The Launch of the Porcupine!

What a great time I had at Changing Hands last night!

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porcupine launch

It was the launch of THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH, and a great crowd showed up for a fun night that included more than just books … cookies!

cookie and book

Yes, a friend of the folks at Changing Hands made great sugar cookies that were as delicious as they were pretty.

cookie1

And of course there were Porcupine t-shirts, too. And they were for sale!

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Thanks to everyone who came out in support! I’m so excited to take the book on the road. I’ll be in Washington, D.C. at Politics and Prose on Monday, June 1, as part of the Openly YA 2015 Tour with David Levithan (Every Day), Adam Silvera (More Happy Than Not), and Will Walton (Anything Can Happen). Here are the upcoming dates:

  • June 1 at 7 p.m. – Politics & Prose (Washington, D.C.)
  • June 2 at 7 p.m. – Children’s Book World (Haverford, PA)
  • June 3 at 6 p.m. – Teen Author Reading Night at Jefferson Market Library (NYC, NY)
  • June 4 at 6 p.m. – Books & Greetings (Northvale, NJ)
  • June 5 at 7 p.m. – RJ Julia (Madison, CT)
  • June 6 at 4 p.m. – Books of Wonder (NYC, NY)

Hope to see you there!

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If the chain restaurants were in high school…

This is what I do on airplanes when I can’t seem to get any editing or writing done on my novel…

If the Chain Restaurants Were All in High School

By Bill Konigsberg

McDonalds: Most popular kid in school since Kindergarten despite not being good at any one thing. Popularity slipping as of late.

Burger King: Been copying McDonald’s homework for years but somehow his grades are always a little worse.

Long John Silvers: Fat kid who smells like day-old grease.

In-And-Out: Christian kid whom everyone likes. Doesn’t drink or drug, yet always seems to be the life of the party.

Arby’s: Weird kid who keeps bringing mystery meat in for lunch and saying it’s roast beef; it is categorically NOT roast beef.

Wendy’s: Wacky redhead who will do just about anything to be popular.

KFC: Been saying for years he has this great secret, but no one really wants to know it.

Popeye’s: Everybody secretly has a crush on her but no one would ever admit it because she’s a little weird.

Outback Steakhouse: Moved to town freshman year with a surfboard, blond hair and a great Australian accent; actually from Paramus, New Jersey.

Panda Express: Girl everyone likes to hang out with, but somehow you always go home from her house not entirely satisfied.

Jack N the Box: Hangs out behind the dumpster during recess; rumored to be a huffer.

Applebees: Hangs out with popular kids, all of whom hate him and make fun of him.

Chili’s: Decent kid, was popular in grade school and has been coasting ever since.

Olive Garden: Fancies himself a ladies man; spends every Friday night at home alone watching Hulu.

Chipotle Grill: Progressive kid who came out of nowhere to become megapopular.

TGI Friday: Always talking about how there’s going to be a shindig at his house that’s going to be off the hook. It never is.

Red Lobster: Always bragging about his father’s yacht; his father actually has a jetski.

Pizza Hut: In his third year as a senior; unlikely to ever graduate.

Dominoes: In his fourth year as a senior; even less likely to ever graduate.

Subway: Obnoxious kid whose always talking about what good shape he’s in but has actually never exercised a day in his life.

Buffalo Wild Wings: Most likely to upchuck at a party.

Papa Johns: Douchebag who hangs out with the jocks but can’t throw a spiral to save his life.

Chick Fil-A: Religious zealot who says homophobic crap and then issues apologies that make everything worse.

Carl’s Jr: No one has ever met anyone whose been over to his house.

Taco Bell: Total stoner, but somehow the first guy you text when it’s 2am on a Saturday night and you’re bored.

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The first few pages of Porcupine!

Less than two weeks until THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH hits the shelves, and I’m so excited! To whet your appetite, here are the first three pages. If you want more, check out the excerpts available on Amazon!

—–

The Billings Zoo has no animals.

Fewer than twenty-four hours ago, I was standing in Gray’s Papaya on Seventy-Second Street and Amsterdam Avenue in New York City, watching passersby ignore someone who was having what appeared to be an epileptic seizure while eating a chili dog. Taxicabs whirred by, mere mustard stains on the frankfurter that is the Upper West Side. Hordes of humans hustling in every direction, screaming, shouting, howling.

Now, I am in a place that is so quiet that I can still hear the noises of Manhattan in the back of my skull, like they are working their way out, slowly. And I am at a zoo where I may actually be the wildest life.

I’m here because after we landed and got our rental car for the summer, my mother suggested she take me for “a treat.” We cruised past multiple Arby’s and shops that sell discount mattresses and a Wonder Bread thrift store, whatever that is. She dropped me here, at the zoo, and told me she’d pick me up in a couple hours, after she got us settled in at my dad’s house. She suggested that the zoo might be a place to “locate and center myself” before seeing him for the first time in fourteen years.

Continue reading

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Openly Straight Gets a Sequel!

So here’s the news I’ve been dying to share for the past, oh, four months:

A sequel to OPENLY STRAIGHT is on its way!

It’s called HONESTLY BEN, and it picks up right after where the first book left off. The catch: it’s Ben’s story of second semester at Natick, not Rafe’s.

This novel is really meant as a gift to fans of the first book, some of whom felt that they weren’t ready to leave the world of the book quite yet, and many of whom felt (spoiler alert, careful!) heartbroken by the ending of the book.

Will Ben forgive Rafe?Will Ben and Rafe wind up together? Is Ben even gay? bi? something else entirely? What the hell is Toby doing inside of Ben’s closet during a blizzard? Is it a bad idea for Rafe and Ben to play a game called Let’s Clear the Air without the benefit of a Plastic Screwdriver or two?

These questions and more will be answered in the sequel. I promise.

Here’s what Publisher’s Marketplace had to say about the book:

publisher's marketplace HB

A draft of the book is already written, so I know the answers to those questions. But sorry, you won’t get them from me! You’ll have to wait until the book comes out next year. In the meantime, here’s a song I listened to a lot while writing the sequel’s first draft:

Agape, by Bear’s Den:

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Bill Konigsberg, Trevor Project Champion

bill-at-14

This is me at 14 years old. I was called Billy back then.

Billy was a sad boy. It was right around this time that I began to understand that my attraction was toward males and not females. I didn’t understand much about it. I had no idea that there were millions of people experiencing the same feelings, and that some of them were happy, well-adjusted folks living good lives. All I knew was that the feelings I had made me one of those people. There were names for people like me.

So consequently, I began to hate myself. It didn’t help that for the first time in my life, I felt separated from my family. I had a secret, something that made me different than them. And my self-hatred became a desire to be “elsewhere,” somewhere where there was less pain. And when I realized I couldn’t really go elsewhere, it became, at times, lethal.

In THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH, Carson Smith has some of the same feelings, though his is not about being gay. He thinks about it as he sits with his friend Aisha in a hotel parking lot in Salt Lake City.

Someone’s parked a U-Haul truck that takes up two spaces. Whose truck is that? What does their life feel like? Where are they running off to? I think of sitting on my radiator at home, and all the times in my life I’ve felt like taking off. I want to believe these people are going someplace better, someplace warmer, maybe. Happier. I have to believe that. Because if I don’t believe that, maybe life isn’t worth living.

The truth is that I was severely depressed as a teenager. I cannot express just how many times I felt like I literally couldn’t go another day. That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Suicide felt like an option so often that at a certain point the idea was no longer shocking.

I made it, though. I made it to adulthood, and I’m so glad I did, because my life has been full of surprises and gifts and joy, among other things, and I’d never have found out any of that had I ended things.

My teen experience, along with the fact that for all of the advances our society has made, suicide remains a far bigger threat to LGBTQ teens than those who aren’t LGBTQ, has made me take leave of my senses. In September, I am embarking upon a cross-country journey in the hopes of helping teens understand just how important it is during these hard years to stay alive.

As an “champion” for The Trevor Project, I will be stopping at schools and churches and community centers across the country to talk to teens about the amazing services offered by The Trevor Project, and about my own struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide. My goal: to help kids make it through the hard years by connecting with them and giving them a little extra dose of hope.

I’m focusing on areas where kids are most in need: the midwest and the south. I already have about 10 stops planned, and I am looking to add another 10 or 20. If you are a person who works with teens as part of a GSA or a community group, and you’d like me to make a stop in your town or city as an champion for The Trevor Project, please email me at bkonigsberg@gmail.com and let me know where you are, and what kind of group you have. These visits are 100% free.

This trip will also be a fundraiser for The Trevor Project. This summer, or as soon as I have a finalized schedule, I will be raising funds online, asking people to pledge their support for my trip by giving to The Trevor Project. Every penny I raise for TTP will go to them. They have long been my charity of choice, and I’m so glad if something I do can help them with their outstanding services for at-risk youth.

So that’s what I’m doing in September. More information as it becomes available right here at billkonigsberg.com.

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First trade reviews for The Porcupine of Truth

porcupine cover

So far,  The Porcupine of Truth has received three reviews. Two of them are starred reviews, from Booklist and School Library Journal, and the third is a very nice review from Kirkus!

A starred review, according to Publishers Weekly, indicates a book of “outstanding quality.” It appears that perhaps 10 percent of published books receive a starred review, so I’m very pleased at this early reception to The Porcupine.

Some excerpts from the reviews:

“There are no true villains in the well-developed cast of characters, just people trying to do their best and frequently failing. … Konigsberg weaves together a masterful tale of uncovering the past, finding wisdom, and accepting others as well as oneself.” – SLJ

“Konigsberg (Openly Straight, 2013) employs a colorful style (a day is “warm, like bread just out of the oven,” and Carson’s new room is “like a remote bunker where people store their afterthoughts”) and crafts fascinating, multidimensional teen and adult characters. A friendship between a straight boy and a lesbian is relatively rare in YA fiction and is, accordingly, exceedingly welcome. And that’s the truth.” – Booklist (Starred review)

“…the story tackles questions about religion, family, and intimacy with depth and grace. The mystery of Carson’s grandfather is resolved with bittersweet thoroughness, and Aisha’s storyline comes to a hopeful, if also painful, resolution of its own.” -Kirkus

Somewhere out there, a Truth Porcupine is dancing happily down a Wyoming highway. Thanks, reviewers!

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The Prickly Truth

porcupine stamp

The thing about writing a book with a porcupine in the title is that you set yourself up to be the butt of a lot of puns.

“Sounds prickly,” people like to say, when I tell them that my next novel is called THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH.

“The truth can be prickly.”

“What a prick.”

You get the drill.

A friend even made this meme for me yesterday on Facebook:

porcupinism

It’s hard not to take the last part a little personally, no? :-)

Continue reading

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