Aya de Leon

author – activist – faculty – mom

2022 closeout: New novel out today! Debut middle grade came out in October! I’m becoming a publisher of climate justice fiction!

2022 is closing out strong! My new novel, THAT DANGEROUS ENERGY, is out today!

Marrying a billionaire will fulfill this struggling artist’s dreams—so she ignores the source of his wealth. But impending climate disaster pushes her on a path to expose the truth and put all her convictions on the line

Having been raised poor, Morgan Faraday grabs every opportunity to up-level her life. So she definitely plans to keep oil company heir Sebastian Reid interested . . . all the way to the altar. He’s savvy, charming, and is turning his billion-dollar company green to make up for his ancestors’ exploitation. With him, Morgan can have love, money, and  help the environment. So securing her future is far more important than the attractive climate activist she suddenly has unexpected feelings for

But once Morgan gets a glimpse of Sebastian’s secret allies and confidential emails, she’s stunned to find he’s only talking a good game. His company is dealing in climate disaster, and a chance encounter makes it clear to Morgan the lengths he’ll go to stay on top. To gather enough evidence to expose him, Morgan will have to rely on her quick wits and new friends to stay one step ahead of a corporate conspiracy. But as the danger comes closer, will Morgan put herself first and run—or face down the risk, even at the cost of her life? 

This is my boldest climate justice novel yet. It continues with the same setup from my last three climate justice novels, SIDE CHICK NATION, A SPY IN THE STRUGGLE and QUEEN OF URBAN PROPHECY. The protagonist is a woman of color is going about her life, when she is heavily impacted by the climate crisis and becomes activated into the movement. But as I have become more immersed in the climate justice movement IRL, my novels are moving from focusing on raising awareness of the climate emergency as a problem, and starting to focus on climate solutions. Check it out. THAT DANGEROUS ENERGY is out now from Kensington Books, and the audiobook is out on 1/5/23.

Meanwhile, back in October, Candlewick Books published my first novel for young readers, UNDERCOVER LATINA…in hardcover!

Andréa Gutierrez-Baldoquín has always been homeschooled, because her family works for an international spy organization. At fourteen it’s time for her first solo mission. She presses her hair straight and changes her name to Andrea Burke, ANN-dree-yuh, the mispronunciation she’s always had to correct.   

Now she’ll have to face high school for the first time, deflecting mean girls, slogging through cafeteria food, and trying not to get distracted by the cute Latino boy. Although she’s Puerto Rican and Mexican, she’ll be undercover as a gringa, because her mission is to befriend the geeky estranged son of a white nationalist. Her organization has intel that the father is planning an act of terrorism but they don’t know the target. Andréa’s assignment requires a deep dive into the son’s interests: comic books and gaming. She’ll need to add everything she learns about superheroes to her extensive training in order to outwit the terrorist and stop the attack. . . all while remembering not to blow her family’s cover by speaking Spanish.

UNDERCOVER LATINA is already making a splash, having been a Junior Library Guild selection, making NPR’s best of 2022 list, and being a finalist for the Jane Addams Peace Award. It’s also the first in The Factory series (the name of the spy organization). The prequel, UNTRACEABLE, will come out in fall 2023, and it’s about Andréa’s colleague, Amani Kendall, a plus-size Black girl teen spy who has her own first mission adventure!

In other news, UNTRACEABLE is one of three projects coming out in 2023. One is a work-for-hire for a major entertainment franchise…(more on that when it gets announced). But the other is a new novel for adults, THE LAST CONCERT ON EARTH, which lives at the intersection of climate justice and reproductive justice. It follows Anasuya Blackwell, a young musician character introduced in QUEEN OF URBAN PROPHECY. The most exciting twist about this novel is that I am planning to publish it as part of my new climate justice fiction imprint: FIGHTING CHANCE BOOKS!

This is our moment.  Fighting Chance’s mission is to CHANGE THE NARRATIVE of climate fiction. Currently, what we call climate fiction is largely futuristic dystopias that all presuppose that we fail to take effective action in this moment. Other stories rely on aliens, superpowers or exceptional individuals to save the day. I am grateful to the sci-fi fantasy community for sounding the alarm for three generations. And now it’s time to add another story. Starting in 2023, we will be publishing novels about people fighting in the here & now for a livable future on this planet. THIS IS HOW WE WIN. 

Fighting Chance is an imprint of She Writes Press and seeks novels for adults by writers of all genders.  

We publish stories of people taking collective action in the here and now to solve the climate crisis.  

We are currently acquiring titles for the 2023/24/25 lists from both agented and unagented authors.  

We are open to all popular genres: crime fiction, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, women’s fiction, urban fiction and beyond.  

Fighting Chance has a zero-carbon footprint model with a focus on ebooks and audiobooks.  

Moving fast to make an impact 

Because it’s a climate emergency, and because we are not printing books, we have a much quicker turnaround than most publishers. This also allows us to buy books on proposal (much like non-fiction) as opposed to waiting for finished novels. 

In general, the pace of the publishing industry is slow. If you start to write a book today, editors want it to be polished before you submit it. But because we are responding to the climate emergency, we have a very different process. Similar to non-fiction books, we will consider acquiring a novel based on a 20-page sample and a detailed synopsis. We KNOW what kinds of books we want to publish and we want to partner with writers to get them out to readers as soon as we can.  

Our motto is stories of how we can still save the world! The books don’t need to be perfect. They might be a quick read. But they need to be page-turner stories that inspire readers to imagine that we can take action to save our world.  


We only publish adult fiction. This is because–for the most part–we aren’t printing books. The market for YA and MG novels is mostly paper books and we are focused on publishing ebooks and audiobooks.  

Time frame – we are looking for books set in the here and now, specifically 2023-2025, because this is the time that scientists have given us to make the sweeping changes in our global carbon emissions to avert the worst of climate disaster. 

Collective action – we are looking for stories of groups of ordinary people working together to make change happen. 

Scale – we want to tell stories of mass movements that work together to make big wins for the climate. City, state, and community campaigns make a HUGE difference, and these stories are worthy to be told. However, Fighting Chance Books only publishes stories that have at least a national scale of change. 

Fighting Chance is focused on Climate Justice: This is about BIG solutions that will shift our entire world economy away from burning fossil fuels in order to avert the climate disasters that scientists predict will happen if we continue to emit carbon into the atmosphere. This is related to but different from fights for Environmental Justice, which might include local fights on environmental issues or noticing how communities of color, poor communities, and nations in the Global South are more heavily impacted by pollution and disaster. These are important stories and we support them. However, FCB is focused squarely on the fight to change our political and economic priorities at a national and global level to solve the climate crisis. We are open to stories from anywhere in the globe that fit our brand, even as we acknowledge that large dominant nations like the United States are disproportionately responsible for the climate crisis, via US corporations and consumption patterns. 


3 parts to your pitch package:  

  • query letter (use standard agent query letter format – easily available on the web)
    • Genre 
    • Word count (or sense of the story length – epic novel, novel, short novel) 
    • 1-2 paragraph pitch of the book (also, see online for pitching etiquette) 
    • A paragraph bio about you 
    • Is the book finished? What draft are you on? 
    • If it’s a work-in-progress, what is your sense of when you might finish? (Not a commitment, but an estimate, based on your available time and how fast you write) 
  • the first 20 pages of prosed (double-spaced and polished) 
  • a detailed 5-10 page synopsis that includes spoilers and the ending

send to clifi@shewritespress.com

You can hear me talking about Fighting Chance Books on the Write Minded Podcast, (via LitHub).

This new publishing imprint was inspired by the online conference that I produced this past spring, Black Literature vs. The Climate Emergency. You can still view it on YouTube.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately…See you all in 2023!


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This entry was posted on December 27, 2022 by in Uncategorized.


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Aya wins first place Independent Publisher Awards for UPTOWN THIEF, THE BOSS, THE ACCIDENTAL MISTRESS

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