Winter and Spring are duking it out here in the Mid Atlantic region. We were in t-shirts a few days ago, and yesterday we had snow flurries. Somehow, the flowers that sprang up last week aren’t dead yet. It certainly isn’t due to my care, because I have always been indifferent to gardening and yard work. As a home owner in a community that cares about such things, there is a base level of effort I need to exert (raking leaves, weeding, etc), but the only time I go beyond that is when my mother comes to visit.
I couldn’t participate in the full week-long festival this year, but Tuesday I took a quick trip up to NYC to read from This Broken Wondrous World and speak on a panel at WORD Bookstore in Jersey City with David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, Sarvenaz Tash, Heidi Heilig, Lance Rubin, and Allen Zadoff.
Of all my books, This Broken Wondrous World has been the most challenging to find a good passage to read at events. Perhaps because it’s a sequel. There are a fair number of things I have to catch the reader up on, some of which might be spoilers for the first book. Or perhaps it’s challenging to find a passage because of the plot structure, which starts off at a gentle pace, which is not an ideal way to grab potential readers. It gradually speeds up until the last third of the book is a screaming sprint, but picking something near the end is even more problematic. So every time I read from this book, I pick a different passage. Still haven’t found the right one.
David moderated the discussion portion, and he always does a great job of asking informed, thoughtful questions. He was kind enough to ask me about Mary Shelley, so away I went (with an admirable amount of restraint, I promise). He also had an excellent strategy to get the audience asking questions as well: bribery. Anyone who asked a question got a free book. All in all, it was an excellent event.
I threatened that NYCTAF was to be my last YA event, but it turns out I’ll be at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in May. It’s a great festival. Everything is outdoors under massive tents, and there’s something there for everyone. I sometimes drag the boys to events, but they’re not quite ready for YA, so most of the time, they’re bored. But when I took them to the Gaithersburg Festival, they got to meet three of their favorite authors: Tom Angleberger, Jon Scieszka, and George O’Connor. Tom and George even gave them some original art, which was very kind of them.
I’ve tried explaining to the boys that most children don’t have original artwork just given to them by the artist. They also don’t get books shipped directly to them from bestselling authors for free, or have booksellers pull a stack of advanced review copies for them as a “get well soon” gift when they break their arm. But I don’t think the boys fully appreciate what they have. I’m sure they will some day. Perhaps when they actually have to start buying their own books.
Oh, and for those if you not local, or those missed it, here is the video for our lasted Shut Up & Write event:
Hopefully it looks okay. I can’t stand watching videos of myself, so I haven't actually seen it.
It occurs to me that I haven’t recommended a comic in my newsletter yet, which is surprising, because I read a lot of comics. Since I was just at a bookstore in Jersey City, how about Jersey City’s own superhero, Ms. Marvel.
You can pick up a collected volume in trade paperback, or of course read single issues like me. Either way, Ms. Marvel has been my favorite super hero book currently on the shelf for over a year now. She is the first muslim superhero, she’s from a non-cool part of the greater New York City area, and she is a total nerd. So we’re a long way from the blond, blue-eyed, Brooklyn-born alpha male vision of the original Captain America. She is young, enthusiastic, whip-smart, and as authentic as any teen in a YA novel. The first time I picked up an issue, it gave me the same feeling I had as a boy when I read those old Spider-Man comics, back before Peter Parker was married and damaged and jaded as hell. Ms. Marvel doesn’t shy away from discussions on race, culture, or religion, but it doesn’t preach or soapbox on any of it either. She’s trying to understand what it means to be a teen muslim girl growing up in America today. While, you know, punching bad guys. But even the bad guys in this book are unconventional. For example, in one story line she fights Hydra as they try to take over Jersey City through the insidious evil of gentrification.
In my first newsletter, I gave my top ten list of music artists for 2015. At the top was Grimes, aka Claire Boucher. Apparently Boucher has started her own music label/artist collective called Eerie Organization, where she champions emerging artists. The first one she’s supporting is Nicole Dollanganger, who has a moody, haunting sound that reminds me a little of old pop goth bands. Apparently, her new single “Chapel” was was just featured on The Walking Dead. In case you, like me, are one of the few people who don’t watch that show, it’s a great song:
So anyway, I just turned in revisions for Bane and Shadow (yay!). Time to catch up on all the smaller projects and business stuff while trying not to fret about what my editor will think of this new draft.
Until next time,