15 Authors to Watch in 2015
Last year more than ever, it seemed that young adult authors were celebrated and recognized to the point of nearly being celebrities. The path that J. K. Rowling paved as arguably one of the biggest celebrity YA icons of the century has since been sustained by writers like Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins — not to mention YouTube sensation Zoella, who broke Rowling’s sales record with her debut novel, ‘Girl Online.’
It doesn’t just take a film deal to make you famous, though. A strong social media presence has really brought YA authors to their main demographic as well. For instance, John Green has over 3.5 million Twitter followers. To put that in perspective, Iggy Azalea currently has 3.77 million, Mindy Kaling has 3.55 million and Ansel Elgort, the star of Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ big screen adaptation, has 2.45 million.
But what it all comes down to is a great book. All of the aforementioned writers have written at least one, and that is where a breakout author is born.
Check out who we think could be some of the breakout YA authors of 2015 below!
Not only is Keplinger the author of ‘The Duff,’ a novel that’s finally getting some big screen treatment this year (out on Feb. 20 and starring Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell and Bella Thorne), but she wrote ‘The Duff’ when she was in high school, and it was published by the time she was 19 years old. Talk about impressive.
Since then, she’s written three other YA novels and one middle school level book. She recently announced her upcoming book ‘Lying Out Loud,’ a companion novel taking place in the same world as all her previous YA novels, which will be out in April 2015.
With three YA novels to his career so far, Portman has taken it up a notch. His two more popular novels, ‘King Dork’ and ‘King Dork Approximately,’ have garnered attention everywhere from Entertainment Weekly to the John Green blurb on the front cover. Although it took eight years to get the ‘Approximately’ sequel, which came out on Dec. 10, there’s no doubt that it was well worth the wait. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another eight years to get the next one!
Side note: Portman is also the lead singer (known as Dr. Frank) of rock band The Mr. T Experience, which definitely helps with understanding the strong use of music in the ‘King Dork’ series.
Becky Albertalli’s debut novel, ‘Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda,’ will be available in April, but we already can’t wait to see what she’s cooked up. The book focuses on the openly-gay Simon, who has an email relationship with Blue and is being blackmailed after someone discovers the relationship and Blue’s hidden sexuality. The novel has already been raved about around the Internet — like this review on The Perpetual Page-Turner) — even though it doesn’t come out until April. We’re anticipating a big debut for this newbie.
I. W. Gregorio
I. W. Gregorio isn’t just a YA author. She’s also a surgeon and one of the founding members of the We Need Diverse Books campaign (and possibly Superwoman?). In addition to being a founding member, Gregorio is taking strides toward giving the world of YA more diversity with her debut novel, ‘None of the Above,’ about an intersex teenager which comes out in April. The book also made our 15 Most Anticipated Books of 2015 list.
Another new author, Virginia Boecker, will be bringing ‘The Witch Hunter’ into the world this year (June 2, to be exact). Her novel follows Elizabeth, the best of the best when it comes to hunting witches, who is accused of and tried for being exactly what she hates. It takes a brave YA author to take on the subject of witchcraft, and Boecker is doing it in both an interesting and different way. Let’s hope it works well for this bright new writer.
Nova Ren Suma
Nova Ren Suma has been the author of quite a few successful YA novels (Check out ’17 & Gone’ and ‘Imaginary Girls’), but the upcoming ‘The Walls Around Us,’ which will be out in March, is her most exciting yet. It weaves in and out of the voices of both successful dancer Violet and Amber, a girl locked away in juvie. Through their stories we learn of Orianna, the mysterious third tying everyone together.
With its macabre storyline, how could it not leave you hooked? I’m expecting big things.
Marcus Sedgwick is probably the most already well-known author on this list, having written ‘Midwinterblood,’ ‘Revolver,’ ‘The Book of Dead Days’ series and many others.
However, his upcoming book ‘The Ghosts of Heaven’ is going to blow all those out of the water. It’s already known that Sedgwick is creative and fantastical in his stories, but his upcoming novel, reminiscent of the 2012 film ‘Cloud Atlas,’ might be the one to really put his name on the map with a beautiful melding of historical and science fiction wrapped in a plot that I can’t wait to get my hands on.
Jennifer Niven has written a slew of successful adult fiction novels, including the Velva Jean series, but ‘All the Bright Places’ (which came out on Jan. 6) is her first young adult novel, and she does not disappoint.
Violet and Finch’s story is wonderful and evokes some of the most popular YA from the past year (‘Eleanor & Park,’ anyone?). Niven shows her literary prowess by taking on young adult fiction in a strong way.
Melissa Grey’s debut novel, ‘The Girl at Midnight,’ coming out in April, is already getting people excited. Similar to Cassandra Clare’s popular ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series, ‘The Girl at Midnight’ finds Echo caught in an ancient war shrouded in a mystery she doesn’t understand. Sign me up! Even though the sixth book in ‘The Mortal Instruments’ just came out last year, I’m so ready for a new series like this.
And,Grey’s already building up her Twitter following, which can’t hurt when you’re trying to reach John Green-level of Godliness.
Seth Rudetsky is a satellite radio host, musician, actor and writer. You may have heard him hosting the Sirius program ‘Seth Speaks,’ where he talks about everything and anything Broadway.
He’s written more than a few books about his theater obsession, but his latest book, ‘The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek,’ is out this year as a follow-up to his first YA novel, ‘My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan.’ If you’re looking forward to David Levithan’s upcoming ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ spinoff, ‘Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story,’ then Rudetsky’s books are a perfect fit.
Another debut author has stricken. Maggie Hall’s ‘The Conspiracy of Us’ comes out on Jan. 13 and is a romantic thriller complete with an adventurous romp around Europe. Though it is described as a YA ‘Da Vinci Code,’ it also seems to have a streak of ‘Gossip Girl’ thrown in amongst the explosions and secret societies.
Here’s to hoping it lives up to what it seems to be. It would be a great summer read.
Jenn Marie Thorne
Watch out, YA, you’re about to get another huge political thriller with Jenn Marie Thorne’s debut, ‘The Wrong Side of Right,’ that’ll have you lusting for Meg Cabot’s ‘All-American Girl’ — or perhaps even ‘The Princess Diaries.’ It seems to be a bit of a combo, really. And isn’t that a great thing?
There hasn’t been something in this vein of writing with as much promise as Thorne’s upcoming release in a long time.
Francesca Zappia’s upcoming novel ‘Made You Up’ explores schizophrenia and mental illness with the character Alex, a teen who can’t tell what’s real and what’s delusion. (If you didn’t just imagine Peeta saying ‘Real or not real?’ from ‘The Hunger Games’ series, you probably have no business with this list at all).
Do you like unreliable narrators like the one behind E. Lockhart’s smash hit ‘We Were Liars’? Do you appreciate when YA delves into mental illness in a wonderful and understanding way? Then Zappia has written the book for you.
Brandon Sanderson has written a lot of books, and I mean a lot (‘Words of Radiance,’ and he’s the co-author of ‘The Wheel of Time’ series). This year, his sequel to the bestseller ‘Steelheart,’ titled ‘Firefight,’ was released. The first book gained a huge following in the realm of fantasy, and ‘Firefight’ should help increase Sanderson’s fanbase even more.
The books are a dystopian epic for lovers of Pierce Brown’s ‘Red Rising’ series.
Michelle Falkoff’s upcoming ‘Playlist for the Dead’ is a modern spin of Jay Asher’s ‘Thirteen Reasons Why,’ using a playlist with MP3s as opposed to the cassette tapes of Asher’s heartbreaking tale.
Falkoff also has a bit of Rainbow Rowell’s love of music, as Falkoff made an actual playlist in her novel, similar to what Rowell does when she writes novels.