Posts tagged Author Spotlight
Please give a warm welcome to author Lissa Price whose book Starters, a sci-fi thriller for young-adults, hits bookstores and libraries this month! Starters is the first in a duology of books (the second is Enders, due out December 12th), and it has a rip-roaring pace full of twists and turns galore. We met with Lissa after a shared event she had with fellow debut author Marissa Meyer (Cinder), and it was very clear what a huge fan of YA literature she is!
My Big Idea was that in the future, desperate teens would rent out their bodies to rich seniors who could then enjoy being young again. It came to me in Costco, a few years ago. Trying to get a flu shot.
Thanks so much for meeting with us! I’d just like to say that I really enjoyed Starters, and the way you set the pace was fantastic. You talked about some of the inspiration for Starters coming from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Did you have other literary inspirations?
I’m glad you asked that – Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron. I love that book! I am probably more passionate about that than the other two, partly because a lot of people haven’t read it and don’t know about it (even though it’s being developed into a film by Hugh Jackman’s company). I think she came up with such an amazing world. [Fisher] managed to get part of the old world in there but make everything new. I love different levels of reality–that’s my thing (Memento, Inception, The Matrix)–so, I love Incarceron. (more…)
Back in October Ruby and I had the amazing opportunity to sit down with and interview world-renowned (some say legendary) author Tamora Pierce! Known for her young-adult epic fantasy books with strong female protagonists, Tamora Pierce has published nearly 30 books in the worlds she has created, including the popular Alanna books (Song of the Lioness quartet), The Immortals quartet, The Circle of Magic quartet, the Beka Cooper series, and more. Her most recent book, Mastiff, is the third and final installment in the world of Beka Cooper, a rookie being trained in the Provost’s guard as a law-enforcer in the lower city. It was published just before our interview (and the event that followed). Tamora was a hoot to chat with and gave quite the fun performance after. The long delay between October and now is over, and the interview is posted below–enjoy!
Jenny: According to the Frequently Asked Questions on your website, you get your ideas from everywhere. Do you ever have too many ideas—do they ever cramp up in your brain? How do you release them?
Yes, I have too many ideas for books, but I’ve just learned to schedule them rather than let them overtake me all at once. It used to be that I’d have pages and pages of notes of ideas for different projects, and my first agents actually told me I had too many ideas. I didn’t see that as being a problem, but she seemed to think it might be. What I do now is if I get an idea for something, I’ll put it into my brain and let it cook, and if I can’t remember it–and this isn’t something I recommend for most people, ‘cause it doesn’t work always, but for me, I’ve been at this long enough, I know my own processes enough–and I know if I can’t remember it again (and this is for longer-term projects), then it wasn’t meant to be, but if it’s something that I’m meant to work on, then it will come back. And then I will work on it some more, I’ll take it out when I’m doing dishes or showering… There’s something about writers and water and ideas. ‘Cause Bruce Coville, who is my writing buddy and my best writer friend, says that when he’s working on a book there isn’t a dirty dish in the house. […] But I will keep doing that. I’ll put [the idea] back and then take it out and work on it when I’m driving–although that’s not always a good idea–or when I’m feeding the wildlife in back or feeding the cats, and eventually I’ll reach the point where I’ll feel up to saying it aloud to my husband. Sometimes I’ll open my mouth and the idea will come out and it will die right there. But if it survives the conversation with my husband, then I’ll put it back in and let it cook some more. So I’ll repeat the process until I’m feeling confident enough that I’ll go to whichever of my editors is appropriate and I’ll mention, “I’ve been thinking about this.” And we’ll talk about it, […] and eventually, when I’m reaching the end of a contract with that publisher, my editor will say, “Contract?” And I’ll say, “Yes, I think so.”
Jenny: How do you organize your ideas and writing?
It used to be when I started I’d have to do the whole book, and then it was three chapters and an outline and sample outlines for other books in the series, and then it got to be a three page outline for four books, and now it’s four books and a one-page outline, except I can’t even keep it that short, so I had to write three pages of outline for four books. And we’ll draw up a contract on that, and eventually by the time I reach the point of working on the first book, I will have the main character and the main secondary characters. If it’s a series, I’ll have the story arc for each book–because each has to have an enclosed story–and the overarching series arc as well. And I’ll have the ending for each. I’m not so good on middles. (more…)
PART II of our interview with James Dashner, bestselling author of The Maze Runner trilogy and the 13th Reality books, as well as the upcoming Maze Runner prequel and a new series in progress!
Jenny: Okay, sorry—back on topic! The Flare: did you base that on any historically known disease or academics, outbreaks, or was it just the worst thing you could think of?
In the end they made me do some research to make sure it fit, but really my initial idea […] I just have this fascination with insanity. Humans are powerful beings; we can do incredible, amazing, terrifying things, and if you take away your sanity and your conscience and your ability to choose right and wrong, I can’t think of anything more terrifying. So really, I wanted a disease that didn’t turn people into zombies back from the dead or anything like that, just made people utterly insane. I think that elicits some zombie-like behavior, but anything else that happens to them like sores, injuries, or ravenous hunger to eat other people, anything like that is an after effect. The only thing the Flare does to them is drive them completely insane, and I just thought it was a cool concept.
Ruby: Okay, on to my favorite subject: every teen series has a love triangle. With the introduction of Brenda in the second book, had you intended to start a love triangle between Thomas, Brenda, and Theresa?
I can honestly say no. I still don’t think there’s a true love triangle in the series. I wanted another main female character, and Brenda was one of the characters that grew more important than I originally thought. It kind of ties in to what I said earlier about how Thomas and Theresa can never be the same again. In most love triangles, it seems like you meet both of them—both of the girls or both of the guys—from the beginning or relatively soon, and I’m not a big romance guy, but it sure seems like usually they end up with the first one. It seems like they fall in love with someone and then someone else comes in the picture but then they go back to the first one. Is that true?
Ruby: I think 95% of the time it’s true, but when I was reading your books what was rare for me is the fact that it’s a guy and two girls, ‘cause in all teen books it’s a girl and two guys. It’s like, oh for cryin’ out loud! [Laughter]
[Laughs] And I thought this story was so dark and so quickly paced that are you really going to pause and go watch the sunset with someone you love? I mean, there really is no room for romance in this.
Ruby: Well maybe love triangle is the wrong phrase, but there’s some kind of tension between the three of them.
It’s definitely a triangle of some sort. And I don’t think Brenda and Theresa ever like each other, they never get to know each other. Thomas, I think, doesn’t have time to think of romance, but he is number one devastated and hurt by what Theresa does to him. He thinks about it a lot, and he does just naturally form a bond with Brenda. I think when you go through something terrifying with someone you probably do have a bond, and I think Brenda slowly gains his trust and loyalty throughout book three. It was never really intended as a Team Brenda or Team Theresa type thing.
Ruby: Yeah, that’s not how I read it either. I had an intense dislike for Brenda when she was first introduced. I was like, “Who is this person who’s all over the place? I want Theresa back!” And then the betrayal happened, and that was really shocking to me because I’m a romantic at heart, and I thought there would be no happy ending for them!
The way it all ends is really the only way I feel like it could end. This won’t spoil anything, but I feel like there was only one way for Theresa to feel redeemed. She is a tormented soul from even before the Maze Runner. She believed in what WICKED was doing much more than Thomas did. […] It’s like I said, the line between good and evil in this series… that doesn’t make her worse than Thomas. If you could save billions of people by doing [the trials], can you really fault someone for thinking that it’s right? I don’t know. I wanted it to be complicated. (more…)
Drum roll, please… The long-awaited interview with The Maze Runner‘s bestselling author, James Dashner, is here! We talked about Dashner back in October about his Maze Runner trilogy, including the final book The Death Cure and the upcoming prequel, as well as movies, favorite kids’ books, Dashner’s take on Harry Potter, and a handful of nerdy stuff. In fact, since our interview with him lasted over an hour, it’s so long we’ve broken it into two big posts. We’re huge fans of The Maze Runner trilogy, so this was pretty exciting (we’ll post a review at some point too). Ruby and I had a ball chatting with him, and we’re grateful that we were given the opportunity to pick his brain!
(Please forgive the posting delay: life got busy, but a big reason was that we were sworn to secrecy about The Maze Runner prequel, The Kill Order, that’s being released August 14, 2012!)
One word of warning: while there are no big spoilers involving book three in this interview, readers who haven’t read The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials yet might want to step carefully. Check it out and ENJOY!
If you’ve already finished Part I, read Part II here.
It feels bittersweet. There’s some sadness for it to be over, but I’m also just so thrilled that people finally get to read some of these scenes that have been in my head for so long and to see how it ends. The fact that we’re probably going to do a prequel now [The Kill Order] has got me really even more excited, because to me the prequel becomes the most exciting [book] once you know how it all ends, and I just think it’ll be very interesting to go back and see firsthand the stuff that happened before The Maze Runner. So it’s sort of a mixed bag of feelings, I guess, but mostly excitement.
Jenny: As far as these books go, did you plan a three-book series?
I envisioned it as a trilogy.
Ruby: In your books there’s a trend throughout the whole series in which Thomas always gets singled out and separated from the rest of the group. Is there a reason behind that for his development as a character or for the story as a whole?
I’ll say this: I think even from The Maze Runner we know that Thomas and Theresa are special. They were singled out to be more involved than everyone else in the stuff that happened before the maze and leading up to the maze. Throughout the process they are looking for what is called a “final candidate”. To me the whole concept of the “final candidate” shows that there is a side of WICKED [that doesn’t] want to be completely cruel and evil; they’re at least trying to narrow [the candidates] down to one person for what [WICKED] wants to do in the end. But in my mind, WICKED had always thought that Thomas and Theresa—and then in group B, their two counterparts—would probably [be the final candidate], and so they did plan some of the trials and variables to single them out, to capture some of their patterns, to try to finalize what they’re doing. I just thought Thomas was special and predicted to be what they would need. Probably one of my favorite things in The Scorch Trials is when [Thomas] gets shot with the gun. That was not something WICKED foresaw, and they were not willing to let Thomas die, so they broke against their normal protocol and swooped in to try to save him. (more…)
When you first meet author Erik Korhel, he comes across as quiet, subdued. When you open up one of his collections of poems, though, you realize he’s anything but.
When we met Erik, he was doing a story-time event at the store, reading from his books with the help of an actor to bring the pages to life. (His books, as mentioned in the review of The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache I wrote a couple of months back, have also been turned into plays that are performed across the state in theaters, schools, and libraries.) Afterward I got the chance to interview him–here’s what he had to say!
You said that The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache was written and illustrated after your own childhood experiences. What is your favorite story that you incorporated into a poem from childhood?
I think my favorite is called “Sizzle”, which is about using your imagination as a child [for example] playing the hot lava game. That really sums up how I was as a kid.
I definitely played the hot lava game as a kid. There were though alligators in the lava. They were mutant alligators.
Yeah, hot lava was enough for us!
What inspired you to start writing for kids?
I think it had a lot to do with my childhood just being so wonderful. I had a fantastic childhood, and as I started to get older, I started to become more nostalgic for those times when it was easier and we weren’t paying bills and didn’t have to work. (more…)
We are pleased to welcome author B. K. Bostick as he drops in for an interview on his virtual book tour! Bostick’s upcoming novel Huber Hill and the Dead Man’s Treasure is a great treasure-hunting adventure book for middle readers full of excitement, friendship, discovery, creepy villains, and mystery! Be on the lookout for it when it hits shelves October 1, 2011. (Review to follow!)
What inspired you to share it with the world? My grandpa. He would always tell me stories about Spanish treasure hidden up in the mountains. I always imagined going on these wild adventures to find the gold. As I grew older, I realized that the real treasures were the stories my grandpa told me. I’ll always remember those days sitting at his side listening as he showed me old maps, books, and artifacts. If there’s one theme to the story, it’s that relationships with friends and family are of much more worth than any kind of money.
Out of the three kids–Huber, Hannah, and Scott–which character do you relate to the most? Were any of them based on people in real life?
I was bit like Huber when I was young–more sober-minded and quiet, yet tenacious when I decided to do something. Grandpa Nick was based off of my own grandpa and Scott took on a lot of characteristics of one of my best friends.
In Huber Hill, you do a great job capturing the dynamic between siblings. Did you base Huber and Hannah’s relationship on your own family? What about the relationship between Huber’s parents?
I do have an older brother (we nearly fought to the death on many occasions). However, Huber and Hannah’s relationship I took from working with twin siblings during my time as a teacher. I noticed oftentimes that twins would be compared and sometimes one would excel the other in school, sports, what have you. Huber’s parents’ relationship I also took from many of the parents I observed while teaching. Their personalities and differences would always come out during parent teacher conferences.
In the stories I like to read, the villain is always rotten to the core. There are times you wonder about Salazar and even feel sorry for him, but there’s no denying the fact he cares about no one but himself. Some of his quirks and vocabulary were influenced by a certain Spanish teacher I knew (he’ll remain nameless). Salazar is just as tenacious as Huber, but their motivations polar opposites.
A lot of reviewers have been comparing Huber Hill to the movie “The Goonies”. Do you think that’s a good comparison, and did you make that connection yourself while writing?
I take that as a compliment. I love Goonies. I think Dead Man’s Treasure is focused on relationships and adventure. I’d say it’s more a combination of Stephen King’s Stand by Me and Goonies (two of my favorites growing up by the way). (more…)
Ruby and I got the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview Meg Cabot, bestselling author of books such as The Princess Diaries! She’s a bright, spunky, and funny woman—sort of the Tina Fey of the kids’ and teen book world—and we had a great time meeting her and asking all our pesky questions, and then listening to her book talk afterward. Below is the transcription of our interview. Enjoy!
You write books for all different ages—kids, teens, adults. How do you gauge your writing for different age levels?
I just write the same way for everybody, but I leave out the swear words. If it’s for Allie Finkle readers and usually books for teens, there aren’t any. (My editor is a little bit strict, actually.) I’ve had the same editor for all of my teen books.
I really feel when I’m writing that I’m telling a story to a friend, and I don’t censor myself appropriately because I don’t have kids, so I don’t always know what’s okay to say to them. I try to be a little more age appropriate, but when I was a kid, my parents let me read anything I wanted, and if I had a question about it, I could go ask them. I don’t feel like there’s anything you can’t talk about around kids as long as you’re willing to explain what it is. When I write for young readers, I write like the way you would talk to a nine-year-old—not talking down to them.
Speaking of young readers, we love your kids’ series Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls—Allie is such a spunky, independent character! Is she based on anybody in your life? (more…)