I'm excited for you to read Nanci Turner Steveson's introduction to the cover for her debut novel, Swing Sideways. She mentions one of my all-time favorite authors and shares her genuine response to seeing Dawn Cooper's lovely art for the first time. Thank you, Nanci! I cannot wait for everyone to meet Annie and California!
When I was nine I read Black Beauty for the first time. As soon as I closed that book, I knew I wanted to be an author someday. In fact, I wrote my first “novel” right then, a book I still have about a wild horse, stapled at the top and complete with drawings.
Several years ago, I read Walk Two Moons, and as soon as I closed that book, I sat down at my computer and Swing Sideways started spilling out. I wrote with tremendous passion, in faith that this story would be published. I just knew it! Except we don’t really know, do we? Even with an agent, a heart full of hope, and thousands of hours of work, there are no guarantees. But on my lucky day, something about that passion caught the eye of my editor at HarperCollins, and Swing Sideways is scheduled to hit the bookstores May 3, 2016. (still pinching)
After a year of revisions, when the email came with the design attached, I had to catch my breath before opening it. Everyone told me that even with the premier art department at HarperCollins, I would hate the cover the first day. They said it always happens that way and I shouldn’t be disappointed, that it would eventually grow on me. But guess what? They were wrong. I clicked on the link and burst into tears as this beautiful image popped up on the screen.
It still amazes me that artist Dawn Cooper could capture so exquisitely the very essence of this story — the unexpected bond between Annie and California, the embarking on an adventure, the mystery and the longing, even the lush colors of a summer in which a friendship changes everything. It still leaves me breathless. I am enthralled, excited, and so very grateful.
Annie has been promised a summer of freedom in the country. Freedom from a difficult school year, freedom from her fake “friends” back in the city, and most of all, freedom from her mom's life-governing spreadsheets and rigid schedules.
When Annie meets California, who is visiting her grandfather’s farm, it seems she has found the perfect partner for the adventure she’s always craved. California climbs trees faster than a monkey, carries around an exotic pet chicken, runs barefoot through the woods, and eats berries straight from the vine. Plus, California offers Annie the chance to be part of a real-life adventure: if she and Annie can find the ponies her mom rode as a girl, surely it will remind her mom how wonderful the farm is — and fix what's broken between her mom and her grandfather.
But Annie’s summer of freedom is sprinkled with secrets, and everything she has learned about bravery, forgiveness, loss, and love, will be put to the test when the truth behind the ultimate secret changes her life forever.