New Release Celebration for S.R. Johannes

This week I'd like to celebrate the new release of a novel by one of my favorite authors who also happens to be one of my favorite people. Sorry, I don't have a cover photo for you today, that's coming Wednesday, but I couldn't wait to celebrate! Please welcome S.R. Johannes!

S.R.'s new book, On The Bright Side, is a hilarious road to guardian angeldom paved with so much drama and due-paying that it makes middle school look painless. 

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. Until Gabby finds out she has to protect Angela, her school nemesis, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. Problem is, Angela is now hitting on Gabby's should-have-been boyfriend. 
Thanks so much for joining us! So S.R., what inspired you to write this novel?

S.R.: It was Dec 08 at Christmas time. I had just finished reading Cynthia Leich Smith's Eternal and Lisa Schroeder’s “I Heart You, You Haunt Me”. I was subbing Untraceable to agents and needed to pass the time. I started to think about an angel book and wonder, what if the reader got to see the perspective of the angel who was longing for life again. So I played with flipping the roles. The book started out as a deep YA.

In the spring when other dark angel books started to sell I started to figure out how I could make it different. I wondered if I could do a book about death in a humorous way and make it younger. The question became “what if an angel is forced to protect someone she doesn’t like?" Brought back all the times I wished I could be a fly on the way, listening to my crush and eavesdropping on my frenemies. Then I thought about the opposite of death. What if a girl didn't want to be a cool angel? What if she just wanted to be human again?

That became much more interesting. I knew if I was going to do a middle grade, I needed it to be less heavy and more fun and light and hip. Something more like Meg Cabot or Ally Carter.

On the Bright Side is funny and light even though death, loss, forgiveness, and the fear of moving on are at its core.

Death in a humorous way, I love that fresh take on it! But death has to be a tough subject, even with humor. What was the toughest scene to write?

S.R.: Originally I had a scene where Gabby went back and visited her mom to say goodbye. It was a beautiful scene and tugged at my heart strongs because I am a mom. But I had editorial feedback that if my book was going to be tween, it could not be too heavy. I hated cutting that scene but they were right and I really wanted to stay on the humorous side.

I can see where that would definitely darken it. With the success of your young adult novel Untraceable, why switch to tween now? 

S.R.: I feel like tweens are just getting into the ebook market. But more importantly, I need/want to honor this book. I worked on this book for over 3 years and it got so close so many times, I felt I owe it to Gabby -and Grace -to put out the books I started - before starting something new.

In addition, my marketing curiosity about tweens called to me. I’ve been told tween market does not exist. I’ve been told to age up or age down. I think theer are girls out there in that awkward 10-14 range who don’t want to read MG and aren’t allowed to read YA. Most books have 12 or 15 year olds. I wanted a book to target those girls. There are not nearly as many indie pubbed MG and tween authors as there are YA and adults. I wanted to be first to market and test the waters.

Characters are the best motivation, I love that! Thank you so much for joining us S.R., it's been a pleasure. Readers, if you'd like to know more about S.R. you can find here at the follow locations:


  1. Heather, what a fabulous write up. S.R. Heather had previously told me about your book. I'm even more excited to read it now after this interview. Good luck on your success!

  2. What an interesting woman S.R. is, and her concept for On the Bright Side is so fun. (Love the title, btw.) Great interview, thanks!

  3. Great interview Shelli & Heather. And congrats on your new book Shelli. It sounds awesome. And it'll be interesting to see what you think of marketing e-books to tweens.

  4. Great interview!

    The book sounds like an interesting take on death; few books address the subject through the perspective of someone who's died, and even fewer do it with humor. :)

  5. A fascinating interview for an equally fascintating book, Roland

  6. The tween market doesn't exist??? I'm currently reading some amazing tween paranormals to my 7 yo, and we're book loving them.

    Unfortunately, my daughter isn't interested in ebooks right now, and my son's aren't into angel books. And I'm suffering from angel burn out (although there is one I'm DYING to read by a certain author you know, Heather). :D

  7. what a fun premise-- it sounds like a great twist on the angel theme!

  8. Nice interview and a really fun premise! Thanks Heather and Shelli!

  9. Yes. many editors say it has to be MG or YA. IT cannot be tween which is 10-14.

    this is a different angel book :) Not your typical dark one.

    Thanks for stopping by guys :)

  10. Cool! I think it's an awesome idea to write for that middle age range. Sounds fun! Thanks for the interview.

  11. Congrats to SR! Sounds like a fun read!


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