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Teen Blog

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Hugo Award Nominees – Young Adult

Here are all of the Young Adult nominees from the Hugo Awards that we have in our collection (and are accessible) at the moment. It’s an amazing list and I thoroughly recommend checking them out.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Belles, Dhonielle Clayton

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful. But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite, the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie, that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. With the future of Orleans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide: save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles, or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever. (Publisher summary)

(There’s also a sequel, Everlasting Rose.)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChildren of blood and bone, Tomi Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe cruel prince, Holly Black

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him– and in doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. As civil war threatens, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself (Publisher summary)

Also has a sequel: The wicked king.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDread nation, Justina Ireland

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever. Now laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. But it’s not a life Jane wants. When families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy… and the restless dead are the least of her problems. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe invasion, Peadar Ó Guilin

In a world where teenagers are trained for the most horrific 3 minutes of their lives, Nessa and Anto have both survived their Call, but fate has a cruel way of rewarding them. Nessa is branded a traitor as no one believes that someone like her could survive the experience. She’s thrown in prison and eventually sent where all traitors are sent – back to the horrifying Greylands, but this time there’s no way home. Anto is packed off out of the way to join the militia. Ireland is being invaded and the enemy are building their army from the very people defending it. However, Anto can’t get Nessa off his mind, he knows in his heart that she’s innocent and he’ll go to any length to rescue her. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTess of the road, Rachel Hartman (e-audiobook)

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess is none of these things. Tess is. . . different. She speaks out of turn, has wild ideas, and can’t seem to keep out of trouble. Then Tess goes too far. What she’s done is so disgraceful, she can’t even allow herself to think of it. Unfortunately, the past cannot be ignored. So Tess’s family decide the only path for her is a nunnery.

But on the day she is to join the nuns, Tess chooses a different path for herself. She cuts her hair, pulls on her boots, and sets out on a journey. She’s not running away, she’s running towards something. What that something is, she doesn’t know. Tess just knows that the open road is a map to somewhere else–a life where she might belong. (Publisher summary)

Book Quote of the Day

Hey there, as a crafts and YA fan, I’ve started to put both universes together using hand lettering. Every now and again I’ll publish a Book Quote of the Day.

This is the first one in the series.

YA - wide awake_levithan_3

 

Overdrive cover Wide Awake, by David Levithan (eBook)
“In the not-too-impossible-to-imagine future, a gay Jewish man has been elected president of the United States. Until the governor of one state decides that some election results in his state are invalid, awarding crucial votes to the other candidate, and his fellow party member. Thus is the inspiration for couple Jimmy and Duncan to lend their support to their candidate by deciding to take part in the rallies and protests. Along the way comes an exploration of their relationship, their politics, and their country, and sometimes, as they learn, it’s more about the journey than it is about reaching the destination. Only David Levithan could so masterfully and creatively weave together a plot that’s both parts political action and reaction, as well as a touching and insightfully-drawn teen love story.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

 

Have you seen the latest Star Wars footage?

The Official trailer was released six weeks ago, but it looks like there has now been a new “TV Spot” (a fancy word for an ad) with some brand new footage in it.

 

If you are someone like me who flicks through our Star Wars encyclopaedias, and hasn’t watched the movies in years, we have them all if you need to catch up.

Or maybe you have already seen those 100 times, and want to delve deeper into the Star Wars galaxy? We have plenty of comic books detailing all sorts of backstories and side stories.

I think that Star Wars : Darth Vader and the ghost prison by Blackman and Alessio sounds great: “Darth Vader and a crippled young Lieutenant must uncover secrets from Anakin Skywalker’s Jedi past in order to save the Emperor and defeat a coup from within the Empire’s own ranks.” (Syndetics)

Am I missing any other great Star Wars resources? Let us know if there is something we have (or should have) that you really enjoy!

For Those Who Love the Strange and Unusual

Weird Fiction is my jam. And when I’m talking about weird fiction I’m not talking about slightly odd werewolves who own an infinite number of jean shorts. I’m talking about the highly unusual – as in surfer messiahs, a buffalo who know exactly what you should do in any given situation, people sentenced to die by sinking slowly into a tar pit, teenagers who discover the edge of the world and toddlers who escape murderers by hiding in graveyards. If you’re keen to have your brain blasted by some strange and unusual tales here are a couple you may well love:

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
“Through the lens of Link’s vivid imagination, nothing is what it seems, and everything deserves a second look. From the multiple award-winning The Faery Handbag, in which a teenager’s grandmother carries an entire village (or is it a man-eating dog?) in her handbag, to the near-future of The Surfer, whose narrator (a soccer-playing skeptic) waits with a planeload of refugees for the aliens to arrive, Links stories are funny and full of unexpected insights and skewed perspectives on the world.” (Goodreads)

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
“Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part. Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century. Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs. Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.” (Goodreads)

 Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this book – the stories are so bizarre with ugly angels fighting one another in unreal lands. “In this extraordinary short story collection, human frailty is put to the test by the relentless forces of dark and light, man and beast. Each tale offers glimpses into familiar, shadowy worlds that push the boundaries of the spirit and leave the mind haunted with the knowledge that black juice runs through us all.” (Goodreads)

Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
Please read this – please, oh please! This would have to be my favourite collection of weird stories that I read in 2014. “Breathtakingly illustrated and hauntingly written, Tales from Outer Suburbia is by turns hilarious and poignant, perceptive and goofy. Through a series of captivating and sophisticated illustrated stories, Tan explores the precious strangeness of our existence …. Whether it’s discovering that the world really does stop at the end of the city’s map book, or a family’s lesson in tolerance through an alien cultural exchange student, Tan’s deft, sweet social satire brings us face-to-face with the humour and absurdity of modern life.” (Goodreads)

 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
“After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own. Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…” (Goodreads)

Book recommendations from my hospital bed

I recently had a stay in hospital; these are the young adult books I had time to read. I rated each and every one of them 4 out of 5 stars, and as you will see I even continued the series of some. If you are looking for a Young adult Mystery/thriller then try one of these. Cheers and happy reading!

Cover courtesy of SyndeticsBad Girls Don’t Die (Bad Girls Don’t Die #1) by Katie Alender

“Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents’ marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever, losing track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Alexis wants to think that it’s all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening–to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she’s the only person who can stop Kasey — but what if that green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore?” (Goodreads)

Cover courtesy of SyndeticsLooking for Alaska by John Green

“Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.” (Goodreads)

Cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Body Finder (The Body Finder #1) by Kimberly Derting

“Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him. Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer… and becoming his prey herself.” (Goodreads)

Cover courtesy of SyndeticsDesires of the Dead (The Body Finder #2) by Kimberly Derting

“The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life. As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally, she’d turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike’s tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.” (Goodreads)

Cover courtesy of SyndeticsUltraviolet (Ultraviolet #1) by R.J. Anderson

Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her.
Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori — the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?” (Goodreads)

Cover courtesy of SyndeticsDeadly Little Secret (Touch #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz

“Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia’s life had been fairly ordinary. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia’s life becomes anything but ordinary. Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend’s accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She’s inexplicably drawn to Ben and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help-but can he be trusted? She knows he’s hiding something… but he’s not the only one with a secret.” (Goodreads)

Cover courtesy of SyndeticsCrash (Visions #1) by Lisa McMann

“Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that. What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode…and nine body bags in the snow. The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.” (Goodreads)

Cover courtesy of SyndeticsBang (Visions #2) by Lisa McMann

“Jules should be happy. She saved a lot of people’s lives and she’s finally with Sawyer, pretty much the guy of her dreams. But the nightmare’s not over, because she somehow managed to pass the psycho vision stuff to Sawyer. Excellent. Feeling responsible for what he’s going through and knowing that people’s lives are at stake, Jules is determined to help him figure it all out. But Sawyer’s vision is so awful he can barely describe it, much less make sense of it. Jules and Sawyer have to work out the details fast, because the visions are getting worse and that means only one thing: time is running out. But every clue they see takes them down the wrong path. If they can’t prevent the vision from happening, lives will be lost. And they may be among the casualties…” (Goodreads)

Cover courtesy of SyndeticsGasp (Visions #3) by Lisa McMann

“Jules now fully understands the importance of the visions that she and people around her are experiencing. She’s convinced that if the visions passed from her to Sawyer after she saved him, then they must now have passed from Sawyer to one of the people he saved. That means it’s up to Jules to figure out which of the school shooting survivors is now suffering from visions of another crisis. And she has to convince that survivor that this isn’t all crazy–that the images are of something real. As the danger escalates more than ever before in the conclusion to the Visions series, Jules wonders if she’ll finally find out why and how this is happening–before it’s too late to prevent disaster.” (Goodreads)

Cover courtesy of SyndeticsEntangled by Cat Clarke

“17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper – and no clue how she got there. As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she’s tried to forget. There’s falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there’s something missing. As hard as she’s trying to remember, is there something she just can’t see? Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?” (Goodreads)

First lines: All will be revealed shortly…

…but in the meantime, here’s a clue.

Try and match these opening lines with the books they belong to!

A. “There is one mirror in my house.”
B. “Dear Ed, in a sec you’ll hear a thunk.”
C. “Everyone thinks it was because of the snow.”
D. “I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.”

And the books they’re from:

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBook cover courtesy of Syndetics
Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBook cover courtesy of Syndetics
Why We Broke Up, Daniel Handler
If I Stay, Gayle Forman
Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson (this one’s a mystery, I know)
Divergent, Veronica Roth

Scoll down for answers!
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A. Divergent
B. Why We Broke Up
C. If I Stay
D. Steelheart

How many did you guess? At least one, from the obvious line, I hope.

Ulf Stark: Writers Week Q & A


Ulf Stark, author of around 30 books for children and young adults, is in town for the New Zealand Festival’s Writers Week. This Swedish author has also written film, TV and theatre scripts and been nominated twice for the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

See Ulf live
at the Hannah Playhouse (Downstage Theatre) on Sunday March 9th at 12:15pm

We have three of Ulf’s books, including a signed copy, to give away to one lucky individual thanks to Gecko Press. To win please tell us Ulf’s home country by email to wclblog@gmail.com, Tweet @WCL_LIbrary or comment on the post on our Facebook page. (We will announce a winner on the morning of Thursday March 13th).

Justin from the library Online Services Team meet with Ulf on Saturday morning. Here is their Q & A:

(J) How did you get into making books?

(U)So, I was not very talented in anything. And actually I disliked writing when I was very young because I was left-handed and we were forced to do right-handed in school. So that was the worst thing to have to write things. Then during my teen ages a lot of things changed. When you are a teenager you are looking in the mirror and you don’t recognise your face, you don’t recognise your feelings either. And then I read a lot of books. Not the younger books I had read before, but the real books. I think there is something, when you are in your teenage years you don’t feel confident to talk to your parents, or you don’t want to talk to them about the subjects that are near you – not about sexuality, not about a lot of things. So I had those conversations with the books and that was fine I think. Then we got a teacher in school who I liked very much and she liked my writing as well. I don’t think that teachers are aware of the power they have. So I started writing and then I came in contact with young authors and I was beginning to write. I wrote my first book when I was 18. It was a collection of poems. It was not that good – it was awful I would say.

(J)Did it get published?

(U)Yes it was. I got 500 Swedish Crowns and then I wrote another collection of poems, a little bit better and then a novel for the adults. Then I was 25 and I understood that I hadn’t anything else to write about. So I worked a little bit, for ten years or something. Then I started writing again in 1984 I think with this one [Fruitloops & Dipsticks] and it was a little success in Sweden and the Nordic countries. Suddenly I got money for writing. I had been working in the bureaucracy beforehand for a lot of years, training in education so it was quite good.

(J)Do you think the break helped?

(U)I think what helped with the job was that I was teaching about the differences about the male and the female. I was very interested in this difference, what is it to be a man and what is it to be a female? Why are we so different? So this is [Fruitloops & Dipsticks] sort of an investigation of the differences. An investigation of me being a male writer taking place in a girl.

(J)That would have been quite difficult?

(U)Yeah. It was quite difficult so I decided to let her be a boy after a while. It was much easier that way. It was published in a lot of countries. It is still published in a lot of new countries – in Russia for example. And they do a new edition now because of [Vladimir] Putin’s laws.

(J)Has it been censored?

(U)You cannot write anything about sexuality for young people under 16 years.

(J)Is that frustrating for you, knowing that they’re censoring your work?

(U)A little bit frustrating but on the other hand this edition [uncensored Fruitloops & Dipsticks] still exists in Russia. So I think the interest for the first edition has increased because it is forbidden.

(J)I think that’s a good way to make people interested in something, isn’t it. Tell them they can’t have it.

(U)Yeah. What could there be in this book? I’m not so disturbed by it. I am disturbed by Putin.

(J)Your books are originally written in Swedish aren’t they? Do you feel like they lose something when translated? Is there is a stark difference in the mood or the feel?

(U)There could be. I don’t think it’s because of the translation, it’s more because of the cultural differences.

(J)Yeah, I know that in German for instance there are words for things that would take a sentence to say in English.

(U)Yes – different associations and all this. But when it’s translated into so many countries I think it’s more universal.

(J)Have you ever had any unexpected reactions to your work?

(U)Yeah. Perhaps, take this one for example [Fruitloops & Dipsticks]. I was in Belarus, which is almost a dictatorship.

(J)Ex-Soviet isn’t it?

(U)Yes. I wrote a book called The Dictator and I was there and we had readings. It was translated so a local was reading it. They had to read in Russian [Fruitloops & Dipsticks] and I was astonished by the interest in sexuality. I mean there is not much in that book, I just felt like a sexual therapist or something when I came there. In Sweden now I can be astonished because of how they react. In this one [Can You Whistle, Johanna?] there is a Grandfather smoking a cigar. It could be a problem and that was why it was very hard to get the book into the USA. Just because he was smoking. I told her [literary agent] that he was dyeing at the end.

(J)So there is a health message there?

(U)Yes. If you smoke a cigar you will die. So there are moralistic reactions to the books. Often it is the parents who complain about the books.

(J)What we can we expect to hear or learn in your Writers Week programme?

(U)I just don’t know because I don’t know the questions. Perhaps you could get a clue about Swedish books. I mean, I am not representative of all the authors in Sweden, but I think what is common for us is a view from the child’s perspective. To be loyal with the child’s side, not being a story teller from up high. I think that is important. Some of these books are biographical in some way. In this one [My Friend Percy’s Magical Gym Shoes] the character Ulf is almost burning up society because he wants his friend Percy to see the fireworks coming. Then he sprays water on the fire and I got applause for that. But they didn’t like that in Spain. They thought the parents would have hit him at least a little bit.

(J)At least you don’t have to live there!

(U)But I think it’s better to hear of us making a lot of crazy things. He has to think about himself, his feeling, and think it was wrong, “I did wrong.” It’s an inner process. He has to think, I have done something stupid and see the consequences already, not that the act itself is punishable.

(J)Do you feel like there is a big difference between Swedish writing when compared to English?

(U)Yes, I think I was in England and they have very few books for the smaller kids that have discussions on things like death. That was a taboo.

 

(J)Do you find they are for entertainment?

(U)We have a lot of animals dying in Swedish literature. Even here [Can You Whistle, Johanna?] the grandfather is dying at the end. Often when you are writing about death, even in Sweden I would say it is just the rituals that you are writing about. Whether it’s something like putting flowers on or saying something because you are afraid of the reaction of sadness. I think it’s good. I think children have to be confronted with real feelings, so they should be a little bit sorry. They are not dying and hopefully they have their parents to discuss things and say something to. I have no fear of writing about something.

(J)What would be your advice to a young author?

(U)Not taking any advice I think. You have to find your own way but I think reading is a very good way of learning how to write because you could say I don’t like that way of writing. You could find your own way by reading other books, not imitating them but see what you want to do and see how it is made in other books. Start with poems, I think that’s a good short way to see what happens. And then perhaps short stories, I think starting a big novel project when you are thirteen is not good.

(J)It’s one way to pop your self-esteem isn’t it? Do you have any personal author recommendations?

(U)I don’t know if we read the same books here in New Zealand and in Sweden. My mother used to read a lot of Astrid Lindgren and so did I. I think for my own kids I read a lot of Roald Dahl books to my son and more tragic stores for my daughter who just loved tragedy. You could also read a lot of the old books, not just the new ones. These days everything is so up-to-date I think it is good to have a historical perspective as a child. I am writing books now about the 60s and 50s, there are no mobile telephones in this and they don’t want to read it. But it’s just like you could read a book from Sweden, I think it is important to take part of and experience different cultures.

(J)Do you think kids have changed?

(U)Yeah. I think the technique is changing a lot in the daily life of children. When I was coming here on my flight for 40 hours I saw what people were doing. People choose a lot of films and the whole time they were looking at blue screens and they got a blue face. It was reflecting and I was doing the same. I had a lot of good books I thought I would read but it is an easy way just to put my finger on the screen. You have to have dull time I think. Dull time is where you awaken creativeness. I am trying to have a dull life.

(J)Do you have much of a relationship with the internet? Do you use social media or blogs?

(U)No very little actually. My wife does but I really think that I have a need for moral contemplation and not so much being on the net. Perhaps I prefer meeting personally, I’m a bit afraid of being addicted the screen.

(J)We’ve already kind of touched on it – what is your process of writing, how do you turn an idea into a book?

(U)I see it more like an organic process. I have a lot of writing friends who are doing very exact shadows of what they should do in each chapter and also the schools are teaching children how to write and the disposition is so mechanical. I’ve tried that model too. Now I just start a story and see what happens. The more interesting persons are more interesting than the story.

(J)So you focus on the character than the character?

(U)Yes, for instance there are lots of books for the very, very young people but then I was thinking that there are no books for the unborn. So I did a book about a boy having a chat with a mother’s stomach to the child inside giving answers to the child in there about what happens when you come out. That was the theme.

(J)That’s a strange sort of thing to think up, where did an idea like that come from?

(U)I think I saw a stomach somewhere and thought what would I teach a small child or say this the life coming to you.

(J)Do you think you’re quite a curious person by nature?

(U)Yeah. I think so. I’m curious about all the things that haven’t got answers. I think the daily life of children, coming to school and learning things, there are answers. Often education is built on a question and an answer and then they could have the idea that there are answers for everything. But for the very, most important things there are no answers. You have to make up the answers yourself. What is the meaning of life? Okay, this is the meaning of life. Okay there it was. Why are you falling in love with a person and not with another person? Why are we dying? What’s in the universe? There are a lot of things that children from the beginning are very interested in.

(J)But they stop asking?

(U)Yeah.

(J)If you could have a coffee with any human being, either been or alive, who would it be and what would you ask them?

(U)Umm. I think it would be nice to meet god.

(J)Yeah?

(U)Yeah. I have a lot of questions. I wrote a book about god, it was my last book. God created the earth but he was a little bit tired of inventing everything. So he first invented the Darwinist evolution theory so that he only had to do the small things like the fishes and now the creation could go on. But then when he woke up there are human beings, the animals – but he didn’t plan to make the shadows. They are dark so he decided to put them to the other side of earth, the side he couldn’t see. They call this the night. And what happens is you get a sort of Prozac world, no shadows, no darkness, no sadness.

(J)Fake smiles on everybody?

(U)Yes, everyone is going about smiling. So there are no stories, no fairytales, no dreams. It’s a drugged world. I find it quite funny to write about the fear of happiness and that you have a need for the shadows. Then there is a boy and a girl just going to find their shadows again and they found it the god is there to clean it up again. They say no, no don’t do that we need our shadows, even the sorrowness. God is thinking okay, okay you are write and he puts them back again. I think that applies to books also. You need to have the shadow sides and the night sides. I think we will have a lot to discuss over coffee.

Wellington City Libraries has many of Ulf’s books available for loan, check them out here.

Cover cousins

Check out these remarkably similar book covers for Frozen by Melissa De la Cruz and Michael Johnston and Adaptation by Malinda Lo:

Book cover courtesy of Syndetics Book cover courtesy of Syndetics
Frozen: “More than a century after a catastrophic disaster wiped out most of humanity and covered much of the earth with ice, fifteen-year-old Cass yields to the voice in her head urging her to embark on a dangerous journey across a poisoned sea to the mythical land, Blue.”

Adaptation: “In the aftermath of a series of plane crashes caused by birds, seventeen-year-old Reese and her debate-team partner, David, receive medical treatment at a secret government facility and become tangled in a conspiracy that is, according to Reese’s friend, Julian, connected with aliens and UFOs.”

Descriptions from library catalogue.

Cover twins

Book cover courtesy of Syndetics Book cover courtesy of Syndetics
The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Both these books had been rattling about in my brain for a wee while and I finally managed to think of them side by side. Having looked at them both closely, the font actually isn’t identical but it does look extremely similar! After some further investigation, I think they were both drawn by Sarah J. Coleman who has done some really awesome work (check out her website here) and a whole bunch of great book covers which have the distinct mark of her work! She certainly has a new fan over here at the teen blog!

Oh and as for the books themselves, we’ve read both of them over here and both of them were great. Thumbs up!

Winging Your Way Through The Weekend

Highlights this week; term time’s almost up, we’re seven days into having brought the sun forward for winter and apparently the rain’s coming back for a visit. Enough small talk though, here’s this week’s ender-entry to give you a two day break from the school work.

If you’re an adventurous titan, and like to work alliteratively, here are some things to do on Saturday – that start with ‘S’:

Skating takes over the waterfront in two forms. The Richter City roller derby season kicks off on Saturday night at the TSB arena in a home season battle between Smash Malice and Comic Slams. For a quick scrub-up on the ins and outs of the game look no further than Y/A novel Whip It and its sister movie starring Ellen Page.

Real Groovy linkWhip It (the movie) Image Courtesy SyndeticsWhip It (the book)

Still keen on skating but not so sure about all the aggression – why not try your hands, or feet – or feet then hands, on the ice? The ice rink is in full operation on Queens wharf just a short hop from the TSB. For our older readers Blades Of Glory might be a quick introduction on how not to act on the ice but for some pointers and to figure out if you can make a career out of it why not check out some of our literature?

Okay, okay enough with the skates. I wouldn’t leap into the water at the moment on account of its chill factor but one way you could get some surfing in is by checking it this sweet free free flick by Alex Monteith at The Dowse Gallery in Lower Hutt.

And here’s a quick weekly musical digest to help shape your weekend playlist:

Pete Wentz’s Fall Out Boy graced our shores this week on the back of their latest album drop.
Kiwi band Tahuna Breaks are in town this weekend for their Shadow Lights album release tour and are currently sitting near the top of the NZ album charts.

Ever wondered how animals eat their food? Here’s this weeks viral vid’ – courtesy Mister Epic Mann;

Fowler out.

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