Today, we’re thrilled to be hosting the cover reveal for the new YA novel from author Amber J. Keyser, Pointe, Claw. Before the big reveal, here’s more about the book:
The body is a battlefield.
No one comes out unscathed.
Jessie Vale dances in an elite ballet program that requires perfection to land a spot with the professional company. When Jessie is cast in an animalistic avant-garde production, her careful composure cracks wide open. Nothing has felt more dangerous.
Dawn McCormick’s world is full of holes. She wakes in strange places, bruised, battered, and unable to speak. The doctors are out of ideas. No one knows what to do with a girl like this.
These childhood friends are both running out of time. Jessie has one shot at her ballet dream. Dawn’s blackouts are getting worse. At every turn, they crash into the many ways girls are watched, judged, used, and discarded.
Should they play it safe or go feral? The answer lies in the forest with a bear in a cage.
What matters is not what is taken but that we fight.
And here is the gorgeous cover:
Gorgeous, no? Amber herself stopped by today for a quick Q&A to share more about Pointe, Claw:
Give us your Twitter pitch for POINTE, CLAW! Boil it down to 140 characters for us.
Down with the pussy grabbers! POINTE, CLAW is about two girls fighting to claim the territory of their own bodies.
This book began with two images: a dancer taking off a pointe shoe full of blood and a feral girl in a forest at sunrise. When you read the book, you’ll see that both those scenes are pivotal. Probably makes me look pretty slick, huh? Well, that would be a big joke. The laugh’s on me, of course.
I wrote this book, from scratch, three times. The first time it was only from Jessie’s point-of-view. The second time Dawn was locked in a quarantine unit for the whole novel. Neither worked. The hardest part of writing POINTE, CLAW was to get Dawn’s voice right. Tortuous is the only word for it. Here’s a bit from each character to give you a flavor of what is inside:
DAWN: My edges begin to dissolve. I hunger to fit my body into hers, to shed this skin that binds. To cut the lock. To walk away. But the bear is caged. As am I, in this flesh that constantly betrays me.
JESSIE: Every spin is a wrestling match. Mine. His. Mine. Never ours. We struggle like animals for dominance. I never stop watching him. To look away is to submit. I haven’t come this far for that.
You are a dancer! How did your own experience in ballet inspire or influence POINTE, CLAW?
That was a long time ago, but yes, in my teens and early twenties, ballet was everything to me. And like most dancers, ballet broke my heart. The end of my modestly promising dance career loomed as my biggest failure for most of my life. Writing POINTE, CLAW was really cathartic and I think that the dance scenes are some of the strongest in the book. I loved writing them.
What do you want readers to know most about POINTE, CLAW?
I wrote this book to explore what it means to be a girl in today’s America. Given the current political climate that so often gives a pass to men who assault women, I think it’s pretty damn relevant. I want young women who read this book to know that they matter and matter DEEPLY. I want girls to know they can take charge of their bodies, their relationships, and their lives.
Your writing covers a breadth of materials, ranging across genres both in fiction and non-fiction. What inspires the things you write, and what are the challenges of writing so broadly? Likewise, what are the benefits?
I read widely and get really curious about lots of things. Sometimes that curiosity leads me down the path of fiction and sometimes nonfiction. The benefit is that I’m never bored. The challenge is that it can be hard to communicate who I am to readers. On the one hand, I wrote a book about sex for teens (THE V-WORD) and on the other, is a forth-coming series of middle grade novels about ponies (the QUARTZ CREEK RANCH series co-written with Kiersi Burkhart). I guess it’s not very good for “building a brand,” as they say.
What are you working on next?
AMBER J. KEYSER spent most of her fraught teenage years in a ballet studio, striving for perfection. She’s always been intrigued (and frustrated) by the way the bodies of girls and women are the battlefield for culture wars—how we should look, who we should love, and how we should act. Pointe, Claw is an exploration of the territory of the body and her answer to the question posed by Mary Oliver: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Amber is the author of The Way Back from Broken (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), a heart-wrenching novel of loss and survival, and The V-Word (Beyond Words/Simon Pulse, 2016), an anthology of personal essays by women about first-time sexual experiences, among numerous other titles. Find out more at www.amberjkeyser.com.