Thursday, March 18, 2010

Embody The Abstractions

Isn't that a lovely phrase? M.T. Anderson used it in an interview at Cynsations. Pay attention when he talks about how writing nonfiction helped his fiction.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Marcus Interview

I am a big fan of Minders of Make-Believe by Leonard S. Marcus, so I was happy to read this excellent interview with him at Cynsations.


Friday, October 30, 2009

How Do You Spell Success?

According to The Chicago Tribune article Irish author Derek Landy trying to get his skeleton-detective hero into Americans' skulls (Is that really a title or the entire article?), the Skullduggery Pleasant books are nearly Twilight/Harry Potter successful in England. Not so much here in the United States.

I wish the article had explained what it meant by "haven't caught on" here. What kind of sales are we talking about? Because I've heard of Skullduggery a lot on-line. It's a teen nominee for Connecticut's Nutmeg Award, which suggests a certain amount of acceptance by the gatekeepers who run that show.

Is the book considered not to have "caught on" because it isn't the kind of hit it is in England? Is it just moderately successful here?


Monday, October 26, 2009

Re-establishing His Eccentric Self

Great article on Sherman Alexie in The New York Times.

Alexie was adored after the publication of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. It was very successful, and he was embraced by the YA world. He could have followed up Part-time Indian with another YA book and got himself some more lovin', at least from YA people.

But he didn't. Instead, he published War Dances, a volume of short stories and poetry. In the Times article, In His Own Literary World, a Native Son Without Borders, Alexie says, "I think the new book was an attempt to re-establish my eccentric self: ĎIím not supposed to sell as many copies as I just did, so let me write something that wonít.í"

Yes, short stories and poetry should do the trick.

I also liked Alexie's description of how he works: "Iíll write whateverís going well for a few months at a time and move around." He might write 150 pages and jettison it or turn it into a small part of a poem.

And what was really terrific was that he didn't just write Part-time Indian and go, "Well, would you look at that--I wrote a YA book," or have an agent or editor point that fact out to him, the way many writers of adult fiction write their first YA books. He was aware of his audience and studied YA novels while "figuring mine out."


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Two Reasons To Enjoy An Interview

I've been talking about my obsession with Shirley Jackson for years and years and years. So imagine my delight when Blog of a Bookslut referred me to a podcast of an interview with Joyce Carol Oates in which she talks about Jackson.

In it Oates talks about Jackson's dislike for her Vermont neighbors. She may have used the word hatred. I've read about that before. Ah, sweet irony. As a teenager in Vermont, I was so attracted to Jackson, while she appears to have hated the people I come from.

I liked the interview with Oates for another reason. I've been hearing about her since I was in college, when I read Them. I've also read (and actually own) a book of her short stories. I can't say she's one of my obsessions, since I don't run out and read everything she writes. I've always liked reading about her, though, and it was terrific hearing her voice in this interview.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Cecil Castellucci Is Writing Short Stories

Cynsations has a new interview with Cecil Castellucci of Boy Proof and Beige fame. Note that that Castellucci has started publishing non-YA short stories. You can read her Baby in the Basket.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Hey, I've Met Her

Cynsations has an interview with Jo Knowles. I'm only a little over a week late on that one.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"You Have To Be Quite Cruel To Be An Author."

Yes, you do.

Terry Pratchett: State of the Nation

A particularly interesting bit: Regarding the constant search for the next J.K. Rowling, Pratchett said, "This, of course, is a bit silly, because they shouldn't have been looking for the second J.K. Rowling, but the first Irving Binglebat, with something new to say."

And that came by way of the adbooks listserv.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oh, Look. An Interview With My Former (Imaginary) On-line Mentor

Craft, Career & Cheer: Jane Yolen at Cynsations.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Cynsations has an interesting interview with John H. Bushman, an educator who is the co-author of Using Young Adult Literature in the English Classroom. He says, "Kids come out of elementary school with a great desire to read and enjoy what they are reading, and they are then often faced with Great Expectations." Also, "I have never said that the "classics" are bad in and of themselves. I do believe that they are bad for sixth through eleventh graders. Seniors--most of them--have the intellectual ability to understand the complexity of plot and of language. They can work with the classics."

By way of BookMoot I found Kenneth Oppel: The Times Interview. Interesting quote: 'ďIím really the product of years of playing Dungeons and Dragons,Ē he says. ďA lot of parents get very concerned about kids gaming, but everything I learnt about storytelling . . . came from that discipline..Ē' I've read other interviews in which Oppel talks about his background with gaming.


Monday, May 18, 2009

The Self-Control Thing Isn't Working Too Well For Me Today

I was inspired to brush up on my self-control as far as work is concerned and planned to today allow myself only limited access to the Internet. Well, how does one define "limited?"

Anyway, I just found this neat little video interview with Jeffrey Eugenides that I had to drop everything and watch because I'm presently reading Middlesex. I particularly liked the interview bit in which Eugenides says that his first book was about voice, that he was learning to plot with Middlesex, and that he's presently working on creating deeper characters.

As it turns out, you can also read an interview with Jeffrey Eugenides. And here's another

Now I'm going to put some self-control stickies up on the computer monitor.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Perhaps Some Day Werewolves Will Be The New Vampires

Colleen at Chasing Ray interviewed Martin Millar, whose Lonely Werewolf Girl has been nominated for a Cybil in the Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction Category. The interview is part of the 2008 Winter Blog Blast Tour.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

They Did It Again

Finding Wonderland has another great interview up, this time with M.T. Anderson.

M.T. Anderson struggles with plot! I struggle with plot!

I think what makes this interview, as well as the one Finding Wonderland did with D. M. Cornish, so good is that both authors only use their first two initials.

Sorry. I couldn't resist pointing out the obvious.

No, what I think makes these interviews so good is that both authors write books that require intense world building and both authors seem to have a pretty good understanding of their process in doing that. I was just explaining to someone this evening that when I first started publishing, I didn't know what the heck process was. These guys really have a good grasp of what they do and how they do it.

In addition, the interviewers are writers who also are well informed about their subjects' work. They have a good grasp of what writers do and how they do it and can apply that knowledge to specific books.

The end result is good reading.

This interview is part of the 2008 Winter Blog Blast Tour, which is enormous and impressive and far more than I can hope to read.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This Is Fantastic!

Finding Wonderland has a terrific interview with D. M. Cornish, author of Monster Blood Tattoo: Foundling and Monster Blood Tattoo: Lamplighter. Read the interview to see why I'm careful to write out the complete title of both books.

This interview is so marvelous because Cornish talks about his various inspirations, how he got started creating the MBT world (which doesn't appear in either book), his women characters, and some behind-the-scenes business related to that title. Oh, and his notebooks. I have a number of different kinds of journals and workbooks. Now I'm feeling inspired to go write in them.

Of course, Cornish might not have gotten into any of that stuff without the interviewers' sophisticated questions.

Right now I'm feeling that I'd like to see the Half-Continent become a world like Discworld, supporting a whole array of different story cycles. That's how pumped I am from this interview! Of course, it's easy for me to be pumped because I wouldn't have to write the books. Cornish would.

This interview is part of the 2008 Winter Blog Blast Tour.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

The Painting The Wild Frontier Conclusion

The Painting the Wild Frontier blog tour concludes today at Chicken Spaghetti. In case you missed Friday's stop, it was at One Book Two Book.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Informed Outsider And Painting The Wild Frontier

Be sure to check out Mitali Perkin's interview with Susanna Reich, Art and the Informed Outsider. They discuss biographers as "informed outsiders." I was particularly interested in Susanna's answer to the question that begins "When considering heroic artists and writers in the past, how do you study their lives without using twenty-first century eyes to judge their choices...?"

Tomorrow I'll be talking history with Susanna Reich here at Original Content.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Day Two For PTWF

Tina Nichols Coury hosts Day 2 of the Painting the Wild Frontier blog tour at Tales from the Rushmore Kid.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Painting The Wild Frontier Blog Tour, Day One

Becky's Book Reviews is the first stop for Susanna Reich's Painting The Wild Frontier blog tour. Notice the question "What do you love about writing?" In her answer, Susanna talks about sound, which I found interesting.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Few Words With M.T. Anderson

You can catch what might be called a mini-interview with M.T. Anderson at Blog of a Bookslut. Seriously, there are two question about Octavion No and one about the coming election.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

A Great New Rule For Me

Crissa-Jean Chappell, author of Total Constant Order, was interviewed for The Miami Herald. Be sure to read the very last paragraph, which quotes Chappell regarding her No. 1 rule of writing.

Seriously, remembering that might help me.

Link from Cynsations.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thinking About Blogging

Susan at Chicken Spaghetti has a post on "Blogging Thoughts" related to my interview at this month's The Edge of the Forest . She's got a nice little conversation going in the comments.

Read the original interview and read and take part in the conversation.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Not All Authors Come Across Well On TV

Mitali Perkins was interviewed for West Coast TV. She is extremely well-spoken. She didn't even get to talk about her writing, and I still watched the whole thing.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More Than A Diagnosis

In addition to cleaning my desk, I'm trying to reorganize the blogs I follow, using a blogreader as Kelly suggested last week. (I am trainable.) As a result, I visited Finding Wonderland and was referred to a great article about Terry Pratchett.

Note that while he talks about his recent Alzheimer's diagnosis, he also talks about his past as a journalist. The material about his illness sounds mildly hopeful to this Pollyanna, and the stuff about his work as a journalist is both fascinating and heartbreaking.

While we're on the subject of Terry Pratchett, Michelle at Scholar's Blog reports on a Match It For Pratchett: Fandom Contributes To Alzheimer's Research campaign. Pratchett fans are trying to raise enough money in donations to Alzheimer's research to match the half a million pound donation Pratchett, himself, recently made. I found many, many references to this on-line, including a website, but nothing in the mainstream press.

It looks as if the Match It For Pratchett website has only been up since Saturday. A post dated yesterday reported that 824 donations worth over 32,000 pounds had already been made to the Alzheimer's Research Trust in England. Presumably donations are being made to Alzheimer's organizations in other countries.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

All Things Sparrow

School Library Journal has an interview up with Mitali Perkins. The interview focuses on Mitali's Sparrowblog, which focuses on the 2008 presidential campaign by way of news relating to the children of the candidates. Many of of those children also have blogs, it seems, just as the main character in Mitali's book, First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Crissa-Jean Talks About How She Did It

Crissa-Jean Chappell talks about her book Total Constant Order at Alice's CWIM Blog.

Thanks to cynsations for the link.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Some Day I Will Learn How To Read

I thought Pierre Bayard sounded very interesting when I first heard of him last winter. Now his book, How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, is available in this country.

Bayard had some interesting things to say in an interview in The New York Times Book Review. (Though the interviewer, Deborah Solomon, sounds as if she wouldn't agree.)

For instance:

"I think a great reader is able to read from the first line to the last line; if you want to do that with some books, itís necessary to skim other books. If you want to fall in love with someone, itís necessary to meet many people. You see what I mean?"

Yes, Pierre, I do. I have learned that there are books I feel I need to familiarize myself with for professional reasons even though I can't possibly bring myself to read them from first line to last. Familiarizing myself with them, having some knowledge of them, enriches my life and shapes how I think of other books in relation to them. Reading every line of them would have killed me.


"You suggest in your book that schools destroy a love of literature, in part because they donít allow skimming. Yes. Sometimes I help my son write book reports. Guillaume ó heís 14. Itís terrible. The questions are so specific about the names of characters, dates and towns where the heroes went that I am unable to answer the questions. It is the model of reading in France. A kind of scientific reading, which prevents people from inventing another kind of reading, which should be a form of wandering, as in a garden."

I wouldn't go so far as to say schools should allow skimming, but I agree that they aren't doing anything to encourage reading with those assignments that involve finding mindnumbingly pointless details in works of fiction. After going over a page of that sort of thing relating to a sixth-grader's Witch of Blackbird Pond homework, I remember thinking, Gee, I loved that book when I was a kid. I must have been out of my mind.

Not only did the boy in question hate the book, his homework assignment ruined it for me years after I'd read it. Think about it--the schools are destroying the love of reading retroactively.

I can't wait to see if Bayard's book gets taken up by the press and what reviewers have to say about it. Reading the reviews would be sort of like reading the book, right? Another kind of reading?

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Love This Question

The National Book Award Foundation has interviews on its site with the finalists for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. The interviews are all listed in the column to the left.

The Young People's Lit finalists were all asked the same question (among others): "Now that it's all said and done, what is the story decision that you are most proud of?" Sherman Alexie talks about deciding whether to use the first or third person, so you know I was interested in that. Brian Selznick and Sara Zarr had meaty answers, too.

Thanks to Blog of a Bookslut for the link.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Great Westerfeld Article

Scott Westerfeld is on tour for his new book Extras. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a great article about him.

I was particularly struck by the following:

Westerfeld, chatting over coffee at his Seattle hotel, said teens relate easily to tales of closed societies governed by arcane rules.

"When you're in high school," he said, "you're in kind of a dystopian movie, so the idea of a controlled society makes perfect sense to them."

High school as a closed society definitely works for me. Speaking as someone who has been through high school twice, once as a parent, what kept coming home to me the second time was that everyone gets so riled up about high school, but it just doesn't matter in the greater scheme of things. So much of our popular culture deals with high school, so many people carry baggage related to their high school experience, but in terms of the great big world--life, death, war, work, research, discovery, nature, nurture, you name it--high school is disconnected from almost everything. It's like a little island in the world of life. A closed society.

I don't know if I'd necessarily say it's controlled or, if so, I don't know who controls it.

Yet, at least here in the U.S., we all fixate so on that nearly universal experience.

The link came from Justine Larbalestier's blog.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm Just Plain Masochistic

I've been reading back posts at Shrinking Violet Promotions. I've gone through this past May's (the blog has only been around since February), where I found a two-part interview with Brent Hartinger. The whole point of this particular blog is to encourage writers who are not born performers/promoters, but as one of those, I have to say I found the Hartinger interview a bit of a downer.

In Part One of the interview, pay attention to Hartinger's responses to Question 6, "Is there a window of opportunity for book promotion? A length of time after which oneís efforts make little difference?" and Question 11, "How much impact do you think an author's efforts can actually have on sales?"

Sadly, I think he's probably right on the money with everything he has to say. That doesn't make me enjoy hearing it, though.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Haphazard. Yes.

Miss Erin has an interview up with D.M. Cornish author of Monster Blood Tattoo. I particularly liked the portion on writing process. When asked "What is your writing process like?" Cornish replied, "Haphazard."

I like that. I feel that word may define me. Haphazard.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Gene Yang Interview

Through Blog of a Bookslut I found this interview excerpt with Gene Yang at The Comics Journal's website. You have to know a lot more about comics and graphic novels than I do to get the full benefit of what these guys are saying, but Gene Yang does talk about his faith and his experience with racism as a teenager.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Edge Of The Forest Interview

The Edge of the Forest has an interview with Linda Buckley-Archer, author of Gideon the Cutpurse. The interview was conducted by Michelle Fry of Scholar's Blog.

By the way, the paperback version of Gideon the Cutpurse has been renamed The Time Travelers. While Gideon the Cutpurse probably wasn't the most apt title for this book, it was, at least, interesting.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Great Interview You May Have Missed

I did. I didn't know who Alan Gratz was back in January, so I skipped this truly excellent interview with him at The Edge of the Forest. He had lots of interesting things to say about writing process and blogging. Believe me, I couldn't have come up with half that stuff after publishing my first book.

The interview was both inspiring and made me feel inadequate at the same time.

By the way, Gratz talks about how only friends and relatives were reading his blog in the past. My relatives and carbon-based friends are the people who don't read mine.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

That Summer Blog Tour

I wasn't crazy about Magic Lessons, the second book in Justine Larbalestier's Magic or Madness trilogy. I am interested in her, though, because she's written some nonfiction I'd like to take a look at some day. So on Monday I read Liz B's interview with Justine at A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy.

Now, I've often talked here about how I believe a book should be a complete and total world and that that's a big part of the reason I have a problem with "serial" books like the Magic or Madness series. Magic Lessons was not a complete world. It didn't have a beginning or an ending. It was the middle of the trilogy.

An argument could be made that with a serial trilogy you do have a complete world--it just takes place over three books instead of one. Justine has some interesting things to say about that in this interview.

Liz B: Did you have any moments in the later books when you thought, "oh, I wish I could revise "Magic or Madness" in order to do x or y in this book"?

Justine: I was able to go back and make changes to Magic or Madness while I wrote the first draft of Magic Lessons. It was fabulous! Unfortunately, I was so late with Magic's Child that it wasn't possible to change Magic Lessons to fit. Instead I had to make Magic's Child fit the first two books. Which, yes, was maddening. If I ever write another trilogy (which I have taken a sacred vow---along with Libba Bray---not to do) I will write all three books first and then sell them.

If you consider the entire trilogy the complete world that you're creating, and you've lost control of a third or two thirds of that world because portions of the trilogy have already been published, what happens to your world? Having control issues, as I do, I would be very unhappy finding myself in this situation.

I also checked out the Mitali Perkins interview at Big A, little a. Mitali is rapidly turning into a Jane Yolen-like figure for me because she's so prolific. She has three books coming out in 2008 and 2009. What does this woman do? Write in her sleep?

You can check out another interview with Mitali today at HipWriterMama. Note that Mitali has been writing about girls, though she is the mother of sons, because her boys would rather not see any characters that resemble them in her books.

At the Gauthier household, not only are characters shamelessly modeled after my sons, I have two books with characters named for them. It hasn't been a problem to date because I don't think they believe anyone reads my books.

I rarely read interviews with authors I'm not familiar with because I just don't have time. But I did get drawn into Chasing Ray's interview with David Brin. Great interview.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Starting The Tour

I've been feeling a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of The Summer Blog Blast Tour. So very, very much reading for me to do. Nonetheless, I was able to get to Finding Wonderland's very good kick-off interview with Gene Yang, author of American Born Chinese. He has some interesting things to say about culture. After the interview you'll also find a list of additional links for more reading on Yang and his writing.

Remember how I went on and on about trying to read The New York Sunday Times? Well, I did finally get to the Book Review, which had what seemed to me to be a rather odd review by Ned Vizzini of American Born Chinese. While the overall review ended up being favorable, it started out raising the question "Is it so bad to grow up Asian in America?" The first two paragraphs sounded as if he were wondering, Hey, why do they need a book?

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Catching Up On Interviews

I'm not even two weeks late reading Seven Imps' interview with Colleen Mondor, which for me is like not being late at all. Read the Seven Imps' lead-in and you'll discover that the name of Colleen's blog is seriously significant for those of us who were into Ray Bradbury when we were young. Read the interview, itself, and you'll learn that Colleen, she wrote song lyrics about French Canadian history, her.

What I like about Colleen's writing at her blog is that it seems to come from an independent mind. Perhaps it's because she's got that aviator thing going on.


Friday, April 27, 2007

I Totally Understand

The second of Elizabeth Merrick's interviews at Blog of a Bookslut features Ned Vizzini.

His answer to "What is it, really, that made you become a writer after all?" "Fear of death."

Absolutely. When I was a teenager, I became interested in writing because I thought it would make me immortal. I had never heard of out-of-print.


Friday, April 20, 2007

A Great Interview With Someone I've Never Heard Of

Blog of a Bookslut started a new feature today (new for them at least), a weekly interview. Today's is with Aury Wallington, who I've never heard of, but her book Pop was named one of the New York Public Library's 2007 Books for the Teen Age. And she has written a number of what look like companion books to The OC, which I assume are read by younger folk.

This is a really good interview conducted by Elizabeth Merrick who asks questions about how Wallington writes. This curious mind wants to know. Wallington also talks about her difficulty writing nonfiction, another subject that interests me.

Best question? "Describe the arch-nemesis of your youth. How has this person appeared in your writing?" Seriously, I think this question could be very revealing.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Great Interview With Meg Rosoff

not your mother's bookclub has a great interview with Meg Rosoff.

Pay special attention to her discussion of how working in advertising affects the way she writes and her advice to teenagers who want to write. Her description of what it's like to win a major award points out that there is, indeed, a down side. (I would have thought the down side was having to figure out what to wear to the awards ceremony, but Rosoff's down side is good, too.)

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