In episode 11, I’m throwing it back to an interview from SDCC 2014 with authors Natalie C. Parker and Tessa Gratton!
Both Natalie and Tessa have books coming out within the next month (Natalie’s book SEAFIRE is out August 28, and Tessa book STRANGE GRACE is out September18). We talk about writing cultural traditions, location as character (and the different ways the authors approach bringing it into a story), writing flawed characters, and much much more!
Listen to the podcast on iTunes, or if you don’t have iTunes, I’ve also posted a link to SoundCloud below.
Howdy all! The shelves are slowly emptying out, and we couldn’t be happier! This week’s set of books are great, and we can’t wait to tell you about them. But first, here’s what we here at Lytherus have been reading this week:
This week I read A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU, by Claudia Gray. I kept hearing great things about it, and the cover is absolutely gorgeous, and the plot (travel between parallel universes and how they change) sounded amazing. So I had very high expectations for this book.
And it definitely didn’t disappoint! I was a bit wary at first because the romance was shaping up to be a love triangle (no spoilers, it’s fairly obvious from the beginning) and I’m not a big fan of romance as the central focus of a book, much less a love triangle. But I thought it was done well, nicely interwoven with the story, and it didn’t detriment the plot itself. The book is just one big adventure that rarely stops, with very good pacing with the occasional, very rare lull. But in those occasions you have great character development as well as a really interesting story. The writing is also good and very easy to read, and I found it a very, very enjoyable read and I could barely put the book down.
This is a definite recommendation to science-fiction (and YA) fans. Can’t wait for the sequel, and to see what Claudia Gray is going to do with the Star Wars franchise this year!
This week I managed about 2.2 things! I tried reading Jim Butcher’s SKIN GAME for the Hugos, but I haven’t read any of the other books in the series and had to give it up. I really like Butcher’s CODEX ALERA, and I enjoyed the little of this story I read as far as tone and characters. It just doesn’t really stand on its own.
I did however finish MIME ORDER – another book that doesn’t stand on it’s own! This time I’d read the preceding book, BONE SEASON, and I felt that MIME ORDER did an extraordinary job of continuing the saga. As Paige Mahoney’s story continued to unfold, I felt like the entire series finally clicked for me. The first book just never quite shook the Harry Potter/Divergent feel, but as author Samantha Shannon unfolded her world more and more in MIME ORDER, I began to fall in love with the story and characters in a way I hadn’t during BONE SEASON.
I also read a short story collection called KALEIDOSCOPE which comes out of a small independent Australian press. Even though KALEIDOSCOPE is marketed as YA, it’s probably the best anthology I’ve read so far this year. Often in books like these, I consider it a win if I read 50% of the stories, but I didn’t skip a single entry in this collection!
This past week’s book was a re-read for me: SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman (I did the audio this time, which was a cool change). This series is the book club series for the month of April, and I wanted to go into the sequel, SHADOW SCALE, as fresh as possible (You should read along with us, and submit your questions for me to ask Rachel in the interview at the end of the month!). At least 4 different times I said out loud, “man, I forgot how much I loved this book!” It really is a wonderfully creative, well-written book with interesting characters and a really cool world. I’m about half-way through the SHADOW SCALE audiobook right now, and so far it’s also great. It’s getting creepy, which is a surprise, albeit a pleasant one. Next up on the docket? I think I’m going to do the audio of RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard, which I’m excited about. Stay tuned!
This week we’re lucky enough to have some input from the lovely Erica Cameron, author of SING, SWEET NIGHTINGALE. I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with Erica this week, and when I told her what I was doing she happily added her recent reads into the mix. Enjoy!
Right now I’m reading Beware the Wild by Natalie Parker. This lyrical, wonderfully creeptastic, Southern Gothic story grabs you from the first sentence, digs in its claws, and drags you toward the finish. I’m still in the middle of this book but I cannot wait to see how it unfolds. I’m expecting a brilliant finish and I’m pretty sure I won’t be disappointed.
Also, I’ve recently been trying to get myself into audiobooks because of how much time I’m going to be spending on the road this year. So far I’ve listened to the BBC production of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Neverwhere was extremely entertaining and imaginative (which is to be expected from Gaiman’s brilliant mind) and I loved listening to the fantastic cast recording. With Verity, it seemed as though the intensity was heightened by listening to the talented narrators. Since the story is told in the form of journal entries, it really was like being inside these girls’ heads while events were unfolding. Kudos to the author and the performers of both books for a job extremely well done. I’d give both audio versions five stars. Highly recommended.
On to the giveaways! This week we have an amazing set of a whopping FIVE books! They’re all middle-grade, and they’re all fabulous:
This is an extra awesome set of books for two different reasons. First, all of them except Beyond Foo are ARCs, so they’re a lot rarer than a regular book. And Beyond Foo? It’s signed by the author! So these are super fun goodies this week. (US only)
It wouldn’t be a spring cleaning giveaway without a Christopher Paolini goody, so this week we’re throwing in a signed photo:
We ALSO have a bonus giveaway this week: Erica Cameron’s Sing Sweet Nightingale, which is signed! There’s a catch though: if you win it you’ll have to review it for us to post on the site and share with the world! We want to hear your thoughts on her awesome book, so here’s your chance to be a guest book reviewer on Lytherus! Only enter if you’re interested. (US only)
The final book panel of San Diego Comic Con was What’s Hot in YA. Here at Lytherus we love all sorts of fantasy and scifi, but we do often feature YA, so this was a panel we didn’t want to miss. Rightly so, too, as the lineup of authors was absolutely insane: Kresley Cole (The Arcana Chronicles), Kami Garcia (The Legion Series), Tessa Gratton (United States of Asgard series), Tahereh Mafi (the Shatter Me series), Natalie Parker (Beware the Wild), C. J. Redwine (The Defiance series), Brendan Reichs (the Virals series), Margaret Stohl (the Icons series), and Scott Westerfeld (Afterworlds). Chew on those names for a minute. These are some of the biggest and best names in YA, and all on one panel. Moderated by Nathan Bransford (the Jacob Wonderbar series), this panel proved to be one of the best that SDCC had to offer.
First off, let me say that the banter between Kami Garcia and Margie Stohl was hilarious. They kept cracking the audience up, and it set an atmosphere of fun and revelry for the whole panel. Also, Margie started out the panel by announcing some big news. All she could say was Marvel YA, which sounds amazing. We can’t wait to see what’s up next with this.
Nathan kicked off the questions by asking the simple one of how did they start? Were they thinking of what’s hot in YA? Brendan, who is also hilarious, writes with his mom Kathy Reichs (of Bones fame), and started off the replies with that simple statement and a shrug, much to the amusement of everyone. Scott regaled everyone with the story that gave him the idea for his series Uglies, saying he was in LA and at the dentist, who took him to the back and wanted to talk about his five-year plan for his teeth (huh?!). He wondered what the world would be like if everything was like this, and the idea was born.
Nathan led right into the next question, asking how they decide on something, even if it seems not marketable? Tessa replied first, talking about how in her first drafts she puts in everything, all the detail, talks about politics and religion, everything she loves, and then she shapes after. Kresley has been writing adult paranormal for years, and when a YA book came to mind she tried not to write it skewed young, but that was the story so eventually she stopped fighting it and wrote it as YA. Tahereh tried writing for the market, but eventually said f-it and wrote how she wanted. She didn’t think people would get what she was doing, and publishing was a dream, but it did happen. Kami added to this, saying that Beautiful Creatures was published by accident, and then after she had this intense pressure when alone re: the market. Market really messes with the head. Margie made her talk about her passions, pushing past that. Brendan said that writing for the market doesn’t work. You’re chasing something that may not even be there. Your writing should be passionate. C.J. said you spend a lot of time with an idea and world, so you should love it. The market is hard to predict.
This led right into the next question. Authors never want to write to the market, but how do you fight the pressure? Margie said the market never feels good, it’s always crazy. Writing a book feels great. Thinking about the market is crazy and stressful. Scott added that it’s always changing. Right now contemporary is “in” thanks in part to John Green. Kami added that John wasn’t trying to be a “thing”, he’s just writing. Tahereh paraphrased E. Lockhart at this point, saying that most authors re: John’s success are like, that’s great, but I wanna stay in my pajamas. Kami added that the idea of a phenomenon is strange too. People like John Green and Scott have written a while before getting huge, and people forget the years of self-doubt. Natalie said what’s cool about the YA market is it’s a cool canvas, and allows you to play. Scott added to this, saying he gets lots of great feedback from fans, has fan art Friday, and it’s great to see people play in those worlds. It’s fun to see what fans generate, and it’s all about inspiring each other. Margie said that some books are small stories, and some are big, and that’s okay. Not everything is about commercialism; sometimes it’s about the fandom tribe.
Up next Nathan wanted to know if there’s less pressure because of social media. Kami said that twitter is for hanging out. Tahereh observed that confessional blogs don’t seem as common and that micro-blogging is more popular, which makes it easer to stay on top of. Scott also prefers twitter because of the ease. You can just send out an idea. Less pressure, less questions.
The next question was about traditional vs e-books: is there a polarization? Kami said there’s lots of hybrid authors, and that it doesn’t matter. There are self-published authors who kick ass, etc. If you’re out there, you’re an author. Scott added that it’s fun to write in other ways. He loves NaNoWriMo, so fans can appreciate how hard writing is.
For the last question Nathan wanted to know what is voice, and how the authors make it their own. C.J. said it’s okay to copy, that’s how you learn. Voice is what fans can expect, even if the world changes. For her it was deciding to stop being afraid and start writing what she loves to read that helped her. Kresley said it’s her voice when she’s writing and starts giggling at herself. Margie has an exercise she tells teens: look down and write about your shoes, and that’s your voice. Shoes are often the way teens are communicating with the world. Brendan got a laugh, saying he finds this question hard, as he’s writing a fourteen year old girl and he’s a thirty-seven year old man. Natalie said she gave her manuscript to Tessa, and to have her laugh was good feedback.
The mic was opened up for fans, and some book-specific questions were asked. Overall though it was a busy, fun, interesting and entertaining panel filled to the brim with fantastic YA authors and their insights. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!