Weaving with Words by Lisa Graff (A Cover Reveal for Far Away)
One of my earliest memories is of waking up on Christmas morning, only to discover that my beloved Cozy Coupe toddler car had been stolen right off our porch. I was devastated, but when mother told me that the person who took it probably didn’t have money for their own child’s Christmas present, it eased the hurt a lot. I felt almost honored that one of my favorite toys might have brought joy to someone who really needed it. That is, until I brought up the memory with my mom decades later and she said, “Wow. That’s what I told you? I was so pissed about that!”
Which is a perfect example of one of the things I love best about my mother, and about telling stories, too.
I’ve always found it fascinating how it’s possible to take one set of facts and end up with dozens of stories, all with different messages and tones. This happens so often with family legends—the same great-grandfather who struck it rich might be an entrepreneur who made difficult sacrifices, or a selfish good-for-nothing who put wealth before family. When we tell stories, whether as novelists or more casually, we tend to find the point we want to make first, and then weave in the facts as they fit our narrative.
This is a concept that hits close to home with CJ Ames, the protagonist of my new middle-grade novel, Far Away. CJ has lived her entire life on the road with her Aunt Nic, a celebrated psychic medium who is CJ’s only connection to the mother who died just a few hours after CJ was born. When CJ receives a mysterious message on her twelfth birthday, stamped on her arm in the shape of an octopus, it sets her on a journey that begins to unravel some of the stories of her life, and reweave them in more complicated ways.
When I saw the final cover illustration for Far Away just a few weeks ago, I loved how beautifully the image captured the sense of story-weaving that is central to the story. Is that a constellation in the sky, or an octopus arm? What, precisely, is CJ seeing in the sky above her? And what truths await her in the distance?
To me, one of the most wonderful things about writing books for a living is that there are a million ways I can choose to tell the same story, and it’s up to me to select which threads to pull, and when. It can be a mind wracking choice, but such a satisfying one too, to finally see how all the threads I’ve picked out have come together.
I hope you will enjoy the tapestry I’ve woven.
Lisa Graff (www.lisagraff.com) is the critically acclaimed and award-winning author of the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots, as well as The Great Treehouse War, A Clatter of Jars, Lost in the Sun, Absolutely Almost, Double Dog Dare, Umbrella Summer, The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower, The Thing About Georgie and Sophie Simon Solves Them All. Originally from California, she lived for many years in New York City and now makes her home just outside of Philadelphia. Her latest novel, Far Away will be released in March 2019. Follow her on Twitter at @lisagraff and on Facebook at /LisaGraffwriter.
ABOUT THE BOOK: CJ lives and travels with her Aunt Nic, a famous psychic medium who tours the country communicating with her audience’s deceased loved ones at sold-out theaters. Together, they give people closure and forgiveness, and pass important messages on from the Spirit world. While CJ doesn’t have her aunt’s same ability to talk to the dead, she enjoys playing a crucial role in connecting others with their dearly departed. After all, she knows firsthand what it’s like to lose someone she loves–the only way she can talk to her mom, who died hours after CJ was born, is through Aunt Nic.
But when a magician bent on proving that Aunt Nic is a fraud shows up at their shows, CJ learns an impossible truth–that her mother is actually still very much alive. Now CJ no longer knows who to trust. As she learns more unsettling family secrets, CJ must grapple with the lies she’s been told and the lies she’s helped perpetuate. And in the end, she must decide how to reconcile what it means to find her true family and home–and what it means to forgive.
A poignant, heartfelt novel that explores the lengths we go to protect those we love–and how that impulse can often lead us down difficult roads.