Yep, you heard it from me first. The official title of my second book is “Chasing Jupiter”, and it’s due to be released in December of this year! Unbelievable, right? I, for one, cannot believe that there is a strong possibility of two Rachel Coker books being published in 2012. It’s absolutely surreal in the best way possible. Watching the whole publication process unfold with Interrupted was amazing, and I can’t wait to go through it all again with Chasing Jupiter! Getting to see the cover, the trailer, the advance copies… I’m just so unbelievably excited for it all!
Speaking of which, here is the cover art:
Cool, right? I love the down-to-earth, vintage-y feel and I’m definitely convinced that this is the perfect cover for the story line. Once you all read the book, you’ll have to tell me if you agree or not, but I’m really feeling it. I would describe the story as having a very cheery, quirky, homey style, and I think this cover fits it really well!
Okay, I know that you all are going to have like a gazillion questions, so I’m going to try to cut you to the chase and answer some of them myself! Using my superpower mind-reading skills, these are the first few questions that I’m thinking you’ll probably have. Here are my answers:
Q: What is this book about?
A: Chasing Jupiter takes place in the summer of 1969, and it revolves around the story of sixteen-year-old Scarlett Blaine, who is growing up in small-town Georgia with her quirky and dysfunctional family. Scarlett has a younger brother named Cliff, who is definitely the oddball of the group. Strange, sometimes moody, and always entertaining, Cliff definitely keeps Scarlett on her toes. Adding even more color to the picture is her eccentric grandfather, Grandpop Barley, whose world revolves around red ties and peanut butter. And then there’s Juli, Scarlett’s beautiful and rebellious older sister, who is doing everything she can to cause strains in the family. Together, they make up quite the loony bunch, and stick out like sore thumbs in the community.
But what starts off as a bright, fun-loving summer quickly down spirals into one of Scarlett’s biggest challenges yet. As the pressures of life and the demands of the outside world start to have their toll on her family, she must learn that protecting and cherishing those she loves is the most important job she has. Scarlett finds herself tottering on the brink of childhood and adulthood, afraid and uncertain about family, love, and the future. But the events that unfold that summer are big enough to change her life forever.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for this book?
A: One of the main characters in this story, Scarlett’s younger brother Cliff, was the first big idea I had regarding this book. And his character was very much based on a boy that I had the pleasure of speaking to once at my church. He’s an autistic child, and I once chatted with him a bit after his Sunday School class. He showed me a list that he had written of all the things he wanted for Christmas. It was so adorable, and it said things like “1) One acrobat, 2) Two flying monkeys, 3) Three marching bands,” and so on. And I remember the last thing on the list was twelve rockets to Jupiter. And that just touched me so much. And I started thinking about this autistic boy, that none of the other kids really understand. They all think he’s weird and freaky and don’t really want anything to do with him. But underneath the moodiness and the eccentricity is this really sweet, amazing kid that I just love talking to.
And that’s how Cliff is, in my mind. All he wants is to be the first astronaut on Jupiter, which may seem like an impossible dream, but that’s all he really wants in life. It’s so simple. And Cliff may have had autism too, but of course no one knew what that was in 1968. To everyone else, he’s just a freak and a weirdo. But Scarlett sees past that to the real gem of a kid that Cliff is, and she has faith in him. And he has faith in her, too. And it’s that mutual love and friendship that really pushes Scarlett to make the right decisions, despite all her doubts and insecurities. It’s a book that’s about the power of family and trust, and I think that their relationship really highlights that.
Q: Did you come up with the title/cover yourself?
A: No, I did not! But it was a very collaborative process and I definitely had imput into what I wanted it to look like. I absolutely loved everything that Zondervan did with the making of this book and I think it is just spot-on! I definitely could not have done it better myself.
Q: Is this another Christian book?
A: Yes! Although it doesn’t deal much with Christianity until later on the book, there is definitely a great, Christ-centered message there. 1968 was a very confusing time in America, spiritually speaking, and the story reflects a lot of the different movements going on. The hippie culture and Jesus movement are just two examples. But, despite all the craziness of the culture and its New-Age, hippie attitudes, this book has a great, clean, Gospel-centered message of what true Christianity looks like: Full reliance on God for satisfaction and peace.
Q: What’s up with the peach on the cover?
A: Hmm… Would it be really crummy of me to say, “Read it and find out!”? Yes, I suppose it would be. Well, maybe I’ll talk more about that later, but for now I’ll just say that there are peach pies involved in this book. Peach pies that have something to do with rockets to Jupiter. If that makes any sense at all.