The Sky Above Us
by Natalie Lund
Published by Philomel Books
Releasing on April 13, 2021
YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Contemporary, Mystery
From the author of We Speak in Storms comes a twisty, psychological thriller about three friends searching for the truth in the aftermath of a plane crash.
The morning after their senior year beach party, Izzy, Cass, and Janie are woken by a thundering overhead. Then they and their classmates watch in shock as a plane crashes into the water. When the passengers are finally recovered, they are identified as Izzy’s twin brother, Israel, Cass’s ex-boyfriend, Shane, and Janie’s best friend, Nate. But Izzy can feel when her brother is in pain, and she knows he’s not really dead. So she, Cass, and Janie set out to discover what actually happened that day–and why the boys were on the plane.
Told in alternating timelines and points of view, this powerful and captivating novel follows the three boys in the weeks leading up to that fateful flight, and the girls they left behind as they try to piece together the truth about the boys they loved and thought they knew. A spellbinding story about the ripple effects of tragedy, the questions we leave unanswered, and the enduring power of friendship.
Natalie Lund is young adult author and a former middleand high school teacher. Shegraduated from Purdue University’s MFA program, where she taught introductorycomposition and creative writing and also served as the fiction editor of The SycamoreReview. Her debut novel, WE SPEAK IN STORMS, is on sale September 3, 2019.Natalie is a member of SCBWI and is represented by Sarah Davies of GreenhouseLiterary Agency. She lives in Chicago with her husband and a very photogenic cat. Youcan follow her on Twitter or Instagram @nmlund.
Congrats on your next book! What was your inspiration for The Sky Above Us?
I always start books with a scene, and the opening scene, with the three girls waking up on the beach as a small plane roars overhead and crashes into the water is what came to me first. I switched from character to character after that moment, and, through hearing their voices, developed the rest of the novel. But one deeper theme of the book—about all the unanswered questions we have after someone dies—really came from a particularly difficult year in high school. Three classmates and my grandmother died within the course of one week, and I spent a lot of time grappling with the idea that some of my questions would never—could never—be answered.
How was writing The Sky Above Us different than your first book, We Speak in Storms?
It took me a couple years to write We Speak in Storms, and then a couple more to revise, seek an agent, and work with my editor before publication. Because I was under contract for a second novel, however, I wrote The Sky Above Us in about eight months, with a few more spent revising with my editor. It was a fast pace, and I felt like I was in a fever dream. That said, I think having a due date made me a lot more focused. I rewrote and threw away large portions of We Speak in Storms because I didn’t know where it was going. But I had to have a lot clearer of a vision for The Sky Above Us because of that clock ticking away.
Between Izzy, Cass, and Janie, which character was more difficult to write and why?
Out of the three girls, I’d say Cass was the most difficult to write. Janie and Izzy were always a lot more distinct in my mind. It took me a while to figure out what Cass wanted for herself and how that could appear in her relationship with Shane and with the other girls.
What are you hoping readers take away from The Sky Above Us?
I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, but I’ll say that the ending—and its ambiguity—is pretty important to the theme I referenced in my first response. It took me a long time to accept that some of my questions about life, family, and death will always remain unanswered. And coming to this understanding was an important stage of my grief. “It’s a mystery bigger than us,” one of my characters says on the last page. If some of my readers conclude this book a step closer to accepting that they may never know the answers to some of their questions, then I will consider it a success.
If you could have your book turned into anything (movie, TV show, Broadway musical, dance recital, etc.), what would it be and why?
I’d love to see these characters on TV. I could imagine The Sky Above Us as a limited series, or as a series that continues beyond the pages I’ve written.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
When I was writing my first book, We Speak in Storms, I asked my mentor if he thought it was YA, and he told me not to worry about the genre or audience as I was writing. It was freeing—to write the book I wanted and not think about categorization until it came time to query agents. So I’d pass on the advice: write the book that comes to you, and worry about the marketing when it’s time to revise or pitch.
Is there anything else you would like to let readers know about The Sky Above Us?
I wrote The Sky Above Us during a dark and anxious time in my life when I decided to seek help. Nate’s storyline was born of this period, and I want anyone who feels like Nate to know that you matter and help is available. You’ll find a list of resources in my author’s note at the end of the book.
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Enter for a chance to win a finished copy of The Sky Above Us by Natalie Lund! There will be two (2) winners. This giveaway is open to USA residents only.
Giveaway starts: Monday, April 12, 2021
Giveaway ends: Monday, April 19, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST