Today we have another exciting cover reveal! I love seeing how different each book looks, and Mia Siegert’s debut novel, JERK BAIT, is pretty striking -- as is the summary:
Even though they're identical, Tristan isn't close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself.
Forced to share a room to keep Robbie from hurting himself, Tristan begins to see his twin not only as an NHL prospect, but a struggling gay teen who is terrified about coming out in the professional sports world. After weeks trapped together in their claustrophobic room, Robbie suggests they run away with "Jimmy2416," a guy Robbie has talked to online for months but never met. Tristan must decide whether to tell his parents about Robbie's plan, losing his twin's trust forever, or go on a journey that will put their lives and innocence in jeopardy.
What inspired Mia to write a book like this?
"JERKBAIT is an extremely personal story. Although it's evolved drastically from its first draft, it started as a semi-autobiographical account of a friendship that was deteriorating and becoming toxic, and my scary encounter with someone who turned out to be an online predator (I promise mine wasn't remotely close to what I wrote—after all, JERKBAIT is solid fiction and a thriller!).
I've openly battled severe depression with PTSD and Post-Concussion Syndrome related to the sports world and some shattered Olympic dreams. I never intended to write a novel that pertained to the sports world since I still have nightmares, however once I started, I knew it was a path I had to take. Hockey was a natural choice as it was distant enough from what I did for me to be non-bias in writing, yet a major passion since I was a kid. I revisited places I was afraid to go to when writing the novel, remembering the pressure I faced as an athlete, then converted it to fiction.
JERKBAIT is a far-reaching story that encompasses a lot of themes from sports homophobia, to the cutthroat nature of pre-draft players, to racism, and of course depression/suicide attempts and what it means to be family.
... plus hockey. Lots of hockey."
You definitely want to see the cover now...
How did lead creative designer Christopher Loke come up with the cover concept?
"When we designed Jerkbait’s cover, we wanted a visual that conveyed a sense of loss and confusion associated with the personal identity many LGBTQ youths are facing. Having text on the face was a way of conveying the limitation of labels and stereotypes. The thought of not being able to fully accept or ‘reveal’ yourself is one the most painful aspects of being an LGBTQ teen—especially when you’re part of a school’s major athletic team—and we strove to portray that feeling on the cover, which we hope will do the book justice."
Can't wait until JERK BAIT releases on May 3, 2016? You're in luck:
We have an exclusive excerpt right here (tw: suicide) -- and a giveaway below!
My twin Robbie tried to die.
I guess he had since day one. My first breath was fourteen minutes after Robbie's. He came out breach-sudden, fast, and hard-moments before Mom could be pulled in for an emergency C-section, and broke her tailbone on the way out. I came out the right way. Unmemorable, like on holidays when Mom and Dad would drink too much and tell stories about how awful it was when Robbie was born, but not even mention how I came out of the same womb just after.
I'd been walking unnoticed in Robbie's flattened path ever since. Those fourteen minutes stayed between us like a wall. Me on the side with the shadow. I didn't have to think about him except when the debris of his destruction lobbed over and caught me in the face. We were two countries; no shared thoughts, languages, customs. We weren't at all alike; we just happened to have been alive in this vast world for almost exactly the same amount of time.
And in the rare instances we were forced to sit together, our lungs matched up. Our singular twin party trick. I wasn't thinking about this as I plied through pain in my room. Robbie was far away from this part of my life. Breathe in-I lowered my foot to first position-breathe out-I dipped into the first plie releve. A sudden tightness wrapped around my stomach, like someone was clenching it in hard pulses. It thudded in my ears too quickly, the noise drowning out the instructions from the Youtube video. Nausea rose to my esophagus.
For the first time in my life, I felt like Robbie must have for those fourteen minutes. I was breathing alone. And I knew exactly where he was. Like there had never been a wall.
I yanked my headphones off and staggered out of the room toward the bathroom we shared. The door was shut. Through it, I could hear the sound of the shower.
I pounded on it. "Robbie, need to use the bathroom."
There was no response. My face wrinkled. I banged on the door until it rattled. "Robbie, stop jerking off. Gonna be sick."
There was a sound, something muffled and garbled, and a thud.
I turned to the stairs and hesitated. With everything turning on its side, it was more likely I'd fall down the steps and break my neck. I pounded on the door again. "Robbie, seriously, open up!"
With a growl, I twisted the knob, almost tripping when the door swung in, banging against something that prevented it from opening completely. I squeezed through the small gap and my skin turned to ice.
Robbie was curled on the floor, fully dressed and trembling, his bleached hair dry despite the running shower. He clutched his hands over his mouth. His fingers were swollen, throat expanding and contracting like a bullfrog as he gagged. Vomit leaked through his fingers onto the tile, frothy and white.
Suicide attempt, they called it.
I called it bullshit. He probably just wanted to get high, like he did with the guys after we won a game. Like he did with the guys after we lost one.
We went to pick him up Monday, three days after the EMTs pried us apart, at first unable to tell who the victim was. We were both covered in vomit. Robbie's vomit. I was shaking with terrified life; Robbie was still as death.
"You've been pretty quiet, Tristan."
I met Mom's eyes in the rearview mirror of the SUV. Her lips were in a taut, red line. Always Revlon, Certainly Red. Dad's hands gripped the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles were white. I waited to see if she was serious before softly answering, "Nothing to say." Sometimes with Mom, it was hard to tell.
"You really don't have any questions about it?"
I should have said no. That's what Dad had trained us to say over the past eighteen years, just like with everything else. You need to be prepared for interviews. Don't give anything to the press. Hide your cards. Mom didn't much like questions either. Not unless she was asking them. And even then, she usually didn't want an answer.
But still, I asked, "Why'd he do it?"
Dad's dark eyes caught mine in the rearview mirror-a silent, you should know better. My lips snapped together. Dad was right; I did know better.
"Robbie didn't do anything." Each enunciated syllable made me shiver. "Understood?"
I swallowed and nodded.
"When Coach Benoit asks you what happened, what do you tell him?"
Dad pulled into the Mountainside Hospital parking lot. He parked the car and undid his seatbelt. "Food poisoning," he said. "You tell him it was food poisoning."
He stepped out of the car. I unbuckled my seatbelt and grabbed the handle just as Dad hit the lock button with the clicker. Through the closed door, he loudly said, "I'll get him myself."
We watched him cross the parking lot. Mom slouched in her seat. Only when Dad was inside the building did I ask, "Should we really be picking him up this early?"
"There's a game on Saturday," Mom answered. "You know that."
"But what, Tristan?" Mom turned around in her seat to face me. "You think he's going to get drafted if he sits a game out on a health scratch?"
I waited to see if Mom wanted me to answer. She turned her attention to her iPhone. Guess not. I'm not sure if I would have known what to say anyway. Maybe suggest that Robbie wasn't healthy?
I looked out the window. Had the situation been different, I might have enjoyed watching the flow of people that stayed around hospitals. It would have been perfect for a character study. So many different types of people slipped in and out of the hospital's sliding doors. Decrepit old people creeping on walkers, middle-aged lawyers in suits, crying snot-faced children, fat nurses on a smoke break-all people who looked like they belonged in a hospital. All unhappy people. All people who could have considered suicide.
Robbie didn't belong here.
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