Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hey Ma! I'm in People Magazine!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


from Listening Library

Read by Karissa Vacker

WInner of Audiofile magazine's Earphones Award!

"The skills of author and narrator make a seamless transition into magical realism."


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A week from now, this shit is official.

The other day I was searching for something specific over here on the blog. It was just a picture. But when I searched I saw posts from way back wherein I used to be funny. (Usually about hotel promotions involving naked ladies or weirdoes who contact me on Facebook.) I'm still funny in real life, but blogging isn't fitting into my real life like it used to.

So here's something funny. 

About six months after explaining the different ways same-sex couples can have children,
the kid brought me this masterpiece. Yes, those are individual sperm cells in what appear to be
clear beakers. I love the bank feel of the whole thing.

In a week, Still Life with Tornado will be out in the world. 

I will be in Arkansas on release day talking with students and the public about all of my books and probably something about a suitcase and succotash. It's good to stay busy on launch day because nothing really happens on launch day in my experience. Somewhere around that day an essay I just wrote for Bustle will be published. That essay nearly ripped my heart out because it was personal. The longer I do this job, the more I wish I wasn't so personal when I write books. I wish I was writing about completely fictional things, which I am, but I'm not, really. People who know me and read my books know the parts that might be real. Although some other people who know me think that the completely fictional things are real and the real things are fictional. You can't help this as a writer. I think it happens to all of us. 

Anyway, when I wrote that piece I wondered who would laugh at the sad experience I shared within. I still wonder. I know at least one person will laugh--and that's not me being paranoid. It's me being real. People laugh at other people's pain all the time. I don't know. I guess I wonder how messed up it is to be one of those people. 

This whole line of thinking relates well to Still Life with Tornado because it does. In a bunch of ways. But since I'm here and talking about it, I'd still like to know who stole my damn senior year art project and stuffed it in my art teacher's patina crockpot two shelves up, behind her desk. While it may have seemed funny at the time, I have a feeling now, 30 years later, whoever crumbled it up and hid it might wonder if they were wrong to do that. Or maybe not. Maybe mean people stay mean and people like me wonder about them 30 years later. Who knows, right? 

Random Sightings

Enough with the deep thoughts. 
Here are some random sightings of Tornado around the place this week...

STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO is one of Apple's FIVE best YA books of October!

"With its unforgettable narrator and its unexpected mix of surrealism, comedy, and tragedy, A.S. King's Still Life with Tornado knocked our socks off. King is known for tackling dark subject matter in her YA bestsellers, and she has serious cred with high school–age readers. But adults will love this book, too, for its wit, intelligence, and dead-on insights on family dynamics and the thrilling, grueling process of growing up."

And a fifth star!

So now I have to go and pack. I'm doing it in a small gate-checkable suitcase, y'all. Unless I'm heading to, like, Australia, I'm not checking baggage ever again. 

Oh yeah. 


I'm Voting. And I want you to vote too. 

Right. Packing. I should do that now.
Arkansas, Wichita & St. Paul, I'm coming your way first! I'll be the one in the wrinkled clothing and probably sandals.


If ever you worried about me getting locked in the trunk of my car--and who hasn't worried about that?--you now know I'm totally safe. (It's glow in the dark! Except how does it recharge it in order to be glow in the dark? This part confuses me. Only one way to find out, I guess.)

A photo posted by A.S. King (@as_king_) on

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Inside my tornado there are tacos and faith

A quick post to say hello (Hello.) and to say hey wow, STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO got its fourth starred review yesterday and I'm kinda tripping about it. I used to eat tacos every time I got a star but last night I opted for fresh corn on the cob here in Amish country. Two ears. It was delicious.

I want to talk about my editor, Andrew Karre. He's a wonderful man and a genius editor. If you're reading this and are still unpublished and you're feeling like it will never happen and you're starting to buy into those conspiracy theories like, "Agents don't want unpublished have to know someone in NYC to get published...the only people getting published are X,Y,& Z types of one wants to publish me because I am _________..." let me tell you: I've been there.

From the age of 24 to the age of 40 I wrote novels and didn't get published.
I collected 400+ paper rejection letters. I have no idea how many if we count email once they started using that in publishing.
I wrote 8 novels in that time. If you've read my blog before, you know that those novels were not good enough and I'm okay with that now. But back then? I started to believe the theories. I should be writing different books--not weird books. I should be a man. I should be an older man with NYC connections. I should be someone else. I will never get published if I keep writing what I'm writing.

I once wrote the meanest and most horrible and insane query letter to a random agent. I went off on some tangent about these theories. I blamed him for the state of my non-existent career. I felt the same way I feel now when they make remakes of old movies--WHY REMAKE SOMETHING? THERE ARE NEW ORIGINAL SCRIPTS OUT THERE! In short, I felt like this: WHAT ABOUT MEEEEEEE?

I never heard back from the agent and I'm glad I didn't. God, I was such an asshole in that letter.
Hitting bottom during 15 years of writing and trying happened more than once (still happens, really) but that time I really went too far.
We all do sometimes.
And I hope that agent's assistant deleted my letter immediately and never thought of it again and it isn't printed and hanging on some NYC bathroom wall of desperate-writer shame.

It feels personal, rejection. It feels really personal after 8 books and 15 years. It feels personal when 400+ paper rejection letters are taking up space in your filing cabinet. It feels personal when you see all the books being published and ask that awful question: But why not me? It feels personal when you look inside and make up answers to that question. There can be a lot of crying and destructive thinking and a lot of outward-aimed blame during this time. But eventually, after each blow, I took that personal question and made it into new books. Weird books. Because I write like I write and I can't do much about it.

And then Andrew Karre liked one of my weird books. And he published it. And now I am here, in my office, writing this post instead of writing my next book for him because I'm a little bit burned out at the moment after eight years of writing nonstop in a frenzy of If I stop, I will lose everything I've worked for.

Every time I think about Andrew, and I don't think he knows this, I think about how he saved my life. Not in that way, no. But in the way where someone (me) is meant to do something (write books) for some reason the universe decided and that person does that thing and 15 years go by and the person is starting to lose faith in a serious way and then, BAM! the person's faith is restored. Andrew Karre didn't know I started writing novels at age 24 and had been writing them for 15 years. He didn't know I'd been through any of this. He just liked my book and allowed me the chance of writing and selling another book. He had no idea he was restoring my faith in the universe.


In the last two weeks, I have heard "I'd love to write a book about X, Y, Z, but I don't have time" about nine times. I'm not sure why this is happening in the last fortnight--I've heard it many times before but this is excessive. I even just read it in an article yesterday. Someone saying they'd really like to write a book, but "I don't have the time."

This is the best way to avoid rejection.

It's the best way to avoid haters, bad reviews, and angry letters from readers.

It's the best way to avoid years of asking yourself why not me? 

It's the best way to avoid the whole mess of traditional publishing. (Define that in your own way.)

I used to get really agitated when people said this to me. I still have two other jobs, two growing kids, a lot to do, and I certainly don't have a lot of free time. But the universe wanted me to write books, so I wrote books even when I didn't have time and didn't have money and didn't have faith in the universe's plan for me.

I'm glad I did. Rejections, haters, bad reviews, angry letters, the mess of publishing, and the why not me? have somehow helped me become crazy enough to keep doing this.

And every time I get an email from Andrew Karre, or see a Facebook post like the one above, there's a little sound that goes off in my head and I'm reminded that the universe has a plan for me if I just have faith. PING! That's the sound. PING!

If you're reading this and you're a writer and you want to be a published writer but you haven't quite gotten there yet, hear my PING! Go write more books. Find the time. It's okay that you hit bottom sometimes. When you get there, look for the graffiti I left on the wall the last time I was there.

It says: PING!

A photo posted by A.S. King (@as_king_) on

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fall 2016 Tour Info

I told you I'd be back. I'm not usually very good with that, so I bet you're surprised. 

I promised you a picture of my basement, which is a pretty weird thing to promise people, but I'm going for it. This is a before and after kind of thing. And it's already old because we now have things down there to sit on and stuff, but hey, you get what you get. 

I can't seem to find a good before picture without the first of the panels up, but this is good enough.
And the after picture is while we were painting the floor.
Also, before I got the sockets wired.
It's now the Ping Pong/music room heaven we dreamed of.
With a washing machine.
Phase two starts in spring. 

I'm really only here to give you some dates. I'm hitting some awesome places I've never been before and I can't wait. 

Come say hello if I'm in your town. 


Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center
522 W. Maple St.
Allentown, PA
September 28, 2016

Be one of the first to get your hands on this book and join us for food and fun!

Aaron's Books
Lititz, PA
Sunday, October 9th


Note: The party is getting very close to full already. Once we're at capacity, there will be an overflow list in case someone can't make it. If you haven't reserved a spot yet and pre-ordered, do it now.

Can't make it but want to pre-order a signed book?
Order before Oct 7th and get a 15% Discount!


Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library
Jonesboro, Arkansas
Round Room
Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016


Friday Keynote Speaker
Drury Plaza Hotel
Wichita, Kansas
 October 14-15, 2016


Twin Cities Book Festival
Minnesota State Fairgrounds
St. Paul, MN
Saturday, October 15, 2016


*** Clinton Book Shop ***
Come see me at one of my favorite independent bookstores!
Clinton, New Jersey
Friday, October 21, 2016


*** Children's Book World ***
Come see me at one of my favorite independent bookstores!
Haverford, PA
Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Central Library
400 Civic Center, Tulsa OK 74103
Thursday, October 27th


Texas Book Festival
Austin, TX
November 5-6, 2016
More details TBA


November 12, 2016-ish
More details to come


The ALAN Workshop
Monday Keynote Speaker
Atlanta, Georgia
November 20-22, 2016


Spring 2017 dates to come...
If you're in Portland, Oregon save May 2nd!
And I'll be back in Rochester for the festival again in 2017...May 20th! 

I'll leave you with this promised vague mention of a book for younger readers. 

Here is a lovely cover. 

Coming Jan 31, 2017

Monday, August 15, 2016

Let's catch up.

Before I forget, tomorrow, August 16, is release day for the paperback of I CRAWL THROUGH IT.

I once wrote a post here called "We make paper boats; We cannot control the wind." The post was about how this book came to be. How I quit. How it didn't let me quit. Something like that.

At the end of the post I talked about how we make paper boats, but we can't control the wind. I knew I CRAWL THROUGH IT would be way out of some readers' comfort zones. I'm kinda used to making people uncomfortable. I CRAWL THROUGH IT is a surrealist novel. It's not for everyone. And yet, the letters and comments I get about it from teens and from adults alike are always tear-filled and urgent--the same way the book came to me. 

Paperback of I CRAWL THROUGH IT. Grab one for yourself or for anyone who might enjoy weird, thoughtful things. 

"This novel is an ambitious, haunting work of art."
--SLJ (starred review)


I have a lot of news because it's been months since I've been here. But I don't think you want me to bore you with most of my news. (No, I didn't get the deck done; yes, I got the tree in front of my house down but haven't replaced it yet and it now looks like a meteor hit; yes, I planted the front flowerbed; yes, we got the basement job finished and it looks awesome! (I'll post a picture next time if you want.) I am still the ping pong champ in my house. And I got a new fuel pump for my car...etc.) What really matters is: new book release on October 11th, tour info, and vague mention of another book coming in January for younger readers. 

But first: Want to come party with me? Want to get your hands on Still Life with Tornado two days before it officially comes out? Aaron's Books has room for 55 people and I'd love for you to be one of them. 


Aaron's Books, 35 E. Main Street, Lititz, PA 17543. 
Sunday, October 9th, 2016

RSVP is required. Do it here. 

If you can't make the party, PRE-ORDER your SIGNED copy HERE and Aaron's Books will send it to you! Pre-order before October 6th and you get a 15% discount. 


Still Life with Tornado is getting some killer trade reviews, including three starred reviews. 
(That's three more reasons to eat tacos.)

★"Lack of original ideas is not something found in work by A.S. King, who blurs reality, truth, violence, emotion, creativity, and art in a show of respect for YA readers."--Horn Book Magazine

★"One of the things that sets Sarah’s existential crisis in motion is her art teacher’s comment that there is no such thing as an original idea; clearly, Miss Smith has never read one of King’s novels. The presentation of the surreal as real, the deeply thoughtful questions she poses, the way she empowers her teenage characters to change the trajectory of their lives—King writes with the confidence of a tightrope walker working without a net."--PW

★"A deeply moving, frank, and compassionate exploration of trauma and resilience, filled to the brim with incisive, grounded wisdom."--Booklist Magazine

"King understands and writes teen anxieties like no other, resulting in difficult, resonant, compelling characters and stories." --Kirkus Reviews

I don't want to bog you down with too much in one post. So I will post tour dates later this week. 

I'll also save the vague book news for later, too. 

Back soon. Promise. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Adorable Kitten Picture #2

For you.

Yes, that's a new kitten. He was hiding under a bush a month ago, about 4 weeks old. We decided he needed a home.

Also, I promise a real blog post soon. It's been a while.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


I have a new book coming in October, 2016.
We've been kinda quiet about it.
We're sneaky.

So today the generous Karen Jensen revealed the cover for the book over on her SLJ blog. 
It included an interview, which is why you should click on that link even though I'm posting the cover art below. It's a good interview.

The gist of the book:

A heartbreaking story of a talented teenage artist’s surreal awakening to the horrifically unoriginal brokenness of her family from critically acclaimed award-winner A.S. King. 

Sarah can’t draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has “done the art.” She thinks she’s having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she explores the urban ruins of Philadelphia. Or maybe she’s finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can’t quite recall. After decades of staying together “for the kids” and building a family on a foundation of lies and violence, Sarah’s parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage. As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original —and yet it still hurts. Insightful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, this is a vivid portrait of everyday abuse and survival that will linger with readers long after the last page.

Isn't it awesome?
More on this book as we move forward.
For release date and all that stuff, go check out Karen's blog. 

More on other stuff soon, too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Adorable kitten picture.

For you.

Heading to Phoenix for a few days. 
Come see me at Changing Hands Phoenix location on Saturday 2/20 at 5pm! 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Major Tom; Throwback Thursday; Seventh Grade

Mr. King sent a text early Monday morning. It said, "Sorry to give you bad news first thing, love, but I wanted to be the one who told you. David Bowie died. I know this is devastating for you." It was. Devastating.

The usual morning routine was full of random tears, making lunches, making a cup of tea, getting the kids in the car. I put on "Oh! You Pretty Things" and drove them to school. Fitting. My older one cried at the first chord of the next track on my Bowie playlist, "Life on Mars?" and asked me to turn it off. My younger one wanted to hear "Oh! You Pretty Things" again, so I put it on again. The rest of the day was a tribute to the man. Music all day. Things I know he would have loved to listen to. Mingus, especially. Mingus is twisted and delicious.

I have musical kids. The first time I showed them this live version of "Oh! You Pretty Things" my youngest said, "Look at his teeth!" She said he looked weird. She was puzzled about how a man like that could be a musical superstar based on what she knows now about what musical superstars look like in the 21st century. She was five. Five-year-olds are as honest as rain. They can't avoid it. I said, "Does it matter what his teeth look like?" She said, "No. But what does this song even mean?"

Touché, Bowie. This is exactly what you wanted, isn't it?
You wanted listeners to ask questions.
Maybe that's why you were so important to me.
You made me think and interpret and guess and risk being wrong about all of it, and yet you made sure I was never wrong because you left your lyrics open to interpretation. As of Monday, there isn't a person on Earth who knows what David Bowie meant in all of his music. The only man who really knew is gone.

The day before Bowie's death, The New Yorker published this article about his recent album. It's entitled "The Beautiful Meaninglessness of David Bowie" and while the title sounds all wrong, the article is a fantastic exploration of Bowie's use of surrealist thought to navigate big questions.

"From the beginning, Bowie showed an interest in exploring the fragmentation of identity and meaning." 
"It was rare for Bowie to embrace clear meaning. The title of one of his most plainspoken songs, “‘Heroes,’” is suspended in a second set of quotation marks, largely to disrupt any straightforward interpretation." 
"...his songs should be about nothing, which in turn allows them to be about everything." 
"Rock and roll started as a form of enchantment and has become, in large part, another symptom of the banality of our acquisitive society. By persisting in deliberately rejecting reason, Bowie reminds us that there are plenty of reasons to do so."

These quotes, along with the many tributes to Bowie this week that recall every persona he invented and lived have changed me in some way. That last quote--about rejecting reason--really hit me in the brain.

I was the girl who took shop class in seventh grade. Short hair. Weird shoes (we called them my "Bowie Shoes" in my house.) When it was time to learn how to silkscreen in seventh grade shop, I made a screen in big letters. DAVID BOWIE. I used bright orange ink. I wore the shirt until it fell to pieces.

Seventh grade. Twelve. Weirdo. Smart. Not interested in school anymore. Interested in good music. Didn't own a Walkman yet. Still listened to cassette tapes on a Panasonic tape recorder with mono sound. The first time I heard "Oh! You Pretty Things" was on that Panasonic.

Seventh grade. The one school picture I was ashamed to see or show anyone, ever. Ever, ever, ever. Mr. King didn't see this picture until last night and I've known him nearly 30 years. What is it about this girl that had me so ashamed? Awkward. Different. Weird. Made-people-uncomfortable.

And yet when I got the news of Bowie's death, the first image that popped into my mind was the seventh grade school picture.

Why had I been ashamed of it all this time? The Bowie-inspired haircut? The weird sweater I bought at Boscov's which had a matching pair of leg warmers? The blanch of my skin? My long neck? Thirty-four years have passed since I was this girl and I'm finally proud of her for being a seventh-grade risk-taker. Here she is. Amy, age 12. Bowie fan for years. Shop class attendee--one girl among all boys. Early smoker. Music lover. Oddly gender non-conforming. Asker of big questions.

"Oh! You Pretty Things" was the main inspiration for my most recent novel, I Crawl Through It.

If you've read the book and know the song, then you probably understand why. Then again, both the book and the song are open to interpretation, which is how I like things to be. Not everyone understood Bowie for this and not everyone understands me for this, either. I get letters from readers asking for concrete, easy, linear explanations of my books. They want me to answer their questions.
I never do. I thank them for reading and writing to me, but I think personal questions that arise from experiencing art are none of my business.

David Bowie wasn't available to me to ask, "Hey Dave, what was 'Space Oddity' all about, anyway?"
But then, I never needed him to be.
His songs made sense to me in my own way. That's what art is.
I liked the way he risked everything and came out winning. I'm sure not every day of his life was grand and I know he got shit for being who he was sometimes, but that's the risk of taking risks.

I Crawl Through It is about everything and nothing. It's about Mozart and Hawkeye Pierce. Risk-takers. It's about four seniors living in abstract reality, being risk-takers. How many different types of risk-takers are there? Would you take off in a helicopter you couldn't see? I would.

I took time this week to figure out why I took risks like that seventh-grade haircut. Why did I take the risk of being the only girl in seventh grade shop class? Why did I take the risk of being a writer? Why have I used my (eventual) ability to publish books to publish weird, uncomfortable, risk-taking books?

The answer is clear today.
To me, the only way to live is on this edge. The only way to live is to enjoy being myself, even if it makes people uncomfortable.
Comfort is a state of mind.
My mind is loose and I like it that way.
Mingus. Delicious.
Mark Rothko and Grace Hartigan.
Abstract. Expressionism.
You can't hear the notes if you're too uptight about the meaning.

There are ways to mimic the minor chords in Bowie's "Changes" with words. No sound, just words, then tears. This is my life's work.

I'm not sure if this post makes sense to anyone but me, and that's a risk I'm willing to take.
I don't usually talk about popular news or culture.
But Bowie was my first love. He was my first intellectual crush. He made me less afraid of everything.
And this week, he made me less afraid of a twelve-year-old kid who used to be me-- less afraid of myself.

This is the power of meaninglessness.