It’s Becky & Simon Day on The Lifelong Bookworm!

Hello bookish people! Today, April 7th, is momentous because author Becky Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, is now out in the wild! Hooray! Grab a copy, will you? It is worth reading! I promise. 🙂 But in case you need more convincing, you might want to check out my 5-star review here. For the love of Becky and Simon, I came up with an idea for a blog event to honor their day. Well, this is it! Happy Becky & Simon Day, everyone! *throws confetti* I hope you guys enjoy the contents of this post. 🙂

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The awesome Becky Albertalli talks about writing, Simon, Oreos (YUM!), and more in this exclusive interview!

 

View More: http://thedecisivemoment.pass.us/becky-headshots

Photo credit: Decisive Moment Events

 

At what age did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer. That being said, my ambitions have been a little all over the place, and I figured author would go the way of my other dream careers (among them: veterinarian, actress, director, teacher, and pet store employee). But my interest in writing has always been there, even when I took a different path in grad school, where I trained as a clinical psychologist.

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Every writer has a writing process. Could you please describe yours?

In many ways, I think I’m still learning my process! When I wrote SIMON, worked in almost total isolation – almost no one knew I was writing, and the first person to read it was the critique partner I met on Absolute Write (still my CP, and now also one of my closest friends!). Book two has actually been a completely different experience. I’m connected to a much broader swath of the writing and publishing community, so the book has received feedback at several stages from my editor, agent, and several friends and critique partners. It also feels very different writing this book, knowing that it’s actually going to be published! Admittedly, it’s been hard for me to separate that process from everything that’s happening with SIMON.

 

What is it about young adult fiction that prompted you to write your own YA book? 

There’s so much to love about YA. For me, I’m drawn to the immediacy of teen stories – it’s such a confusing, heart-wrenching, butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of time. It’s really special to be able to reconnect with some of those feelings and experiences. I think I love working with real-life teenagers for the same reasons.

 

Which YA authors do you look up to?

There are so many authors I admire! Right now, I am completely in awe of the We Need Diverse Books team, who are among the most passionate, committed, and talented people I’ve ever met. I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse behind the scenes of WNDB, and I’m constantly blown away by how hard these authors work to fight for desperately-needed changes in this industry. Their impact has been immeasurable, and it’s been thrilling and humbling to watch it happen.

 

Name three of your all-time favorite YA books.

-THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky

-THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS by Jaclyn Moriarty

-I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson

 

How did the idea for Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda come about?

It’s interesting: I feel like the story and Simon’s voice just sort of came to me – sometimes I didn’t know what was going to happen in the book until I wrote it. It’s only now that I can look back and attempt to trace its influences. I see shades of You’ve Got Mail, THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS (one of my all-time favorites, mentioned above), and, oddly, a musical by Jason Robert Brown called 13. But SIMON is kind of its own thing. I have no idea where the idea came from, honestly!

 

How long did it take you to write Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda?

SIMON took me about four or five months to write, with another month spent editing and working with my critique partner. I believe I started the book in June of 2013, and queried in early November.

 

What would you like readers to learn from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda?

Interesting question! I feel pretty strongly that readers are entitled to their own interpretations of the book, and that those interpretations are more important, in the end, than my intentions as an author. However, I’ll say that writing the book helped me organize some of my own thoughts about privilege and the tendency to view majority groups (straight, white, cisgender, etc.) as defaults.

 

Main character Simon Spier is gay. What was it like writing from the perspective of a teenage gay character? Did someone you know in real life inspire him?

It felt very natural for me writing from the perspective of a gay teenage boy! Part of that probably comes from working for so many years with LGBTQIA kids and teenagers as a psychologist, but I’m very careful not to base any characters on therapy clients. I would say Simon is pretty similar to me – he’s just much funnier and more charming.

 

Simon is a theater kid. What song from a Broadway musical best describes his personality?

This is one of my favorite questions I’ve ever been asked! I’m going to go with “My Junk” from Spring Awakening. I don’t know if it describes his personality, exactly, but there’s something so Simon about this song. I interpret it to be about that almost obsessive romantic fantasy life you have sometimes when you’re a teenager – the way you carry thoughts of your crush around with you everywhere. Simon’s feelings for Blue are like that.

 

You have a great love for Oreos (so does Simon!). If you were given an opportunity to customize an Oreo flavor inspired by your book, what would it be? What would you call it?

My custom Oreo flavor would be Classic Oreos with extra crème, and I would call them Double Stuf. 🙂 Simon and I are total traditionalists when it comes to Oreos. If I HAD to put my own spin on them, I might change their shape to the iconic SIMON text bubble – but I refuse to interfere with the perfection of their flavor.

 

You are one of the friendliest authors on Twitter! Book bloggers love interacting with you. What was your reaction when people started to express their excitement for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on the social media site?

What a nice thing to say! I’ve had an absolute blast getting to know members of this amazing community on Twitter. I’m always so surprised (and a little excited) when people approach me like I’m famous. I’m so not famous! I’m sitting here next to a stack of diapers and breast pump accessories. 🙂 But I’ve been so thrilled by the response so far to SIMON. I feel so lucky that his character has connected with so many people, and that others are looking forward to meeting him. When people get Simon, it makes me feel like they get me!

 

What are your best moments so far in your publishing journey? 

The whole thing has been a publishing fairy tale, honestly, and there have been so many wonderful moments. Some of the highlights: accepting my agent’s offer of representation, my first phone call with my editor, getting to know my publishing teams at Harper, Penguin, and my other publishers abroad (I’ve even become friends with my amazing French translator at Hachette Romans, Mathilde Bouhon!), reading my first reviews, getting blurbs from some of my favorite authors, getting to know other debut authors and seeing my friends’ books in bookstores…

If I had to pick one favorite, I’d say it was the amazing weekend I spent in Nashville with my best author friends: Adam Silvera, Jasmine Warga, and David Arnold.

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And finally, what writing advice would you like to share to aspiring writers? 

I know the classic advice is to keep reading – and that’s so incredibly important. To add to that, I’d say it’s so helpful to become a close observer of your own life. Fall in love, hang out with kids, hang out with old people, tell stupid jokes, laugh, make out, be lazy, argue, eavesdrop, daydream – and then spend an extra moment processing it all. Everything I like about my own writing comes from this process of integrating my own experiences.

Connect with Becky on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Website

 

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Next up on this special blog event is a guest post from the extraordinary SIMON SPIER. Take it away, Si!

 

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Greetings from Simon! Cute drawing by Becky Albertalli. 🙂

Here’s the thing: Oreos are freaking delicious and music is freaking awesome, and they should always be consumed together. Because I love you so much (and especially because I don’t feel like studying for a history quiz), I’m going to give you some very important guidelines for your eating and listening pleasure. So, with no further ado, I present:

 

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  1. Between the Bars by Elliott Smith/Oreo fudge bars (http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2014/08/oreo-fudge-bars-recipe.html)
  2. Heard Them Stirring by the Fleet Foxes/ Oreos stirred with milk
  3. Black Sand by Jenny Lewis/Finely ground Oreos
  4. Tower Song by Martha Wainwright/tall stack of Oreos
  5. Time to Pretend by MGMT/ Golden Oreos
  6. Frozen by Tegan and Sara/Oreo ice cream
  7. Dark Matter by Andrew Bird/Oreo butter (http://www.thekitchenpaper.com/oreo-cookie-butter/)
  8. Things That Scare Me by Neko Case/Watermelon Oreos

 

Wow! Who would have thought that eating Oreos could have a soundtrack? ONLY SIMON! 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a brilliant playlist, buddy!

 

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In celebration of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda‘s book birthday today, I’m giving away a FINISHED HARDCOVER COPY of the book! The giveaway is open to Philippine residents only. I’m so sorry international followers! 😦

Please click on the link below to be directed to the Rafflecopter form:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Huge thanks to the ever amazing and generous HarperCollins Publishers for the giveaway copy!

Blog Tour: The Death of Us by Alice Kuipers [Author Interview]

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Hi everyone! For today’s stop in The Death of Us blog tour, author Alice Kuipers shares valuable thoughts on writing and her latest novel in this special Q&A!

At what age did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I have always, always loved reading. My parents read to me as a small child and as soon as I could read myself, I spent hours of my childhood deep in book after book. I wrote stories and poems for school, and started to do more writing in my free time too. When I was eighteen, I travelled for a year. During that trip, I thought I’d write a journal but I wrote stories and poems. I realized that writing was important to me during that journey. But I don’t think I would ever have thought of being a writer if I hadn’t loved reading.

What makes a good writer?

A good writer is excellent at observing the world. They notice details that pass most people by. And they are good at taking those details and crafting sentences with them. Writers have to love the actual writing process – they have to be in love with the written word and want to spend their time moving a comma or rewriting the same page for the fiftieth time, as well as coming up with ideas and dreaming.

Where is your favorite writing spot?

I love writing anywhere. I go to cafes, or I sit in my yard, or I curl up in the chair in my office, or I use my treadmill desk, or I sit on my bed. My laptop is a great tool for writing. It means that whichever spot I’m in, I can get into writing. I do need headphones, though. Having music helps me block out the real world.

What is an effective way of beating writer’s block?

I’ve been saying for years when people asked me this question, that Barbara Kingsolver said: “I have three children, I don’t have time for writer’s block.” Except she never said it. I just checked!!! I seem to have made it up entirely! She, in fact, has two children. She does say this about writer’s block: “It would be easy to say oh, I have writers’ block, oh I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.”

So, now I’m going to be the one to say, “I have three children, I don’t have time for writer’s block!” I’m not trying to get out of the question, or dismiss writer’s block for those who suffer from it. What I mean by this is that when I have a moment to write, I seize it. I don’t worry if the writing is wrong or messy or imperfect (it is nearly always all three). Instead, I let the words go onto the page and tell myself I can always edit later. I am far, far from a perfectionist and I think that makes it much easier not to feel blocked.

What is your best moment as a published author so far?

I feel really lucky to be able to write full time as my job. There have been a lot of good moments in my life as a writer, but the best is probably when my two oldest asked me to read my picture book to them. It’s coming out in December and it was brilliant to be able to have them turn the pages of the galley copy.

Which of the books you wrote changed your life? How?

Each of them has affected me. The first I published – Life on the Refrigerator Door – made it possible for me to write full time. It was published in lots of countries and hearing from readers all over the world gave me quiet confidence in my writing. When I get a bad review now, I am able to step away and respect that people see things differently. Something that someone loves, someone else will hate.

My second and third books helped me learn and grow as a writer. They both needed a lot of editing and I felt myself changing as a writer during those editorial processes. The Death of Us probably changed me the most. The work I had to do to make the story the best it could be was really challenging. By the time the book was finished, I was a different writer (and I’d had two more children). I have understood a lot more about character through the writing of this book, things I wish I’d understood before. But each book I’ve written has shown me more clearly how to write the next one. So each one changes me and my life, making me more attuned to stories, to characters, to possible ideas for the next book.

Your new book, The Death of Us, will hit shelves on September 2nd. How are you planning to celebrate its release?

By the time I’m on your site, the book will have been out for a few days. On the day of release, I’ll go for lunch with my family. There’s a great café near our house where I enjoy eating super delicious soups and sandwiches with lots of good coffee. Or maybe we’ll go out for supper instead. Save me from cooking! I love cooking, but with a large family it’s nice to have a break sometimes. In the evening, there’s a meeting at my child’s preschool. It’s very boring, but it roots me in reality. Yes, the book came out, but the day to day of my life just goes on exactly the same. Except, multiple times a day for the first few days, I’ll glance at the gorgeous cover and think: wow, I wrote that!

I have a book launch at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon on September 15th at 7pm. I’m excited to see friends and family there, and to eat scones and cookies. McNally’s has a catering service that I think is great for a book launch. I’ll go out with some friends after the launch too. That night will be the big celebration.

Behind every book, there’s a story of why an author wrote it. What then sparked your interest to write The Death of Us?

The Death of Us is written from three perspectives. I was interested in how three people saw the same event. In my own past, I had a terrible falling out with a friend and her boyfriend. Their two perspectives and mine were so different it was like we were reading two entirely different books on the same subject. I wanted to explore the way that the same events could be seen really differently.

In the book, there is a tangled love story, an accident, lots of drama and intrigue, but hopefully the characters are what makes the story work. The characters felt real to me and I tried to capture that on the page. In itself, bringing Callie, Ivy and Kurt fully to life was what really sparked the book for me. I could hear them and suddenly the ideas for the book appeared. It’s a magical process, having an idea, and I can’t fully explain why some ideas hold on and won’t let go until the book is finished.

If you could pick a theme song for The Death of Us, what would it be and why?

River by The Belle Game – it’s mysterious, dark, romantic, unnerving. The layers and the lyrics fit well too, I think.

Alice’s answers are truly inspiring, don’t you guys think? As an aspiring writer, her thoughtful answers are exactly what I need to keep me motivated in pursuing my dream. 🙂 Thank you Alice for sharing with us wonderful insights!

About the author:

Headshot3Bestselling, award winning author Alice Kuipers moved to Saskatoon from the UK in 2003. Her first novel, Life on the Refrigerator Door, was published in 28 countries. She has published three further award-winning YA novels internationally, most recently, The Death of Us. Her first picture book Violet and Victor Write The Best Ever Bookworm Book will be published this December.

Find her here: www.alicekuipers.com or on Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads.

 

 

About The Death of Us

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A recovered friendship, a dark secret, and a love triangle with a deadly angle…

Callie is shocked when her friend Ivy reappears after an unexplained three-year absence, but the girls pick up where they left off, and suddenly Callie’s summer is full of parties, boys and fun. Beneath the surface, things aren’t what they seem, however, and when a handsome boy with a dark past gets tangled up with Ivy, the girls’ history threatens to destroy their future.

*Synopsis from Goodreads

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Books-A-MillionIndigo 

An Interview with Samantha Shannon, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Bone Season

Hi everyone! I have Samantha Shannon, New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Season, on the blog today! Get to know to know more about Samantha and her books in this exclusive interview!

 

1. When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was about twelve or thirteen.

 

2. How did you come up with the idea for The Bone Season?

I was working in London in the district of Seven Dials in Covent Garden in 2011. There are a few stores in the area that sell crystal balls and tarot cards and offer psychic readings, and I came up with the idea of a society of clairvoyants living in London. Then I had an image of a girl having the same day at work that I was having, but she happened to be clairvoyant. I combined that with a previous idea I’d had about supernatural creatures controlling Oxford, and ‘The Bone Season’ was born.

 

3. What made you decide to write fantasy?

It provides the best opportunities for worldbuilding, which is the part of writing I most enjoy.

 

4. What were the challenges you encountered while writing the first book in the Bone Season series?

The biggest challenging was explaining the world to readers, and it did involve a fair bit of exposition in the end. I thought it was important for readers to get to grips with the rules quickly, even if there had to be a few pages of explanation before I jumped into the plot.

 

5. What is the best part in building the world of the Bone Season series?

Creating the alternate history and thinking about how the events of the past impact on Paige’s world. I love taking bits of the Victorian era and mixing them into the futuristic milieu of Scion London.

 

6. What song best describes the series?

‘Merchant Prince’ by Thomas Bergersen.

 

7.  What makes a good storyteller?

Someone who can make you turn the page.

 

8. Would you consider writing a novel in a different genre? If so, what would it be and why?

Definitely. I don’t want to restrict myself to just one category. Generally speaking I’m quite anti-genre; I like to mix and match. I’d be particularly interested in veering towards sci-fi, high fantasy or steampunk.

 

9. The Mime Order is the second book in the Bone Season series coming out on October 21st 2014. What can readers look forward to it?

New characters, old characters, a deeper look at the world of Scion London and the clairvoyant underworld, and lots more.

 

10. What is your advice to young writers who aspire to be like you?  

Write the story you want to write. Trust your own voice and your gut instinct first. Most importantly, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re writing is too experimental or unusual, or that your way of writing is “wrong”. There is no right or wrong way to build a world or write a story.

 

Samantha Shannon’s books:


13636400It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.


But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

 

17901125Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal penal colony of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the fugitives are still missing and she is the most wanted person in London.

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided. Will Paige know who to trust? The hunt for the dreamwalker is on.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Purchase the books: Amazon / Barnes & Noble Book Depository / Fully Booked 

 

Calling all Bone Season fans in NYC! Samantha Shannon is coming to your city!

YA Lit at 92Y
 
When: Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. 
Where: 92Y, Lexington Ave, 92nd Street, NYC 

 

 

Coming Soon: YA horror novel SICK by Tom Leveen

SickMechfinalTitle: Sick

Author: Tom Leveen

Publication Date: October 21, 2013

Synopsis: 

Brian and his friends are not part of the cool crowd. They’re the misfits, the troublemakers — the ones who jump their High School’s electrified fence to skip school regularly. So when the virus breaks out, they’re the only ones with a chance of surviving.

The virus turns Brian’s classmates and teachers into bloodthirsty attackers who don’t die easily. In other words: Zombies. The whole school goes on lockdown and the military surrounds the fence, and Brian and his best friend Chad are safe (and stuck) in the theatre department — far from Brian’s sister, Kenzie and his ex-girlfriend with a panic attack problem, Laura. Brian and Chad, along with some of the theatre kids who he’d never given the time of day before, decide to find the girls and bring them to the safety of the theatre. But it won’t be easy and it will test everything they thought they knew about themselves and their classmates. In a world turned upside down, who exactly are the real monsters?

*Photo from Goodreads and synopsis from Abrams and Chronicle Books

Q&A WITH AUTHOR TOM LEVEEN!

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First things first what gave you the inspiration for the novel?

Except for the whole monsters thing, the story is more or less true in terms of a typical day for me in high school. My friends and I got into a conversation a while back about what would happen if a zombie apocalypse happened while we were there, and we all agreed the drama department would be the easiest building to defend. That was really it – the rest wrote itself! The main difference is that I wrote from an outsider’s point of view instead of a drama student, because I also wanted to investigate that “Lord of the flies” aspect, the “us versus them” that happens in schools everywhere.

In fact, it’s really the chief thing I hope readers take away. SICK isn’t (supposed to be) a hack-n-slash gorefest, or the literary equivalent of a B-grade horror movie. It’s about real people with real prejudices and fears, and how those things change and alter under extreme circumstances to reveal who we all really are. The blood and guts are fun too, don’t get me wrong…but I hope everyone also enjoys the character arcs and growth that happens.

The characters began as loosely based on my friends, but there’s not much of them left by the time you get to a final, published book. Still – they’re in there. It’s always fun to listen to them debate which one of them is which character in my books!

The question we all want to know is how would you choose to survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

I’ve discussed this with friends too. We had a lengthy, in-depth discussion once about “zombie migration patterns,” and concluded the wilderness would be our best bet simply because of the numbers: there just won’t be as many zombies out in the desert or forest like there will be in a metropolitan area. So I think we’d head out to the desert or mountains.

My wife gives me a hard time about this sometimes, but I think it’s essential that everyone be prepared for the zombie apocalypse. A lot has been made of this since the novel “World War Z” (which is *awesome* by the way; I met Max Brooks at a ComiCon once, great guy). But for real: If you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for every possible natural disaster. I’m not one of those people who *literally* thinks The Zombies Are Coming! But if they did, we’d have plan, that’s all I’m sayin’.

What would be your song choice to accompany a zombie beat down?

Ooo…that’s a great question. I think maybe “The Wait” by Metallica (I think that’s a cover). Or “Postmortem” by Slayer. And then to round things out, maybe some Mozart; like the overture to Le nozze de Figaro.

If a movie got green lit tomorrow and you had ultimate power who would be
your dream cast?

All brand-new, unknown actors! No previous experience with Nick or Disney, let’s get some new blood up there. (No pun intended.) Except maybe the cast of The Way Way Back. That would be a great cast to start with. Maybe Allison Janney could play Brian’s mom, Anna Sophia Robb could play Kenzie…

What’s next on your writing agenda?

That’s always a tricky question, because there’s what’s actually hitting shelves, and there’s what I’m working on. There’s usually a one to two year delay between the two! Next coming out is a contemporary (realistic) YA called RANDOM, about a girl who’s being charged in the suicide death of a former friend of hers, and the night before entering a plea, a random guy calls and says he’s going to kill himself unless she can talk him out of it. That comes out Summer 2014. Right now I’m working on a big handful of various novels – supernatural, realistic, middle grade…all across the board. One is about what might happen if the world literally went to hell. I’m still working out the mythology for that one.

What are some of your favorite books we should all be reading?

I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately…I highly recommend “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver on that front. For the supernatural fans out there, you have to read Lisa McMann’s “Cryer’s Cross.” Loved that. The old YA horror novels by John Bellairs are still among my favorite (like “The Mummy, The Will, and the Crypt”), as is the “Redwall” series by Brian Jacques. One of my all-time favorites is the audiobook version of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.

CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK! 🙂