School/Author Visits/the Glories of Q & A/Fake Blind Bank Robbers

Yesterday I did my first school visits in Sydney.1 I went to Willoughby Girls High and Ravenswood Girls School on the North Shore.2 I was dreading it as I always am when I have to speak in front of people I don’t know. Why can’t I stay home and write?! Waaah! I hate public speaking! I hate school visits! Etc.

But then, as always, I got to Willoughby Girls High and everyone was lovely, especially the school librarian, and my talk on how Team Human went from idea to finished book didn’t seem to put anyone to sleep. Not even the teachers.3 I didn’t faint or vomit or drop my water or show the wrong images and best of all the question and answer portion of proceedings went exceedingly well.

I love Q & A.4 That’s the part where I get to hear what other people are thinking. I know what I think. I spend all day listening to my thoughts. I rarely get to hear what schools girls on the North Shore are thinking and interested in. Willoughby Girls High Years 8 and 9 did not disappoint asking many smart questions.5 I think we were all disappointed when the bell went that we couldn’t keep on asking and answering questions for a few more hours. Though that might be because their next class was maths.6

In fact, yesterday’s talk was inspired by questions I’d been asked at previous such talks. People outside publishing are always bewildered by how long it takes for a book to go from sold to a publisher to being in the bookshops. I’m frequently asked how long it takes me to write a book, and how I made my books’ covers. So I took them through the whole process. And I even brought some cover elves along to demonstrate how a cover is made. They went over a treat.

Afterwards me and the librarians and some of the teachers were talking about how we’d never had author visits back when we were in school and how lucky these kids were. Back in the day we hadn’t even been aware that people who wrote books were alive. Much less someone you could meet and ask question of.

Then on the way home I remembered that I had in fact had an author come to my school. I was stunned I’d forgotten about it because it was totally scarifying. In a good way. When I was in Year 10 at the Australian International Independent School7 there were two boys in our class who were on the verge of getting into serious trouble. They were at the minor breaking of the law stage. But they had started to steal cars and go for joy rides. Our teacher decided to scare them straight by getting the author of the book that the movie Hoodwink was based on to come in and talk about life as a prisoner.8

This guy was the leanest, hardest looking bloke I’d ever seen. He walked into that room and we all went quiet and we were a noisy lot. He told his story. That he’d been a bank robber, that he’d gotten caught and been sent to prison. Loads of time. He said being sent inside was not an occupational hazard but an occupational certainty. He didn’t know any bank robbers who weren’t done eventually. He’d gotten early release by pretending to go blind and fooling everyone including eye specialists. He had a bit of a grin on his face describing it. It’s an amazing story and we were amazed.

He talked in great detail about how awful it is in gaol. How it breaks you and hardens you. He spared us no details. He talked about how the young blokes were always raped. You could feel the air go out of the room when he said that. When we got to the Q and A part he went out of his way to deglamorise every aspect of his outlaw life. What living in hiding is like. How you make almost no money from being a bank robber. And even when you do get a big haul and get away with it you get busted as soon as you spend it. Etc.

I raised my hand to ask what it was like in women’s prisons. Surely that wasn’t as bad as the men’s? No, he said, it’s much, much worse and went into detail about just how awful it was.

I don’t know about the two boys at risk but that author visit certainly scared me into total law abidingness.

In conclusion: Don’t rob banks! Read books! Author/school visits are educational and fun and sometimes scary! Ask questions!

Did any of you have an author visit that has had a big impact on you?

  1. Actually, they were my first visits as an author to any school in Australia. That’s because for the duration of my writing career I have mostly been in Australia during the summer when schools are not in session. []
  2. Or as we inner city types think of it Here Be Dragons. []
  3. True fact. I have seen teachers nod off during these things. Yes, while I was talking. []
  4. So much that every Monday I find myself watching the ABC’s Q and A and yelling at the television set and swearing that I will never watch that damn show again. And yet there I am the following Monday yelling at the tellie. []
  5. Unfortunately, I got the timing wrong at Ravenswood and there was no time for Q and A. :-( My bad. []
  6. Seriously, high school students everywhere, maths will be really useful later on and if you’re like me and paid no attention whatsoever and are a maths moron you will be lost at tax time and understanding stuff like royalties and other number related things that are important to you and oh, how you will regret your decision that maths was stupid lo those many years ago. /lecture []
  7. A hippy school at North Ryde that was all about internationalism and peace studies. It was excellent. But full of kids who’d been chucked out of other schools or were gently asked to leave. *cough* []
  8. I have done some limited googling and failed to find the name of the book or the author that the film was based on. If you know please to tell me! []

The Audience of Leviathan

I recently tweeted a really interesting review of Leviathan by Tansy Rayner Roberts. It’s my favourite review so far partly because she puts into words something Scott and I have been noticing:

I find it interesting that so many people are talking about this as the latest Scott Westerfeld novel without really acknowledging that this is such a departure from his more recent work. I would not be surprised if some of the audience for the Uglies and Midnighters and Peeps books (at least the teenagers) were less interested in this new series, even as Leviathan draws in an entirely new generation of readers. It’s always interesting to see an author whose work you admire move on to pastures new.

Note: she’s NOT saying that teens aren’t reading Leviathan, she’s just saying that some of the teen fans of Scott’s other YA books will be less interested in the new series. But that a whole new audience will be.

This is exactly what we’ve been finding. Especially amongst the hardcore Uglies fans. Many of whom won’t read any of Scott’s books other than the Uglies books. Here’s a conversation Scott had at almost every stop on his recent tour:

Fan: OMG! I love the Uglies books SO MUCH. You are my favourite writer in the entire world! *hands Scott multiple editions of every Uglies book to be signed plus extra copies to be signed for friends*
Scott: Thank you! So many Uglies books. Amazing!
Fan: When will you be writing a new book? I can’t wait for the next one!
Scott: Well, I’m on tour for a new book. *points to giant stack of Leviathan*
Fan: *looks at Scott blankly*
Scott: Leviathan is my new book.
Fan: Um, when will there be a new Uglies book?

Now, Scott has plenty of fans who read every single book he writes. There are even a few who’ve tracked down his very first publications: kids books about Watergate and the Berlin Airlift. And a few more who are proud owners of Scott’s choose-your-own-adventure Powerpuff Girl books. However, there are a substantial group who are not Westerfans per se, but fans of only one of his series.1 Especially when it comes to the Uglies books.

Now, this is not at all uncommon. There are plenty of Dorothy Dunnett fanatics who only read her Lymond books and have zero interest in the others, Scalzi fans who only like the Old Mans War books, McCaffrey fans who ditto the Pern books and so on. I myself am a Georgette Heyer fan who only likes her regency romances. I won’t touch her straight historicals or detective fiction with a barge pole. So I totally get it.

It is, in fact, a small percentage of readers who will follow a prolific and diverse writer throughout their career and read all their books. This is true even for writers like Stephen King. Plenty of his readers read only the novels and ignore the short stories and non-fiction.

I frequently describe myself as a huge Margeret Mahy and Diana Wynne Jones fan. Yet I have not read all their books. Most, but not all. There are fans and then there are fans.

What’s been so interesting about Leviathan is that it seems like the same percentage of Uglies fans that didn’t pick up Midnighters or the three New York books2 are also not picking up Leviathan. The difference is that a whole bunch of folks who never really heard of Scott before are picking it up in their place. Leviathan really does seem to have brought Scott a whole new audience.

Broadly, we’re noticing way more boy readers than before and a much wider age spread: from eight year olds up through eighty year olds. Scott toured with Sarah Rees Brennnan, Robin Wasserman, Holly Black and Cassie Clare. At pretty much every event, boyfriends of these other authors’ fans, who had come along in a suffering kind of way, saw Scott’s presentation and wound up buying Leviathan, stunned that something could possibly interest them at such an event. Leviathan has also drawn in two specific groups who’ve had little interest in Scott’s books previously:

  • Steampunk fans
  • History buffs

Obviously there’s a big overlap between those two groups. But it’s been fascinating to watch the audience of his tour events change. Scott’s always had people coming along dressed up like Tally or Shay or other characters from his books, but this tour he had people showing up in full on steampunk garb. Fabulous. So far pretty much all the steampunkers are dressing in a generic steampunk way. I’m hoping that will change for his 2010 tour. I can’t wait to see the first person showing up dressed like Derryn or Alek.

Now before any of you jump into the comments and say “I’m a bloke! I love military history and steampunk and I’ve ALWAYS read Scott’s books!” I’m not saying you don’t exist, I’m just saying that before Leviathan you were only a teeny tiny slice of Scott’s audience. Now, you’ve got lots more company. Enjoy! We sure are.

  1. There are adult readers who’ve only read The Risen Empire and have no intention of ever touching that smelly YA stuff. []
  2. So Yesterday, Peeps & The Last Days. All three books are set in the same world, by the way. It’s just that Hunter (of So Yesterday) is totally unaware of all the vampires running around. See how the world of products and advertising distracts you from what’s really important? Let that be a lesson for you. []

NCTE Events + Public Event in Philadelphia

I’m in Philadelphia at the National Council of Teachers of English convention. Such larks!

If you’re here you can find me in the following places today:

    Saturday, November 21st

    10:00-10:45AM
    Signing at Andersons (booth #544)

    2:00-3:00PM
    Signing at the Bloomsbury (booth #609-611)

    4:15-5:30PM
    “Authors’ Blogs: Connections, Collaboration, and Creativity”
    with chair Denise Johnson, Laurie Halse Anderson,
    Maureen Johnson, me, Barbara O’Connor, and Lisa Yee
    Room 103A, Street Level

If you’re in Philly but not at NCTE I have one public event. Just me and some of the most famous writers of YA in the universe:

    Sunday 22 November 2009, 1:00-3:00PM
    A NOVEL IDEA:
    A benefit for the
    Philadelphia Free Library
    summer reading program
    Laurie Halse Anderson, Jay Asher,
    T.A. Barron, Sarah Dessen,
    Steven Kluger, Justine Larbalestier,
    David Levithan, Lauren Myracle,
    Scott Westerfeld, Jacqueline Woodson
    Children’s Book World
    17 Haverford Station Road
    Haverford, PA

Hope to see some of you there!

Last Night’s Event

The event at Books of Wonder with Libba Bray, Kristin Cashore, Suzanne Collins, me and Scott last night was astonishing. Several people said they thought there were around 200 people there. I could not possibly guess from where I was sitting, but it did indeed appear to be many.

Here’s my bad fuzzy photo of the many:

It was pretty overwhelming to be on the bill with such popular writers, especially Suzanne Collins. For those who don’t know, her two most recent novels, Hunger Games and Catching Fire are currently, and have been for some time, numbers one and two on The New York Times bestsellers list, selling bajillions of copies a week. The Books of Wonder appearance was organised around Suzanne because it was her only signing for Catching Fire. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that Peter Glassman (the owner of BoW) thought to ask me to take part. Here’s Suzanne in action (with Libba Bray listening carefully):

I’d never met Suzanne before. She’s lovely, smart and gently funny. She, me and Libba had a fun conversation about the joys (meeting wonderful teens, booksellers, librarians) and travails (food poisoning) of touring. She’s also extraordinarily generous, giving up a big chunk of her presentation to talk in detail about how much she’d loved Liar, Fire,1 Leviathan and Going Bovine. Thank you, Suzanne.

I’d never met Kristin either and she also turned out to be lovely. I don’t know what it is about the YA world but almost all the authors I’ve met have been fabulous.2 It’s such a wonderful community to be part of.

It was only overwhelming at first then it quickly became relaxing. For most of my tour, I’ve done solo events with all the attention on me, but last night I could sit back and watch how other YA authors answer questions about how they come up with names, where they get their ideas, and which characters they like best.

Suzanne and Kristin were both so thoughtful and smart, providing little glimpses into how they work. They both have detailed maps of the imaginary worlds they’ve created. It sounds like Kristin’s world encompasses gazillions of countries and large swathes of time. Very Tolkienesque. Libba Bray remains one of the funniest people on the planet and I don’t just say that because she’s a dear friend of mine. As does Scott.3 Last night’s event made me want to stick to doing events with other people. Not just because it’s more fun for me, but also because it felt like the audience gets more out of it too.

What do you think?

One event I’m dying to do is me and Libba talking about unreliable narrators. For those of you who haven’t read Going Bovine you really should. We wrote Liar and Going Bovine at the same time and commented on each other’s early drafts. I can’t tell you how deeply eerie it was to discover we were both writing unreliable narrators and how many resemblances there were between our books even while they were also extremely different. Going Bovine is hysterically funny; Liar not so much. I think our two books work amazingly well side by side. Turns out I am not the only one to notice this.

Maybe some time next year we’ll be able to talk about our books, their unreliability, and how hard they were to write side by side. Fingers crossed!

  1. As Kristin said, “Look! Our books rhyme!” []
  2. Another contributing factor to why I never want to write for the grown ups: I’d have to hang out with the cranky adult literature authors. Ewww. []
  3. Yes, I know he’s my husband but he truly is hilarious. []

Tour Almost Over + Gorgeous Art

Today (yesterday) I had my last school events of the Liar tour at Joliet West High School and Glenbard South High School in the outer suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. The students at both schools were amazing and asked many smart, engaged, funny questions. It was a total pleasure to meet you all. Thank you.

In other news Cristina Hernadez posted her midterm project for her painting class on her blog and I was so impressed I asked if I could share it with you here. Remember, Cristina? She’s the one who photoshopped a very disturbing version of Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett.

Here’s her midterm painting:

Wow, huh? Cristina also had to write an essay about the painting and I couldn’t help laughing when she wrote this:

Honestly, the hardest part of the project was the ESSAY. I mean, I think I finally understand** why authors moan so much about the “where do you get your ideas” “how did you came up with X idea” kind of question. Because it IS hard to answer!

That’s exactly it. So much easier to write a novel then to explain where it came from. I’ve spent the last few weeks explaining where Liar came from. And honestly? It was mostly bunkum. I don’t really know where it came from. It just is. I can talk to you all day long about the process of writing with lots of singing the praises of Scrivener but ideas? Ideas are magic. No one knows where they come from.

Don’t forget to check out Scott’s NaNo tip!

Chicago Events

Don’t forget to look out for Scott’s NaNo tip today.

And here’s where I’ll be in Chicago today and tomorrow:

Tues, 3 November, 7:00PM
B&N Skokie
55 Old Orchard Center

Skokie, IL

Wednesday, 4 November, 7:00PM
Anderson’s Bookshop
5112 Main St

Downers Grove, IL

Same deal: if all who turn up have read Liar then I will tell you what really happens at the end.

Hope to see some of you there!

Jigsaws & Novels

In the last few weeks I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the writing of Liar and making much use of jigsaws as a metaphor to describe said writing. Turns out that Margaret Drabble has also been thinking long and hard about jigsaw puzzles—longer and harder than me, truth be told—1 and has written a whole book on the subject: The Pattern In The Carpet, which I am now longing to read.

You all need to listen to this interview with Margaret Drabble about her personal history with jigsaws. Romana Koval is one of my favourite interviewers and the whole thing is utterly delightful from start to finish. Though Drabble does maintain that there are no similarities between jigsaws and novels. Thus she rather handily demolishes the whole premise of my presentation about the writing of Liar. Thank you very much, Dame Margaret.

She’s wrong about that, okay?

And if you’re in Philadelphia I will explain to you in detail why she is wrong on Thursday night:

Thursday, 29 October, 7:00 pm
Blue Marble
551 Carpenter Ln

Philadelphia, PA

Now go listen to the Dame being witty and (mostly) wise.

In other news the Austin Teen Book Festival was truly wondrous and I’ll explain to you in detail why at some point in the future when my brain is fully functional.

For those asking about all those posts I promised to write way back when:

    a) I have written the post responding to Sarah Rees Brennan’s wonderful post on people’s tendency to judge female characters more harshly,

    b) the rest of those posts are still brewing but they will appear here before too long,

    c) the Srivener and Liar post is getting closer to postability. Talking about writing Liar with Scrivener in the past few weeks has changed the shape of the post somewhat,

    d) It’s astonishing how hard it is to blog on tour what with the variable connectivity and the extreme fatigue,

    e) I’ll still take requests but may not fulfill them until tour is over.

Lovely to meet so many of you over the past few weeks. I look forward to meeting Philly and Chicago peeps and answering all your questions. Maybe I’ll finally get an audience who have all read Liar and thus be able to tell you the true ending. Fingers crossed!

.

  1. Though can truth be told when I’m discussing Liar? []

Goodbye Portland, Hello Austin!

I now say a fond farewell to the peoples of the Pacific North West. Goodbye Seattle and Portland! What gorgeous cities you are. My timing was perfect: all the leaves were gold, red, maroon, pink, orange and brown. Spectacularly gorgeous. Also mostly the weather was crisp and clear. Only two raining days. Well done, Pacific North West.

My favourite part was getting to meet so many of the people who comment on this blog such as Pixelfish, Saints and Spinners, AndrewN, and the people I met last night whose names I’ve forgotten because my brain is fried. So sorry! And meeting Lizzy-wa and Captain Cockatiel again after two years.

The most amazing thing happened last night at the Clackamas Town Ctr Mall Barnes & Noble. One girl in the audience, Michelle, was asking me lots and lots of questions. She’d read the first 20 pages of Liar and was really into it. She stayed behind to ask more questions. It emerged that she could not afford a copy of her own. I suggested borrowing it from the library and others there were able to name good ones nearby, which is when Adrienne, another lovely person who came to the event, stepped in and bought Michelle a copy.

Can you believe it? Michelle was stunned. So was I, frankly. I declare Adrienne the World’s Best Book Fairy. Thank you, Adrienne!

Shortly I head to the airport to get on the plane to Austin where tomorrow I will be part of the very first Austin Teen Book Festival:

Saturday, 24 October, 10:00 am -5:00 pm
Austin Teen Book Festival
Westlake High School
4100 Westbank Drive
Austin, TX

I’m dead honoured to have been asked to be part of it. Go check out the stellar lineup. Why, yes, that is Libba Bray, the world’s funniest human being doing the keynote address. I can’t wait.

Later!

P.S. The rumour that I do impersonations of my husband during my events is completely not true.

Using My Power (Such That It Is) For Good

So far on my tour I have persuaded people who attended my events to read Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith,1 to try their hand at writing novels, that kangaroos deliver the mail in Australia, that if only they were good I would reveal the true ending of Liar and that procrastination is good for you.

I have eaten ribs, sushi, power bars, beef jerky, salads, steak, eggs, not enough fruit.

I have signed books, business cards, scrap books, casts, receipts, Leviathan and a plastic doll.

I have answered no email,2 read no blogs, or newspapers. I have zero idea what is going on in the real world. If there’s anything important I’ve missed maybe you could let me know in the comments?

In short, I am having a fabulous time.

Today I’ll be here:

Wednesday, 21 October, 7:00 pm
Barnes & Noble
19401 Alderwood Mall Parkway

Lynnwood, WA

Tomorrow I’ll be here:

Thursday, 22 October, 4:00 pm
A Children’s Place
4807 NE Fremont St

Portland, OR

Thursday, 22 October, 7:00 pm
Barnes & Noble
12000 SE 82nd Avenue

Portland, OR 97266

Go read, Flygirl! Or A Wish After Midnight!

That is all.

  1. As well as many other novels. []
  2. Have barely had time to read any. []

Written from the Road

You know what I wonder about authors on tour?1

I wonder if they ever get sick of talking about themselves.

I mean, I know that authors are frequently the world’s most self-obsessed human beings, but even so gabbing about yourself all day long gets really really old. I think that’s why I like the Q & A sections of my events best. Because I get to hear what other people are thinking.

I had a wonderful event at a middle school in Seattle today. Small and intimate with about 15 girls and I was able to ask them questions and hear about their writing processes. It was my favourite part of the whole day.2

Because I am sick of myself I’d like youse lot to tell me something cool about yourselves.

Thank you!

Sleep now for tomorrow I must be up at the crack of dawn.

  1. You don’t wonder? Well, I’m going to tell you anyways. So there. []
  2. And today’s was a day when I got to meet Q, who is my favourite women’s basketball blogger. So it was a very good day. []

Seattle, Portland, Austin

Today I fly to Seattle, which could not possibly be as cold and wet as it is here in New York City. Surely not?

Here are my public events in Seattle:

Monday, 19 October, 4:00 pm
Mukilteo Public Library
4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd.
Mukilteo, WA

Monday, 19 October, 7:00 pm
UWash Bookstore
4326 University Way N.E.
Seattle, WA

Tuesday, 20 October, 7:00 pm
Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA

Wednesday, 21 October, 7:00 pm
Barnes & Noble
19401 Alderwood Mall Parkway

Lynnwood, WA

That’s right, you Seattleites get four opportunities to listen to me blather on about Liar and answer any and all of your questions. I suspect Seattle is where I will finally tell the truth of what happens at the end of Liar. I know I’ve said I’d do it before but every single time someone in the audience begged me not to spoil the book for them.

Then I’m off to Portland where you can find me here:

Thursday, 22 October, 4:00 pm
A Children’s Place
4807 NE Fremont St

Portland, Oregon

or here:

Thursday, 22 October, 7:00 pm
Barnes & Noble
12000 SE 82nd Avenue

Portland, OR 97266

And then next Saturday if you happen to be in or around Austin you get to see not just me but also folks like Libba Bray, Varian Johnson and Margo Rabb:

Saturday, 24 October, 10:00 am -5:00 pm
Austin Teen Book Festival
Westlake High School
4100 Westbank Drive
Austin, TX

It will be an action-packed, amazing day. I cannot wait. I’m also thinking of starting a blood feud with another YA author. Maureen Johnson tells me they are lots of fun. Problem is that all the authors at the Teen Book Festival are so lovely. It’s very hard to feud with nice.

Hope to see/meet at least some of you!

What I’m Doing This Friday

I’ll be here:

Friday, 16 October, 7:00 pm:
Voracious Reader
1997 Palmer Ave

Larchmont, NY

It’s a very short train ride from Grand Central so if you’re in NYC and wish to hear me be witty and wise you can do so! It’s even closer if you’re in Westchester County and thereabouts, (which you would probably know if you were in Westchester County or thereabouts).

I’ll be talking about Liar, writing and life, and answering all your questions. In fact, I have decided that this will be the event where I tell the true ending of Liar. So if you don’t attend you will never know! Though I did say I would reveal all in Memphis and Nashville yet I didn’t. But I’m quite sure this time will be different.

In other news if you are anywhere near Memphis I left behind giant piles of signed books here:

Davis-Kidd Booksellers
387 Perkins Ext

Memphis, TN

So if you want my name scribbled on your copy of Liar. This is the place to go. I swear I signed about a million of them. I also signed several How To Ditch Your Fairy and Magic or Madness trilogy paperbacks.

In other news, I’ll be in Seattle and Porland next week. Details are here.

I cannot wait to meet you all!

Nashville Today

This is where I’ll be today in Nashville, Tennessee:

Saturday, 10 October, 2:00-3:00 pm
Southern Festival of Books
Talk in Room 16
Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN

Followed by signing
3:00-4:00 pm
War Memorial Plaza
Between 6th & 7th Avenues.
Nashville, TN

For those who’ve been asking, I’m happy to sign whatever books you want me to sign. I don’t even have to have written them. If you can’t make the official signing I’m happy to sign whenever you see me. Though, obviously, not in the middle of my talk. Because that would be weird.

The talk will be about Liar. I will, of course, tell everyone what the real ending is. So if you don’t make it you’ll never know . . .

I’ve really enjoyed my whirlwind trip to Memphis & Nashville. As usual I wish I’d had a chance to see more. Lots more! Though I count myself blessed to have gone to Graceland. That’s the first time I’ve done any sightseeing on tour. And what sights I did see! Why, yes, there will be a whole Graceland post.

Hope to see some of you later today!

Memphis Rocks

Yesterday was lovely. First up there was the flight from NYC. Well, okay, that was not lovely. Flying in the US rarely is. Ridiculously long security lines, having my luggage searched yet again and all my carefully packed to prevent wrinkling event clothes trashed, etc. However, I sat next to a book cover designer and we had a long goss about the industry and the flight arrived on time. So, really, it went better than usual.

Fist event of the tour was an interview with the fabulous Justine magazine. Yes, there’s a magazine named after me.1 We talked books, writing, and Elvis. Hey, I’m in Memphis, you know. It is the land of Elvis.

Next was the event at Davis-Kidd Booksellers.2 It was a small crowd but they were full of good questions and incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about YA. I had a blast rattling off my various theories about Flowers in the Attic, Wuthering Heights, Elvis’s mother’s middle name, Australia’s gravitational pull and why all YA writers know each. Yes, me and Stephenie Meyer and Philip Pullman and Cassandra Clare are all best friends!

After the event we went to Rendezvous BBQ, which many people say is the best barbeque joint in Memphis, some say in all of the United States. I am not really in a good position to judge because I have not had a lot of bbq in my life but it was definitely the best bbq this Australian girl has ever had. I would live there if I could. Oh, and those of you who follow Maureen Johnson’s twitter feed she was totally lying about only eating a bit of bbq sauce on a spoon. Rendezvous has a veggie plate: meatless beans and rice, coleslaw, cheese and pickles. It looked really good. And MJ ate her fill.

And now we’re heading off to Graceland where we have VIP tour tickets waiting for us courtesy of Jana of Justine Magazine. Am I excited? Put it this way: only MJ is keeping me from hyperventilating.

In short: I LOVE MEMPHIS.

  1. They thought about calling it Larbalestier but were worried people wouldn’t be able to spell it. []
  2. Once were Joseph-Beth. []

Written While Packing

I’ve received a lot of mail this week. Most of it asking the same question: “Could you tell me what really happens at the end of Liar?”

I have already answered that questions on the Liar FAQ. But I’ll answer it again: No, I won’t tell you what really happens. You have to figure it out for yourself. You can do so in some excellent company over here.

There are other questions about Liar I totally will answer. But only if you ask them over here.

I’m also being asked about the Liar tour:

Details can be found here.

Scott and me are only doing one event together and it’s in New York City at the beginning of November and also includes the likes of Libba Bray and Suzanne Collins.

There’s a rumour that Maureen Johnson may be live tweeting my event in Memphis tomorrow. If you have a twitter account maybe you should start following her. If you’re not already, which I assume you are.

Almost done with my packing. Should I take the cowboy boots? Or are they a bit much for Tennessee?

LIAR Tour Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow I will be in Memphis, Tennessee. I’m ridiculously excited about this. Not least because I’ve never been there before. I’ve always wanted to see Graceland. My kind publishers have allowed space in my program so that I may do so. Woo hoo!

Here is tomorrow’s event:

Thursday, 8 October, 6:00 pm:
Davis-Kidd Booksellers
387 Perkins Ext

Memphis, TN

Then on Saturday I’m in Nashville at the Southern Festival of Books. Nashville’s another city I’ve never been to before. Actually, I’ve never been anywhere in Tennessee before. I have high hopes for the barbeque. Here’s my Saturday schedule:

Saturday, 10 October, 2:00-3:00 pm
Southern Festival of Books
Talk in Room 16
Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN

Followed by signing
3:00-4:00 pm
War Memorial Plaza
Between 6th & 7th Avenues.
Nashville, TN

If you’re can’t make the signing I’m happy to sign for you at any time. All you have to do is ask.

I can’t wait to meet the Tennessee contingent of blog readers.

Okay, I guess I should start thinking about packing now . . . What’s the weather like there?

Liar Tour

I now have almost all the dates and times for the US Liar tour. For the first time ever I’ll be doing some tour stops in the South and the Northwest. In fact, my only repeat visits are to Austin, Philadelphia and, of course, NYC.1

But first I must apologise. Profusely. Despite what I said earlier, I will not be visiting Phoenix. I’m very disappointed. Phoenix was one of the first cities mentioned for this tour and the Bloomsbury publicists did every thing they could to make it happen. But alas. If it was down to me I’d spend a week in Phoenix visiting every school and library that has ever asked me to appear. Sadly I do not get to choose where I go. So I won’t get to meet the locals who faithfully follow this blog and have done so for years. Or the lovely librarians. I won’t get to talk about the Phoenix Mercury with youse all in person. Or eat at all the wonderful restaurants people have been recommending. I am deeply bummed.

I should never have mentioned any possible tour stops until they were absolutely confirmed. That’s my lesson learned. I’m so sorry to get hopes up with my dumb mistake.

On the bright side, there’s a tour addition: I’ll be going to Chicago, which is another city where I’ve never done an appearance before and another city with really good food.2

Okay, enough of my rabbiting on, here is my 2009 tour schedule:

US Liar Tour

Thursday, 8 October, 7:00 pm:
Joseph Beth Bookstore
387 Perkins Ext

Memphis, TN

Saturday, 10 October, 2:00-3:00 pm
Southern Festival of Books
Talk in Room 16
Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN
Followed by signing
3-4 pm
War Memorial Plaza
Between 6th & 7th Avenues.
Nashville, TN

Friday, 16 October, 7:00 pm:
Voracious Reader
1997 Palmer Ave

Larchmont, NY

Monday, 19 October, 4:00 pm
Mukilteo Public Library
4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd.
Mukilteo, WA

Monday, 19 October, 7:00 pm
UWash Bookstore
4326 University Way N.E.
Seattle, Washington

Tuesday, 20 October, 7:00 pm
Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA

Wednesday, 21 October, 7:00 pm
Barnes & Noble
19401 Alderwood Mall Parkway

Lynnwood, WA

Thursday, 22 October, 4:00 pm
A Children’s Place
4807 NE Fremont St

Portland, OR

Thursday, 22 October, 7:00 pm
Barnes & Noble
12000 SE 82nd Avenue

Portland, OR 97266

Saturday, 24 October, 10:00 am -5:00 pm
Austin Teen Book Festival
Westlake High School
4100 Westbank Drive
Austin, TX

Thursday, 29 October, TBD
Children’s Book World
17 Haverford Station Rd
Haverford, PA

Thursday, 29 October, 7:00 pm
Blue Marble
551 Carpenter Ln

Philadelphia, PA

Wednesday, 4 November, TBD
Anderson’s Bookshop
123 W Jefferson Ave
Naperville, IL

Thursday, 5 November, 7:00 pm
B&N Skokie
55 Old Orchard Center

Skokie, IL

Tuesday, 10 November, 5:00-7:00 pm
Books of Wonder
18 W. 18th St.

New York, NY

Yes, there will be school appearances as well but as those events are not public I cannot announce them here. I’m really excited about this tour and hope I get to meet some of you.

xox

Justine

  1. I mean, I live here half the year, I’ll always do appearances in NYC. []
  2. Yes, I think with my stomach. []

Events, I does them

In addition to my Melbourne Writers Festival events—first one is tomorrow with Scott and Isobelle Carmody *squee*—soon I’ll be off on my second US tour. Pretty, exciting, eh?

I just added a few events to the appearances page. So far I have events confirmed (or close to) for Phoenix, Nashville, Memphis, Austin, Seattle, Portland and New York City. I’m especially excited about those first three cities as I’ve never been to any of them before.

Also: Memphis = Gracelands = Justine hyperventilating. For those of who don’t know, yes, I am a daggy Elvis fan. Goes back to when I was very little.

There will be at least one or two more cities on my tour. I’ll let you know which ones as soon as I know. Here’s hoping it’s your city.

Just so you know, I don’t pick where I go. The wonderful publicists at Bloomsbury make those decisions and it largely depends on which book shops, libraries and schools want me to come to talk to them. It could be that I’m not going to your town because no one there asked my publisher to send me. So get mad at your local book shops, schools and libraries, not at me!1

What will I be doing on tour? Talking about Liar, how I came to write it, my thoughts on lying, and the many other things that shaped the book. I’m also happy to talk about my earlier books, especially How To Ditch Your Fairy which comes out in its brand new shiny paperback edition at the same time as Liar debuts in hardcover. In fact, I’ll talk about whatever you want me to talk about. Last year, at one school event all they did was ask me about food. Oh, and to tell them vomit stories. I live to answer your questions.

Here’s hoping I’ll get to meet some more of you over the next few days and months. It’s my favourite part of touring.

  1. Kidding! Book shops, schools and libraries never do anything wrong. []

Boys Reading (updated)

Update with warning: Do not post spam here about your boy-friendly book. I am deleting all such comments.

One of the most gratifying aspects of meeting people who’ve read How To Ditch Your Fairy since it came out last September (in the USA) is the number of boys who’ve turned out to be fans of the book. I will admit that given the title and the cover I was expecting an almost non-existent boy readership. I’ve been told a million times that boys won’t touch a pink book and that HTDYF is irredeemably pink. So I’ve been dead chuffed by the boy fans.

While on tour for the book last year many parents asked me if they thought my book would work for their son. I was able to confidently tell them about other boys who’ve liked it. But really I can’t speak for all boys. (Or for all girls.) It depends on what kind of stories your son likes.

During a panel I did recently (at either TLA this year or NCTE last year)1 we panellists were begged by a school librarian to write books for boys. Specifically funny ones with boy protags that have no sex in them. (How To Ditch Your Fairy manages two out of three.) Now I had several thoughts in response to this request:

    1) I’ve never written a book to someone else’s specifications in my life and I’m not about to start now. I don’t even write them to my own specifications. My novels just go where they go.

    2) There are heaps of books like that already in existence and I don’t just mean the Wimpy Kid books.

    3) Why is there so much panic about boys reading? And such a strong conviction that boys will only read boy books?

I also get the feeling that we worry about “boy books” and “girl books” way too much. I talked with several twelve year old boys, who did not feel that their masculinity had been undermined in any way by reading How To Ditch Your Fairy. And, yes, I talked to several who wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole even after I assured them there were explosions in it.

I think there are way more boys reading then get counted as reading. On tour I met many boys who read and not just novels. I met boys who love manga and anime who told me they didn’t read because they thought only novels counted. Boys who read non-fiction by the truckload told me they didn’t read because they thought only novels counted. Boys who read manuals and catalogues ditto.

Why do so many boys have the idea that none of those count as reading?

Does anyone else wonder if the panic about boys reading novels may be one of the contributing factor to boys not reading novels?

I am a passionate reader of novels but I do not thing they are the be all and all of the reading experience. Why do we keep trying to insist that they are?

I have no answers to any of these questions. Do any of you?

Update: I have shut off comments because too many people were attempting to spam comments with advertisements for their books. Don’t do that.

  1. Sorry I has very poor memory. []

Margo Lanagan and me

Will be chatting tomorrow night at Kinokuniya here in sunny Sydney. We will say many wise and excellent things. If you are within a 500k radius you cannot miss this! Margo is genius! I can do a passable imitation of a genius!1

Here are details:

5 March 2009, 6:00PM
Me and Margo Lanagan in conversation
Books Kinokuniya
Level 2, The Galeries Victoria
500 George St
Sydney NSW

I will have MANY How To Ditch Your Fairy bookmarks. How can you resist such excellent enticements?

See you all tomorrow!

  1. Sort of. []

The rumours are true

So, this is very weird but I’ve had three people write to ask if it’s true that I changed hotels in Perth in order to watch the South Africa v Australia test.

Yes, it’s true. The Duxton did not have Fox 3, the Hyatt did. What else could I have done?

Perth Writers Festival Thus Far

I shall be brief for the internets is expensive and wobbly.

Organisation: superlative. The PWF crew know that authors are a hapless lot and they have kept us on course and on time. Why, I have not gotten lost or been late for a single event. Bless them all!

I have met too many wonderful writers to name them all but I particularly enjoyed meeting Barry Jonsberg and his wife Nita who love the cricket as much as I do. There was much discussion of the South Africa v Australia and West Indies v England tests that are currently unfolding.

For the first time in my career I wound up talking to under twelve year olds as opposed to over twelve year olds, which was dead interesting. I was asked many questions that I’ve never been asked before. Also my jokes that knock ‘em dead when they’re a bit older did not always fly with the younger set. Fortunately, they laughed at many jokes that hitherto only I have found funny. It made me really want to write a book that skews even younger than How To Ditch Your Fairy. It will involve quokka.

Thanks to everyone who came out to see me. Thanks for the great questions and comments and stories of your fairies and curses. I especially loved the girl who has a sunshine fairy.

And now (for me) it is over and I wend my way back home. Later!

How hotels should be

In the last few years I have spent way more time in hotels of every kind than I ever though I would. This has led me to the realisation that there are four essential items for a hotel to be acceptable:

  • Free fast wireless
  • Windows that open
  • Good food—especially breakfast
  • Decent bed and bedding. (I.e. something you can sleep on without waking up feeling broken and which is also clean.)

You’d be amazed how many hotels can’t manage any of these. It fills my heart with sadness.

What are your bare minimums for a hotel?

In a dancing kind of mood

Everything today was wonderful. Just everything. Especially my book launch. Thank you, all! Especially Lili and Jodie for your blush-making speeches, and Readings in Carlton for hosting, and all my wonderful friends for coming along to cheer HTDYF‘s official appearance in Australia. And all the people I don’t even know. Bless!

Thanks to everyone who’s written after my Melbourne events. I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to reply. Hopefully on my return to Sydney but more likely when I’m in NYC. But I just wanted to let you all know that I SO appreciate your wonderful letters. And, no, being a good speller is not necessary if you want to be a writer. Though it’s not a bad thing either!

For those who were asking, HTDYF should now be available in book shops far and wide across this fair land. And if they don’t have it—demand to know why not! Or alternatively buy Simmone Howell’s Everything Beautiful which rocks.

I leave you with this Alien Onion post on parallel importation, which links to many profound, beautiful, and smart submissions on publishing in Australia. You should especially read Tim Winton’s piece.

And now I will dance towards bed.

Tomorrow = Perth.

Another lovely event + worst oscar dress (updated)

The event at North Melbourne library was fabulous. Lots of excellent quessies and best of all I got to tell a vomit story. Thank you for asking, Aimee! And thank you so much for organising the event. Was lovely to chat with such knowledgeable YA readers. Yes, Twilight was discussed.

So, the Oscars. What do we think was the worst dress? Please to include link to it. I’m still spluttering over Miley Cryus’s explosion.

And what did we think of Our Hugh Jackman’s effort? No expletives please!

Update: I am very much enjoying all your comments here and on the romcom/vomcom thread. I agree with those below who love Queen Latifah and Marisa Tomei‘s dresses. Not entirely sure about the colour of the Tomei dress, and I’d have preferred it to have two straps, but the structure is awesome. For those of your criticising Tilda Swinton: stop immediately! She can do no wrong. And, yes, Sarah Jessica Parker‘s dress was a mistake. Looks like her boobs are about to explode, which would be VERY painful.

First event of Aussie tour completed!

W00t! Just back from chatting with Simmone Howell at the State Library of Victoria in front of a fabulous audience of students, teachers and librarians. It were good. I met two of my blog readers: Joey & Tez! Thank you for the note, Tez! Lovely to meet you both!

A whole bunch of genius writers also showed up to support us: Kate Constable, Karen Healy, Melina Marchetta,1 Kirsty Murray, and Penni Russon. Not to mention Sarah Tran and the Centre for Youth Literature who organised the event, also Lili Wilkinson who introduced us most eloquently.

I think the event went well. It was a little bit tricky because I am a blabbermouth and the fabulous Simmone Howell is not. Thus I had to work very hard not to eat up all her talking time. But I think I managed. I hope I managed. Mental note: MUST LET OTHER PEOPLE SPEAK.

I especially enjoyed hearing Simmone talking about going to a private school after she was asked to leave her public school. I wish she’d talked a bit more about that. I find other people’s miserable school days fascinating especially if they have a secret bogan past.

The audience was attentive and laughed at all the right places as well asking most excellent questions. If this is what typical Aussies audiences are like I think I’m going to have a blast on this tour.

In other news there’s some very very good advice from Cory Doctorow about how to be productive writing despite the dread distractions of teh interwebs. Particularly this bit:

Realtime communications tools are deadly. The biggest impediment to concentration is your computer’s ecosystem of interruption technologies: IM, email alerts, RSS alerts, Skype rings, etc. Anything that requires you to wait for a response, even subconsciously, occupies your attention. Anything that leaps up on your screen to announce something new, occupies your attention. The more you can train your friends and family to use email, message boards, and similar technologies that allow you to save up your conversation for planned sessions instead of demanding your attention right now helps you carve out your 20 minutes. By all means, schedule a chat—voice, text, or video—when it’s needed, but leaving your IM running is like sitting down to work after hanging a giant “DISTRACT ME” sign over your desk, one that shines brightly enough to be seen by the entire world.

Must disable IM. Must do it immediately.

How about that? One blog post but two resolutions. Wish me luck!

  1. We got to applaud her Prinz win. Yay! []

Why are vomit stories the funniest stories of all?

Tonight me and Scott hung out with two fabulous writers, Tessa Kum and Rjurik Davidson, and the conversation turned to vomit, as it is so often does when writers gather. We told many awesomely disgusting stories. There was much laughter. I would share the stories with you except that I happen to know of two regular readers of this blog who would kill me if I did so. That is how strong their aversion is to vomit and stories about said substance.1

Which is something they don’t have in common with this one group of students I wound up talking to on tour last year in Ohio.2 But for some reason I was left alone to entertain about forty or fifty seventh or eighth graders. So, naturally, I told vomit stories. And they loved them, which only encouraged me to come up with more stories. In the end they were demanding that I pen a collection of said stories.

I should do it. Truly, market it to that demographic, and every writer I know, and it would be a license to print money. Maybe I should suggest it to my agent?

Maybe I shall ask Simmone Howell for her favourite vomit stories tomorrow at our event at Victoria’s State Library . . .

  1. I don’t get it. Vomit is the funniest stuff in the world. There is nothing better than a good vomit story. []
  2. Sadly, my memory can no longer tell me what city it was, let alone what school. []

Off to Melbourne

My mini How To Ditch Your Fairy tour of Australia (well of Melbourne, Perth, Sydney) begins on Sunday. I can’t believe it’s so soon! How did that happen?

To prepare yourself here’s an article about Sunday’s gig which features an interview with the fabulous Simmone Howell. I just finished her latest, Everything Beautiful, last night. It’s astonishingly good. I don’t even like realism and I LOVED this book. Go read it immediately.

Also Allen & Unwin have created a How To Ditch Your Fairy site. This is a first for me. A publisher creating a whole site devoted to one of my books! I may faint. Have I mentioned that I love my Aussie publisher?

And wait till you see the new US cover of HTDYF. Best. Cover. Ever.

For those of you in Melbourne here’s where you’ll find me:

Sunday, 22 Feb 2009, 2:00PM – 3:30PM
Me and Simmone Howell in conversation + cake
State Library of Victoria—Conference Centre
328 Swanston Street
(Entrance 3 on La Trobe Street)
Melbourne, Victoria
Go here to book

Monday, 23 Feb, 2009, 6.00PM
Talk & signing
North Melbourne Library
66 Errol St
North Melbourne, VIC

Tuesday, 24 Feb 2009, 6:30PM
Australian launch of How To Ditch Your Fairy
Readings Carlton
309 Lygon St
Carlton, Victoria

Hope to see some of you there. I’ll be the one eating a mangosteen and discoursing on the merits of Elvis’ 1968 comeback special.

What larks we shall have!

Melbourne, Perth, Sydney—I am everywhere!

I am now doing three appearances in Melbourne. How lucky am I?

    22 Feb 2009, 2:00PM – 3:30PM
    Me and Simmone Howell in conversation + cake
    State Library of Victoria—Conference Centre
    328 Swanston Street
    (Entrance 3 on La Trobe Street)
    Melbourne, Victoria
    Go here to book

    23 Feb, 2009, 6.00PM
    Talk & signing
    North Melbourne Library
    66 Errol St
    North Melbourne, VIC

    24 Feb 2009, 6:30PM
    Australian launch of How To Ditch Your Fairy
    Readings Carlton
    309 Lygon St
    Carlton, Victoria

The new one is the talk at North Melbourne Library.

Then I’ll be in Perth for the writer’s festival. My tentative schedule is:

    28 Feb, 2:00PM
    PWF Main Program
    Fingers on the Pulse
    University Club Theatre
    Perth Writers’ Festival Precinct
    University of Western Australia
    35 Stirling Highway
    Crawley WA 6009

    * 1 hour session. Young adult fiction authors Tristan Bancks, Barry Jonsberg, and Justine Larbalestier have their fingers on the pulse1 of teenage interest. They discuss how they stay relevant for their younger audiences. Chair: Sarah Knight.

    Sun 1 Mar 10.20am PWF Family Day
    How to Ditch Your Fairy
    Kids Tent
    Perth Writers’ Festival Precinct
    University of Western Australia
    35 Stirling Highway
    Crawley WA 6009

    *30 minute session for kids aged 9 – 12

    1.00pm PWF Family Day
    Justine Larbalestier: Writing Workshop
    Fox Theatre
    Perth Writers’ Festival Precinct
    University of Western Australia
    35 Stirling Highway
    Crawley WA 6009

    *1 hour workshop for kids age 10 -12. How to Ditch Your Fairy author Justine Larbalestier shares the tips of the trade for writing fiction.

Then last, but absolutey not least, my one Sydney appearance open to the public:

How cool is that? Me and Margo nattering for your listening pleasure. How could you miss it?

  1. *cough* []

HTDYF in Australia

How To Ditch Your Fairy will be published in its shiny new paperback Australian edition next month.

So. Very. Soon.

If you go over to the Allen & Unwin Alien Onion blog you’ll see what it looks like.

And guess what? I’ll be doing a wee bit of a mini Oz book tour. I’m dead excited.

Two of my events are in Melbourne, including the actual book launch:

    22 Feb 2009, 2:00PM – 3:30PM
    Me and Simmone Howell in conversation + cake
    State Library of Victoria – Conference Centre
    328 Swanston Street
    (Entrance 3 on La Trobe Street)
    Melbourne, Victoria
    Go here to book

    24 Feb 2009, 6:30PM
    Australian launch of How To Ditch Your Fairy
    My book will be introduced by the lovely Lili Wilkinson!
    Readings Carlton
    309 Lygon St,
    Carlton, Victoria

Please to come out and see me, oh lovely Melbourne peoples. Bring your friends! Bring your friends’ friends!

Then I’ll be at the Perth Writer’s festival. Not sure of my exact schedule yet, but will post as soon as I know it. I haven’t been to Perth in an age so it will be fun to catch up with my sandgroper friends. Here’s the dates I’ll be there, if not my actual schedule:

There may also be a Sydney event in March, but nothing definite yet. Fingers crossed. I would hate to slight my home town.

Can’t wait to see some of you out and about in the real world.

Last day of 2008 (updated)

Yup, it’s my annual what-I-did-this-year skiting post. I write these mostly for myself so I can easily keep track. Hence the last day of the year category. Thus you are absolutely free to skip it.1

This year was exceptional. I’m still pinching myself. My first Bloomsbury USA book, How To Ditch Your Fairy, was published and seems to be doing well. I was sent on my first book tour, which was fabulous. It’s insane how much fun I had and how many fabulous schools, book shops and libraries I visited in California, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Thank you to everyone who came to see me while I was on the road. It was a blast getting to meet you all! I loved hearing what fairies you all have!

Now this is going to sound like the acknowledgments page but bear with me cause I thanked my fabulous editor, Melanie Cecka in print, but not the wonderful publicity and sales and marketing folks because, well, I didn’t know them back then. Deb Shapiro is the best and funniest publicist I’ve ever worked with, Beth Eller is a genius of marketing, and all the sales reps who’ve been flogging the fairy book mercilessly across the USA are too fabulous for words. Extra special thanks to Anne Hellman, Kevin Peters, and Melissa Weisberg.

HTDYF also sold (along with the liar book) to Allen & Unwin in Australia. This is a huge deal because it’s the first time I’ve had a multi-book deal in Australia and A&U publishes many of the best writers in Australia, including Margo Lanagan, Garth Nix, Penni Russon and Lili Wilkinson. My editor and publisher, Jodie Webster, is a joy to work with. So’s Sarah Tran and Erica Wagner and Hilary Reynolds and everyone else on the Alien Onion team. Bless!

Both Bloomsbury and A&U seem even more excited about the liar book than they were about HTDYF. Which is a huge relief to me because, um, it is not the most obvious follow-up to the fairy book. Older, darker, scarier, completely different. Stuff like that. Here’s hoping that not too long into the new year I’ll be sharing the title, the cover, a sneak preview, and other such fabulous things.

The fairy book also sold in Germany to Bertelsmann, who published the Magic or Madness trilogy there and gave it the best covers ever. It was awesome getting to meet the two Suzannes: Krebs and Stark in Bologna. Thank you for believing in my book so strongly that you bought it when it was still in manuscript. I still can’t quite believe it.

Speaking of the trilogy it sold in Indonesia to PT Gramedia and in Korea to Chungeorahm Publishing, which means it’s now published in ten different countries and eight different languages. All of it Whitney Lee’s doing. It’s astonishing to me how well the trilogy is doing more than three years after first publication. Fingers crossed that will continue.

I also had two short stories published. A rarity for me. My last short story was published back in 2004. These two were the first I’d written since then. Short stories are not my thing. They’re so much harder to write than a novel. ““Pashin’ or The Worst Kiss Ever” appeared in First Kiss (Then Tell): A Collection of True Lip-Locked Moments edited by Cylin Busby and was universally declared to be the grossest story ever. “Thinner Than Water” is in Love is Hell edited by Farrin Jacobs. I’m proud of them both for very different reasons. But don’t expect any more. Writing short stories hurt my brain.

Last year I was wise and only aimed to write one novel in 2008. Just as well because that’s all I did this year no stories, no articles, nothing else. I wrote the liar book and began the 1930s book. It’s very clear that I’m a one-book-a-year girl.

I also mentioned in that one-year-ago post that I had three sekrit projects. The first is no longer a secret: the Zombie Versus Unicorn anthology that I’m editing with Holly Black, which marks the first time I’ve edited original fiction. Am I excited? Why, yes, I am. It will be out from Simon & Schuster in 2010 and we’ll be announcing our insanely excellent line up of authors in the new year. Truly, you will die at how great our writers are.

One of the other sekrit projects morphed into a solo project (the 1930s book) and I’m still hoping that the last of the sekrit projects will go ahead some time next year. Here’s looking at you co-conspirator of my last remaining sekrit project! You know who you are.

Next year will be taken up with writing the 1930s book and editing the Zombie v Unicorn antho. The 1930s book is the biggest most ambitious book I’ve tried to write since my very first novel set in ancient Cambodia. I’m loving the researching and writing. Immersing myself in another era is the most fun ever! I think my next ten books will all be set in the 1930s.

My 2009 publications. This is a WAY shorter list than last year:

    Update: Possibly September: paperback of How To Ditch Your Fairy

    September: the liar novel for Bloomsbury USA.

    October: the liar novel for Allen & Unwin.

Yup, just the one two novels from me and one a reprint. Sorry! You should also get hold of Cassandra Clare’s City of Glass when it comes out. It’s the final book of the City of Bones trilogy and the best of the three. I read it in one sitting on my computer.2 Then later in the year there’s Robin Wasserman’s sequel to Skinned. You know you want it! Yet another book I read in one go. Also on my computer. Think how much better it will be between actual covers.

Then there’s the three YA debuts I’ve been talking about by Peterfreund, Rees Brennan and Ryan. If you read no other books in 2009 make sure you read those three. I’m also dying to read the sequel to Kathleen Duey’s Skin Hunger, which was my favourite book of 2007.

Last, but not least, the old man has his first novel in two years, Leviathan, coming out in September. Fully illustrated by the fabulous artist Keith Thompson and better than anything else Scott’s ever written. I’m so proud of him and of this book. You’ll all love it. Seriously, it’s worth the price just for the endpapers!

I travelled way too much this year. Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the UK, France, Canada, all over the USA, and home to Australia. Again. Looks like the same for next year. I have no idea what to do about that. I guess when you try to live in two different countries at the same time that’s the price. Oh, and lots and lots of offsets. We try to be good.

This is where I usually say that I think the coming year’s going to be fabulous. But this year I’m not sure. The economic news back in the United States has been dire. Friends have lost their jobs, their editor, their imprint. It’s scary in publishing right now and it’s even scarier in many other industries. I really hope good governance in the USA will make a difference world wide. But I just don’t know. I had great hopes for the Rudd government and here he is botching the fight against climate change and trying to put up a filter for the internet in Australia. Ridiculous. Surely Obama’s government will not be so stupid.

Here’s hoping 2009 will see a return to sanity all around the world, but especially here in Australia.

Happy new year!

  1. I would if I were you. []
  2. Actually I was lying in bed. Whatever. []

The efficacy of book tours

I know some people are getting up in arms about Kevin Baker’s article in the Village Voice on book tours and sundry other matters but I think he makes some good points. For instance this bit:

For the likes of Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, for the writers of certain detective fictions, romances, teenage-vampire series, pet horoscopes, Star Wars novelizations, dog-buddy stories, celebrity memoirs, novels that have recipes in them, and other peculiar genres, the book tour is indeed a triumphal, rock-star road trip, complete with lines out the door and readers dressed up in costumes. For the rest of us, for those of us who just write, the book tour can be a lonely, disorienting experience, one that will tempt you to do any manner of ill-advised things.

Leaving aside the snotty implication that there are real writers and not real writers—it’s definitely true that book tours work much better for some genres than for others. Writers of YA and children’s books have a much better time of it because even if the book shop events are sparsely populated the school visits never are. Every time I had an event with five or less people,1 the next day I’d spend talking about books and writing with a few hundred keen students bursting with excellent questions.

For the writers of that endangered genre of adult literary fiction there are no school visits—from what I’ve heard it’s book shops or nothing. No matter how many times you told yourself it was building your career, a tour of nothing but tiny audiences, or no audience at all, would get very depressing.

I have a friend who writes in that genre. On one of her tours, when her latest book was on the New York Times bestseller list, she had several events where no one turned up. Not a soul. This boggles my mind. On Scott’s tour the lowest turn out was maybe forty. All the YA bestsellers I know who tour get crowds. Which makes me agree with Mr Baker that perhaps book tours just don’t suit his rarified genre. For some reason teenager readers will turn out while adult litfic readers won’t.

I wonder why? Do the readers of his genre dislike going to events at book shops? Do the writers of his genre insist on doing readings? Which really are—except for the most gifted readers—the most boring way of interacting with a book-loving crowd. In my experience of attending and doing book shop events, punters are much more interested in hearing writers talk about how they came to write the book they’re promoting, than hearing a chunk of it read out loud. They prefer to hear us tell stories rather than read them.

I read a lot of publishing blogs. It strikes me often that those who write and publish the litfic genre are way more depressed than those of us in other genres. Readership seems to be way down and they suffer from a conviction that their genre is the only important genre thus this loss of a “serious” readership strike them as a sign of end times. Maybe that’s another reason they have less successful book tours? They’re too depressed and thus too depressing.2

I don’t think the success of a tour is entirely about genre though. All the writers who tour well have had more than one successful book whether they’re Libba Bray, Ian McEwen, or Nora Roberts. They have a body of work that’s attracted a big readership. If Stephen King had toured for Carrie I’m guessing the turn out would not have been that impressive. One big book does not a fan base make. Several big books do.

So, yeah, the book tours which draw big crowds are all tours of big-selling, popular authors, who’d probably sell a lot of books whether they went on tour or not. It may be that single-author book tours are an outmoded way of promoting less well-known books and authors. Maybe it would work better to send a bunch of authors out together, especially if they know each other. Some of the most fun events I’ve seen have been like that.

Or maybe as Mr Baker suggests there are better, less soul-destroying, more innovative ways to get the word out about an author. I’ve been very interested in the various book trailers and so on. I have no idea how effective they are. I’m yet to buy a book on the basis of a trailer.

Seems to me that the tried-and-true method of getting large numbers of ARCs to influential people is still best. If they love it and start talking then bingo! you’ve got most excellent word of mouth. Which remains the most effective way to sell books, no matter what your genre. I mean isn’t a book tour just an expensive manner of trying to get word of mouth going? Isn’t that what all promotion of anything tries to do?

Now if only there were a little shop in Schenectady that sold “word of mouth” as well as “ideas” . . .

  1. Though truth be told some of the small events were the best of the tour cause they were made up of die-hard MorM or HTDYF fans or readers of this blog who had excellently curly questions. []
  2. Okay, my tongue’s a wee bit in my cheek on this one. []

BookPeople questions we ran out of time to answer

Our BookPeople event was run like the Actor’s Studio. There was a moderator, Emily, who asked us questions written down earlier by the audience. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and couldn’t answer them all. So here are our answers to the ones we didn’t get to that night.

Be warned: there are some spoilers for Scott’s Uglies books.

Questions for Justine:

Q: Will there be any more books about New Avalon?

A: I don’t plan to write any. Of the next two books I will publish, one is already written—the Liar book—and the other one—set in NYC in the 1930s is under way. If I did get an idea for another book set in New Avalon (where How To Ditch Your Fairy is set) it wouldn’t come out until 2011 at the earliest.

Q: Do schools like New Avalon Sports High really exist?

There are all sports high schools around the world. But I hope they’re not quite as strict as NA Sports High. I didn’t base it on any particular high school. Though I was influence by a doco I saw about girls training to be gymnasts at the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport). I was shocked at the long hours these young girls were training and at how strict their coaches were. Yet they seemed to love it. I remember one girl being asked how she could love such a tough training regime. She looked at the journo asking her the question as if they were crazy: “Are you kidding? I get to go to the Olympics!”

A: Is all the slang a mix of US & Australian or is some of it made up?

I made up the majority the slang, mostly by playing with my thesaurus. Thesauruses are fun! My favourite is “pulchy” for cute or good-looking. I’ve always thought “pulchritudinous” was the most hilarious word ever because it sounds so ugly yet it mean beautiful.

Questions for Scott:

Q: Did Tally and David get together at the end of Extras?

A: It is up to you, the reader, to decide.

Q: Why did you k*** Z***?

A: One of the dumb things Hollywood does is show us wars in which only extras and minor characters get killed. But in real life, everyone is the star of their own movie. So in real wars, everyone who’s killed is someone important—not just an extra or a bit player.

So once I realized that Specials was about a war, I felt it would be dishonest for only minor characters to get killed. Someone important to Tally had to die, and Zane was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Q: How did you find all the thirteen-letter words to use?

A: At first I found them “by hand.” Whenever I ran into a long word I counted the letters, writing it down if it had thirteen letters. But after a while I developed a strange superpower, the ability to spot
tridecalogisms by sight. Then my sister-in-law bought me a crossword dictionary that listed words by length, which was cool. Then finally I found a website that was designed to find words you didn’t know who to spell. I typed in thirteen question marks, and it generated a giant list! (I can’t remember the site name now . . . )

Questions for both Justine and Scott:

Q: Are you friends with any other authors?

Justine: Yes. Loads and loads of them. It’s fabulous. We read each other’s mss. critique them bounce ideas off one another. I’m very lucky.

Scott: We also write at least once a week with several authors: Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman, E. Lockhart, Cassandra Clare, Lauren McLaughlin, are the ones who most often show up.

Q: Is there any news on a movie?

Justine: While there’s been some interest in turning How To Ditch Your Fairy into a movie nothing has come of it so far. Trust me, if there’s any news on this front I will sing it from the rooftops. Though I think the Fairy book would make a better TV series than a movie.

Scott: The Uglies movie is still waiting for a script, as far as I know. I think Hollywood doesn’t know how to make a movie about, you know, ugly people.

Peeps is with an independent producer and screenwriter, and So Yesterday is being looked at. More news on that soon (probably).

But no auditions yet!

Q: When brainstorming ideas for your next book do you come up with multiple ideas? How do you choose the one to push forward with?

Justine: I pretty much always have a number of novel ideas to play with. I tend to talk about them with Scott and my agent, Jill, as well as my editor, Melanie, and a few writer friends. I’ve been talking about writing a book about a compulsive liar for ages. Whenever I mentioned it people would get very enthusiastic. I was too afraid to start though cause it seemed like it would be really hard to write (I was right) so I delayed until Scott and Jill and Melanie all ganged up on me.

I guess I let people bully me!

Though honestly all the bullying in the world wouldn’t have gotten me going if I hadn’t finally figured out a way to write the Liar book. So I guess my real answer is that the book that begins to grow and make sense is the one I wind up writing.

Scott: I usually have one idea that I really want to do most. I don’t come to that conclusion by any conscious way; it simply bubbles up in the back of my head as the most interesting idea. I think this ability comes from having written, like, 18 books—I’ve tried lots of ideas, and so am getting better at telling the more productive ones from the boring ones.

Q: Do you have any advice for young writers?

Justine: Loads! You can find some here, here and here. Though all my advice applies to beginning writers of all ages. In a nutshell my advice boils down to:

  • Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get published. Learning to write well is the main thing. If you try to publish before you’re ready you can wind up very discouraged. While you’re learning o write you should have fun with it. Try different styles, different genres, mess about, get your hands dirty!
  • Read A LOT. Read and read and read and read! Think about what books you like best and try to figure out what it is about the writing that works for you. Then give it a go. Think about what books you hated and try to figure out why the writing was such a disaster. Don’t write like that.
  • Write a lot.
  • Learn how to critique other people’s work.
  • Learn how to take criticism. If you want to be a professional writer you’re going to have to learn to take criticism and the sooner you start practicing the better!

Scott: Here’s the “writing advice” category from my blog, including some advice from guest blogger Robin Wasserman: Writing Advice.

Q: Which is your favourite cover?

Justine: I’m assuming you mean of one of my books. I’ve been very lucky I like every single one of my covers. But I think my absolute favourite is the one Cat Sparks did for Daughters of Earth.

Scott: Probably Extras. The fun part was that I got to work on it from the beginning, from choosing the model to picking the final shot.

The full story can be found here.

Q: Why are most of your protagonists girls?

Justine: Er, um. I don’t actually know. It was not by design. The first novel I wrote has multiple viewpoint characters many of whom are boys. My second novel is first person from the point of view of a boy. However, neither of those books sold. My first published novels (the Magic or Madness trilogy) has three view point characters two of whom are girls. And then How To Ditch Your Fairy is first person from the viewpoint of a girl. So far the books I’ve written with more girl characters are the ones my publishers have wanted. We’ll see if that pattern continues.

I don’t really consciously decide to make my main characters girls or boys. Nor do I consciously make them black or white. That’s just the way they are. Once I start getting a sense of their voice I’m learning at the exact same time all those other things about them: their race, gender, ethnicity, opinion of Elvis etc. Hope that makes sense!

Scott: I’ve had a mix of male and female protagonists. So Yesterday and Peeps were both from the point of view of boys, and The Last Days and Midnighters were from both male and female POVs. But I guess more people have read Uglies so Tally has left the strongest impression. Since that series is about the pressures of beauty and looks, I figured that a female protag would make more sense. Certainly, boys do worry about the way they look. But overall, girls are under a lot more pressure to freak out over every zit and extra pound.

Though, as I say in Bogus to Bubbly, I actually did try to write Extras from Hiro’s point of view. But the interesting stuff kept happening to Aya, so I moved her to center stage. I still don’t know exactly how it worked out that way.

Fun was had at BookPeople

Last night’s event in Austin went splendidly. The folks at BookPeople—Mandy, Topher and Emily were wonderful hosts. Emily mc’d brilliantly and we were asked lots of very smart questions. Many we’d never been asked before. I really like the Actor’s Studio format, which meant there was no awkward oh-noes-there-will-be-no-questions-tonight moments. It was a lot of fun to do an event with Scott again which we haven’t in ages.

And then there was this:

<br />

Rebecca’s superb anti-uni***n T-shirt. Doesn’t she look fabulous? She made me one too! Thank you, Rebecca, it fits perfectly. I’ll be wearing it here at NCTE.

Texas is always so good to me.

North American HTDYF tour winds up (Oz tour begins?)

In just a few days I’ll be back on the road—to Texas—winding up the HTDYF tour. I’ll also be promoting Love is Hell, answering all your questions, finding out what everyone’s fairy is, and converting those who need converting to the glorious ways of zombies.

Tomorrow I’ll be doing an appearance right here in Manhattan with many fantabulous authors. I did my very first YA author appearance at Books of Wonder. Way back in the olden days with Eoin Colfer and Scott. It was incredible. Peter Glassman (Books of Wonder’s proprietor) has been very good to me and Scott in the ensuing years. It’s always a pleasure to do a Books of Wonder event:

    Saturday, 15 November, 12:00PM-2:00PM
    with William Boniface, P.W. Catanese,
    Suzanne Collins, Joanne Dahme,
    Daniel Kirk, Dean Lorey, Amanda Marrone,
    Ketaki Shriram and Robin Wasserman
    Books of Wonder
    18 West 18th Street
    New York, NY

Do please join us! Also if you attend would you do me the favour of asking every author there to declare their allegiance on the zombies versus uni***n front? We have a right to know!

Then next Wednesday I will be in Austin, Texas, city of amazing food and people and music. Yum! This is my only event of the How To Ditch Your Fairy tour that includes Scott. I think we shall have fun. Not least because BookPeople is one of my fave bookshops in the entire US of A:

    Wednesday, 19 November 2008, 7:30PM
    With Scott Westerfeld
    BookPeople
    603 N. Lamar
    Austin, Texas

And then my last event of the tour will be in gorgeous San Antonio. Land of great boots and wondrous food:

    Thursday, 20 November 2008, 7:00PM
    Barnes & Noble
    San Antonio, Texas

And thus will end my HTDYF tour.

Or will it?

Stay tuned those of you who live in Sydney and Melbourne and possibly even Perth. There’s a very good chance that in February and March I will be doing a few events at home for my fabulous Australian publisher, Allen & Unwin. Actually the Melbourne event is not a possibility anymore—it’s an actuality! More info as I gets it.

Really looking forward to meeting some more of you in the next few days and weeks! Zombie power!

Money, writers don’t have none, Part the millionth

I keep coming across wannabe writers who believe that writing is an easy way to make heaps of money. Nope.1 Your odds of being paid good money to write novels year after year are vanishingly small. Most published writers aren’t.

I cannot emphasise this enough: If you don’t love writing don’t try to get published.

Let’s get specific:

While on tour I was asked how much money I make. Since I’d done my taxes not long before I was in a position to say exactly how much I made in the US financial year of 2007:2 $29K. And that’s gross.3

It’s also the most money I’ve ever made from writing. But there’s no guarantee I’ll have as big a year this year or next or the year after that.

Twenty-nine thousand dollars doesn’t put me in the top percentage of earners in the US or at home. But it does put me up the top for writers. Like I said, most published writers don’t earn enough money to make a living. They’re lucky to make $5k a year from their writing. That’s why most published writers have other jobs.

Writing is an insanely tenuous profession. Even when you’re published there’s no guarantee that every bookshop will stock your books. I’ve had chains skip various books of mine. But even if every bookshop in the universe has your books on the shelves there’s no guarantee anyone’s going to buy them.

Every single day the vast majority of people are busily not buying my books.

That’s a writer’s life right there.

Forget about the latest six or seven figure deal some debut novelist scored. They’re the exceptions, a teeny tiny fraction of all writers. Odds are that those highly paid debutantes won’t earn out. The reporting about their huge deal may well be both the first and last reporting about their publishing career. They won’t be alone in not earning out: lots of writers don’t.

Did I mention you have to really love writing to be in this game?

Just as well I do, eh?

  1. On both counts but I’ll focuss on the money today. []
  2. Note to Oz readers—their financial years are calendar years. []
  3. In both meanings of the word! []

I was wrong

Until recently I had little respect for acting. My line was that all actors have to do is say words written for them by someone else and prance about making believe. Plus the few actors I’d met had been, um, how do I put this? Not the smartest people in the world. (Not all of them! Not, you!) But most of them.

However, going on tour has changed my opinion. TOTALLY.

Basically what I did for the last two weeks in Michigan, Ohio, and then Kansas City, Missouri was get up and perform in front of audiences ranging from 5 to 200. And I did it between two and six times a day.

It was shockingly hard. Astonishingly so. One of the most exhausting things I’ve ever done. Why did no one warn me?!

Yet I did was play myself. Talk about my books, answer questions. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? I can’t imagine what it’s like getting up night after night on stage pretending to be someone else. Or doing it take after take in front of cameras.

My tour gave me a glimpse of how hard acting must be.

Don’t get me wrong: touring was heaps of fun. I now also have a glimmer of understanding of why people want to be actors. The energy you get from an engaged audience is amazing. I can see how it could get addictive.

So there you have it. I was wrong. I take it all back. Acting is hard. I sure couldn’t do it.

Justine’s Last Gig

Scott here again. We return to NYC tomorrow after another week of grueling gruelling travel and energizing energising visits with schools, librarians, and booksellers. And readers!

Thanks so much to everyone who came to the events. It was great to meet you, see your faces, and hear your awesome questions. Justine had a fantastic time. (And I couldn’t be more proud of her.)

In less than an hour, we’ll be heading off to the last gig until mid-November, when the Texas tour begins. Until then, hope to see you at

Kansas City Library
Thursday, 9 October 2008, 7:00PM
4801 Main Street
Kansas City, MO

And that’s it from me! Justine will be returning soon to her regularly scheduled blogging.

Scalzi was right

Scalzi’s law that the cheaper the hotel the better the wifi is 100% correct. I write this on my iPhone in a four star that has no wifi in the rooms. Night before last in the crappy motel we had the best wifi of the trip and it was free. What gives?

Many tales of the tour to come. Tonight I am in Dayton. Hope to see a few of you there. Check appearances for details.

Off to various parts of Ohio and Kansas City, Missouri

No rest for the wicked: Today I head to Ohio for the third leg of the How To Ditch Your Fairy tour. I’m dead excited and not least because I’ve already had several lovely letters from students I’ll be seeing over the next week. I can’t wait to meet you in person!

Other than lots of fabulous school visits, I’ll be doing the following public appearances in various parts of Ohio as well as Kansas City in Missouri:

    Monday, 6 October 2008, 7:00PM
    Joseph-Beth Bookstore
    2692 Madison Road
    Cincinnati, OH

    Tuesday, 7 October 2008, 4:15-5:00PM
    Scheduled stock signing
    Fundamentals
    25 W Winter Street
    Delaware, OH

    6:00-7:30PM:
    Cover to Cover
    3560 North High Street
    Columbus, OH

    Wednesday, 8 October 2008, 7:00PM
    Books & Co
    Books & Co at The Greene
    4453 Walnut Street
    Dayton, OH

    Thursday, 9 October 2008, 7:00PM
    Kansas City Library
    4801 Main Street
    Kansas City, MO

I hope to see some of you gorgeous blog readers there. One of the nicest parts of this tour has been meeting some of the lurkers and commenters who hang out here. Bless you all! (Once the tour is over I hope to have some actual content again.)

Don’t forget about the HTDYF contest. You know you want that shopping fairy!

NOTE: I am now approximately five thousand years behind with email. I have no idea if I’m ever going to catch up so I may just delete it all. (Except for the fan mail—I will answer all fanmail. Could take a while, but.) If you’ve sent me anything urgent please send again in about a week’s time. Sorry!

I wish

There was a way to do a book tour that didn’t involve having to get into a car . . .

This is my day of rest in between Michigan and Ohio/Kansas City. I plan to sleep till Sunday. Well, I will do that right after I go and see what Hollywood has done to Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s fabulous Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. My fingers are crossed for fabulosity.

You (what live where it is showing) should all go see it too. Who knows? If Nick and Norah does well there might be even more adaptations of YA novels. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

A Few More Fairies + Michigan week

Time for some more YA celebrity fairies:

Lili Wilkinson is an insanely talented Australian YA writer, who is yet to be published in the US. But just you wait, it will happen any minute now. I wish I had her fairy:

My fairy would be a Getting Things Done fairy, although it often likes to take a holiday when your Procrastination fairy comes visiting. I’m pretty happy with that fairy, although I wouldn’t say no to a Keeping Things Clean fairy . . .

Melina Marchetta, best-known at home for Looking for Alibrandi and here in the US for Saving Franchesca, which I adore, wanted a retroactive fairy:

The one I wish I had when I was teaching was a Marking Fairy who would mark exam papers.

Coe Booth wrote the fabulous Tyrell, which deservedly won gazillions of prizes. I cannot wait to read her new one, Kendra. I would definitely like the fairy she wants:

Unfortunately, I’ve been saddled with the Sweet Tooth Fairy. She renders me incapable of saying no to such goodies as candy, cupcakes and ice cream—ever! I wish I had the Speed Reading Fairy, one that would let me quickly read yet still savor all the books that are currently on my ever-growing to-read list. Of course speed reading while eating ice cream, now that would be the best of both worlds!!!

Lastly, Meg Cabot, who needs no introduction because she’s, like, totally famous, not to mention being awesomeness personified:1

Honestly I don’t think I have a fairy unless it’s a fairy that makes you bump into things and lose your money with no idea where it went, but I think your fairies are nice ones, not mean ones, so I guess I would like to pick a fairy I wish I had: I wish I had a fairy who would help me find the perfect outfit every time I went shopping like Ro’s stylist fairy! Because whenever I go shopping I can never find anything that goes together. I NEED a shopping fairy like Ro’s! She’s so lucky. I wish I lived in New Avalon. It sounds like the perfect place.

Everyone wants Ro’s clothes shopping fairy. I know I do and at yesterday’s event it was by far the most requested fairy.

A fairy that makes you bump into things and lose money is not a fairy, it is a curse. Best avoided. I was going to include curses in HTDYF but it was too complicated and would have made the book twice the size. I once knew this guy who had a restaurant curse. He was invisible to wait staff even when he had a red mohawk. When they finally saw him they always get his order wrong. It’s bizarre.

I digress.

You can find other fairies here. Feel free to keep sharing yours over here or in the comments to this post, or on your own blog, or wherever you want.

Please to find my touring schedule for this week:

How To Ditch Your Fairy Tour 2008: Part the Second: Michigan

Tuesday, 30 September 2008, 7:00PM
Schuler Books & Music
3165 Alpine Ave
Walker, MI

Wednesday, 1 October 2008, 4:00PM
Pooh’s Corner
Breton Village
1886 1/2 Breton Rd. S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI

Thursday, 2 October 2008, 7:00PM
With Kathe Koja and Michael Spradlin
Oak Park Public Library
14200 Oak Park Boulevard
Oak Park, MI

I’m especially looking forward to that last event. I much prefer doing events with other writers. Also I’m really excited about meeting Kathe Koja. I’ve been a Koja fan since her debut, The Cipher, back in 1991.

There will also be a tonne of school appearances. Some of them at the very crack of dawn. I would like to issue a disclaimer: I am not a morning person. Seriously, I’m really really really not a morning person. You have been warned.

  1. No, I haven’t met her. I can just tell, okay? []

Things I’ve learned on tour (thus far)

  • Beef jerky is good.
  • A lint brush is essential.
  • A publicist with a sense of humour and a better memory than anyone alive is vastly excellent indeed.
  • Publicists are all convinced that authors have the worst memories ever. I suspect they are right.
  • I know that some writers get heaps of work done while on tour but I am most definitely not one of them.
  • Q & A is always the best part of an appearance. Though I already knew that.
  • No one wants to hear an author read. Boring!
  • If you must be stuck in a dread car for ages it’s best to have witty, entertaining company and be in a convertible.
  • School visits are best when the students aren’t being forced to listen to you. At all my school events the students were engaged and asked great questions because they wanted to be there. Especially the Ravenous Readers of Wallenberg High School. You guys were fabulous. Thanks so much for the bulldog pin!
  • Booksellers and librarians are my fave people in the universe.
  • If book shops must have a cat it should be hairless.
  • There are indeed Sharpies wherever you go.

But most of all book tours are fun. I mean think of it: I’m being flown around the country to talk to mad keen readers about my books. It’s bloody brilliant. I am so lucky.

Here’s hoping I get to meet some more of you blog readers on the next three legs of the tour.1

  1. There are four legs in all. My tour is a cow. []

Ciao San Francisco

Scott here, guest-blogging from the West Coast Tour Command Center (aka Room 401). Justine is out talking to kids at schools, so I’m holding down the fort (aka ordering room service). This is just a reminder that Justine has a gig at Not Your Mother’s Book Club tonight (aka Thursday, Sep 18).

The store is Books Inc.
The address is 601 Van Ness.
The city is San Francisco.
The time: 7PM.

We hope to see you there!

And just because I’m briefly in control of Justine’s blog: it’s ‘color,’ not ‘colour.’ That’s because we save our u’s for this:

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

(I’m in so much trouble. Heh.)

Why I like the Bay Area

Because they have signs like this at the entrance to their school libraries:

Isn’t that absolutely wonderful? Made me so happy!

Yesterday I got many texts telling me that How To Ditch Your Fairy had been boingled. Thank you, Cory! And Whatever’d. Thank you, Scalzi! And Slayground’d! Thank you, Little Willow! I also learned that HTDYF is on the Lone Star list. Since Texas is my favourite state in the union1 that pretty much made my day too.

To quickly answers some questions: The tour is going fabulously. I’m having the time of my life. I heart all the bookshops I’ve been to Kepler’s, The Storyteller and Copperfield’s. And the girls and a few boys I’ve gotten to talk to have all been smart, engaged, funny and fantabulous. I want to stay on tour forever.

Also the food in the Bay Area has been heavenly. Yay!

And now I must go out and tour some more.

  1. Other than all the other ones I love. []

What’s your fairy? (Redux)

A while back I asked my faithful blog readers what their fairy is or what fairy they wanted. Twas a popular post so in honour of the imminent publication of my latest book, How To Ditch Your Fairy, set in a world where almost everyone has a personal fairy, I asked these questions of a tonne of writers. I’ll be sharing their answers with you over the next few months.

Here’s what John Green, multiple-award winning author and all-round good guy, had to say:

The fairy I most wish I had at the moment is the Dog Whisperer fairy, because then I would understand why Willy just peed inside.

I seem to have something of a Spare Change fairy. I find an unusual amount of spare change, and it’s almost always heads up. Thanks, fairy! (Although I do rather wish you specialized in hundred-dollar bills.)

Lauren McLaughlin, debut author of the absolutely wonderful Cycler,1 answered thus:

I think the fairy I would most like to have is a noise canceling fairy. Not, mind you, a fairy that made me temporarily deaf, but rather a fairy that would eliminate any sound I didn’t want to hear.

The fairy I think I have is the neatness fairy. Not so grand, but it’s something.

I so don’t have either of those fairies. Though I think the noise cancelling one is a superb idea. How about you guys? Any of you gotten any new fairies since last I asked? Any of you longing for a particular fairy? Do share!

Note: Being on the road—I did my first appearance of the tour today—means not getting to my email or responding to comments. Sorry. I do love you all. I is just busy. And the appearance today? Fabulous! More on that later.

  1. Why haven’t you read it?! Go forth and read! []

I do not like junk food

My imminent tour—I get on a plane to California in a matter of hours—has left me contemplating the one bad thing about book tours: junk food. Sometimes while going from school visit to book shop appearance there’s little time for eating and the options available are limited to substances I would rather not eat.1 I does not like the junk food.

I have nothing against anyone else consuming it, but me, I does not want to. My lack of junk food love never used to be a problem back home. But here in the US many people are personally insulted by my dislike of lollies (candy) and McDonalds and soft drinks and fake-cheese flavoured products. I do not like Crispy Creme or Dunkin’ Donuts. They taste like donuts. Donuts do not excite me.

Though I have pretended to like Crispy Creme so as not to offend hosts who were showing them off to me. How could I do otherwise when they were acting like I was about to experience the most delectable culinary sensation of all time? Only to find myself biting into a donut.

I have been made to try many of my friends’ junk food obsessions: Pop Tarts, Twinkies, Snowballs, Cheetos (turns out they’re the USian version of Cheezels and every bit as disgusting), and many others I forget the name of. They all have one thing in common: they’re really really bad. They taste of chemicals and have the texture of Styrofoam. I’m sure my friends enjoy them. And that’s nice for them. But I am no longer going to try another single thing from those particular “food” groups. I don’t care if it’s your favourite thing in the whole world—it ain’t going in my mouth.

I am not insulting you by refusing to eat these vile substances. Really. I am being nice. Cause if I don’t eat them then there’s all the more for you. Enjoy!

And here’s hoping I get to enjoy real food on my tour.

  1. How do I know this? From accompanying Scott on his tour and from hearing tales of other people’s tours. []

Updated HTDYF Tour Info

Just to let you all know that the mighty How To Ditch Your Fairy Tour begins on Monday in Northern California. For all those complaining that I’m not going to Southern California: it’s not up to me, it’s down to demand and my publicist.

The tour page is constantly being updated with correct addresses and times and extra events. Today I added a couple of in-store stock signings as well as the address and time for the Schuler’s event in Walker, Michigan.

What is an in-store stock signing you ask? It means I’ll be stopping in at a book shop and signing but I won’t be reading, or doing Q&A, or juggling, or anything fancy. But if you’re in the area I’d be more than happy to sign books for you and/or chat.

For those who asked, yes, I am doing many school visits. However, those events are not public. That’s why I don’t list them. I’ve only done a couple of school appearances before so I’m dead excited. USian schools are a total mystery to me. I hope to learn much. Maybe I’ll be able to set my next book in a USian school?

I am going to try to keep blogging every day while on tour. Fingers crossed that erratic intramanets and exhaustion don’t get in my way. After all, a day without blogging is a wasted day.

Sharpies

I was chatting with my trusted partener in time wasting friend, Mr Scalzi, in a fairly desultory manner when we made the startling discovery that both of us hates signing books with a Sharpie. And yet that is what we most often are given when we do signings.

What gives?

Sharpies bleed all over the page and their line is way too thick. They’re pretty much useless for signing books. Great for graffiting toilets and making posters but for book signing? Hopeless!

Why do we keep being given them to sign with? Anyone know? Care to venture a theory?

Are there writers who actually like signing with Sharpies?

For those wondering we both deal with the problem by bringing our own trusted signing pens. Scalzi swears by ballpoints with gel ink and I bring whatever pens I have that work. I don’t know the fancy-pants names for pens. I simply have a dual classification system:

  • pens that are crap,
  • pens that aren’t.

Sharpies are solidly in the second category when it comes to signing. As are any pen that tends to bleed or explode or write too thickly or thinly or invisibly or was made from the bones of a homicidal maniac.

Youse lot know what I mean. The pen that is crap is the very worst thing in the world.

How To Ditch Your Fairy tour (updated)

Starting on Monday 15 September I will be roaming around the US of A teaching people how to get rid of fairies that annoy them. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

Next week will be all northern California, then there’ll be a bit of a break with stops in Philadelphia and New York, before I set out for Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri. Then in November there will be some Texas appearances. That’s right, my tour covers seven different states. Not bad, eh? Full details can be found here. Complaints about my not going to your town or your state should be sent to my publicist. You can find her address here.

This is my very first tour so I’m dead excited and nervous and all those kind of things. Those of you who have been visited by touring authors: What did you most enjoy about their appearances? Do you like them to read? Answer questions? Tell anecdotes about their book? Juggle? What?

Update: The word “upstate” has been removed.