Keep Me Posted!

Sign me up for the latest news from Penguin Teen, including new books, special offers, and promotions.

Everything You Need to Know About Blacktop Author LJ ALONGE

SHARE

When’s the last time a book reminded you how important your own dreams are? That’s how we felt with the Blacktop series: the first book follows Justin, and the second book follows Janae, who both face life on and off the basketball court one summer in Oakland, California. Here to tell us more about the mind behind the masterpiece is author LJ Alonge!

 

Name: LJ Alonge

Novel: Blacktop (Justin #1 and Janae #2)

Available: June 7th

 

Who’s your favorite author, living or dead? I tried to narrow this down to one, but I couldn’t! I have eight or ten writers who changed my life, who I really love, but I love each of them differently. I can’t really compare them; any ranking I think of falls apart immediately.

When I want to be inspired by beautiful writing and language, I read Toni Morrison or Stephanie Vaughn or John Steinbeck. When I want to read a story that makes me feel like my best and funniest friend is telling it, I read Junot Diaz or Mark Twain or Zadie Smith. When I want to read strange stories that weird me out long after I’ve put them down, I read George Saunders or Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

 

What’s your favorite thing about your book? What I like most about this book is that it gets at a lot of the questions I had growing up. Who am I? How far will I go to be accepted? Will I know a real friend when I see one? What do I do when I’ve wronged someone? Is it wrong to feel angry or embarrassed about family members dealing with addiction?

As a teenager, I think I got a lot of answers to these questions wrong. Back then, I felt like the worst person in the world; now I know that making mistakes is as much a part of life as eating or breathing. What I love about this book is that the characters get things wrong, really wrong, but they keep trying to be better.

 

If you could spend one year on a deserted island with one character from literature, who would you choose Yossarian, the protagonist of Catch -22. True, he’s a paranoid hypochondriac. I can see how that might get annoying. But he’s also a fighter pilot, so he probably knows how to start fires and tie sturdy knots. And most importantly, he’s very afraid of dying. That’s what I want: someone who wants to live really, really badly.

 

Where do you write? Any comfortable couch will do. I try not to be picky. I’m writing this while laying on my back on my mom’s couch. It’s not my favorite couch – it gets sticky when the weather’s hot – but it gets the job done.

 

Who is your favorite hero or heroine of history? Sojourner Truth. She escaped from slavery. She became an abolitionist and women’s rights activist and preached across the country. She spoke Dutch and English. She wrote a book and a song. During the civil war, she recruited troops for the Union Army. She met with President Lincoln and Grant to advocate for rights for previously enslaved people. Amazing.

 

Do you tweet? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever tweeted? “Did I used to go to Starbucks and make fun of that guy staring solemnly at his laptop? Yup. Ami I now that guy? yup.”

 

What is your favorite season? I grew up in the Bay Area, where there are two basic seasons: hot or not-that-hot. Sometimes it rains, so let’s count that as a third season. I like it when it’s not-that-hot, somewhere in the 60’s, cool enough that you can walk around in a hoodie and not sweat.

 

If you could teleport anywhere in the known universe right now, where would you go? The Situation Room at the White House. Where are you keeping the aliens President Obama???

 

Do you have any writing rituals? I like to read a little poetry before I start writing. Ross Gay, Claudia Rankine, Roger Reeves, Renia White. They help me remember how much magic one can find in the smallest detail.

 

What is your idea of earthly happiness? I’d be happy if no one sucked anywhere. Knowing that no one sucks anywhere – for any reason – would make me very, very happy. Among the things I would like to stop sucking: all forms of racism, sexism and homophobia, economic exploitation, and environmental degradation. If these things sucked less – or, better yet, if we created a world in which we stopped them from sucking – I think I’d be happy.

 

What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? I went to a Chance the Rapper show last spring. I’ve been a fan of his for years, but up close I could feel the joy in his music. He spread happiness and love and compassion out to the entire crowd; I’ve never seen so many people smiling so hard after a concert. It may have been the closest I’ve ever come to an out-of-body experience. Just thinking about it makes me smile. Everybody should see him at least once.

 

What are you currently working on? I’m currently working on the third book in the Blacktop series. Frank Torres is the narrator. He’s a playboy who’s always got his hands in some moneymaking scheme, but for the first time in his life he’s heartbroken. Plus, he gets hustled by someone close to him and doesn’t see a way out. Everything he thinks he knows about girls, basketball and life no longer makes sense. This book is about him trying to figure out what to do.

 

Start reading Blacktop!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#AuthorSpotlight

5 Reasons Why We’re DYING for You to Read REIGN OF THE FALLEN

We’re about to knock you dead with the first new series release of 2018! Sarah Glenn Marsh’s Reign of the Fallen is one of our most anticipated fantasies that’s diverse, edgy, and romantic. Need more reasons to get buried in this read? Here are our Top 5 reasons:   1) Are you trying to say … Continued
See More

Watch John Green’s Facebook Live from the TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN Book Tour!

John Green did a Facebook Live for his final stop on the Turtles All the Way Down tour in Los Angeles, CA! If you missed the livestream, don’t worry, because you can watch it right here!         Haven’t read it yet? Get your copy of Turtles All the Way Down here!         … Continued
See More

Every Video Where John Green Talks About TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN

As you may or may not know, John Green is not only a bestselling author, but one part of the two-part YouTube channel Vlogbrothers (the other being his brother, Hank). John has been using his YouTube space to share news about his book bit by bit. We’ve rounded these up and created a timeline of videos from … Continued
See More

Alwyn Hamilton Gets Real on THE LAST JEDI

Alwyn Hamilton, one of our resident Star Wars enthusiasts, and author of the Rebel of the Sands trilogy, saw THE LAST JEDI, and had some thoughts about the treatment “strong female characters.”     I wasn’t yet born in May of 1980. That’s not a brag about being young. I’m just saying I wasn’t around … Continued
See More

Quotes Readers are Loving from TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN

If you’re a John Green fan (or even if you aren’t), you know that he is one of the most quotable authors out there. Since Turtles All the Way Down came out a couple of weeks ago, we have absolutely loved seeing which quotes from the book have resonated with readers, inspiring incredible fan art … Continued
See More

Our 10 Favorite Quotes from PAPER TOWNS

As part of our #TurtlesAllTheWayCountdown to John Green’s new book Turtles All the Way Down (see what we did there?), each week we are highlighting one of our favorite John Green books. This week, it’s Paper Towns! We’re sharing ten of our favorite quotes from this gem. Vote for your favorite below, and don’t forget to join us … Continued
See More

Q&A with Rachel Hawkins, author of ROYALS

Timing is everything right?! With news breaking today of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement, we just HAD to speak with Rachel Hawkins, author of the upcoming and now super timely Royals, about everything Hazza’n’Megs and why she is your go-to royal expert.   Today we got news of a royal engagement! Rachel, your upcoming book Royals is ALL about … Continued
See More

Our 10 Favorite Quotes from THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

As part of our #TurtlesAllTheWayCountdown to John Green’s new book Turtles All the Way Down (see what we did there?), each week we are highlighting one of our favorite John Green books. This week, it’s The Fault in Our Stars! We’re sharing ten of our favorite quotes from this gem. Vote for your favorite below, and don’t forget to join us … Continued
See More

7 Authors You Need to Follow on Instagram

Are you curious about what your favorite authors are up to when they’re not writing? We all are! Why not follow them on Instagram to see them living their best lives? Read on for 7 authors whose Instagram accounts will take your IG feed to the next level.   Tahereh Mafi those of you who’ve been following … Continued
See More

Quiz: Are You the Ultimate John Green Fan?

John Green’s newest novel comes out SO SOON which means his legions of fans are essentially out of their minds with excitement (check out some of the fans who JUST can’t wait.) Turtles All the Way Down hits shelves on October 10th which means now is the time to revisit all of the love you have for his earlier books. Think … Continued
See More
BACK TO TOP

I can give you book recommendations.
Please enter your name and email address to begin chatting with me.



What is your date of birth?

START CHAT