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?