Keep Me Posted!

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

I Want to Hear Your Story: Joy McCullough on Publishing Her Novel, BLOOD WATER PAINT in Today’s Landscape


When it came time to decide on the dedication for my debut novel, Blood Water Paint, there was never really any question. The book was for my daughter.

I was given slight pause, though, since I have two children. I didn’t want my son to feel left out. (I’ve never quite gotten over when my dad named his sailboat the Jennifer Lee – my sister’s name – rather than the Jennifer Joy.)

But this book about the stories women pass down to one another as a roadmap to life as a woman was no sailboat. It had to be for my daughter.

In Blood Water Paint, Artemisia’s mother dies when she is twelve—my daughter’s age—from complications after childbirth. Historically, we don’t know for sure how Prudentia Montone died, but signs point to puerperal fever. In the 1600’s, this uterine infection was generally accepted as a regular consequence of childbirth and motherhood.

Part of being a woman.

Like walking down a street with the sharp edges of our keys sticking through our fingers. Shrugging off “locker room talk.” Having our bodies legislated by a group of old white men. Part of being a woman.

When Prudentia died, Artemisia was left alone as the only woman in her family. Her father might have sent her to a convent, since as a struggling artist he would not have had the means to make her a marriage match. But her brothers didn’t show the same skills she did as a painting apprentice, and so he kept her on instead.

This rare invitation into the Roman art world gave Artemisia opportunities very few young women of her day ever did. But it also brought her into yet another realm where she was the only woman.

And so, isolated by her circumstances, Artemisia Gentileschi conjured the women she needed. She conjured the women who would teach her how to fight, how to find her voice and use it, how to hold her keys and how to watch her drink and how to smash the fucking patriarchy.

And in an extra bit of poetic justice, she conjured these women from the same stories men had been telling —and painting —forever but always failing to understand. Because as a young female painter, Artemisia had a different perspective on the story of Susanna, leered at as she bathes in her private garden.  She had a different perspective on Judith, who put her body and her life on the line to save her people. She saw so much more than beauty for consumption.

Artemisia’s circumstances denied her the women she deserved, and so she willed them into existence, formed of pigment, sweat, and rage.

This International Women’s Day, watch @penguinteen’s Instagram Stories for Artemisia’s powerful paintings of these women who were her lifeline, as Artemisia has been mine. I hope my daughter never needs such a lifeline. But if she does, my book will be there. It has always been for her.



Joy McCullough is the author of Blood Water Painta powerful novel-in-verse about Artemisia Gentileschi that came out this week. You can read more and get your copy here!












12 YA Love Stories to Read If You Have Love, Simon Fever

Raise your hand if you’re completely obsessed with Love, Simon, the new teen romcom based on Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda! The story follows Simon, a not-so-openly gay teen trying to navigate high school, keep his friend group together, and e-flirt with a mysterious classmate named Blue. Whether you’re one of the … Continued
See More

7 Important Books to Celebrate During Black History Month

Black History Month is here, and now, more than ever, we need to celebrate the accomplishments of those who have left a mark on black history and acknowledge that there is still work (and reading!) to do. Luckily, we have a long list of books to explore. Read on for some of our favorite books that … Continued
See More

10 Books to Read if You’ve Already Finished Stranger Things

Stranger Things season 2 just came out on Friday, and if you’re like all of us over at Penguin Teen HQ, then you’ve deffffinitely already finished. (Why are we like this??) Never fear—we’ve got plenty of eerie reads to tide you over until (hopefully) the next season.   Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra … Continued
See More

Artemisia Gentileschi and 7 Other Real Women to Inspire You During Women’s History Month

Every March, we celebrate all of the women that have made an impact on our history and our lives. We try to always celebrate women, but this month especially, the power of a woman is undeniable. That’s why we’re telling you about 8 real women–some you may know, some you may not–that have been seriously inspirational … Continued
See More

Ocean’s 8: The YA Cast

The Ocean’s 8 trailer dropped today and we can’t. stop. watching. it. Unfortunately we have to wait until next June to see it, but that doesn’t mean we’re just going to sit over here stamping our feet like Veruca Salt. What are we doing? Assembling a crime team made up entirely of our favorite YA … Continued
See More

11 Creepy Lines From Books That Will Give You Chills

October 31st is practically on our doorstep, which means every day should be spent selecting Halloween candy, picking out scary movies, and cuddling up with books that will chill your blood, send shivers down your spine, and bring out the goosebumps. Read on for some of the creepiest lines from YA books to get you … Continued
See More

Akata Witch and 5 Other Books to Read if You Loved Black Panther

If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, stop reading this right now and go buy a ticket. If you have, and you’re craving more African fantasy, more girl inventors, or more badass female warriors, you’ve come to the right place. Black Panther truly had it all–a beautiful African-inspired setting, a power struggle between two princes, an all female army, … Continued
See More

8 Book Recommendations from Alwyn Hamilton for Your LAST JEDI Hangover

Alwyn Hamilton, author of the Rebel of the Sands series and one of our resident Star Wars enthusiasts, has blessed us with a list of books to read after seeing The Last Jedi, because we know it’s hard to go on with life after you’ve seen it. Never fear, we’ve got exactly what you need right … Continued
See More

Girl Wonder: Tochi Onyebuchi on Shuri’s Role in Black Panther

Revolution hums like a drumbeat through every frame of Black Panther. Revolution roars in the plot. It sings every time a freight train whisks down a length of high-speed rail. It glows in the beautiful black skin of every single principal character in this film. And it shines as bright as a million suns in … Continued
See More

9 Heroines Who Are Ready to Join the Rebel Alliance

  Already seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi but can’t seem to get enough of it? Want to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi but you’re too worried about what is going to happen to our friends in the Rebel Alliance to do so? Have no fear–we’ve got you covered, regardless of your current Star … Continued
See More

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

What is your date of birth?