What kind of book becomes a Harlequin TEEN?
by Natashya Wilson, senior editor, Harlequin TEEN
As soon as Harlequin announced the creation of Harlequin TEEN , a new young adult fiction imprint, people wanted to know—what kind of books were we going to publish? The short answer: compelling teen fiction covering a variety of genres. The long answer….well, here is how the launch year of titles came to be!
First, I have to say, the speculation over what we’ll publish has been both exciting and, sometimes, amusing. Judging by a few recent blog posts, when people heard “Harlequin”, and “young adult,” some automatically thought of that outdated term ‘bodice-ripper” and pictured torrid stories of hormone-driven teens panting over first kisses and… more. Yes, most of our stories do include a love interest—whose real-life story doesn’t?! —but romance is just one part of what we’re about. Here’s the scoop on what to expect from Harlequin TEEN’s first year.
The first manuscript the company bought that would eventually become part of Harlequin TEEN was Maria V. Snyder’s story Inside Out. When Maria came to her editor with the project, we didn’t have the perfect place for it, but we knew we couldn’t let it go and bought the book anyway. Perhaps that was the spark the reignited the company’s desire to create a general young adult fiction imprint! This unique futuristic story features Trella, a quiet loner who accidentally becomes the leader of a rebellion while exploring forbidden levels and uncovering secrets of life “Inside.”
Due to Maria’s adult publishing schedule, Inside Out was slated for April 2010—and the hunt was on for more books. To start, we focused on authors who were writing stories with a paranormal/urban fantasy appeal. Harlequin looked at its current author base to see if there were more potential TEEN authors, and bestselling authors Rachel Vincent and Gena Showalter had what it took.
Rachel’s SHIFTERS series had really taken off, and Gena had a huge paranormal romance readership plus had already written several YAs for other publishers. Both authors came to their editors with projects we adored, and My Soul to Take, featuring a teen banshee, and Intertwined, featuring a teen with four souls living inside him, soon became the August and September 2009 launch projects for the imprint. Sequels to both will be out in 2010.
We were also fortunate to have two titles previously published under our Luna imprint that made perfect sense to reprint for Harlequin TEEN, both by bestselling House of Night author P. C. Cast. Elphame’s Choice (October 2009) and Brighid’s Quest (March 2010) take place in the fantasy world of Partholon and feature goddess-blessed heroines who must leave everything familiar and risk their very lives as they meet forbidden soul mates and face their destinies.
Word got out, and more projects began to trickle in, among them a memorable modern faery story from debut author Julie Kagawa. The Iron King (February 2010), the first novel of the Iron Fey, stars reluctant half-faery Meghan Chase and her perilous trip into the faery world, where she must rescue her little brother and resist falling for an icy faery prince who might as soon kill her as kiss her.
The hunt expanded to include a variety of story types. We found a fabulous fun contemporary story, Tagged (March 2010), by another exciting debut author, Mara Purnhagen. Tagged features a mystery graffiti artist and the girl determined to find the artist without being labeled a snitch or revealing her secret crush. It doesn’t help that she’s the police chief’s daughter…or that the artist may be someone she’s close to!
An unusual and thrilling opportunity also came our way around this time. We connected with the right people at ABC Family and acquired the rights to publish books based on their TV series GREEK! We’ll be publishing four stories based on the GREEK characters, beginning in May 2010 with GREEK: Double Date by Marsha Warner.
We were also excited to acquire books from popular YA authors Allison van Diepen and Douglas Rees. Allison’s contemporary story The Oracle of Dating (May 2010) features teen relationship buff Kayla and her Web site, through which she anonymously offers advice on the ups and downs of dating—getting herself into a bit of trouble and a turbulent romance of her own!
Douglas Rees’s Majix: Notes from a Serious Teen Witch (July 2010) stars smart-mouthed Kestrel—don’t call her Susan!—a teen witch determined not to give in to the pressure to be like everyone else, even when faced with unfair detentions and nasty, unenlightened classmates. Don’t worry…Kestrel shows them all!
July 2010 also brings the re-release of a favorite novel originally published in Red Dress Ink, Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner. Carrie’s a teen genius—and hermit—on a mission to change her social misfit status, but does she have to dumb things down just to fit in?
We can’t wait to hear what readers think of each release. Let us know—which book are you looking forward to most? What do you want to see from Harlequin TEEN?
Comment here for a chance to win a copy of either My Soul to Take or Intertwined, or a Harlequin TEEN T-shirt. Contest will end on Monday @ midnight (eastern time).
Be sure to visit us at www.HarlequinTEEN.com, and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/HarlequinTEEN/) for the latest info. We hope to see you at our next blog tour stop, The Story Siren on August 5!