I have a new book out this month. It's called The Liar's Handbook, it's published by Barrington Stoke (the specialist publishers for dyslexic readers), and it has a gorgeous cover, designed by Tom Morgan-Jones. It's about a teenage boy called River who is a compulsive liar, on a quest to dig out the truth about his mum's seriously dodgy-seeming boyfriend, Jason.
Unfortunately, there's not much else I can tell you. I can't tell you anything about the real life cases it is based on. I can't tell you about the research I did, or how strongly I feel about....but that could give away....and so....
The problem is that one doesn't want to spoil one's own story. And yet, often the spoilery stuff is the most exciting thing. So, on school visits and on panels, in blogs and interviews, you effectively gag yourself. 'It has plot twists!' you promise. 'It's really interesting!' But the fact that one book is actually about...say....bisexuality. I can't really say that. Or another might be about mental breakdown....but does that give away too much? Or this one is about policemen who....No, I can't say more. I mustn't. The book isn't even out yet.
This wasn't a problem for my first book, When I Was Joe, when the Interesting Thing (boy goes into witness protection) happens in virtually the first chapter, making it easy to talk about. Or in my standalone (soon to be a musical), Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery, where our heroine's jackpot is detailed in the first sentence. But my last three books have all had late twists, which must be concealed when talking to people who haven't read them, making my job just that little bit more difficult.
I am an idiot.
Some authors don't worry about giving away major twists. Karen Jay Fowler's We are All Completely Beside Ourselves has a major twist on page 77, which changes the whole way you understand the story - a twist which she was happy to talk about when publicising the book. And I imagine that the spoiler drew more readers than it annoyed. But I feel that books for children and teenagers are different. You want to keep them reading to find out what happens next, not give it all away before they get their hands on it.
So, I hope you will read The Liar's Handbook, even though I can't tell you much about it. It's about lies and truth and ....and....other stuff. And I will try to remember to keep my USP and my twists separate from now on. And I am very interested to know if any of you have the same problem, and how you handle it.