Friday, May 28, 2010

After TBF 2010 and "After the Moment"

Hi Readers!

I’m BAAAAAACK! Did you miss me? I took a hiatus to recover from the excitement of TBF 2010, but now, it’s time to start posting about TBF 2011! (Save the date – May 14, 2011.) 

I just finished Garret Freymann-Weyr’s “After the Moment” and I couldn’t wait to blog about it because I absolutely LOVED it. I almost don’t know what to say about it. You know when you finish a really great book and you want to tell the entire world to read it, but then when someone asks you what it was about, you don’t know how to answer? (Gee, I hope this happens to other people, because it happens to me all the time.) Anyway, that’s how I feel. Like it was so good, that no matter what I say, I won’t be doing it justice.

So … I found a video of Garret Freymann-Weyr talking about “After the Moment” and I think I’ll let her do that talking.

One of the things that I loved most about this book was the way it was written. “After the Moment” is one of those books that has good characters, a good plot, and, most importantly, is beautifully written in lyrical prose. I would put Garret Freymann-Weyr among the ranks of Deb Caletti, Jennifer Smith, and John Green – three authors that I think are brilliant writers in addition to creating good stories. 

So, readers, hurry out to the closest bookstore and library and pick up a copy of “After the Moment” – you won’t regret it! And just in case you’re wondering, the authors DON’T pay me to say that. In fact, I don’t get paid at all. ;)

I’m reading “The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin” now, so that will probably be the next thing I post on. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vivian's Pictures

Hey Readers!

This is probably the last post about TBF 2010! :( 

Actually, I say that now, but I will probably think of more things to post in the next week or so …

Anyway, CarlyReads will be going through a makeover over the next few weeks as I update it for TBF 2011. Be sure to keep checking back for the revamp.

I wanted to give you guys the link to Vivian Vande Velde’s website where she’s posted some great pictures that she took over the weekend. Click here!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

TBF 2010!

Wow, Readers! 
I can't believe that TBF 2010 is already over ... wasn't it great, though? Here are some pictures I took throughout the day. I'm sure I missed some awesome moments, but I tried to capture as many as I could. Be sure to leave comments with your favorite festival memories!

The Golden Flyer meets Snoopy as they await the authors.

A marching bands leads the limos carrying the TBF 2010 authors to the Shults Center.

The marching band (and the authors!) grows closer to the Shults Center.

One of the limos arrives in front of the Shults Center.

Stephanie, fearless leader of TBF, greets Coe Booth.

Marissa Doyle and Matt de la Pena are greeted by Snoopy upon arrival.

Lisa McMann high fives her fans as she walks the red carpet.

Terry Trueman, Lindsay Cibos, and Simone Elkeles arrive at the Shults Center for TBF 2010.

Simone Elkeles greets Snoopy as Martin Wilson emerges from the limo.

Holly Black and Mari Mancusi walk the red carpet.

Sarah Ockler waves to her adoring fans as Alisa Libby and James Kennedy follow.

Vivian Vande Velde arrives.

Robin Brande smiles as she prepares to walk the red carpet.

Ben Mikaelsen arrives at the Shults Center and walks the red carpet.

The "Walk of Fame."

The crowd awaits the start of the opening panel. 

Terry Trueman makes Jennifer Smith laugh during the opening panel.

The authors prepare for the lightening round of questions that made up the opening panel.

Terry Trueman signs autographs.

Fans stand in line for autographs at the end of the day.

Terry Trueman and Zeke, the stand-in mascot of TBF 2010.

Vivian Vande Velde signs autographs.

Did you know the "J.K." stands for "James Kennedy?"

Shoppers purchase books at the Barnes & Noble table set up in the gym.

A volunteer sells candy to a festival-goer at the TBF merchandise table.

So, readers, it was a great year! I can’t wait until the next one … and I’ll be posting all summer long about TBF 2011 so keep checking back.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Matt de la Pena Don't Lie (In His Interview with Carly)

Hello Bookworms!

I have a happy surprise for you – another author interview! I thought that Jared’s may be our last, but I heard back from Matt de la Peña today so the interview madness continues!

C: I heard that you wrote a picture book, to be published in January 2011. How was writing a picture book different from writing novels for teens? Did you encounter the same challenges and reap the same rewards?

MP: I never thought I'd write a picture book, to be honest. It just wasn't on my radar. But I've long been a fan of Kadir Nelson's paintings and illustrations, and when I found out I had the chance to work with him, I jumped at it. I just saw the finished illustrations -- they're amazing! But it was much different than writing a teen book. With teen lit you get to go all out with the voice. You can be dramatic and take risks. With the picture book I had to be way more concise and, obviously, less edgy. 

C: You’re one of our returning authors and you said in your 5 Fun Facts that TBF 2009 was the most impressive festival that you’ve been a part of! What did you like so much about TBF 2009 and what are you most looking forward to for TBF 2010?

MP: Authors talk. And we all cross paths out there on the road. I've yet to meet one author who doesn't consider TBF one of the best conferences in the country. It's incredibly author-friendly, and I love that the focus is on the actual teens. The committee members are super smart and energetic. And it's a great idea to get a few authors out into the schools before the festival. It gives the kids a sneak peek into what they'd be seeing. And everybody is nice. I like nice people. 

C: Your book “Ball Don’t Lie” has been made into a movie, to be released soon. What was it like having your book adapted for the screen? Did you have a say in the changes that they made (or didn’t make)? 

MP: It was surreal to see these famous actors, like Ludacris and Nick Canon, saying these lines that I'd written alone in a tiny Brooklyn Apartment. I'm actually headed to LA this summer to help write, with a few other people, a TV spin-off of Ball Don't Lie. They're going to release the movie just before shooting the TV show. But I'll tell you what's interesting. In terms of the movie and TV show, my opinion matters least. I'm just one of the writers, even though all of this stuff is based on my novel. It's very interesting. 

C: What was the last book that you read for pleasure?

MP: I just read Fat City by Leonard Gardner. It's an amazing little sad novel. Beautiful prose. Maybe the best action writing I've ever encountered. It came out in 1969. Not sure how I waited this long to pick it up. 

C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?

MP: I love connecting with the authors I see here and there throughout the year. And I believe Terry Trueman owes me a beer. So I plan to collect on that at some point!

It seems like this is the weekend for Terry Trueman to pay up (James’ $134.43, Matt’s beer …). Matt, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these interview questions! We’re looking forward to meeting you in only 34 hours!

TBF Updates

Hey Readers,

There are only 41 hours until the Fifth Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival. WOW! Can you believe how fast this year went? I feel like last year’s festival was only a few months ago, but in actuality, it was more than a year ago! 

A few quick updates on the festival: unfortunately, Patrick Jones and Kay Cassidy will be unable to join us for this year’s festival. We apologize for the cancellations, but we hope that you will attend some of our other authors’ presentations, instead!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with how the day works, I thought I’d go quickly through the schedule. 

Our authors will arrive at 9 a.m. (in style, by limo!) and we welcome the public to come and watch the authors walk the red carpet and see their Hollywood-inspired stars. 

At 9:15, the gym (in the Shults Center) will be open and TBF merchandise, books, and more will be for sale. Shop ‘til you drop while you wait for the opening panel to begin.

The opening panel will begin at 10:15. All of our authors will answer questions about their books, their lives, and their teenage years. The opening panel is ALWAYS a good time. :)

Then, at 11:45, our author breakout sessions will begin. There are four breakout sessions scheduled and authors will present at three of the four. Programs handed out the day of the schedule will give the details as to when each author is presenting. Attend three out of four sessions and take a lunch break, or skip lunch (or brown bag it) and get to see four breakout sessions!

Then, at 3:30, our authors will all gather in the gym to sign autographs. Have them sign books, your program, your TBF teeshirt, whatever! 

Got questions about TBF and how the day will run? Leave me a comment! I’ll be checking back every few hours …

I can’t wait to meet you, readers, at the Festival. I’ll be in a purple teeshirt and I’ll have a name tag, so if you happen to see me, please stop by and introduce yourself!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Carly Interviews Jared Hodges!

What’s up, Readers?

I’ll tell you what’s up! (Have I used that line before? I feel like I have …) Anyway, what’s up today is an interview with Jared Hodges!

C: How does your partnership with Lindsay work? Does one of you write and the other draw? Do you both do both? What is it like working with Lindsay?

JH: Lindsay and I collaborate on all the parts of the creative process. On our graphic novel series, “Peach Fuzz,” we worked together to write the script and create the visual style. When we put the book together, we divided up the labor in a streamlined approach. Lindsay worked up the storyboards and pencils. I did the chapter opening illustrations and inked the art. We both worked on screentoning the pages.

C: Have you always know that you wanted to be an author/illustrator? If so, was it always graphic novels that you were attracted to creating?

JH: I always had two major interests. The first was creating video games. The second was drawing comics. Often I’d combine the two interests and draw comics about video games. By the time I left high school, I realized that the game industry wasn’t for me. Games had grown into a huge production process. Artists were placed in highly specialized roles, like background texture painter, or lighting designer. It seemed too confining. Meanwhile, my love of comics was still strong. After high school I made it my pursuit o do creative work in either comics, graphic novels, or manga. 

C: If you weren’t creating graphic novels, what would you be doing? (To which you can respond with your alternative dream job or your backup plan …)

JH: I can't imagine working a job where art and writing aren't a major component. I'd like to try my hand at illustration for books and magazines. I also wouldn't mind working in games, but only on small team projects.

C: What was your favorite book as a teenager?

JH: As a teen I was mostly reading comics. I read a lot of Masamune Shirow graphic novels. They were really big in the 1990s. I probably read his Appleseed series and Ghost in the Shell a hundred times over a period of 10 years. I was also big into Yukito Kishiro's Battle Angel. I'd finish reading a volume, close it and start over again. Those dramatic cyberpunk epics had a big impact on me as a teen.

C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?

JH: It'll be great to meet the other authors and find out more about them. In particular, I'd like to meet Barry Lyga. I recently read his book Fanboy and Goth Girl. It was a lot of fun, and I felt he really captured what life is like growing up as a comic geek.

Thanks for the great answers to the interview questions, Jared. We really appreciate you taking the time to answer them for us! We can’t wait to meet you in 2 days and 12 hours!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Hello Readers!

TBF is getting so close that I’m posting two interviews today so that I can fit them all in before the Festival arrives! Here’s my interview with the awesome Coe Booth …

C: I’ve read that you worked with teens in crisis after college and that this job had some role in inspiring you to write “Tyrell.” What do you feel that books like “Tyrell” and “Kendra,” books about teens in tough situations, can give to their readers?

CB: The teens I worked with were living in chaotic homes with parents who were often addicted to alcohol or drugs, where domestic violence and child abuse were common. Working with them made me see the reality of what a lot of teens face every day and just how resilient most of them are. I wrote “Tyrell” and “Kendra” because I hoped teens would be able to see themselves in these novels, that they would feel an emotional connection to the characters, whether or not they are living in a similar situation. While I want to provide a glimpse into a world a lot of people are not familiar with, my goal is to make my books relatable to everyone.

C: What was your journey to becoming a published author like?

CB: Well, considering I wrote my first novel in second grade, this journey has been very long -- long and winding! Even though I always wanted to write, it took me a long time (and a couple of careers!) to take myself seriously. And when I did, I decided to go back to school for an MFA in creative writing. I began writing “Tyrell” in that program, and I was fortunate to have David Levithan as my thesis advisor. He helped me finish it and then later acquired it for Scholastic. After that, everything seemed to happen so fast!

C: If you weren’t an author, what would you be? (Feel free to answer with your alternative dream job or your backup plan!)

CB: My dream job would still involve writing. Yes, I’ve always secretly wanted to write for the soap operas! How much fun would that be? But if I had to choose a non-writing alternative job, I would probably be doing what I did before I got published, teaching English and psychology at a college. I really loved teaching, and it’s something I really miss.

C: What books are on your list of “Top 5 Favorite Books Ever?”

CB: Oh, it’s so hard to pick just five! But if I must, I’ll choose the books I seem to read over and over. And they are (in no particular order): “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston, “The Sound And The Fury” by William Faulkner, “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, “Of Mice And Men” by John Steinbeck, and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig.

C: What authors are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF? 

CB: I’m already friends with a lot of the authors who are coming, and (of course) I’m looking forward to seeing them again. But I can’t wait to meet some of the authors I’m only friends with on Facebook and Twitter even though I feel like I know them so well already. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

You’re right, Coe – it’s definitely going to be a fun day! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these interview questions for us … we loved reading the answers. 

Confessions of Alisa Libby

Hey Readers!

TBF 2010 is merely days away and I still have so much stuff that I want to share with you guys! Today? An interview with Alisa Libby!

C: Have you always been interested in history? Once you knew that you wanted to write novels, did you know that they would be historical fiction?

AL: I had no idea that I would one day write historical fiction! When I was in high school I thought history was a boring list of names and dates to be memorized for a test—nothing terribly inspiring. I wanted to write novels, and I was naturally drawn to write young adult fiction. Then I remembered reading about Countess Bathory, who (according to legend) believed that bathing in the blood of virgins would keep her eternally young. It wasn't the fact that it was historical that intrigued me (though I'll admit, the corsets and gowns of the 16th century are awesome) but the character, herself. Suddenly, history was flesh and bones and blood—a lot of blood, in this case. I started to think of her as a real person who had once walked upon this earth: what was she thinking when she murdered her servants and bathed in their blood? Why did she do it? I wrote the novel in an attempt to answer those questions.  I became similarly obsessed with Catherine Howard, the wayward, teenaged Queen of England. I had other ideas for my second novel which were quickly put aside when I read about this young girl, propped upon the throne and married to one of the most infamous kings to grace the pages of our history books. King Henry VIII proves the theory that truth is stranger than fiction. If there were a novel about a king who married six wives, divorced two and beheaded two others, it would seem completely implausible, wouldn't it? And it was, I suppose, but that didn't stop Henry.

C: What kind of research goes into a book like “The King’s Rose” or “The Blood Confession?” Do you enjoy the research part of the writing process or is it more of a chore?

AL: I love to research a character and a time period that fascinate me. For both of my novels, I researched the time period, the location, the characters, the clothes they wore, the food they ate, their culture and beliefs and holidays and music and poetry.  But for The King's Rose I did more than read books. I went to England to find Catherine Howard's ghost. In November of 1541, after just over a year of marriage to King Henry, the king's guards entered Catherine Howard's royal apartments at Hampton Court Palace. She was not told what the problem was, but Catherine was well aware of the secrets she had kept from her royal husband. When she saw that they intended to imprison her in her chambers, she broke free from the guards and ran down the hallway, shrieking Henry's name. The guards caught her and dragged her back to her apartments; she never saw the king, again. This story may be a legend in itself, but people have claimed to have seen Catherine’s ghost running down that corridor, screaming for her royal husband.  On our visit to England, my husband and I went on a “ghost tour” of Hampton Court, at which Catherine's ghost was one of the featured spirits. What would I ask her ghost, if I saw her? I wished that I could speak to Catherine and get her blessing for telling my version of her life. I wondered what she would say to me, what she would want to explain if she could.  Alas, I've never had much luck with ghosts. I peered into every shadow in that hallway, called Catherine's name in every room in the Palace, but no spirit appeared to tell me her side of the story. Perhaps this is best, for Catherine's sake and for mine.  On February 13, the anniversary of her execution, we visited Tower of London: the site of Catherine's final days, her execution, and her burial. I left a stone on the crest that marks Catherine's burial site. Unlike her famous cousin Anne Boleyn, Catherine doesn't get many visitors. I told her I had come a long way to visit her, to pay my respects. History is lived by real people after all, and I had never felt that more strongly than in that moment. I like to think that she was glad to have had a visitor; someone thinking about her life, centuries after her death.

C: Are you currently working on any projects (aka new books!) that you can tell us about?

AL: I have two projects slowly, gradually in progress. I'm so superstitious and secretive about my works in progress! But I will say this much: neither of them are historical novels, and both have an element of magical realism/fantasy. My characters wear jeans and I don't have to research what they might eat for breakfast. It's quite liberating. That said, I do hope that I have another historical novel in me. But it can't be forced; it needs to be the right idea at the right time, as with any book—they take so long for me to write, I need to be completely and utterly committed. And yes, maybe a bit obsessed.

C: What was the last book that you read for pleasure?

AL: “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins, the sequel to “The Hunger Games.” 

C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?

AL: All of them! There are some authors – Laurie Halse Anderson, Ellen Hopkins – whose work I already adore. And others I've got piled up, waiting to be read. It's such an exciting opportunity. I still get star-struck around great authors. The more I loved their book, the more tongue-tied I get. It's quite embarrassing.

Thanks for the great interview, Alisa! We can’t wait to meet you in only 3 days and 12 hours!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Review and Interview

Hi Readers!

Here’s a combo post! An interview with Holly Black and a review of her newest book “White Cat,” which was released last week!

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of “White Cat,” which I read a few weeks ago. “White Cat” is the story of Cassel, a young man who’s the only ‘normal’ one in his family of Curse Workers, people who can influence others with only the touch of their hands. Although Castle may not have the magical power that his Curse Worker family members have, he’s a conman … and he killed his best friend, Lila. But now he’s convinced that Lila is haunting him, in the form of a white cat that’s following him and stalking his dreams. Sound intriguing? I can tell you first-hand that it sure is. Look for “White Cat” at TBF – you won’t regret it!

And now, my interview with Holly Black!

C: Where do your story ideas come from? Do you have a “thinking spot” where your best ideas come to you?

HB: My ideas come from my obsessions. I read a ton of folklore – because I loved it – long before I had the idea that I was going to write about faeries. Before I ever thought of writing a book like “White Cat,” I read a true crime book, “Son of a Grifter,” which utterly fascinated me. It set me off doing more and more research about cons and capers. Only later did I realize how I would use that research in fiction.  When I get stuck on an idea and I want to explore it more, I find that talking aloud is really helpful for me. Just hearing myself put my idea into words helps me see where it needs development, but it also helps to have someone to ask the right questions. For that, I think a critique partner is invaluable. 

C: I love how “White Cat” is a combination between fantasy and realistic fantasy … is that something that you strive for in your other books? Do you have a preference between fantasy and realistic fiction?

HB: What I love about contemporary fantasy is the feeling that just around the bend, down a dark alley or out of the corner of your eye, there is strangeness waiting. I love that, ideally, when we put down the book, we come back to the world wondering if the world might be a bit bigger and a bit odder than we thought when we picked that book up. In terms of reading, I read pretty broadly. I love urban fantasy, but I also love historical fiction and mysteries and nonfiction and comics. If it looks interesting to me, I pick it up. No genre is off-limits.

C: How is different writing for children (“The Spiderwick Chronicles”) versus teens?

HB: When I'm writing, I am trying to tell the truth about a character, whether that character is nine or nineteen or ninety. So, writing for kids is different from writing for teens in the sense that the characters' concerns are different and sometimes the pacing of the story is different (each Spiderwick book is quite short, for example), but the actual doing of it is very much the same. When I'm writing about Jared, I try to remember what it was like to be nine or ten, and when I'm writing about Cassel, I try to remember what it was like to be seventeen.

C: What was the last book that you read for pleasure?

HB: The last book I read for pleasure was “Beautiful Darkness” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the sequel to “Beautiful Creatures.” I think the second book is even better than the first.

C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?

HB: It is always a pleasure to see Coe Booth, Barry Lyga and Laurie Halse Anderson. But I am looking forward to seeing everyone!

Thanks for the great interview, Holly! 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Q&A With Lindsay Cibos

Hi Readers!

More interviews! Up today? Lindsay Cibos!

C: How does your partnership with Jared work? Does one of you write and the other draw? Do you both do both? What is it like working with Jared?

LC: We both write and we both draw. Of course, when working on a graphic novel, it would be absolute chaos if we didn't divide the work. On “Peach Fuzz,” we took turns writing the story. We brainstormed the general plot together, then we passed it back and forth to hammer out the details until we were both satisfied. Then I took the finalized plot outline, and created the rough storyboards. Once we checked to make sure everything flowed, I penciled the pages. Then I handed over the pages to Jared for inking. Final touches like lettering and screen toning were split between us. Working with Jared is great. He pushes me to do my best, and I do the same for him. We're both our harshest critics. We scrutinize and discuss every plot point and drawing. Working together ensures that we are always putting out the best work that we are capable of doing. :) 

C: Have you always known that you wanted to be an author/illustrator? If so, was it always graphic novels that you were attracted to creating?

LC: I've been drawing since I was a kid. I started out wanting to be an animator for Disney, but in my early teen years, I discovered comic books and manga and fell in love with the sequential art medium. I started making my own comic books and decided that was what really what I wanted to do. When creating a graphic novel, I love having control over all aspects of the work; I get to play the role of director, actor, set designer, costume designer, writer, and so on.

C: You said in your “Five Fun Facts” that your pet ferrets inspired your “Peach Fuzz” series – how rooted in fact is that series?

LC: The plot lines are entirely fiction, but a lot of it is inspired from life. The ferrets' personalities, as I mentioned, are inspired from my ferrets, Momoko and Elf. My idea for “Peach Fuzz” began when I sat back and tried to fictionalize reasons for why my ferrets acted the way they did. Elf's quirky mannerisms, and Momoko's princess-like needs, why baby ferrets nip, why ferrets stash objects. None of the human characters are based off of anyone in particular, but there are bits and pieces that come from my own experiences or people I know. Jared and I did a lot of reminiscing on our experiences of attending school in the fourth grade.

C: What was the last book you read for pleasure?

LC: I'm currently reading [the graphic novel] “Black Jack” by Osamu Tezuka and [the novel] “Wicked - The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire.

C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?

LC: I'm looking forward to meeting all of them, but especially Holly Black and Barry Lyga.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these interview questions for us, Lindsay. Only 5 days until we get to meet you at TBF 2010!

A Not So Odd Interview with James Kennedy

Hello Readers!
I have an especially funny interview for you today.  Have you guys checked out James Kennedy? Let me tell you, he is going to quickly join the ranks of our TBF funny guys (Terry Trueman, Todd Strasser, Jack Ferraiolo, Kenneth Oppel, among others).  
And check out his interview here!
C: So, how is your relationship with Neil Gaiman holding up after your challenge at the ALA conference?  (And allow me to note that YouTube videos from the conference have proven to be both very entertaining and ideal procrastination tools as I attempt to study for final exams.) Readers, check out the YouTube video here.
JK: I like to imagine Neil Gaiman is feverishly working on an exquisite revenge. In fact, he has almost certainly forgotten all about it.
C: I’m not yet halfway through “The Order of Odd Fish,” but I can already tell that it is going to be unlike anything else I’ve ever read.  Where did your inspiration for “Odd Fish” come from? 

JK: I wanted to write a kind of urban Narnia, but funnier -- something with the anarchic humor of Roald Dahl, Douglas Adams, or Evelyn Waugh. I wanted to write a story that makes use of all the freedom you get from fantasy, but without falling into any of the standard conventions of the genre (dragons, magic, ersatz medievalism, etc.) If there were going to be monsters, I wanted to invent my own weird ones instead of pulling from the standard toolbox of orcs and trolls. If there were going to be mythologies, I wanted to make up my own myths, not do warmed-over retellings of existing legends. I wanted it to be alien yet welcoming, humorous but disturbing, raucous but emotionally satisfying. I wanted to disorient the reader and hopefully alienate them a little. I don't mind if the reader throws my book across the room at some point. I think that anything that's truly original feels wrong the first time you read it. I strived for that kind of wrongness.  Some of my inspiration comes from irritation at other books. For some reason, in a lot of fantasy books, characters are always spending a long time walking from place to place across the countryside. (Tolkien got away with it only because he's a genius.) I decided, no walking in “Odd-Fish.” I also wanted to reverse or subvert many of the cliches of fantasy. Instead of the shopworn idea of a "chosen one" who's destined to save the world, which at this point I find almost unendurable, the heroine of “Odd-Fish” is fated to destroy the world -- she discovers that she's the hidden villain of the book. Frankly, I also don't like struggles of "good vs. evil" -- that idea has a lot of dubious baggage for me, and feels aesthetically exhausted. Much of the energy of “Odd-Fish” comes from subverting, reversing, or problematizing those categories. Also, I wanted to write a book with three-foot-tall foppish talking cockroaches.

C: Do you currently have any new projects in the works that you can tell us about?
JK: I'm working on a science-fiction comedy called “The Magnificent Moots.” It's about an interplanetary Olympics. I want it to be like a combination of Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game,” Douglas Adams’ “The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and the movie “The Royal Tennenbaums.” And the 1970s television special “Battle of the Network Stars.” Paul Hornschemeier, who did the paperback cover of “The Order of Odd-Fish,” is going to do illustrations for “Moots” – I want the book to be partially in graphic-novel form. You can see some of his preliminary illustrations here, plus a link to audio of me reading the first chapter of “Moots” aloud, right here.
C: What was the last book that you read for pleasure?
JK: “A High Wind in Jamaica” by Richard Hughes. It's a good companion read with “The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea” by Yukio Mishima. Unsettling, beautiful, strangely funny. Both have a refreshingly unsentimental, breezily brutal take on childhood. 
C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?
JK: Terry Trueman still owes me $134.43 from when I met him at the LitWorks festival in suburban Chicago. Whenever I gently remind him about it, he acts all hurt. "Fine, I'll pay you back," he huffs, "since all you care about is money." And then, after a half hour of whining and bellyaching about it, he still doesn't pay me back! This is par for the course for Trueman, who is well-known in YA circles as a shameless leech. At restaurants, he cleverly times his visits to the restroom so that he's not there when the check comes. At bars, he disappears when it's his turn to buy a round. Short of cash? Terry Trueman will nevertheless find something to "borrow" from you. Jon Scieszka went shoeless for all of ALA 2006 because Trueman "needed them for something." Terry Trueman then promptly disappeared, only to be found hours later by the night janitor, hiding in a closet, petting and cooing at Jon Scieszka's shoes as though they were human infants! Some speculate that Terry Trueman did not actually win the Printz Honor for his debut “Stuck in Neutral," but merely pilfered the medal from a tipsy and disoriented Sharon Creech. Knowing Creech, I'd say there's probably something to it.
Well, readers, there you have it. Your laugh for the day, and I’m sure James will keep us laughing all day long at TBF 2010. Thanks for the great answers, James. We’re looking forward to meeting you in only 5 days!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Interviewing Season Continues With Marissa Doyle!

Hi Readers!
My inbox is overflowing with authors’ interviews! It’s so exciting!
Up today is the first of our two historical fiction authors, Marissa Doyle!
C: Have you always been interested in history? Once you knew that you were going to write a book (if it was a conscious decision), did you know immediately that it would be historical fiction?
MD: I've been a history geek since I was nine, when I saw "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" on Masterpiece Theatre and couldn't get my hands on enough books about English history, fiction and non-fiction. But no, I didn't start out writing historical fiction--Bewitching Season was actually my fourth completed novel. The first was a fantasy set in a made-up world, and the next two were contemporary fantasies.
C: I love that one of the first descriptions of your novels on your website is “heroines who discover their own unique strengths and abilities [and] heroes who are worthy of them.” Can you expand on why you think that this is so important?
MD: I love writing about the balls and the dresses and all the girly-girl stuff of the 19th century...but I don't like writing about wimps or shrinking violets. I guess I'm a product of my women's college (Bryn Mawr), which was full of brilliant young women doing amazing things. It's just my personal code to write about strong, intelligent heroines who solve their own problems and don't wait for someone else--especially a guy--to rescue them--it's what I want for my daughters, and their friends, and all young (and not so young) women.
C: How much research goes into one of your historical fiction novels?
MD: A lot. I have a research library of hundreds of books and periodicals and documents, and I use it--books on everything from clothes to food to etiquette to name it. I do my darnedest to get the details in my books as authentic as possible, because (a) it's loads of fun (b) I feel I owe it to both my subject and to my readers and (c) it's part of my secret mission to show teen readers that history can be fascinating and exciting and yes, relevant. If I can get some of my readers to have their own history inspiration moment the way I did with "The Six Wives of Henry VIII," then I'll be a very happy author.
C: What was your favorite book as a teenager?
MD: Oh dear. What year? I went through several favorites - "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" and "The Perilous Gard" early on, as well as Jean Plaidy's dozens of novels about the kings and queens of England. When I was about 15 I discovered Victoria Holt and was on a Gothic romance binge for years. The books that really stand out from that time in my mind, though, are T.H. White's "The Once and Future King" and Evangeline Walton's "Mabinogion Quartet."
C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?
MD: Well, definitely my co-presenter on historical fiction, Alisa Libby, whom I got to have lunch with this winter at ALA...and Lisa Schroeder, a fellow Class of 2k8 member...and...well, all of them!
Well, Marissa, just like you can’t wait to meet all our awesome TBF authors, we can’t wait to meet you! Thanks so much for answering these interview questions for us!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bears and Bonus Information About Ben Mikaelsen!

Whoa, Readers.
This is an exciting day because today, wait for it … I have an interview with BONUS info! Ben Mikaelsen sent me the answers to his interview questions as well as some additional fun facts. (The 5 Fun Facts are my favorite part of the TBF website, by the way. Well, that, and getting to hit Terry over the head with a large wooden mallet …)
So, without further ado … Ben Mikaelsen!
C: A spin on an age old question: what came first, Buffy (your bear) or your interest in bears? How exactly did you come to acquire Buffy? And where does he stay when you go on vacation?!?! 
BM: My interest in bears came first because I watched “gentle Ben” on TV when I first came to the United States. He stays in a pen that has a lots of room with a pond but I try to take my vacations & work when Buffy is hibernating.
C: I was very intrigued by the ideas of Circle Justice in “Touching Spirit Bear.” How did you come to hear of Circle Justice originally and do you believe that Circle Justice could, or should, be used in our American justice system today? 
BM: I heard about it from a friend of mine that was a prosecuting attorney. Yes, this should be used. The success rate is nearly 10 times the rate of traditional punitive justice.
C: Where do you draw inspiration from when writing your novels? Are any parts of any of your novels rooted in your own life or experience? 
BM: My life, from others, and from my imagination.
C: What was your favorite book as a teenager? 
BM: Jonathan Livingston Seagull
C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF? 
BM: Not sure I want to pick a favorite.
Fun Facts About Ben!
One of my favorite [books] that I have written is “Petey.” It is about a man I actually adopted as my grandfather. If you put me in place of the character, Trevor the story is about 90% true.
Buffy is my black bear I adopted. I adopted him when he was very young because he was going to be killed. He had been de-clawed and couldn’t be put back out into the wild. He is 25 years old now. That is old for a bear. 
All my animals get along. I have 3 cats and one dog. Buffy gets along with all of them. I truly love all animals but I don’t think having a wild animal as a pet is the best thing for them. I think they need to be out in the wild. Buffy didn’t have that choice so that is why I have him. He has had a good life and we are best friends. He has taught me many things about life more than I have taught him.
There are 4 ways I get my ideas for writing…
1. My life experiences so I go out and live the most exciting life. 
2. From others so I have learned to be a good listener. 
3. Research ... so I try to read and learn as much as I can so my stories are authentic 
4. and of course from my imagination and boy do I have an imagination. 
My hobbies are flying my airplane, motorcycle riding, hiking and traveling. I love to do and try just about anything. I would love to go up in a hot air balloon someday. I love life and new experiences.
My favorite song is “What One Man can Do” by John Denver.
My favorite place to go is the Inland Passageway of S.E. Alaska and British Columbia.
My favorite movie as of this year is 3-D Avatar. Great movie!
In one of my books titled “Stranded” I got to swim with the dolphins for my research… boy was that fun! I went to Space Camp and Africa for research for my book titled “Countdown.” So you see, I make writing fun.
You do make writing fun, Ben … and that makes reading your interview fun, too! Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions for us!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Interview Collector Interviews Patrick Jones

Hello Bookworms!
It’s been a while since I used that salutation … remember back when I started the blog and did that whole intro about finding the “perfect” salutation to open all my posts with? Yeah, definitely gave up on that. Turns out my brain power is better spent doing things like studying for final exams … 
Anyway, you’ll have to make do with a recycled salutation for today. Have no fear, though, because I have a brand new interview with Patrick Jones for you!
C: “The Tear Collector” is the only book of yours that I’ve gotten to opportunity to read, but it seems (from the descriptions of your other books) that “The Tear Collector” is pretty different from your others. Would you agree with this? Did you set out wanting to write in a completely separate direction?
PJ: Yes and no. It is very much a supernatural sorta vampire novel and all the rest of my titles are realistic fiction, Tear Collector also handles some of those issues you find in other books: the search for identity, conflicted relationships, and high school drama. Lots of drama. I hear that word all the time from teens during school visits about their is so much drama in school, so I wondered what if there was a reason for this drama. A creature that feed on the tears the drama produced / produced the drama to create the tears. 
C: I hate to give too much away, but I’ll just lay out the basic storyline: “The Tear Collector” is about a family of vampires that exists on human sorrow, rather than blood. How did you decide on this twist? How do you think it sets “The Tear Collector” apart from all the other vampire books out there right now?
PJ: Well, there are so many fluids out there .... and a snot vampire might make a great book for 4th grade boys, but. In addition to the drama aspect I mentioned, I just think teen years are tear years because there is so much hurt. Cassandra says in the book – describing herself – "that if you can't feel love and don't mind being lonely, high school is very easy." Well, most teens can feel love and don't like being lonely, thus high school is hard. The most difficult part of the story was figuring out the mythology. When I first started "road testing" the book, the number one questions was "how do they get the tears". 
C: The protagonists of your novels are both male and female. Do you find it more difficult to write from one of those perspectives over the other? Do you find it difficult to, as an adult, write from a teen’s perspective?
PJ: I'm an almost 50 year old man trying to pretend I'm a 17 year old girl, and the way I do that is when I write, I wear these high heels. Wait, that's not true. They're pumps. The most difficult thing to do is to figure out not so much the mindset or psychology of the teen or the cultural stuff, but figuring out what a teen in 2010 knows. What references would they make/get? I think I have the "voice" thing down, I struggle with how much they know. One thing I do is let a selected group of teens read the books before I send them to my publisher as a "check" to make sure I get these things right. 
C: What was the last book that you read for pleasure?
PJ: Teen Fiction was “Going Bovine” by Libby Bray which I listened to, and “Wish You Were Here” by Catherine Clark which I read. Nonfiction is “Nixonland” by Rick Perlstein. 
C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?
PJ: I'm looking forward to talking with Terry Trueman since we share the same agent and Simone Elkeles since we share the same editor. 
Thanks for the great interview, Patrick. TBF is growing closer and closer by the day and we can’t wait to meet you soon!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Interviewing Vivian

Hey Readers!
Three words: interviews, interviews, interviews! They just keep comin’ … Vivian VandeVelde!
C: I’ve read several of your fantasy novels, but I’ve been looking forward to the getting the opportunity to read “Remembering Raquel.” Based on the description, it sounds as though “Remembering Raquel” is very different from your other books. Would you agree with this? If so, what inspired this change in genre?
VV: Most of my stories are fantasy, or sometimes fantasy with a bit of science fiction thrown in. I write in that genre because often that seems the best way help me examine the questions I want to explore. "Remembering Raquel" is only my second foray into the world of realistic fiction. So, yes, it involves a dead girl – which is rather typical for me – except that she stays dead throughout the story. How that started was by noticing those roadside memorials (maybe a cross, flowers, picture, mardi gras beads, stuffed animal) set up right where someone had died – usually a car accident, often involving a young person. This struck me as such a public expression of grief that I decided I wanted to write about someone who was the object of such a memorial; and I wanted to do this – not by showing her directly – but through the words of those who knew her. And those who didn't but still felt they had something to say. In this particular case, fantasy elements would have been distracting rather than helpful. 
C: What was your journey to becoming a published author like?
VV: I can't remember a time before I wanted to be a writer. I always loved other people's stories, and I always loved making up my own stories. After working as a secretary, I became a stay-at-home mom when my daughter was born. As someone who hates housework, I had to have SOME excuse for how I was spending my days at home but not having time to clean. So I chose the well-please-excuse-the-messy-house-but-I've-been-busy-writing route. My first story was A HIDDEN MAGIC, a story about a princess who would love to be a typical princess, but instead finds herself in a situation where she needs to rescue a prince. My mother assured me it was brilliant, but 32 editors disagreed with her. Fortunately, editor # 33 bought the story. Trina Schart Hyman provided a lovely cover and black & white illustrations for each chapter. I don't want to say that writing (or publishing) became easier after that--but at least I knew it could be done. 
C: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Nancy Drew PC games, too! Which one is your favorite?! (And to all my readers out there, you should, without a doubt, check out these games. They are awesome.)
VV: Hmmm, I'm going to go with "The Haunted Carousel." I didn't need to call Bess and George to get hints for that one. :-)
C: What books are on your list of 5 Books I Couldn t Live Without? 
VV: T.H. White's "The Once and Future King." I already knew I wanted to be an author, but that book showed me what kind of stories I wanted to tell.  (Sneakily combining 2...) William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead." In both cases, I read the play before ever seeing it performed. "Hamlet" is my favorite work by Shakespeare because, depending on how it's read, it can be open to different interpretations; then along comes Stoppard's play, where he makes the minor characters into the main characters, and their story takes place between the scenes of Hamlet's story - yet another interpretation. Not only is this very clever, but it opened up for me the possibilities of how a different point of view can give an entirely new perspective.  (Yet again sneakily combining 2...) Susan Campbell Bartoletti's "Hitler Youth" and Jennifer Armstrong's "In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer." Growing up during the 1950's, hearing the adults talk about the war, seeing movies and TV series about the war, I thought I knew everything there was to know about World War II until I read these books meant for young readers of today.  Alexander McCall Smith's "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency." Nothing earth-shaking here, but these characters are so real and so congenial, I want to spend time with them. Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird." I happened upon this and read it on my own when I was in 7th grade; read it again in high school; have read it several times as an adult; depending on where I am in my life, I've concentrated on different elements, but in my opinion it is simply the richest and best book I've ever read.
C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?
VV: I always enjoy getting together with Terry Trueman. The man is totally crazy--but he has a beautiful heart.
Thanks for taking the time to give us these great answers, Vivian! We can’t wait to meet you (or see you, for those of us who’ve attended the festival before) at TBF 2010!!

Even Finals Week Can't Interfere With an Interview With Daniel Kirk!

Sorry, Readers!
I know I promised you a double post on Facebook yesterday, but apparently the study gods had other plans. Facebook was down on campus for more than 24 hours and I’m convinced that it was all part of an evil plan to prevent us students from procrastinating during finals week … Anyway, I’ll make two posts today to make up for yesterday!
First up … an interview with Daniel Kirk!
C: How does writing and illustrating picture books like “Library Mouse” (one of my personal favorites) compare to writing novels like your “Elf Realm” series?
DK: I like to write, period. It’s fun, and it doesn’t matter what age audience I write for. Picture books and novels have their own challenges and rewards, but I like tackling them. For instance, picture books aren’t necessarily any easier to write than novels, appearances to the contrary! The important thing is being able to see the big picture about any story, no matter how long or short it is. There has to be an idea or theme that carries through, and people have to get it on the first reading. Writing novels for older kids allows for more complex themes and ideas that can be a pleasure to explore. The challenge for picture books is trying to tell a good story, develop characters and keep it super simple. It’s all about the right word choice.  As for “Library Mouse,” I could write a “Library Mouse” novel in the “Stuart Little” vein, and it would be fun. It’s hard keeping stories pared down to the essentials, sometimes, and it would be a pleasure to stretch out a bit. But on the other hand, I love the simplicity of picture books. I tend to be a “more is more” rather than “less is more” kind of guy, so I always write ten times more than I need for any project. 
C: Are you currently writing for multiple ages (children and teens) or are you focusing your energy on a specific age group at the moment?
DK: I like trying things I have never tried before, to see if I can do them. I feel like I have many things to express, and whether it is in picture books, novels, poetry or song, these are all just different ways of telling a story and sharing it. Some folks say I spread myself too thin, but that’s just my personality—I can’t help it. People do seem to know me as a picture book guy, so it’s a bit harder than I thought it would be making a foray into the world of novels, but I know I can do it! I imagine I’ll always make picture books, though I’d like to find a simpler illustration style that people appreciate. I heard recently about a kid’s book illustrator named Eric Blegvad, who is well into his eighties and working on a new book. He’s done more than a hundred books, but his eyes are going. He’s still plugging away, though. That’ll be me, before you know it. It’s making the pictures for the books that always takes me the longest, and I have so many ideas, I’ll never have time to get them all done. I want to figure out how to make artwork on the computer, maybe that will help. As it is, I spend five months painting the images for each picture book. I do it old school, paint on paper. 
C: Illustration fueled your entry into the book publishing world, correct? At what point did you decide that you wanted to create novels in addition to picture books? Was this decision spurred by something in particular?
DK: I was always inspired by books I read to my kids as they grew up. Paul Zelinsky, Chris van Allsburg, these were the guys who made me want to take up picture books. It was the pictures that first drew me in. As my kids grew and I was reading them stuff like Philip Pullman’s “Dark Materials” trilogy, I thought to myself, wow, I want to do that, too! I always loved the fantasy genre when I was a teen, so I figured that would be a good place to start.
C: What was your favorite book as a child? As a teenager?
DK: When I was little, my favorite book was a Little Golden Book called “Mr. Bear Builds a House.” My dad read it to me a thousand times. You’d think I’d turn into an architect from hearing that one so many times, but no, just an architect of words. Later on I came to love Dr. Seuss, especially “Bartholomew and the Oobleck”. As a teen I loved scary stuff, adventure, fantasy. I loved Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Conan Doyle, that kind of thing. Later still I was into science fiction, Bradbury, Heinlein, Asimov, and fantasy like Ursula K. LeGuin, Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and “Lord of the Rings”. I always hated books that took place in school. I did very well in school, but at 3:00, I was ready for something else. I can’t imagine why children want to read about life in school, with teachers and bullies and homework. I’ve thought it might be good for me to try writing something that takes place in school, just to see if I can do it. But it will be hard!
C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?
DK: I imagine I’ll be pretty busy making presentations and there won’t be much time to meet or hang out with many authors. That’s the way it usually works. But I see by the list there are some well-known writers on the roster, so I hope I get to meet a few! Some of these people are Facebook friends of mine, folks I’ve never actually met in person, but I know a little about them, their hopes, fears and struggles. It’ll be nice to shake hands and commiserate. I always think it is fun to see how fans relate to their favorite authors…everybody should remember that writers are all just people who love stories. Some writers create magic, but each of us can be a channel for that. Writing is a gift, first, and then a craft. We have to take the gift available to each of us and put some sweat into making it something worth sharing. It’s important to remember that many fans are aspiring authors, too, so before long I hope we’ll be hearing about them, as well!
Thanks so much for the awesome answers, Daniel! We can’t wait to meet you at TBF live in less than two weeks!!!