If you’re a Jodi Picoult fan, and you’re interested in Between the Lines, the new novel she has written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, then here’s a Radio New Zealand interview they did together today, talking about the inspiration for stories, who to cast in the movie, and other such writerly things.
Here’s a lovely salute to Margaret Mahy by American author Kristin Cashore, focussing on the many reasons why MM’s young adult writing is so wonderful, and so deservedly award-winning.
If you are interested in the Olympic Games and statistics, the New York Times has a map of medals won by country from 1896 to 2008. It is pretty cool (if you’re not into stats) and very interesting (if you are). In 1984 New Zealand won enough medals for “New Zealand” to appear on its circle.
NPR.com (National Public Radio, I believe) in the US is compiling a list of the best young adult novels ever. You can vote for your favourites (a bit of good taste from New Zealand won’t hurt).
Noted author, Tamsyn Murray, recently agreed to an exclusive interview with Teen Blog, which was nice. Born and raised in the UK, she’s got one YA book to her credit, My So-Called Afterlife (a colleague describes it as “gripping”, so it’s very good) with another on the way very soon. We asked her about writing, reading and cricket …
At what age did you begin writing? And when did you know it was something wanted to get paid for doing?
I’ve always loved writing stories and can remember dreaming up characters and scenarios from a young age. English was definitely my favourite subject at school but I didn’t start to wonder if I could write professionally until 2008, when I read a how-to-write book and everything fell into place. So I like to think I spent the first thirty-five years of my life learning how to write. Either that or I wasted them!
What other YA authors do you read and enjoy?
I’m an enormous fan of Neil Gaiman, who writes across a range of ages, and I loved The Graveyard Book. Other YA books I’ve read recently include The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Wasted by Nicola Morgan and Girl, Aloud by Emily Gale – three very different books but all outstanding.
Where did the idea for My So Called Afterlife come from? I assume the title is a nod to Clare Danes…
The idea for My So-Called Afterlife came when I was wondering what would happen if the building a ghost haunted got knocked down and something else got built on top – would the ghost haunt the new building? What if was something like a toilet? Then the character of Lucy appeared in my head, stamping her Ugg boots and demanding I tell her story. The title arrived after the book was finished and, yes, I was a fan of My So-Called Life.
A lot of the readers on this blog are aspiring writers, and judging by the short story competition entries we receive, they are also very talented, give them some tips on getting that first book published.
The best thing I ever did was find my literary agent. She made suggestions on where I could improve the book and knew which publishers to send it to once it was ready. It’s thanks to her that my novel found a home so I’d recommend aspiring writers try to find an agent on the same wavelength. They might take a percentage of your earnings but without mine, I’d be earning a lot less!
My So Called Haunting is due to be released soon, what can we expect from novel number two?
A different main character, for a start! My So-Called Haunting introduces Skye, a fourteen year old psychic who moves to London to stay with her aunt, Celestine. As Skye struggles to settle into her new life, she’s also developing a crush on the most unattainable boy in the school, Nico.
When her aunt asks for her help with a troubled teen ghost called Dontay, she’s glad of the distraction. But then Nico starts paying her attention, and she’s soon facing a battle to keep her love life and her psychic life separate.
As things get ever more complicated, it looks as though Dontay’s past might cost Skye her future.
We enjoy haiku and you enjoy cricket, write us a cricket themed haiku.
Erm, ok. This is my first ever haiku and I suspect it’s not very good! But here goes:
Bowler sights pale stumps
a crack of ball on willow
summer is a game
* * * * * *
My So-Called Afterlife is available for issue on our catalogue, click on the title to place a reserve. For more Tamsyn Murray news, go to her website where she has all the details of her work, along with a link to her frequently updated and very interesting blog.
So who buys the library books then? WCL has a team of eight people who are lucky enough to spend most of their time buying books, magazines, CDs and DVDs. This is a fairly ideal job if you really like spending money, and really like reading, listening to music and watching movies. Stephanie is one of the young adult selectors and we thought we’d ask her a few questions.
1) What’s the strangest book you’ve bought for the library and/or what’s the strangest suggestion to buy you’ve received from a customer?
Well, as well as books for children and teens I also buy zines for the Library. You know what they are right? For those that don’t basically they’re self published magazines and you can write them on just about any topic imaginable! So some of the strangest ones I’ve brought are: I was unaware they made black jeans that small; little dead riding hood; super pash action; why no one gets tight with the geek; I was a teenaged Mormon; I hate my mom’s cat and fish piss. Ok, so they ain’t that strange but they do have cool titles! They are also free to issue on the first floor of the Central Library. You should check them out sometime.
I can’t remember any really strange suggestion to buys, but Kathleen who works with me just showed me one for a book called “how to amputate a leg”, which is pretty weird.
2) When you were at school what did you want to be “when you grew up”?
I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was really young. I lived by the sea and my brother and I made friends with sea anemones. But really it wasn’t too serious. I just thought it sounded cool. I’m pretty happy doing what I do now though. Buying books is fun
3) What superpower would make your job easier?
Um, maybe the power to clone myself so one of me could sit outside and read in the sun and eat bread and cheese and the other could be inside doing work and getting paid!
4) What things did you read when you were at high school?
I feel really bad saying this but I didn’t read too much at high school, mostly just the prescribed texts. I was a big reader at primary and intermediate and then took a long break and only got back into reading for fun when I was at university.
5) What YA books have you read lately (that you’ve enjoyed)?
Right now I’m enjoying reading Catching Fire, which is the sequel to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I also enjoyed the Twilight series (well mostly when it wasn’t making me cringe), How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The 10pm Question by Kate De Goldi and Violence 101 by my friend Dennis Wright. I plan to read heaps more too, ‘cos as I’m buying them for you guys I’m thinking “that looks awesome” and so I have to reserve it for myself.
6) If you were marooned on a desert island with three people (of your choice), three items of food and three books, who and what would you choose?
Ok so this is a hard one! I would choose Don from Madmen (’cos he’s nice to look at), my friend Carmel (’cos we have fun together) and Katniss from Catching Fire (’cos she looks like she could handle just about anything!). For food I would have breads, cheeses and cakes! And books I couldn’t decide. Because I work in a library I never really read anything twice so perhaps something new? I’ve recently reserved Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (because Grimm said it’s like The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is one of my favourite books) and The Great Death by John Smelcer (it’s gotten good reviews) and The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson (recommended by my co-selector Tom).
YA Central is the name of Penguin publishing’s online content for teens and readers of YA fiction. They have interviews with authors (videos, no less) such as Laurie Halse Anderson (and here), John Green, and Lauren Myracle. Access to other author interview videos, book trailers and behind-the-scene footage is promised. It’s part of The Publisher’s Office, Penguin’s online periodical, which is full of all kinds of stuff – web 2.0 at its most literary.
Louise Rennison, author of the Georgia Nicholson books, was interviewed on Nat Radio’s Nine to Noon programme this morning. She’s a comedian as well as an author and is very entertaining to listen to. She discusses the recent film adaption of Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging (we have the DVD and all ten books in the series).
Markus Zusak, who wrote The Book Thief (one of our Most Wanted books for, like, ages), was recently at the Hay Festival in the United Kingdom (which seems to be a celebration of books and chairs, from what I can tell), where he was interviewed while relaxing in a comfortable-looking deck chair. He talks about how he works, what inspired him to write The Book Thief, what it means to have death as a narrator, and a few other bits and pieces. The interview is here (from the Guardian website).
Incidentally, if you’re interested in strange narrators and you liked How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff make sure you read Just In Case, which is narrated by fate – it would make a very interesting point of comparison.
Two mothers spend US$28,000 to get Twilight star Robert Pattinson to kiss their daughters. (You can also pay to be taken on a tour of the film set in Vancouver, Canada: “Twilight fans don’t have to schlep all the way out to New Zealand for their fan fix.” Hah.) There are some exclusive pictures from New Moon here.
Could a virtual racing champion be turned into a real-life racing champion? Well?
M. T. Anderson, author of the excellent and award-winning Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing books was interviewed by the excellent and award-winning Kim Hill on her excellent and award-winning Saturday morning show on National Radio. You can listed to the podcast here (.mp3 download).
Amanda Ashby is a New Zealand author whose books are published to critical praise in the U.S. Her newest book, Zombie Queen of Newbury High – about what happens when a teenage girl accidentally turns her entire senior year into zombies and has to try and find a cure before she ends up at the top of their menu - will be available from the library soon. We have scored an exclusive interview with Amanda!
I wish I could say that I wrote my first book when I was five, but the truth is that while I loved English and creative writing when I was at school it never occured to me that normal, regular people could be writers and so I contented myself with reading as many books as I could get my hands on. But sometime in my mid-twenties I had a terrible thought on how sad my life would’ve been if my favorite writers hadn’t taken the time to sit down and tell their stories.
This thought continued to stick with me until I finally decided that perhaps I should sit down and try telling a few stories myself. Unfortunately, as many writers know, writing stories and getting stories published are two different things and it wasn’t until I was 38 that I got to see my first book come out. Yay!
2. Do you write professionally, or do you need to work a regular day-job? And does it interfere with your writing?
I’m sort of a full-time writer and mother all rolled into one and I also have a part time job working at the Napier library (which I love because there is nothing a writer likes more than to talk books with people!!). Right now I feel quite lucky because I have a nice balance in my life and I hope it can continue!
3. Where do you get your ideas for writing from?
The idea for my first book, You Had Me At Halo, actually came from my father’s funeral (which as a rule isn’t the best time to be getting book ideas), somehow the idea of writing a book that was inspired my dad’s death certainly helped with the grieving process. The idea for my zombie book actually started out as a bit of a joke because whenever I was stuck for ideas I used to say to my friends that I could always write a book called ‘I was a zombie killer bride’. Unfortunately, you know what happens when you say things too many times…
4. Who are your favourite authors?
So, so, so many that I couldn’t possibly list them all so here is a selection: Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Raymond E Feist, PC Cast and Kristin Cast (if you haven’t read the House of Night books yet then you really must), Jill Mansell, Janet Evanovich, Eoin Colfer, Christopher Paolini, Jonathan Stroud.
5. We really like haiku – can you summarise Zombie Queen of Newbury High in haiku form?
Okay, so when I get arrested for crimes against haiku then I’m going to blame you entirely. Don’t think I won’t! Anyway, here is my butchered offering – no pun intended!
one simple mistake
entire school now living dead
feeding time is near
Kate de Goldi, author of The 10 pm Question (which we thought was one of the best books published last year) and Wellingtonian, kindly took some time out to answer a few questions about reading, writing, inspiration, characterisation… check out what she has to say, especially if you’re an aspiring writer; there is some good advice and useful insights in here. Many thanks to Kate for playing ball with us. We look forward to reading your next book!
1. What books did you enjoy reading in high school?
I read quite a variety of books…I was – and still am – the kind of eternally hungry (and often indiscriminate) reader who needs something, anything, as long as it’s print, so I read trash as often as I read good stuff. Literal boxes full of Mills and Boons, for example… predictable, reliable, junk food. Short term pleasure, zero long-term sustenance. I read a lot of historical romances – Anya Seton, Victoria Holt, Catherine Cookson, – these were a step up from M&B, (more developed, slightly less clichéd characters, often genuinely interesting historical contexts and interesting settings, but still formulaic (I suspect the less well-written vampire fiction today fills the same need for the erotic and the comfortably dangerous)). I read crime fiction – beginning (as girls often did then) with the Queens of Crime, Dorothy L Sayers, Christie, Ngaio Marsh)… and spy thrillers by men… whatever was in the school library or around the house… I read some science-fiction, loved John Wyndham and CS Lewis.
I read and re-read a lot of children’s books, though I was in my teens – the ones on my bookcase (all the standard – and excellent – children’s writers from the 50s, 60s and 70s, American, British, Australian and some European). I read every young adult book I could get my hands on – the 70s (when I was at high school) was when the YA genre really began hitting its stride… writers like Paul Zindel, ME Kerr, Robert Cormier, John Townsend, John Christopher, Robert Westall, Jan Mark, Margaret Mahy… were all producing great stuff.
In mid-high school I began reading adult literary fiction… I started by ‘doing’ my parents’ book case… they had handsome casebound collections of Dickens and Galsworthy and I read many of those… also, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Laurie Lee, EM Forster… There was a lot of history books on those shelves, too, and I read most of those – histories of the French Revolution, of the Second World War (I was obsessed with WWII), of Italy, of the Wars of the Roses, of the NZ gold rushes, biographies of Napoleon, of Louis 14th, of the English monarchs… We had the complete New Zealand Heritage (instalments of NZ history that made up several volumes… I loved those).