Whether you are currently in high school, or miraculously managed to survive it and can now look back wistfully in your adult life, you know that it’s a trying time for just about everyone. You also know that the best, and often the only way, to survive high school is with a little help from your friends—which is exactly what Meredith First captures in her brave and heartfelt novel Gridley Girls. Inspired by events from First’s personal teen experiences, the novel tells the story of four girls with their own individual struggles, secrets, and adventures that bind them together both in the high school hallways and their adult lives.
First published in 2012, Gridley Girls is getting a reboot by SparkPress in the form of a colorful, vibrant new cover—featured in a cover reveal below!—and extra content to be released this summer. In honor of this exciting news and cover reveal, we decided to ask Meredith her thoughts on the event and also get some exclusive info on what’s in store next for the Gridley Girls characters, because we can’t get enough.
Gridley Girls is available on June 21, 2016.
SP: What are you most looking forward to with your re-release of Gridley Girls in June?
Meredith First: This feels more like a whole new book, rather than a re-release of Gridley Girls, so I’m most looking forward to letting it out into the world. This new version is like the old Gridley Girls on steroids. It has 150 pages of new material from the girls’ present day lives and is a better, faster, stronger version of the old. The same messages of friendship, love, hope and redemption are there and I hope the world loves the girls as much as I do.
SP: What has the process been like?
Meredith First: Joyful, memorable, grueling, satisfying, frustrating and fabulous. That was my word game response. When I retired from Apple to write books in 2005, I didn’t know that I had Lyme Disease. I knew there was something wrong with my normally almost-photographic memory, but I kept it a secret, afraid to give it life in case it was Alzheimer’s. My children were young, my household was busy, but I had these nagging dreams that wouldn’t let go of me. Dreams of our friend Jennifer who passed away when we were nine. Dreams of The Group in high school. Dreams of the graveside promise I made to Jennifer’s mom to never forget her. Dreams of the books I always said I was going to write to keep Jennifer alive.
The Lyme progressed and continued to ravage my body, unbeknownst to me, as I persisted in trying to keep my promise to give Gridley Girls a literary life. I launched the ebook, from my bed suffering with severe vertigo, in December of 2012. I was worried I was dying and didn’t want to die with my book still inside of me. The original Gridley Girls took off immediately, which is how I found Crystal and SparkPress. As my health got worse, Crystal was there to guide me and help me keep Gridley Girls alive in spite of my worsening health.
I was diagnosed with late stage neurological Lyme Disease in August of 2014, so every process of life can be a challenge for me. Things that used to come easily and fast to me now take much more time and the publishing process is no exception. Writing books based on real life events when you have an impaired memory can be quite a challenge! Every step of this process has been guided by my faith. When I get to my lowest moments, which can be of