Great hopes for THE GREAT HIBERNATION

Great Hibernation coverWell, friends, the day is here. My fourth novel, The Great Hibernation, is out in the world. This is definitely my weirdest book, and in some ways, also my most personal. Writing it was a long journey that spanned 2013—before I was a published author at all!—until very late 2015 (two days before I gave birth to my first kiddo). The editorial process, by contrast, was a fairly short one (at least by publishing standards), from selling it to Wendy Lamb Books in early 2016 to seeing on the shelves now in 2017.

When you start writing a novel, you often have no idea if or when it will ever reach readers. I certainly couldn’t have anticipated this story entering the world in the midst of the political and natural strife so many of us are now facing. And in a way, it feels weird to be celebrating something joyous like a new book release when so much around us feels like it’s falling apart.

But at the same time, if we let all joy be swallowed up by darkness, the darkness wins. That’s something that I refused to let happen to my characters in The Great Hibernation—even though a series of sinister, stressful things happen to them over the course of the book, those challenges never quite destroy their creative spirits. In fact, they inspire my main character, Jean Huddy, to grow braver and louder than she ever thought she could be.

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Jean Huddy, in Rebecca Green‘s beautiful illustration, taking on the patriarchy of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord

So perhaps the fictional town of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord (my quirky setting for The Great Hibernation) will, for a few hours, serve as a refuge for readers who need it. Perhaps the humor in the story will help them forget their troubles for a bit. And then, when the time comes for them to stand up and take the next steps in their fight—for justice, for recovery, for whatever their own challenge is—perhaps my characters’ journey will lend them a little extra strength, too.

Happy reading, and stay awake.

-Tara

Need a copy of The Great Hibernation? Just hop into your car, truck, or snowplow and head to…

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 BookPeople (signed copies)Your local independent bookstore * Penguin Random House * Powell’s * BAM * B&N * Amazon *  Indigo (Canada)Book Depository (International)

 

Need to find me over the next month? 

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Meet me at one of my booktore events (NYC; Westchester; Boston; Arlington/DC;  Boulder, CO; Austin, TX)…snowshoes, hopefully, not required

 

Want to know more about The Great Hibernation?


What would happen if every grown-up in town fell asleep and the kids were left in charge? A great pick for fans of A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff and Greenglass House by Kate Milford, or any reader seeking a quirky mystery with a big helping of silliness.
 
The most important tradition in tiny St. Polonius is the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver. Each citizen over twelve must eat one bite of liver to prevent the recurrence of the Great Hibernation, when the town founders fell asleep for months.

This year is Jean Huddy’s first time to taste the liver. It doesn’t go well.

A few hours later, all the adults fall into a sleep from which they cannot be woken, and the kids are left to run things. At first, they have a blast. But then the town bullies take over the mayor’s office and the police force, and pretty soon Jean begins to suspect that this “hibernation” was actually engineered by someone in town.

Courage, teamwork, and scientific smarts unlock an unusual mystery in this delightful and funny story about one girl who inspires the kids around her to join together to save their home.

 

Want to read some nice things people have said about The Great Hibernation?

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Memorably humorous…Lighthearted enough to entice readers with the silly premise and whimsical illustrations sprinkled throughout, this middle grade book nonetheless explores some rather important political ideas about individuality and the need for a balance of powers in governance. A strong selection for most middle grade shelves.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

“Quirky without being over-the-top, Dairman’s novel is a funny, wintry romp that explores just what might happen if kids were in charge.”
-BOOKLIST

“[A] whimsical mystery…The fast-paced plot belies the sleepy small-town setting, and it’s refreshing to see a cast of characters who genuinely love their village and their families, whatever their quirks, instead of yearning to escape them.”
-BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S BOOKS (BCCB) 

“Definitely will not induce drowsiness. Utterly original.”
ADAM REX
author of The True Meaning of Smekday and the Cold Cereal Saga

“Imagine Lord of the Flies as a comedy set in snowy terrain and you have The Great Hibernation: a hilarious, whip-smart page-turner you don’t want to miss.”
—JENNIFER CHAMBLISS BERTMAN
New York Times bestselling author of Book Scavenger and The Unbreakable Code

 

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#FCSDay and The Food Side of Things

ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman coverPeople who’ve read my novel All Four Stars and its sequels often ask me how I became a writer. Sometimes they also want to know where my book ideas come from. (Ha, if only I knew! I’d go back and grab a few more.)

But recently, a friend asked a different question: How did I get interested in “the food side of things”? Cooking, and eating adventurously, play a huge role in my books—and I bet a lot of readers assume that (like my foodie heroine, Gladys), I’ve been passionate about food since childhood. But they’d be wrong about that.

I don’t talk about my “foodie awakening” as much as I should. But here goes. Though I wasn’t like Gladys as a kid, my parents were in some ways like her parents. They weren’t cooks. They didn’t own any cookbooks, or clip recipes from magazines. And neither of them had been taught to cook when they were younger. It was a skill that had, between generations, slipped out of use in our family.

Stars of SummerAs a result, the kitchen was like a foreign country to them—and a kind of scary one. Sharp knives could cut you! The stove burned! They didn’t have experience using these tools, so they only saw the dangers. The microwave seemed safe enough, so they cooked pretty much anything they could in it (and some things that you probably shouldn’t). And when our freezer ran low on microwaveable meals, we ate cereal or got takeout.

So perhaps not surprisingly, I was not an adventurous eater when I was a kid. (I was a lot more like Parm in my books than like Gladys!) I hadn’t been exposed to a wide range of good-tasting food, so I didn’t like much of it. Finally, in high school, I started trying new cuisines, thanks to a club advisor who made it his mission to blow our minds with Indian, Ethiopian, Malaysian, and Japanese food.

STARS SO SWEET by Tara DairmanBut it wasn’t until much later—when I was a college student, on the verge of living on my own—that I took a hard look at my future as an eater. I could go the way of my parents, relying on frozen-meal companies and fast-food joints to feed me for the rest of my life, or I could roll up my sleeves and learn how to cook.

I bought a copy of Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, asked for a food processor for my birthday, and never looked back.

Those first days of cooking, on break from school at my parents’ house, were slow and a little painful—especially when I’d promised everyone dinner at 7, only to get it on the table at 9. But with practice, I grew more confident, and the results grew more delicious. My parents may not have cooked much for me, but they let me cook for them, and soon we were sitting around the table together, enjoying a homemade meal. I had turned a pile of raw ingredients into something nourishing for the people I loved—and I was truly shocked at how powerful that made me feel.

So, that’s my story about “the food side of things.” I kept enjoying new cuisines and making food for others. I finally got brave enough to attempt my dream of writing a novel, and I wanted to make my newfound passion for food a part of it. When I got the idea to write about a young girl whose parents ban her from the kitchen after a cooking mishap—a girl whose dream is to become a restaurant critic—I knew I’d struck gold.

When I meet readers today, some tell me that my books have nudged them to try a recipe out for themselves. It’s not often that we fiction writers get to hear about our stories affecting people’s real lives. But knowing that Gladys’s foodie adventures have inspired kids to develop a skill that I know will serve them—and others around them—for the rest of their days…well, I can’t help but weep salty little tears of happiness.

What “Dining In” looks like for me these days

Saturday, December 3, is #FCSDay, when tens of thousands of people commit to “dining in” with family and friends. To celebrate, the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS)—with support from my publisher, Penguin—will be giving away several sets of the All Four Stars trilogy to participants as prizes. To learn more and sign up to “Dine In,” visit aafcs.org/FCSDay, and follow the #FCSDay and #healthyfamselfie hashtags on social media.

 

The ALL FOUR STARS blog tour – stop 5

The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher - coverIt’s Monday, which means it’s time to announce the winner of my giveaway of Jessica Lawson’s magnificent debut novel, The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky ThatcherCongratulations to Lindsay Eland, who is the winner! *cheers*

Monday also means that the All Four Stars blog tour is back at full swing. At Xpresso Reads, I have a guest post up called “Diversity is Delicious.” I think that the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is important, and I thank Jenni for giving me a chance to write a little about my own path to including diverse cultures in my writing. The post is about a very special teacher I had in high school and the culinary experiences that helped me get out of my picky-eating bubble.

all four stars tour buttonI’m also interviewed today over at With Faith and Grace, which is my lovely friend Allison’s blog. We talk about the publishing process, and there’s a whole new chance to win a copy of the book. The giveaway ends this week, so hurry on over!

There have also been some terrific new reviews over at Carina’s Books and Great Imaginations. I’m really enjoying hearing what new readers are enjoying in the book, and noting their intelligent critiques. Keep the opinions coming!

Updates, and chance to win an ARC of ALL FOUR STARS!

We haven’t had a general update here in a while, and there’s a reason for that–I’ve been insanely busy of late. I’m currently in the throes of sequel revision, am moving house this weekend, and have had a couple of extended family visits recently. Bottom line: not much time for blogging.

But, exciting things have still been happening. All Four Stars is now less than four months from publication (!!!), so if you’ve been following that journey, here are a few milestones that have happened recently.

Reviews
All Four Stars got its first book blogger review from the terrific Eli Madison at Tweens Read Too! Here’s the review, and here’s an interview I did at the same blog shortly after.

Giveaway
If you are on Twitter and would like to enter to win an ARC (advance copy) of All Four Stars, Eli is giving one away. All you have to do is follow Eli’s account and retweet this tweet about the giveaway: https://twitter.com/elimadison2019/status/447423264160088064. I think that there are currently very few entries, so your chances of winning are excellent. Go enter now!

swagSwag
Thanks to the design stylings of Amber at Me, My Shelf, & I and the printing prowess of GotPrint and Tattoo Sales, I am now proudly in possession of approximately one million billion All Four Stars-themed bookmarks, postcards, and temporary tattoos! If you would like some to pass out at your local library, school, bookstore, cocktail party, etc., please just give me a holler and I’ll be happy to pop some in the mail to you.

Preordering
All Four Stars is now available for preorder just about anywhere where you can buy books. Preorders are wonderfully helpful to authors (especially debut authors!), and I heartily thank all of you who have already ordered copies from your local bookstores or your favorite online retailers! And if you haven’t preordered yet but would like to, you can find links to booksellers here.

Over at Emu’s Debuts
I’ve recently published two new posts over at my group blog, Emu’s Debuts.

In “The Second Time Around,” I talk about how writing and publishing a second book is a little less exciting–but also a little less stressful–than it has been for my debut book.

And in “Strange Sweet Song Launch: When Cats (and Other Dangerous Animals) Attack!” I amassed tales of the Emus’ crazy animal encounters as part of our launch week celebration of Adi Rule’s YA debut, Strange Sweet Song. This book is one of the most incredible reads I’ve had in the past year, and I hope that everyone who reads this will go request a copy for their library and/or buy their own! If you’re a fan of dark, Gothic, romantic books like Jane Eyre, I think you’ll love this book. Here’s my own GoodReads review.

Strange Sweet SongStrange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book, and let me tell you, it was incredible. I am someone who has no musical skills and definitely no interest in opera, and still I found myself COMPLETELY sucked in to the world Adi Rule has created–a remote conservatory with a touch of magical stuff going on.

The writing is impeccable on the sentence level–the author really uses all of the senses to make the reader experience the wintry setting and hear the beautiful music being played and sung. And she is just as comfortable writing about everyday teenage backbiting and boyfriend-stealing as she is executing the more gothic and paranormal aspects of the story, bringing all of those elements together seamlessly.

This was hands-down one of my favorite reads of 2013, and I imagine it will top many people’s lists when it hits the shelves in 2014.

View all my reviews

I think that that’s all my news at the moment. Once I’m settled into my new place, I plan to start sharing All Four Stars-related recipes here, working on a discussion guide for the book, and launching an e-mail newsletter. Stay tuned!

The day the Internet gave me a hug

Excitement!

Excitement!

When I first created this WordPress blog in 2012,  I quickly stumbled upon the “Freshly Pressed” page, which seemed to feature all sorts of interesting-sounding blog posts. “Wow, it would be pretty cool to get one of my posts up on this page,” I thought. But I assumed it was basically impossible, and soon forgot all about it.

Fast-forward to January 6, 2014, and my first post of the year on the group author blog I contribute to, Emu’s Debuts (also with WordPress). For once, instead of throwing something together at the last minute, I actually had most of a piece drafted in advance, reflecting on a surprising phone call I’d recently had with my mom. I’d pretty much been on writing hiatus since early December, when I’d turned Gladys 2 into my editor, so maybe my brain was really itching to tell a story. In any case, I felt pretty good about how this piece had turned out, and was pleased that within a few hours of posting, it seemed to be striking a chord with our blog’s regular commenters and even with some of my friends and family members.

But I certainly wasn’t prepared for the e-mail I received that afternoon. “I hope your blog is ready to welcome some new readers,” it said. “Your post will be featured on Freshly Pressed as a WordPress.com editors’ pick!”

Whoa! I was pretty excited, to say the least. I called my husband at work, and then my sister, but neither of them picked up. Then I called my mom, who did answer, and got as excited with me as a person who barely knows what a blog is possibly can. 🙂

Anyway, the next couple of days saw a great influx of visitors and commenters to our group blog–and while I tried to brace myself for the backlash and nuttiness that I know exposure to the Internet-at-large can bring, I have to say that the notes and stories that have been shared on the post have been really lovely so far. I don’t write to get people to like me, but at least for the past couple of days, I’ve kind of felt like the Internet was giving me a hug. It was a nice way to kick off my debut year.

So, all of this excitement has led to a little reflection on my part. I don’t usually blog about personal stuff, but I guess I need to acknowledge my two most successful blog posts of the last year*–the ones that got the most hits, yes, but also the ones that triggered the most comments and tweets and e-mails telling me that what I wrote had resonated with someone, or helped them out in some way–were the ones where I did go out on a limb and share some personal experiences.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to turn this blog into a weekly confessional (trust me, no one wants that!). But I know that some things debut authors (and not-so-debut authors) debate about a lot is how best to use social media, and how protective to be of your privacy, and how much of your personal story to put out there. And for me, surprisingly, the right answer to that last question may just be “a little bit more.” Because sometimes, sharing a true story really does help connect you with other people in a genuine way.

What do you think?

 

* Those posts were “First Drafting: Now 96% Faster,” and “A Different Kind of Call.”