Time for another Fury Award! (If you've forgotten what this award thing is, go here. It's safe.) In a non confrontational environment, I interviewed Stephanie Kuehn about her debut CHARM AND STRANGE.

Stephanie Keuhn grew up in Berkeley, California, which is a quirky sort of place with a ton of wonderful bookstores. Her very first job was working in one of those bookstores, and she's been a freakishly avid reader for as long as she can remember. Back then, some of the books that had the greatest impact on her life were young adult novels, and now, as an adult, she's found her own passion in writing books for teens. Other passions of hers include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. When she's not writing or reading (or studying for graduate school), she's usually outside running or playing with her family. She currently live in Northern California with her husband, three kids, and their menagerie of pets. Life is loud, joyous, and filled with animal hair.

Hulk: Pitch your debut novel, CHARM AND STRANGE, in a tweet.

Stephanie: While stuck at a remote Vermont boarding school, 16-year-old Andrew Winston Winters struggles to keep a dark past from defining his future.

Hulk: Being no stranger to ugly alter egos myself, I can’t wait to read more about Win/Drew. What inspired you to write him?
Stephanie: To me, the most interesting thing about duality is the perceived absolutism of the two parts. The past and the present. Matter and antimatter. In the book, Winston's experiences teach him that life is a zero-sum game--one is either a predator or prey. He's terrified to be the latter, but can't bear to be the former. That highwire tension between who he was and who he believes he will be is what I wanted to write about--it's an unbearable state of limbo for Win, living every second of every day, holding his truth inside him. 

Hulk: Is CHARM AND STRANGE the “first” book you wrote or do you have projects you’ve had to leave gathering dust in the draw?
CHARM AND STRANGE was the fifth novel that I wrote. I hope that's inspiring and not depressing!

Hulk: I think that's inspiring! Loki told me the journey to publication is a lot like being fried with Gamma radiation. He’s crazy, so I’ll get the real story from you. Can you tell us about your journey to getting published?
Stephanie: Ha, well, it's not quite gamma ray strength, but there is a certain amount of angst that comes with pursuing publication, that's for sure. I think my lowest point in the process came after I'd written my fourth manuscript, which was a boy-narrated YA mystery. I was excited to start querying agents, so I took the manuscript to a weekend-long workshop where there were lots of wonderful YA agents and editors. However, the minute I got there, before any workshop stuff happened, I ran into a group of agents who all unanimously told me that "boy books don't sell."

I know they meant well and were being honest, but I felt sort of demoralized after that and ended up putting the manuscript aside. I still feel guilty and sad about that--giving up on something I believed in. However, a few weeks later, I got the idea for CHARM AND STRANGE in my head and decided I had to write it, if only for myself. So I did.

There were definitely a lot of stressful moments after that--in the revising and querying and submission process, but that moment of self-doubt was the most difficult for me.  

Hulk: Give us three:

- Items on your desk right now
a box of bookmarks, my daughter's rock collection, a glass whale

- Books on your to-read list
THE NAMESAKE by Steven Parlato
THERE IS NO DOG by Meg Rosoff

- Marvel Superheroes you love
Uh oh. I don't know a lot about superheroes. I grew up watching the Wonder Twins. Do they count? Wonder Woman was pretty cool, too. Oh, and the Hulk, obviously. Obviously!

Hulk: Thanks for stopping by the YAvengers, Stephanie! Okay, so here's a bit more about CHARM AND STRANGE! And don't forget, it releases on June 11th from St. Martin's Griffin. 

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.
He's part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tradgedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.
He's part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.
Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.
Before the sun rises, he'll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths -- that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

Find Stephanie Kuehn on Goodreads | Twitter | Website
And CHARM AND STRANGE to Goodreads

You can vote on how excited you are to read CHARM AND STRANGE. These votes help decide winners of The Fury Awards, so click away (if you want. I won't force you).


  1. Now this looks like a seriously interesting book. :) Great interview!

  2. I adore the Avengers, this site, and your posts. I have read about 8 of them and I just found this site a few minutes ago. Keep it up, guys.They are both helpful and entertaining. [ahh, Loki] Especially you, Stark. ;) and you, Hawkeye. ;)And you, Thor. ;) [going to stop now]