Today we’re delighted to reveal the cover for Those Pink Mountain Nights by Jen Ferguson! The cover was illustrated by Bailey Macabre and the book was designed by Laura Mock. The book will be released on September 12, 2023 by Heartdrum. Preorder it here. Keep scrolling for an exclusive Q&A with the author!
In her remarkable second novel following her acclaimed debut, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, which won the Governor General’s Award and received six starred reviews, Jen Ferguson writes about the hurt of a life stuck in past tense, the hum of connections that cannot be severed, and one week in a small snowy town that changes everything.
Over-achievement isn’t a bad word—for Berlin, it’s the goal. She’s securing excellent grades, planning her future, and working a part-time job at Pink Mountain Pizza, a legendary local business. Who says she needs a best friend by her side?
Dropping out of high school wasn’t smart—but it was necessary for Cameron. Since his cousin Kiki’s disappearance, it’s hard enough to find the funny side of life, especially when the whole town has forgotten Kiki. To them, she’s just another missing Native girl.
People at school label Jessie a tease, a rich girl—and honestly, she’s both. But Jessie knows she contains multitudes. Maybe her new job crafting pizzas will give her the high-energy outlet she desperately wants.
When the weekend at Pink Mountain Pizza takes unexpected turns, all three teens will have to acknowledge the various ways they’ve been hurt—and how much they need each other to hold it all together.
What was the inspiration for this book?
When I was sixteen my first job was at a take-out pizza place in Lloydminster, Alberta. In so many ways, that job shaped my life.
In an undergrad screenwriting class at York University, I wrote a short screenplay called “Pink Mountain Pizza.” I never did anything with it, but in those ten pages was the beating heart of what I eventually sold to Heartdrum and wrote in my thirties during a global pandemic.
And then, the last pieces: thinking about my experiences with depression, about how anti-Blackness is a center point to so many relationships between Native peoples and Black people, and also I was thinking about missing and murdered Indigenous girls and the world that all of these things collide in.
In your experience, what’s been most different about writing and publishing a sophomore novel versus a debut?
Oh my yes. Writing a book from a six-sentence pitch is very much a different experience than writing The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, a book I wrote because I wanted to write it/had to write it, a book I wrote without knowing if there were ever going to be readers.
I knew from the start that this new book would have readers, and they would have expectations of me—some of those I would meet and others I would never be able to.
Also, I’m not sure we talk about the pressure that critical success puts on the next book. I’m really feeling it.
But, too, I know that each book is its own universe and each book deserves to be seen for what it is. Maybe comparison hurts us all.
If you could send a reading care package to your teenage self, which books would you put in the box?
I was much too serious as a teen. I still am, if it matters at all to the point I’m making. So I’d send books that centered queer teen and joy, and a few books that remind us all we can have laughter while we’re going through shit too.
Edward Underhill’s forthcoming Always the Almost, Margaret Owen’s Little Thieves and sequels, and all the books by contemporary Native writers. Send these all to Past Jen and she’d have been warmed.
What do you hope readers take away from Those Pink Mountain Nights?
All the systems are in place to tell teens—and the rest of us, for that matter—that we have no power, that things are the way things are and we’d better accept that and settle in to be a good little citizen, to be a good little capitalist. This is how they control us. This is how they maintain the systems of systematic violence. If readers leave Those Pink Mountain Nights seeing just a little more of these systems instead of agreeing to pretend they are invisible, if readers leave this book knowing they have power, knowing they were meant to use it, in whatever way their hearts call then that’s going to be my dream for this book.
Is there anything you included purely for yourself?
Pizza. The pizza in this book was really, truly a small gift to sixteen-year-old me, who had to stick to the menu when she cooked for others, but got to try the weird, the wonderful in that same kitchen, very late on weekend nights, when she cooked for herself.
Jen Ferguson is Michif/Métis and white, an activist, an intersectional feminist, an auntie, and an accomplice armed with a PhD in English and Creative Writing. Her debut novel, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, received seven starred reviews and won the Governor General’s Award. Jen’s favorite pizza topping is pineapple. Visit her online at www.jenfergusonwrites.com.