By Alaina Leary
Today we are thrilled to reveal the cover for The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver. The book will be released in June 2021, by Scholastic Press. Add the book on Goodreads here!
Perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli, this book will rip your heart out before showing you how to heal from tragedy and celebrate life in the process.
On the night Liam Lawson’s brother is killed in a hit-and-run accident, his entire world crumbles around him. But before they have a chance to process, Liam, who uses both he/him and they/them pronouns, is faced with a barrage of people they hardly know offering empty condolences and assorted casseroles. Despite being close to their mother—and best friends, Joel and Vanessa—Liam feels lost, isolated by grief, and completely out of control.
Through group therapy, Liam learns how to be more open with his mother, about the night of the accident and the repressed emotions that have been causing their panic attacks and anxiety to get worse, and to have the courage to come out to Joel and Vanessa even as he’s still in the process of figuring things out for himself.
This book is about grief. But it’s also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should.
Liam’s story in The Ghosts We Keep was inspired by your experience of losing your father. How did that impact your writing process? Was writing this book different from your debut, I Wish You All the Best?
It actually ruined my writing process, which sounds like an awful thing to say, but it’s true. The story has gone through many iterations, and as my agent and editors can attest, a lot of changes have been made from the original idea that I had for the book. I had to take several steps back from where I was coming from, change elements of the story, just to get the book to a place where I was comfortable writing it. For me, it wound up being more emotional than I Wish You All the Best, just because of where it’s coming from and how it was influenced directly by events from my life.
What kind of research did you do for The Ghosts We Keep? Was your research process different from IWYATB?
Is it bad to say that I don’t remember doing any research at all? Again, a lot of the events are things that happened directly to me, things that I experienced after the death of my father. I could say there’s one spoiler-y kind of thing where I had to call Becky Albertalli to get her expertise, but other than that, I pulled from my own life.
You’ve been a part of some incredible virtual panels this year that I’ve loved watching. If you could create your own panel topic, what would it be? Do you have any authors you’d love to be in conversation with (again or for the first time)?
Oh, I like this question. Well, I’m very honored to say that I’ve already had the chance to create my dream panel back in May. Creating and curating the first all-trans panel for BookCon, which is without a doubt one of the biggest book conventions in the world, that was a true dream. Now? I’d like to be a part of panels that don’t have to be about my identities. I love writing romance, I love writing about music in my books (there’s a lot of that in The Ghosts We Keep). These are topics I’d love to cover on panels, instead of only being invited to trans or ‘diverse’ panels. Other authors? Hmmm… I’d love to talk to Leah Johnson about anything at all, doesn’t matter the topic. I adore Leah, but we’ve never been able to do any events together because of well… current world circumstances. Mark Oshiro and Kacen Callender are also two people I adore, we’ve done panels together and they’re always the most fun I’ve ever had.
I lost my mom in middle school, so I’m very drawn to books about grieving teens. Grief is hard for anyone, but it’s especially hard when you’re a teenager. What do you find cathartic when you’re reading books with a grieving protagonist? Was there anything you definitely didn’t want to replicate in Ghosts, because you hate seeing it in grief stories?
I appreciate the rawness, that was the most important thing to me when writing this book. I’d rather not hold back when it comes to a story like this, because of just how messy and ugly grief can be. Liam is young, they’re only sixteen, and they’ve lost the person they were closest to, along with feelings of abandonment from their best friends. Liam is going through a lot, which means that they’re going to be messy, make mistakes, say the wrong thing, hurt people around them. I wanted to show how real these feelings can be, how they can mess you up. There’s no real ‘villain’ of this story, just people dealing with their emotions in not the best way.
What other books do you seeThe Ghosts We Keep as being in conversation with? And do you have any recommendations for published or forthcoming books?
That’s a tough question because I don’t know if I have an answer for it. I’d definitely say Adam Silvera’s books More Happy Than Not, They Both Die at the End, and definitely History is All You Left Me. The raw feeling all three of those books evoke for me really influenced how I wrote The Ghosts We Keep.
What’s one question you wish you were asked more often (and the answer)?
Probably what my favorite movie is, which is Hereditary. I actually watched the ‘I Am Your Mother!’ scene on loop for a few hours while writing one of the scenes to capture the awkward tension that I wanted to get across. I’ll leave it to readers to see if they can tell which scene that is.
Mason Deaver is a nonbinary author and librarian from a small town in North Carolina where the word “y’all” is used in abundance. When they aren’t writing or working, they’re typically found in their kitchen baking something that’s bad for them or out in their garden complaining about the toad that likes to dig holes around their hydrangeas. I Wish You All the Best is their debut novel. You can find them online at masondeaverwrites.com.
Alaina (Lavoie) is the communications manager of We Need Diverse Books. They also teach in the graduate department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College and are a book reviewer for Booklist. They received a 2017 Bookbuilders of Boston scholarship for their work in the publishing industry. Their writing has been published in New York Times, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Allure, Healthline, Glamour, The Oprah Magazine, and more. Alaina currently lives in Boston with their wife and two literary cats. Follow her @AlainasKeys on Instagram and Twitter.