Hugo Award eligibility + pins

Just a quick note to say that The Last Beginning and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe are both eligible for nomination in the Hugo awards this year, as they were published for the first time in the US in 2018.

If you’re coming to the Dublin WorldCon in August, you’re eligible to vote, and I would appreciate your nomination! You can choose them in the Best Novel or Best Young Adult novel category. I also believe that I’m eligible for the John Campbell Award as The Next Together was published for the first time in the US in 2017.

Also, the pin I posted about yesterday arrived! Check it out:

You can get the robot one here, the rocket one here, and the set of two here.

I like my pins to mean something, and not just be a reference to my books, because if I am going to wear something I want it to be worth the lapel space. So the rocket pin I made for The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was also a shout out to fandom. This time, as well as being the old lichen-covered robot Mitch from The Quiet at the End of the World, this pin represents our generation, who’ve grown up as the first people online. Hopefully even if you’ve not read my books you can get behind the message of being digitally-minded like Mitch here.

Writing group & book shimmy award

From 23rd March I am going to be running a monthly Writers HQ writing retreat group in Coventry at Holy Trinity Church near the cathedral. You can find out more here and buy tickets (which are very limited).

The group doesn’t involve any teaching, just all of us writing together for a day, with food and drinks and snacks. I’m really excited about this because I’ve been building up my local writing connections this year by doing work with Writing West Midlands and Coventry University too. I’m hoping to do even more in 2019!

Also, a few things:

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If you pre-order The Quiet at the End of the World (thank you!) you can enter to win a set of swag including a lil robot pin, the bookmark I posted yesterday and some art prints. You have until March.

You can preorder a signed copy on my Etsy (comes with a free themed bookmark and postcard of my books) or get one from any of the following:

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles | Wordery | eBook providers

In the category of OTHER WAYS YOU CAN GET AN ENAMEL PIN: this designer is launching ones for my books which you can buy here. I’m not involved in these, except that I LOVE them.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe has won the Under the Radar category in the Epic Reads book shimmy awards! Thank you to everyone who voted!

It’s having a run of good luck with the STEAM awards nomination too, hurray!

This month’s baking newsletter features The Best Cookies in the World.

And lastly, I bought a house!!

My favourite books of 2018

Merry christmas, everyone! I look forward to making this post every year, because I never get bored of shouting about my favourite books. I read 247 books this year, so obviously I have a lot of opinions about my favourites. These are all 2018 releases, with a few at the end which I adored but were published before 2018, that I needed to included.

Finally, a reminder from an author – if you’re making your own list of favourite books of 2018, please make sure you thank the author by adding your reviews to Amazon. It’s a small, quick thing that can make a huge difference to authors.

2017 favourites | 2016 favourites | 2015 favourites | 2014 favourites


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A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland (Goodreads/Amazon)

An old man is trapped in prison, accused of witchcraft. An old man who has spent his life learning how to tell stories, and manipulate perceptions. An old man who will do anything to get free. An old man, who single-handedley manages to take down an entire government from a prison cell…..

32802595Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (Goodreads/Amazon)

Becky Chambers is such a reliable author, and her books never fail to make my heart brim with love for humans and her wonderful visions of aliens. Her books always offer such unique and optimistic looks on difficult issues like gender, social equality, racism and hope. I wouldn’t mind living in her future, which isn’t something I say often about science fiction.

39300354 (1)Death in the Spotlight (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries #7) by Robin Stevens (Goodreads/Amazon)

My favourite detectives had their best adventure yet. Robin writes the most diverse, authentic, wonderfully researched historical fiction. It’s full of BAME and LGBT characters of all ages.

 

 

 

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I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell (Goodreads/Amazon)

I kind of wish I hadn’t read this because it was the most stressful book I’ve ever read. I want to simultaneously never leave my house again and do as many things as possible while I can because LIFE IS FRAGILE.

 

32993458Circe by Madeline Miller (Goodreads/Amazon)

This far exceeded my expectations, which were already far too high. I have no background in Greek mythology, and The Song of Achilles blew me away because it somehow made these complicated myths feel real, even with all the gods and nymphs running around. That book was a lot easier to root for, because it revolved around the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. This time around, there is not only a far bigger and more complicated cast, but there’s no central relationship to hook you into the story. Despite that, Miller has somehow managed to create a book that you are completely invested in, feels totally real and believable, and contains characters who jump of the page.

33160963The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Goodreads/Amazon)

One for fans of the You Must Remember This Podcast – old Hollywood royalty, publicity manoeuvring & more scandals than you can wave an Oscar at.

 

 

 

24100285Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente (Goodreads/Amazon)

This is described as ‘Eurovision in space’, which is EXACTLY what this is. A loving ode to Douglas Adams, updated for the 21st century, this is funny and imaginative and colourful. The alien performances were truly excellent.

34506912 (1)The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (Goodreads/Amazon)

The graphic novel about a prince that hires a dressmaker to make him dresses to wear is SO DAMN CUTE. It was so uplifting and positive and really cute.

 

 

 

33080122 (1).jpgThe Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (Goodreads/Amazon)

A meteorite has hit Earth and triggered an extinction event. Humans have a decade or less to get off the planet before the sun disappears beneath skies of dust, and crops die off. But it’s the fifties, and the space race has only just begun. The remnants of the US government team up with space agencies around the world to fast track a moon settlement mission. The WWII pilots are chosen to train as astronauts – but only the men. Which isn’t much use when you’re trying to start a colony. The human calculators, all women, and WASP pilots, start a publicity campaign to be allowed to train for the mission. HIDDEN FIGURES meets INTERSTELLAR, this is part science-based adventure and part uprising for race and gender equality. Maths and feminism: is there any better combination?

40025070The Invitation by Keris Stainton (Goodreads/Amazon)

Keris’ books always make me feel like I can achieve anything I set my mind to. Heart-warming, body-positive, sweet and caring, I am going to be thinking about these characters for a long time.

 

 

 

 


Bonus – my favourite books published before 2018:

Think of England by K.J. Charles (Goodreads/Amazon)

This was the most excellent English country house heist/murder mystery, it was a RIOT. One of the best romances I’ve ever read!

The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin (Goodreads/Amazon)

This is – well, it’s a science fiction and fantasy series set in a world where extinction events destroy civilisation every hundred years, the survivors have to try and relearn how to create a society from the remains of cultures that surround them. This is exactly my sort of thing – archaeology as a means of survival. It’s about legend and science, and how to work out which is which. It’s about found families and slave races and something like magic.

It’s diverse and full of plot twists and changes in perspective and the most wonderful characters. But what makes this series really special is that it uses the writing in a completely different way from anything I’ve ever seen. It’s a masterclass in originality.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Goodreads/Amazon)

Science fiction short stories about the effects of birth, death and life on women’s bodies. The stories are all different – paranormal detectives, apocalypses & magical realism – but so very powerful.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Goodreads/Amazon)

A rejected son unexpectedly inherits the throne and has to learnt to become emperor in a court that wants to take him down. SO satisfying. Full of courtly intrigue and machinations.

Shortlisted for the STEAM book prize!

SHORTLISTED FOR THE STEAM book Prize_ THE LONELIEST GIRL IN THE UNIVERSE!

I’m thrilled that The Loneliest Girl in the Universe has been shortlisted for a second award! This is a brand new prize that supports fiction about science, something that is obviously ENTIRELY MY JAM. I was super excited just to hear about the creation of the award, so to be shortlisted is the best news ever.

The other YA titles are The Fandom by Anna Day, The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin, White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock (all of which I’ve read) and The Electrical Venus by Julie Mayhew and Jinxed by Amy McCulloch (which I’d better get to ASAP).

👩‍🔬👩‍🔧👩‍🏭

 

Preorder campaign for The Quiet at the End of the World

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If you pre-order my new book (thank you!) you can enter to win a set of swag including a lil robot pin,  postcards, a bookmark & some art prints. You have until March 7th to email your entry to laurenjamesauthor@gmail.com.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Waterstones | Foyles | Wordery

 eBook providers | Preorder a signed copy on my Etsy (every copy then comes with a free themed bookmark and postcard of my books)

A few other things: Barnes & Noble have named The Loneliest Girl in the Universe one of their top 15 YA books of 2018! I was NOT expecting this book to make it to any of the end of year round ups, so I’m a little blown away right now.

It has also made it to the semi-finals of the *book shimmy* awards! You can vote for it at  if you wish! Thank you to everyone who has voted so far.

I spoke to some bloggers about The Quiet last week, which was so FUN.

Also, here’s my events schedule:

Monthly: Sparks Young Writers classes, Rugby, Years 5-9 – book here – Upcoming dates:  January 12, 2019, February 2, 2019, March 2, 2019, April 6, 2019, May 11, 2019, June 15, 2019, July 6, 2019 

Monthly: WritersHQ writing retreat rep, Coventry, March onwards – details here

11th March: North East Book Awards, Newcastle – details here

7th June to 9th June 2019:  CYMERA: Scotland’s festival of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Writing, The Pleasance, 60 Pleasance – Details here

26- 28th July – YALC – Details here

Aug 15th-19th: Worldcon 2019, Dublin – Details here

 

 

A couple of Etsy shop updates!

In case you didn’t know, I have an etsy shop where I sell book-ish merch. It started off as an experiment. but it gets a lot of positive feedback, so it’s definitely something I’m going to keep running.

I have about 20 enamel pins left.

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Once these are gone, they’re gone, but I am going to do a second design for The Quiet at the End of the World – with a robot for Lowrie and Shen’s pal Mitch. That’s up for preorder here.

I may also maybe eventually a UKYA themed crest in the style of a Cambridge college? (Any ideas welcome)

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SPEAKING OF THE QUIET, preorders for signed copies of The Quiet at the End of the World are now up. These come with an exclusive designed bookmark:

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I’ve also got Alice’s beautiful art prints, which are going to be in the shop basically forever because I have loads, so there’s no rush on getting those. I love these and want everyone to have the chance to get one if they want one.

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And other signed books can be found at your perusal here.

And, if you’ve made it this far: DISCOUNT20.

NEW BOOK! NEW BOOK!

Final copies of The Quiet at the End of the World have been printed! Look at this beauty:

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And a little video to show off the foil AND spot UV gloss:

It’s the prettiest thing in the world. I am very, very happy. It’s out in March but you can preorder NOW.

“Lauren James is a genius at building tension.” SFX Magazine

“James is one to watch.“ Kirkus Reviews

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking and looking for treasure – until a secret is uncovered that threatens their entire existence.

In the quiet at the end of the world, Lowrie and Shen must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to save the whole human race…

The Quiet at the End of the World will be published in the UK and Australia with Walker Books in March 2019.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles | Wordery | eBook providers

Tumblr tag | Join mailing list to be notified on release day

Books I want to read in ’19

Last year I chose some books I wanted to read in 2018. I managed to read a lot of them, except a few which haven’t been released yet, and are included below, and The Surface Breaks, Binti 3 and Barbed Wire Heart (I haven’t bought them yet – doing that asap).

I feel like there’s lots of books that should be on this list that I don’t know about, so – what am I missing?!

Previously: 15 books I want to read in ’15 | 16 books I want to read in ’16 | 17 books I wanted to read in ’17 | Books I Want to Read in 2018


The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie

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I’ve been pals with Lucy for like a million years now (she gave me some baby guinea pigs, hence winning my loyalty for life) so I’m as proud as anything that her first book is coming out. It sounds just like my thing so: I’M READY.

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in with her classmates. She doesn’t want to go to parties at the weekend – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book. It’s like she hasn’t found her people…

That is until she moves to a new town where a book club, The Paper & Hearts Society, is recruiting. Tabby might just be in luck. Enough of her old “friends” who only talk to her when they need something. It’s time for Quidditch themed fancy dress parties, games like “shut up and Shakespeare” … and LOTS of chocolate.

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard

Sara is finally releasing the sequel to her debut that we’ve all been waiting for. I’m really interested to see what these characters have been up to, and what they do next.39354084

Fierce Fragile Hearts is the stunning companion novel to Sara Barnard’s YA bestseller Beautiful Broken Things. It is about leaving the past behind, the friends who form your future, and learning to find love, in all its forms.

Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. Again. She’s back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they’re about to leave for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re the one left behind?

 

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Stormsong by C.L. Polk

I loved Witchmark, a magical gay love story in the style of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. It was action-packed and plot twisty while retaining a very dreamy, comforting, whimsical feel. Basically: all of my favourite tropes. I’m really excited to see where the sequel goes.

Magical cabals, otherworldly avengers, and impossible love affairs conspire to create a book that refuses to be put down.

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There’s revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What’s worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation,and closer to Grace’s heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid40554141

By the author of one of my favourite books of the year, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which is about old Hollywood royalty, publicity manoeuvring & more scandals than you can wave an Oscar at.

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend. The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. 

The True Queen by Zen Cho27818782

Another one that was on my 2018 TBR list too, this series is the perfect mix of the magical regency London of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Georgette Heyer’s shamelessly trope-filled romances, and the charm and relationship dynamics of Sabriel. The whole book make me squirm with delight – from the UNICORNS to GIANT FURIOUS MERMAIDS to the CLOUD FLYING – I’m really excited to see what goes on in the sequel.

In the follow-up to the “delightful” Regency fantasy novel (NPR.org) Sorcerer to the Crown, a young woman with no memories of her past finds herself embroiled in dangerous politics in England and the land of the fae. 

When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.

If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy. As she’s drawn into their intrigues, she must uncover the secrets of her past, and journey into a world with more magic than she had ever dreamed.

Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills35526663

I’ve read the first draft of this, and it was so sweet and heartwarming and cute (just like all of Emma’s books – PLEASE read them if you haven’t already). I’m really excited to revisit these characters in the final version.

For Sophie, small-town life has never felt small. She has the Yum Yum Shoppe, with its famous fourteen flavors of ice cream; her beloved marching band, the pride and joy of Acadia High (even if the football team disagrees); and her four best friends, loving and infuriating, wonderfully weird and all she could ever ask for.

Then August moves in next door. A quiet guy with a magnetic smile, August seems determined to keep everyone at arm’s length. Sophie in particular. Country stars, revenge plots, and a few fake kisses (along with some excellent real ones) await Sophie in this hilarious, heartfelt story.

81DgL6mImkL.jpgOn the Come Up by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give took the world by storm last year, and I know this is going to do the same. Really thrilled that we’re getting another Angie Thomas book!

Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But when her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, Bri finds herself at the centre of controversy and portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. And with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it – she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

 



A few without covers yet:

York: The Clockwork Ghost by Laura Ruby

A sequel to an excellent middle grade steampunk-y romp around NYC.

Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley

The next book follows on from Watchmaker. Thaniel and Mori go to Japan, apparently for Thaniel’s health, but he soon realizes that Mori has plenty of other, stranger reasons. Katsu is back, by the way, with a wheel.

Six Jacks by E. Lockhart

An exploration of romantic passion but in a very surreal way, set on an empty college campus.

And some without even titles:

Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries #8 by Robin Stevens

OBVIOUSLY

YA novel 4 by Alice Oseman

I’ve read a bit of this already and it’s going to be so gooood.

The Goblin Emperor #2 by Katherine Addison

Tor.com has announced a sequel to The Goblin Emperor. It is not a direct sequel, but takes place during Maia’s reign.

Adult books for fans of YA

Maggie Stiefvater recently posted about YA as a genre:

I did a poll last year on my readers’ ages. I got 10k responses. Overwhelmingly they were 18 and up, with the vast majority in the 18-35 range. From a professional writer’s side of the table, I write stories that will please my existing reader base, and my readers are aging. They began reading me in high school and kept reading me. So I age up, up, up — until one could argue I’ve been writing adult books for years now.

But also, I write for me. Stories that intrigue me. Stories that are about questions I’m grappling with, or situations I’ve lived through, or themes I want to live with for a year. And I’m getting older. I began publishing YA when I was 25.

That means I was processing my young adult years. I wrote for myself, which is to say, I was also writing for other young people. However, as I get older, if I still write for myself, without considering my audience . . . I keep writing for the person I am processing.

If I want to write for teens, I will need to add in a conscious filter to be sure I’m writing a YA story. Because otherwise, guess who loves my books? 18-35 year olds. SHOCKING

YA is no longer an age range, it’s a philosophy, it’s a promise of a certain kind of character-driven story, and that’s why readers come to it no matter what age they are. We [need to] find another way to label them so we understand that these books embody that immediate, close POV, progressive, genre-combining power that draws readers to YA now, without taking teen shelfspace.

I say this at every event I do these days: YA is changing! It’s not fiction for teenagers anymore, because older people read it too. There needs to be a distinction between ‘teen’ and ‘YA’ fiction. We’re in a place where books get criticised for having characters who ‘act like children’, in a book for children, about children, because there are so many books about early-twenties characters in the YA section, that it skews what the genre should be.

A significant subset of YA books are in that genre because there’s no other category where young writers can publish the kinds of books they want to write, without calling it YA. This is really frustrating, because it limits the type of books I can write.

I write characters, not age-ranges. I would write the same protagonist in the same way if they were 17 or 21 – because I’m writing a character who I want to write and read about, who I can relate to, who experiences the world in the way that a 26-year-old like me does now. But there’s currently an upper limit on the age I can give that character, because if they were a few years old, what genre would it be – adult sci-fi? That’s not where my readers are. That’s not where readers who are looking for the kind of books that I am writing are going.

In ten years, will I be writing YA? I think I’ll be writing the same kind of books, but they won’t be called YA anymore. There will be a new category that makes more sense of the chaotic jumble of books being marketed at some nebulous demographic none of us quite understand. The genre is in huge flux right now, which is incredibly exciting from a writing perspective – we’re shaping the literary landscape into what we want it to be.

I don’t have an answer to this – I just wanted to share some of my thoughts here, and Maggie’s, who consistently tweets about this in a thoughtful way that makes me think. Maggie also mentioned some books she loves which are adult but embody the tone of what we currently think of as YA genre (….for now.)

Another observation: I’ve actually read two adult novels in the past year’s time that are classified as adult and felt like YA (philosophically, tonally. They were All the Birds in the Sky, by and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by . They belong roundly in adult, but I think they’re also what adult YA readers are looking for when they come to YA. I think . . .

This was a huge eye-opening moment for me, because a few of these are my favourite books, and this is why I love them. So I thought I’d share some other books which feel like YA, but are shelved as Adult fiction (but I hugely recommend The Watchmaker of Filigree Street too.)

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers – Becky Chambers never fail to make my heart brim with love for humans and her wonderful visions of aliens. Her books always offer such unique and optimistic looks on difficult issues like gender, social equality, racism and hope. I wouldn’t mind living in her future, which isn’t something I say often about science fiction.

The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan – Magic and fairy tales, families and death, stone and water and bones. The writing is so poetic and easy to read, and I swallowed it up.

Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett – A fantasy world of mechanic dragons and their hyper-masculine riders, and the magicians they team up with. Delicious indulgent fun.

Glamourist Histories series by Mary Robinette Kowal  – Magical regency romp around the world with magic and science and the boundary between the two.

A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland – An old man is trapped in prison, accused of witchcraft. An old man who has spent his life learning how to tell stories, and manipulate perceptions. An old man who will do anything to get free. An old man, who single-handedley manages to take down an entire government from a prison cell…..

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho – This is the perfect mix of the magical regency London of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Georgette Heyer’s shamelessly trope-filled romances, and the charm and relationship dynamics of Sabriel. The whole book make me squirm with delight – from the UNICORNS to GIANT FURIOUS MERMAIDS to the CLOUD FLYING. Just – I want to tell you about every scene, because every scene is a delight. If you’re looking for more diverse fantasy, then this is the place to look.

Do you agree that there’s such a thing as ‘YA style’ adult fiction? What books do you think fit that tone? (Because I want to read them all.)