injury + recovery

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injury + recovery

I have been running for 24+ years, since I was 14. It is my lifeline and my sanity in many ways. It makes me feel at home in both body and mind. When I move somewhere, I go running in order to learn my town and feel grounded. On a trip, I explore new routes. I have vivid memories of running in Niagara Falls, in Hyde Park in London, on a beach in Mexico, in many, many races, each race a story.

Now, I’m injured. I have been for almost two years.

I’ve done everything the doctors have said. I’ve taken time off. I’ve been to months of physical therapy. I’ve done all the exercises and yoga. It’s not a terrible injury, just a nagging right hamstring pull, and if I don’t run, it doesn’t hurt. It’s one of the most difficult injuries to rehab, I’ve been told by runners and physicians alike, but it’s not dramatic or debilitating at all, unless I want to run.

And oh, how I want to run.

I have made an identity out of pushing through pain. When I was diagnosed with clinical depression in high school, I kept going. I wanted to quit. I even tried, once. But I knew from running that you push through what hurts. And so I did. I went to therapy and took medication and went on to college. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done, but I finished. I recovered. I ran a marathon and it helped me to let go of the thoughts that plagued me. Sometimes running is only the body. Sometimes that can be bliss.

The new hardest thing happened five years ago, when my son was diagnosed with autism and anxiety. I still can’t write about it properly or without tears. I woke up every day unable to breathe with the weight of the sorrow. I wept when none of my children could see me. I ran. I ran and ran and ran. At night, I couldn’t sleep. I felt like I was no longer a person, except I knew I was because I loved him so much. He was in agony. He screamed and wept and was miserable. None of us—therapists, teachers, doctors—could reach him. His psychologist, who specializes in autism and anxiety, was flummoxed too. Sometimes, he injured himself.

It was at this time that someone I loved and trusted turned on me with vitriol and anger. This was the same person who years ago had made fun of me and told me I was embarrassing when I had depression, who mocked me publicly in front of our mutual friends. I had forgiven her and moved on. But then it happened again, when I was at my new lowest point.

I was already injured, far more than what she could do alone. My child, his suffering, that was agony. But this was pain on top of pain and I staggered under the weight of it.

Not long after, my leg began to hurt when I ran. I ignored it for months. It got worse.

“You’re getting older,” the physical therapist said one day. “This might just be how it is from now on.”

She hurt me. He is suffering. I am wounded, too.

There has been no one moment when I felt myself come through the refiner’s fire shiny and gold. Sometimes I feel that I am all ash and char. Breathe on me, and I will blow away. I will scatter to the wind.

Except I have a core. As many women do. It is the ones I love. For me, it is my son, and my other children, and my husband. I am where they warm themselves and I refuse to stop burning.

I set boundaries. I trust only those who treat that trust with respect. I look at the hikes I have gone on in place of the running I would have done and say Thank you for these views. I let go of the books I might have written and remind myself of the flawed stories I did manage to tell. I see other moms of kids with special needs and we look in one another’s exhausted, knowing eyes and see great depths of pain and joy. Sometimes we look at each other and burst into tears. Sometimes we look at each other and we can’t stop laughing. I think of how far my son has come and the people who continue to help him get there.

I will not lie and say that I would choose any of these things again. Depression, seeing your child struggle, injuries physical and emotional. But the moments of recovery—the claiming of what is good and true in your world, the communion with people who know your heart—these are so many sparks in a dark and beautiful night.

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Fall 2015 Tour + ATLANTIA Paperback

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The ATLANTIA paperback (with its beautiful new cover!) is out on October 20, 2015. This book is about sisters and mystery and a crumbling underwater city and falling in love for the first time. It’s a standalone novel (not a series) and it is set in the future (it’s not about mermaids, just people who have escaped air pollution by building a city underwater).

To celebrate, my publisher is sending me on tour with Meg Wolitzer and Jandy Nelson, two phenomenal writers (Jandy won this year’s Printz award, and Meg is renowned for both her adult and young adult fiction). Entertainment Weekly featured the tour in an article here.

So, in short order, I’ll be on my way to Miami, Dallas, Wichita, Chicago, San Diego, and Bellingham, WA! Full tour dates and info below. I would love to see you there! There is NOTHING I enjoy more about my work than meeting with readers. And psst! I might have a copy of SUMMERLOST to give out at each tour stop!

Monday, November 2nd, 2015
6:30 PM @ Books & Books
265 Aragon Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
7:00 PM @ Half Price Books
5803 E. Northwest Hwy., Dallas, Texas 75231

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015
6:00 PM @ Watermark Books & Café
4701 E Douglas Ave, Wichita, KS 67218

Thursday, November 5th, 2015
7:00 PM @ Skokie Public Library (sales by The Book Stall)
5215 Oakton St, Skokie, IL 60077

Friday, November 6th, 2015
7:00 PM @ San Diego Public Library (sales by The Library Shop)
330 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101

Saturday, November 7th, 2015
4:30 PM @ Bellingham Public Library (sales by Village Books)
210 Central Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225

 


SUMMERLOST: Coming March 29, 2016!

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I have a new book! And it’s coming on March 29, 2016! The publisher is Dutton/Penguin, and the editor is Julie Strauss-Gabel (this is the same team that worked on the MATCHED series and ATLANTIA).

SUMMERLOST is about a girl and a boy and a mystery and friendship and loss. It’s very dear to my heart for lots of reasons. And I can’t wait to share it with you. Below is a post that was originally posted on Nerdy Book Club, about the friendship that inspired the book. I hope you enjoy it. And the beautiful cover, by artist Jennifer Bricking.
FALLING IN FRIENDSHIP

I’ve fallen in love many times in my life. In kindergarten with the quiet boy who sat across the table from me. With characters in books, with actors in movies. In college, with the guy who played guitar at the Friday-night parties (reader, I married him). When each new baby boy was placed in my arms, when my daughter stared me down in the airport the day my husband brought her home from China.

I fell in love in seventh grade. Everyone teased me about it. We met in Mrs. Fotheringham’s English class and soon we were always together. We had inside jokes. During band, we caught one another’s eye constantly when funny things happened. At lunch, we ate fast and then sat together in the hallway. We made up nicknames for people. We wrote a fake newspaper together. We planned our Halloween costumes. In the evening, we talked on the phone until my dad got on and told us it was time to be done. We walked downtown to the pawn shop to look at weird stuff. When one of us was in the money, we bought candy at the gas station to share. People teased us about being boyfriend and girlfriend. “How long have you guys been going out?” people would ask. “You like him,” my friends would say.

I did. I liked him so much. I loved him, even, but that’s not a word that seemed allowed in middle-school friendships. Can you love someone as a friend? Can you fall profoundly, deeply, in friendship? In middle school and junior high, romantic love is often on everyone’s minds. We’re playing with that concept, thinking about it. But the true miracle, it seemed to me then and it seems to me now, is finding a friend who lasts.

Justin had a sense of humor that delighted me. Never had I met someone so funny, so smart. And there was a layer there too, of understanding. When my grandfather and baby sister died that year, he was kind. Sometimes he said the wrong thing. Sometimes he didn’t quite understand. But he was always there to say something, and that meant the world. Later, in high school, when I suffered from depression, he sat on the porch swing at my house and cried for me when I couldn’t cry for myself.

When I first saw the cover of SUMMERLOST, with the illustration by the incredibly talented Jennifer Bricking, I cried because it was so beautiful, because it spoke to me. Because those little figures on the front, with that great big sky, reminded me of those two friends years ago. I sent the image to a few people, including Justin and his wife, Lindsay, who is a dear friend of mine (I’m the one who set them up on their first blind date!). Lindsay emailed me back, This cover is so gorgeous. It evokes all kinds of mixed feelings about summer and childhood. It’s kind of dark, yet kind of innocent. She put into words what I felt so strongly.

When I wrote SUMMERLOST, I knew right away that Cedar was going to meet someone. I knew he was going to be special. I knew he was going to be able to help her heal, the way a true friend can. The character Leo is, of course, very different from my friend Justin. Justin and I never worked together, we never even, to my recollection, went to the festival upon which I based the Summerlost Festival together. We didn’t live down the street from each other, and we didn’t give a clandestine tour about anyone famous the way Leo and Cedar do. (We did eat a lot of awesome candy, like Fireballs and Lemonheads and Cherry-A-Lets.) But all the feelings are real. The magic of meeting someone who understands and likes you and who maybe even loves you, in a way that’s rare both in middle school and in the years that come after—that was what I hoped to capture in the friendship between Leo and Cedar in SUMMERLOST.


official atlantia playlist

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I listened to these songs to get me into the right mood for writing Rio’s story, and they were an essential part of the creative process. I hope you enjoy them too! I’ve tried not to be too spoiler-y in my explanations for each selection, but suffice it to say that after you’ve read ATLANTIA, you’ll understand even more why I picked the music I did for this list. Also, I arrange my playlists in chronological order, so that the songs/their meaning follow the story arc of the book.

1. Half Light II (No Celebration) by Arcade Fire.

I have so many memories of driving the country road at night on my way home, after book events or kid events or running errands, and listening to this song. Almost every time, I’d come right inside and go to my desk to write something because I felt inspired. It’s the general feel of the song that’s so perfect, plus these lines have so much to do with Rio and the sirens: “Some people say, we’ve already lost/But they’re afraid to pay the cost for what we’ve lost.”

2. Runaway by The National.

Everything about the imagery of this beautiful song is right for an underwater city, and for a character who feels that she is in the wrong place. The lyrics say “we swallow the sun” and address “being led to the flood.” The melody is also beautiful and haunting, and I associate with both Bay and Rio when they make certain choices.

3. Radioactive by Imagine Dragons.

I am a sucker for a good arena song when the feel is right, and this one is great. It has the right amount of anger for Rio as she realizes what has happened to her and deals with betrayals both real and perceived. And radioactivity is, quite literally, one of the reasons the city of Atlantia had to be built in the first place. Also, the parts about waking up, the apocalypse, and a revolution are perfect for Rio’s story.

4. Your Bones by Of Monsters and Men.

This song is like reading a piece of epic poetry—so much to it, so much I don’t quite understand, perhaps, but the beauty comes through so strong it makes me weep. I also love the words—stripped bare of everything, as Rio is over the course of the book, all that’s left is the heart.

5. City with No Children by Arcade Fire.

Another late-night listening, perfect inspiration song. The melody feels like a wave you can’t help but ride along. The line about the city being “a garden left for ruin” and people being unable to “trust a millionaire quoting the sermon on the mount” have a lot to do with Rio’s city, with Nevio the Minister, and with the feeling of Atlantia, a place that has lost the ability to change and grow.

6. Midnight City by M83.

This song led me to the score to the movie OBLIVION, which was also done by M83, and I listened to that score constantly while I wrote this book. The line “The city is my church” is especially relevant to ATLANTIA, and I love the sound of this song—every beat, every part of the melody.

7. Ghosts that We Knew by Mumford and Sons.

Every year, I pick a song that describes my experience of that year. This was the song for 2013. It made me weep, it made me smile. It helped me get through my own rough times, and I also could picture Rio (and Maire) listening to the ghosts of Atlantia and finding their own catharsis.

8. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire.

Yes, this playlist is a bit heavy on Arcade Fire. I make no apologies. 😉 So many lines in this song–“They heard me singing and they told me to stop”–and “On the surface the city lights shine/They’re calling at me, come and find your kind” fit Rio’s story, especially her journey to power and the way she claims her voice at last.

9. How Can I Keep from Singing by Bruce Springsteen.

There is a very particular scene near the final act of the book where this song fits perfectly. The scene involves many voices, Rio, and Maire, and you’ll know it when you read it. 😉 I love Bruce Springsteen, and I love the power of folk music. There is something in it that you cannot get anywhere else.

10. Gravity, by Steven Price. (From the motion picture of the same name.)

I picture this song playing during the final scene of ATLANTIA. It’s gorgeous, empowering, and you can just feel the character emerging from where she’s been to where she will go next.


Official Atlantia Tour Dates! Also, Instagram + Pinterest.

With my lovely publicist Shanta at BEA this June. I like the way her hand looks like it's reaching RIGHT OUT of the picture...

With my lovely publicist Shanta at BEA this June. I like the way her hand looks like it’s reaching RIGHT OUT of the picture…

We’re getting closer and closer! I’ve posted the official tour dates for my ATLANTIA tour here on the Events page. I’m coming to Utah, Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Colorado, and Washington, DC. And I cannot wait to see any and all of you who come.

If you can’t make it to any of the tour stops, you can preorder ATLANTIA from my local independent bookstore, The King’s English. They will have me sign them on October 28th (the day the book releases) and ship them off to you. :)

Also, I have an Instagram account (realallycondie) and a Pinterest account (http://www.pinterest.com/allycondie/) now. Actually, I’ve had the Pinterest one for a while, I’ve just now made it public.

I think that’s all the news for now. But more info on ATLANTIA coming shortly. I can’t wait for you all to read this book.


ATLANTIA

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I have news! BIG NEWS. Earlier this week, Publisher’s Weekly had the exclusive reveal on the cover, release date, and title for my new book. You can find the full article here.

ATLANTIA is coming out on November 4, 2014.  It’s the story of Rio Conwy, who has been an absolutely fascinating character to write. She is very strong and very different. It’s a story about sisters, and a little bit of a mystery, and there is also a very wonderful boy, and an underwater city, and a world that is beautiful and crumbling around the edges.

Here are some fun facts about the book (and some answers to questions that I know I’ll be asked):

-The cover designer (Theresa Evangelista) is the same person who designed the covers of the Matched Trilogy. She does beautiful work and I’m so pleased with this image. It’s sumptuous and gorgeous and dark and light and wonderful. I love that the shell looks like the earth does from space, as Theresa mentioned in the PW article. I love the reflected letter “A”s at the ends of the word ATLANTIA. I love the shell itself (and it does have significance in the book).

-I also love the tagline–“HUMAN  VOICES WAKE US, AND WE DROWN.” It is a line from a T.S. Eliot poem called The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I love that poem and I’ve always found that line extremely haunting.

-ATLANTIA is NOT ABOUT MERMAIDS. The story does take place underwater, but in a city where humans have gone to live when the air above became too polluted.

-ATLANTIA is a standalone title, which means that it is NOT part of a series. It’s also not related to the Matched series at all.

-This is the same book that we used to call the RIO book, but we couldn’t name it RIO for obvious reasons (the movie, etc.). So we decided on ATLANTIA, which is the name of the city where Rio lives.

And, to tie it all up, this is what my lovely editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel at Dutton/Penguin Young Readers, had to say about ATLANTIA:

“Along with the rest of the world, I’d been anxiously waiting to see how Ally Condie would follow up her blockbuster Matched trilogy … and she has delivered. An underwater world as complex and surprising as the one Cassia must unravel in Matched, and a heroine who must, literally, gain strength and confidence to find her true voice. Ally’s work is poetry, and I am thrilled to have a stand-alone book to share with the world this fall.”

I appreciate each and every one of you lovely readers for your support. Without it, I wouldn’t get to do this job that I love and I wouldn’t have been able to share Rio’s story with you. I am grateful every day for you and for the time you spend reading the books and caring about the characters. I love meeting you when I travel and do book events, and even though I can’t respond due to time constraints, I read and cherish every letter and email.  THANK YOU!