Gossamer Summer launch!

Launch event for Gossamer Summer will be at Red Balloon Bookstore in St. Paul, MN, 6 pm on May 30th. (That’s a Tuesday.) YAY!!

Gossamer Summer: cover art! (and a publishing date!)

I have final cover art for my new novel, and a publishing date: May 30th, 2023! YAY!!!!

The art is by Ji-Hyuk Kim and–like all his art–is magical. I especially love the attention he pays to the worlds he is illustrating, full of detail and life. And of course, the glowing light that is a hallmark of his style. It is so perfect.

And yes, the cat! That terrible, wonderful cat!

(Yes, he is modeled on my terrible, wonderful cat.)

Can you tell it’s a portal fantasy? Ah, I love the cover so much!

It’s the second day of summer, and Jojo and her three sisters–and their new friend Theo–discover a grungy, muddy fairy, who tells them that fairyland is in trouble. And it’s pretty much Jojo’s fault. So what can they do but set off to try to save it? Gossamer Summer is ideal for ages 8 and up.

And there is a publication date!–which means that you can now pre-order the book at any of your favorite book-ordering websites or locations. Here are two of my favorites: my local indie, Red Balloon Bookshop; and, for online orders, Bookshop.org


new book in 2023!

News! I have a new book coming out in summer of 2023–a little over a year from now. YAY!!!

Here’s the Publisher’s Weekly announcement:

Reka Simonsen at Atheneum/S&S has acquired Gossamer Summer by A Crack In the Sea and A Tear In the Ocean author H.M. Bouwman, in which four sisters make a friend, find a grubby fairy, and defend the neighborhood against evil birds, in a book about grief, magic, and the power of stories. Publication is slated for Summer 2023. Tricia Lawrence at Erin Murphy Literary sold North American rights on behalf of the author.

[Side note: I’ve changed the name of this page from “blog” to “news” because…I don’t post regularly. But I will post again when there’s cover art for the new novel!]

Some recent links to interviews and essays about A CRACK IN THE SEA

Hello! Here’s a link to some recent interviews and essays online:








Link: Interactive Map of the Middle Passage

Some background to the Zong story in A CRACK IN THE SEA: To get some sense of how active the Middle Passage was—and how massive the slave trade—take a look at this interactive video. In about two minutes, it will show you the ship routes for over 200 years of slave trade; you can click on any dot to see more information about that vessel and the people on board.


Deleted Scene

Want to see the deleted opening to A CRACK IN THE SEA? Here it is! And there’s a little bit of commentary below.


How the Kraken Lost Each Other.

The Second World. So many years ago.

Once upon a time, in the beginning—not literally in the beginning, but near enough, and as close as we will get in this book—there lived two Kraken, as enormous as small nations. The entire ocean was their home, and they regarded the little islands that dotted up out of the water as merely the pillars that supported their heavens.

Did I mention how big the Kraken were? As big as cities, as big as islands covered with cities and farms. And as deep, and as complicated.

They were happy, mostly. They were in love.

One day a big storm brewed itself up—way above them in the sky and on the surface of the ocean. Far below, they were safe. Or they thought they were.

The Kraken were having an argument, which they liked to call a “discussion.” The husband (they did not have names, as there were only two of them; they were just “he” and “she”—or, if they were talking to each other, “you”)—he wanted to return home. He was tired of travel. All eight of his arms swayed in the water. “We’ve been gone a long time. Too long.” As he shook his ponderous mantle, he sounded sulky, even to himself. The water bubbled around him.

The wife shrugged, all eight of her shoulders swishing upward. She blinked her eyes, big-windowed lanterns closing, then flicking open. “We can go home later. There’s more exploring to do.” She gestured with several tendrils to the world beyond, over which the storm was at its darkest.

“Home,” he repeated, scooting a few yards away, towards the far-off island bay they called theirs. He too blinked, slowly, as if to say Come, be tired like me. Home and rest.

The wife slid a few yards in the other direction, as if to say Come, wake up. Adventure. Home later.

The storm suddenly intensified, as they sometimes do on the ocean—snapping into high gear with little notice.

But then something new, something strange happened. The storm’s great arms reached deep into the ocean and roiled the water all the way down to the dark sandy bottom. The storm stirred up a line between the two Kraken. As the sand whirled around them, both disappeared from each other’s sight.

When the debris finally settled, the husband gasped—and the wife gasped at the same time. They had shuffled apart even farther, to retreat from the sandstorm, and now between them stood: was it a doorway?

It seemed to be, or something like it. A narrow portal that stretched up and up.

There was more.

The doorway (can we really call it that? It was just a lighted strip of water) reached down from the sky all the way to the ocean floor, as if a crack had opened up between two worlds. He sat in one place and She sat in the other. They could see each other, but they were no longer together. He was in their home world, and she was suddenly—someplace else.

The husband—the one we will concern ourselves with, for the wife is now lost—registered everything in a fraction of a second, as Kraken do. He tasted something foreign in the water, a saltiness mixed with traces of iron. A coolness brushed over his mantle. He smelled alien fishes. And through the long, thin doorway, through the crack that stretched to the heavens, he saw his wife, her eyes wide and unblinking.

He knew where he was. But where was she?

For just a half a moment, both Kraken sat motionless on the ocean floor, staring at each other through the doorway. Then they both leapt, inking and jetting their way toward the door, toward each other.

But too late. The crack snapped shut, the doorway disappeared, the storm moved on. And the Kraken? He shot forward, all three of his hearts in his mouth, to . . . nothing. To empty sand. To the spot where his wife would have been if she had not disappeared through a doorway into another world.


He sat down to wait.

The doorway did not reopen.

He waited. He waited a very long time. He did not know what else to do, and Kraken live long and contain deep oceans of patience.

Many years passed.

And, finally:

Finally one day, something did happen—though not what he had hoped for.

High above, balancing precariously on the surface of the water, three wooden fish sailed over him, headed toward his island bay. Boats, carrying people. He’d seen boats before, and people—there were some on the islands near his home—but not boats so large or people so sickly pale. These were something new.

He considered. It made sense to him that they might be from that other place, and if so, maybe they’d know how to open the doorway. He followed and watched as they settled on the island near his bay.

But it soon became clear that they did not know anything about his wife or how to get to that other world. They could not even converse with him; they could not even walk on the bottom of the water.

He went back to the no-longer-a-doorway, where he waited.

Then one day, several years later, he spotted something new. People who did have that gift for sinking and walking. A hundred of them at least: tortured, beaten, whipped, starved; yet alive. And the deep color of joy. Walking on the bottom of the ocean, holding hands, strings of people like tattered ribbons. That was certainly strange—and maybe a sign that they too came from the other world. Maybe they’d know something. He trailed them at a distance, so as not to scare them with his monstrous bulk, hoping to find news of his wife.


Yes, the novel used to start with the Kraken. I love them. I really wanted to start the novel with them.

About this opening, my editor said only this: “They are middle-aged sea monsters having a domestic dispute. Kids won’t be that interested. Why not start with the actual main characters of the novel?” (She did not say these words EXACTLY; I’m paraphrasing what I remember from the conversation. I hope I’m doing her justice. Because she is brilliant.)

I thought about her comments for a few days.

Then I cut the scene.

Why? Because my editor was right.

(But I’m including it here because I love the Kraken so much that I can’t dump the scene altogether. I hope you enjoy!)

Original Title

How does an author arrive at a title?

Well, in my case, I arrived at it because my editor really, really didn’t like my first title for A CRACK IN THE SEA. Part of the reason was because it was, including the subtitle, 40 words long. I KID YOU NOT. Here it is, with some thoughts on it below:


By H.M. Bouwman

Or: Sea Monsters in Love. Also Known As: The Astonishing Voyages of Kinchen and Thanh, Based on Thanh’s Story. Sometimes Titled, What You Will, When You Must Leave Home. A Story in Several Parts. By The Author.

First, I want to say for the record that I will love subtitles until the day I die.

I also love the fact that the subtitle evokes the 18th century. And since part of my novel is set in the 18th century, I like that the subtitle has the sound of an old English novel or historical tome, many of which included long explanatory subtitles like this one.

However. Maybe the long subtitle isn’t quite right for a fantasy novel that is mostly set in 1978.

And the original main title? I loved THE TRADED GIRL because it seemed to me to pose a puzzle for the reader: Who is the traded girl? I thought the reader would probably first assume the title was a reference to Caesar, and only later would the reader realize that the “traded girl” is a reference to someone else altogether. (I’m being a little vague here because I’m trying to talk without spoilers, in case you, dear reader, haven’t finished the novel yet.) I also wanted the title to get readers to think about what it means to be traded (to be sent somewhere against your will) versus what it means to choose to trade yourself—to choose your home, essentially.

But my editor wasn’t convinced THE TRADED GIRL was the best title. And the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that she was right. (She is very smart.) It’s not a very active title, after all, and there’s no image to latch onto—you can’t see or touch “the traded girl.” It’s kind of cold and distanced, too (the girl isn’t named), and it’s ambiguous (what does “traded girl” mean, anyway?) Lastly, this title sounds . . . depressing. And though there are tough subjects in my story, the novel is not overall a depressing book.

So my editor asked for a title that would do a better job of suggesting fantasy and that would more strongly evoke the Second World. We emailed back and forth about a lot of titles before I finally hit on A CRACK IN THE SEA.

And I LOVE IT! A CRACK IN THE SEA is a far better title than my original idea. It’s visual; it evokes the second world; it suggests action and fantasy. And best of all: there’s a pun in it, which for me makes it wonderful.

Which, I guess, is all a long way of saying: revision is a good thing.