Why I Love SKINNY (But Not the Only Reason)

Katherine Longshore 4 Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Two years ago, I attended the Annual Summer Conference of the SCBWI in Los Angeles with the Muses.  We hadn’t seen each other since meeting at the Big Sur workshop critique table in December, but we’d already shared a lot – manuscripts, joys, setbacks, dreams.  And we were about to share a lot more.

That weekend – all four hectic, crazy days of it – was magic.  Talking with Talia about her new agent.  Dancing with all the Muses at the big Saturday night party.  Sharing a room with Veronica while she rode the crazy fairy tale roller coaster that marked the beginning of the publication story of Under the Never Sky.

But one of the best moments was quiet.  And perfect.  Talia, Donna and I met up in Talia’s hotel room to brainstorm and share ideas and workshop pages.  Talia read a little of what would eventually become SPIES AND PREJUDICE and we discussed plot points.

And then Donna read what would become the first pages of SKINNY.  I could tell how strongly Donna felt about it just from the way she spoke.  She was tentative, in the way someone might be talking about a huge crush.  So much feeling behind it, but also a little fear.  Longing, belief that it’s the right thing, but leaping into something powerful – and potentially emotionally explosive.

Donna read those first pages and I remember silence.  I felt the prickle of tears behind my eyes – the sense of being in the room with greatness.  That wonderful, devastating feeling of wishing I could write something like that – something heartfelt and funny and beautiful and relatable and impactful.  And the pure, singular knowledge that this was a book Donna Cooner could kick the ass out of, that she could do it so well and so vividly that people would read into it their own stories, their own fears and their own desire for change.

Two weeks ago, Talia generously invited us all to read and answer questions at her launch party for SILVER.  Donna got trapped at the airport and then fell prey to the impossible parking situation in downtown Davis.  She arrived breathless and a little flustered, and she arrived with a finished copy of SKINNY.  Seeing that book made real affected me as much as seeing my own.  It’s the culmination of our time together, in a way.  The first book that we’ve seen travel from inception to conclusion, because all the others had been started (or even written) before we met.  It is also a perfect and beautiful result of all of Donna’s hard work and personal journey.

That night, Donna read the first pages of SKINNY, and transported me back to that hotel room in the summer of 2010.  Those pages still give me shivers, and still make me cry.  I’m not embarrassed to admit that when Donna read the final pages of SKINNY that night, they made me cry even harder.  Because Ever’s story is my story – though I’ve never been overweight, I’ve never had life-altering surgery, I’ve never been able to sing a note.  My Skinny attacks with equal viciousness and precision.  But Ever’s story gives me hope.  I read into it my own story, my own fears, and my own desire for change.  It’s a personal story, but one that I think will affect us all personally.  And I am so thrilled that the rest of you can now experience it, too.

Congratulations, Donna.  Love you.


It's a step by step process, but each YA Muse is coming out with a new news moment. Skinny is here. Congrats Donna :-)

Wonderful, wonderful post, Katy. I think a whole lot of us are happy that SKINNY is out in the world now - congratulations, Donna!

Wow, you said what I tried to in my review, without all the hotel room stuff. For some reason I wasn't invited???? But I did try to make it clear, it's not about losing weight, it's about that voice that tells you you can't or that one that says "if only I had... I'd be happy." I'm just glad Donna wrote the book so I know I'm not the only crazy out there with that voice talking to me. Skinny is a very powerful book! All the Muses should be proud of themselves this year!


Wow, Katy. This post just makes me want to hug you all as a big group, and hug my copy of SKINNY along with you. Actually, all of your books. It's so inspiring and empowering to see them together, out in the world. Even more inspiring to see them together on my bookshelf!

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