Then, very gradually, these other people began to appear on my drawing paper, and I knew right away that they were my relatives. They were my uncles and aunts. It wasn't that they were monstrous people; it was simply that I didn't care for them when I was a child because they were rude, and because they ruined every Sunday, and because they ate all our food. They pinched us and poked us and said those tedious, boring things that grown-ups say, and my sister and my brother and I sat there in total dismay and rage. The only fun we had was later, giggling over their grotesque faces—the huge noses, the spiraling hair pouring out of the wrong places. So I know who those "wild things" are. They are my Jewish relatives.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Whenever I have news, I usually save it for the end of the post. But this time, I'm being all...um...shameless and putting it first. Why? Well (a) it's pretty awesome and (b) it involves our very own Nancy Holder. Because I've got two shiny new blurbs for TEN!
Also, they're FREAKING AMAZING.
"Gretchen McNeil's TEN is my new number one! I jumped at every creaking floorboard in my house and on the page. This is sure to be a teen thriller classic!" (Nancy Holder, Bram Stoker Award winning author of THE SCREAMING SEASON)
"TEN is a real page turner! Gretchen McNeil knows how to plot a thriller: Her setup is flawless and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat." (Christopher Pike, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the THIRST series and REMEMBER ME)
I know, right?
And on the heels of these blurbs, I found out TEN will be published in Spain by Maeva. It was an awesome week!!!!
Nancy's not the only one with a new book out. Sybil Nelson's fifth Priscilla the Great book is out May 1st. That's next week!!!! WOO HOO!!!!
Plus, Lena Coakley's paperback of WITCHLANDERS will be out this fall and Scholastic has licensed it for their fall book club.
And last but not least, Kate Milford's Kickstarter campaign we mentioned two weeks ago? Yeah, it got a massive write up in Publisher's Weekly. Go, Kate! Go!
That's it. "It." Hahaha. So much good news this week! *dances*
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The setting of MASQUE is wonderfully dark, atmospheric, and beautiful, with touches of steampunk and Victoriana, as well as traces that feel startlingly modern. What went into building Araby's post-apocalyptic world--how much was Poe, and how much is pure invention? What about those crocodiles?!
Many of Poe's tales are a natural fit for young readers attracted to the gothic and the macabre, and this month's release of the film "The Raven" will no doubt fuel lots more interest in his work. Do you have any particular recommendations for kids who loved your novel (or the movie) and want to read more? Are there any other Poe-inspired novel adaptations you can suggest?
Your first novel, 2009's HANDCUFFS, was a straightforward contemporary. Speaking as a fantasy fan, I'm delighted you've crossed over! But what inspired the switch of genres, and how did you find the process? What are your plans for future books? Do you find one or the other a more natural fit for you, as a writer?
In addition to writing, you're also a high school teacher. How does that demanding and rewarding career play into your writing for young adults? Do your students share your affinity for Poe?
Araby's story has such a surprising ending--please tell us we'll see more of her adventures!
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Thanks to Stacy and Kimberly for being here today!
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Today we welcome author Stephanie Burgis back to the Inkpot to talk about the second book in her fantastic and fun middle-grade fantasy series about the delightful Kat Stephenson. We first had Stephanie visit us last year to talk about KAT, INCORRIGIBLE, the first book in the series.
I adore these books for the fun, the magic, and the wonderful Regency-era setting, but most of all for the flawed-but-fabulous characters, especially Kat herself, who loves her family fiercely and gets into all sorts of trouble. So I was thrilled that Stephanie agreed to answer a few questions about the newest Kat book, RENEGADE MAGIC.
Kat’s stepmother drags their family to the fashionable city of Bath to remove Kat’s sister Angeline from a most improper suitor. But unbeknownst to Stepmama, Regency-era Bath is full of notorious rakes, Napoleonic spies, and dangerous wild magic! When Kat uncovers a plot to harness the wild magic in the Roman Baths, she finds her brother Charles is unwittingly involved. Now Kat must risk her newfound magical powers as she defies the Order of the Guardians to foil the plot and clear her brother's name. -- From the author's website, where you can also read the first three chapters!
My other big guideline for writing a sequel (which, again, comes back to wanting it to stand alone and be satisfying for new readers) was: I could not let let myself relax and write it as if it was just the second-volume continuation of KAT, INCORRIGIBLE. ("The next day...") That meant that RENEGADE MAGIC had to start with just as satisfying an opening as the first book had - which, in practical terms, meant starting the book with Kat actively doing something essentially Kat-like, causing trouble by being herself: rambunctious, irrepressible and totally unladylike!
Generally, I don't start writing any historical piece until I have a good feel for the time period, social rules, etc. (and again, biographies, letters and diaries are all perfect for this, along with more general history books). Once I do have that basic grounding, though, I go right ahead and write the story while I continue my research. As I write, I stick brackets around any small details I'll need to look up later (e.g., clothing descriptions, exact candle-lighting methods, etc). In general, that works out really well, and helps me figure out exactly which details I need to know, at which point, I can move into more carefully targeted research.
Ohhhh, I love Bath! I want to tell people to see EVERYTHING. But here are my personal top highlights, all linked closely to RENEGADE MAGIC: the Museum of the Roman Baths, which is amazing - the story of RENEGADE MAGIC came directly from how inspired and compelled I was by my first visit to the Baths, years before I'd ever conceived of Kat's series; the Pump Room where elegant Regency-era society used to congregate every morning to see and be seen (and where Kat ends up causing an awful lot of chaos!); and the Jane Austen Centre (a museum about Austen AND the Regency era as a whole, located in Jane Austen's old house and complete with a lovely tea room). I also love the Museum of Costume, which filled with amazing outfits from lots of different historical periods, including the Regency era.
You have a strong background in music. Are there any particular songs or albums that were inspirational for RENEGADE MAGIC?
I love how your series includes such a wide variety of strong, interesting female characters. I find it particularly interesting how in Kat's own family, she and her two sisters and step-mother are the most active figures, while her lazy brother Charles spends most of his time sleeping and gambling, and her father is mostly interested in his studies, and in avoiding conflict (to the point where I really wanted to reach into the book and give both of them a good shaking). Was that a deliberate choice?
One thing I would add, though, is this: Kat doesn't know what happened to Charles at boarding school, because she was only 7 when he left, and she doesn't know any details of his life there at all. If you think about what might have happened to a boy who arrived at an upper-class boarding school (and these were pretty infamous for pupil brutality) at a later age than all the rest of the boys there who'd known each other for years, *and* with a scandalous background - because everyone else there would've known that his late mother was a notorious witch...well, Kat's never really thought about any of his life away from home, but I have.
This trilogy is told from Kat's POV, not Charles's, so we only see her disappointment in him in this book, and the results of his behavior on his family - but if it were told from Charles's POV, we might feel more sympathy for the fact he feels like he HAS to fit in with his companions at any cost.
And his story arc develops a lot over the series, so you might be surprised by what happens with him in Book 3! :)
Oh, thank you so much for telling me that! What I can tell you is that it involves smugglers on the north Devon coast, a grand society wedding, social disaster...and a very unlikely romance. ;)
Monday, April 16, 2012
ERIN CASHMAN: I am reading CABINET OF EARTHS right now and I love it!
KATE MILFORD: I just devoured in one sitting Anne Nesbit's CABINET OF EARTHS, which I read in print; it was an arc I snagged from McNally Jackson. I adored it, and immediately ordered a copy for my sister who loves fantasy a lot but loves Paris more.
LENA GOLDFINCH: I just finished Anne Nesbet's THE CABINET OF EARTHS and Erin Cashman's THE EXCEPTIONALS.
THE CABINET OF EARTHS is what I can't help calling "deliciously strange". At turns creepy, fun, tender, and deeply thought-provoking, it's filled with descriptions you want to read two or three times before continuing on. A book to be savored, not rushed through. And I fell into THE EXCEPTIONALS and didn't want to come back out. I especially loved Claire's connection to the hawk and all the other "specials". I heard about both books through The Enchanted Inkpot blog. I'm now in the middle of CLOCKWORK PRINCE: Book Two of The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. I forget where I first heard about book 1, CLOCKWORK ANGEL, but I picked up Book Two because I loved Clare's Steampunk/Fantasy world and her characters. Though I've been reading more ebooks lately, I read these in hardcover.
AMY GREENFIELD: I've been reading some wonderful books lately, including Leah Cypess's MISTWOOD. I loved the fierce and fascinating heroine, the gorgeous descriptions of her powers, and the twisty plot that kept me guessing right up to the end. (As a writer, I also noticed the fabulous transitions, which really quicken the pace.)
Another great recent read is Holly Black's WHITE CAT. Such a great idea: a world where magic meets the mob. I fell hard for its black humor, its brilliant characterization, and the zany but impeccable logic of the plot.I missed both these books when they first debuted because I was dealing with a transatlantic move at the time - I think I lost almost a year of my life to that move! - but they've been on my radar for a while because I had friends who raved about them. Oh, and I read them both in paperback. I have a Kindle (a gift) but I tend to use it mostly for reading manuscripts. Next up: More Inkie books I've just bought, including Anne Nesbet's THE CABINET OF EARTHS and Cinda Chima's THE DEMON KING.
LAURA McCAFFREY: I just burned through Bill Willingham's comic, FABLES: LEGENDS IN EXILE, and I can't wait to start the next collection in the series. The setting is Fableland, the underground home of the Fables, fairy tale characters, in New York. The Fables have been driven out of their homeland by an arch-enemy, the Adversary, and though they long to return to the lives they left, they've transformed into party girls and bureaucrats, bounders and detectives. A clever read for sophisticated teens. Another sophisticated read for teens: THE WINDUP GIRL by Paolo Bacigalupi. In this dystopia, money is measured in calories, and bio-terrorism has transformed a futuristic Thailand. Definitely for older teens and adults. It took me a bit to sort out all the factions - but once I did, I couldn't put the novel down.
KATE COOMBS: Just read a new YA fantasy called THIEF'S COVENANT by Ari Marmell and really liked it. The format was print. I think I saw it mentioned on somebody's blog.It begins with a girl clinging to the rafters in the shadows above a scene of mass slaughter. Next thing we know, she has reinvented herself as a thief and is carrying a pocket god around with her. In a series of flashbacks, we find out how she came to be in that room--even as scenes in the present show her being hunted by at least three different groups. And of course, she tries to solve the murder mystery!
Next up? Probably MY VERY UN-FAIRYTALE LIFE by our own Anna Staniszewski andNatalie Babbit's new book, THE MOON OVER HIGH STREET.
LEAH CYPRESS: At the moment, I'm mostly reading adult fantasy and science fiction so I can be an informed Nebula voter. But once I've read everything I need to, my next planned YA read is Kim Harrington's PERCEPTION. Actually, I'm not sure I'll be able to hold out until I've read through all the Nebula nominees - we'll see! I loved her first book, CLARITY (and interviewed her about it here), so I'm really looking forward to PERCEPTION. I will read it in print, because that's still my much-preferred reading format.
ELLEN BOORAEM: I just finished ANYA'S GHOST, a YA graphic novel by Vera Brosgol. I loved it, and last night it kept the curmudgeon I live with--a tough sell--awake and reading way past his bedtime. I'm now enthralled with A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness (inspired by Siobhan Dowd's idea). Also YA, it's simpler and sweeter than Ness's magnificent Chaos Walking trilogy, but just as harrowing in its own way. Next up is THE DEATH-DEFYING PEPPER ROUX, a middle-grade fantasy by Geraldine McCaughrean, which looks very cool. All are print media, from the library. I learned about the Ness and Brosgol books from the online drumbeat, the McGaughrean from browsing at the library.
Cinda Williams Chima is the author of the Seven Realms and Heir Chronicles teen fantasy series. Her next novel, THE CRIMSON CROWN, releases October 23, 2012. Learn more about her here.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Starting off with a bang, Robin LaFevers's GRAVE MERCY received an amazing review in the New York Times this week. I mean, how could you resist a book where the review starts off like this?
Getting bundled off to a nunnery is rarely a prelude to adventure.Yes, please. Sign me up. First in line. Can't wait to read this one!!!!
But St. Mortain is no ordinary convent. The sisters there train young women to be assassins, “handmaidens to the god of death.” The reverend mother puts it bluntly: “We kill people.”
Meanwhile, SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS by Ellen Booraem has been named to the 2012 Best Children's Books of the Year list compiled by the Bank Street Center for Children's Literature. A much-deserved honor, I must say.
And Kate Milford has an interesting new project in the works. She is using indie bookstore-friendly services to self-publish a novella companion to THE BROKEN LANDS, her follow up to THE BONESHAKER. THE KAIROSE MECHANISM will be available this fall, and Kate has a Kickstarter campaign going to help the process.
So that's it for this week. But, as you well know, we'll always be back with more shamelessness.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
As punishment, her uncle sends Hild far away to the heir of the enemy king, Beowulf, to try to weave peace between the two kingdoms. She must leave her home and everyone she loves. On the long and perilous journey, Hild soon discovers that fatigue and rough terrain are the least of her worries. Something is following her and her small band of guards—some kind of foul creature that tales say lurks in the fens. Will Hild have to face the monster? Or does it offer her the perfect chance to escape the destiny she never chose? --from the Random House website
Peaceweaver is in bookstores NOW, and here is our conversation with its fascinating author:
This is your second novel inspired by the epic of Beowulf. Can you explain your process of adapting that material into a novel for modern young readers?
When I first read Peaceweaver, I wanted to know how old Hild was, and you had a very interesting answer to that question--but I see now that the book does include Hild's age! I'd love to know more about the challenges of depicting historical young people for twenty-first century readers, and how you strike that balance of authenticity and approachability.
Your first novel, the marvelous Book of the Maidservant, is straightforward historical fiction, but you've since written several books of historical fantasy. Do you find that there is a blurring of the fantastical and the natural in the eras you write about that is different from the way modern peoples view things?
Can you recommend any resources for young readers inspired by your books to learn more about this period in history?
You have what I consider a fascinating day job in academia. How do you find the interplay between your academic life and the writing life?
Monday, April 9, 2012
The first time I used my smartphone, I remember thinking about the above quote by Arthur C. Clarke. I was using an instrument that I knew was technological, but the technology was so beyond my grasp that it honestly felt like magic. And that (as all things do) made me think about fantasy novels.
Often, fantasy contains some element of magic. Sometimes that magic is tied to nature, and other times it's relatively unexplained. And sometimes--as in the Artemis Fowl books--that magic is coupled with technology.
Personally, I love thinking about this link between magic and technology. Perhaps what we think of as magic is just some type of extremely advanced technology, and so the story is really science fiction. Thinking like that makes my brain hurt! But it's also intriguing.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this magic vs. technology idea. Have you read stories that you felt blurred this line? Did that make you feel more or less connected to the magic? At what point does technology start to feel like magic?
Anna Staniszewski is the author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life. The sequel, My Way TOO Fairy Tale Life, is coming in March 2013. Visit Anna at www.annastan.com.