Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (September 29, 2020)
Praise for A NEON DARKNESS
Praise for THE INFINITE NOISE
“Emotional and inventive, Lauren Shippen has written a queer love story for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. The Infinite Noise managed to make me swoon even as it broke my heart. A thoughtful and tender exploration of mental health, it will make you want to go to therapy, whether you have superpowers or not.” ―Britta Lundin, Riverdale screenwriter and author of Ship It
“The Infinite Noise is a marvelous book about love, mental health, and connection. Lauren Shippen writes with a clean and honest warmth that is deeply refreshing, and her sharp representation of depression and anxiety rings true. Once I started reading The Infinite Noise, I couldn't stop; now that I've read it, my life has become a matter of waiting to get my hands on whatever Shippen creates next.” ―Sarah Gailey, Hugo Award winning author of Magic for Liars
“Fans of the podcast will revel in this closer look at the lives of the characters, and readers new to the franchise will drop into this world without missing a beat. Give this to fans of the podcast, as well as readers who enjoy Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Rainbow Rowell's work, and Welcome to Night Vale.” ―School Library Journal
“The author gives emotions form, texture, and color, taking readers along on Adam's and Caleb's journeys while remembering that a boyfriend is not an antidote to life's supernatural―or mundane―problems.... A warm, satisfying love story with depth.” ―Kirkus Reviews
"Shippen does a superb job of handling a swirl of complex emotions, ranging from subtle to fiery as the boys struggle to complete each other and share their differences." ―Booklist
Los Angeles, 2006. Eighteen-year-old Robert Gorham arrives in L.A. amid the desert heat and the soft buzz of neon. He came alone with one goal: he wants to see the ocean. And Robert always gets what he wants.
At a very young age, Robert discovered he had the unusual ability to make those close to him want whatever he wants. He wanted dessert instead of dinner? His mother served it. He wanted his Frisbee back? His father walked off the roof to bring it to him faster. He wanted to be alone? They both disappeared. Forever.
But things will be different in L.A. He meets a group of strange friends who could help him. Friends who can do things like produce flames without flint, conduct electricity with their hands, and see visions of the past. They call themselves Unusuals and finally, finally, Robert belongs.
When a tall figure, immune to their powers, discovers them, the first family that Robert has ever wanted is at risk of being destroyed. The only way to keep them
all together is to get his powers under control.
But control is a sacrifice he might not be willing to make.
A Neon Darkness is the origin story of Damien and the second stand-alone story
in the Bright Sessions Novels.
P A R T O N E
THE SUNSET PART 2
The street is loud and a lot more Vegas-like than I would have thought, people shouting and stumbling through the streets in bright costumes. Vegas was fun, but I was hoping for a different scene. After two weeks there, I think I’m starting to discover that I like things a bit . . . quieter. Everything is easier to manage with fewer people. Less chance I’ll slip up. Less chance something will go terribly wrong. I look at the flow of people headed down the block toward booming music—groups of friends smiling and laughing with each other. I feel a pang low in my gut and I’m taking a step toward the teeming crowd before I have a chance to think about it. Maybe things could be different this time—maybe I’ll join the revelers and then it will be me laughing and smiling like I have no cares in the world and I’ll mean it.
But before I can even make a plan of attack for how I would go about joining in the celebration, my feet stop in their tracks, the pang overwhelmed by roiling anxiety. There are too many people, moving too quickly, already too drunk. It would be impossible to hold any influence and without it, I highly doubt anyone is going to welcome the baby-faced kid in a hoodie and scuffed-up shoes with open arms.
I’m thinking about just calling it a night, starting the process of finding a place to crash, when I glance across the street to see a bright red neon sign proclaiming bar lubitsch. There’s a bored guy out front, smoking a cigarette, but otherwise the place looks a hell of a lot emptier than the street. Emptier and easier. Eventually I’ll have to sleep, but right now I just want to sit in something other than the driver’s seat. I take a deep breath and saunter across the street, plastering on my most innocuous “Nothing to see here” face. “ID?” the guy asks when I reach the gate. He squints at me through the smoke and I smile at him, the motion of my mouth curving feeling foreign and fake like always.
“That’s okay,” I say smoothly, heart beating in my chest. “I don’t need one.”
He exhales. More smoke. More squinting. I stand perfectly still and focus on what I want, and then:
“Right,” he drawls, and then his eyes relax and his lips twitch around the cigarette he’s put back in his mouth. “Right, yeah, sure thing. Go on in.”
My shoulders relax and I nod in thanks as I move through the tiny front patio, filled with a few more solo smokers. Eyes swivel, following me as I open the door.
Inside it’s significantly less smoky but equally dark and empty. The whole thing has a real “Leon Trotsky would have hung out here” kind of vibe—little café tables and dark wood booths, blocky Cyrillic painted onto large mirrors, everything in black and red. It feels like another world compared to the noisy, chaotic streets. I let out a breath I didn’t even realize I was holding. God, I am sick of driving. Cramped and crowded with nothing but my own thoughts and the monotony of the constantly changing radio stations as I moved across state lines. I need a new sound—someone else’s voice in my ears, in my head.
Copyright © 2020 by Lauren Shippen
Photo Content from Lauren Shippen
Lauren was named one of Forbes 2018 30 Under 30 in Media and one of MovieMaker Magazine and Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch. In 2019, she founded Atypical Artists, a company dedicated to audio storytelling. Shippen grew up in New York, where she spent most of her youth reading and going to Panic! at the Disco shows. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she does the same thing.
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