For some folks, life is a straight and steady line, pushing on toward the horizon. For others–and one must surely count author Lauren Myracle in this latter group–it’s a roller coaster ride of dizzying heights and dramatic lows. Never more so than in the past ten days. Last Monday the 10th, Lauren got a phone call that authors dream of: her most recent book, Shine, had been nominated for a National Book Award. She was ecstatic, but was told to keep the news secret until the formal announcement on the 12th. Sure enough, at the live press conference, Shine was held up and extolled as one of the best books of the year for young people. Lauren heard her name read off in a list that included such great writers as Albert Marrin, Gary D. Schmidt, Thanhha Lai, and Debbie Dahl Edwardson. Then, shortly after the press conference, another book was hastily added to the list, the similar sounding Chime, by Franny Billingsley. The National Book Foundation explained the late addition by saying there had been a “mistake” and a “miscommunication.” Soon the internet was alight with speculation that the wrong book had been announced, that Shine was meant to be Chime.The roller coaster was plummeting to earth.
But the NBF said they would go forward with six nominations instead of their usual five, and Lauren decided to put a good face on it and try to enjoy the next four weeks leading up to the awards gala. Then the gears of the ride began to move again. Another phone call from the NBF on Thursday, the 13th, this time saying that some folks felt Shine should come off this list. Then the phone rang again on Friday–yep, it needed to come off one way or another.
Over the weekend Lauren decided to withdraw but asked the NBF for a favor, to make a donation to theMatthew Shepard Foundation, an organization named for the victim of a hate crime that sponsors pro-diversity youth programs. Shine is about such a crime and the bullying of gay teens, and in what had seemed like a meaningful bit of synchronicity, the official announcement of the finalists took place on the anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death. The donation seemed like a way to hold onto that synchronicity and to make sure something good came of the whole mess. The NBF graciously agreed.
Monday morning, a week after her thrilling first phone call, Lauren officially–and sadly–withdrew. But then, something amazing happened. The roller coaster began a crazy climb upward again. Suddenly, the e-mails, phone calls, posts, article, and tweets were FLYING in. Two campaigns were spontaneously launched on Twitter, #IsupportShine and #BuyShine. Libba Bray, a fellow young adult author with a popular blog, posted a shame-on-the-NBF rant that was retweeted hundreds of times. The young adult community had been galvanized, and they rallied around Lauren and Shine. The AP ran with the story, which was picked up by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Gawker, Gothamist, Salon, Entertainment Weekly, the BBC, the NBC Nightly News, and outlets around the world! Lauren was interviewed by Vanity Fair and NPR, asked to blog for the Huffington Post. The outpouring of interest and support keeps coming, and has been nothing short of extraordinary, and so heartening to Lauren. You can follow links to some of the many articles and posts below.
And as for Shine. It had enjoyed a nice bump in sales after the original award announcement, and is now flying off the shelves. We have shipped our existing stock and have a rush reprint on the way.