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Displaying items by tag: teen
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 11:29

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Do you enjoy witty banter, great characters, daring adventures, lady sleuths, bad boys, mysterious manor houses, and tasty pastries? Meet your next favourite book: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, the first book in The Lynburn Legacy trilogy.

Fact: I have a love for everything Sarah Rees Brennan writes. Also fact: Unspoken is her finest, funniest, and most fun book yet. It’s no mystery why Unspoken is one of Team Teen’s top reads for this year.

Here's the set up: Kami Glass has always had an imaginary friend named Jared. She hears him in her head, and he's gotten her through every awful moment and celebrated every wonderful thing that has happened in her life. He's the person closest and dearest to her. Her family and friends think this is, well, a bit strange but they love Kami and this quirkiness is part of her normal life. But one day Kami finds out that Jared is a real person who exists outside of her head.  It's bad enough he knows what she's thinking and feeling, but he's also one of the Lynburns—the mysterious family revered and feared in Kami's hometown of sleepy little Sorry-in-the-Vale.

Kami isn't about to let this stop her. No, she is a journalist—an earnest investigative reporter who understands you occasionally need to overlook property laws in order to get to the truth. There are creepy noises in the woods on the Lynburn estate, someone tried to shove her down a well, and the Lynburns are definitely involved.

So Kami gets her friends Angela and Holly, and her new friend Ash—who is Jared's cousin—and Jared, who is her now-not-so-imaginary friend, to help her investigate. (By which I mean she tells them they're all investigating with her.) Kami’s investigation leads to the truth about both Sorry-in-the-Vale and the Lynburn family—and her connection to them.

If you aren’t fully convinced that you and all of your friends should read this book IMMEDIATELY, let the other members of The Team Teen Nosy Parker* present their evidence:

Unspoken is delightful, fun, and beyond CHARMING. Aside from a perfectly dreamy setting and clever writing, I found myself totally enchanted by the excellently angsty characters. Kami is like Veronica Mars; sleuthing her small town into submission and dazzling with her smarts.  This one is an excellent read for mystery fans, paranormal lovers, and really any Teen book reader who loves a good turn of phrase. Did I mention the charm factor? Because it is. Charming. And I can’t wait for the next book.” —Kate Newman, Teen Assistant Category manager

“This book makes my checklist of charm!  Clever sleuthing, delicious snark, imaginary friends that turn out to be real and might be your soulmate, a town full of secrets, myth and sorcery and, did I mention the delicious snark?  Prepare to be lulled into a gentle sense of YA security as you hang out with these lovely characters ONLY TO HAVE YOUR----------well, I’ll stop there.  You’ll see.” —Natalie Garside, Teen Inventory Analyst

* Another reason to read Unspoken is so you get this joke!
Published in Teen
Monday, 24 September 2012 02:13

A Q and A with Maggie Stiefvater

One of the books Team Teen is most excited about this fall is Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys. In this first book of her new The Raven Cycle series, Stiefvater introduces us to Blue Sarget and the Aglionby boys: Gansy, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. Blue is the daughter of the town pyschic in sleepy Henrietta, West Virgina, who has grown-up being told that if she kisses her true love, she will kill him. The boys all attend the private Aglionby Academy. They have no reason to cross paths until one St. Mark's Eve when Blue sees Gansey walking the ghost road.

This means two things:

1) Gansey is going to die in the next year.

2) Either Gansey is Blue's true love or she will be the one who kills him.

Add in a quest for a long-lost Welsh king, ley line magic, and heart-squeezingly well-written relationship dynamics and you get a story that is kissed with magic and prophecy, filled with adventures and friendships, and an observation of the bonds created by money, family, and friendship. It is, in my opinion, the best book Stiefvater has written yet.

We are so delighted to have Maggie Stiefvater here to answer a few questions. She also shares a peek into Gansey's infamous journal. Welcome, Maggie!

Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): For our readers: what can they expect from The Raven Boys?

Maggie Stiefvater (MS): Rich boys, fast cars, helicopters, magic and all kinds of Latin. It's the first book in a four-book series, so the trouble that goes down in this book is just the beginning.

ITB: How does your musical back ground influence your work?

MS: Oh, well, in three big ways. The first is that I have to listen to music while I write — I rely on it heavily to keep my chapter in the mood I want for it. And secondly, in that I think of my books as a mix CD, where the tone and length of each chapter builds on the last just like in a well-made mix CD (I spend a lot of time reading my words out loud, too, for rhythm). And finally, because I write music for each of my books — all those songs are available for free download on my website ( and are also the background for the trailers for each book.

ITB: Is there a “real” Gansey’s notebook and may we see it?

MS: There are actually two of them. One of them is somewhere in the Scholastic offices in NYC, and the other is in my office in Virginia. YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT? I thought you'd never ask.







ITB: What made you choose ley lines and the lore of an ancient king?

MS: This is a hard question to answer as it requires considerable memory-work on my part. I wrote the first draft of this novel when I was 19 or so — 9 or 10 years ago. And it wasn't the sleeping king novel idea wasn't a new idea for me even back then, either. As a history major, I'd been entranced by the combination of history and myth for a long time. Now, the ley lines — that I remember. I needed a way to get a long-dead Welsh king over to Virginia, and the ley line stuff tied in perfectly. Marriage made in medieval heaven.

ITB: Did any major plot points change as you did researchfor this story?

MS: I have yet to write a novel where they didn't. The biggest challenge, however, was balancing the personalities of the boys. Because they were so tightly knit, just one tweak of one character would create a domino effect through the rest.

ITB: The Raven Boys is delicately balanced between dark and light, levity and heartache. We know you worked with David Leviathan. Do you feel he helped create that balance through editorial support or was this something that you found on your own while drafting?

MS: I love working with David; the fact that he's an author in his own right means that his notes come already translated into writer-language. Convenient! But generally by the time he gets a manuscript, it is pretty complete. The folks who see it in bits and pieces from the very beginning are my critique partners, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff. Even then, their job is not to impose their own styles but rather to see what I'm trying to accomplish and make sure that THAT is what ends up on the page.

ITB: The locations are beautifully built out for readers from Blue’s house to the woods. Is it important to you, as a writer, to set spaces that are as evocative as the characters?

MS: Absolutely. Our settings make us who we are. To not build them up as lovingly as the people in them is to only tell half the story.


Thank you again to Maggie Stiefvater for answering our questions and our friends at Scholatic Canada for facilitating this Q & A. The Raven Boys is available now, and you can meet Maggie Stiefvater at Chapters Brampton on September 25th at 7 pm!

Published in Teen
Monday, 17 September 2012 19:02

A Q and A with Libba Bray

Libba Bray's newest novel, The Diviners, is the bee's knees. It's already a fall favourite among Team Teen, so we know that you're going to love it, too.

Set in the roaring '20s, The Diviners follows a diverse cast of characters through a New York populated with jazz clubs, flappers, and secrets. People with psychic abilities, known as Diviners, are reappearing. Why are so many of them gathered in New York? What purpose do the Diviners have?

This first book in Bray's new series focuses on Evie "Evil" O'Neill, a Zelda Fitzgerald-like teen flapper, with a talent for getting into mischief. Evie can also see people's pasts and learn their secrets by touching their personal items. In fact, this unnerving skill is the reason Evie had to leave sleepy Ohio to come to New York. She's staying with her uncle Will, who happens to be the curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--or as everyone else calls it: The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. When a serial killer named Naughty John begins stalking the streets of New York, can Evie solve the crime?

We're pos-i-tute-ly thrilled to have Libba Bray on the blog to answer a few of our questions about The Diviners! Welcome, Libba.


Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): Part of what gives The Diviners such an authentic tone is its use of 1920’s language. The words the characters speak really help to identify them and the social group they belong to. Is there any difference in crafting the language of a historical period versus a contemporary one? What kind of research did you do into the era?

Libba Bray (LB): There’s pos-i-tute-ly a difference.

As part of my research, I looked into the slang of the day, which was really delicious. When you have access to phrases like, “flour lover” (a girl who might want to go easy on the face powder next time), “the elephant’s eyebrows” (something awesome), “dewdropper” (a real slacker of a guy), “ossified” (drunk) or “Bank’s closed” (Sorry, pal, you’re not getting a kiss out of me tonight), it makes your job a lot of fun. Who wouldn’t want to drop those into a conversation?  I also find reading the fiction of the time period to be extremely helpful because it’s a bit of a time capsule. Reading newspapers and advertisements opens a window as well. As a former advertising copywriter, I look at ads because they give you a sense of what people valued, what their aspirations—and in many cases, their fears and prejudices—were.

In terms of broader 1920s research, about four years ago, I started reading up on the period. Some of the books I found useful include Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s by Ann Douglas. Playing The Numbers: Gambling in Harlem Between the Wars by Shane White, Stephen Garton, Dr. Stephen Robertson, and Graham White.  Only History: An Informal History of the 1920s by Frederick Lewis Allen. Jesus and Gin: Evangelicalism, the Roaring Twenties, and Today’s Culture Wars by Barry Hankins. The Harlem Renaissance: A Brief History with Documents by Jeffrey B. Ferguson, and From The Folks Who Brought You The Weekend: A Short, Illustrated History of Labor in the United States by Priscilla Murolo, A.B. Chitty, and Joe Sacco, among many, many others.

Then there were trips to the New York and Brooklyn Public Libraries, the New York Historical Society, the Paley Center for Media where my terrific assistant, Tricia, and I could listen to old radio broadcasts, and the MTA Archives and Museum where we waded through countless pictures of 1920s New York City and where we sat in an actual 1920s subway car. (Today’s factoid: It had ceiling fans.) I employed the expertise of two historians who led walking tours through Harlem and the Lower East Side, and, I hit up my librarian friends like Elizabeth Irwin High School librarian, Karyn Silverman, who used to teach a unit on the 1920s. Finally, when it became clear that the breadth of what I needed/wanted to know was too vast for my puny, haphazard, untrained research skills, I hired an expert: librarian and self-proclaimed “research maven” Lisa Gold came to my rescue, helping me find what I needed, everything from primary sources on Ziegfeld Follies girls toimmigration statistics to the etymology of the word “honey” as a term of endearment to answer a fact checker’s query. Lisa is amazing. Visit her here:

Obviously, I couldn’t have done this without a village. As I say, when the going gets tough, the tough get a librarian. Truth.


ITB: Did you dress in costume to help you get in the mood to write? Listen to specific music?

LB: I only write in costume. This will be interesting when I finally write that llama pirate-anarchist-Dolly Parton musical the world has been clamoring for. (Truth: Mostly, I write garbed in comfy jeans and concert t-shirts. For sartorial splendor, look to other writers.) I do make a playlist for everything I write and The Diviners was no exception. The act of figuring out which songs will create just the right mood for the book is a part of the writing process for me. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself when I’ve missed my deadline once again because I’ve been messing around on iTunes. (You can find my playlists on my website——if you’re so inclined. And if you’re really inclined, you might be a hill.)


ITB: How did you approach writing the characters from multiple points of view?

LB: With fear and trepidation. And lots of coffee.

Given the nature of the book, I didn’t see any other way to do it than to write from multiple POVs. It’s a big, sprawling series, and I really wanted that omniscient, old-fashioned storytelling feel. I’d done multiple POVs for Beauty Queens, but that was smaller scale compared to The Diviners and, I will not lie, I was absolutely terrified. Many a morning, I’d wake in a sweat, thinking, “What have I done? I can barely organize my sock drawer. In fact, I do not organize at all. What made me think I could tackle all of this?” And then I’d swill some antacid, put a bullet between my molars[1], and place my fingers on the keys.

I took comfort from rereading one of my favorite books, Stephen King’s Salem's Lot. He is terrific at shifting from one POV to another in a way that is seamless and doesn’t make you feel lost. By the time you finish that book, you’ve been in the heads of almost everyone in town. So, when trying something that feels scary to you as a writer, I say look to those who do it well, like King, as your mentors. But when writing outside of my culture, I approach that with humility and respect and as much research as I can gather.


ITB: There seems to be a rise in interest in the turn of the last century and the first few decades. Why do you think that is?

LB: I think because so much of what was happening then resonates with what we’re facing now. Obviously, in the current economic climate, we can’t help but look back to the 1920’s and 1930’s, with the stock market crash and the Great Depression.

Certainly, the 1920s were a rich historical period, something that felt entirely new and exciting—glamorous flappers, jazz, Prohibition, the emergence of radio, the Harlem Renaissance, gangsters and bootleggers, wild parties and political scandals like the Teapot Dome affair. And the fact that we know this wild party is all leading up to a very big crash informs the period with a certain suspense that makes for great, thoughtful reading.


ITB: You speak to many different political and social conflicts during the period. How do you think that contemporary readers will relate to what happened then to what is happening now?

LB: That really was my inspiration for writing The Diviners. I wanted to write about post-9/11 America and to explore the things that were troubling me as an American, like the Patriot Act, the almost casual way we were ceding our civil liberties in exchange for “Homeland Security,” the elevation of corporate greed above human interest, the justification of torture as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the rise in xenophobia and far right-wing hate. I came across that famous quote, oft attributed to Sinclair Lewis: “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in a flag and waving a cross.” And I thought, “Hmmmm…”

I began to wonder, question, “Well, what does it mean to be ‘American’? Who are we?” As I began to research the 1920’s, I saw interesting and, at times, disturbing parallels between where we were then and where we are now: Labor unions were under attack. A wave of post-WWI terrorism in the U.S. had bred fear and a suspicion of “foreigners.” There was a nasty streak of nativism that found its way into everything from the eugenics movement to the KKK to the Immigration Law of 1924. Evangelicalism was on the rise, with popular evangelists such as Aimee Semple McPherson and Billy Sunday preaching about the loss of “traditional American values” even as capitalism became the new god, with advertising executive Bruce Barton’s book, The Man Nobody Knows, presenting Jesus as “The Founder of Modern Business.” The famous Scopes Trial about the teaching of evolution in the public schools had taken place in 1925. Modern advertising began to shape the ideals and aspirations of Americans through campaigns that capitalized on their fears and desires, advocating keeping up with the Joneses and lionizing a youth culture. And of course, there is the run-up to financial collapse and the Great Depression.

Today, nearly one hundred years later, we’re still facing many of the same issues: We’re arguing over the teaching of evolution in schools. The flames of anti-immigration fervor arebeing fanned by certain segments of the population. We’ve suffered an economic collapse. Fears of terrorism have created a whole “Homeland Security” state and fostered a sense of xenophobia. Racism is alive and well.  Labor unions are under attack. The religious right influences politics, trying to enact “prohibitions” that harken to a murky, mythic past of “traditional American values.” Corporations reign supreme and there’s a huge wealth gap. Everybody wants to be a millionaire, and our various media vie for our product dollars by shaping our desires, fears, and aspirations into needs which can then be exploited.

This is why it’s good to read history.


ITB: Naughty John is immensely creepy! Can you discuss your inspiration for him? And do you imagine what those markings he has looked like? Is there a place we can see them?

LB: Why, thank you. I’m often complimented on my creepy. Oh, wait…

Barry Lyga was writing I Hunt Killers while I was working on The Diviners, and we sometimes compared our serial killer notes. (That statement pretty much just killed any chance at future dinner invitations for us, I’m sure.) I borrowed a bit from H.H. Holmes, for sure, what with the house of horrors, as well as drawing inspiration from “Sweeney Todd”, carnival barkers, Victorian photographs, and my overactive, anxiety-ridden psyche.

I also took inspiration from religious zealots like David Koresh and Jim Jones. Having grown up in the church (my father was a Presbyterian minister), I’m always fascinated by questions of religion and spirituality, by that fuzzy line between idealism and the danger zone of religious fanaticism.


ITB: If we wear headache bands and bake cupcakes, will you come over for tea?

LB: You had me at cupcakes.

[1] Bullet might be a slight exaggeration. “Bullet” may, in fact, refer to chocolate chips, straws, ice, and jelly beans. Please do not put bullets between your teeth. They’re a choking hazard and it makes your dentist unhappy.


Thanks again to Libba Bray for answering our questions and to our friends at Hachette Book Group Canda for facilitating this Q & A. The Diviners releases this week, so make sure to get your copy.

Published in Teen
Monday, 10 September 2012 15:41

A Q and A with Stephen Chbosky

Both Charlie, the narrator of Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I grew up during the 90's. I'm a few years younger than he is, but we speak the same language of shared cultural experiences. The highs and lows of Charlie's first year in high school, those moments that shape his friendship with Sam and Patrick, remain relatable to both teens and adult years after the novel was first published. This is one of the best books I've read. (Like, ever.) There are great truths in it.

The film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower had its first public screening at TIFF over the weekend. We're on pins and needles here at Indigo, as we're all super excited for this movie. (Charlie has friends beyond Team Teen wishing him well.)

When Simon & Schuster Canada asked us if we'd like to interview the author/director, all of Team Teen collaborated on the questions. Welcome Stephen Chbosky to the blog!

Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): It has been roughly 12 years since The Perks of Being a Wallflower was written. What do you hope this new generation of readers will gleam from this story?

Stephen Chbosky (SC): I want young people to find validation of and respect for what they go through every day. I wanted to show the great times and infinite times as well as the tougher things that people rarely talk about. All of those things are part of growing up, and I want young people to see the movie and read the book and know they are not alone.

ITB: The letters/diary format is so personal and intrinsic to the novel. How does this form work into the film?
SC: Charlie's letters proved to be as intrinsic to the movie as they were to the novel.  Of course, the novel is highly subjective since it's all written in Charlie's voice. So, I needed to find the right cinematic language to tell the same story and characters objectively. But his letters are still the cornerstone of the story. And they still remain the most personal writing I've ever done. I loved writing new letter passages for the movie. It's been awhile since I wrote in Charlie's voice.

ITB: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is so closely tied to the music of its time-setting. Are there songs today that Charlie could connect with as strongly?
SC: Charlie would love The Swell Season, Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Coldplay, The Strokes, Bon Iver, Landon Pigg, Brandi Carlile, Regina Spektor (especially "Samson"), Fun., Stars (especially "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead"), Imagine Dragons (especially "It's Time"), and so many other great artists. I would break your server answering this question if I did not stop myself now. But I have to add that he would have discovered The Tragically Hip's "Ahead by a Century" by now, and his life would be better for it.

ITB:  You’re both a screenwriter and a prose writer. When you wrote the novel, did you find yourself envisioning parts of it as they would adapt to screen, or are prose writing and screenwriting two very separate processes for you?
SC: My dream was always to write the book and then make the movie. So, when I wrote the moment when all the kids run after the sunset after the last day of school, I hoped someday I would get to film it. The same goes for the moment when Charlie holds his hands up in the tunnel. Filming that was a dream come true. As for prose writing and screenwriting, they are completely different processes. Writing a novel is closer to the process of directing for me. It's about creating a world and a tone and an intimate connection with the reader (or viewer). The process of writing a screenplay is more difficult because you don't have 213 pages, but you have just as much story to tell. So, you have to constantly focus the story and when you can, find the picture that's worth the thousand words.

ITB: One of my favourite parts of the novel is when Charlie describes feeling infinite. Would you share with us a time that you felt that way?
SC: I felt infinite the day my daughter was born. And the day I married my wife. But since those are very private to me, I will share another story about Perks. We were shooting the first tunnel scene. I was in the camera car. Emma Watson was in the truck. And on the last run of the night, something magical happened. For whatever reason, Emma let go in that moment, and as she put her arms in the air, I realized that I had never seen more joy on a young person's face. My young friend was completely free and  happy and alive. I felt infinite in that moment just witnessing it. I will never forget that moment as long as I live.

ITB: This is more of a comment that maybe you can speak to. Throughout our lives we develop many coping mechanisms to protect ourselves. When we become teens, it is the first time that we really begin to see the world in a new way and find that our coping mechanisms no longer work. As well, we tend to ponder our place within the world and novels, such as yours, are a way for readers to safely tap into these questions. 
SC: Books, songs, and movies are more than entertainment when we're young.  They help all of us discover who we are, what we believe, and what we hope our life can be.  When I was growing up, movies like Dead Poets Society and The Breakfast Club helped me.  Classic films like The Graduate and Rebel Without a Cause did the same.  Of course, a lot of what is sold to young people is just entertainment, but every now and then, a great band like The Smiths or a classic book like The Catcher in the Rye comes along and changes how we look at youth.

ITB: What’s your favourite part of The Rocky Horror Picture Show?  If you’ve ever gone to a show, who did you dress up as?
SC: My favorite part of Rocky is the beginning of "Time Warp" to the end of "Sweet Transvestite." As far as I'm concerned, that 10 minute sequence is one of the greatest in musical history. Of course, I have gone to dozens of shows, and I always dress as the same person. The shy writer in the audience who worships the performers. My wife likes the look, so I'm sticking with it.

* * *

Thank you again to Stephen Chbosky for taking the time to answer our questions and to our friends at Simon & Schuster Canada for facilitating this Q & A. The Perks of Being A Wallflower opens on September 21st.

Published in Teen
Thursday, 06 September 2012 16:17

A Q and A with Melissa Marr

Best-selling author of the Wicked Lovely series, Melissa Marr, returns with Carnival of Souls. This new novel is the first of a duology set in a world full of violence, magic, and pacts. Populated with intriguing characters who are fighting to make their lives  better,  Carnival of Souls is an exploration of the bonds between family and reluctant allies.

Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong will be joined by many other fabulous authors for the three Smart Chicks Kick It 3.0 tour stops across Canada at Chapters Westside in Edmonton (9/13), Chapters Pointe-Claire in Montreal (9/15), and Chapters Dartmouth in Dartmouth (9/16). Please see our events page for more details! If you have an opportunity, you have to go as this will be the last of the Smart Chicks tours. (We met with many of these authors during their first tour, and have this great Indigo Minute from the second tour.)

Welcome, Melissa, to the blog!

Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): Family—mostly adoptive or created family—is a huge theme in Carnival of Souls. (Like with Adam and Mallory or Kaleb and Zevi.) Is blood thicker than water? Or is pack more who you make it to be?

Melissa Marr (MM): I think there are people who get hung up on biology, but I’ve never understood that notion.  Love and family are choices. My daughter isn’t of my blood; my son-to-be-born infant won’t be either. I chose to be their mother, just as I chose to be the mother of the son I grew inside my body.  I feel no difference between the love I hold for each of them, so I have to conclude that “choice before blood” is the answer.

ITB: One of the things that impressed upon me about Aya was her firm resolve not to have children and the lengths she went to preserve her choice. Since your novels are often about choices, can you tell us more about this one? Did Aya evolve from her world or did the restrictions of her world evolve from her?

MM: I think it was both. In a society decimated by war, for a species fighting for survival, children would be vital.  So, in The City, the restrictions on women make sense from a world-building stance. However, women’s rights are limited in so many countries, so gender equity concerns tend to be on my mind a lot. In particular, the legislation stripping away reproductive rights in the past year in the US currently serves as a reminder that we have to remain vigilant even once we get progressive laws—because, as we’re seeing, those rights can be taken away again.  So, it’s probably safe to say that Aya’s thread evolved from both the post-war society of the text and my own interests.

ITB: From “The Goblin Market” to Something Wicked This Way Comes to The Night Circus, readers have a fascination with circuses and carnivals. Did you have any historical or literary influences for Carnival of Souls?

MM: I’ve never read The Night Circus, and it’s been years since I read Something Wicked This Way Comes, but “Goblin Market” is one of my most beloved pieces of literature. Rossetti’s writing was what led to my initial “I want to study literature” epiphany, so her “Goblin Market” is undoubtedly an influence. I see more from the non-text influences, though: I attend FaerieCon and FaerieWorlds, and I had been in Italy right before writing this.  The FaerieWorlds events are filled with costumed and masked people, artists, food, and music. In Italy were street vendors, the Coliseum, and open-air markets.  I think those experiences swirled together to create the carnival in my book, but I won’t ever dismiss the influence of classic lit! Teaching those texts was my career for over a decade.

ITB: I loved Graveminder so much, and I’m eager to see another adult book from you. Can you share anything about The Arrivals?

MM: The Arrivals was such fun to write, but I have no idea what genre it is. My typical explanation is Wild West meets wormhole meets monster-hunters.  The protagonists are an 1870s saloon girl, a 2012 recovering alcoholic, a 1930s triggerman, and assorted other killers and misfits. There are monsters and boomtowns, corruption and romance, and a lot of violence.

ITB: This is your third year of the Smart Chicks Kick It tour. What’s one of your favourite memories so far from Smart Chicks?

MM: I’m not sure that’s a fair question! I organize the tour with a good friend, Kelley Armstrong; all the authors are people whose books I enjoy; and I’ve met thousands of readers in the US and Canada.  I have pretty much only favourite memories.  I’m sad that this is the last year; it’s been a lot of fun.

ITB: We’re all thrilled that you and Kelley Armstrong are writing THE BLACKWELL PAGES. It sounds like it’s going to be fantastic. Did anything surprise you during your co-writing process?

MM: Writing with Kelley is such a kick! Our processes are so different that we were worried, but it turns out that the differences are assets. I write till about 4 or 5am—which is when she wakes up.  Since we only write the initial drafts when we’re in the same building, we write 24hour/day in a shared file. It creates a pressure to Not Slow Down. If I don’t get my chapter done, she can’t do hers (and the inverse). So it’s this crazy process that we sort of stumbled into at the beginning, but it works for us.  We’re already in revision on book 2 in the trilogy (Odin’s Ravens), and the first one (Loki’s Wolves) isn’t out until May 2013.

ITB: As you’re one of the authors whom I trust when I’m looking for my next great read, are there any amazing titles coming out this fall that I should put on my TBR list?

MM: I read several books a week, but at best I only finish 1 out of every 8 books I start. These are the ones that have wowed me of late. I don’t know release dates, so these may be Fall or Winter.

  1. Splintered – A.G. Howard (companion to Alice in Wonderland; simply delicious and polished writing)
  2. The Darkest Minds--  Alexandra Bracken (dystopian future; teens held in detainment camps and on the run; very thought-provoking and well crafted)
  3. The Madman’s Daughter—Meghan Shepherd (inspired by The Island of Doctor Moreau; polished writing, historical setting, unsettling plot)
  4. Unspoken—Sarah Rees Brennan (Gothic meets funny; if you’ve ever seen Sarah at an event, this is the book you’ve been waiting to read. I laughed out loud on a plane while reading)
  5. Time Between UsTamara Ireland Stone (contemporary romance/time travel; I smiled a lot while reading this.)

* * *

Thanks to Melissa Marr for answering our questions and to our friends at HarperCollins Canada for arranging this interview. Carnival of Souls is available now.

Published in Teen
Friday, 31 August 2012 09:53

Starling by Lesley Livingston

Grab your foil, and get ready! Lesley Livingston’s Starling is packed with mythology, fencing, and fun. Returning to the Faerie-adjacent New York City she created with her Wondrous Strange trilogy, Livingston expertly brings in new characters to expand her fictional world.

In this first book, a mysterious young man crashes into Mason “Mase” Starling’s life during a freak storm. Armed with a sword and a smile, he saves the day and then disappears—but not before revealing that all he remembers is he’s called The Fennrys Wolf. Suddenly Mase is avoiding draugr (Norse zombies), finding sirens in the river, and wrapped up in solving the mystery of Fenn’s past.

Mase’s family has secrets of their own. As a student of the Gosforth Academy, Mase and her classmates are more connected to the mythical side of NYC than she realizes. The founding families of the Gosforth Academy serve different gods—and Mase may be the only one not in on the secret. Despite this, none of her friends have been adequately prepared for what’s coming: The walls between worlds are thin and someone wants to kick start Ragnarok.

Through her trademark blend of wit, romance, and action Livingston is sure to score points with paranormal fans. Mase and Fenn are a dynamic duo, and the fencing scenes are written so a reader can watch them play out in her head. I particularly like the character of Heather, who Mase believes to be a rival but comes to see as a friend. More books with positive female friendships!

Think of Starling as like the first episode of Doctor Who with a new Doctor. For a while, there’s this sense that whole lot of history has happened before—but then you’re neck-deep in adventure so what’s happening now becomes far more important. Similarly, Starling creates an easy entry point into Livingston’s entertaining and magical world. (You can always read the Wondrous Strange books while waiting for the next Starling instalment.)

Starling is highly recommended for fans of Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed and Dreamless, Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, and Kelley Armstrong’s Darkness Rising trilogy.

Published in Teen
Friday, 31 August 2012 11:55

Kenneth Oppel's Such Wicked Intent

Last week we revealed the trailer for Kenneth Oppel’s Such Wicked Intent, the follow-up to This Dark Endeavour. It’s no secret I love The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein because Oppel has reimagined the teen years of the “mad” doctor and created a young anti-hero as engaging as Damon Salvatore or Cassel Sharp.

At the end of This Dark Endeavour, Victor had just lost his twin brother, Konrad. As Such Wicked Intent opens, the books of the Dark Library lay smoldering in the courtyard of Chateau Frankenstein, and Victor swears off the forbidden sciences he blames for giving him such hope then failing to save his brother. But a single volume remains unburned—a strange metal book with contents claiming to help communicate with the spirit world.

Imagine you’ve just lost the person closest to you. What would you do? Victor’s grief and innate scientific curiosity compels him to use the book. Despite his freshly learned lessons, and Elizabeth’s warnings of damnation, he forges ahead. Certain an entrance to the realm of the dead can be found within Chateau Frankenstein, Victor races toward a reunion—but more than just Konrad may wait within this shifting spirit version of their ancestral home.

Such Wicked Intent is devilishly good—creepy, enthralling, and entertaining. In many trilogies, the second book succumbs to being little more than a bridge—an entire book of Middle—but Such Wicked Intent contains a completely developed story of its own.  Think of it as episode two of The Apprenticeship of Young Victor Frankenstein.

I felt this book was quietly about Henry, in the way that a narrator as arrogant as Victor can’t help but not notice the subtle development of his friends. We as readers can look beyond just what Victor sees and read between the lines. Oppel trusts us to be smart enough to do this, and part of what makes Such Wicked Intent so much fun to read is knowing Victor is going to get himself in trouble. He knows he’s going to get in trouble, but he’s doing it anyway.

You’ll get a kick out of watching Victor make poor life decisions, but beneath it all is an intelligent and well-crafted story about the things we do to try to escape pain and the difficulties of dealing with loss. This series set out to illuminate what causes Doctor Frankenstein to embark on his most dark and dangerous endeavor. After going deeper and getting darker with this book, I have to wonder… how close will the final instalment get to the man who builds the monster? Or will Oppel rewrite the story of literature’s most famous mad scientist to end a little less tragically?

Either way, I’ll still be #TeamVictor.

Published in Teen

Last year Indigo teamed up with HarperCollins Canada to host the The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein: This Dark Endeavour AR bookshelf display in our stores. I'm a fan of Kenneth Oppel's reimagining of Victor Frankenstein's teen years, as This Dark Endeavour was one of the best books I read last year. Having read an ARC of the sequel, Such Wicked Intent, I can assure you that it is even better than the first book.

So when HarperCollins Canada asked if we'd like to host the book trailer reveal for Such Wicked Intent, Team Teen was all for it. Feast your eyes on the creepy visuals and get a taste of what awaits you in the pages of This Dark Endeavour's sequel.

What the trailer doesn't reveal is how much fun you'll have reading Such Wicked Intent. Creepy fun. With butterflies and caves and trips into the spiritworld. I'm so excited for you to read it, because I'm dying to talk to you all about it.

Such Wicked Intent will be on the shelves on August 28th, and This Dark Endeavour is available now.

Published in Teen
Monday, 27 August 2012 13:23

A Q and A with Tiffany Trent

If you love Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series or Kady Cross's The Girl in the Steel Corset, then you should order a copy of Tiffany Trent's The Unnaturalists.

Imagine the city of London, circa 18XX, techno-magically transported to the land of Faerie. Ladies with corsets and gentlemen in dashing hats clinging to a religion of Reason and Science to defend themselves argainst the unrational and magical creatures pressing in from the wild. Imagine this land needs these creatures to survive, and it's asking two unlikely heroes to risk safety of social station and limbs to save it. Do you like steampunk? Did you think Princess Mononoke was amazing? Well, then you need to read this book.

Please welcome Tiffany Trent to the blog to tell us more about this hidden gem!


Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): Did creating the setting of The Unnaturalists come easy to you, or did you find yourself doing extensive research about the Victorian age?

Tiffany Trent (TT): Funny you should ask. The Unnaturalists came about as the result of another book I was trying to write. It was mostly set in Victorian London and relied on historical characters. I found that the historical timeline kept tripping me up, as well as the fact that a young witch kept elbowing her way into the picture. Eventually, I mashed together a few concepts that I’d been playing with—a Museum of Unnatural History, Victorian London, and Vespa. I had already had plenty of experience writing about Victorian Scotland and London when writing the Hallowmere series, so the aesthetic was familiar. But I also felt that there was much about the Baroque period in this world, too, encouraged by a mad emperor who was obsessed with Enlightenment-era science. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a work-in-progress grant from SCBWI that allowed me to do research in London. While there, it definitely helped me develop The Unnaturalists and to consider what New London would be like, even as I was also researching the previous book.

ITB: The book features diverse creatures from a sphinx to a wyvern to werewolves. How did you choose which creatures to put in?

TT: For the most part, I wanted to choose creatures whose traditional myths were perhaps less than spotless. It would have been too easy for Vespa to be surrounded by beings who were all good. It’s much more difficult to deal with creatures you aren’t sure you can trust, whose motives are their own, but who nevertheless the world needs to survive. I also chose perhaps less well-known creatures because I wanted the freedom to reinterpret some of the myths a bit rather than feel hampered by them.

ITB: I felt so bad for Syrus at the end of this book. Can you share anything about what happens in the second book?

TT: Syrus will do some really surprising things. In fact, although the second book includes all the familiar characters, it really focuses on Syrus’s journey.  There might even be…no, I’d better not say for fear of too much spoilering.  Anyway, I hope you’ll be pleased.


ITB: I fell in love with this world in your story featured in the Corsets and Clockwork anthology. Which idea came to you first—that story or Vespa’s?

TT: Vespa’s story came first, but Athena has become just as important. I remember the first time I wrote about the Architects of Athena. I wondered who Athena was; I knew immediately she wasn’t the Greek goddess of myth. As I began writing her story, the depth of her importance to this world startled me.  I’d really love to go back and write her story as a novel at some point.

ITB: How awesome is Nikola Tesla?

TT: So awesome that words can’t describe. I sometimes try to imagine what the world would be like if he had been given full rein to develop whatever he wanted. I think it could have been equally beautiful and terrible. Wireless electricity. The power to destroy a building with resonance. Robot slaves. All sorts of alternative energy sources we still can’t even imagine now.  He was a very complicated man. He didn’t tolerate slovenly or unattractive people in his employ, but yet he wanted to invent things to help the poorest people in the world. He couldn’t give his love to any of the women who chased him, but he fell helplessly in love with a white dove. (I am not making this up). No wonder some people speculated he was an alien in human form!

ITB: If someone arrived at your home with a time and space machine, where/when would you go first? 

TT: Probably wherever he wanted to go, since I assume that someone would be Dr. Who! :)

ITB: Finally, I know from Twitter that you're a beekeeper, which is a pretty cool hobby. How did you get into beekeeping?

TT: It’s long been one of those little ambitions of mine to keep bees. They fascinate me. I hadn’t been able to commit the time or resources and was always making excuses as to why I couldn’t learn. Last year, I really had no good reason not to learn, and am fortunate to have a very strong beekeeping association where I live. It’s a much more complex hobby than I ever imagined, but it’s rewarding when one sees one’s bees thriving. And since bees really need our help, I’m glad to be of service.


* * *

Thank you to Tiffany Trent for answering our questions, and to Simon & Schuster Canada for facilitating this Q & A. If you think The Unnaturalists could be you next great read, please order a copy through an in-store kiosk or our site.

Published in Teen
Friday, 17 August 2012 12:00

August New Releases

While it may seem like summer has just started, it's almost back to school time.  August kicks off the fall release schedule. What have we got for you at Indigo? Take a look below. If no release date is noted then the book is available:

Hardcover releases

Nevermore by James Patterson. Final book in the Maximum Ride series. Eight books and seven years later, it's the end of the series that made Patterson a name in YA and introduced readers to Max and her flock.

Rift by Andrea Cremer. In this epic prequel to the Nightshade series, Rift tells how the Keepers came to be. The final Nightshade book, Bloodrose, is now in paperback.

Wake by Amanda Hocking. The author of the Trylle series, has returned with Watersong. Wake is the first book in this new series about mermaids.

The Kill Order by James Dashner. The much-anticipated and action-packed prequel to The Maze Runner trilogy. Read our review.

House at the End of the Street by Lily Blake. (8/21) The novelization of the new movie with The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence.

The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore. (8/21) Third book in the popular I Am Number Four series.

Heaven by Alexandra Adornetto. Final book of the Adornetto's Halo series. Hades, the second book, is releasing in paperback on the same day. (8/21)

Iron Legends by Julie Kagawa. (8/28) A collection of three Iron Fey novellas: Winter's Passage, Summer's Crossing, Iron's Prophecy. Also included is The Guide to the Iron Fey. A must for all Iron Fey fans!

Defiance by C.J. Redwine. (8/28) In an intriguing fantasy world, two teens face assassins and a monster that can't be killed.

Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon. (8/28) Buzz is this is a teen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Hackers, mysteries, and kick butt heroines? Sign us up!

Paperback releases

Plain Kate by Erin Bow. The best book I read in 2010 has come to paperback!

Bound to You by Christopher Pike. A bind-up of Spellbound and See You Later, two suspenseful Christopher Pike novels that may be new to you.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (movie tie-in) by Stephen Chbosky. This book, you guys, will give you all the feelings. John Green loves this book.  It's also available with the original cover.

Shelter by Harlan Coben. (8/21) This is the first YA book from Harlan Coben, who is an adult mystery author. This one has all the thrills and plots twists he's known for.

Goliath by Mr. Scott Westerfeld. (8/21) The final volume of the Leviathan trilogy now in paperback.

My picks for the month

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. Sequel to the creepy/wonderful Anna Dressed in Blood. Gotta read it.

The Dead I Know by Scott Gardner. A can't-put-it-down contemporary read with a mystery subplot. Aaron's work at a funeral parlour illustrates how working with the dead can help us deal with the living. Recommended for fans of Lisa McMann's Dead to You.

Starling by Lesley Livingston (8/21). First in Livingston's new series set in the same world as her Wonderous Strange trilogy. Love Fenn. Love Mason. Love this fun, fabulous book.

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel (8/28). The follow-up to This Dark Endeavour is more wicked and more fun than the first book of Oppel's retelling of Victor Frankenstein's teen years.

Published in Teen
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