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 often, something wonderful will happen to clear my path and show me that I must persist even though my body http://www.health-canada-pharmacy.com doesn’t agree.
SP: Have you starting writing the other books in the series?
Meredith First: I currently have six Gridley Girls books fully outlined and the plot lines of each girl developed through their high school years. I’m so excited for each upcoming book. If only I could come up with a magical cure for Late Stage Lyme Disease and restore my former self to get these done sooner! I am currently more than halfway through the second book in the series, Gridley Girls Reunited and I love it. Each book in the series covers a different year in high school and a different girl in The Group and their relationships with Meg and the other girls. Each book also focuses on the decisions we make in high school and how they always come back to haunt us in our adult lives. Regardless of how hard we try, we can never really escape our high school images. It’s time to quit fighting it and ride the wave of acceptance and move on.
Gridley Girls Reunited opens with The Group trying to determine if Tonya’s husband is cheating on her. The story unfolds from there and we get to know Jimmer Santos, the only Gridley Guy in The Group. Gridley Girls Reunited has got twists and turns and more secrets, drama, betrayal, redemption and fun than even I expected before I started writing it. I think readers will love Tonya as much as they have loved AnneMarie and not to worry, AnneMarie is still a presence in Gridley Girls Reunited.
SP: How do you solve writer’s block?
Meredith First: Because my stories have been growing in my head since eighth grade, writer’s block is not a problem for me (knock on wood). My biggest issue is keeping my brain functioning properly so that I’m able to write. Vertigo, memory loss and brain fog are my most prevalent symptoms from Lyme Disease and those are not fun for anyone, let alone a writer. I have long felt though that the first answer to writer’s block, always, is “butt in seat.” It’s a phrase we used to use at Apple a lot, especially when trying to ramp up call centers. You need “butts in seats” to get this kind of work done so grab your coffee or any drink of choice and get your butt in that seat. The words will come eventually if you don’t fight them. I also do little meditations when I struggle. I have a Hay House meditation app that I use and it can be miraculous when I need help!
SP: What do you like about the new Gridley Girls cover?
Meredith First: I have to say I love the new Gridley Girls cover because I chose the picture! I wanted a carefree cover that represented everything a 70s NorCal girl was: friends, fun and water play. I didn’t want faces because I wanted the reader to be able to picture themselves in whichever character they most identify with. I hoped I could find something with a landscape that looked like northern California and I lucked out in finding this photo of four girls, taking the leap of faith that is friendship, into a lake that looks like it could be Lake Oroville, just down the road from Gridley. I loved my original cover too and was so glad we were able to preserve it and include it in the back as part of the Gridley Girls yearbook. Especially since it is all the real life pictures of the Gridley Girls.
Without further ado, here’s the beautiful new Gridley Girls cover! Leave a comment and tell us what you think … or better yet, what these young ladies are thinking as they take the leap!