Exclusive: Bestselling author E. Lockhart to publish a new YA novel

Image: delacorte press

Bestselling author E. Lockhart has a new YA novel hitting shelves this fall.

Announced today, Lockhart’s Genuine Fraud will be released Sept. 5 by Delacorte Press, and imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

Edgy and inventive, Genuine Fraud is an instantly memorable story of love, betrayal and entangled relationships that are not what they seem. Lockhart introduces readers to the story of Imogen and JuleImogen, a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook and a cheat; Jule, a fighter, a social chameleon and an athlete. This is a novel about intense friendship, a disappearance, murder, bad romance, a girl who refuses to give people what they want from her and a girl who refuses to be the person she once was. Who is genuine? And who is a fraud? You be the judge.

Lockhart is a staple in the YA world, and she’s perhaps best known for her haunting We Were Liars, a deluxe edition of which will be published this May.

MashReads spoke to Lockhart about Genuine Fraud, her career, and her advice for 2017. Then read on for an exclusive excerpt of her upcoming novel.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I read Joan Aikens The Wolves of Willoughby Chase in third or fourth grade and immediately began writing novels about Victorian orphanages, windswept landscapes and cool uniforms.

What draws you to writing YA books?

In young adulthood, people separate from the values and embraces of their families of origin and begin to define themselves as individuals. That process of separation and self-reinvention is extremely interesting to me. Genuine Fraud is very much a YA novel, even though it doesnt take place in high school.

Is your writing process different depending on the genre youre writing?

Genuine Fraud is a psychological thriller, and the only other such book I have written is We Were Liars. All my other books are comedies! The thrillers have intricate plots that require more planning.

Genuine Fraud sounds a bit like an oxymoron. Do you have a favorite oxymoron?

Film producer Samuel Goldwyn is often quoted as saying, I never liked you, and I always will. My new novel is in something of the same spirit.

Genuine Fraud is another suspense novel, like your emotional bestseller We Were Liars. Can you give a hint as to the emotions readers are likely to have?

Both books have twisty plots, but with Genuine Fraud youre unlikely to need a tissue. Rather, I recommend Rolaids and seltzeryoull want a strong stomach.

Youre known for writing incredibly strong and complex female characters, particularly Frankie Landau-Banks, who is seen by many as a feminist icon. The women in Genuine Fraud seem to be in a similar vein. Do you feel you have a responsibility as a YA writer?

Thank you. I am a feminist, most certainly, but my responsibility as a novelist is not to provide role models. My responsibility is to try to write something that feels true to me on some emotional and intellectual level. I write to make a piece of narrative art that represents the inside of my head. I hope that if I have done so well enough, people will respond to it.

As its a new year, what is your advice for your readers for 2017, both for life and for aspiring writers?

Raise your voice. Its an everyday practice. As a writer, as an activist, as a friend and colleague, student or teacherraise your voice in protest, in apology, in curiosity, in praise, in self-expression.

What were some of your favorite books of 2016?

I read a lot of travel stories and novels written in the nineteenth century. I read cookbooks and middle-grade fiction and comic essays. But Genuine Fraud is a complicated portrait of an extremely difficult person, and a twisty thriller as welland here are two 2016 books I read while I was revising it that fit that same description and are incredibly juicy: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman is an adult novel about young women behaving more than badly, raw and gorgeous. My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier is a YA novel about a boy whose younger sister is a psychopathchilling and thought-provoking.

Image: Delacorte press

It was a bloody great hotel.

The minibar in Jules room stocked potato chips and four different chocolate bars. The bathtub had bubble jets. There was an endless supply of fat towels and liquid gardenia soap. In the lobby, an elderly gentleman played Gershwin on a grand piano at four each afternoon. You could get hot clay skin treatments, if you didnt mind strangers touching you. Jules skin smelled like chlorine all day.

The Playa Grande Resort in Baja had white curtains, white tile, white carpets, and explosions of lush white flowers. The staff members were nurselike in their white cotton garments. Jule had been alone at the hotel for nearly four weeks now. She was eighteen years old.

This morning, she was running in the Playa Grande gym. She wore custom sea-green shoes with navy laces. She ran without music. She had been doing intervals for nearly an hour when a woman stepped onto the treadmill next to her.

This woman was younger than thirty. Her black hair was in a tight ponytail, slicked with hair spray. She had big arms and a solid torso, light brown skin, and a dusting of powdery blush on her cheeks. Her shoes were down at the heels and spattered with old mud.

No one else was in the gym.

Jule slowed to a walk, figuring to leave in a minute. She liked privacy, and she was pretty much done, anyway.

You training? the woman asked. She gestured at Jules digital readout. Like, for a marathon or something? The accent was Mexican American. She was probably a New Yorker raised in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood.

I ran track in secondary school. Thats all. Jules own speech was clipped, what the British call BBC English.

The woman gave her a penetrating look. I like your accent, she said. Where you from?

London. St. Johns Wood.

New York. The woman pointed to herself.

Jule stepped off the treadmill to stretch her quads.

Im here alone, the woman confided after a moment. Got in last night. I booked this hotel at the last minute. You been here long?

Its never long enough, said Jule, at a place like this. So what do you recommend? At the Playa Grande? Jule didnt often talk to other hotel guests, but she saw no harm in answering. Go on the snorkel tour, she said. I saw a bloody huge moray eel.

No kidding. An eel?

The guide tempted it with fish guts he had in a plastic milk jug. The eel swam out from the rocks. She must have been eight feet long. Bright green.

The woman shivered. I dont like eels.

You could skip it. If you scare easy.

The woman laughed. Hows the food? I didnt eat yet.

Get the chocolate cake.

For breakfast?

Oh, yeah. Theyll bring it to you special, if you ask.

Good to know. You traveling alone?

Listen, Im gonna jet, said Jule, feeling the conversation had turned personal. Cheerio. She headed for the door.

My dads crazy sick, the woman said, talking to Jules back. Ive been looking after him for a long time. A stab of sympathy. Jule stopped and turned.

Every morning and every night after work, Im with him, the woman went on. Now hes finally stable, and I wanted to get away so badly I didnt think about the price tag. Im blowing a lot of cash here I shouldnt blow.

Whats your father got?

MS, said the woman. Multiple sclerosis? And dementia. He used to be the head of our family. Very macho. Strong in all his opinions. Now hes a twisted body in a bed. He doesnt even know where he is half the time. Hes, like, asking me if Im the waitress.

Damn.

Im scared Im gonna lose him and I hate being with him, both at the same time. And when hes dead and Im an orphan, I know Im going to be sorry I took this trip away from him, dyou know? The woman stopped running and put her feet on either side of the treadmill. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Sorry. Too much information.

Sokay.

You go on. Go shower or whatever. Maybe Ill see you around later.

The woman pushed up the arms of her long-sleeved shirt and turned to the digital readout of her treadmill. A scar wound down her right forearm, jagged, like from a knife, not clean like from an operation. There was a story there.

Listen, do you like to play trivia? Jule asked, against her better judgment.

A smile. White but crooked teeth. Im excellent at trivia, actually.

They run it every other night in the lounge downstairs, said Jule. Its pretty much rubbish. You wanna go?

What kind of rubbish?

Good rubbish. Silly and loud.

Okay. Yeah, all right.

Good, said Jule. Well kill it. Youll be glad you took a vacation. Im strong on superheroes, spy movies, YouTubers, fitness, money, makeup, and Victorian writers. What about you?

Victorian writers? Like Dickens?

Yeah, whatever. Jule felt her face flush. It suddenly seemed an odd set of things to be interested in.

I love Dickens.

Get out.

I do. The woman smiled again. Im good on Dickens, cooking, current events, politics… lets see, oh, and cats.

All right, then, said Jule. It starts at eight oclock in that lounge off the main lobby. The bar with sofas.

Eight oclock. Youre on. The woman walked over and extended her hand. Whats your name again? Im Noa.

Jule shook it. I didnt tell you my name, she said. But its Imogen.

Jule West Williams was nice-enough-looking. She hardly ever got labeled ugly, nor was she commonly labeled hot. She was short, only five foot one, and carried herself with an up-tilted chin. Her hair was in a gamine cut, streaked blond in a salon and currently showing dark roots. Green eyes, white skin, light freckles. In most of her clothes, you couldnt see the strength of her frame. Jule had muscles that puffed off her bones in powerful arcslike shed been drawn by a comic book artist, especially in the legs. There was a hard panel of abdominal muscle under a layer of fat in her midsection. She liked to eat meat and salt and chocolate and grease.

Jule believed that the more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.

She believed that the best way to avoid having your heart broken was to pretend you dont have one.

She believed that the way you speak is often more important than anything you have to say.

She also believed in action movies, weight training, the power of makeup, memorization, equal rights, and the idea that YouTube videos can teach you a million things you wont learn in college.

If she trusted you, Jule would tell you she went to Stanford for a year on a track-and-field scholarship. I got recruited, she explained to people she liked. Stanford is Division One. The school gave me money for tuition, books, all that.

What happened?

Jule might shrug. I wanted to study Victorian literature and sociology, but the head coach was a perv, shed say. Touching all the girls. When he got around to me, I kicked him where it counts and told everybody who would listen. Professors, students, the Stanford Daily. I shouted it to the top of the stupid ivory tower, but you know what happens to athletes who tell tales on their coaches.

Excerpt copyright 2017 by E. Lockhart. Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Childrens Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

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