Long before Jeff Giles wrote a word of his debut YA novel, The Edge of Everything (Bloomsbury, Jan. 2017), he had felt firsthand the passion YA readers have for their favorite books and authors. As deputy managing editor for Entertainment Weekly, Giles spearheaded the magazine’s ramp-up in recent years of its coverage of YA fiction, beginning with the Twilight phenomenon.
“When we had the first picture of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, or the first cover featuring The Fault in Our Stars, the reaction was above and beyond anything else we did,” Giles recalls. “It was amazing to see how excited that readership was.” That type of fandom, as well as his own daughter’s “instant obsession” with Twilight when he first gave it to her several years ago, was a key driver behind Giles’s move from magazine editor’s desk to author’s desk.
He began a draft of the book while still working at EW and living in Brooklyn with his family. “I had written many things as a journalist, but I had no idea if I could write something scary or romantic or touching that wasn’t me writing about someone else’s life story,” he says. “It was really exciting to try.” Giles describes his book as “a really tense family drama with a supernatural romance at the heart of it.” At the outset, a teen and her younger brother are dramatically rescued from a criminal’s brutal attack by the mysterious X, whom Giles calls a “bounty hunter from someplace like hell who will either fix everything or make it worse.”
When agent Jodi Reamer at Writers House sold Giles’s novel and a sequel at auction in spring 2014, that milestone prompted another move: Giles and his family relocated from New York to Montana, where The Edge of Everything is set. “My father-in-law lives in Montana, and we would come here every summer,” Giles says. “Everything I drive by now is in the book, or is something I can add [to the next book].”
Giles is looking forward to being at BEA as an author as opposed to a reporter. “It’ll be a little strange at first for sure,” he surmises. “But I have not met anyone in this new world who has not been incredibly supportive, excited, and interested.” The convention also gives Giles an opportunity to see some familiar faces. “Because I live in Montana—and northwest Montana at that—I’m excited to reconnect with people I knew in New York,” he says.
Old friends and booksellers can greet Giles today, 11 a.m.-noon, at Table 6, in the Autographing Area, where he’ll be signing ARCs of The Edge of Everything.
This article appeared in the May 13, 2016 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.