Posts Tagged: HarperCollins

GUEST POST: BARBARA MARICONDA

Posted by | October 8, 2012 | 2 Comments

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Barbara Mariconda, author of the brand new, swashbuckling, spunky and spirited middle grade adventure story THE VOYAGE OF LUCY P. SIMMONS, as well as the co-founder of Empowering Writers, company that trains teachers how to help their students improve their writing skills. Today she’ll be giving you insight into both of her areas of expertise, writer and teacher, and she’s created a free downloadable sample lesson that you can use to teach LUCY (and later, any novel) in the classroom!

From Barbara:

“Lucy P. Simmons – described as an “intrepid heroine with a swashbuckling spirit and a sailor’s heart” and as “a feisty, unforgettable character” – this protagonist of my latest middle grade novel, The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons has been evolving along with me for over fifteen years. Set on the coast of Maine at the end of the Victorian era, it is the tale of beautiful, red-haired Lucy, how her life changes in an instant, propelling her on an adventure sparked with magic, hardship, courage, and love. It redefines family, celebrating the miracle of people whose lives cross in unexpected ways, weaving rich tapestries of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, and the kinds of relationships that change lives.

Years of travel to coastal Maine provided the inspiration and sparked the imagination that brought The Voyage of L. P. Simmons to life.  Here, a shoreline mansion, not unlike the Simmons place.

In many ways, Lucy’s journey reflects mine – and surely, yours as well. True, my experiences have not been as colorful as Lucy’s – I didn’t survive the tragic sinking of a ship, or meet a mysterious siren on the beach, nor did I discover a magical flute or have my beloved home surrounded by glittering mist. But, in my own small way, in my own unique life, I’ve had some narrow escapes, met some mystical, mysterious people who’ve brought marvelous unexpected gifts, and thankfully, experienced a sense of mystery and magic in the stuff of everyday living. And that’s what I write – stories that reveal the edges and undercurrents of life that can be sensed and experienced, but never grasped.

As a teacher, I know children need to believe in magic – not so much the magic in the pages of a fantasy novel, but rather, in the miracles and possibilities often disguised in the ordinariness of life. And, a book can open that doorway metaphorically, can help hone the eyes of hope and wonder to see beyond the literal…toward “what if” and “why not.” Especially in this era of high stakes testing, where school can become wrought with stress and pressure, children need the escape that fantasy provides, and the opportunity for them to immerse themselves in the creative, imaginative worlds where the spirit can soar freely. But, given the demands of new national and state standards that increase the breadth and depth of what students must learn, is the luxury of losing oneself in a fantasy story a thing of the past? Is there time enough in the school day to indulge in a book like The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons?

To succeed as an author and as an educator, I’ve had to wear two hats and find ways to merge both worlds. When I’m not writing for kids, I’m writing for their teachers, through my company, “Empowering Writers” – our mission: to empower the next generation of authors in classrooms today. But, what I won’t ever do is compromise one goal for the other – in other words, I’m committed to find ways for teachers to nurture the imaginations and creativity in the souls of their students, while continuing to challenge them academically and prepare them to excel as the junior test-takers they have to be.

This is artwork that Barbara owns which has inspired her writing.  Can you see the any connections to Lucy’s story?

So, with both my writer and teacher hats squashed on my head, I went through my novel, The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons, looking for every opportunity within the text that can be used a jumping off point for teaching the Common Core State Standards in writing. You can click on the link below for an entire outline – and, not only that. The basic techniques I’ve applied to “Lucy” as the basis for instruction, can be adapted for all of your favorite pieces of high quality literature. But, of course, I’m hoping you’ll be applying them to mine!

And, lastly…while I’m talking about using literature to teach to the standards, I want to be clear. Reading a fabulous story that transports the reader into realms beyond the ordinary, beyond the classroom, beyond the challenges of life, is really enough! And, I think, if only there was a state standard that read: Standard L.11.1a: Students lose themselves in story, imagining worlds of possibility, embracing hope – Oh, what a world it would be!”

Thanks Barbara! THE VOYAGE OF LUCY P. SIMMONS is available in bookstores now. And don’t miss Barbara’s wonderful, FREE downloadable PDF lesson plan, available here!

THE SPINDLERS, SPINNING INTO YOUR HEART TODAY

Posted by | October 2, 2012 | No Comments

Lauren Oliver’s second book for middle grade readers, THE SPINDLERS, is for sale in bookstores all over the country today, and we’re going to just go ahead and brag that it has already received FOUR starred reviews!

 

Download our FREE Discussion Guide for THE SPINDLERS here!


If you love a sweeping, classic, spooky, funny, and plucky adventure (and who doesn’t?!), then this one is for you. Check out what the experts had to say:

“Oliver’s magical, mesmerizing quest affirms the saving power of story, friendship, and love.” -Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

“This imaginative fantasy emphasizes individual initiative and the power of hope and friendship. Below is a fully realized alternate world with echoes of both classic literature and mythology.” -School Library Journal, starred review

 “Richly detailed, at times poetic, ultimately moving; a book to be puzzled over, enjoyed and, ideally, read aloud.” -Kirkus, starred review

 “Oliver’s fluid, poetic prose elevates this tale above the genre, often imparting weight to the simplest sentences. Similar in its action and pacing to Collins’ Gregor the Overlander but with the emotional resonance of Ursu’s Breadcrumbs, this is sure to win over middle-grade readers.” -BCCB, starred review

 

AUTHOR GUEST POST: SIR TERRY PRATCHETT INTRODUCES DODGER

Posted by | September 24, 2012 | No Comments

We have an absolutely HUGE treat for you today: words from Sir Terry Pratchett himself in advance of his newest book, DODGER, publishing tomorrow.

Sir Terry Pratchett on DODGER:

“Dodger was initially undertaken as a tribute to Henry Mayhew, who, in London, in the early years of the Victorian reign, catalogued meticulously the lives, jobs, foods, hygiene, sleeping arrangements, etc., of the poor of the city. He did this simply by walking the streets, getting into conversations with people, and then later recording them in his notebook.

He spoke to everybody, even down to the little flower girls who sold posies for a meagre living and slept in doorways and didn’t even know which country they were living in. His friend Charles Dickens is often said to have made the middle classes of London aware of the appalling circumstances of the under classes of the richest and most influential city at that time. But, in truth, while Dickens did sterling work, Mayhew—and the people he worked with—did it the hard way: by piling up the dreadful statistics until they could not be ignored. In so doing, they compiled a startling and wonderful body of knowledge about what was happening beyond the city lights.

This record is available as the book London Labour and the London Poor. And it is a heavyweight document, as Mr. Mayhew speaks of the sick, the neglected elderly, and, not least, the ladies of negotiable affection (a polite way of putting it—the phrasing, incidentally, originated in the United States).

I read London Labour and the London Poor in my teens shortly after reading The Lord of the Rings. And I thought that one day it might be great to do a real fantasy in the world of Mayhew, picking out a street urchin of the time, winding him up, and dropping him in the middle of a thunder storm to begin his own personal odyssey. He would meet Mayhew, Dickens, and number of other prominent Victorians, while at the same time telling it like it was in those days. That is how Dodger was born, and he did most of the work for me—coming alive on the page and quickly running off with the story itself.

Thank you for reading about him.”

 

And for more on DODGER, watch Terry speak to his “chums” here:

 

 

 

 

NEW VOICES, OPENING THE BOOK WITH… ELIZABETH NORRIS

Posted by | September 19, 2012 | 1 Comment

Yesterday we brought you an inside scoop on UNRAVELING, and today we’re giving you some insight into the author herself, Elizabeth Norris.  Be warned: by the end of this, not only will you be dying to read the book, you’ll be sighing with envy at Elizabeth’s romance and craving banana pudding.

Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

When I was first learning to read, my mom bought me a collection of picture books about characters from the Disney movies and I read them over and over again until I could practically recite them. Then in fourth grade I read A Bridge to Terabithia and it was the most incredible story. I begged my mom to buy me a copy since I had to give the school its copy back. Right now, I’ve just started reading Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, and it’s wonderful.

What is your secret talent?

I’m not sure if it’s a talent, but I always manage to find myself in strange or awkward situations that make hilarious stories after the fact. My friends in college used to joke that I should put all my embarrassing stories together in some kind of memoir and title in Only in My Life.

Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.

My sister. Whenever we’re together it’s like the stars have aligned and everything is hilarious.

My current obsessions are…

I recently discovered the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery and I swear I have dreams about it. I’m also super obsessed with Game of Thrones–the books and the television show. I feel like Westeros is a real place and I want to go visit it (but after the war ends).

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

There are a lot of highs and lows when you’re writing a book and even more when you’re trying to get published. You have to savor the highs and let them inspire you, and then let the lows roll of your back.

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

…feels something.

Tell us more about how UNRAVELING was born.

Like most of the crazy stories in my life, this once starts with “So I met this guy…”

Only, I didn’t actually “meet” the guy in a traditional sense—I became friends with him over the internet. He was a friend of a friend, funny, intelligent, charming. We traded meaningless comments or jokes with friends, but the more I got to know about him, the more it seemed we had in common. We liked the same movies and television shows, we both loved to read and to write, and we just seemed to be on the same intellectual wavelength. We recommended books to each other and we could talk about anything and everything.

And somewhere along the line, I realized he had become my best friend—and then we met, and it just felt like we belonged together (I’m a hopeless romantic, I know). Of course, he lived in another state and neither one of us had any ambitions to ever move so we started muddling through a long distance relationship, making up our own rules and trying to figure out what worked best for us.

Which got me thinking about long distance relationships. They’re hard—flawed and tragic. Most of them are doomed from the beginning. The emotional highs and lows in that type of relationship add an intense stress to even the most calm lives.

In June 2010 (during one of those emotional lows), I thought about how universally unfair it was, that I’d finally found this guy who was perfect for me, who really belonged with me, and yet he actually also belonged somewhere else. And that was the moment of inception of UNRAVELING. Because at its heart, it’s a star-crossed love story. Janelle and Ben are from different worlds, and in their darkest moments, they find each other.

I am also a huge science fiction and fantasy nerd, and I hate the perception that science fiction isn’t cool so I wanted UNRAVELING to be accessible to people who don’t know a lot about science or who don’t normally read science fiction. I love shows like Fringe and The X-Files and I wanted to do something with science fiction that was very grounded in reality. I spent about two months thinking about the plot and writing down character ideas in a notebook while riding the subway, and then I started writing pieces of dialogue and a few key scenes. And then before I knew it, the book was almost complete.

 

Thanks Elizabeth!  UNRAVELING is on sale now.  And you’ll be happy to know that this won’t be the last you’ll hear from Ben and Janelle. Check back next summer for more!

 

And that wraps up our Summer New Voices!  We’ll be back January to share our amazingly talented debut writers of the winter with you.  Until then…

NEW VOICES, A WORD FROM THE EDITOR: UNRAVELING

Posted by | September 17, 2012 | 1 Comment

It’s just two days before the beginning of your junior year when you’re hit by a pickup truck. And killed. And brought back to life. And somehow, you know that it was the loner you’ve never spoken to before that did it. And then, as impossible as it seems, things get even weirder. Sucked in yet? We certainly were. Welcome to UNRAVELING, the debut thriller/sci-fi/romance by Elizabeth Norris.

Let’s hear from Elizabeth’s editor, Kristin Rens, about how she knew immediately that UNRAVELING was something really special:

 

“I knew I wanted to publish Unraveling before I even finished reading the first page.

From the moment I met Janelle, the main character, I was pulled in by her lively, no-nonsense voice and her take-no-prisoners style—she’s tough, and she’s strong, and she’s loyal to the folks she loves—and her voice is so vivid that I knew within minutes that this was a character I would follow to the ends of the earth. And the fact that she’s up against a clock-ticking countdown that just might lead to the end of life as she knows it? Well, that was the icing on the cake.

In the current wave of paranormal and dystopian YA, Unraveling feels refreshing and different—it’s a high-stakes thriller, a Veronica Mars-esque mystery…and it’s got a light sci-fi twist that would even appeal to readers who don’t necessarily consider themselves sci-fi fans (I know, because I’m one of them). And holy cow, does Liz Norris know how to write a love story—because at the heart of Unraveling is the sweeping romance between Janelle and Ben Michaels, who in many ways are the ultimate star-crossed lovers.

Liz was a high school teacher for a couple of years before she became an author—and it shows in her writing, and in her characters. Because more than anything else what makes Unraveling such a compelling read is that she’s a writer who knows teens—knows how they talk, how they act, what they want. And this comes through in every page of the book—in Janelle’s relationship with her brother Jared, which is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time; in her sarcastic yet fiercely supportive dynamic with her best friend Alex; in the romance between Janelle and Ben, which is sweet, and tender, and completely believable. And there’s a depth and complexity to the characters and to their story that makes Liz a very special writer indeed.

I like to call Unraveling the love child of I Am Number Four and the TV show Fringe. But it’s also very much its own story, one that keeps surprising you as you read. And the result is a breathtakingly romantic sci-fi thriller about one girl’s fight to save her family and her world.

I absolutely love it.”

Thanks Kristin! We also want to share a few of the great reviews that UNRAVELING has received:

“Leav[es] the reader wanting more and begging for a sequel to this multilayered debut.”
— Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

“Readers will enjoy the nonstop action and romance.”
— School Library Journal

“A satisfying puzzle full of novel twists and provocative clues.”
— Publishers Weekly

 

Read a hearty excerpt of UNRAVELING here– the book is out in bookstores now. And come back tomorrow for an interview with Elizabeth herself!

NEW VOICES, OPENING THE BOOK WITH… KIERA CASS

Posted by | September 12, 2012 | No Comments

Yesterday we brought you a few words from the editor on the dystopian YA debut, THE SELECTION, and today we ask the author herself, Kiera Cass, the really tough questions…

Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

My favorite book from childhood is probably The Giving Tree. I was BFFs with a tree for a week in the first grade because of that book. And I’m currently making my way through Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

What is your secret talent?

My secret talent? I can touch my tongue to my nose. It’s pretty magical.

Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.

This picture ALWAYS makes me laugh. I have a pinterest board of ridiculous things to look at when I get stressed, and it helps me every time!

My current obsessions are…

…cranberry apple juice, Rob Pattinson, cupcakes, and Dance Moms.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

I always tell aspiring writers to learn everything they can now. There’s so much happening behind the scenes of making a book that it’s a bit dizzying sometimes. There are lots of great blogs out there, helpful authors on twitter, and informative books. I also make a series of Behind the Book videos on my YouTube channel to show others what it’s like to get your first editorial letter or deal with doubt or any of the other things that pop up along the journey.

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

… just has fun reading it. I write stories to entertain myself, and I hope that other people can just enjoy the ride with me.

Tell us more about how THE SELECTION was born.

The idea for THE SELECTION came from thinking about Esther and Cinderella. I always wondered it Esther maybe liked the boy next door before she was shipped off to compete to be queen. Even if she lost, she was never coming home. What was going on in her heart? And Cinderella never asked for a prince. She asked for a night off and a dress. Did getting a prince make her happy? Or was being a princess too much for her? Those two thoughts meshed in my head, and I knew I wanted to write a story about a girl from a humble background who would get the attention of a prince, but she would already be in love and not want him. And I knew she would go through something (which ended up being the Selection) that would show her more of the world than she was ever prepared to see.

I fell in love. Every time I get to sit down and work on The Selection, I get excited. I really hope that people stick with America, Aspen, and Maxon through all three books, because I think their journey is fantastic!

 

Thanks Kiera!  You’ll be happy to hear that THE SELECTION is available for purchase now.  And once you’ve read it, you’ll be equally happy to know that the next in the trilogy, THE ELITE, is due out in Summer 2013.

NEW VOICES, A WORD FROM THE EDITOR: THE SELECTION

Posted by | September 11, 2012 | 2 Comments

The idea behind our next Summer New Voices pick is almost too good to be true– Cinderella meets The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor? But that’s what THE SELECTION by debut novelist Kiera Cass is, no exaggerations, we swear.  We fell for the main character, America Singer, as she’s torn not just between two boys, but between two possibilities for her future. After all, who among us wouldn’t feel at least a little bit tempted by a chance to be royalty?

Kiera’s editor, Erica Sussman, tells us why she fell for THE SELECTION:

 

“Move aside William and Kate! There’s a new royal romance to fawn over.

I am a total sucker for a happy ending, a sweet romance, and healthy helping of drama. So when The Selection was pitched to me as a lightly dystopian Cinderella meets The Bachelor, I knew it was right up my alley. What I didn’t realize was how head over heels in love I would fall for it. Even now, I can remember finishing the book and desperately wishing I had the next one right then and there; I needed to find out what was going to happen. Right from the start, I was swept up in America Singer’s world. The poverty she leaves behind for the glittering gowns of palace life. The competition with other girls for a prize she doesn’t even care about. Her all-encompassing love for Aspen. And her steadfast friendship with Prince Maxon, which blossoms into an unbelievably sweet courtship.

One of my most favorite things about The Selection is its author, Kiera Cass. From the moment I first corresponded with Kiera I couldn’t stop gushing about her enthusiasm, her kindness, her humor, and her intelligence, all of which bubble over in everything she says. And her videos? Well, her videos are a masterpiece in and of themselves. From the first one I ever watched – in which she celebrates her book deal with epic dancing, I was hooked. If you haven’t checked out her YouTube channel, please do. I promise, it’s impossible not to watch her videos without smiling:  http://www.youtube.com/user/KieraCass.”

 

Thanks, Erica! And check out an excerpt of THE SELECTION here.  And stay tuned tomorrow for a few words from Kiera herself.

 

LILI WILKINSON, STONEWALL BOOK AWARD HONOREE

Posted by | July 17, 2012 | 2 Comments

Back in January, the lovely and talented Lili Wilkinson won a Stonewall Book Award Honor in the Children’s and Young Adult division for her young adult book (and U.S. debut) PINK, a lively and resonant look at a teen’s attempts to don a new personality and figure out who she really wants to be.  What a treat to be able to share her remarks here, read at the Stonewall’s ALA Annual celebration by Lili’s wonderful editor, Anne Hoppe.

Now, on to it!

“Good evening. My apologies for not being here – Australia is a very long way away.

I’d like to start by thanking the Australian publisher of Pink – Allen & Unwin, in particular my editors Jodie Webster and Hilary Reynolds.

And if it’s not too awkward for her to read this out loud, I must also thank the wonderful Anne Hoppe and everyone else at HarperCollins. Pink is the first of my books to reach American shores, and you have given it such a warm welcome and loving home. Thank you for the gorgeous cover. Thank you for putting it into the hands of teenage readers. Thanks especially for your help in translating the book into American while keeping its Australian setting and flavour.

And of course thanks to my fabulous agent Kate Schafer Testerman, for working so tirelessly to find my books homes in the US.

The book is dedicated to publisher and writer extraordinaire David Levithan, and I wanted to take a moment to explain why.

Many years ago David came to the Reading Matters conference in Melbourne, which I used to help organise. David made an impassioned speech about how teachers, publishers, parents, librarians and other “gatekeepers” have a responsibility to help young people kill the vampires.

… This was pre-Twilight, I should add.

David was referring to a song called Die Vampires Die from an off-Broadway musical called Title of Show. A vampire, in this case, is “any person, thought or feeling that stands between you and your creative self expression.” They creep around and whisper in your ears, saying things like “Your teeth need whitening. You went to state school? You sound weird. Shakespeare, Sondheim and Sedaris did it before you, and better than you.” They tell you you’re not good enough, and you can’t help believing them.

One of the ways we could help young people kill these vampires, suggested David, was by making sure that every teenager could see themselves reflected on the shelves of their libraries and bookshops. And, in his opinion, when it came to books about gay teenagers, we were failing to do that.

The speech received a standing ovation, and I’m proud to say that the Australian publishers, teachers and librarians in the room listened, and since then things have started to change.

But I got to thinking. I’d read books about gay teenagers. Not many, certainly. But I had read a few – David’s not least among them. But I couldn’t think of any books I’d read about the teenagers who aren’t sure. And really, who’s sure about anything when they’re sixteen? I wanted to write a book for those teenagers. I wanted to write a book that said – there are some things you never have to definitively decide on. You don’t ever have to put yourself in a closed-off, past-the-point-of-no-return box, and you really don’t have to do it when you’re sixteen. It’s okay if you’re not sure.

So I wrote Pink.

Books about girls often don’t win awards. We focus a lot of our attention on getting boys reading. I visited an all-girls secondary school recently where not one book was studied that featured a female protagonist. And funny books with pink covers are even less likely to catch the attention of academics and awards judges. When you get home, have a look at how much academic analysis there is of authors like Meg Cabot, Maureen Johnson, Cathy Cassidy or Louise Rennison. Is it because their books are shallow and insubstantial? Cabot’s The Princess Diaries is about a teenage environmentalist who brings democracy to a small European principality. Just because a book is funny and romantic, doesn’t mean it has nothing to say.

Someone asked me the other day why all of my books feature strong, female protagonists. Confused, I repeated what Joss Whedon had said when he was asked the same thing: “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

I love writing about strong, funny, flawed girls who are curious about the world. I love writing romance. I love writing books that make the reader think, that encourage them see the world in different ways.

Which brings me back to Pink, and to my thank yous. More than anything, I want to thank the judges that saw fit to recognise Pink. It means so much to me that a funny, romantic pink book from the other side of the world is to be given such a prestigious honour, to sit alongside amazing writers like Brian Farrey, Ilike Merey, Paul Yee and of course Bil Wright.

The importance of organisations like the American Library Association, and awards like the Stonewall, cannot be overestimated, and as an author I am immensely proud to have that sticker on my book. It’s also lovely that it matches the cover.

My final thank you is on behalf of the teenage readers who have written to me and come up to me at schools and festivals to tell me how Pink made a difference to them. It’s a thank you to the gatekeepers: the publishers, teachers, librarians and parents who make sure that all teenagers are reflected on bookshelves. Thank you for fighting the good fight. Thank you for helping to kill those vampires.”

Thank you, Lili! We’re honored to be your publisher, and inspired by your words.

HEATHER’S PICKS: CLASSICS, REDONE

Posted by | June 12, 2012 | No Comments

I’m not sure I know anyone as knowledgeable about children’s books as my colleague, National Accounts Manager Heather Doss.  She’s our human encyclopedia at meetings, a whiz in the booth at conferences, and an all-around terrific lady.  And today you are the lucky recipient of her genius!  Heather pulled together a round up of Classics, Redone:

“I’ll admit it: I’m a fan of the twisted classic genre. Whether it’s a retelling of a fairytale, myth or novel from the past, I love when authors take something you think you know and turn it on its head to give it a new perspective. While I think there will always be a place in curriculum for those classics we all read in high school and college, a remake can bring a fresh audience to them, and help to create a new fan base. Lucky for me, our Harper lists are chock full of titles that have a classic background:

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Bethany Griffin has reimagined Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic horror story “The Masque of the Red Death,” creating a breathtakingly real city that’s coming apart at the seams, a riveting romantic triangle, and a heroine faced with heartbreaking choices. Hauntingly dark & romantic at the same time!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

TIGER LILY combines the rich mythology of Peter Pan and the lush setting of Neverland to create a truly unique teen romance; told from the point of view of Tinkerbell & focusing on the Indian Princess whose backstory is vague in the original story.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about the choice between protecting your heart and opening yourself to the one person who could break it; inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION.

Entwined by Heather Dixon

In this retelling of the classic tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” the eldest princess must fight to save her family—and her heart—from an ancient dark magic within the palace walls; a romantic fantasy with a darker edge.

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, finally gets a chance to set the story straight in RADIANT DARKNESS. She wasn’t taken to the underworld against her will—she fell in love with Hades, and chose to be his queen and leave her overbearing mother behind.

COMING FALL 2012:

Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Part dystopian, part sci-fi thriller, part romance, LOST GIRL is an electrifying YA debut about a clone fighting against the system that created her—and finding the courage to be true to her humanity; loosely inspired by FRANKENSTEIN.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

In this horror novel loosely inspired by Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, ten teens head to a house party at a remote island mansion off the Washington coast…only for them to be picked off by a killer one by one.

The Turning by Francine Prose

A mind-bending and chilling retelling of THE TURN OF THE SCREW for modern teens, by nationally acclaimed, former President of PEN and award-winning author Francine Prose!”

Thanks, Heather! We love this trend (if you can even call it a trend!), since it’s so helpful when booktalking and recommending new favorites. Any other great classics-with-a-twist that we should read?

NEW VOICES: OPENING THE BOOK WITH… TIM CARVELL

Posted by | May 30, 2012 | 1 Comment

Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to Tim Carvell, debut author of the uproariously funy middle-grade novel PLANET TAD. You can read a FREE, NICE AND HEARTY EXCERPT HERE. Yesterday we gave you a few words from Tim’s editor, Rosemary, and today we hear from the man himself…

 


(I mean… how great is this? If that mottled blue/gray background doesn’t pull you right back to middle school, I don’t know what will!)

Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

When I was 9 or 10, I loved “A Cricket in Times Square”, but I think I loved its sequel, “Tucker’s Countryside”, even more, because I’d much rather read a book whose hero is a talking mouse with a cricket sidekick than a book whose hero is a talking cricket with a mouse sidekick.

As for what I’m reading now, I just finished “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street”, by Michael Davis, which is pretty great — not just because it’s got weird tidbits like the fact that Oscar the Grouch was originally orange, but also because, for some reason, it’s got a whole chapter that’s just behind-the-scenes stories about Captain Kangaroo’s love-hate relationship with his writers.

What is your secret talent?

I can wiggle my ears. (It’s not so much a “secret talent” as “a talent I have that I’ve been asked not to do in public”.)

Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.

A talking animal. I don’t know why, but it does.

My current obsessions are…

Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time with Finn & Jake”, because it’s got such a simple premise, but it keeps finding new directions to go, and new sorts of jokes to tell. Jenny Slate’s “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” shorts, which are very, very funny but come from a place of pure sweetness. And Jon Klassen’s “I Want My Hat Back”, because the drawings are hilarious, and it manages to tell a perfectly-paced joke in book form.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

Just keep writing — the more you write, and the more feedback you get, the sooner you’ll get better at it, and the quicker you’ll develop your own voice. Also, don’t write a book about an orphan who goes to a British wizarding academy. It’s been done.

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

Actually, that’s about 90% of what I’d hope for right there — that a person would read my book. But if I could ask for more beyond that, it’d be that a person reading my book would laugh.

Tell us more about how PLANET TAD was born.

The original idea for “Planet Tad” came back in 2005, when two editors at MAD suggested that it might be fun to do something in the voice of a young blogger; after I’d written the column for a few years, the book came about thanks to Rosemary Brosnan at HarperCollins, whose sons really liked the column. She asked if I’d be interested in expanding it to book length, an idea that really appealed to me, because it was a chance to explore Tad’s world a little more fully, and tell stories in a little more depth. Writing the book was a lot of fun, both because it was a chance to do writing that’s both a little more personal and a little lighter than my day job, and because it was a chance to revisit my awkward younger self. Tad’s pretty much a younger version of me, and I have really vivid memories of my middle school years — and not just the classrooms or the hallways of my school, although those are pretty much what I picture when I’m picturing Tad’s environment. What I remember even more vividly are the emotions of what it was like to be in, say, eighth grade — that weird mixture of not wanting to feel like a kid anymore, but being confused, daunted and hopeful about the adult world, all at the same time. Hopefully, a little of that — alongside the jokes about video games and lemurs — comes through in the book.

Thanks Tim, for sitting through our grueling, sweat-inducing, pulse-poundingly hard-hitting barrage of questions!

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