novel set in the 1980s, however, so I’d pretty much given up on hope of ever seeing it as a book.
I was kind of sad that no one would ever read it, so I carved a couple of short stories out of it and sent them off. One was published as “How Harumi Became a Punk Rocker” in an anthology called Woman’s Work, edited by Michelle Sewell. Another excerpt was published in Hunger Mountain. Then I started to think about sending out the novel again.
I heard about a brand new press helmed by best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard, who happens to be one of my favorite authors. I sent her a query, mentioning that part of my novel had been published in Hunger Mountain, at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Little did I know, Ms. Mitchard had just begun teaching at VCFA, and was a big fan of Hunger Mountain. She invited me to send along the rest of the novel, and a couple of months later, I signed a contract.
What I learned from all of this is that it’s important to get your work out there, to publish short pieces in reputable journals, and also that timing is very important!
Publication Date: May 18th, 2014
Publisher: Merit Press
Genre: YA Contemporary
At sixteen, Trudy Baxter is tired of her debutante mom, her deadbeat dad, and her standing reservation at the juvenile detention center. Changing her name to Trudy Sin, she cranks up her major chops as a singer and starts a band, gathering around other girls ill at ease in their own lives. Cassie Haywood, would-have-been beauty queen, was scarred in an accident in which her alcoholic mom was killed. But she can still sing and play her guitar, even though she seeks way too much relief from the pain in her body and her heart through drugs, and way too much relief from loneliness through casual sex. Still, it’s Cassie who hears former child prodigy Harumi Yokoyama playing in a punk band at a party, and enlists her, outraging Harumi’s overbearing first-generation Japanese parents. The fourth member is Esther Shealy, who joins as a drummer in order to be close to Cassie–the long-time object of her unrequited love–and Harumi, her estranged childhood friend. Together, they are Screaming Divas, and they’re quickly swept up as a local sensation. Then, just as they are about to achieve their rock-girl dreams, a tragedy strikes.