Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Above Us Only Sky

Above Us Only Sky is the epic tale of the Vilkas women, separated by oceans, generations and war, but connected by something much greater—the gift of wings. 

In 1973, Prudence Eleanor is born with wings in Nashville, Tennessee.  Considered a birth defect, her wings are excised shortly after her birth, leaving the ghost of them behind. 

Living on the eastern coast of the Atlantic, she grapples with the wings that only one other person can see, but Prudence can feel.  At age sixteen, she comes face to face with another winged girl, an apparition beneath Atlantic waters.  Who is she? 

This same year, Prudence meets her Lithuanian grandfather, a WWII survivor whose family was murdered under Soviet orders.  Through her grandfather, Prudence discovers a miraculous lineage beating and pulsing with past Lithuanian birds: storytellers with wings dragging the dirt, survivors perched on radio towers, lovers lit up like fireworks and heroes disguised as everyday men and women.  In a small oceanfront town, the unexpected and unimaginable have bubbled up from the depths to confront and enlighten Prudence, and this is only the beginning.  She is set forth on a quest to discover her lineage, to find out who the other winged girl is, and ultimately to find out where she belongs.    


Above Us Only Sky is a story of mutual understanding between the old and young; it is a love story; a story of survival, and most importantly a story about going home.  Again.   

Advance Praise
"Above Us Only Sky is a raw, beautiful, unforgettable book that folds unfathomable horrors and unfathomable love into a story of incredible power. Young-Stone is a master writer, and her deft control of this novel's many moving pieces puts her in the highest echelon of our craft. Yet at the center, literal and figurative, of this novel is a story so brilliantly simple and deeply moving, you'll forget you are reading a book. This story shook me to my core, and I can't wait for the rest of the world to experience it."  -Lydia Netzer.  
Author of Shine Shine Shine.  The Wall Street Journal calls Shine Shine Shine "decidedly weird and entirely winning".  People Magazine says, Shine Shine Shine is a "A delightfully unique love story and a resounding paean to individuality."


“The beautiful prose in Michele Young-Stone’s Above Us Only Sky flies off the page. A stirring meditation on resilience, the ties that bind us to our past, and what it means to have wings.”—Tracy Guzeman, author of The Gravity of Birds, a brilliant debut, Best Indie Book, highly praised by O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Booklist, and the San Francisco Chronicle--to name only a few.   

Library Journal:
VERDICT Young-Stone has written a novel that's both fanciful and brutally realistic, soaring as it does between angelic beings and heartless dictators. From America to Lithuania, from past to present, this is a heart-wrenching tale for literary fiction fans and particularly for readers interested in World War II.—Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA

Bank Square Books:   “Simply beautiful and exquisitely crafted. Combining history, love and loss with the story of a young woman born with wings and growing up in low income Florida is not an easy feat to pull off but Michele Young-Stone has done so without a flaw. I loved this novel, fell in love with Prudence and her wings and so will you. And I feel like I know much more of Lithuania than I ever thought I would!”—Annie Philbrick

Bank Square Books, 53 W. Main Street, Mystic, CT 06355, 860-536-3795www.banksquarebooks.com


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Moon Sisters land on earth, March 4th, 2014, and Therese Walsh talks character(s)--how they stick with her.


Therese Walsh’s second novel, The Moon Sisters, will be published in hard cover on March 4th, 2014 by Crown (Random House).  TODAY!!!!!!!!!

Her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was named one of January Magazine’s Best Books of 2009, was nominated for a RITA award for Best First Book, and was a TARGET Breakout Book.

Therese is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a site that’s visited daily by thousands of writers interested in the craft and business of fiction.


What Therese has to say about CHARACTER:


"When I’m ready to start a new story, I sit with ideas but not crystal clear ones. Rather, these ideas are like partially formed apparitions; they blink and sway and leave me feeling both unsure about my vision and entranced by it.

When I first sat to write 'The Moon Sisters,' I had a fairly good idea about the book’s themes and who one of the sisters would be—a dreamy synesthete named Olivia Moon, who could see music and smell her mother on the sun and knew the taste of hope. Her sister, Jazz, was much less revealing, which made things interesting when she claimed the first chapter for her own. She was angry, this sister—bitter and put upon.  She didn’t want to cooperate with me any more than she wanted to cooperate with Olivia, who had plans to track down a legendary will-o’-the-wisp light—a different sort of partially formed apparition that blinks and sways and lures with false promises. Olivia wanted to find one of these wisps because it was her mother’s dream to see one, and her mother had died without this wish fulfilled. Though Olivia believed that seeing a light would help in some significant way, I couldn’t pinpoint the why of that, exactly; and every time I tried to saddle Olivia with a simple reason, like a desire to lay her mother’s spirit to rest, it rang hollow.

Whatever Olivia’s fuzzy logic, Jazz was not interested in the trip. She let me know, almost immediately, that she had other priorities, like starting her new job at a funeral home—the same funeral home her mother’s body had been laid out in just a few months earlier. She wanted to work there, but she wouldn’t tell me why. Fascination with death? Obvious. But why?

Each chapter of The Moon Sisters begins with some form of reflection from either Olivia or Jazz. Sometimes these reflections are a single memory, sometimes they're puzzle-piece realizations about how life up to that point created the person they had become. I fell in love with these segments, and would look forward to writing them and learning more about the girls and their troubled mother, Beth, as the story progressed.

And eventually—eventually—there it was, toward the end of my draft. Illumination. When I realized why Jazz wanted to work in a funeral home, I cried. When I realized why Olivia wanted so desperately to connect with a will-o’-the-wisp light, I cried again.

If you’re a writer, and you’re one who knows all that’s needed about a canvas of characters before you begin writing, then I applaud you. I am not like you, though. I have to muddle through until my characters trust me—or until my subconscious bubbles to the surface. I have to write and write to learn why because it does not come any other way, and never easily.  And perhaps I’m a touch masochistic, but I think I like this blink-sway process. As the characters come to trust me with their issues, I come to trust myself with them as well."

Friday, January 24, 2014

Advance Praise for Above Us Only Sky


"Above Us Only Sky is a raw, beautiful, unforgettable book that folds unfathomable horrors and unfathomable love into a story of incredible power. Young-Stone is a master writer, and her deft control of this novel's many moving pieces puts her in the highest echelon of our craft. Yet at the center, literal and figurative, of this novel is a story so brilliantly simple and deeply moving, you'll forget you are reading a book. This story shook me to my core, and I can't wait for the rest of the world to experience it."  -Lydia Netzer.  Shine Shine Shine made the NYT Book Review's list of 100 Notable Books of 2012!  The Wall Street Journal calls Shine Shine Shine "decidedly weird and entirely winning" in its August 3rd review.
Shine Shine Shine is a "People's Pick" in the July 30 issue of People Magazine. "A delightfully unique love story and a resounding paean to individuality."


“The beautiful prose in Michele Young-Stone’s Above Us Only Sky flies off the page. A stirring meditation on resilience, the ties that bind us to our past, and what it means to have wings.”—Tracy Guzeman, author of The Gravity of Birds, a brilliant debut, Best Indie Book, highly praised by O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Booklist, and the San Francisco Chronicle--to name only a few.  

Thank you so much for reading Above Us Only Sky.  I look forward to one day paying back the favor and being asked to blurb for up-and-coming writers.  

Many years ago, Jacquelyn Mitchard and Sheri Reynolds praised my debut, The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors.  I am forever appreciative.      

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome to 2014: What does it mean to be 'Stuck Here on Purpose'?

I am the author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors.  The Boston Globe wrote,
"Young-Stone has written an exceptionally rich and sure-handed debut, full of complex characters, brilliantly described."  My next novel, Where I Am Born, is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster (publication date pending).  I live on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my husband, my son, a quirky cocker spaniel and a jovial bearded dragon. 

(OOPS: The title of the novel has changed since I posted this blog.  That said, I'm going to leave this as is because a big theme in the novel is the notion of where we are born...  And that's basically what this post is about.  XO)  Oh, the new title is ABOVE US ONLY SKY.  


The New Novel:  Where I Am Born is the epic tale of two women separated by oceans, generations and war, but connected by something much greater—the gift of wings.  In 1973, Prudence Eleanor is born with wings in Nashville, Tennessee.  Considered a birth defect, her wings are excised shortly after her birth, leaving the ghost of them behind.

Living on the eastern coast of the Atlantic, the unexpected and unimaginable bubble up from the depths to confront Prudence: She meets her Lithuanian grandfather and discovers a miraculous lineage beating and pulsing with past Lithuanian birds: storytellers with wings dragging the dirt, survivors perched on radio towers, lovers lit up like fireworks and heroes disguised as everyday men and women.

Sometimes where we think we are born is not even close.  It is in finding our birthplace that we have a chance at becoming whole.  


In 2013, I worked on my second novel, Where I Am Born.  With the dawn of 2014, I realized that my life and work--as usual--are reflections of each other.  I lived the first half of my life in or around Richmond, Virginia, and then, in 2012, I was born in a new and amazingly unique place, on a chain of islands 200 miles long.  Most of the people who live here have come here by choice.  To quote my friend Matt Walker and his amazing publication, Milepost, we are “Stuck Here on Purpose”.    (Check them out online!)

We are an island of business owners, writers, teachers, surf instructors, doctors and realtors rubbing elbows with service workers: waitresses, cashiers, hotel staff, HVAC guys, roofers, electricians and jacks-of-all-trades.  We rub elbows at the grocery store, at the gym, at our children’s schools.    

The landscaper used to be a stockbroker and the waitress was an attorney.  

People who live here are called here—as we were—for the surf or the birds or the silence of February or the madness of July, or for all of it.  People who live here do whatever is necessary to stay here.  Deer trek through our yard and egrets perch in our canals.  We watch the ducks and geese come and go and the lime green tree frogs stick translucent to the glass doors all summer long.  We try to keep them from freezing to death in the air-conditioned house, and our hearts break when we find one frozen by the door.  Nearly every day in the summer, one hitchhikes from the sound to the beach or vice versa and back again.    
No one is any better than anyone and no one presumes to be so.
In the summer time, the locals work.  They work hard, long hours.  They can hardly catch a breath, juggling family life and putting bread on the table.  In the off-season, many escape to warmer climates, to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, or Mexico.  Many stay behind, collect unemployment, focus on their children.  I’m starting to feel it now, after 18 months, the feeling of being born again, of being born here and not there.       

Sometimes we are born anew because of circumstances out of our hands, born anew out of necessity and survival, but other times we are born anew by our actions, by choice, by imagining a different way to be.   I like this way.  I like HERE--the pace, the community.  For 2014, I am born on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  How about you?  Where are you born?