Holly Black returns to Middle Grade fiction with her new book, Doll Bones, which is great news for fanst of her widely successful Spiderwick Chronicles series. Written with a timeless feel that appeals to both young and older readers, Doll Bones is the story of three young friends--Zach, Alice, and Poppy--who are on the cusp between kid and teen. It's also about a very special and very creepy antique doll named the Queen. (That's her on the cover. Spooky.)
The Queen has lived in the cupboard in Poppy's living room and features in all the stories created by Zach, Alice, and Poppy's games. The three of them have been playing together long enough to explore a vast world populated with characters who are as real to them as each other. When Poppy tells Zach and Alice that the Queen has a mission for them, the lines between fantasy and reality blur as the three friends go on one final adventure to find her bones and put her soul to rest.
Reading Doll Bones as an adult fills one with the nostalgia of how big the world is when you're 12. Black's elegant tale provides action, adventure, and the emotional no holds-barred she's known for with her teen series while remaining completely appropriate for the intended audience. For a tween reader, Doll Bones is a timely story about the moment when things like crushes and growing up start to intrude on your relationships with your friends. It's perfect for everyone who needs a reminder how imagination and play teach us to deal with the world, to process, and be braver than we think we are.
With help from our friends at Simon & Schuster Canada, we're pleased to welcome Holly Black to the Indigo Kids Blog to tell us more about Doll Bones.
Indigo Kids Blog (IKB): How did you decide to tell the story from Zach’s POV? Did you ever consider including Poppy or Alice’s?
Holly Black (HB): I had been thinking about this book for several years before I wrote it. In fact, I sold it back in 2009 with the first Curse Workers book, White Cat. At the time, I thought this was going to be Poppy's story. I think her POV is the most obvious to write the book from as so much of the action happens to her. She sees the ghost, she won't give up playing the game, etc. But something about that felt off -- and it took me a few months to realize that the story I wanted to tell wasn't hers, it was Zach's. I wanted the question of whether the ghost was real to be entirely ambiguous and that was going to be very hard to pull off from her POV, especially because it would exclude the possibility that she was making everything up.
IKB: You’ve created such an unnerving character in the Queen. Do you find dolls scary? What is it about them that is so unsettling?
HB: I don't find dolls scary at all! In fact, I am an avid collector of dolls, particularly Korean ball-jointed dolls, which I think are incredibly beautiful -- although I believe that part of their beauty is that they are a little bit unsettling. But as someone who loves dolls, I have seen how creeped out some people are by my collection. I think that for some people, dolls are in the uncanny valley, where something too is close to being human, but not human and creates a visceral feeling of discomfort. Additionally, horror movies like Chucky and Poltergeist are some people's sole associations with dolls. But I find that the part of dolls people find the most upsetting are the eyes, especially blinking eyes (because they move), but as Neil Gaiman's Coraline proved, also button eyes.
One of the interesting things about Doll Bones has been seeing which readers are incredibly disturbed by the doll and which readers don't find her all that frightening.
IKB: What was your favourite toy growing up? What’s your favourite toy now?
HB: I had a stuffed black cat named Thomasina (named for the cat in the book of the same title by Paul Gallico, which was my favorite book when I was very little) that I absolutely loved and couldn't sleep without when I was a kid and I still have her, so she's still my favorite. She didn't have fur -- she's made of some kind of cottony felted fabric -- and her body is kind of a bean bag. I have no idea what made me latch on to her, but I've had her my whole life and although I no longer sleep with her, I would be loathe to give her up.
But if I had a second favorite -- and entirely adult favorite, it would be my Dollshe Bermann. He's the doll I always wished that someone made and when I saw him for the first time, I was absolutely gobsmacked.
IKB: You mention that Orchard Ware has its basis in reality. Is the story that you use for the Queen’s haunting based on any local lore?
HB: I did a bunch of research into haunted doll stories for some of the Queen's creepy moves, but the actual story of the Queen is entirely fabricated.
IKB: This book has a timeless feel to it—it could be happening today or it could’ve happened ten years ago. Much of this seems to be that the world is very self-contained—no mention of media, music, celebrities, etc. Did you try to avoid these markers?
HB: I did try to avoid them wheresoever possible, because when I tried to include them, something about the story I was telling didn't work. I felt like readers would pay too much attention to whether they liked the same music, had played with the same dolls, or had watched the same movies. I wanted the reader to assume that Zach, Poppy and Alice mostly liked the same stuff that they liked, so I left those things vague.
IKB: Doll Bones reminded me of parts of The Graveyard Book, which is one of my favourite children’s novels. What’s your favourite children’s book?
HB: Well, I absolutely love The Graveyard Book and I love Neil Gaiman's work in general, so that's a huge compliment! One thing I think he does really effectively in both The Graveyard Book and Coraline is include horror elements in a story that isn't a horror story at all -- and that's something that's been a huge inspiration to me.
My favorite children's book -- okay, I am going to stretch that a bit -- is probably the Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander. I love those books so much. Either that or The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. I loved them as kids, so they have a special place in my heart.
Thank you to Holly Black for answering our questions, and to Simon & Schuster Canada for arranging our Q & A. Doll Bones is available May 7, 2013.
Lisa McMann's Crash is the first book in her new paranormal series, The Visions. In Crash, a young woman named Jules is haunted by a reoccurring vision of an accident that results in nine body bags in the snow. The vision takes over television shows, billboards, and even begins to play across windows. Jules worries that she's going crazy, and the terror of doubting her own mind is intensified by her knowledge of her family's history of mental illness.
Mixing the pacing of a thriller with a strong narrative voice, McMann uses these visions as a catalyst to discuss the stigma of mental illness. I found Jules and her quirky (sarcastic) sense of humor endearing, it made her real and made me able to feel worried for her as I wondered while she did if she was having a psychological breakdown.
The book sets up a Romeo & Juliet-esque feud between two Chicago restaurant families, and I predict the secret of their feud will have some involvement in the explanation of the visions. This is another strong, quick read from McMann sure to please her fans and any readers looking for an accessible read with a paranormal hook.
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Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): Welcome, Lisa! I laughed so hard about Jules and her siblings driving around in that amazing meatball truck. What's the oddest food truck you've ever seen?
Lisa McMann (LM): I think the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile is pretty odd. :) I also saw one shaped like a paddle pop.
ITB: One of the things I loved about Crash was its strong sense of character voice. Did Jules pop into your head fully formed or did you meet her as you wrote?
LM: I don't think any character is ever fully formed until you've reached the end of the book (and then you go back and revise her so she is consistent). But I generally have a good sense of what my main characters will be like before I start writing. That was definitely the case for Jules.
ITB: Given the Romeo & Juliet-level of feuding restaurant families in Crash, I have to ask which is your pizza of choice: Deep dish or thin crust?
LM: If we're talking Chicago pizza, I have to go with deep dish. There's nothing like it.
ITB: Another thing I enjoy about your books is how they use fantastical elements to examine mental illness. (For example, the OCD in Cryer's Cross and the depression/hoarding in Crash.) What comes first for you: The fantastical element or what you'd like to use it to discuss? What draws you to examining mental illness in your books?
LM: The fantastical element always comes first -- the hook, as we call it. Girl has a vision of a truck hitting a vision and an explosion. The intricacies of her life follow. There must always be more layers. It's the layers that make the main character react in the ways she does. As for mental illness in my books, the inspiration for Kendall in Cryer's Cross comes from my daughter, who has struggled with moderate to severe OCD (she, like Kendall, now keeps it in check, but it's still there). As for the hoarding, I've just always been intrigued by a person's need to hoard, what triggers it, etc. So I was studying that and it fit for this series.
ITB: I love Jules' brother, Trey. He's my favourite character. In fact, I loved how Crash was as much about Jules' family as it was about her. Will the next book be about Sawyer and his family?
LM: I love Trey too. He is the brother we all wish we had, isn't he? You'll get to see more of both Trey and Sawyer in Book 2. As for Sawyer's family...not so much. But we learn things about them through Sawyer.
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Tomorrow, October 23, is the Finale of Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush series. We've all been waiting to find out if Nora and Patch will get to stay together despite all the odds, and the fact that destiny wants them to be enemies! Patch is one of the baddest of fallen angel bad boys and it was obvious from the moment I saw the cover of Hush, Hush that it was going to be a hit with readers.
If the amazing trailer is any indication, this last book is going to be a hit, too.
Becca was kind enough to answer three quick questions about writing her series to help get us through this final day in your Finale countdown. Welcome, Becca!
Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): What was it like to see Hush, Hush adapted as a graphic novel?
Becca Fitzpatrick (BF): So. Very. Cool. My publisher asked for input from both me and readers, which made the process that much more special. Like most kids, I read comics when I was young, and I enjoyed getting an insider's peek into the process.
ITB: What impact has knowing that you have readers waiting had on your writing?
BF: With every book, I've felt pressure to give readers the best story I can. I want fans to love every book more than the last, and that's a big challenge! My best work typically comes when I push aside the worry and doubt, and immerse myself in the story. It's hard to say goodbye to Patch and Nora after spending so much time with them during the past several years, but I feel good about their ending. Like, somewhere out there, their story lives on.
ITB: What’s a great thing that this series has brought to your life?
BF: The chance to meet readers and fans all over the globe. Before Hush, Hush was published, I didn't own a passport, can you believe it? I didn't realize how one book can unite so many different people. I feel blessed to do something I love, and share it with others.
Thank you to Becca Fitzpatrick for answering our questions and our friends at Simon & Schuster Canada for facilitating this interview. Finale is available online and in-stores tomorrow, October 23!
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 (www.maggiestiefvater.com) 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!
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.
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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.
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.
- Splintered – A.G. Howard (companion to Alice in Wonderland; simply delicious and polished writing)
- The Darkest Minds-- Alexandra Bracken (dystopian future; teens held in detainment camps and on the run; very thought-provoking and well crafted)
- The Madman’s Daughter—Meghan Shepherd (inspired by The Island of Doctor Moreau; polished writing, historical setting, unsettling plot)
- 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)
- Time Between Us—Tamara Ireland Stone (contemporary romance/time travel; I smiled a lot while reading this.)
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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.
One of the books that has made me tremendously happy this year is the delightful Team Human by Justine Larbalesetier and Sarah Rees Brennan. Like a Buffy and Willow, or Spike and Angel, these two authors have combined their talents to create a hilarious novel for everyone who loves or loathes vampires.
We're very excited to welcome Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan to the blog!
Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): Who is your favourite vampire OR who is your favourite human?
Justine Larbalestier (JL): I can't name my favourite living human because, honestly, there are so many wonderful people in the world. Hmmm, though the same is true of fictional people. Er, can I just say who my favourite is today? How about Rory Deveaux from Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star? She's smart, funny and very very determined.
Sarah Rees Brennan (SRB): My favourite vampire in all the world? At different times in my life, I'd have said Lestat de Lioncourt (blond naughty rock star vampire, what's not to like?), Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (blond naughty... it's possible I have a type), Eric from True Blood season two (blond na... you know the drill) and Damon Salvatore and Caroline Forbes of The Vampire Diaries. (He's a brunette, but in the immortal words of Some Like It Hot, nobody's perfect.)
Favourite human... Jane Austen! I love her, she's so funny, and she is a genius: every social situation is so skilfully set up, and her world seems so real even today: they are really the only comedy of manners that... Dear God, what am I saying. I mean, my mother. Totally my mother. Love you, Mum! Don't change the locks when I come home to visit!
To follow in Justine's footsteps and pick a favourite fictional human, oh good lord, the choices are overwhelming. I can't pick a favourite for today, or for the last five minutes. Elizabeth Bennet, because she is the most delightful creature ever to appear in print. Cassandra Clare's Tessa, the heroine of The Infernal Devices, because she is the most convincing fictional reader I've ever come across. Fire from Kristin Cashore's Fire, the most beautiful woman in the world who finds it a real pain. Min from Jenny Crusie's Bet Me, because she's smart, hilarious and we have the same taste in shoes. Somebody take this keyboard away from me.
... As you can see, I have a real problem making choices.
ITB: Why do you think people love monsters (in books)?
JL: Because monsters are SO cool!
SRB: Monsters are often supernaturally chiseled, and that is a real plus. But there is more to it than that--we've all felt like we shouldn't want what we want, or that our bodies are betraying us by transforming. One reason we love monsters because we all feel monstrous, I think, and seeing that expressed through fantasy is fascinating.
ITB: Sarah, you started livetweeting The Vampire Diaries and you’re now livetweeting Teen Wolf. Can you tell us more about why you did this and how people have responded?
JL: I know this question is directed at Sarah but Scott Westerfeld and I livetweeted as we watched the first few seasons of TVD (over a weekend) and it was a wonderful experience. It's such a big fanbase and they're so loyal yet they also have a wonderful sense of humour about the show. I became a fan of the show, of the fans, and of the show's producers over that weekend. I always follow Sarah's TVD tweets because they're hilarious.
SRB: I am that awful person talking in your movie theatre. I get very engaged with fiction, which is I suppose natural in a writer, and I'm very chatty. Somehow this always translates to me yelling at the screen--'Don't go in there' and 'Kiss her. KISS HER!' and 'Loki, you poor genocidal sweetheart.'
I love The Vampire Diaries, because funny, fast-paced vampire show, what's not to love? and I started tweeting it on a whim when I sat a bunch of my friends down to watch the first season, and those on twitter seemed to like it! So I kept going, because... like I said, chatty. If I can talk about something fictional I love to someone, that person is my friend. This is just my way of befriending all of twitter.
I blush at Justine's kind words. I mostly just crack terrible jokes, as follows:
sarahreesbrennaMRS ARGENT: PS Allison, if you go to prom with a werewolf, Carrie will be looking at your night and going 'That was ROUGH.' #teenwolf
sarahreesbrennaSHERIFF: If you love something set it free. Give it cash & tell it to leave town with its werewolf lover. #vampirediaries
sarahreesbrenna ELENA: I'm so alone! STEFAN: That's silly. You have TWO vampire boyfriends. Way more vampire boyfriends than most people. #vampirediaries
sarahreesbrenna ALARIC: What's the plan, Brain? DAMON: The same plan it is every night, Pinky. Kill everybody and have a drink. #vampirediaries
ITB: If you were to write a sequel, would it have werewolves? Or would this be too familiar for you, Justine, after writing the brilliant Liar?JL: I'm confused by the question. There are no werewolves in Liar.
As for the first half of your question, I feel strongly that if you want werewolves or leprechauns or bunyips in your book series then you have to establish a world in the first book where a variety of creatures is possible. Otherwise you're cheating. We did not do this with Team Human. Ours is a world in which vampires (and zombies) are the only supernatural creatures.
SRB: As Justine says, a Team Human sequel would've been werewolf-free. ;) But this does not mean I have anything against werewolves. I love a werewolf, and one day I'd like to write a book about them: the idea of having your body utterly transform and animal urges take over is a very interesting one, especially for ladies, I think.
I was chatting to Anne Hoppe, the wonderful editor of Team Human, about this and that, and I mentioned that I love werewolves. She said 'Oh, I don't like werewolves' and I was just baffled. 'As Plato said,' I informed her sternly, 'she who is tired of werewolves is tired of life.'
So both our editor and Justine would have stopped me if I'd tried to sneak in any werewolves. Rats! (Wererats?)
ITB: Will either of you make the jump to writing for adults like Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling have done?
JL: All those categories are really about marketing. My books are read by people as young as 8 (that's the youngest fan I've had a letter from) and as old as 90 (again I have the fan letter to prove it). I write the books I write and they're marketed as YA so that's where I feel comfortable and happy. If at some point I write a book that can't be happily marketed as YA then (I hope) my agent will find another marketing category for it. Outside those kind of considerations I really like the YA community. The adult fiction world seems much meaner. I don't think I'd be happy there. I say that even though some of my best friends write for adults. Other than that they're really nice people.
SRB: Oh, I think I might! I love young adult with all my heart (such a high octane time in your life emotionally! Such a fantastic, fun and exciting lot of books in the genre!) but there are other genres that I love. I love romance novels, and middle grade. And of course if the opportunity to cowrite with zombie Jane Austen ever comes up, I'm going to take it. (Even if we end up writing 'Sense and Sensibraaaaaains.') If I think of a story that's another genre, I would definitely write it, and then I would bring it to my agent and look at her with happy expectation, like a cat bringing its owner a mouse. 'Argh! Ewwww. Oh Fluffy, why...? Um, I mean, it's lovely.'
ITB: If the Mayans are correct about the end of the world happening this year, any survival tips for us regarding the upcoming unicorn/zombiepocalyse?
JL: Hole up somewhere with good food and wine and books and your closest friends and await the inevitable.
SRB: I've got a genius plan for that! Find a zombie who obeys the ways of Edward Cullen--he loves you so much, and your brains smell so delicious, but he won't eat them because he loves you! And he'll protect you from the other zombies. I have seen a zombie boyfriend movie (with the most excellent title Boy Eats Girl) and it actually all worked out pretty well in the end! Yeah, zombie boyfriend. That's my plan. Dating. Feel free to implement my plan... but don't mack on my zombie man. That would not be cool. Living sisters before zombie misters.
I guess my answer is the same for the unicornpocalypse, but the logistics of having a unicorn boyfriend are going to be REALLY tricky.
ITB: If the Mayans are wrong, what can we look forward to reading from you next?
JL: I'm hoping to finish my next book, Sekrit Project, by the end of this year, which means the earliest it could be published would be 2014. Sorry about that. But in the meantime Sarah has a wonderful new book, Unspoken, that comes out in September. A kind of Gothic Nancy Drew. It's her best to date. You'll all love it.
SRB: I blush again! Justine's Sekrit Project will be worth waiting for. I am always working on new things: right now I am tinkering with Retelling a Classic. (A prize for anyone who guesses which one. :) An... invisible internet prize.)
But the very next thing up is, yes, Unspoken, a Gothic romance about a schoolgirl reporter who finds out her imaginary friend is a real guy... and one of the very strange family who live in the manor up on the hill.
Thank you again to Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan for answering our questions and HarperCollins Canada for facilitating it. Team Human is available now.
The wait for City of Lost Souls is almost over! May 8th we’ll all get to learn what happens next to our favourite Shadowhunters and Downworlders. Even better, Indigo has an exclusive edition of the book with a special letter from Stephen Herondale to Jace. (If you don't know why Stephen Herondale would write a letter to Jace, then you'd better read The Mortal Instruments pronto.)
That’s not all: Cassandra Clare is doing an exclusive video City of Lost Souls interview for us!
We’re seeking the best questions you have. Anything you need to know about Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle, Alec and Magnus? While we’re all dying to know about the cliffhanger ending of City of Fallen Angels, she probably can’t answer any plot-related questions about City of Lost Souls. (Spoilers, and all that.)
Submit your questions for Cassandra Clare in this blog post’s comments or on Facebook, we’ll pick the best ones, and then she’ll answer some of them in a video we’ll post here on the Indigo Teen Blog later this month.
Holly Black's books are magic. From White Cat through Red Glove and now to Black Heart, The Curse Workers series comes up behind you, slips off its glove, and works you until you can't remember what it was like before Cassel and Lila were in your reading life. (Do you want to know how to create a world? Read Holly Black, because her books do it well and deep; the magic The Curse Workers is more than just surface--it's all the way to the bone.)
With the release of this third book the inevitable moment has come when our con artist with the heart of gold, Cassel, leaves us. But he gives us a thrill ride of a goodbye first. Black Heart is a satifsying end to one of the standout series in the teen section.
We are very pleased to have Holly Black with us to answer a few questions about The Curse Workers, her next projects, and her life.
Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): The question everyone must be asking you: Is this the end of The Curse Workers? I’m very happy with how it ends, but I’d also LOVE to read more!
Holly Black (HB): I think this is a good stopping place for the series and I won't say that I'll never come back to it, but for right now this is the end.
ITB: You’ve had author events in many different cities. Which one do you think Cassel and Lila would most enjoy visiting?
HB: Well, given the ending, that's a particularly interesting question! I think Cassel has always dreamed of going to go to Paris with Lila because he remembers her coming back smoking Gitanes, wearing a lot of eyeliner, and generally seeming very sophisticated. They'd enjoy eating beignets and drink chicory coffee in New Orleans, shopping for fabulous vintage clothes in Austin, browsing at The Strand in Portland, and eating at beautiful restaurants in Montreal, just to name a few cities they'd love -- and that I love too.
ITB: The three books in The Curse Workers series have such a strong sense of story and character arc. How much pre-planning did you do before writing them?
HB: Thank you! I have to say that The Curse Workers series absolutely forced me to change the kind and amount of planning that I did. Before, I could make a general plan and wander through the chapters, changing things and wandering off course, and sometimes changing the plan entirely along the way. A book like Tithe or Valiant has a beginning that sets up the plot and an ending where everything comes together, but the middle is full of character stuff with only a few little plotty bits that turn up relevant later. Not so with The Curse Workers. There are fun character bits, but a lot of them have to do double-duty or serve as misdirection -- and there is no room for wandering off course. I really feel like I learned a lot while writing this series and it's unnerving but also a little bit of a relief to be working on a less rigidly constructed book now!
ITB: Can you tell us more about THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLD TOWN? (As I believe that’s your next project?)
HB: In 2013, I actually have TWO books coming out.
I have a middle grade called DOLL BONES, about three kids -- Zachary, Poppy and Alice -- who go on a journey, despite their own uncertain friendship, to bury a doll that may or may not be made from human bones. It's creepy and fun and it may be the most difficult thing I've ever written, but I am really, really proud of it.
The second book is a teen novel, called THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN. It's based on a short story I wrote a few years ago and it's set in a world where the sudden spread of vampirism caused the United States to wall off parts of cities, creating "Coldtowns" where humans and vampires live side by side in a lawless and decadent détente. Outside the quarantined zones, people watch videos uploaded from inside with fascination, making instant celebrities of monsters. When only Tana Bach and her ex-boyfriend, Aidan, survive a lockdown party massacre that leaves both of them infected, they have to travel with a half-mad vampire named Gavriel, into the heart of everything Tana has always feared.
It's hard to summarize COLDTOWN because I'm not quite finished with it yet!
ITB: Who’s your fictional hero?
HB: You mean, my hero who is fictional or a writer of fiction who is my hero? I am going to assume the latter.
It's really inspiring to look at the careers of other writers, at their ups and downs, and take from that both the knowledge that being a writer is a long game with plenty of twists and turns. Fortunes rise and fall and the most important thing is always making each individual book the best it can be. Writers who've been really brave with regard to trying new things and writing in different ways are incredibly inspirational. I look at writers like Neil Gaiman and Jane Yolen who've written for many different ages and in many different formats -- and it makes me feel like I'll be able to write all the crazy, unique, strange books I can dream up too.
ITB: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
HB: Hmmm. I have eaten chicken feet, raccoon and squirrel barbecue, alligator sausages, fermented soy beans, snails, and raw sea urchin -- all of which I found weird at the time, but the weirdness of which really depends on where you live and what you're used to eating.
When I was in the Philippines, I tried to get my mother in law let me try balut, which is an egg with a small chick embryo in it, but she didn't believe that I would actually eat it and declined to order it for me.
ITB: When the unicorn-apocalypse happens, how do you plan to defend yourself?
HB: I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that my house is full of swords. When the apocalypse comes, I am going out Game of Thrones-style.
That said, I would seriously consider surrendering to our pointy overlords.
Thank you so much to Holly Black for answering our questions, and to Simon & Schuster Canada for facilitaing the interview. Black Heart is now available.
Hello Hunger Games Fans! We were lucky enough to score a Q & A with series publisher David Levithan, a multi-talented YA powerhouse with many feathers in his cap.
Some exciting facts about David:
- He is also an author.
- His first novel Boy Meets Boy began as a Valentine’s story written for friends (a tradition he still maintains, +21 years later!)
- He has collaborated with some fantastic authors like Rachel Cohn (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares) and John Green (Will Grayson, Will Grayson.)
- He is the founding editor of the Push Imprint, searching for inspirational new YA voices.
- He is an Editorial Director at Scholastic.
- If you google “Star Wars” his name comes up! He has edited over 100 Star Wars books for Scholastic (How rad is that? So very rad)
Thanks for taking the time to answer our burning Hunger Games questions David!
David Levithan (DL): Scholastic Press was lucky enough to publish Suzanne’s first series, The Underland Chronicles, so we were already huge fans and would have followed her wherever her storytelling took her. When the first manuscript came in, we were completely blown away. It came in on a Friday, and on Monday morning we were all raving to each other about it.
ITB: Scholastic is well known as a children’s publisher, was it a big decision for them to get behind a darker teen series? When did you get a sense of how big this was going to be?
DL: We’ve published some extraordinary teen novels, so there was no hesitation on that part. We knew we had something extraordinary, and if we got as many advanced readers’ copies as we could out there, we’d soon have a whole lot of allies in making it huge.
ITB: We’re wondering how you managed to edit the series without being totally sucked in by the twists and turns! Do you put on an Editor’s Hat that helps make you immune?
DL: The editorial team – Kate Egan, Jennifer Rees, and I – went into it blindly … we didn’t want to know what happened until we read it. And of course, the first time we read it, we read it much more as readers than as editors. It was only going back a second (and third, and fourth, and so on) time that we put on our more analytical caps. The first time was just as much of a thrill as it is for someone who picks it up at Indigo this afternoon.
ITB: Do you have a favorite scene from the series? Which moments are you most excited to see on the big screen?
DL: Almost any answer I could give would be a spoiler! So I’m going to remain mum here.
ITB: Readers are curious about the Editor/Author relationship. Can you talk a little bit about working with Suzanne and perhaps your favorite shared milestone so far together?
DL: I think all of us are continually astonished and awed by how many people are reading the books and taking them to heart.
ITB: Fans are eager for any news of Suzanne’s next project. Any chance you and Suzanne might be working on something new together? (Secretive hints welcome!)
DL: Any answer I could give would be a spoiler. :)
ITB: Just for fun, we’d like to know: Which district would you say you’re from? And, who was your favorite character in the series?
DL: I’m not sure about the district – strangely, the publishing industry doesn’t seem to be as germane to a dystopian world in much the same way that, say, the coal industry is. And while Katniss is my favorite character, I also have a soft spot for Cinna. He’d make a great editor.
Thanks, David Levithan, for answering our questions and thanks to Scholastic Canada for facilitating this great opportunity!