You don’t mess with Atlanta Burns.
Everyone knows that. And that’s kinda how she likes it—until the day Atlanta is drawn into a battle against two groups of bullies and saves a pair of new, unexpected friends. But actions have consequences, and when another teen turns up dead—by an apparent suicide—Atlanta knows foul play is involved. And worse: she knows it’s her fault.
You go poking rattlesnakes, maybe you get bit.
Afraid of stirring up the snakes further by investigating, Atlanta turns her focus to the killing of a neighborhood dog. All paths lead to a rural dogfighting ring, and once more Atlanta finds herself face-to-face with bullies of the worst sort. Atlanta cannot abide letting bad men do awful things to those who don’t deserve it. So she sets out to unleash her own brand of teenage justice.
“Give Nancy Drew a shotgun and a kick-butt attitude and you get Atlanta Burns.” — Joelle Charbonneau, author of The Testing Trilogy
Hey, look, everybody!
Atlanta Burns is now out.
Check it out at:
Amazon US (Kindle, trade paperback, audio)
Amazon UK (Kindle, trade paperback, audio)
B&N (trade paperback, audio)
Indiebound (trade paperback, audio)
Young Adult — crime/noir.
Veronica Mars on Adderall. Nancy Drew meets Justified.
I wrote this book a couple years ago, and published it as two separate volumes — a novella, Shotgun Gravy, and a follow-up novel, Bait Dog. (The latter published with the help of Kickstarter.) It was a foray into young adult and crime writing at the same time, and the result was something with which I was honestly very happy. Atlanta Burns is a character after my own heart: she is a real-deal social justice warrior, an underdog who helps other underdogs — a saint to freaks and geeks, a foe to bullies and racists and other human monsters.
The book did well enough — or was at least intriguing enough — that Skyscape, the publisher of my young adult Heartland cornpunk trilogy, decided to pick up the first volume and a follow-up. (That follow-up is tentatively titled Frack You, and I am writing it now.) The first book is a re-edit of both Shotgun Gravy and Bait Dog, so that the two separate-but-connected stories are bound up as a single narrative volume. For those wanting to ask: that means this text is different from the two earlier self-published releases, substantially enough that this is a new book, but not so substantially that the story has dramatically changed.
It’s a tough book. I don’t know what trigger warnings to give it, so assume it’s got a basket of them. The book deals with suicide, sexual assault, dog fighting, bullying, guns. Yes, it’s young adult, but it’s got a lot of violence and more than its share of nasty words (though, honestly, probably nowhere near as nasty as what you hear out of most kids’ mouths). But despite all the Pennsyltucky grit, I like to think it’s funny and it has heart, too.
Some books you write and publish are books you like and you want people to read. (Some you hate and just want to bury.) But as an author — at least for me — some books end up as more than that. They’re more than just, HEY, I HOPE YOU CHECK IT OUT AND LIKE IT. Some books are your weird little book-babies. You love them more than you maybe should. You care more than is reasonable. Atlanta Burns falls into that category for me — as a character, she means a lot to me, and the book has been an underdog, like her, all along.
And So, A Plea
This book is published by Skyscape.
And Skyscape is an imprint under Amazon Publishing.
They have been aces about this book. Excellent editorial work. I adore the cover (which is by Cyanotype Book Architects). They’ve given this book a great deal of love. I have not a bad word to say about my experiences publishing with them.
But! Here is the reality check: this is a young adult book and young adult books do well in print because teens, apparently, like physical books more than they do e-books. Further, Amazon being Amazon means this book is not going to make it into a lot of bookstores easily. Some stores will carry it — a wonderful local children’s/YA store nearby, Let’s Play Books, carries the book (and if you want signed copies, I’d say to contact them). This would be less of an issue if my book were SFF, where digital reading is more prominent. But with YA, the physical book really matters. (I’ve actually been “banned” from the shelves of one prominent children’s store because of publishing with Amazon, actually — this isn’t the norm, as most stores are good or at least polite about it.)
Libraries matter. Bookstores matter. Schools matter.
What that means, practically speaking, is that this book is a little bit hobbled out of the gate.
And that means, I could use your help.
Er, obviously, I hope you buy the book and check it out — but beyond that, a book lives or dies on its word of mouth and this one? I think it could use the word of mouth.
I need your help spreading the word.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, it means whatever signal boost you can give it, I’ll take it with great gratitude. A word on social media. A review. A call to your local bookstore, library, school, whoever, whatever, wherever. Climb a tree and yell it at some squirrels? I dunno. Bottom line is: tell somebody, if you can. Especially if you like it! If you like a book, the best gift you can give the author (besides like, a bag of good coffee or the keys to a new Maserati) is attention — word of mouth is where writers and our stories live or die.
So, if you dig this website, if you like my other work?
Check this one out, and maybe boost the signal.
“Wendig breaks down boundaries and challenges his readers, and that’s part of what is so addicting about his books. Atlanta Burns is a no holds barred train ride through Hell and Wendig is an incredibly talented engineer.”
“With Atlanta Burns, Chuck Wendig lobs one helluva hand grenade into the middle of the Young Adult genre… Temporarily trading in the far-future cornpunk pastures of his Heartland series for the redneck noir of Pennsyltucky, Wendig fully delivers with this terrific thriller. It’s stocked to the gills with white supremacists, dogfighting rings, drugs, murder, and mayhem. It also has plenty of heart in between, and the titular heroine, Atlanta Burns, is wildly worth rooting for. If you’ve followed Wendig’s other heroine, Miriam Black (Blackbirds), Burns may feel familiar and has a similar world-toughened outer shell and a mouthful of razor-sharp sarcasm.”
“The feels. OMG the FEELS! Seriously, a Chuck Wendig book breaks your heart into a gazillion million pieces and then holds the superglue just out of reach, saying na-nah-naaa-nah! Also? The best characters EVER in the history of fiction. I am so in love with Atlanta Burns that she has surpassed HitGirl as my all time hero.”
“Wendig has accomplished something pretty cool with this novel. Not only does he deal with topics like suicide, homosexuality, bullying, dog fighting/animal rights, absentee parenting, sexual abuse, and drugs—he deals with them all in one book in a realistic way that doesn’t feel heavy-handed. We don’t get that syndrome I see so often in teen books, where so many things happen to one person that it’s unbelievable. Most importantly, however, he captures the helpless, powerless feeling of being a teen so well, and in a way adults can understand, which is possibly the most interesting thing. Atlanta’s problems are not petty, and they are far-reaching. I never felt the eye-rolling exasperation I get when I read some YA “issues” books, I never felt like the main character had to get over herself, because she wasn’t in it for herself. She puts her life on the line for her friends, and while yes, life would have been easier had she just lain low and let things happen…well, this is Atlanta Burns we’re talking about here.”
“Atlanta is my new hero. She’s not stupid, and she knows what she’s doing is dangerous, but what drives her is a need to right wrongs and put an end to the injustice that runs so rampant in her small town. I can definitely relate to the sentiment.”
“Girl Detectives. You know them: Nancy Drew, Ginny Gordon, Trixie Belden, and so many others. Atlanta Burns is the newest name on that list. The difference in this series is that author Chuck Wendig takes that beloved trope and drags it out behind the dumpsters of its safe little world. He roughs it up and hauls it onto a stage set by the mundane horrors of poverty, racism, and abuse.”
“First of all, Wendig, get on that sequel because I need more Atlanta Burns in my life. Please and thank you…. Watch out for the ending, because the story will tear out your heart and stomp on it like a bee-stung elephant before allowing you to gently pick up the pieces and place it back in your chest, where it will start pounding in anticipation of Atlanta Burns’ next outing.”
“The titular main character, Atlanta Burns, is a FRIGGIN’ BADASS. I can tell you right now, on January 8th, that she is going to be one of my top favorite characters of 2015. She’s rough around the edges, has been through hell and back, and has decided that, with all the corruption and evil around her and adults who won’t do anything about it, she is going to take a stand against the darkness.”
“I don’t know how many times I can praise Wendig’s prose, but the man is a fucking master of the third-person present noir style. The words feel supercharged with energy and creative metaphor… By the end, you’ll be ready for Atlanta Burns to take on all the bullies of the world and show them who’s boss (spoilers, it’s her).”
“Good gravy is she fantastic! It’s January 7th and I can GUAR.AN.DAMN.TEE that Atlanta will go down as one of my Top 10 main characters for all of 2015.”
“Chuck Wendig’s latest novel, originally self-published under the title Bait Dog (in case you’re thinking both the description and this review sound familiar!) is as much of a horror tale as his Double Deadvampire tales for Abbadon or his Miriam Black stories; it just doesn’t have the supernatural element that those two are based around. Atlanta doesn’t have super powers; she doesn’t know when you’re going to die. The only person whose death she has a pretty keen idea about is her own – and it’s likely to come quite soon if she continues the way she is going.”