Williams-Garcia is the author of nine novels, including the upcoming P.S. Be Eleven, the multi-award-winning gritty YA novel, Jumped, and many short stories. Her novel, One Crazy Summer won a number of accolades including, Coretta Scott King Award Winner, Newbery Honor Book, Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction and was a National Book Award Finalist. As you will see from our Q&A below, this author shows much wisdom with suggestions on how we can write truthful stories that speak to our multi-faceted experiences.
IndigoKids Blog (IKB): As you are often asked to discuss Black History Month, what are some of the themes that you find you are always coming back to and why? Do you ever find a rekindled interest in themes that you hadn’t considered before?
Rita Williams-Garcia (RWG): The same historical, cultural, and political themes have always shaped Black History Month. In my novel Jumped, Trina talks about adding colour to the same boring posters of Black History mainstays, Dr. Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X. There, my character unwittingly warns us that these figures and their significance may fade into the background of social relevance because of the ubiquitous presence during this month. But what if each year a main theme was voted on (by social media?) and emphasis was placed on that theme in history, art, politics, etc.? For example, what if the theme was economic empowerment? We’d see a rotation of figures—historical and current—who’ve made achievements and innovation in that area. Seminars on economic empowerment zones could be held in meeting places such as churches and libraries. Students could compete in projects or fairs that encouraged them to learn about economic development and demonstrate their knowledge. I’d love to see themes that inspire a call to action for all peoples out of the African and Caribbean diaspora.
IKB: One Crazy Summer (and its upcoming sequel, P.S. Be Eleven,) takes place during the 1960s, a tumultuous time in Black history, what were some of the questions that you had while writing these novels about this particular period and were they answered? What are some of the questions that you hope to leave with the reader?
RWG: I’m afraid, my questions while writing OCS had more to do with petty details, such as mapping out West Oakland, the prices of food items, the type of printing press Cecile was likely to own, the colours of patrol cars and their flashing lights. I knew the era as a girl and used this to filter the historical and cultural information down to what was essential to tell the story. It’s tempting to delve more into the times and the movement, but I kept the focus narrow and was able to tell a child’s story about a complicated piece of history.
I hoped to inspire young readers to wonder what part children played in that particular revolution or during other times of struggle. What was it like to be a child of a revolution or cause? How did it feel to have your home under surveillance or your parents arrested for political reasons? Did parents or grandparents witness a part of history? More importantly, I wanted children to think about the events that they are now witnessing and to record their thoughts and impressions. Today’s current events are tomorrow’s history.
IKB: Do you see areas of Black Cultural History that needs more attention? If so, why?
RWG: What a big, big question! Name an area and it needs more focus. Many students in the States were unaware of the number of Blacks who had crossed the border into Canada as runaway slaves or as free people until they read Christopher Paul Curtis’ Elijah of Buxton. There’s very little written about the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era, a period that saw many Blacks take political office. Jewel Parker Rhodes’ forthcoming Sugar will shed some light on post-Civil War life. But there’s a rich, co-mingled Black and First Nations history that has yet to be written about, and for that matter, there’s very little fiction and non-fiction for teens and young readers about relations between the people of the African and Caribbean diaspora. The stories are plentiful.They just need to be written.
IKB: Are there novels and history books for children and teens that have inspired you to see Black History in a different way?
RWG: I read a lot of biographies as a child because there was very little fiction for children with Black characters. But as a child, I had no awareness of Black History Week or Month. It wasn’t until my college years where we celebrated Black Weekend that I learned of Carter G. Woodson who established Black Week, the precursor to the month-long celebration. It was during my college years that I found Lerone Bennett, Jr.’s historical opus Before the Mayflower. This book had a profound impact on my awareness of the contributions of people out of the African and Caribbean diaspora from early civilization through the twentieth century. I watched as we went from Black Weekend in college to Black History Month being celebrated through North America. Real progress, however, would remove the need for a special month to raise awareness of our histories and cultures because these contributions would be recognized and included in the mainstream throughout the year. We’re still a ways from that, so I’ll take Black History Month for now! Without the scheduled emphasis, including Black history and culture within school curriculums and in the mainstream media would always be a challenge.
IKB: Have you noticed any similarities and differences in how Black History Month is commemorated in other countries? Do you notice any particular themes or events that are focused on depending upon the country?
RWG: I can’t really comment on how Black History Month is being celebrated in other countries because I always thought of Black History Month as a North American celebration up until the last two years. I reflected the narrow view of Black History in a short story, “Make Maddie Mad” for Donald Gallo’s First Crossings anthology where a Haitian teen writes a report on Toussaint L’Ouverture for Black History Month in a New York City high school, only to be “corrected” by her Haitian-American tutor and nemesis. Undaunted, the Haitian student tells her tutor that even little Haitian children know who the great liberator was. Underneath this message there is the idea that Black History extends beyond an African-American view of it. (Ahem, author, teach thyself first!) But if we time travel back to the ideas of Pan Africanism, espoused by those such as W.E.B. DuBois, unity and commonality among nations and people of the African diaspora isn’t a new notion. Just one that bears reinforcing.
I’m learning something new as I go along. Who knew Black History Month was celebrated in the UK during October? I stumbled upon this while looking for information about Caribbean immigrants in the UK during WWII. I also discovered a thriving Black artistic population in the Netherlands, so a celebration of history and culture seems only right. Whether suppressed or expressed, wherever people go, they take their culture and their history with them in one form or another.
It may be a blustery afternoon outside, but it’s warm and friendly inside Indigo Yorkdale, where YA readers have gathered to meet Melissa de la Cruz at the Toronto stop of her Gates of Paradise Tour.
This tour is special for two reasons: de la Cruz’s fans helped to determine which cities she would visit through online voting, and Gates of Paradise is the finale of her New York Times bestselling Blue Bloods series.
When I ask if her fans have been more excited about choosing the locations or the series finale, de la Cruz says it was a little of both—but the finale is the bigger draw.
“There’s definitely a different feeling of excitement,” she tells me. “It’s been very celebratory.”
Part of how de la Cruz has been celebrating is sharing the history of her Teen paranormal series. The Blue Bloods began with a phone call from her agent asking if de la Cruz would be interested in writing something darker than her popular Au Pairs series. The idea thrilled de la Cruz, as she’s always been obsessed with vampires—and loves novels by Stephen King and Anne Rice. Beneath her fashionable exterior, she jokes, is “a big geek.”
A firm believer in outlines, de la Cruz originally planned nine books for the series. While she worked on the first one, Blue Bloods, another book called Twilight hit the shelves. Vampires were suddenly everyone’s obsession. When Blue Bloods joined the teen section in early 2006, it was perfectly timed to help sate readers’ hunger for more. And the rest is history.
The Blue Bloods series comprises seven novels, a companion book and a Valentine Day’s collection. The series has been described as "Gossip Girl with vampires," but that simplification doesn’t give credit to the historical, mythological, and location research that has gone into de la Cruz’s books.
However, she is a Gossip Girl fan. While we discussed whether The Carries Diaries might be the next big thing, de la Cruz admits she doubts that there will ever be another Gossip Girl. Her reasoning being that the Gossip Girl TV phenomenon began in the late 90’s, a different era from today.
“Culturally, we’ve moved on,” she explains. Citing shows like Revenge and Downton Abbey, she points out how our view of the wealthy has changed from debutante balls. TV now shows us the rich “as they are.”
I ask her if this tendency to downplay glamour is also evident in young adult fiction and she agrees.
“Fantasy is grittier,” she says. “People are drawn to more realistic stories.”
For example, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which was undoubtedly the biggest Teen book of last year. (It made both the Indigo Teen Blog and the Indigo Best of 2012 lists.) When asked about Green’s novels, de la Cruz says she enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars but her favourite is Looking for Alaska.
But her current book obsession is the adult novel, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s “well-plotted” and “the writing is very literary.” Not just a compelling read, de la Cruz adds that a writer can learn much from Flynn in “how she [tells] the story” and “surprises [the reader].” The book is deeply immersive, de la Cruz explains, a “full experience.”
Watching as reader after reader at the event approaches the signing table with the entire Blue Bloods series, it’s evident de la Cruz has managed to create her own “full experience” for her fans.
The final book of the Blue Bloods is definitely not the end of this experience. A gorgeous graphic novel adaptation of the first novel released the same day as Gates of Paradise. Also, her popular adult spin off, The Beauchamp Family series, has a new installment coming in the summer. Lifetime recently picked-up the TV adaptation of first book, Witches of East End.
Looking forward, de la Cruz has a new Teen book coming out this fall. FROZEN is the first book set in a post-apocalyptic ice-covered world. When I ask her if she means winter in Canada, she laughs and says “no.”
FROZEN takes place in an ice-covered Las Vegas. She and her husband/writing partner, Mike Johnston, describe the new series as “The Lord of the Rings in reverse.” Their series will explore a world where science and technology have broken down and magic is returning.
“It was fun to go completely into fantasy,” she says. While she enjoyed imagining “our broken world,” she assures us that “Vegas is still Vegas.” To keep that sense of realism, she did a lot of research on casinos and gambling so she could write her new main character: a young Black Jack dealer with a dark secret.
Ice-covered Las Vegas? Magic? Sounds like we’ve found a new obsession.
Thank you to Melissa de la Cruz, and our friends at HGB Canada for organizing the interview time. The Blue Bloods series is available in-stores and online.
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!
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: www.lisagold.com
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—www.libbabray.com—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, 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.
 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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.