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Teen Blog

Helping everyone who loves young adult fiction find their next favourite book
Natalie Garside

Natalie Garside

Thursday, 22 August 2013 16:48

City of Bones Canadian Premiere

Readers, Natalie Garside of Team Teen here to tell you, it is well documented that the Cassandra Clare fandom is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing and all OTP (One True Pairing) shipping all the time.  This was best illustrated at the recent Canadian premiere of the City of Bones movie where Team Teen was lucky enough to see the film and the cast! 

But let’s first rewind to the fandom.  It was early the morning of the premiere that we realized some teens had camped out by the theatre from 5AM onwards in hopes of glimpsing stars Jamie Campbell-Bower (Jace Wayland), Lily Collins (Clary Fray), Kevin Zegers (Alec Lightwood) and Robert Sheehan (Simon Lewis).  Right away it was time to connect with these devoted fans via @indigoteenblog.  Our eyes and ears on the red carpet - as it was being built - we had so much fun talking to these guys we put together some magnificent City of Bones swag bags and headed over to meet them in person!  What items were in these bags you ask?  The Morgenstern ring, angelic rune key chains, charm bracelet, t-shirts…all available right now online and in our stores to help you celebrate your inner Shadowhunter !

Now over to Jenny Phan on the red carpet:

There is only one answer to the question: “How would you like to work the red carpet at the City of Bones premiere tomorrow as Indigo’s official photographer?”

 “HECK YEAH!!!”

Jenny here, member of Teen Team from Indigo’s Toy division that brought in the rocking Shadowhunter items we now carry to support the books and film!

Together with @indigoteenblog Chandra Rooney, I was on a mission:  take lots of photos, get swag signed for giveaways, and if time permits, a quick Q&A to tweet to our followers. (Side mission: steal away Magnus Bane, should he appear.)

Kudos to the fandom who were dressed in chic Shadowhunter-black, rocking temporary runes (a Teen Team favourite), and armed with sharpies and copies of City of Bones novel or the movie companion for cast autographs. The energy of the crowd was amazing and palpable. It took all of my self-control to keep my inner fangirl beneath my professional veneer. I didn’t want to get kicked out of my first red carpet assignment.

Cheers and hollers signaled the arrival of the first red carpet guest, director Harald Zwart. As he signed a book for a fan behind me, I asked Harald why he had taken on this project.

“I liked the strong female lead character....I have a young daughter, and I want her to have a heroine like Clary Fray to look up to.” Glancing up from the book he was signing, he grinned. “Was that a good answer?” I assured him it was and thanked him for his time.

A few moments later, the entire gathering collectively gasped before letting loose the most deafening roar. Robert Sheehan, the first of the cast attendees, had arrived. Taking his time on the carpet, Robbie signed for every single fan and at one point even back-tracked when he realized he missed a few people. (How sweet is he?)

Kevin Zegers arrived next, looking quite dapper in his suit and tie. Like, really handsome. So dreamy I forgot all about the questions I wanted to ask. Luckily Chandra had her senses about her and was able to get Kevin to autograph a couple of posters for us.

Strutting like a rock star, Jamie was second-last to show up to HUGE fanfare. When asked if he would sign posters for our twitter giveaway, he replied in that marvelous English-accented voice of his “Of course I will, sweetheart. Do you have a pen?” Thank the Angels, we did! I also managed to recover from the Zegers-induced trance to ask Jamie what his favourite Jace one-liner was.

“From the movie or the book?”

“The movie”

A thoughtful pause. “Nice to meet you.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

‘Twas nice to meet you, too, Jamie!

Last to arrive, but certainly not least (and arguably the most beautiful) was Lily Collins. Flawless in a gown of white lace, Lily made her way down the carpet and really engaged in conversation with the fans ('talking' animatedly with her hands). The crowd couldn’t get enough of her.

I took my last dozen or so photos and then stood back and observed the interaction between the adorable cast. They carried on like BFFs having a blast, which surely must bode well for the film.

 

 

Back to Natalie Garside in the Theatre:

Readers, the cast came into the theatre before the show to say hello!  Looking spectacular and smiling ear to ear Jamie, Lily, Kevin and Robert greeted fans and as they departed Kevin broke away from security to run up and hug a few lucky fans in the middle of the theatre!  What a sweetheart!

I guess he knows the same thing we do, Cassandra Clare has some of the best fans in the whole wide world.

 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013 14:00

Get Obsessed: Guest Post: Marissa Meyer

Team Teen is thrilled to have New York Times bestselling author--and recent Yorkdale Indigo visitor--Marissa Meyer, weigh-in on our Get Obsessed campaign with a guest post on a series she found un-put-downable!  

GET OBSESSED: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Post by Marissa Meyer (Photo Credit:  Jesse Taylor)

I am beyond smitten with the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, which kicked off with SHADOW AND BONE last year and will continue with SIEGE AND STORM this June.

This series has everything that I, as a reader, find worth obsessing over.

Exhibit A: A brilliantly courageous and powerful, yet still relatable, protagonist.

Alina Starkov starts out as a rather sickly mapmaker in the First Army of Ravka—but when her best friend’s life is put in danger, she fast discovers a power that’s been kept buried and stifled inside her since they were children. The discovery of that power, which could lead to their country’s salvation if she’s able to learn how to harness it, sends her into a brand new world of magic, politics, and power. It also ties her fate together with the mysterious, terrifying, and terrifyingly swoon-worthy Darkling, the leader of the Second Army.

Exhibit B: A new fantasy world that is as lush and tempting as it is dangerous.

Bardugo used Czarist Russia as a jumping off point to create the land of Ravka, and while elements of language and culture bring a grounding reality to the world-building, there is enough uniqueness to make this country entirely her own. From the hierarchy of the Second Army to the Unsea—a swath of pitch-blackness creeping with flesh-eating monsters that divides the country—this world isn’t quite like any fantasy land I’ve yet encountered, and I’m entranced by it all.

Exhibit C: Hot Guys.

I mean, really hot guys. And holy cow, there’s a lot of them—enough to fill the fictional harem of every book lover. I
shadow and bone counted four in SHADOW AND BONE alone, but in my opinion, Leigh saved the best for Book Two: SIEGE AND STORM, which I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of. You ladies who like them charming and quick-witted, with a healthy dose of swagger, just you wait until you meet Sturmhond. Just you wait.

I could go on and on about the fascinating detail that Leigh has given her Small Sciences, the heart-wrenching betrayals, the breathless adventures… and it doesn’t hurt that I had the pleasure of touring with Ms. Bardugo last year and discovered that, not only is she ridiculously talented, she’s also kind of awesome in every way.

So there are a lot of reasons to Get Obsessed over this series, but I’ll let you discover the rest of them on your own. I can’t wait to Get Obsessed over whatever Leigh brings us next!

Follow Marissa Meyer on Twitter:  @marissa_meyer

Follow Leigh Bardugo on Twitter:  @LBardugo

And Get Obsessed with Team Teen on Twitter by telling @IndigoTeenBlog your faves!

 

Readers, it can be said that Team Teen is a fan of Cassandra Clare.  This author has published two series:  Mortal Instruments, Infernal Devices and an upcoming series, The Dark Artifices. All of them feature the world of the Shadowhunters, warriors who possess angel blood and keep the human world safe from monstrous demons. Their world is hidden within our own and filled with intrigue, romance, danger and—best of all— totally delicious snark.

Every time I open a book by Cassandra Clare it’s like walking into a house party (thrown by Magnus Bane of course) where I know and love everyone there. These are characters who live forever in your heart and mind, side-kicks whose voices are so real you know what they would say in any situation.

With the third and final novel in The Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Princess, releasing on March 18th, and the City of Bones movie set to release August 23rd, it seemed apropos to tell you about meeting Cassandra Clare back in November 2012. To give you a snapshot of how lovely Cassandra Clare is, here is how her store visit came to be. She happened to be in Toronto, called up her publisher, and asked if she could stop into a store to meet fans.

  Fans drove in from out of town, camping out front the mall in ungodly cold temperatures just to see her.  Clare arrived early and invited those chilly fans inside with her, hanging out in the store’s back room before they opened, and chatting with them.  The store filled with fans and she answered questions, recorded a greeting from them to the movie cast, and signed books without stopping for five hours—for over 700 fans!

Readers, while I consider myself a professional, I was also one of the 700 fans.  I baked cupcakes with character themes written on them.  I wore my Clockwork Angel necklace (which my husband ordered me off Etsy for Christmas because while he may not understand my fandoms, he pays attention to my internet surfing) and I got to go into the back room before she emerged to her legions of fans.

Here's how it played out:

 - I entered the back room and she was RIGHT THERE, on her cellphone, talking to movie people.

- I froze clutching my cupcakes, grinning like an idiot.

- She smiled at me.

- My feelings exploded.

- There was some time while she was on the phone and the publishing reps read my cupcakes and squeed with me because, guys… IT’S CASSANDRA CLARE!

- They introduced me, I forgot my own name.

- She said she couldn't wait to try a cupcake.

- She noticed my necklace and said, ”Oh, how pretty!”' And I forgot I was a grown-up.

Then she went out to her fans.  I was holding a copy of Clockwork Angel the entire time and forgot it was there. Actually I forgot everyone was there.

 

Tuesday, 05 March 2013 16:48

Get Obsessed: Fairy Tales & Fantasy

The obsession with a tale well told starts young for most of us. Somewhere, somehow, a compilation of Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm finds its way to your hand, or the lap of someone reading to you, and the idea of magic with wondrous and terrifying consequences takes root in your heart.

As Team Teen's consummate romantic I confess my first, best, guaranteed obsession is a fantasy or fairy tale--bonus if it’s both like Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series.  The concept for this series is quite ingenious:  four fairy tales retold and intertwined in the distant future where the heroines must band together to find their own happy endings.  In Cinder, a cyborg Cinderella discovers she has a huge stake in an interplanetary war and in the sequel Scarlet, a headstrong farm girl, Red Riding Hood, must pair up with a street fighter named Wolf to find her lost Grandmother in future Paris.

The great power of fairy tales and fantasy is to reimagine the world in a greater scale, with new rules, and pit against it a character who is ultimately vulnerable, human, and worth championing.  Often they explore themes of feeling like an outsider.  Cinder navigates her futuristic world with resourcefulness, Katsa in Kristin Cashore's Graceling with strength of will, and Seraphina in Rachel Hartman's Seraphina, with a clever ability to solve mysteries.  Each of these heroines balances high stakes with a difference that marks them in their society.  They manage it with skill, yet vulnerability, temper, and surprising humour so that our compassion for them makes them our hero.

Rachel Hartman's Seraphina paired an external world with an equally compelling internal one as well.  Seraphina's sprawling, intricate medieval landscape houses dragons who can take on human form but are baffled by human emotions.  Equally intriguing is the mystery inside the heroine's own mind, where a cast of characters live threatening to overwhelm her as she struggles both to keep them secret and unravel who they are.

There's a lovely art form to fantasy in seeing what each author's analogies look like painted large and new in a world unlike our own.  And there is a thrill in discovering the bread crumb trail of an original fairy tale in a skilled retelling.  These books wake up the first listener of the heart to a story and that is why they are my favourite, my love-at-first-sight reads, my obsessions.

Visit our shop for more great titles and #GetObsessed with us on Twitter!

Monday, 04 February 2013 16:58

Marissa Meyer's Scarlet

Cyborgs and Street fighters and Spaceships, OH MY!

Readers, last year I blogged about the fantastic Marissa Meyer when her debut novel Cinder released, so I’m delighted to be reviewing her second book, Scarlet.

A long-time (and beloved!) Sailor Moon fanfiction writer, Marissa’s NaNoWriMo project (a whopping THREE novels) was the start of her Lunar Chronicles series.  Now a New York Times best-selling author, Marissa has a talent for new twists on old tales, and for capturing the very best qualities of YA fiction in everything she writes.

The Series…

The Lunar Chronicles quartet, is a sci-fi re-imaging of four fairy tales in which the four heroines band together to make their own happy endings (and save the earth besides!)

The first book, Cinder, features a cyborg Cinderella—complete with robotic foot--living in New Beijing, a city terrorized by an incurable plague, ruled by a handsome, heart-strong young emperor named Kai, and suffering political duress as the Lunar Queen, Levana, plots a hostile take-over.

Book Two, Scarlet—a retelling of Red Riding Hood—features sassy heroine Scarlet while she searches for her missing Grandmother in future Paris, aided by a battered street fighter named Wolf.

The series will continue with retellings of Rapunzel (Cress) and Snow White (Winter).

The Story… 

Scarlet is set in the farmlands of future France where our heroine of the same name runs a produce delivery service from a spaceship and searches for clues in her beloved Grandmother’s suspicious disappearance.

Enter Wolf, unbeaten in the underground fight scene and looking for legitimate work. He asks Scarlet for a farm job with an endearing vulnerability, seemingly unused to the ways of everyday life...but is he all that he appears? Wolf also has information about Scarlet’s Grandmother and the unlikely pair travel into the dangerous heart of Paris, unsure if they can trust each other, but drawn together with an undeniable and fiery attraction.  Scarlet's story collides with Cinder’s in a daring, action-packed conclusion that reveals more of Cinder’s past before she became a cyborg.

The Love Stories… 

Linh Cinder is now an escaped criminal, and while Emperor Kai feels betrayed by her lies and compelled by the law to track her down, he can’t stop thinking about her…and secretly rooting for her.  And while Cinder hides away her feelings for Kai, she can’t hide her reaction to his sometimes hilariously honest attempts at political peacekeeping with the Lunar Queen (highly publicized on the local news).  While Cinder and Kai face many obstacles and are so very different, even separated we can see how perfect they are for each other.

Scarlet is a headstrong and determined heroine with a mouth for trouble and a heart of gold.  She sees something in Wolf that she isn’t sure she can trust, but she knows she can’t give up on him.  Their growing bond as they head into the heart of adventure is a truly delicious read!  Wolf is a particularly well written tortured bad-boy and his protective instincts paired with Scarlet’s impulsive bravery let the sparks fly in this romance that will have you swooning and cheering.

The Writing Style...

Scarlet carries on Cinder’s fantastic pacing with loads of action and a deftly woven mystery that cleverly ties the two storylines together in surprising ways.  Cinder’s past continues to be a key focal point but now we get to see it from the perspective of brand new characters, adding depth and context in a fairy tale crossover that still reads like a compelling, Joss Whedon-styled TV series.

Cinder’s struggle to resolve her view of herself as an ordinary person against the heroic figure she discovers is her true identity, is written with a sensitive eye to themes of friendship and inner strength.  Kai’s struggle towards free choice in a life increasingly forced by politics and threat of war, is handled with surprising humour, revealing a character relatable, human and entirely endearing.  (Can you tell he’s my favourite?)

Scarlet and Wolf’s clash of wills and fierce chemistry makes this second book a spicier read in the best way.  And when Cinder and Scarlet’s storylines join up the epic scale of this series is revealed, stacking fairy tales on top of one another, with clever call-outs to the originals, and filled with a cast of spunky, loveable characters, whose individual adventures lead them together by coincidence, but whose bravery and truth make them a team.

I will reiterate my original list whose accuracy holds.  If you are any combination of the persons below you will enjoy this series:

  • A person who enjoys fairy tales.
  • A person who enjoys sci-fi.
  • A person who enjoys romance served with a side of snappy dialogue.
  • A person who enjoys mystery.
  • A person with a Sailor Moon fan tucked away in their heart, yearning for a little moonieness back in their life. (Long lost moon princess anyone?)
  • A person in search of a book with something special about it that is nearly impossible to describe but you always know straightaway if it is there and babble sometimes senselessly to all you know about it once it’s found.
  • A teen.
  • A grown-up.
  • A teen grown-up or a grown-up teen.
  • This means you.

Read the first five chapters of Scarlet online!

Watch the Scarlet book trailer here!

Check out Marissa’s epic blog tour.

Follow Marissa on Twitter.

Rachel Hartman’s Governor General award-nominated debut novel, Seraphina, is filled with rich prose and exquisite storytelling that holds the rare magic of a timeless tale between its pages.  The scope of the world in Seraphina is dazzling, earthy and medieval, with a freshness that is transformative.  This is an old world touched by new magic, whose heroine is called to find a place for herself in a homeland that may not welcome her.

 We have the pleasure of presenting a guest post from Rachel Hartman.  And, as you will see, the landscape of Canada had a hand in the shaping of this wonderful novel.

****

The Hon. David Johnston became Governor General of Canada in October of 2010, just a week or two before our Canadian citizenship test. My husband and I had been studying; we joked that it was fiendishly sneaky of Immigration Canada to change one of the answers at the last minute. I repeated the new name to myself, however, as we drove through the drizzle to our testing site, half convinced I was going to choke.

Being named one of the GG Literary Award finalists almost exactly two years later holds a certain poignancy for me, therefore. It has me remembering my Canadian as well as my literary journey, two paths I’d never seen as parallel until now.

 I began writing Seraphina when I moved to Canada. Coming from the States, I had not anticipated culture shock, but Canada is more complicated than her southern neighbours believe. I was learning to navigate new motherhood and a new country all at once, living far from family and friends. I squeezed writing into the cracks and crannies of my day, like a glimpse of sunshine amongst Vancouver’s clouds. Writing makes great therapy, but my theraputic writing made for a sorrowful and lonely book.

Once I finished that first draft, however, something changed. My self-pity was spent; I began to look around me. It felt like climbing out of a hole, blinking at the unfamiliar light and stretching my unused limbs. I had landed someplace beautiful without really appreciating that fact, but it wasn’t until I finished that first, myopic draft that I really began to feel like I lived here.

I rewrote the novel for a prospective agent; it came out brighter the second time. Beautiful bits of Canada began working their way into the text: the fierce, mist-breathing mountains; the moody, textured sky; the ubiquitous Vancouver crows in shrill rookeries. I drew strength from nature and inspiration from the friends I was beginning to find.

The book went through two more iterations for different editors. I wrote much of the final version while studying for my citizenship exam; subconsciously, I began to weave in civic themes, justice and fairness, began to give my fantasy world more subtle and complicated politics. I had created a world where dragons can take human form; this raised all kind of questions about tolerance, prejudice, and even multiculturalism.

I can’t pretend everyone is good in my novel; there is bigotry, misunderstanding, and unhappiness, alas. Stories require conflict. But the underlying tone is hopeful and reflects what is, to me, the spirit of Canada: the idea that well-intentioned people of good will can find a way to work together, to draw strength from their differences, and to leave the world a better place than they found it.

 I am moved and humbled to think that this country I have grown to love, my home if not exactly native land, loves me back, even a little. Thank you Canada. I wrote this book for you.

Readers, we're very excited about Scholastic's new Infinity Ring series and lucky enough to score a Q&A with series editor, Nick Eliopolous, from the Scholastic NY office!

Here's what he had to say about the series, the first book and the fantastic authors involved...

Indigo Teen Blog: The first book in the Infinity Ring series releases on August 28th with the tagline “Read the book.  Follow the guide.  Play the Game.”  Can you tell us the concept for this series and how often we can expect a new title to release?

Nick Eliopolous: The concept at its most basic is this: History is broken. Key events in world history have been manipulated by a sinister force, and three kids have the opportunity to go back in time and get history back on track. But they’re not always sure how these Great Breaks should be fixed. . . .

Each book tells the story of how the characters handle one of the Great Breaks in history. And each book also comes with a collectible Hystorian’s Guide, which is a strategy guide that unlocks a new episode of the Infinity Ring game. In the game, and with the help of the guide, readers will get to explore a historical locale, solve puzzles, and ultimately fix one the Great Breaks themselves. So you really get two full adventures with each release: one that you read, and one that you play.

The books come out every three months or so. So once it starts, the adventure moves briskly!

ITB: Your first author for the series is James Dashner, a favourite in the teen world for his Maze Runner series.  Can you tell us how you came to work with him?

NE: We’ve been fans of James for a long time. His Maze Runner series is simply fantastic – it’s thrilling and inventive and fun. And his equally excellent 13th Reality series shows that he can write for a slightly younger audience, too, while still hitting that level of suspense. Best of all, he’s a big fan of history. So we knew he’d be able to write about the past in an exciting way.

We approached James with a very basic idea, and he brought it to life. He seemed to take a wicked sort of pleasure in dreaming up all the ways that history could go wrong. And boy, did he deliver in the first book. His portrayal of life on the Santa Maria will make you glad we have airplanes.

ITB: The first book is titled A Mutiny in Time where two friends, Dak and Sera, team up with a time-travelling historian in training named Riq for an adventure that literally spans the ages!  Will these three heroes be the main characters throughout the series?

NE: Yes, for the time being, Dak, Sera, and Riq are the only individuals who are able to travel through time. So the entire quest hinges upon them – and not only in the books. When readers play the Infinity Ring game, they’ll play as Dak, Sera, and Riq. James did a great job establishing their personalities in the first book, so it’s really fun to get to see and hear them in the game.

ITB: Can you tell us who a few other guest authors we might expect to see are?

NE: We have an all-star lineup. Next up is Carrie Ryan, of The Forest of Hands and Teeth fame, who writes our Viking adventure in Book 2: Divide and Conquer. Following her are Lisa McMann, Matt de la Peña, Matthew Kirby, and Jennifer Nielsen. Then James Dashner is going to return for the epic conclusion in Book 7.

ITB: Can you tell us about what went into designing the game component of this series?

NE: The game is amazing and it has involved a lot of hard work by dozens of creative, skilled individuals. Each game episode tells a complete story, and the details of how that story unfolds can change a bit depending on the choices you make as you play. We wrote the main narrative and all those branching pathways, and we painstakingly researched the historical settings and figures. We auditioned and hired the voice actors. Then there were the many visual pieces to create: 3-D models, character designs, animations and so forth – lots of moving parts to coordinate, but we couldn’t be happier with the results.

ITB: Just for fun, if you could travel back in time to meet any famous children’s author before they had their first book published, who would you like to meet?  And could you resist telling them what a success they would someday become?

NE: James Dashner comes to mind immediately. He’s not just a talented writer, he’s also a humble, gracious, and all-around nice guy. He often talks about how important reading was to him as a kid – how he’d find quiet corners where he could be alone with a good book. As an adult, he’s clearly living a dream come true. As a kid, he might not believe how much he had to look forward to. But it would be fun to tell him anyway!

Thanks so much Nick Eliopolous for taking the time to answer our questions!

Readers, book one, Mutiny in Time, is on sale now!  You can meet James Dashner on Thursday September 20 @ 7PM Indigo Yorkdale!  And you can see his special message to readers in our exclusive video clip:

 

The best thing about books is how many different kinds there are, wouldn’t you agree?  Some books are like an emotional reckoning, others keep your adrenaline in high gear, others hand you back your heart in pieces and many are filled with torturous choices.  But some books, readers, are like a lovely melody and a warm mug of something sweet and an open window.  I took home Incarnate on a Friday and stayed up all night reading.  At around midnight, somewhere near the middle, I hugged this book.

Here’s the premise of Incarnate by Jodi Meadows: In the land of Range there live a million souls, reincarnated again and again, remembering their past lives each time.  Then Ana is born.  She is a brand new soul and as she arrives, no other soul is reincarnated.  Is she a bad omen?  Has she stolen this other soul’s life?  Does she have a soul at all?  She travels to the capital city of Heart for answers, determined to unravel the mystery of her one, short life before it’s over with the help of Sam who believes her new soul is deeply good and worthy of love.

Incarnate has one of the most delightful love stories I’ve read in ages and I highly recommend it for all, so I’m thrilled that Jodi has agreed to a Q&A with us about this first book in her planned trilogy!

World Building

Indigo Teen Blog: What helped inspire you when building the land of Range and the city of Heart?  Were there favorite visuals you looked to?  Were there things that changed dramatically as you developed the story?

Jodi Meadows:  I started off not knowing much about Range and Heart, only that it was cold, surrounded by mountains, and very, very dangerous. I explored it along with Ana and did a lot of adding and layering of world building details in further drafts. Once I put Range and Yellowstone National Park together, I had lots of photos and videos to go through when I needed inspiration. (Thanks, people who post vacation pictures!) That gave me not only the geography and geothermal features, but the flora and fauna as well. I could check what I already had in the story against the types of animals and plants actually found in Yellowstone and adjust/add as necessary.

ITB: The city of Heart is filled with unsolved mysteries like the great tower, the fact that it existed almost fully formed before the residents “found” it, and the way the city feels almost alive to Ana’s touch in a disturbing way. Can you talk about these elements and how you decided what to reveal in this first book of the series?

JM: One of the fun things about writing from a new person's point of view is that she can ask questions. She can be curious, try to figure things out, and spot when something doesn't appear to work right. And the reader can experience a new world right along with her. But I also have to make sure I reveal things only when Ana can reasonably learn about them. There are lots of mysteries older than even the population of Heart -- things they don't know (or can't remember) about the city -- so no one can just tell her the answers. She has to be able to find them on her own, which means she can only find the answers by being aware of what questions to ask, or knowing where to look. It wasn't so much deciding what to reveal as figuring out what Ana could know without making wild logic leaps. Heh.  By the end of INCARNATE, Ana is much more aware of her world. She (and the reader) has questions. Books 2 and 3 will explore those in a lot more detail.

Reincarnation

ITB: The culture that has developed among a people who know they will be reborn is fascinating!  Age difference means less, projects can span lifetimes, and the gratitude for eternal life is celebrated with ceremony.  Can you tell us what it was like imagining up this culture?  In particular the way eras are named, for example “The Year of Songs”.

JM: When I decided to write this story, one of the very first things I did was to consider what the society might be like. I wrote pages of random notes about the society and how it might evolve, what kind of governmental systems they'd form, laws (capital punishment is pointless), even relationships between individuals. I had to decide whether or not they could be reborn into the opposite gender, and how that would affect their views and opinions on gender and age issues we look at in our world. I considered several different possibilities for the world and took things as far as I could in order to explore both the benefits and consequences of being perpetually reincarnated.  When it came to things like their calendar, I admit, I've always loved the Chinese calendar and been sort of jealous of the way "Year of the . . ." sounds. But instead of the year name being symbolic for people born then, in Range, the people named the years after something they did, or something that happened to them. Sort of like saying "The year there was that fire and everything burned down . . ." but much shorter!

Characters

ITB: Ana was such a gripping blend of someone hurt, shy and untrusting, yet fierce, determined and incredibly brave.  There was definitely a sense that with her new soul she was more awake to her life determined to experience all she could if her time was short.  What was it like to write her and learn who she was as the story progressed?  Did she surprise you at any point?

JM: Ana definitely surprised me. I knew from the start that she had been brought up in an abusive household, so that would determine how she responded to people and read their intentions. But I also knew she needed to be brave and smart in order for the reader to be able to root for her. I didn't expect quite the level of smarts she was showing off, though (way to make the author feel dumb, Ana), or that she was as passionate and connected to music as she turned out to be. I knew it would be there, but not to the level it ended up. Writing her as she learned and grew was definitely emotional. I had to learn more about abuse and its effects than I ever wanted to know, but watching her overcome her past and learn to embrace the good things in her life -- that was very rewarding.

ITB: Sam’s character was so lovely and one of the reasons I hugged this book while reading it late, late into the night.  I don’t want to say too much about him as the experience of reading the role he plays in the story is worth discovering without any hints, however, the contrast of a world-weary character, reincarnated for so long that nothing really seems new anymore, played against Ana very well.  Can you tell us how much you envisioned this beforehand, or did it develop naturally from the story as you wrote?

JM: Sam is, as you said, a bit world-weary and tired of the same-old. He enjoys watching Ana experience life for the first time, like it is for us sharing a favorite restaurant or movie with a friend who hasn't been there/seen it before. Some of this was planned -- because there had to be something in her he found initially attractive -- but a lot of it blossomed on its own as I wrote.  Before I started writing the story, I wrote several scenes of dialogue between Ana and Sam, exploring how their views differed from each other's. (Some of these made it into the book, and others were heavily revised or cut. The scene in chapter three where they discuss their im/mortality made it through all the revisions.) I wanted to get a good feel of their differences and what they could learn from each other, even if I ended up cutting the scene.

Bonus Butterfly Question!

ITB: The butterfly as a metaphor in this story is quite powerful, with all it symbolizes both about becoming who you truly are and prizing the time you have.  Can you tell us how you came to choose this for your tale?

JM: Sam chose this metaphor. It came up during one of those early scenes that changed drastically; one of the few things that stayed was the butterfly comparison. It fit the rest of the story so beautifully I kept it going. But where that initial butterfly thought came from? Only the Sam region of my brain knows. :)

***

Thanks to Jodi Meadows for this interview! If you're interested in more fabulous books, check out our Parties and Prom Nights boutique.

Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:07

Hunger Games Q and A with David Levithan

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:

Thanks for taking the time to answer our burning Hunger Games questions David!

Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): Can you tell us how you came to work with Suzanne Collins and what first made you realize the Hunger Games was something special?

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!

Thursday, 02 February 2012 22:21

#BookBoyfriends


The idea of a book boyfriend is one of the real delights of YA literature.  There is nothing like reading a character that really comes off the page.  You remember them forever.  You remember them like real people.

The added thrill of a love story makes a teen of every reader because as we all know, years may come and years may go, but a great swoon is forever.

Here are my favorite hooks and books:

A Disastrous Beginning!

A terrible first meeting can be a fantastic read.

Who can forget when Gilbert Blythe grabs Anne Shirley’s braid and calls her “Carrots!”? He earns himself a smashed slate over the head and years of stubborn disapproval, in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.  Montgomery was a master of writing lovers who meet poorly and overcome transformative obstacles to be together.  Read the full Anne series and meet Owen Ford in Anne’s House of Dreams and Kenneth Ford in Rilla of Ingleside.  Gilbert, Owen and Kenneth mark that most devoted of book boyfriends, the patiently waiting friend.

The timeless, terrible first meeting of Darcy and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, launches an irresistible calamity of English manners.  Darcy is an elegant example of the cranky book boyfriend with the heart of gold.  (See also Snape from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter)

Usagi’s infamous throwing of a failed test paper into Mamoru’s face in Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon is another classic first meeting gone wrong.  It’s not every day the jerk who makes fun of your hair turns out to be dashing hero Tuxedo Mask and handsome Prince Mamoru, but oh, how I wish it was.

Sacrificing Gestures!

One of my favorite things to read any hero doing is the one thing they most fear to do, especially when it’s for their one true love.

Howl, from Howl’s Moving Castle, admits he is a hopeless coward as he finally gets it together (while escaping certain doom in enchanted boots) and saves true love Sophie who then rescues his heart from a star to give it back to him.

Four from Veronica Roth’s Divergent shares his fears with love interest, Tris, in a show of vulnerability and trust that reminded me, in the best way, of the power love has to grant courage when we need it most.

A Slow Burning Torch!

I’m a particular fan of a book boyfriend who carries a slow burning torch for the heroine.

And not just the kind poor Simon holds for Clary in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments Series, though I dearly love adorkable Simon and would happily read a full spin off series about him and his pining post-mortal-life ways.  No, I’m talking about The Infernal Devices’ Will, who clearly hides a properly Victorian inferno of possibly unrequited love for series heroine Tessa behind a veneer of seemingly careless snark.  And on the subject of snark (and rapidly blazing torches), Jace from the Mortal Instruments Series might by my favorite snark-spouting, demon-fighting, high-five-life-to-the-face bad boy of all time!

It Could Never Work!

I also love me a hearty serving of insurmountable odds and worlds colliding.  They are the perfect storm for awakening something worth relishing in a great book boyfriend.

Sam from Maggie Stiefvatar’s Wolves of Mercy Falls Series spends his winters as a wolf and his summers as a human boy and seems divided forever from love interest Grace.  His dwindling humanity awakens a poet’s heart who savours experiences in a way that stays with you long after the reading.   

Sonny Flannery in Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange series has a monster awoken inside of him by love, only to be saved by love again and you will find yourself unsurprised by this because it is an extension of an already fiery temper and steadfast heart that will steal yours somewhere in the first ten pages.

Prince Kai in Marissa Meyer’s Cinder has a life of duty pulling him away from anything he might want truly for himself but his heart is so big you know he will put himself aside for his people.  And yet, he asks Cinder to the ball and that tiny bit of hope steals your heart forever too.

Love Unearthing Worthiness…

There is a special place in my heart for a Sad Prince, that character unable to see their true worth.

Twilight Series author, Stephenie Meyer wrote an irresistibly Sad Prince in Edward Cullen.  Frozen forever in the last moment of his life, a seventeen year old from another era, convinced he is a shell of what was once a human soul.  He and Bella prize nothing inside themselves until they come to love one another and through that love discover their worthiness.

Peeta Melark from Suzanne Collins Hunger Games series took me by surprise as a Sad Prince.  Peeta endured hardship after hardship and became so incredibly clever and heart-brave that he proved his worthiness before my very eyes.  I will remember him forever.

Readers, check out our Book Boyfriends Shop, our Book Boyfriends Poll on Facebook and share with us your cherished #bookboyfriends !

Blog image credit: ParadaCreations

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