the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog

Paperback Party!

Posted by Adi Rule on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 @ 09:10 AM

It's a paperback party! Here's a peek at some recent and upcoming paperback releases from VCFA authors! Click the covers for more info.

Nomad-cover.jpgNomad by William Alexander


Owl Girl by Mary Atkinson


23866208.jpgThe Buccaneers' Code by Caroline Carlson


final-cover-Nearer-Moon.jpg     41g6Wa8HCL._SX325_BO1204203200_.jpg

A Nearer Moon and Audacity by Melanie Crowder



The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox


076369097X.jpgSmashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 by N. Griffin, illustrated by Kate Hindley



Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen



Rosa, Sola by Carmela A. Martino


You Were Here by Cori McCarthy



The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow



How to Share with a Bear by Eric Pinder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin



All We Left Behind by Ingrid Sundberg



Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

Topics: eric pinder, N. Griffin, 2015 release, Cori McCarthy, paperback release, Micol Ostow, Michelle Knudsen, Melanie Crowder, Caroline Carlson, Meg Wiviott, Ingrid Sundberg, 2016 release, Janet Fox, Carmela A. Martino, William Alexander, Mary Atkinson

Cori McCarthy and YOU WERE HERE

Posted by Adi Rule on Tue, Mar 01, 2016 @ 09:03 AM

Today we are here celebrating Cori McCarthy's new contemporary YA, You Were Here (Sourcebooks)!


Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn't: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother's death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake's daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She's not crazy, okay? She just doesn't have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn't expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she's joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and...Mik. He doesn't talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy's gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world's largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

Welcome, Cori! What was the spark that ignited this book?

I was watching a National Geographic show about urban exploring in the Paris Underground. I pitched the story to my editor about a group of kids who get caught up in the underground during a visit in Paris, and I cited that I used to climb around abandoned ruins all the time when I was a teenager. My editor then asked for that story instead…thus the Ohio setting of You Were Here was born.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled as research for your writing?

Lobotomies. There’s a fair bit in the first chapter about the lobotomies that were once performed in the (now abandoned) insane asylum in You Were Here. I wanted to get all the details right and portray the reality of the horrors. That sounds terribly dramatic, but seriously, there was this guy called Dr. Lobotomy who used to drive around the country in a station wagon. He called that car, “The Lobotomobile” and performed dozens of procedures a day. This is one of those “truth is stranger than fiction” situations.

What's your writing superpower?

Plotting. I give all credit to my degree in screenwriting and my intensely architectural brain. Everything has a shape in my head, so my process of finding the story is all about finding the right shape. For example, right now my WIP has the structural shape of frets on a guitar neck.

You have gorgeously realized plots, both in words and in shapes. What was it like watching the illustrations/cover come together?

The illustrations came together beautifully. I wrote a graphic novel script for Sonia Liao, the artist, and gave her brief character descriptions as well as pictures of the real settings. She captured not only my characters but places from my childhood. For the word art poetry in the book, I drew pictures, and then we sent them to Sonia and she recreated them much more professionally with texture to match the graffiti surfaces in the story.


Very cool! Thanks for sharing. Who were your advisors at VCFA?

My heroes: Alan Cumyn, Marion Dane Bauer, Uma Krishnaswami, and Shelley Tanaka.

What was special about your VCFA graduating class?

The Bat Poets are my literary sisters and brother. They support me through my ups and downs, and even help me professionally. To name just a few, Winifred Conklin walked me through my agent querying experience, Kate Hosford is my biggest supporter, Mary Cronin is one of my favorite beta readers, and Kelly Barson wrote an amazing blurb for You Were Here!

I think "literary sisters and brothers" hits it right on the head. Thanks so much for joining us, Cori! Welcome, You Were Here!

Cori studied screenwriting and poetry before discovering the WCYA program at VCFA. She is a member of the class of January, 2011 -- the Bat Poets. Visit her online at

Topics: young adult, Cori McCarthy, 2016 release, Sourcebooks, YA contemporary

Cori McCarthy and BREAKING SKY!

Posted by Robin Herrera on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 07:03 AM

Today's guest at the Launchpad is 2010 grad Cori McCarthy, whose debut young adult novel, THE COLOR OF RAIN, was released in 2013. BREAKING SKY, another young adult novel, releases today from Sourcebooks Fire, and it's already gotten a rave review from Kirkus AND has been optioned as a movie!

BSky Cover Final

Showoff. Reckless. Maverick. Chase Harcourt, call sign "Nyx", isn't one to play it safe. In the year 2048, America is locked in a cold war – and the country's best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy. Chase is one of only two daredevil pilots chosen to fly an experimental "Streaker" jet. But few know the pain and loneliness of her past. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.

But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There's a third Streaker, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. And Chase doesn't play well with others. But to save her country, she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.

Cori McCarthy's taut, romantic, action adventure will shoot your pulse straight into overdrive with her brilliantly imagined and frighteningly possible future. “Smart, exciting, confident—and quite possibly the next Big Thing.” – Kirkus Reviews

So, Cori: What was the spark that ignited this book?

So a lot of people think that this story sprung solely from my love of Top Gun, but that’s not really true. In fact, I would give the revamped Battlestar Galactica more credit for igniting this story than Top Gun. And I guess that’s all to do with the main character, Chase “Nyx” Harcourt. While watching BSG, I was totally, one hundred percent, crazy in love with Kara “Starbuck” Thrace. She was such a badass fighter pilot with loads of personal and emotional issues (God, I love characters with issues!). My YA brain kept wondering, “Now what would Kara be like if she were a teenager?!” So when I sat down to write Chase, I had Kara Thrace in my head. Chase evolved throughout the epically long drafting process and became much more nuanced, but I have to giggle when people bring up Tom Cruise’s “Maverick” persona in relation to Chase. In my mind, Nyx will always be a teenage Starbuck in a near-futuristic America.

What authors do you love for their sentences? How about plot? Character?

To answer all three? Melina Marchetta, Melina Marchetta, Melina Marchetta. Sorry to intone so dramatically, it’s just that she’s my favorite writer and her stories have the sort of lasting boom that I long to one day write. Her sentences are stunning. (I give you: “From this distance everything is so bloody perfect.” And: “There are worse things than a lie and there are better things than the truth.”) Her plots are always trekking, sprinting, evolving. And there’s this scene that happens in the first hundred pages of Jellicoe Road with a cat that makes me sob. Now, I’m not easily brought to tears and any writer who can do it that early in a story is my hero. And finally: character. I dare anyone to crack open Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock and not fall head over heals for Evangeline and Finnikin. Go on. I double dog dare you. :)

Tell us about your writing community. Are you in a critique group? Does your son or mom read your early drafts? Is Twitter your bastion of support?

I write weekly with Amy Rose Capetta and current-VCFA student, Tirzah Price. We keep each other going as much as Panera’s coffee, and we talk out our stories in this constant stream of fragmented inquiries. For example, it’s pretty normal for me to jerk my head up in the middle of a quiet session and ask, “What’s worse: getting punched in the eye or kicked in the shin with steel-toed boots?” Then we debate and go back to our writing. Having a writing community/group is rather new to me, and it has made me love writing so much more. While writing on my own, there was always an element of segregation that was so very hard for me. Now I have my best writery friends at my side to provide literary checkpoints, grammar advice, and vigilant support—without which I might have given up publishing years ago.

1969416 10202738964613442 7008758492564878045 nCori (left) and Amy Rose

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

Before VCFA, I wrote from the gut. Not that I don’t still write from the gut, but now I remember to double check the resonance of my stories with the rest of the world. In short, VCFA taught me how to share my work with others. I have always been terrified of letting someone else read my work, and although I studied writing for nearly a decade before entering the MFA program at Vermont, I never learned to trust critiques and praise. I still can’t really take a compliment, but I know so many other writers with that similar issue that we really should have t-shirts made. Something like: CALL ME BRILLIANT & I'LL SCOWL AT YOU

What is your favorite VCFA memory?

There are a hundred goofy, wonderful, shining answers to this question, but I have a rather melancholy one. There. You’ve been warned.

I read a poem once. A very sad poem about my dearest cousin’s baby who didn’t make it. I was still going through the grieving process myself, still struggling to understand the loss I felt and the incredible agony over my cousin’s grief. I’m not sure why I decided to share the poem until I’d finished reading it and looked up and saw Martine crying. Although I hadn’t thought of the poem as cathartic when I wrote it, in reading it aloud, it unveiled something in me that just wanted to be openly sad about what had happened. Two minutes before a crowd in Noble made me feel better than six months of feeling all torn up inside. That’s why it’s my favorite moment. VCFA is place where you can learn how to write, how to laugh at your mistakes and grow, but it’s also a safe place where you can be unabashedly raw and honest. I’ll treasure the feeling of acceptance and home that residency gave me for the rest of my life.

That encapsulates so much of what I love about VCFA as well. Thank you, Cori!

CM Headshot2

Cori McCarthy worked with Alan Cumyn, Marion Dane Bauer, Uma Krishnaswami, and Shelley Tanaka while earning her MFA. She lives in Michigan, loves her small-but-mighty publisher, and dreams of one day finishing the novel in verse that was her graduate reading.

Topics: young adult, writing community, 2015 release, Cori McCarthy, Sourcebooks Fire, Amy Rose Capetta

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