Ah, summer. It’s Sarah Dessen’s favorite season. “I’m all about shrimpburgers, reading, and going to the beach,” she says. Not surprisingly, summer is also the backdrop for several of Dessen’s YA novels, including her latest, The Moon and More, a June release for which Viking plans a 500,000-copy first printing.
In the story, Emaline struggles with whether to leave her small beach town for college or stay close to home and all that’s familiar to her. Her longtime, perfect boyfriend hopes she’ll stick around, while a guy in town for the summer from New York encourages her to follow a bigger dream. Dessen says that this time she was inspired to write about “what it’s like to be permanent in a place that’s temporary for a lot of people, and what it feels like to not be on vacation in a vacation town.”
Real-life dilemmas like Emaline’s are what Dessen’s fans – mostly teen girls – repeatedly say they love about her work. And it’s clear that the author feels comfortable tackling that turf. “I love writing about the summer between high school and college,” says the author. “It’s the last gasp of really being a teen. I suppose that one of these days I should push forward and write about college, but I keep coming back.”
Dessen has begun work on a new novel, which she believes is good therapy during the lag times in the publishing process. “It’s the best thing to do while you’re waiting for a book to come out,” she says. “I can’t sit and twiddle my thumbs. I have to start writing even if it’s miserable some days. The wonderful days are few and far between, but they keep me coming back.” However, she’s keeping details about her developing project under wraps. “I’m famously secretive about my work,” she notes. “Nobody reads my books till they’re finished.”
After BEA, she’ll be hitting the road for a national tour to promote the novel. And later in the summer, she’ll meet up with family for a Cape Cod vacation. “The book release and tour are wonderful, but I’m really looking forward to not being so busy,” she says. “I want to get back to cutting the crust off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, going to the park with my kid, and getting to the beach [in North Carolina, where she lives]. My summer will be made if I see people reading my book on the beach.”