Author Nova Ren Suma garnered a cult following with her books “Imaginary Girls” and “17 & Gone,” but her new release (out March 24) is her most buzzworthy release yet. With Suma’s signature style that blurs lines between real life and the supernatural, she tells the story about a mysterious night from two different perspectives: Amber, a teen locked up in juvenile detention, and Violet, a ballerina.
Violet, the ballerina, wasn’t in the original outline.
The story is told through Amber’s eyes and then Violet’s, but originally, it was going to be Amber the whole way through. “I knew I wanted to write about what it was like to be incarcerated, but I also had this idea for chiller ballerinas,” Suma tells us. "It wasn’t until I wrote the scene where all the inmates watch a new inmate arrive that the ballerina idea converged with the prison idea.”
The characters felt completely different to write.
Suma tells us that while writing from Violet’s perspective was much easier for her, she thought writing as Amber was more fun. “Amber has a more complicated voice, but for some reason, it felt more natural to me,” she says.
The original outline had a totally different ending.
“The end of the book was not in the plan,” Suma says. “I began to feel that one of the characters was deserving of a totally different fate … I went into it thinking I knew what it was going to be, but it’s like the characters came alive and made something happen.”
Suma has always been drawn to twisted darkness.
The author tells us that when she was growing up in Woodstock, New York, she liked to go to the Artists’ Cemetery with her friends and read poetry. Her favorite poet: Anne Sexton.
Suma finds friendship way more interesting than love stories.
“The book is so much about whom you can trust and the loyalty between friends,” she says. She tells us that she remembers being a teen how a friend’s betrayal feels like the end of the world. “With Young Adult books, there’s often a romantic element in the story, but I was less interested in talking about that and more interested in talking about the relationships between girls and what can go wrong when one of them betrays the other,” she says.
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Reading event with Nova Ren Suma:
New York City
March 23, 7 p.m.
52 Prince St., 212-274-1160