You might know Jessica Spotswood from her historical fantasy trilogy, the Cahill Witch Chronicles, or you might know her as the editor of the upcoming anthology, A Tyranny of Petticoats. One thing’s for sure—Spotswood is no stranger to bringing heroines with heart, history, power, and personality to YA, and next year, she’s doing it with her first contemporary, Wild Swans. Here to tell you more about it, and to show off its beautiful cover, is author Jessica Spotswood.
Every new book is a new chance to connect with readers—and a new challenge for me as a writer.
After writing the Cahill Witch Chronicles, a historical fantasy trilogy, I wanted to try my hand at something different. I started with the setting: a college town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, which is much like the one where I went to school. The town is small enough for small-town gossip, but big enough to produce a family of sharp-tongued girls with big dreams. There’s an old white farmhouse with the Chesapeake Bay in its backyard and a library full of poems and old journals and paintings of hurricane weather.
Everyone in Cecil knows about the Milbourn girls. For generations they’ve been famous artists—brilliant painters, poets, and singers—but if you believe local gossip, they’re also cursed. They’ve all died young, by murder or suicide.
Seventeen-year-old Ivy Milbourn is desperate to live up to her family’s legacy without being anything like the mother who abandoned her as a baby. When her mother returns home—with two daughters Ivy’s never met—Ivy’s world is shattered. And there’s also Connor Clarke, her granddad’s best student, an ambitious, tattooed poet. Ivy can’t help wanting him even as she’s jealous of his talent.
Ivy struggles to define herself in relation to her family. She worries about disappointing everyone, not meeting her granddad’s high expectations, accidentally repeating her mother’s mistakes. She’s dealing with changing friendships and falling in love for the first time while trying not to lose herself. Her dreams are so big; she doesn’t feel like she’s enough. I think readers can identify with that. I know I certainly can.
I had no idea what to expect from the cover. Wild Swans is in some ways a summer romance, but it’s also about a girl haunted by her family’s history. When I saw the cover Sourcebooks came up with, I was so happy I actually cried. They nailed the feeling of the book. The water, the sand, the light—it’s summery, right? But the girl alone by the water looks thoughtful. A little lonely maybe, faced with the sea that stretches out to the horizon and the big open sky above her. And the driftwood—it’s a little creepy. A little foreboding. A reminder of that hurricane weather lurking. I love that.
Wild Swans releases May 1, 2016, and is available for pre-order now.