Razorhurst Book Launch This Thursday + Liar in Brasil

This Thursday at 6:30PM in the glorious city of Sydney the wonderful Melina Marchetta will be launching my new book, Razorhurst.

Razorhurst Kinokuniya Invite June 2014

Here’s hoping you can attend. I have SO MUCH to say about this book. It was some of the most fun research I’ve ever done. Razors! Women mobsters! Walking every street of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Kings Cross! Wearing 30s clothes! Studying enforcers!1

In other also super exciting news Liar is now available in Brasil under the title Confesso Que Menti. Here’s what it looks like:

confesso-que-menti-justine-larbalestier-ligia-braslauskas-livro-600

Hope my fans in Brasil like it even though it’s very different to my other books that have been published there.

One last thing: I know I have not blogged for several weeks thus, breaking my promise to blog at least once a week, but I was travelling and it was not possible. There will be much more bloggage from here on out. In the meantime you can always find me blathering away on Twitter.

  1. From a very safe distance in a way that they wouldn’t notice with a mask on. []

Ten Years of Writing YA Novels For A Living

It is now TEN WHOLE YEARS since I became a freelance writer.

I know, right? How did that happen? Ten years!

And one more time because truly my disbelief is high:

I HAVE BEEN A FULL-TIME, FREELANCE WRITER FOR TEN WHOLE YEARS.

I know it’s also April Fool’s day but I truly did begin this novel-writing career of mine on the 1st of April. What better day to do something so very foolish? Back in 2003, having sold only one short story, I took the plunge. The first year did not go AT ALL well, but since then it’s mostly worked out.

Here is my traditional anniversary post writing and publishing stats:

    Books sold: 9: One non-fiction tome, two anthologies (one co-edited with Holly Black), six young adult novels (one co-written with Sarah Rees Brennan)
    Books published: 9
    Countries books have been sold in: 15 (Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and USA.)
    Countries said books have been written in: 6 (Argentina, Australia, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand and USA.)
    Published words of fiction: 450,000 (Roughly.)1
    Unpublished words of fiction that aren’t terrible: 530,000
    Unpublished words of fiction that are so bad to call them bad would be insulting bad: 1,900,045 (Guestimate.)
    Books written but not sold: 2 (One I hope will be some day. The other NEVER.)
    Books started but not finished: 32 (Guestimate.)
    Books about to be finished: 1
    Books started that are likely to be finished: 4
    Ideas collected: 4,979,934 (Precise measurement. I have an ideaometer.)

For six years I published a new book every single year. In 2006 I even had two books out, Magic Lessons and Daughters of Earth. Not lately.

I’ve slowed down. A lot. There will be no new novel from me this year. And probably not next year.2

Years and years of loads and loads of typing pretty much every single day takes a physical toll.3 I suspect most writers wind up slowing down. Either through injury or just because they’re getting older. Or because they’re so rich they don’t have to write anymore. Ha ha! Just kidding.

I’m not only a slower writer I’m also a writer with a different attitude to writing, to publishing and the whole business of it. I look back on ten-years-ago me and well, I cannot believe how giddy I was. How naive.

Actually I can totally believe it. I totally remember it. I still have many of those feelings including the sporadic disbelief that I’m a working author. It still fills my heart with joy that I can make a living by making stuff up and writing it down. I mean, seriously, how amazing is that?

But so much has changed since then.

My Career, It Has Not Been How I Thought It Would Be

For starters, I am now a cranky old pro.4 *waves walking stick at the young ‘un writers* I wrote this piece eight years ago about how I had no place in the room at a discussion for mid-career writers because back then I had only one published novel and didn’t know anything about the struggles of writers further along with their careers.

I do now.

Wow, have I come a long way. I have had books remaindered. That’s right someone could gleefully recite Clive James’ brilliant poem, “The book of my enemy has been remaindered”, about me.

My first three books, the Magic or Madness trilogy, are out of print in Australia. Only the first volume is available as a paper book in the USA. (You can get all three electronically in the USA but nowhere else in the English-speaking world.)

Obviously, I knew ten years ago that not all books stayed in print forever. But somehow I couldn’t quite imagine my own books going out of print. The truism that every book is out of print at some stage hadn’t sunk in.

It has now.

Though at the same time the ebook explosion means that fewer books are going out of print because they don’t require warehouses the way printed books (mostly) do. Unfortunately, this non-going-out-of-print of ebooks raises a whole bunch of other issues. Such as protracted arguments over precisely when an ebook can be deemed out of print.

I’d also assumed I would have the one editor and one publisher in my main markets of Australia and the USA for my entire career. That I would be with the publishers of my trilogy, Penguin Australia and Penguin USA forever.

Um, no.

I am now published by Allen & Unwin in Australia. They’ve published my last four books. All with the one fabulous editor/publisher, Jodie Webster,5 and I have high hopes it will stay that way because I love working with her.

In the USA there’s been no such constancy. I have been published by Bloomsbury (Liar and HTDYF) and Simon & Schuster (ZvU) and Harper Collins (Team Human). I’ve worked with several different editors. Only one of those editors is still with the same publishing house. The others have moved to a different house or left the industry altogether. Constant flux, thy name art publishing. I have no idea which US house will publish my next book or who my editor will be. I have only fond wishes.6

Every one of these editors has taught me a great deal about writing. Yes, even when I disagreed with their comments, they forced me to think through why I disagreed and how I could strengthen my book to address their concerns. Being well-edited is a joyous experience.7

Back then I assumed that foreign language publishers having bought one of your books would, naturally, buy all of them. Ha ha ha! Books of mine have tanked all over the world leading, unsurprisingly, to no further sales. My first novel, Magic or Madness, remains my most translated book and thus also the book that has tanked in the most markets around the world.

It also means that some of my books have different publishers in the one country. I’ve had more than one publisher in France, Italy, Japan, Spain and Taiwan.

Australia and the USA are the only countries to have published all my novels. And that is why I am a citizen of both those fine nations. *hugs them to my chest*

The USA is the only place in the world where my non-fiction is published. And, interestingly, those two tomes remain in print. Bless you, Wesleyan University Press. I hope that answers those darling few who ask me if I’m ever going to write a follow up to Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction. My desire to continue eating and have a roof over my head preclude any such future scholarly efforts. Sorry.8

The constant professional relationship in most writers lives is with their agent. Jill Grinberg has been my agent since early 2005. She is the best. I honestly don’t know how I would’ve gotten through some moments of the last eight years without her. Thank you, Jill.

YA Publishing Has Changed

Back in 2003 almost no one was talking about ebooks, self-publishing was not seen as a viable or attractive option by most novelists, and very few, even within publishing, had heard of YA or Teen Fiction as it is also frequently called.9

Money

Back then I didn’t know a single soul who’d gotten a six-figure advance. The idea that you could get one for a YA novel was ludicrous. I remember the buzz and disbelief around Stephenie Meyer’s huge advance for Twilight.10 Many were saying back then that Little, Brown had overspent. It is to laugh.

There’s more money in YA publishing now than there was back in 2003. Back then only one YA author, J. K. Rowling, was on the list of richest authors in the world. On the 2012 list there were four: Suzanne Collins, J. K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer and Rick Riordan.

They are still outliers. It’s just that YA now has more of them than ever before.

I received $13,500 per book from Penugin USA for my first three novels. At the time I thought that was an amazing advance. And it was. Most of the people I knew then were getting less. I know first-time YA novelists who are still only getting between $10,000 and $15,000 advances. And I know many YA novelists with many books under their belt who have never been within coo-ee of a six-figure advance.

So, yes, there is more money around now. But it is unevenly spread. The difference is that back in 2003 aspiring to be a millionaire YA novelist was like aspiring to be a millionaire garbage collector. Did they even exist? Now, it’s like aspiring to be a millionaire rockstar. Still very unlikely but, hey, at least they’re a real thing.

YA Has Changed

I caught myself fairly recently launching into my standard speil about the freedom of YA: how you can write any genre but as long as it has a teen protag it’s YA . . . when I stopped.

That’s not true anymore. The Balkanisation of YA has kind of taken over. You walk into Barnes & Noble in the USA and there’s Paranormal Romance,11 then there’s the Fantasy & Adventure section, and then there’s the rest of YA. It’s not just the big chains either. Over the years I have seen many smaller chains and independents move towards separate sections within YA. Usually it’s Fantasy & Science Fiction separated out from the rest of YA, which gets called a range of different things. But I’ve also seen separate Christian YA, YA Crime and YA Romance.12

(Of course, the rapid increase of people who purchase their books (ebook and print) online makes the physical weight of these categories less of a problem. It is one of the beauties of online book shopping. If you buy one book by an author you are usually hit with exhortations to buy other books by the same author. I appreciate that as a reader and as an author.)

For those of us who write a variety of different genres it’s alarming. We worry that each of our books are winding up in different sections from the other. So if a person loved one of our books and wanted to read another they can’t find it. Or that they’re all in the one section, which is misleading for the books that don’t belong there. It is a sadness. But apparently many customers find it useful.

New writers wanting to break into YA are being advised they should stick to just one of the many subgenres of YA. That doing so is the best way to have a sustainable career. No one was giving that advice when I started out. Back then advice like that would have made no sense.

I hope it’s terrible advice. But I worry that it’s good advice.

Many in my industry argue that the huge success of the big books by the likes of Collins, Rowling, Meyers and Riordan, (a positive thing which is why YA publishing keeps growing every year), coupled with the rise of ebooks, and the general THE SKY IS FALLING freak out by big publishers because of the emergence of Amazon as a publishing threat and the increasing viability for big authors of self-publishing is leading to many more “safe” books being purchased and less books that are innovative and don’t have an obvious audience.

I heard someone recently opine that the big mainstream publishers are only buying two kinds of YA books (and I suspect this might be true of most genres):

  • commercial high-concept books they think will be bestsellers
  • gorgeously written books they think will win prizes

Best of all, of course, is the book that does both.

Of course, neither of those things can be predicted. So the publisher is taking a punt as publishers have always done. They just seem increasingly reluctant to take a punt on the majority of books because they fear that most books are unlikely to do either.

This means that it’s harder than ever to get published by mainstream presses. Fortunately there are far more options now than there used to be. The mainstream houses are no longer the only show in town.

Decline of Non-Virtual Book Shops

There are also, of course, far fewer physical book shops in both Australia and the USA than when I started my career. Almost every one of my favourite second-hand bookshops are gone. However, so far most of my favourite independents are still with us. Abbeys, Better Read than Dead and Gleebooks are still alive and well in Sydney. Pulp Fiction in Brisbane. Readings in Melbourne.

But several big chains have collapsed in both countries. Angus and Robertson is gone, which had such a long and storied history in Australia. As is Borders in the USA.

I fear there will be more bookshop closures in our future. Ebooks are becoming more and more popular as are online retailers of physical books.

I admit that I’m part of the problem. While I am buying more books than ever, most of them are ebooks. I only buy physical books when that’s the only edition available, when it’s a research book, and when I loved a book so much I want a physical copy as well. Who knows if I’ll be able to read all these ebooks five, ten years from now when the formats and devices for reading them have changed?

I do think bookshops are going to survive for many more years but I can’t help looking around and seeing how few music stores are left. The ones that have survived often specialise in vinyl records and cater to collectors.

It Was Ever Thus

I sound depressed about my industry and my genre, don’t I?

I’m not. Publishing has always been in flux, or crisis if you want to put it more strongly. There have been countless booms and busts. There have been paperback booms. The horror boom of the 1980s. In the 1990s the CD-Rom was going to doom publishing. Spoiler: It didn’t.

I’ve done a lot of research on the 1930s and, wow, was publishing convulsing then. What with the depression and the complete absence of money and like that. Lots of people in the industry lost their jobs. As they also did in the 1980s up to the present with the takeover of publishers by big media conglomerates and with the merging of the big publishers.

There have been hysterical claims that the advent of radio and television and the internet would kill reading as we know it. Um, no.

In fact, in the USA and Australia and elsewhere, more teenagers are reading than ever. And every year YA grows with more books, more sales, and more readers. It’s the adults we should be worried about.13

Right now publishing is more exciting than it ever has been. We authors have alternatives in a way we never had before. Electronic publishing really has changed everything. We don’t have to stick with the mainstream publishers. We can rescue our out of print backlists with an ease that a decade ago was unimaginable. We can publish those strange unclassifiable projects of ours that publishers so often baulk at.

Every year new and amazing books are being published in my genre. Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince published this year truly is unlike anything else out there. It’s a daring, ambitious, beautiful, addictively readable book and it’s published by a mainstream press, Scholastic, who also publish the Harry Potter books. If you want a one-book snapshop of where my genre is at right now that’s the book I’d recommend.

Writing

But for me the writing is the thing. I love writing stories even more now than I did ten years ago. I’m better at it and happier doing it now than then. Though perversely I find it much harder. It takes more work to get my novels to a standard I’m happy with than it did. I think that’s mainly because my standards are higher and because with every new book I give myself harder challenges. Can’t get bored now, can I?

All the sturm and drung of publishing expanding, shrinking, freaking out, is just noise that on many levels has zero to do with what I write. Or to put it another way the more time I spend paying attention to YA publishing trends—Crap! Should I be writing a book about a kid with cancer?!—the less able I am to write. When I write I am much much happier than when I am angsting about what I should be writing.

Back in 2003 I knew a lot less about publishing but I was also a lot more nervous about it. I was hearing the tales of publishing’s demise for the very first time. Foolishly I believed them! I was hearing that the Harry Potter fad was over and YA was doomed, that nobody wanted [insert particular subgenre that I happened to be writing at the time here] anymore.

At the beginning of my career I was terrified I would never sell anything. That fear was so paralysing that for the first year of freelancery I barely wrote a word and I blew my first ever writing gig.

And even after I sold the trilogy there were so many fears. What if these books are my last? What if I don’t earn out? What if everyone hates my book? What if publishing collapses around my ears?

Now I’ve had books that haven’t earned out, books that have been remaindered, books that haven’t won awards or even been shortlisted, books that have received few reviews,14 books with scathing reviews.15 I have had calendar years without a new novel by me. I have missed deadlines with my publishers.

All those things I had been afraid of? They have all happened and I’m still standing and I still have a career.

None of that matters. It really is just noise. What matters is that I write the best books I possibly can. And if injury means that I can’t deliver that book when I said I would then so be it. My health is more important.

My writing is more important.

I have in the past rushed to get books in on time and they were not as, um, good16 as they could have been. Luckily I had editors who demanded extensive rewrites. That’s why I have never had a book I’m ashamed of in print. But I could have and back then I believed that wasn’t as big a deal as not having a book out every year.

I was wrong.

Now I believe that is the worst possible thing that could happen to my career.17 To have in print a book with my name on it that I am not proud of. A book that is not as good as it could have been.

Now, I don’t care about the market.18 I don’t care about supposed saleability. I no longer sell my books until they are finished, which is much kinder to me. Racing to meet a deadline when you have shooting pain running up your arms is less than optimal. Selling my books only when finished is also better for the publisher who wants to know when to realistically schedule the book. I am, of course, extremely lucky to be able to wait to sell my books.

I write what I want to write. I have a backlist, I have a reputation, I am known for writing a wide variety of books. So when I turn in an historical set in the 1890s from the point of view of the first telephone in use in the quaint town of Shuberesterville no one’s going to bat an eyelid.19

If they don’t want it, well, brand new world of ebook self-publishing, here I come! I know just which freelance editors and copyeditors and proof readers and cover designers I’m going to hire to work on it.

To be clear: I’d much rather stay with mainstream publishing. Wow, is self publishing hard work. I have so much admiration for those self-publishers, like Courtney Milan, who do it so amazingly well.

Community

Being a writer can be a very lonely business. Just you and your computer and an ocean of doubt. I’ve been exceptionally lucky to have never been alone with my writing. My mother, father and sister have always been supportive and proud of my writing. Without Jan, John and Niki as early readers and a cheering squad, well, I don’t like to think about it. They are the best.

One of the great pleasures of the last ten years has been discovering the YA community both here in Australia but also in the USA. I have met and become friends with some of the most amazing teens, librarians, booksellers, bloggers, parents, agents and others in this fabulous community like the publicists and marketers and sales reps and folks from the art department, and of course editors and publishers. They’ve all made me feel welcome and at home and they all care about YA even more passionately than I do. Protip: You want to talk to a real expert on YA? Don’t talk to the writers, talk to the specialist YA librarians.

The relationships that have been a huge source of strength for me in this strange career are those with other writers of whom20 there are far too many to name.21 Honestly, without other writers to gossip and giggle with, to ask for advice from and, lately, give advice to, this would be a lonely, miserable profession.

Our conversations and arguments have led to the creation of whole new novels and Zombie versus Unicorn anthologies. You are all amazing. I love youse. Even when you’re totally wrong about certain best-selling novels or the importance of the word “effulgent”.

My best writer friend is Scott Westerfeld. It was he who suggested I go freelance ten years ago even though we were stone cold broke back then. Even though I’d only sold one short story. Even though I was really scared. Mad man! It’s he who looks smug now at what a great suggestion it was. Thank you, Scott. For everything.

Here’s to another ten years of writing novels for a living. Here’s to YA continuing to grow and be successful! Wish me and my genre luck!

  1. Or one of Cassandra Clare’s books. Just kidding. Two of Cassie’s. []
  2. I have, however, been writing a lot. I’ve almost finished the Sydney novel. It’s only a few drafts away from being ready to go out to publishers. And I have several other novels on the boil. Including the 1930s NYC novel of which I have more than 100,000 words. Sadly I also seem to be no more than a third of the way into that story. Le sigh. []
  3. Obviously the typing dates back much longer than a mere ten years. []
  4. I have many novelist friends who are laughing right now. Because they have been doing this for twenty years or more and consider me to still be a baby neophyte. []
  5. Those job titles work differently in Australia. []
  6. And in my experience the editors last way longer than the publicists and people in marketing. []
  7. Even when you want to kill them. “But, but, but, I meant the ending not to make any sense. Fixing it will be hard!” *swears a lot* *stomps* *fixes ending* []
  8. Not really. Writing Battle of the Sexes was a TOTAL NIGHTMARE. But I’m genuinely happy that the book has been useful to so many. It was my PhD thesis written for an audience of, like, three. []
  9. Within publishing houses almost everyone calls it YA. But I’ve noticed that many booksellers call it Teen Fiction. []
  10. Twilight was published the same year as my first novel, 2005. []
  11. I’d never heard the word “paranormal” when I started out. []
  12. There are, of course, even more YA categories for books at online book shops. I’ve seen Substance Abuse, Peer Pressure, Dark Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic etc. etc. But somehow online they seem less restrictive than they do in a bricks and mortar book shop. []
  13. Just kidding. A huge number of adults read YA. []
  14. In the trade publications, that is. The blessing of the internet is that these days somewhere, somehow your books are going to be reviewed by bloggers or on Barnes & Noble/Amazon/Goodreads etc. (Though, um, aren’t Amazon and GoodReads the same thing now?) A book receiving not a single review is a rarity these days. []
  15. That would be all of them. Every single one of my books has had at least a handful of this-book-sucks reviews. Turns out this is true for all books ever. []
  16. She said euphemistically. []
  17. Worst thing I have control over, obviously. No one can stop a falling piano. []
  18. Which isn’t to say that I’m not fascinated by it. My name is Justine Larbalestier and I am a publishing geek. I’m very curious to see if the big swing against paranormal and fantasy I’m hearing so many people predict really does happen. I’m a bit skeptical. []
  19. Okay, they might blink. []
  20. That’s for all my grammar nazi friends who freak out at the thought that the mighty “whom” will not be with us for that much longer. []
  21. Though I’d like to point out to said grammar nazi friends that the contortions needed to use “whom” made for a way ugly sentence. I’m just saying . . . []

Why I Love Rewriting

My last post may have given the impression that I am not a fan of rewriting. So not true! I loves it.

For me the first draft is the least fun because I’m never quite sure I have a novel until there’s a complete draft. The Sekrit Project is the first solo novel I’ve finished since 2008 so finishing this year was a HUGE RELIEF. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would. If I knew how to write novels anymore. That made the first draft—even the most fun times of writing it—stressful.

So no matter how unfun some parts of the rewriting process are I have none of that anxiety: because I have a manuscript. I mean, yes, it’s a less than optimal manuscript but I now know I’m going to finish and make it the best book I can. I will figure out how to make it better.

I really enjoy taking shitty sentences and engoodening them, tweaking character’s arcs until they make sense to people other than me. It’s very satisfying. And when I get stuck on one bit of the book there are countless other bits to fix.

I also LOVE finally being able to talk about the book with other people. Other than Scott, I mostly don’t show people my books until I have a complete draft. So it’s just me and the book. Getting other people’s takes on it is so important. I can only go so far on my own. Other people frequently show me in about ten seconds what I’ve been blind to for months. Gah! But also: AWESOME.1

I also enjoy how hard rewriting is. Keeping track of a complete novel is keeping track of an entire world and its people. I love that feeling of total immersion. I love the power of life and death! I can KILL YOU ALL! *cough* I love pushing myself to the limits of my ability.

Sekrit Project is the most challenging book I’ve written so far.2 It required an enormous amount of research. The plotting is much trickier than any other book. Several of the characters push me WAY outside my comfort zone. I love it! So exhilarating and fun.

Yes, even when I have several weeks of not being able to figure out how to fix some of the structural problems. But that too is part of the challenge and there’s nothing more enjoyable than managing something you didn’t think you’d be able to. Am I right?

In conclusion: Writing is hard but that’s a really, really, really good thing.

  1. That’s what I was attempting to say yesterday: first readers are worth their weight in gold. []
  2. Other than the still-unfinished 1930s New York novel. []

Team Human is Now Out Everywhere*

*If by “everywhere” I mean Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, which, um, I do. Sorry, rest of the world.

Team Human is real! Team Human is out in the world! *bounce bounce bounce*

This morning (Australia time) we did a twitter chat about Team Human and I can’t quite believe this happened, but, well, there’s proof. Our chat #THchat trended worldwide!

How surreal is that? Thank you so much everyone for your participation and amusing questions. Yes, @colorlessblue, I promise I will add writing a bunyip book to my list.1

In other Team Human news here’s the very droll trailer:

I love the Vampires Are Wrong bloke. He has the best voice ever.

If you missed out on today’s Twitter chat you can always join a chat between me, Sarah Rees Brennan and Scott Westerfeld at Figment.com this coming Sunday evening in the USA (Monday morning in Australia).

Sunday July 8
8PM US-ET (5PM Pacific Time, 10AM Monday AUS-ET)

We’ll be discussing what it’s like to collaborate on a novel. Click here to find out more.

Oh, and Team Human was boingled today!

You can read the first chapter of Team Human here. In the USA it is available in all electronic formats. In Australia it’s available in many formats. Full details here.

Happy book birthday, Team Human! May you stay in print a really, really long time!

  1. My list of books to write is really long. I make no guarantees I will get around to it. []

A Moment of Vainglory

You’re going to have to excuse this post (and the crappy photo) but I can’t help myself. A package just arrived from my wonderful Australian publisher, Allen & Unwin. It made me scream. In a good way.

This is what was in it:

That’s the official Children’s Book Council of Australia short-listed book sticker and it’s on Liar! And it’s not a joke or an accident!

*Faints*

Um, I may have mentioned that the CBCA awards have always been a huge deal for me. Ever since I was a tiny person. This really is a dream come true.

And on that cliched note1 I am off to attempt to write my next book. I may have to hide the stickered Liar. I keep fondling it . . . *cough*

Me. Writing. Now.

  1. Hey, they’re cliches for a reason. []

Seven Years of Freelancery + CBCA Shortlisting + Debut Novel

NOTE: I am in Sydney, Australia where it is already April Fool’s Day. However, my blog is set to NYC time cause I was too lazy to change it.

– – –

April Fool’s is the day I began my career as a full-time freelance writer. Back in 2003, having sold only one short story, I took the completely insane plunge. The first year did not go well, but since then it’s mostly worked out great. I’ve been very lucky indeed.

For my own benefit some stats:

    Books sold: 81
    Books published: 72
    Countries books have been sold in: 153
    Countries said books have been written in: 64
    Published words: 400,000 (Guestimate.)
    Books written but not sold: 25
    Books started but not finished: 32 (Guestimate.)
    Ideas collected: 2,372,456 (Precise measurement. I have an ideaometer.)

This week, as if in celebration of my seven years of freelancery, I discovered that Liar has been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s 2010 Book of the Year. I fell over I was so shocked.

Let me explain: For those of you who did not grow up in Australia, the CBCA awards are the most prestigious and longest established awards for young readers in Australia. USians: think Newbery. As a kid I would read the award winners and most of the shortlisted books every year. When I was nine I wrote a letter to the editor I was so indignant that the latest Patricia Wrightson6 book had not been considered for a CBCA because the judges decided that it was too old.7 Nine year old me’s head would have exploded to learn that one day something I wrote was going to be shortlisted for a CBCA. Frankly, the me of 2010’s head is not exactly in one piece having learned the news.

*Heh hem*

Congrats to everyone else on the shortlists and to the notables as well, which include my partner in crime, Scott Westerfeld8 and many, many, many other wonderful writers.

Today is also the day Karen Healey‘s first novel, Guardian of the Dead is published in Australia, New Zealand and the US of A. Set in New Zealand, NOT AUSTRALIA AS SO MANY MISGUIDED USIAN REVIEWERS SEEM TO THINK,9 Guardian is one of the most original and unputdownable novel debuts I’ve read in ages. In fact, I was just discussing how cool it is with Melina Marchetta. How could you not buy a book that Melina Marchetta is recommending? I’m not going to tell you anything more about the book except that you should all run out and grab a copy. RIGHT NOW. OR I’LL JUST KEEP SHOUTING AT YOU. AND NO ONE WANTS TO BE SHOUTED AT.

That’s all. Happy April Fool’s day! Don’t believe a word anyone tells you today.

  1. One non-fiction tome, two anthologies, five young adult novels. []
  2. 8 in September []
  3. Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and USA. []
  4. Argentina, Australia, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand and USA. []
  5. One I hope will be some day. The other NEVER. []
  6. Who was my favourite writer in the entire world and died recently. A sad day for Australian letters. []
  7. This was before an older reader’s award was created. []
  8. For those wondering how Scott is eligible he is an Australian resident. Most Australian literary awards are open to residents as well as citizens. []
  9. Newsflash: they are not the same place and have very different histories. []

Signed Books in the USA

Because I just had a long discussion with some friends about what constitutes being crassly commercial I’ve decided now is the time to let you know where you can buy signed books of mine. What? Some people write and ask me that, you know. Also it’s Sunday no one will notice me being crassly commercial.

I have scribbled on copies of my books in the following places in the US of A:

For those of you in Australia, I will be back home and shall try to sign books at various book stores in Sydney in December. I pretty much always manage to make it to Kinokuniya and Galaxy. I’ll keep you posted.

Thus ends this crassly comercial service announcement. Normal service will resume tomorrow.

Want to Know More About Liar?

The Liar pages are live. Ta dah!

There’s a plea for those who have read the book not to spoil it, a lengthy excerpt, a list of places in the world where Liar has sold, and a non-spoilery discussion of some of the influences on the book.

There’s also a review section on account of the astonishing number of early reviews that have appeared. (Bless you, book bloggers!) Though I decided not to include the blurbs from dead writers because I didn’t want my fellow alive writers to get jealous of my powerful ouija board:

Liar is almost as dark as one of my books. Not bad, Larbalestier.

—Patricia Highsmith

If you can’t get hold of a good book I suppose you could give Liar a go.

—Chester Himes

So creepy I had to put it down and seek solace in Anne of Green Gables.

—Shirley Jackson

Liar proves everything I said about parents was true.

—Philip Larkin

There was also going to be an essay on how Scrivener influenced the writing of the book. However, I’ve decided to hold off on posting that until after Liar is published. On account of how the Scrivener essay won’t really make any sense unless you have read the book. And not many people have at the moment on account of Liar doesn’t publish for another three months. Such a long time . . .

So there you have it some Liar content that is not even a tiny bit spoilery.

Literary Influences

One of the questions writers get asked fairly often is who their literary influences are. I rarely know how to answer that question. Mostly because it’s usually asked about a specific book. I have no idea what writers and books influenced How To Ditch Your Fairy. And the Magic or Madness trilogy was more influence by fantasy books that drove me spare than the ones I loved. The people asking the question tend not to want to hear about negative influences.

I suspect the people best positioned to answer the question are not the writers but the readers. I’m dreadful at spotting my influences.

SPOILER WARNING: The rest of this post is going behind a cut because I discuss literary influences on Liar and I happen to know that some of you are as nutty about spoilers as I am and don’t want to know even the tiniest bit about the book before you read it. Though I think identifying specific literary influences is way more that just a tiny bit spoilery. And one of the ones I’m going to talk about below this cut is MASSIVELY spoilery. (Well, in JustineLand. I have a much broader definition of spoiler than most people, which makes conversations with Sarah Rees Brennan and Diana Peterfreund difficult sometimes as neither seems to understand the concept of the spoiler at all. Bless them!)

You has been warned.

Continue reading

Foreign rights/Liar Sells to Brazil & Turkey

Late breaking news: Liar has sold to Editora Record in Brazil, who are also the home of the Magic or Madness trilogy. And for the first time in my career a book of mine has sold in Turkey! Liar has found a home at Artemis, an imprint of Alfa Yayin Grubu. Yay! Liar will now be published in seven different countries: Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Taiwan, Turkey and the USA. Not bad for a book that isn’t out until October.

A couple of readers have asked me what this means exactly. How do books get sold to other countries? How does it all work?

Basically the world is divided up into various different territories for publishing rights. Those territories (more or less) correspond to different countries. Though notoriously the UK is under the delusion that many other countries are part of its territory. Newsflash to the UK: Your empire crumbled decades ago. Get over it!

When my agent, Jill Grinberg, sells one of my books the first rights she sells are North American (USA + Canada) and ANZ (Australia + New Zealand). Those two rights are sold directly. Thus my agent gets 15% and I get the rest.1

Translation rights to my work are sold by my agent working with different sub-agents around the world. Which means that they split the agents’ commission, with both my agent and the sub-agent taking 10%, and me getting 80%. Some sub-agents handle more than one territory. I know of one who handles Spanish and Portuguese language sales in multiple countries, but most sub-agents work only in one territory, which is usually their home country, and thus they know it really, really well.

The larger commission is no big deal because without agents working on your behalf you would not sell in other countries. The sub-agents are the people who know which publishing houses are after what kind of book, and who has the best translators. They’re the ones who sort out the labyrinthine tax laws and tax arrangements between your home country and the country you’re selling into. Also, I don’t know about you, but I am not fluent in any of the languages spoken in any of the countries I’ve been sold in other than Australia and the US.2

I became very interested in foreign rights after my first visit to the Bologna Book Fair, where I met some of my foreign publishers, and saw the world-wide business of buying and selling rights to kids and teen books up close. I was totally fascinated to learn that the Netherlands is not big on fantasy, Brazil loves chicklit, and most of Eastern Europe loves science fiction. The US market is notorious for buying almost no translation rights at all. I wonder what the Australian YA market is known for buying?

I hope that helps you understand a bit more what I’m talking about when I jump up and down because Turkey just bought my book. Did I mention that I just sold in Turkey?

  1. Well, minus the taxman’s cut. []
  2. I’m still working on my USian []

Much Yay

Last week was a very big week for me. I found out that How to Ditch Your Fairy sold in Japan and Liar in France and Germany. (I also had my first lindy hop lesson. Next one is on Tuesday.)

How to Ditch Your Fairy sold to Tokyo Sogensha in Japan, who also publish Diana Wynne Jones. I know it’s tenuous proximity but it makes me happy, okay?

I can’t give more details on the French sale but I can say that my German publisher continues to be Bertelsmann Jugendbuch Verlag, who published the Magic or Madness trilogy in quick succession last year. It’s doing amazingly well over there, which I put down to the glory that is the covers:

Bertelsmann will also be publishing How to Ditch Your Fairy later this year. I met some of the crew over in Bologna last year and they were wonderful. Feels fabulous to have a solid home in Germany, which is one of the biggest book publishing markets in the world. Germans love to read. Bless them.

Sometimes I can’t believe this is real. It took twenty years to find anyone who wanted to publish for my fiction. I never dreamed it would appear in any language other than English. Yet here I am with a whole shelf full of various different editions of my books. Please let this last another twenty years.1 Fingers crossed!

In other yay news, Scott has previewed the final cover of Leviathan. It’s spectacular. And I say that as someone who loved the first version.

  1. Yeah, I’m aware of how great the odds are against that. []

A request for those with Liar ARCs

I know I said a while back that I would no longer be linking to reviews of my books. I’m making an exception today for the the very first review of Liar because I’m so grateful that Jenn Hartley’s review contains no spoilers. Bless you, Jenn.

Liar is the most complicated book I’ve written to date. It’s my first attempt at a psychological thriller and contains many twists and turns. I’m convinced that reading it will be a lot more interesting if you don’t know any of them ahead of time. I’d be really grateful if those of you who have an advanced copy would keep those reversals and surprises to yourself. If you’re bursting to talk about it you can always email me. Or Maureen Johnson she’s read it.

I know some people love to be spoiled but maybe you could just whisper a few spoilers in their ears rather than post it on your blogs? I really would be ever so grateful.

Thank you!

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!

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. []

Signed books

I’ve had a few folks write to me to ask where they can buy signed copies of my books. The answer is there are many many places. I was just on tour, see, and wherever I went I signed books. Even if you have zero interest in whether a book is signed or not these are all very fine bookshops that you should check out if you haven’t already:

California:

Borderlands Books
866 Valencia St.
San Francisco CA 94110
Bonus: they have two gorgeous Sphynx cats.

Kepler’s
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA

The Storyteller
30 Lafayette Cir
Lafayette, CA

Copperfield’s Books
140 Kentucky St
Petaluma, CA

Books Inc.
601 Van Ness
San Francisco, CA

Michigan

Schuler Books & Music
3165 Alpine Ave
Walker, MI

Pooh’s Corner
Breton Village
1886 1/2 Breton Rd. S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI

Ohio & Kansas City, Missouri

Joseph-Beth Bookstore
2692 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH

Fundamentals
25 W Winter Street
Delaware, OH

Cover to Cover
3560 North High Street
Columbus, OH

Books & Co
Books & Co at The Greene
4453 Walnut Street
Dayton, OH

Reading Reptile
328 W. 63rd Street
Kansas City, MO

Philadelphia & NYC area

Big Blue Marble Bookstore
551 Carpenter Lane
Philadelphia, PA

Voracious Reader
1997 Palmer Ave
Larchmont, NY

Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY

Texas

BookPeople
603 N. Lamar
Austin, Texas

Barnes & Noble
Northwoods Shopping Center
18030 Highway 281 North
San Antonio, Texas

Canada

Bakka-Phoenix Books

697 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON

Indigo Bookstore
Yorkdale Mall
3401 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario

Enjoyable review

It’s dead boring to be hit with reviews on a writer’s blog. Yawn. But this one, in addition to saying lovely things about How To Ditch Your Fairy, made me giggle. Twas the last paragraph plus the photo that did it:

Caution: Despite the suggestions in the book, I was not able to get rid of my fairy, Pixie. And unlike Justine’s fairies, mine is very visible and very loud. Check out the photo below to see what a “makes you trip and wakes you up too early” fairy looks like.

Go over to Allison’s blog to see the accompanying photo. You will giggle. Oh yes, you will.

You does not have to read my books + interview + assorted other stuff

I am noticing an odd phenomenon: Readers of this blog apologising for not reading my books.

Please don’t!

I do not write this blog to get people to read my books.1

I write it cause it’s fun and because I’m shockingly opinionated—seriously there is NOTHING I don’t have an opinion about2—and I like to share. Blog writing is the most relaxing fun writing I do.3

It saddens me if any of you are feeling guilty about not reading my books. Put that guilt away. You are excused from ever reading them. So no more apologies, okay?4

In other news an interview with me can be found here. Thanks for the great quessies, Cynthia.

Brooke Taylor is giving a copy of How to Ditch Your Fairy away for Faery Week of her Monster Month of Giveaways.

Bloomsbury’s HTDYF contest also continues. There are several different prizes but I think this one’s best: $150 gift certificate to Forever 21.

Shortly, I am off to Toronto. If you’re there come see me and Scott Monday:

Monday, 27 October, 7:00PM-8:00PM
Indigo Bookstore
Yorkdale Mall
3401 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario

  1. Ewww! []
  2. Ask me about wolves some time. Or chewing gum. Or musicals. Or corks. []
  3. Way better than smelly novels. []
  4. But do read E. Lockhart’s Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks or Coe Booth’s Kendra or The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. []

HTDYF in Australia (Updated)

Many of you have been asking, “When is How To Ditch Your Fairy going to be published in Australia?” I apologise for not answering. For ages I did not know if it would be or not and then it sold and I was not allowed to tell you. But now I can!

How To Ditch Your Fairy will be published in Australia in late February by the fabulous Allen & Unwin. That’s right I am now published by the same house that publishes Ursula Dubosarsky, Margo Lanagan, Garth Nix, Penni Russon and Lili Wilkinson amongst many other fabulously wonderful Oz YA writers.

What’s more A&U are not only publishing HTDYF, they’re publishing the liar book too!

Keeping this news to myself has been excruciating!

Not only will the book be coming out in Oz next Feb, which is mere months away, but I may even be doing a few appearances in support of it. Possibly in parts of Australia other than Sydney or Melbourne. More details as soon as I have them.

As you can tell I’m very excited. I feel like I’ve found a wonderful home in Australia just as I have with Bloomsbury in the USA. I hope to be with both houses for many years to come.

Update: Several people have written to ask me whether the Oz edition will have the same cover as the US one. Yes, it will. The fonts will be slightly different and “colour” and “realise” wil be spelled correctly. It will also be a paperback not a hardcover.

Two wondrous things

1) The fabulous Guarina Lopez, who is a genius with the camera and took my author photo as well as Diana Peterfreund’s, now has a truly gorgeous website showcasing her beautiful work. Check it out!

2) The Magic or Madness trilogy has sold in Korea! Woo hoo! Chungeorahm Publishing have made a very lovely offer for the trilogy and I have said yes! For those keeping count the trilogy is now published in eleven different countries: Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. My happiness is huge. All hail Whitney Lee of The Fielding Agency who made the majority of those sales. She’s incredible.

More HTDYF reviews

I may have mentioned that Leilani Mitchell of the New York Liberty looks pretty much exactly how I imagined Charlie, the protag of How To Ditch Your Fairy, looking. And she’s a point guard—just like Charlie! How perfect is that?

So here is a Leilani photo taken by Bruce Yeung to adorn the most recent reviews of HTDYF.1

The first review is over at Book Lover. Be warned it is VERY spoilery.

The second one comes from Enchanting Reviews. They give HTDYF five enchantments!2 Here’s a wee snip of the review:

Charlie is a witty and lovable heroine; I almost wish she was my best friend! The idea behind this novel was so unique, which is another reason I loved this novel so much. Just the concept of having personal fairies is so cool, and I liked how the fairy aspect of the novel never seemed superficial. All in all, I completely enjoyed reading this story because it was so well-written and made me sigh in happiness. HOW TO DITCH YOUR FAIRY was a perfect blend of all its elements and a novel I most definitely recommend.

The third review comes from the Menasha Library (Wisconsin) Kid’s Lit blog:

The lightness and freshness of this novel make it read like a frothy teen novel with little substance, but that isn’t the case. Underneath the humor there are more serious questions lingering about fairies, faith, and friendship for those who want a little more depth. Teens can read it on several levels, which means that it will appeal to a wide range of readers. The teen characters are interesting and always more than their fairies seem to be. The obsessive nature of the New Avalon society is a great commentary on American culture. A great part of the fun of the book is Larbalestier’s teen language that is unique to New Avalon but easily understood by all. It just makes the reading all the more enjoyable.

This review is especially pleasing cause, you know, that’s what I was going for! (Though I was commenting on Australian culture as well as American.) So lovely when readers read what you think you put on the page.

She finishes by saying,

Recommended for teens age 12-15. Little handselling will be necessary for this one. It will fly off the shelves on fairy wings.

Fingers crossed she’s right! Cause that would be deeply awesome! (Why, yes, I am imagining HTDYF sprouting wings and flying around bookshops and libraries all over North America. What of it?)

  1. I love this photo. How gorgeous is it that her coach, Patty Coyle, is taller than she is? Also that Leilani’s so ready to get back into the game that Coyle has to hold her jersey to finish giving her the rest of the play. []
  2. I’m really hoping it’s out of five, not ten. []

Little round up

Firstly, the polls: I thought you all should know that the result of the poll was that Nevada is our chosen smoking state of the US of A. Closely followed by Wyoming. Hope you’re happy, Mr Williams!

The new poll is on fashion atrocities. I’m a bit cross that no one has voted for espadrilles yet. Oh, how I HATE them! Soles of shoes are not supposed to be made of rope! It’s UGLY, people! Are you all blind?! (Poll is to your right.)

Matter the second, the word count discussion has been interesting and enlightening. In fact, it made me realise more fully the why of my word count dislike. I do not care to share my day-by-day process. Don’t get me wrong I adore talking about process. But I like to talk about it overall: here’s some thoughts on rewriting, here’s a very silly set of suggestions for writing a novel, here’s how I wrote this book, here’s how I find looking at other people’s writing incredibly useful and so on and so forth.

But posting daily on my struggles or successes in the writing coal mine? Nah. Too close to the bone. I feel like I’ll come across as a massive whinger (Oh my Elvis writing this book is killing me! Why are leopard ballet sequence so bloody difficult?! What was I thinking?! I’m a hack! A talentless hack!!) or the most conceited self-satisfied writer in the universe (Wow, I am a genius! I am the Lord Barham of writing! Look at these pearls of unspeakable genius that I crafted today! How could perfection such as the crystalline words that coruscate from my fingers exist in this oh so imperfect world?! It astonishes me!). So I confine such thoughts to myself.

Oh, hang on—wooops!

Look over there: Leopards dancing! Flying giant woolly squirrels playing badminton with quokkas!

There is no matter the third.

As you were.

How To Ditch Your Fairy is almost real . . .

An ARC1 of How To Ditch Your Fairy just arrived! I am filled with squee. HTDYF is almost a real book!

Here’s what it looks like:

You know what the most fabulous part of it is? (Other than the quote from Libba Bray2 ) My name is as big as the title. My name is bigger than it’s ever been! Oh, happy day!

The happiness continues when I turn the ARC over and gaze on the back cover where there’s a marketing plan. A marketing plan!

I’ve never had one of those on the back of an ARC before. And it includes the words “multi-city author tour”. So maybe I’ll be getting to your city and have a chance to meet you later this year!

My very first author tour. Who’d’ve thunk it?

  1. Advance Reading Copy which looks like a paperback only it’s printed on heavier paper and is full of typoes. They’re printed to send out early to booksellers and librarians to get them excited about your book. []
  2. OMG! Libba Bray liked my book! []

Locus Awards 2008

This is old news to many of you but I just found out that Scott and me are finalists for the Young Adult section of the Locus Awards. And the woo hoos ring out across the Larbfeld world!

YOUNG ADULT BOOK

Extras, Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)
The H-Bomb Girl, Stephen Baxter (Faber & Faber)
Magic’s Child, Justine Larbalestier (Penguin Razorbill)
Powers, Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt; Gollancz)
Un Lun Dun, China Miéville (Ballantine Del Rey; Macmillan UK)

Quite the strong list, eh? Being on a shortlist with Ursula Le Guin makes me feel faint. Let me fan myself a moment. For those who are wondering this is not the first time me and Scott have been on the same shortlist. We’ve been up for Aurealis, Ditmar and Norton Awards at the same time and now the Locus. Wow, I can’t believe our books have been on so many shortlists! It’s ridiculous and wonderful and the most excellent good luck.

The Locus Awards honours much fabulous work this year (as it does every year) but I was particularly thrilled about two mates of mine making the Best First novel list. Congratulations to Christopher Barzak who made the list with his brilliant and very moving One For Sorrow and Cassandra Clare for her unputdownable hilariously funny City of Bones. They’re geniuses both and I’m stoked other people have noticed! YAY!!!

Seen in Germany + some news

Look what I saw in an actual bookshop, RavensBuch in Friedrichshafen! Isn’t it gorgeous?:

Yup, it’s the German version of Magic or Madness. It’s even more beautiful in real life. Sigh. The book next to mine (the yellow one) is by John Marsden. Two Aussies together in Germany. I’ve been stunned by how many Aussie books I’ve been seeing in translation on our travels. Oodles of them by the likes of Trudi Canavan, Sara Douglass, Sonya Hartnett, John Marsden, Garth Nix, Marcus Zusak etc., etc. World domination!

Speaking of Germany. Random House Deutschland has just made an offer for How to Ditch Your Fairy. A very enthusiastic offer and they’ll be publishing it in hardcover. I am very happy. I met my German publishers in Bologna and they’re all lovely. Possibly because they’re all named Susanne.

This is the first time one of my books has sold to another market before publication. Very exciting. HTDYF will be out in the US in early September. And I may be sharing the cover with you some time soon . . .

Five years of freelancery

Another year, another anniversary. Once again I mark 1 April not by being silly like some I could mention but by saying, “Oh my Elvis. I’ve been a freelance writer for exactly five years! And I’m not starving! How on Earth did I manage that?”1

For my own benefit some stats:

    Books sold: 72
    Books published: 53
    Countries books have been sold in: 104
    Countries said books have been written in: 65
    Published words: 372,0006
    Books written and unsold: 27
    Ideas collected: 372,4568

Lots of fun had at fair today. Much publishing gossip and wisdom attained. Will share with you when not exhausted. I sleep now in order to make it to the drinks, dinner and party appointments that lie ahead of me today. Yes, my life continues to be gruelling!

  1. Luck. []
  2. One non-fiction tome, one anthology, five young adult novels. []
  3. 6 in September []
  4. In order of sales: USA, Australia, Taiwan, France, Thailand, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Japan and Indonesia. []
  5. Argentina, Australia, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand and USA. []
  6. Guestimate. []
  7. One I hope will be some day. The other NEVER. []
  8. As of 16:32 Bologna time. []

Elsewhere such as Indonesia

Sartorias aka Sherwood Smith continues the cranky discussion. Both threads have really excellent comments. Fascinating stuff. If only I weren’t in computer hell, I’d be contributing to said discussions. Once things stop sucking in computerland I’ll plunge in. There’s LOTS more to be said.

In other news I just found out that the Magic or Madness trilogy has now sold to PT Gramedia in Indonesia. I’m particularly stoked about this sale as I studied Bahasa Indonesia for four years in high school. It’s a country I’ve always been fascinated by. For those keeping count—I know I am—the trilogy has now sold to ten different countries.

Blurb Etiquette

Recently several friends have been on the receiving end of some very bad blurb etiquette and they have requested that I set the world straight about how blurbage should actually work. I live to serve.

What is a blurb? It’s the little quotes that typically appear on the back of a book saying how wonderful it is. For instance here is what Libba Bray has to say about How To Ditch Your Fairy:1

Justine Larbalestier has a super-cool writing fairy, and I am vastly jealous! Thoroughly entertaining, totally enchanting, wickedly funny, and 110% doos, How To Ditch Your Fairy had me grinning from page one (when I wasn’t laughing out loud). And as soon as I can figure out how to do it I’m going to ask to swap fairies with Justine.

—Libba Bray, New York Times Bestselling author of A Great and Terrible Beauty

A while back I talked at length about my policy on blurbs. The short version is: Yes, I am happy to look at books and if I love them I will blurb them.2 Turns out that there are other aspects of blurbage that I did not cover. Mostly because I did not know these things happen. But apparently they do.

  1. Never offer to swap blurbs with an author. “Hey, I have a book coming out. If you blurb it I’ll blurb your book!” This is a terrible idea. I may be a blurb purist but all the authors I know only blurb books that they enjoyed reading. They do not blurb books because that person blurbed their book and they especially don’t do that for someone who has never had a book published before and therefore has no track record. Blurbs are supposed to help to sell books but they’re useless if no one knows who the blurber is.
  2. If the author who agreed to look at your book does not get back to you DO NOT bug them. There are several reasons for not blurbing a book such as not liking it, not having time to read it, and losing said book. Putting the author in the position of having to explain which reason applies is not fair. No author wants to explain to another why they didn’t like their book well enough to blurb it. Just assume it was lack of time.
  3. There is nothing wrong with receiving a blurb from a friend unless of course that’s the only reason they’re doing it. I blurbed Cassie Clare’s City of Bones because I could not put it down. I loved it. The reason I know some of the wonderful writers who have blurbed me—Karen Joy Fowler, Samuel R. Delany, Libba Bray, Holly Black—is because I love their writing. They are my friends because of writing. None of them would blurb my books if they weren’t into them. It’s not worth our reputations to blurb books of varying quality. Every author I know has said no to blurbing a book by a friend. It’s awkward, but not as awkward as having your name eternally on the back of a book you don’t love.
  4. Never claim to have a blurb from an author if that is not the case. If the author in question has agreed to look at your book with the possibilty of providing a blurb that DOES NOT mean they are going to blurb you. I looked at several books last year and blurbed none of them. The author has agreed to read your book NOTHING more. If you go around boasting that you have a blurb when you don’t odds are it will get back to the author, who will then be much less inclined to blurb you. This is a very small industry. Word gets around.

This last point leads to a bigger point: Anyone who advises you that lying: claiming blurbs you don’t have, doctoring your publications list, claiming non-existent connections etc. etc. is a good way to get “your foot in the door” is full of it.

Don’t do this. Not ever.

Finding out that someone you have NEVER met is using your name to get ahead is vastly cranky-making. Also in the age of the internet it’s almost impossible to get away with these shenanigans. Google knows when you lie.

I think that about covers it, but if I’ve missed anything do please let me know.

  1. My apologies for the skiting, but I love this blurb. []
  2. In practice I do not blurb many books because I do not love very many. []

Interview

Thought youse might be interested in a new interview with me and Ekaterina Sedia (who wrote the truly marvelous Secret History of Moscow) that just went up at Fantasy Magazine. The interview was conducted by the insightful Tempest Bradford and was all about what it’s like to be a foreignor in the US of A something me and Ekaterina know a lot about. It’s one of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve done. Any time I’m not asked to describe my books, I’m happy.

She’s talking about me!

There’s a new review of First Kiss (Then Tell) the fabulous anthology I have a story in. After talking about her favourite stories the reviewer has this to say:

I didn’t love every story in this collection; some were just, “eh,” and some were good but not really my thing (I have a weak stomach, so some of them made me rather nauseous!).

She’s talking about my story! The one that Booklist called “disgusting yet hilarious”. I made the reviewer queasy. Tee hee. She also says the stories range from “funny to sweet and awkward to disgusting“. Disgusting! That’s my story again! I’m so happy.

You must all read the anthology and then let me know whether you think mine is the most disgusting story. I guarantee that it is. I’m so proud.

Why can’t I be Guest of Honour all the time?

I will confess that I was nervous about going to High Voltage ConFusion. There were several reasons for this:

  • I’m afraid of cold places. And Detroit in winter is COLD.1
  • I’d never been a guest of honour before and was worried I’d be crappy at it.
  • I was aware that most of the people at the con would not have heard of me or Scott and was worried that they would feel dudded of a proper author guest of honour what wrote adult sf and fantasy.

I need not have had any concerns at all. I was right that most of the people there didn’t know us or our work (unless they were a teen librarian or had teen children—there were precious few actual teens in attendance). But it turned out to be a really good thing. No pressure and no expectations. It was really relaxing. One of the most relaxing weekends I’ve had in ages.

Mostly because of Anne Murphy, our liaison. I had no idea that guests of honour get someone to take care of them. It was fabulous. Anne made sure we were fed and happy. She is the best liaison of all time. Thank you, Anne! Why can’t she take care of us all the time? We’re lost without you, Anne!

There was much fun. The Opening Ceremonies were hilarious. A picture of which below. Scalzi interviewing us was very silly and totally enjoyable. Though I was bummed he didn’t bring up unicorns or quokkas.

We got to design our own panels. Thank you so much con organisers for indulging us! And thus were able to vent about stuff that’s been bugging us for ages. Why is there so little sport in fantasy and sf? Why did our audience turn on us during that panel back in Boston in 2004? Do they really just love wheat?

Thus the wheat panel which was FABULOUS therapy for me and Scott, though audience members expecting us to follow the panel description might have been disappointed. Sorry about that! But thank you for not turning on us. You were the best audience ever. Actually, all the panel audiences were smart and engaged and awesome. Me and Scott were dead chuffed that as the weekend went on more and more folks were showing up to hear us gasbag and pontificate. Yay!

The sport panel was also wonderful. Though we had way too much to say and not enough time to say it in. I especially loved that the audience was almost entirely women. Hah! There was also a sports writer, Dave Hogg, in the audience (he really should have been on the panel) who turned out—along with his partner—to be a huge Detroit Shock fan. Go, WNBA! We had an excellently geeky women’s hoops gossip.

I’ll admit that my last few cons had left me with panel fatigue. But now I love them all over again. I wish I’d gotten to see some of the panels I wasn’t on. I heard that all of Kevin Dunn’s (the science guest of honour) were brilliant. He explained soap and and all sorts of other Caveman Chemistry. I can’t wait to read his book.

You’ll be shocked to hear, however, that the best fun was not had during the panels, but at the parties and in the bar, and just generally hanging out. The ConFusion organisers and regulars are the best people on the planet. Seriously I got into so many great conversations and arguments and teasing contests. I can’t wait to go back!2

May I share with you the three best words in the world?

Roaming Pirate Party


Thanks again, Hugh, for the photo.

I haz met the Roaming Pirate Party. They haz rum3 and pirate hats and jollity by the galleon load. Best pirates ever! I shall treasure my pirate hat and t-shirt for ever!

We got to catch up with old friends like Karen Meisner, John & Krissy Scalzi, and Doselle Young. Why don’t they all live MUCH closer to me? I miss you all already. Waahh!! Not to mention making stacks of new friends. You know who you are! Yanni! Brian! Aaron! And SO MANY OTHERS! You all made it the best weekend ever.

Hell, we even got to see a movie: Cloverfield and it were good. Very good indeed.

If anyone needs a guest of honour me and Scott are so up for it!

  1. How cold? Minus a million cold! That’s how cold. So cold that I’m back in NYC and it’s freezing and it seems warm in comparison. []
  2. Any chance you could move it to a warmer time of year? []
  3. Though, obviously, being a YA author I didn’t drink any of it. Heaven forfend! []

First Kiss

My first appearance in a YA anthology is now on the shelves: First Kiss (Then Tell): A Collection of True Lip-Locked Moments edited by Cylin Busby. I’m stoked to be in this collection. It’s dead funny and there’s not a dud story in sight. How could there be when they’re penned by the likes of Cecil Castellucci, Shannon Hale, David Levithan, Sarah Mlynowski, Laren Myracle, Robin Wasserman and Scott Westerfeld?1 If you don’t believe me about the fabulosity of this anthology then would you believe Booklist?

This entertaining collection of true “first kiss” stories by popular YA authors arrives just in time for Valentine’s Day. The risk of veering into groan-worthy, “when-I-was-your-age” territory always exists when adults reminisce about their teen years, but these authors treat their own stories with the same freshness and respect with which they approach their YA novels. The stories include Deb Caletti’s thrilling and empowering kiss, “as right as warm sidewalks and plums bought at roadside stands”; Cecil Castellucci’s secret and slightly shameful smooches with a bad boy; and Justine Larbalestier’s disgusting yet hilarious drunken kiss on a floating dock. Some stories are poems, one is a play, and a few are in comic form; despite the reality-based entries and mix of forms, the collection is classified as fiction. Kissing quotes and facts are interspersed, making this a good collection for browsing. The reader will finish this volume and know that whether a first kiss is anticipated or unexpected, dreamy or forgettable, this rite of passage provokes a complex mix of fear, excitement, and relief.

“Disgusting yet hilarious”. I am SO proud. Those words pretty much sum me up. However, the kiss I describe in that story was not, in fact, mine. I cheated and stole someone else’s story. And to make matters worse I can’t even remember whose story it is.

If you only read one anthology this year make it First Kiss!

And because I’m curious—anyone care to share the story of their first kiss? I’d share mine but I really can’t remember it. Sad, but true.

  1. Though, Scott cheated and wrote a haiku. []

Eine Kleine Madness and Magic

All three volumes of the Magic or Madness trilogy will be out in Germany in the next few months. Here’s what they look like:

These may well be my favourites out of all the trilogy’s covers.

Talk about eye-catching! She even looks a little bit like I imagined Reason looking. Though the nose is wrong, the face too narrow, and Reason doesn’t have facial tats or elf ears or blue-black hair and eyes . . . details, details.

Here’s the first page in German:

The Scalzi, Westerfeld and Me podcast continues

Here’s the

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

in which Scott threatens to push Scalzi out a window. Stoush!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

.

Magic or Madness turns Japanese

Guess what? The entire Magic or Madness trilogy just sold to the Japanese publisher, Hayakawa Shobo. That’s right! I’m going to be in Japanese! I can’t tell you how over the moon I am. Woo hooo!!!

Ever since I first heard about the whole foreign-rights thing there were two languages I’ve been desperate to be translated into: Spanish (cause I speak it un poco) and Japanese on account of my Japan obsession (oh, okay, mostly Kurosawa movies, Kimba, and now manga).

I screamed when I got the email. And started entertaining fantasies of a manga adaption following on from the straight translation. How cool would that be?

Now we just need to get a Spanish-language publisher to pick up the books and my life will be complete. For the record this is the ninth country that has bought the trilogy and the seventh language other than English.

I love being a writer. Especially when cool stuff happens without my lifting a finger. Bliss! Thank you, Whitney Lee, for all your hard work. You are the very best!

Magic or Madness in Italian


I know I said blogging about writerly achievements is tedious but I have to share when my books are translated. That’s not a writer skiting thing; it’s a publishing geek thing.

I love seeing what books are called in other markets. In this case Magic or Madness, the first book of the Magic or Madness trilogy, becomes The Revelation, book one of the Blood of the Witch trilogy.

Dark Magic is the name of the imprint. Also published on that list is none other than Margaret Mahy (!). Quite possibly the world’s finest living YA writer (along with Diana Wynne Jones). Not too shabby company, eh?

But what’s with the cat on the cover? There are no (living) cats in the trilogy! There is a key, but.

Awards

So, um, I seem to have won three awards this year. I know! I was as shocked as you. Anyways, I thought it might be fun to have a squiz at ‘em. For annoying scheduling reasons I managed not to be at any of the award ceremonies so I’ve only just got my hands on two of them and have yet to see the third. It’s back home in Sydney being babysat by my parents (thanks Jan and John!).

Here’s the Susan Koppelman (thanks for accepting it for me, Brian):


Photo by Scott Westerfeld

The Norton (thanks, Eloise):


Photo by Scott Westerfeld

And the William Atheling (thanks, Sean):

William Atheling Jr. Award
Photo by Niki Bern

Contrast in awards styles, eh? I loves it!

Interviews

My first interview for Colleen Mondor’s summer blog tour went up this morning. Twas conducted by the lovely Liz B of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.

Bored with reading about me? (Elvis knows, I am!) Then check out all these other interviews with folks like Gene Yang who won the Printz for American Born Chinese.

This whole week will be awash with interviewy goodness.

PS This is the post I was trying to put up when everything went down (again) this morning. It’s post number? 666.

airport bookshop happiness (updated)

On our way to Adelaide way back when, I checked out the bookshop at the Qantas domestic terminal in Sydney.

bookalicious!

Lo and behold, there were multiple copies of Magic’s Child. Woo hoo! I’ve never seen one of my books in an airport bookshop before. But even better there were books by Maureen Johnson and David Levithan and Garth Nix!!! All friends of mine.

And now looking at the photo I see there are books by Jack Heath (who I met at Reading Matters in Melbourne) and Melina Marchetta (who we house swapped with) and Sonya Hartnett (who I briefly met at Reading Matters). So not only is one of my books in an actual airport bookshop, it’s there with books by people I know and adore who are amazing writers. Woo hoo!!!

Yes, it is very sad what gets writers excited.

Update: Wow. That was quick. Someone just emailed to say they can’t tell which book is which.

Here’s a closer look:

closer

From right to left left to right. Sonya Hartnett’s Forest, Jack Heath’s Remote Control, and Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Then there’s Magic’s Child and David Levithan’s Are We There Yet?. And, last but definitely not least, Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road above many Garth Nix books.

Answers about The Ultimate Fairy Book

Thanks so much for all the warm yummy wishes. I’m bubbly and bouncing!

I’ve been getting some questions about my next book. I figured it would be most efficient to answer them all here:

Q: Will it be in hardcover or paperback?

A: Hardcover first and then later (don’t know how much later) paperback.

Q: Penni asked: Are you signing a contract for a book you haven’t written yet?

A: It’s like this: Bloomsbury have bought two books from me, the already-written UFB + an unwritten second book. Yes, that means I’ll be writing one novel of the contract to deadline. I know I said I wouldn’t do that anymore. But the writing-a-book-at-my-own-pace thing (which resulted in the UFB) was an experiment. I think I’m ready to tackle novel to deadline once again. Especially as I’ll have oodles of time and have already started a new novel. Plus Bloomsbury wanting a second book shows that they as a company are committed to me as a writer, which makes me feel warm and bubbly.

Q: Dess asked: Is there a difference between fairies and faeries?

A: There is. While as Diana pointed out they all have the same etymological root, in modern fantasy using “faerie” usually means the story will be influenced by Celtic or English mythology. There are lots of ballads that deal with the faerie folk. Those are a big influence on Holly Black’s work for instance. Her faerie are darker and scarier than mine. Also mine are invisible and not influenced by the Celtic or English traditions at all.

Q: Are there mangosteens and cricket matches and Elvis and monkey-knife fights in it?

A: Yes.

Q: Is it set in Australia?

A: Um. Sort of.

Q: Why did you leave your old publisher?

A: I had a three-book deal with Penguin/Razorbill for the Magic or Madness trilogy. So my contract with them was done. My new book is so completely different from the trilogy that it seemed a good time to find the best possible match for it. My agent and I both agree Bloomsbury are a wonderful home for the UFB.

Q: Maggie asked: Are ultimate fairies anything like extreme fairies?

A: Could be.

Bloomsbury Girl

My big news is that my next two books are going to be published by Bloomsbury USA. That’s right the great Aussie cricket mangosteen monkey knife fighting fairy YA novel has found a home! Not to mention an actual title: The Ultimate Fairy Book.

I am so excited I cannot sit still. I’m bouncing as I type this. I am all over with yays!

My new editor is Melanie Cecka who is wonderful. We had a three-hour lunch last year where we learned conclusively that we are each girls after each other’s heart. Hot sauce! Mexican food! Dessert! Love of many of the same books!

The whole team at Bloomsbury are incredibly impressive and seem to be almost as excited about my book as I am about becoming a Bloomsbury girl. It’s a match made in heaven. Just take a look at some of the books they publish! I am going to be on the same list as Shannon Hale, Simmone Howell, Susan Vaught, Herbie Brennan, Phillip Reeve! What’s not to love?

Before you ask The Ultimate Fairy Book or the UFB is scheduled to be published in Fall 2008 (ie September or October of next year). I know some of you will think that is a long, long, long, way away, but I was very surprised that they’re going to publish it so soon. Most publishers have already planned their Fall 08 list and are now plannning their 2009 books. I squealed when I heard it was coming out next year. More yays!

Also being on the Fall list in the US of A (and let’s face it where else do they even have a fall1?) is a Very Big Deal. The majority of the books featured at BEA, for instance, are Fall titles.

  1. Where I come from it’s autumn. []

Romans a clef

Maud Newton keeps raving about books I used to love as a kid. First she went back and reread East of Eden and found it just as fabby as the first time she read it thus compelling me to do the same and find the same (ah, the bliss of that book!) and now she’s talking about Somerset Maugham with whom I was OBSESSED in years seven and eight. Me and my friend Michal read all his novels and short stories we could find. It was heaven. So much melodrama! So much angst! And unlike (most) Steinbeck—so many funny bits!

My Maugham love is why I booked us into the Somerset Maugham Suite at Raffles1 for Scott’s birthday. Twas a ittle bit naughty seeing as how I didn’t know Scott’s feelings about Mr Maugham. I am so glad I did because on the writing desk of the suite we found several collections of Maugham’s essays and memoirs which I’d never read before. We spent a whole day lazing about reading his thoughts on writing, which led to much reading out loud of particularly excellent passages and then long discussions.2 Most. Relaxing. Day. Ever.

Maud mentions Somerset Maugham’s most excellent roman a clef, Cakes and Ale, which deals with London literary life in the 1920s and is deliciously catty about several writers, most notably Horace Hugh Walpole. Maugham wrote to Walpole to deny having lampooned him even though it was obviously true3. I can just see Walpole’s response: “Please!”

I now have to reread Cakes and Ale because I distinctly remember that it was the one book of his that did not impress me at thirteen. Who cares about a bunch of whingey writers? BORING!

I doubt I will have the same response now that I am a whingey writer myself. And more to the point I’m a whingey writer who hangs out with other whingey writers. This is very strange but somehow I have wound up being part of a literary circle.4 We hang out together. We talk books and writing. We read and comment on each other’s work. We bitch about each other. We are just like Maugham and co way back when.5

Oh. My. Elvis!

Which raises the question who will be the first to write the roman a clef about the YA writers scene in New York? Surely it’s time! I demand that we be satirised!6 Immediately! Hurry up!

Why is no one scribbling away?!

Do I have to do this myself?

  1. Is there any way to type those words without coming across like a wanker? Though actually those words are more wanky back home than in the US of A. When boasting that we were going to be at Raffles I discovered that nobody in America has even heard of it. Good Grief. It’s only one of the most famous hotels in the world! What on Earth do USians learn in school anyway? []
  2. I must get copies so that I can share all the good bits. He has much to say about a working writer’s life. []
  3. He admitted it after Walpole’s death. []
  4. I’m not going to link to those people because I’m jetlagged and it’s the wee hours and I’m bound to leave someone out and offend them. Or include someone and offend them. []
  5. Except not as talented. I speak for myself on that one. There will be no tickets written on this blog! []
  6. By someone other than Gawker. []

Adelaide

Am in the pretty churchy city of Adelaide for a wedding. What larks. I love weddings! And these two crazy kids are great together. But internet access is not so much limited as BLOODY EXPENSIVE. Stupid gouging hotels! Colour me outraged.

So quickly: “gaol” is an another spelling of that place where people are locked up which is usually spelled “jail”. It ain’t slang. It used to be the only way the word was spelled but is on its way out. I cling to it out of love and perversity.

And thanks again for all the congrats on the Norton win. I can’t believe I’m still getting them! Yay! And an even bigger yay for the impact it’s had on my Amazon sales and my secret NYC bookseller friend who told me she has some people come in and ask for the Norton winner. Who knew?

Have any of you read any Jacqueline Wilson books? Some of you must have given that she’s sold gazillion billion trillion copies. I’ve been reading and really enjoying her Girls in Love books. Lovely.

And now I go before they demand my first born child.

Overwhelmed + Harry Potter

Thank you everyone for all the posts, comments and emails of congratulations on Magic or Madness winning the Norton. I’m completely overwhelmed. So happy! So dance-y! And so going to knock off some champers with my parents and Scott to celebrate tonight.

The only thing I feel a little weird about is Megan Whalen Turner’s King of Attolia not winning. As I’ve mentioned before the Attolia trilogy has been a touchstone for me ever since I first read The Thief way back when and even more since Queen of Attolia broke my brain in about twelve different ways. If you haven’t read the trilogy than I urge you once again to do so.

So Harry Potter. I’m hearing lots of speculation that Rowling is going to off Harry. Like this exchange reported by the lovely Cassie Clare:

CC: So, book 7. Harry dies?
Bookseller 1: God, I hope so.
Bookseller 2: But I don’t want him to go out like Sirius. He’s got to bite it in a definitive way so we know he’s really dead and is NEVER COMING BACK.
BS1: I want to see internal organs hanging from the ceiling. I want his liver splattered on the wall.
BS2: And then Draco should eat it.

I would like to go on the record as saying that while personally I hope Harry dies cause I find his endless whingeing annoying, professionally I desperately need him to live.

The death of Harry will so deeply traumatise fans that they are very likely to give up reading all together. Which would be a DISASTER!

Think of the drop in book sales! Think of me and Scott and all the other writers and publishers and editors and booksellers and printers and all the other people employed by the publishing industry having to support ourselves by scrounging for the change that’s fallen down the back of the couch!

And if the publishing industry collapses, then surely the paper industry will take a huge hit, not to mention the producers of inks, and everyone who works at libraries and schools. Literacy may end.

If Harry Potter dies the world as we know it will fall apart!

I know the book’s prolly already printed and everything, but if you’re reading this, Ms Rowling, it’s not too late to rewrite the ending if you did, in fact, do that dreadful world-destroying thing. I’m begging you, DO NOT KILL HARRY!!!

Am I wrong? Does anyone else fear a Harry Potter led end of the world?

Wow

I appear to have won an Andre Norton Award for the first book in the Magic or Madness trilogy. Someone pinch me!

This is super amazing because:

  • The books on the shortlist with Magic or Madness are absolutely fantastic.
  • It means I’m in the very tiny club of Norton Award winners with the brilliant Holly Black who won the inaugural award last year for Valiant.
  • I’ve won an award named in honour of one of the most important writers of young adult fantasy books. How cool is that?
  • Now when I’m described as an award-winning author it’s true!

Here’s the speech that Eloise Flood who published and edited the trilogy (as well as Scott’s Peeps and Maureen’s Devilish, which were also up for the award) delivered on my behalf at the ceremony:

Wow. Really. Wow.

This is such an honour. I’m a huge fan of genre YA and in particular of every book on this year and last year’s Norton shortlist. I’m not kidding. These are some of the best books out there: genre or not, YA or not. I can’t believe I’m on this list. And I REALLY can’t believe I won. You guys did read the other books on the list, didn’t you?

I’m bummed that I can’t be here but thrilled that Eloise Flood, who discovered me, nurtured me, and made me as a YA author is accepting on my behalf. Thank you for everything, Eloise! And thank you Liesa Abrams, Andy Ball, Margaret Wright, Kristen Pettit and the whole Razorbill team. You’re all awesome.

Thanks to everyone who nominated and voted for this award. Genre YA1 is in the midst of a Golden Age. The books are better than ever before. More kids and teens are reading than ever before. And these readers are the future of our genre and the future of literature.

This is a truly amazing time. I’m so proud to be part of it. I bet Andre Norton would be thrilled as well to see what she has wrought.

  1. Actually I think all of YA is in the midst of a Golden Age, not just genre. This has been an amazing week. I’m bouncing! []

Oh. My. Elvis.

I just found out that Magic Lessons is on the shortlist for a Locus Award. Check out who else is on the list:

    Best Young Adult Book

    Spirits That Walk in Shadow by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
    Magic Lessons by Justine Larbalestier
    Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin
    The Keys to the Kingdom: Sir Thursday by Garth Nix
    Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

Talk about stellar! Those are some of the best writers in the YA universe! I’m on a shortlist with Ursula Le Guin! I think I’m going to faint.

There are other wonderful books up for Locus awards, including Samuel R. Delany’s About Writing and Julie Phillips’ Tiptree biography for best non-fiction, Ellen Kushner’s Privilege of the Sword for best fantasy, Ellen Klages’ Green Glass Sea and Naomi Novik’s Temeraire for best first novel. Woo hoo!! Congratulations to them all! And if you haven’t already read these then you really really ought to!