“There’s a dead body in my house, and before the day is out, there will be at least two more.”
Cincinnati, OH — Acclaimed YA author Sara Bennett Wealer returns with an exciting new contemporary novel that will pull readers in from the first intriguing line. Wealer crafts a perfect concoction of romance, coming of age, and a dash of the supernatural that is absolutely to die for. Readers will want to sink their teeth into this tale that is both heartwarming and chilling–perfect for spooky season.
Elaine’s home is a bit . . . different. It’s a funeral home that has been in her family since the 1800s. Everyone assumes Elaine will take over the business someday—everybody except Elaine. When Xander, a newcomer with a passion for ghost hunting, arrives in town, Elaine feels an instant spark. He’s daring and spontaneous. With Xander, she feels herself transforming from Funeral Girl to Fun Girl. But not everyone is thrilled to see her changing, least of all her childhood best friend, Miles.
After Xander convinces Elaine to ghost hunt at the funeral home, they discover a ghostly presence from the past. And this spirit has a message—one Elaine is certain can give her the advice she craves about what to do with her life and which boy deserves her heart.
“Grave Things Like Love”
Sara Bennett Wealer | Oct. 11, 2022
Delacorte Press | Young Adult Contemporary Romance/Supernatural
Hardcover | 978-1984896288 | $18.99
Ebook | 978-1984896308 | $10.99
Audiobook | 978-0593609712
More about Sara Bennett Wealer
Sara grew up in Manhattan, Kansas (the “Little Apple”), where she sang in all the choirs and wrote for the high school newspaper. She majored in voice performance at the University of Kansas before deciding she had no business trying to make a career as an opera singer and transferred to journalism school, where no one cares if you can hit a high C or convincingly play a Valkyrie. She went on to become a reporter covering everything from house fires to Hollywood premieres.
These days, she writes event scripts and marketing copy while the sun is out. By night, she writes books for young adults. Sara lives in Cincinnati with her husband, two daughters, two dogs and four cats, and she still sings sometimes when her schedule allows. When Sara is not writing or running around doing Mom Things, you’ll find her at the ballet, or obsessively watching ballet on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. Find out more about Sara on her website.
In an interview, Sara can discuss:
- How her first post-grad job as a newspaper reporter inspired her latest novel
- Why she decided to add fantasy/supernatural twists to contemporary YA in her two most recent novels
- The importance and challenges of writing a main character with anxiety
- What she hopes to model for young readers through this novel: setting healthy boundaries, learning to find your voice, experimenting with coping strategies, and charting your own future course while still honoring family tradition
Praise for Sara Bennett Wealer’s “Now and When”:
“From the meet-cute to the emotional conclusion, a breezy rom-com and poignant coming of age story in perfect balance.”
— Sara Zarr, National Book Award finalist and author of Goodbye from Nowhere
“Twisty and fun–and it hits all the best notes: love to hate, fierce friendships, and rogue technology. But most importantly, it shows the value in being present, living in the moment, and loving every second.”
— Ronni Davis, author of When the Stars Lead to You
“A witty, charming, and exceptionally heartfelt look at the tricky balance between self-control and fate, and what it means when you finally give in to what your heart’s been telling you all along.”
— Meg Leder, author of Letting Go of Gravity
An Interview with Sara Bennett Wealer
Are parts of “Grave Things Like Love” drawn from your own experiences?
Music plays a big role in the story, and that’s definitely a big part of my personal experience. Elaine plays piano for funerals and accompanies her friends in the school choir. As someone who grew up singing in church, school choirs and community musicals, I know the joy that can bring–and also the pressure! Elaine’s friends are getting ready to audition for the school musical and for college music programs, which brings back very specific memories for me.
The Midwestern, small-town setting is another aspect of life I know well. I grew up in a small college town in Kansas, so my childhood wasn’t as rural as Elaine’s, but my parents and much of my extended family are from just the kind of town that Elaine hails from. Dodson, Illinois, feels very familiar to me, and I hope it will to others who know a place like that.
What inspired you to add a supernatural element to your latest novels?
I enjoy stories that have a little “something something” extra in them–an element that isn’t full-blown paranormal or fantasy but that is still a little “out there” without being the sole focus of the story. When I sprinkle those elements into my own writing, I purposefully try not to explain too much about what is happening and why. That’s because I like the idea that the strange can be a part of everyday life. Sometimes things just are, even if we don’t understand them.
What do you want young readers to take away from “Grave Things Like Love”?
It’s very easy to think we have to have everything figured out by a certain point in our lives–especially when we have family traditions and expectations weighing in. That kind of stress is understandable and natural, but I want to show that there’s a bigger picture, and it’s OK to take a little time, explore the broader world, and not have it all set in stone according to someone else’s timeline.
While we’re talking about the big picture, I think that applies to death as well. I wanted to show that, while it’s a huge mystery and something most people fear on some level, it’s also a part of everyday life. Elaine’s dad talks about “the juxtaposition of the Universe,” which he defines as joy in the face of pain. GRAVE THINGS LIKE LOVE has a decent amount of the comic and absurd, even as it takes place in a funeral home. I like that we can hold joy, pain and more within ourselves, all at the same time. To me, that’s a big part of what makes us human.
Why was it important to you to write a main character with anxiety? What do you hope your readers will learn from Elaine?
Anxiety (along with its often-BFF depression) has always been part of my life. I live with it, as do several members of my immediate family. And when I look into the past, I can clearly see older family members who experienced it at a time when society wasn’t as open or accepting about mental health issues, which led to a lot of pain and dysfunction that could possibly have been lessened with proper treatment.
I’m fortunate that my anxiety is something I can manage with strategies like exercise, mindfulness, proper nutrition, and medication from time to time. I know others for whom anxiety is a much more disruptive part of their lives. For all of us, though, it’s something we do have to live with, and that’s what I wanted to portray in this book. The way Elaine experiences and deals with anxiety is reflective of how I experience and deal with it, and that was something my editors liked–that anxiety is simply a part of her life and not the sole focus of her story.
How do you feel like your writing has changed since your debut?
I like to think it’s improved! And I suppose it’s become a bit less autobiographical. My books have never been about my actual life, but past books were more inspired by things I’ve experienced. Now I’m more inspired by ideas than past events.
What is next for you in your writing career?
I have a dream to write a puzzle box story inspired by my favorite sci-fi series, “Dark” on Netflix. (I’m on a personal mission to get more people to experience this show! Watch it now! It is so so SOOO good!!!) I’m not sure I can pull it off–I’m working up my courage to get started. In the meantime, I’m dusting off some older projects, re-imagining them and, I hope, transforming them into something that will sell. These are stories that have stuck with me, and as my writing has evolved and improved, I’m finding that I’m able to take them to a level I might not have been able to back when I did those initial drafts. I’m also getting an itch to try short stories. All of this is a long way of saying I’m in the mood to experiment and evolve!
A former award-winning journalist with national exposure, Marissa now oversees the day-to-day operation of the Books Forward author branding and book marketing firm, along with our indie publishing support sister company Books Fluent.
Born and bred in Louisiana, currently living in New Orleans, she has lived and developed a strong base for our company and authors in Chicago and Nashville. Her journalism work has appeared in USA Today, National Geographic and other major publications. She is now interviewed by media on best practices for book marketing.