A Few More Fairies + Michigan week

Time for some more YA celebrity fairies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I digress.

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

Please to find my touring schedule for this week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liberty wins + appearance

The New York Liberty won the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals. It was an ugly win. An ugly game. The only grace notes were Deanna Nolan’s gorgeous shooting—I swear she stays up in the air for seconds at a time, she looks great even when she misses—the great turnout, and the fact that we won.

I didn’t think it was possible for me to hate Bill Laimbeer more than I do. But his performance tonight pushed my hate a few notches upward. How he managed not to get a delay of game call or a technical I will never understand. Sit down, Bill!

Later today I will be in Larchmont, which is a mere twenty minutes from Grand Central:

Saturday, 27 September 2008, 1:00PM
Voracious Reader
1997 Palmer Ave
Larchmont, NY

I am wondering if this is the Larchmont that the term Larchmont lockjaw comes from. I hope I get to meet some of you there.

A most excellent day

The sun is shining, the sky is clear, you can see the entire length of the avenue, the Chrysler Building gleams and last night the New York Liberty made it into the conference finals. Let’s go, Liberty! (And San Antonio got through to their conference finals. Oh, how I long for those two to meet in the WNBA finals. That would make my year!)

My editor loves my new book, work is going great on the even newer book—how much fun is it researching NYC in the thirties? VERY FUN—and HTDYF keeps getting lovely reviews. In my world everything is fabulous.1

How about youse lot? I had to shut down the old Good News post on account of evil spam so why not tell me your good news and sources of happiness here instead?

Me, I’m turning the computer off and going out to enjoy the glorious, glorious day!



  1. *Cough* It helps to not read newspapers or news blogs. []

More fairies + two events this week

Because you deserve it, some more YA author fairies for your delectation:

Penni Russon, author of the wondrous Undine trilogy, has a most useful fairy:

I have a voice recognition fairy – with her help I can always pick out celebrity voices in animations. As you might imagine this is a very useful skill and has served me well on numerous occasions.

I wish I had a zen master fairy to help with the parenting of the children.

Lauren Myracle, author of the amazing and terrifying Bliss, had this to say when I asked her what her fairy is:

My Starbucks fairy simply loves Starbucks and steers me toward one EVERY DAY, regardless of any opinion *I* might have on the matter. And makes me order mochas, which aren’t really coffee at all, and which do not have the benefits of wheatgrass. 😉

Personally I would rather die than have that fairy. Coffee? *Shudder*

Alaya Johnson, author of the wonderful, Racing the Dark,1 desires a much better fairy:

I’d like a cooking fairy. Specifically, I want one that specializes in making injera, because if there’s a way to cook that Ethiopian flatbread of unbelievable deliciousness without magical intervention, I’d like to know it. I have spent many hours in the kitchen, fermenting and stirring and scraping, and the best I’ve come up with resembles sour construction paste. Yuck!

I have also tried and failed to cook injera. Le sigh.

Click here to see other YA writers’ fairies.

If you want to tell me about your fairies and you’re in the Philadelphia or NYC area you can do so at the following events:

Wednesday, 24 September, 7:00PM
Big Blue Marble Bookstore
551 Carpenter Lane
Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, 27 September 2008, 1:00PM
Voracious Reader
1997 Palmer Ave
Larchmont, NY

For those NYCers who’ve been complaining that I’m not doing any events in the city, Larchmont is a mere twenty minutes away from Grand Central Station and the Voracious Reader is a mere five minutes from the station. Easy peasy.

Hope to meet some of you soon!

  1. Hey, Alaya, when are we going to get the sequel? []

Quick answer

I’m getting lots of questions about the HTDYF tour and how it’s going etc. I’ll be posting about the first leg of the tour—Northern California—in the next few days. In the meantime what I’ve loved most is meeting other lovers of YA books—students, readers, booksellers, sales reps, teachers, librarians—and talking about our favourite books. It’s been a blast. Especially this year when there have been so many amazing books.

I can’t wait to find out what everyone’s reading in Philadelphia, Larchmont, and next week in Michigan.

Oh, and don’t forget, next week is Banned Books Week as this excellent editorial reminded me. (Via Lisa Yee.)

Borderlands cat

I have never published a photo of a cat on my blog before. This is because I believe it is a cheap way to gain visitors to your blog. I have vowed never to stoop so low.

However, I recently stopped in at Borderlands Books to say hi to Jude and sign stock. A visit to Borderlands also means hanging out with Ripley the store cat. Ripley is the weirdest looking cat I have ever seen. She’s a Sphynx, who are hairless space aliens. Ripley was recovering from surgery and attired in an old t-shirt to protect her stitches. This made her somewhat grumpy. As it would.

Fortunately there is now a second Borderlands cat, Ash, who deigned to gift us with her presence:

She’s only pretending to not be interested in How To Ditch Your Fairy. She actually LOVED it. She has a people fairy. They will do whatever she wants them to.

She can also fly. This photo was taken just before take-off:

And here she is investigating the strange new person:

Fortunately she decided not to have me killed. Phew, eh?

Ciao San Francisco

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

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

We hope to see you there!

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

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

(I’m in so much trouble. Heh.)

Why I like the Bay Area

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

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

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

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

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

And now I must go out and tour some more.

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

I do not like junk food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updated HTDYF Tour Info

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

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

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

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

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

How To Ditch Your Fairy tour (updated)

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

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

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

Update: The word “upstate” has been removed.

Not up to me

It’s so lovely to have you writing and commenting here on the blog asking me to come to your neck of the woods. I’m dead chuffed and flattered. Thank you!

Tragically, it’s not up to me. My tour is organised by my publisher, Bloomsbury. More specifically the wonderful Deb Shapiro is the tour boss. She’s the one who spends ages finding out which book shops/trade shows/schools are interested in having me show up. Then she had to check all the possibilities, check my availability, and then line up all the places and dates to make it all fit together. Having fans in an area is not enough to guarantee an appearance.

According to the venerable agent, Molly Friedrich, being a publicist is the hardest job in publishing. I don’t doubt it, watching Deb at work. Because she’s not just organising publicity for my book, but for all the other Bloomsbury Children’s books. I suspect Deb is the hardest working woman in publishing in the entire world. I do not know when she sleeps.

Most writers set up their own appearances. Both Scott and me did. We volunteered for reading programs like the NYRSF, which has been going for many years now. We organised events where we lived: Sydney or New York City. Or at cons we attended. I had a book launch at a con in Melbourne and one in Madison, Wisconsin. Early in our careers we didn’t have the resources (time or money) to set up a book tour of our own. We didn’t have the contacts a publicist has and we couldn’t afford to hire one. Also there was no demand. When you’re unknown it’s hard to get people interested in hosting you.

Basically, if you want me to come to your town you need to badger your local book shop to badger my publicist to get me there.

I hope that explains how it works. If I wind up not going to your town or city it’s not because I don’t love you, but because no book shop or library there wanted to host me. Or because there was no way it could be made to fit into the tour schedule.

And remember, I don’t have the full tour schedule yet. There will be more places and dates added in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

September is HTDYF month

On 16 September How To Ditch Your Fairy will find its way on to the book shelves of the USA and Canada. I am vastly excited.

Why am I excited? you ask.

I mean, yes, this is my fourth novel. You would think that I’d be jaded and bored with the whole thing by now and yet I am not. Here’s why:

  1. This is my first novel in 18 months. Yes, it’s been a veritable drought!
  2. It’s my first non-Magic or Madness novel. I will confess that by book three I was bored out of my gourd with Reason and Tom and Jay-Tee.1 It was a huge pleasure to write something completely different.
  3. And trust me it really is completely different. For starters it’s funny. Also there are no mathmatical geniuses to hurt this poor writer’s head. There’s lots of sport, even cricket. Not to mention mangosteens and ——s. I know how much you lot love ——s.
  4. Even if you hate sport you will still enjoy it. I road-tested it on several of my sport-hating friends2 and they didn’t even notice the sport. Cunning, aren’t I?
  5. It’s my first novel with my brand new publisher Bloomsbury and they’re sending me on my very first tour. I know! How exciting is that? Vastly! I only have a few dates confirmed so far but will let you all know as soon as I know.

There’s an extract from the book here, also a list of known fairies, and a glossary.

So I don’t seem like a total self-promoting bore let me mention some other books that are out this month.3 Books that are so brilliantly awesome your brains will explode with joy as you read them:

    Kin by Holly Black
    Part one of the best graphic novel ever. Faery and betrayal.

    Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale
    Also the best graphic novel ever. A non-wimpy Rapunzel. Hurrah!

    Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin
    Gorgeous sex-changing screwball comedy.

    Bliss by Lauren Myracle
    Clever creepy scary excellence. *Shudder*

    Skinned by Robin Wasserman
    A different kind of creepy excellence. My favourite YA science fiction novel of the year.

Although these books could not be more different they all have one thing in common: I read them in one sitting. Completely unable to put the book down. Go forth and read!

And while you’re at it check out Scott’s interview with Lauren.

  1. I don’t know how authors of long-running series do it. I think I’d kill myself. []
  2. Of whom I know way to many []
  3. Or just came out. []

When writing is easy

Socialising gets hard.

You know what I mean. When you’re so buried in your book that you can’t remember how to talk to people who aren’t imaginary.

I’m off to see E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle talk about the book they wrote together, How To Be Bad, at Books of Wonder.

18 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

If I seem crappy at talking you’ll know why.

No WisCon for me

Several peoples have writ me saying, “See you at WisCon!” Alas and alack they will not. Scott’s niece Renee is graduating and we will be there to cheer her on. Go, Renee!

This is the second year in a row we have not been. I does not like it. WisCon is my favourite con in the whole world filled with all my favourite peoples. I love it so much that for a while there I organised the academic track and then the readings. I feel like I am a WisCon hometown girl. And here I am missing it again. Wah. Bad enough that I haven’t been to my real home in a year.

Hope everyone has fun without me. Even though that’s a little bit rude. I think you should all try to suffer for at least ten minutes or so. But, of course, because you’re all already in Madison you won’t even read this. Sigh.

Vicious dogs and other joys

The main reason I haven’t been blogging (or answering email) much on this trip is that even when we have internet access there’s been no time. We has been busy with appointments and meetings and research. Almost all of which has been most excellent fun, but away-from-computer fun.1 This has been the best trip ever. I don’t see why we ever have to go home.2

One of the most excellent things we did in Bologna3 (other than meeting with many of our publishers and agents at the Book Fair) was grabbing a cab up to San Luca, the gorgeous church that looks down on the town.

The view is indeed stunning but my crappy phone camera was not up to it. Instead it managed to capture this encounter between Scott and a vicious dog. First the dog tried to tear apart Scott’s trouser legs with its teeth. Scott valiantly resisted. Sadly that part of the battle was not captured, but I did catch the maneater pretending like it had never even seen a trouser leg:

Next Scott set about slowly disarming his enemy:

Until it was putty in his arms.

Or is that a puppy? Once again man conquers nature. Or something . . .

After we’d recovered from that searing encounter, we headed down the hill into town. Conveniently there is a very very very long set of porticoes that run all the way from the church back into town. The porticoes mean it is impossible to get lost as you walk back. Even those of us who are directionally impaired.4

Once back in Bologna we returned to work at the Book Fair. Where en route to our next appointments we checked out the wall of amateur art, all vying to capture the attention of publishers. Some of it’s amazing:

We also had a squizz at the official exhibition of Argentinian illustrators, which was stunning. This is my favourite though stupidly I didn’t note down the artist’s name:

I also got one of the roaming book model robots to pose for a photo. Not really a coup given that that’s their job, but still I’d never seen such life-like robots before:

Doesn’t she look nice? I’m all for robots. Well, unless they start writing books, that is. Only humans can write books!

More next time we get a window of time + internet access. Maybe I will share our Friedrichshafen zeppelin adventure. Or possibly the world’s largest Tyrolean bathroom.

Who knows? Bye till then.

  1. Who knew such fun even existed? []
  2. Why, Scott? []
  3. Wow, that seems a long time ago now. We are now in Friedrichshafen (Germany) and have also been in Bolzano (Italy) and a gorgeous Tyrolean spa just outside Innsbruck (Austria). []
  4. I’m not, but a certain person I spend a lot of time with is. Not naming names or anything. []

Bologna (updated)

We are in Bologna at the Children’s Book Fair. There are five of us in a tower flat. Me, Scott, Holly, Cassie and Maureen. We are the Tower Gang.

So far we have eaten really good food, gossiped and walked under many porticoes. Tomorrow the fair starts and we meet our non-English language publishers. And we eat more good food.

My life is so very hard.

Update: Fine. Here have some photos. Courtesy of Maureen, which is why she is not in them. I will remedy that later.

Rome = good; Internet = not so much

Food, wine, old stuff, spring blossoms. All of it fabulous. Rome is gorgeous. I’m even getting writing done. Yay!

Internet is for crap, however. Le sigh on hotels and their inability to join the 21st century. Sorry for the non-response to emails, comments etc. Normal service will resume at some point in the future.

In the meantime to all those who asked: Yes, I will be at Scott’s event at Harrod’s in London:

Tuesday, 25 March, 3PM
Waterstone’s Harrods
Children’s Book Department
Harrods, 87 Brompton Road
London SW1X 7XL
on the 4th floor
Further details: 0207 730 1234

Hope to see a few of you there.

Rome: Friday, 21 March 2008, 11AM.

Writers and fans

Thanks for all the deeply smart and thoughtful comments to yesterday’s question. You lot are awesome.

Youse lot have gotten me thinking muchly on the topic. On the one hand, I am a fan of many writers I’ve never met, like, Denise Mina, Meg Cabot, Geraldine McCaughrean, Walter Mosley, Megan Whalen Turner, Peter Temple and would probably embarrass myself by breathless gushing all over them if we were ever to meet. On the other hand, I’m a working writer who knows a lot of working writers and knows that we’re not particularly different from everyone else. (Well, except for Maureen Johnson . . . )

I put it like this to Holly Black:

It does not surprise me in the slightest that Karen Joy Fowler and Ursula Le Guin are friends. But it surprises me HUGELY that I am making a living as a writer and therefore I have many writer friends. I constantly have to pinch myself. How on Earth did I get here? Please don’t let anyone take it away!

That fear is real: many writers don’t make a living at it for their whole lives. It takes a long time for most of us to get published (took me close to twenty years) and then once you are published there’s no guarantee that your books will keep selling. Styles of writing go out of fashion. So do genres.

Your comments were all so useful, I thought I’d respond in more detail:

Danica’s point is a really good one: “I guess we (meaning non-writers) don’t always think of publishing as an industry and don’t realize that most writers must be connected somehow.”

That’s so true. I remember the first science fiction convention I went to back in 1993. I was astonished to see all these writers and editors I’d heard of in the one place. All of them clearly knew each other and were, in fact, a community. A pretty big community that consisted not only of those whose living was directly tied to the publishing industry (writers, editors, publishers, publicists etc) but also readers and fans and a handful of students and scholars. Long before I sold a single short story I was becoming friends with the likes of Ellen Datlow, Samuel R. Delany, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, and Terri Windling. It was astonishing.

That community—of science fiction people— is the oldest genre community I know of and has roots that go back to the late 1920s. There are also romance communities, crime fiction communities, YA communities etc., and to a lesser extent mainstream lit fic communities (though I suspect that the easy access of fans to pros is not so strong in the lit fic world).

Tole said: “Perhaps it’s not so much that we are surprised that you know each other, as much as amazed at how lucky you are to not only have the talent and perseverance to write a novel, but that you have an amazing set of friends as well.”

I am also amazed by that. I mean, yes, I said above that we’re not that different from everyone else, but my writer friends understand the ins and outs of this weird job we have better than anyone else. No matter what questions I have there’s someone I know who’s been through it before and can help me out. “My book’s been remaindered! Does that mean my career is over?” “Barnes & Noble aren’t stocking my book! Does that mean my career is over?” “How do you write action scenes?” “What’s the best writing software?” and so on and so forth. When I have a success that’s hard to explain to people outside the industry (my book is on the BBYA) my YA writer friends get it and can celebrate with me and vice versa.

Having peers is a wonderful, wonderful thing. And when your peers are as talented and amazing as mine. Well, it’s pinching yourself time.

JS Bangs made two excellent points:

1) People think of authors as solitary geniuses scribbling away and living on water and crusts of bread, without any contact with others of their kind.

2) It feeds people’s fear that the publishing industry is all about who you know.

1) There are writers like that. There are definitely working writers who live a long way from their peers and don’t ever meet them at conferences and convention and so on. But I think they’re getting rarer. The internet has allowed more and more people in the same industry to be in contact with each other and break down that isolation. Is very good thing!

2) Oh, yes, that old bugbear. Pretty much every industry from medicine to the building industry to agriculture has a certain amount of who-you-know going on. The world runs on personal relationships. What most people who are paranoid about the publishing industry don’t get is that an unpublished writer knowing some editors may get them read but guarantees nothing beyond that. I’ve had editor friends since 1993. A decade later I sold my first novel.

I know plenty of writers who started selling before they’d met a single person in the industry.1 Knowing people in the industry means that it’s easier to figure out how it works—you have friends you can ask—but it doesn’t mean anything if you have no talent.

Camille expanded on the solitary point: “I think, too, it’s because you can write from anywhere. With lawyers and professors and the like, generally you have to congregate in a place to get anything done. (Less now, with the Internet, but still, predominantly people go TO work.) You HAVE to physically associate with your colleagues. Writers can live anywhere and yeah, somebody above said we think of writing as being a solitary exercise.”

That’s true. Part of my knowing so many writers has to do with my living in two very big cities: Sydney and NYC. And in both cities the writers in my genre have made an effort to make contact. Because so many of us write alone, I think the need for community is much stronger than those who work with people in their profession every day.

Of course, there are still writers out there who don’t know other writers and aren’t part of any writing communities.

Herenya: “I think it’s because we know who these other writers are. If I started talking about who my friends are, people would look at me blankly because none of my friends have done anything to warrant that sort of recognition (yet!) But you talk about your friends, and I think ‘oh, yes, I know who they are, I was reading one of their books yesterday.’ It’s a bit like the same sense of surprise you get when you find you and a friend / acquaintance ‘know’ someone in common, but with the awe factor involved, because we only know them through their writing and not personally.”

That makes a lot of sense to me and jibes with my own experience. The awe factor is nicely summed up by Bill: “Myself, I’m still so amazed that certain books exist at all (say, Stranger in a Strange Land) I can’t rationally believe that it was typed by hand by a human being named Robert Heinlein. Books, especially books that change your life, are inherently mystical objects to those of us on the receiving end.”

Even though I write books myself, I still feel that way about the books that move me. There is something fundamentally mysterious about the process of creating (no matter what you create). I think that’s why so many writers struggle to explain where they get their ideas.

On that note, I should probably get back to doing some creating of my own.

  1. Scott Westerfeld and John Scalzi are two that come to mind. []

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! []

The juvenilia panel

I have returned home to oceanic amounts of work. It is crazed!

But I must tell you briefly about the Juvenilia panel at High Voltage ConFusion before it all fades from my memory.

Short version: Best. Panel. Ever.

Longer version: It were me, Scott and Merrie Haskell. I cheated and read cute stuff from when I was 7 or 8. And some pretentious 10 year old stuff. They were brave and read teenage monstrosities so bad that we wept on account of laughing so hard. WEPT!

John Scalzi moderated and he was so appalled by the pretentious badness of Scott’s writing that he couldn’t look at Scott directly. It was AWESOME.

The best lines were:

Merrie Haskell: “Keeper of Earth Gaia,” the Light One said arrogantly, “I honor you with my manhood.”

Scott Westerfeld: Recognition of the House of Eleven took no long time, and the lady midst the compliment was none other than wench Mary, a liaress whom I had met before in the rank combats of her style, and who had left more than one of the Clan Demonus with garrote between chin and breathless breast.

Oh no, I starts to laugh all over again . . .

Heh hem. In addition to being really really really funny. Sharing our crappy writing from when we were beginning writers has the salutary effect of making it clear to those what aspire to be published writers but aren’t there yet that we published folk didn’t step fully formed from Zeus’s head. There was lots and lots and lots of bad words and phrases and sentences and stories and novels written before we were good enough to be read by anyone other than our doting parents.

Every con should have a juvenilia panel. I’ve been on two. The other one was in Brisbane in 2006 with Kim Wilkins and Sean Williams. It was just as fabulous and funny as the ConFusion one. Better in a way because the audience was much bigger thus more people got to laugh at our stumbling first writing steps.

The great photo quest continues

The reason for which are posted most indiscreetly on Scott’s blog.

I’d just like to share with you my favourite photo so far:

Kevin Dunn (science guest of honour) plus me and me old man at High Voltage Confusion in Detroit.

Why pirate hats you ask? If I told you I’d have to kill you.

And, yes, if you have any other photos of us we’d love to see ’em.

Thank you so much everyone for all the photos you’ve pointed us to. We REALLY appreciate it!


Because we’re on a juvenilia panel at ConFusion, Scott is in the next room making strange noises. Some of it is laughter, most of it is groans. He’s reading through stuff he wrote when he was a teenager.

Because all my juvenilia is back in Sydney, my wonderful mother transcribed some of the earliest stuff to send me. Bless you, Jan. I just read through it.

Oh, dear.

Sad to say, but there is not an inkling of genius in either of our earliest writings. Wow. We must have worked pretty hard in the intervening years learning how to, you know, construct a sentence or two that don’t completely suck.

I might put some of it up on our sites to demonstrate that even the most talentless kid can grow up to be a writer.

In the meantime, we’re off to snowy Detroit, for the fun and laughter of ConFusion. Hope to see some of you there. We’re not bringing our computers so blogging is unlikely.

Here’s my favourite sentence from my juvenilia written when I was about 7 or 8:

A long time ago there lived a group of dragons that were called the toughies.

Don’t have too much fun while I’m away!

The other options

Some are saying that the poll is rigged because I’m only showing pictures of dresses. So in the interests of fairness here are what the other High Voltage ConFusion clothing options look like:

The mighty zoot suit
Who can not love it’s exaggerated shoulders? The lurid colours? The delicious saxophone wail that you are sure to hear everywhere you go?

I will admit that this is not the best example of the zoot, but I am trying to get books written, you know! I have a vivid memory of Kid Creole (of Kid Creole & the Coconuts fame) attired in a lime green and black one. Exquisite!

The purple jump suit

Because what other colour could a jump suit possibly be? Plus can double as pyjamas. Who would not look adorable wearing it?

Elvis’s gold lame suit

Do I even need to explain why this is the best suit of all time? A billion Elvis fans cannot be wrong.

I do have a sneaking suspicion, however, that it only truly looks good on Elvis himself and that anyone else wearing it will be a bit trag. But then I don’t think anyone but Elvis is allowed to sing “Suspicious Minds”. Mmmm . . . Elvis.

Skirt and top

In theory, far less exciting than a ball gown, and, yet, look what Vivienne Westwood does with it! Splendificerly wondrous fabulosity! Imagine the grand entrance you’d make swishing into a con dressed in this ensemble? Those boots! Those colours! That fabric! Does anything beat silk taffeta? Westwood doesn’t think so. She says you can wear it straight from your suitcase. No need to hang it. I just question how big the suitcase would need to be . . .

How to choose between them all?

Don’t forget the dress piccies here and here.

Mmm . . . clothes.

It’s heartening that you are all so solidly behind my going out and being a conspicuous consumer. Fortunately most of these outfits are not available new and must be purchased from vintage clothing providores, or, you know, stolen from museums . . . (Not that I would do that, because stealing is wrong.) So, it’s really recycling and very environmentally sound and not conspicuous consumption at all!

What a good world citizen I am. Oh, hush!

Or this one?

The voting says I should definitely get a new dress. Take that, Scott!

The first dress is here. But how about this one:

Marc Audibet for Vionnet

Or maybe this (look! black gloves!):

John Galliano for Christian Dior

Thinking about dresses is something else that’s much much easier than writing . . .

Because Scalzi made us do it

Next weekend Scott Westerfeld and yours truly will be guests of honour at the 2008 High Voltage ConFusion science fiction convention. It’s our very first time being guests of honour and we are stoked. TOTALLY stoked. In fact I’m so very stoked I’m thinking of celebrating with the purchase of a new dress. Surely, being guest of honour requires new clothes, right? I gotta look pretty, don’t I? If you have an opinion on this Very Important Matter please to express it in the poll to your right.

I’m thinking this one, though with black gloves not white:

Vivienne Westwood’s Watteau ball gown

Here’s Scott and mine’s schedule. Because we are joint guests of honour we are doing everything together:


1900 Den 1 Interview: Author GoHs by John Scalzi
Tee hee! Mr Scalzi will ask us questions and we will plead the fifth and get away with it because we know where he buried the bodies. I suspect zombies will be mentioned.

2000 Salon FGH Opening Ceremonies
We will say a few words but there won’t be an actual speech speech. Some of my words will be “quokka”, “zombie”, and “oscillate”, or maybe not. Depends.

2100 Salon FGH Dessert Reception
Where we eat dessert and natter with folks what want to natter.

2200 Den 1 Originality is Overrated
There’s this idea that writers work entirely alone and create their work out of whole cloth. That’s rubbish. If a work were wholly original no one would be able to read it. All writers are influenced by those who came before them. Most writers talk to other writers. Many are in writers’ groups and even those that aren’t frequently read and comment on each other’s work. Let’s talk about the influence and community that writers share. Even when they don’t know each other. Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld (M), Patrick Nielsen Hayden, John Scalzi, Patrick Rothfuss and Doselle Young.

I confess that I wrote this description on account of it’s something that drives me crazy and I’m looking forward to talking about it with such esteemed and smart companions. Especially Doselle. Everything is better if Doselle is involved.


1100 Den 1 Fantastic Sports
Organized sports are a vital part almost every culture on the globe. But sf and fantasy novels tend to overlook this key aspect of world-building. We examine what sports are and what they tell us about a culture, and dig up some good examples in sf and fantasy. Justine Larbalestier (M), Scott Westerfeld, Steve Ainsworth, Dave Klecha and Catherine Shaffer.

Mmmm . . . sport. If I weren’t moderator I would just spend the session teaching USians cricket.

1300 Salon G Juvenilia
Writers dust off the storage trunks, turn off the shame meter, and read from their 5th- through 12th-grade works of unalloyed proto-genius. A great way for young writers in the audience to feel much better about their own efforts. Justine Larbalestier (M), Scott Westerfeld, Merrie Haskell, K. Tempest Bradford and Marcy Italiano.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that Scalzi is not on this panel. Laughing at his early writing efforts was the whole reason I agreed to go to ConFusion!

1400 Den 1 SF Is Not Dead
More sf is written and consumed these days than every before, in the form of manga, video games, rpgs, and YA lit. Yet our beloved field constantly bemoans its own demise, while ignoring those 100,000 crazy kids down the road at Comicon. How do we connect these two worlds of sf? Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld (M), Anne Harris, Jim Frenkel and Peter Halasz.

Because me and Scott are sick to death of hearing the folks in the old sf people’s home whingeing about the death of sf. It ain’t dead! It’s doing just fine, thanks.

1500 Den 1 Golden Age of Young Adult Lit
Some argue that the YA books being published now are some of the best the field has ever seen. There are more of them, the quality is better, and the authors are being paid more. Is now the Golden Age of Young Adult Literature? And if so what does that mean for the next generation of readers? Justine Larbalestier (M), Scott Westerfeld, Steve Climer, Suzanne Church and Peter Halasz.

I think it is. I also think it’s just going to get better and better and better.

1700 All-Author Autographing Session
If you have books you want strange author types to scribble on here’s your chance.

2100 Concierge Literary Beer
The only thing we’re doing that you have to sign up for. It’ll be me and Scott sitting around with a smallish group of interested folks and answering their questions while we all drink beer (or water or whatever you wish to drink. I wish to drink Krug—I hope the ConCom is on top of that!).


1100 Salon H Gluten-Free Fantasy
Most medieval cultures didn’t have chainmail, swords, horses, or wheat. Yet the overwhelming majority of medieval cultures in fantasy do. What do we stand to gain by breaking the bonds of Europe on our collective imagination? And what’s so scary about bolas, sled-dogs, and rice? Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, John Scalzi, Karl Schroeder, Jim Frenkel.

This panel is also something me and Scott came up with. It has a backstory. Way back in the dark ages we were on a panel together about fantasy where we panelists suggested that there were other settings for high fantasy other than mediaeval Europe. Scott went as far as to say that wheat is not essential to high fantasy.

The audience turned on him. “We LOVE wheat!” they proclaimed. “We hate fantasy that isn’t set in mediaevel Europe. We hate wanky literary fantasy. In fact, we hate you writers on the panel who are trying to take away our wheat!”

Scalzi was in the audience along with the wonderful Karen Meisner and they both say it was one of the most extraordinary things they have ever seen. Karen even sent Scott a Canadian license plate wth a beautiful picture of wheat on it. Scott still contends that we were caught in the wave of an Atkin’s diet backlash.

Here’s the con’s full schedule.

Hope to see some of you there! I mean if this wussy Aussie girl can brave the dead of winter in Detroit. Surely some of you can?

The unteasable

There are many Australian writers in town at the moment and there has been much socialising to celebrate.1 I can’t tell you how much fun it is to be in NYC and not be the only Aussie in the room.2 Especially when the other Aussies are fabulous folks like Deb Biancotti, Rob Hood, Margo Lanagan, Garth Nix, Cat Sparks, Trevor Stafford, and Jonathan Strahan. Much fun has been had.3

And much teasing has been teased. Aussies are a much more teasing people than most of my USian friends. It’s been such a relief to have several sessions of full-bore teasification. The Aussies were excellently mean to me. Such bliss.

In the course of this teasefest I realised that I have a friend who is unteasable.

Now I have friends I don’t tease cause I know they’ll get upset. Making people cry is not fun. Many USians fall into this category. But I have a dear friend I have never teased simply because it has never occurred to me to do so. I know she would not cry. She is not an easily offended person. I mentioned her unteasability to her. She says no one has ever teased her, or mocked, or been mean to her. Not at school, not at university, not ever.

Isn’t that bizarre?

I have been trying to figure out why this is so and if I’ve ever met anyone else who was so unteasable.

I can’t think of a single person.

My first theory is that it’s because she’s so unflappable. But I have other unflappable friends I tease and mock. So I’m not sure that’s why. Then I thought maybe it was because she does not tease. But that’s not true she teases her husband all the time.

I am at a loss and must study the problem further.

How about you lot? Are you unteasable? Have you ever known anyone who could not be teased?

  1. And, yes, that plus deadlines plus the blah blah blahs being out of control has put a crimp in my bloggery. Sorry! []
  2. Also for once it’s all of them who are jetlagged while me and Scott are perfectly fine. It’s usually the other way around. []
  3. Though it’s making me really homesick . . . []

Just quickly

To all of those who wrote asking for my insomnia cure: I promise I’ll write about it as soon as I have time. Last week was insane. And next week looks like more of the same with all the Aussie events and deadlines and blah blah blah1. Don’t forget to come see me and Margo Lanagan and Garth Nix and Scott and Jonathan Strahan at Books of Wonder.

Yesterday I did an appearance with Scott out at the Bronx Library Centre. It was fabulous! The ninth graders are part of the Gear Up program and if they’re an example—that program totally works. They were one of the smartest, funniest, and most engaged group I’ve had the good luck to hang out with.

I’ve been trying for some time to figure out a way to write about how incredibly moving some of these events we do with teenagers can be but I just don’t seem to be able to express how I feel about them without coming across all saccharine and cloying. When someone tells you that they feel like they are one of your characters or that before they read your book they’d hated reading . . . well, words really do fail.

Let’s just say yesterday was incredible. I wish I had remembered to let them know that Jay-Tee (the character a few of them identified with so strongly) is from the Bronx! I am such a der brain.

Thanks so much, Jack and Carole, for inviting us.

And thanks, too, for all the fascinating responses about sleep and dreams. You make me want to go back to bed perchance to dream of the best novel or manga idea of all time.

Okay, now back to work!

  1. The blah blah blah is the worst part! []

Many Aussies and one permie ressie

We’re two Saturdays away from an all-Aussie (+ one permanent resident) fantasy explosion: the Printz-honour genius Margo Lanagan, editor extraordinaire Jonathan Strahan, bestselling author of the Sabriel and Keys series Garth Nix, not to mention Aussie-by-marriage Scott Westerfeld, oh, yeah, and me!

Has there ever been such a line up?

No, there has not.

Saturday, 27October 27
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY

Stick it in your dairy. Tattoo the details on your little brother’s cheek ((Okay, don’t really do that. That would be wrong.). Carn out and see us!

We’ll read (a little), answer all your questions (almost), and teach you how to talk Australian (maybe).

Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson and other famous persons

One of the fabulous things about this tour is seeing how popular so many of my friends are.

At a book shop on the outskirts of Chicago I saw this:

City of Bones

I pointed it out to Scott. “Look! Someone here loves Cassie’s book. And they have a tonne of copies!” (There were more in piles above and below this book shelf.)

The bookseller who wrote that shelf talker overheard me:

“You know Cassie Clare?! Oh. My. God. I LOVED that book so much!!! She is a genius! I have loved her ever since I read her Secret Diaries!”

At a school in Walnut Creek, California lots of the kids had painted posters of their favourite books. The room was full of them:


I checked each one, looking for a book by one of my friends, and lo and behold what did I find?

Maureen Johnson’s Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes.

During tonight’s fabulous event at Copperfield books in Petaluma praise was heaped on Holly Black, Libba Bray, Cecil Castellucci, Cassie, Maureen, and Garth Nix. It was joyous to hear. And, yes, I was bad, I boasted about knowing them all!

Book tours are fun!

On book tour time

Everything on the book tour has very short margins. The driver taking you places in traffic-laden cities has to calculate the odds of getting you to your next gig on time and allow for potential disasters so you often arrive with tonnes of dead time or with barely seconds to get up and start charming.

You have a one-day turn around on getting your clothes laundered. If you drop it off in the morning it has to be ready in the evening or you’re wearing dirties to a gig. One hotel forgot to return the dry cleaning. And we stupidly didn’t check till it was too late leaving Scott struggling to put a clean ensemble together. Aaargh!! (Fortunately the dry cleaning was returned before we left that hotel.)

There’s such a narrow margin of error for clothes because we’re travelling with only carry-ons to eliminate the risk of checked luggage going missing. (It’s happened to us three times in the last two years.) Two carry-on bags and two computer bags cannot fit all the clothes you need for three weeks.

Or enough books either. (Our huge swag of books from the trade show has long been posted home.) So the horror of running out of reading before you get to the next book shop is always around the corner. I have many podcasts and vid on standby should it come to that.

Scott and his iphone

Not that there’s much time for reading or catching up with people’s blogs or the news or anything. Scott’s usually on the road to his next gig by 7AM and back in time for a short nap before the evening book signing. Nights off are a blessing spent catching up on everything that has piled up. We have no idea what’s going on in the real world. But we know TONNES of publishing gossip.

We keep meeting the most wonderful people. The escorts have been charming and fun, the booksellers and fans ditto. Yet, we’re meeting so many people that the names of all these folks we’ve just bonded with have left our heads by the next gig. I hear there are new drugs on the market that help with memory. I am SO. VERY. TEMPTED.

Meeting the fans is the very best part. I knew there were a lot of people who were enthusiastic about Scott’s books but I had no idea there were this many. And they’re all so smart and funny and keep giving him the most fabulous home-made pressies. It makes me all teary and so very happy.

Thanks for coming out and saying hi!

Toes, passports, and other misadventures

If this is Sunday it must be Oakland. What do you mean it isn’t Sunday?! But this is Oakland, right?

Scott is silly

Today has not been one of my better efforts. Let’s see:

    I almost broke one of Scott’s toes,

    Put the “signed by” sticker on several of his books upside down (worst jacket monkey ever),

    Left my bag with our passports in it behind at a restaurant and then managed not to hear the poor waiter sprinting after me and shouting with said bag in hands (but we got the bag back! yay most excellent waiter!),

    Fell asleep in the middle of Scott reading me this thingie he’s working on. (He is a most excellent reader. I have never fallen asleep while he was reading before. I plead exhaustion.)

Where is the rewind button? I would like to start over please.

Here’s hoping the actual Sunday goes much better especially as there’s a chance I might get to meet Alice Walker. I loved The Color Purple so much when I first read it that I immediately read it a second time. I can’t remember how many times I’ve read it since then. She is a genius. I love her essays every bit as much as her fiction.

Oh, and if you’re in the San Francisco area Scott is doing a whole bunch of appearances. I’ll be at all of them, most especially the one we’re doing together:

Tuesday, Oct 9
Books Inc.
Opera Plaza
601 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
In-store reading & signing with Scott.
A Not Your Mother’s Book Club event

I’m very happy to sign my books for you even at one of Scott’s events. I promise that I will try my best not to break any of your toes.

Free books

At the book shop appearances Scott keeps being offered a free book as a reward for his hard work and charming-ness. We keep choosing mass market paperbacks because we’re travelling and running out of spaces. Last choice: the latest Naomi Novik. (I started it last night and it rocks.)

If you were asked to choose one book from your favourite book shop what would it be?

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!

The first book shop event

Last night we went to Anderson’s books in Naperville, Illinois. Much fun was had. Scott explained the origins of the Uglies series and of Extras. The first is all about our society’s beauty obsession; the second deals with the fame thing. There was lots of Q & A. The questions were ridiculously smart and interesting and there didn’t seem to be a single person who hadn’t read at least three or four of Scott’s books so he didn’t have to worry too much about spoilers.

Scott raises his hand. Dunno why.

During the hours and hours that he was signing for the smart and very appreciative crowd I got to hang out with some fabulous folk who were readers of my books and/or blog. At least three librarians came up to tell me how much they and their patrons enjoy my books. Yes!

I had a blast gossiping about favourite books, which is, naturally, my favourite topic of conversation ever. I was totally stoked to discover that my raving about the genius of Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia trilogy had influenced some people to pick the books up and read them. Yay!1 Also I found someone who loved Meredith Anne Pierce as much as I do!2 Double yay!

Jez and friends

The photo is of Jez and her friends (whose names I’ve forgotten—sorry!) Thanks so much for all the manga recommendations. You guys are fabulous.

I wish I could remember everyone’s name. The folks I talked to were all so wonderful, but the only people I got a chance to say goodbye to were Jez and her friends. Sorry about that! Was wonderful meeting you all.

  1. If you haven’t read them yet what are you waiting for? Go get them! []
  2. And if you haven’t read the Darkangel trilogy and you love vampires then I don’t know what you’ve been doing all your life! []

Easy Rawlins

Internet access at last! And, sadly, I have to use it to work. While Scott is off entertaining littlies in schools all over Chicago to celebrate the official publication day of Extras I’m stuck in our hotel room slaving away. Le sigh.

The tour has been brilliant thus far. I’ve met many fabulous booksellers, authors, and sales reps—hey, Michelle & Anne!—and generally had a grand time. Running into John Scalzi & Liz Gilbert was a definite highlight. Liz is in Chicago too. Right now she’s at Oprah’s studios. That’s right, she’ll be on Oprah on Friday! Liz is one of my favourite people in the universe so if you get a chance do watch her on Friday’s Oprah. The whole hour is devoted to Liz. How incredible is that?

In addition to hanging out with book people and gossiping I’ve also snaffled up some pretty awesome freebie books, including the latest Easy Rawlins by Walter Mosley, Blonde Faith. So far I loves it:

“What are you reading?” I asked.

“Catcher in the Rye,” she said, a little frown on the corner of her pillow lips.

“You don’t like it?”

“It’s okay. I mean it’s good. But I just think about a little black child or Mexican kid readin’ this in school. They look at Caufield’s life an’ think, ‘Damn, this kid got it good. What’s he so upset about?'”

I laughed.

“Yeah,” I said. “So much we know that they ever even think about and so much they think about without a thought about us.”

I didn’t have to tell Gara who they and us were. We lived in a they-and-us world while they lived, for all appearances, alone.

Wow, huh?

And now I have some writing of my own to do. Here’s hoping it will be half as good as what Mosley writes.

Jacket monkey

I am a jacket monkey which totally works for me as those are two of my favourite things. I love beautiful jackets and I love monkeys. What could be better than putting them together? (If I weren’t pressed for time there would a picture of a monkey wearing a jacket here. You’ll just have to imagine it.)

Today me and Nicola from Nicola’s books in Ann Arbor opened many many copies of Extras to the signing page for Scott to scribble all over. We were his jacket monkeys. I want a Jacket Monkey t-shirt. I’ve already earned it. So many copies! So many jackets! So many pages!

In other news I am regretting that I learned on an earlier trip never to travel with manga because just before we left I read the first two volumes of Naruto and Hana-Kimi and R.O.D. and I am desperate to read more. Sadly it only takes half an hour to read one manga. To meet my reading needs on this trip I would need a truckload. They’re heavy. No more manga for almost three weeks. Waaaah!!!

Turns out that two of our writer friends are here: John Scalzi and Elizabeth Gilbert. Yay! The first we learned when Scalzi tackled Scott in the middle of a cocktail party. We authors are so well behaved . . .

It’s 12:20AM in Chicago. But that’s really 1:20AM in NYC. And past my bedtime on account of waking up before the sun rose. Erk!

I sleep now.

Off on tour (updated)

Not my tour but Scott’s tour for his latest book Extras. It pubs on the 2nd of October and is deeply awesome. In fact, it’s my favouritest of the Uglies series. Aya is my new hero.

I’ll be along at most of the public events. If you’re around come and say hello.

I plan to keep blogging everyday. You know, on account of I’m addicted. I managed it every day we were away at Dragoncon so I don’t see how a little tour will stop me.

Hey, does anyone who’s been on a book tour before have any survival tips? (Other than bring lots of shoes?)

Update: I’d be delighted to sign books. I may have to skip a few of the events to get some work done but I plan to be at most of them.

book tour

In a bit over a week Scott is going on his very first proper book tour. Hooray! I am going along in my wifely capacity. Largely because everyone we know who’s done a book tour solo says it can be total misery. “Don’t do it alone!” they all cried.

The whole book tour thing is deeply weird. Most writers never get sent on one and are desperate for it to happen to them:

FOR the publication in July [2007] of her first book, “The Late Bloomer’s Revolution,” Amy Cohen imagined a promotional tour of bookstores in Sydney, Australia. And Paris. And a few places closer to home, New York City, would work, too.

Then her publicist at Hyperion told her, as Ms. Cohen recalled somewhat tongue in cheek, “You aren’t going to Scarsdale.”

Yet many writers who do get sent on tour really dislike it and start wondering what the point of the whole thing is:

Why, I sometimes wonder, does anybody want a book signed? I have a whole wall of books by friends, and it never occurs to me to ask them to sign them.

My wife, who has an abiding passion for hagiography—we have a surprising number of editions of Lives of the Saints, not one of them signed—has her own theory. As she explains it, a book signed by its author is a second-degree relic, not as precious as a finger bone, but on a par with a pair of cast-off sandals.

I like the explanation, but how long before the bastards start wanting the damned books signed in blood?

Writers who get to tour are aware that whingeing about it is unseemly:

I was stuck in traffic yesterday, thinking about how awful book tours were because I had to get up early and not get enough sleep and deal with lots of different people and never get any down time to just relax and I remembered what it reminded me of: working for a living. Not that writing isn’t working for a living, but I used to have to put on pantyhose and go out to teach at 7:30 every morning and I was always on the run and there was never any quiet time and I almost lost my mind. Which is what most people do every damn day. Meanwhile on the tour, I was sacking out in the Hotel Metro eating amazing room service and bemoaning my fate. Tell me again why nobody here threw things at me? Note to self: STOP WHINING, YOU INGRATE.

The folks I know who’ve enjoyed their book tour did it with someone else. Holly Black and Cassandra Clare had a fabulous time on their book tour earlier this year. The way a whole bunch of us did going to DragonCon together.

There are lots of claims that book tours don’t work: That for most authors they don’t increase sales; or contribute to that writer being better known; and that more money is lost than gained from doing them. Others claim that you have to look beyond immediate money returns for the value of book tours.

Although I’ve never been on an official book tour, I’ve done appearances back home and in the US of A, mostly I really enjoy them. I love meeting the people who sell and lend and buy and borrow my books. I love hanging out with folks who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about books—YA books in particular—and gossiping and arguing with them. I find signing and talking to folks fun. I enjoy the Q & A sessions. And I love going to places I’ve never been before.

There’s less than fabulous stuff too. I’m not wild about staying in hotels where the windows don’t open, having to eat truly horrendous food cause it’s that or faint, air travel and all the related hassles, but compared to the cool stuff all of that is minor. Also I’m lucky: I’ve never had to do any of it alone. I’ve barely done any events alone. We usually put on the Justine-and-Scott show which we both enjoy heaps and seems to go over better with audiences then when we do appearances on our own.

For the authors who’ve toured—do you like touring? Consider it a necessary evil? And for those—like me—who haven’t do you want to? What are your expectations if you do tour?

I’m also curious to hear from the publishing pros: what’s your take? Does it entirely depend on who’s touring? Do you think blog tours are more useful? Are there authors who, no matter how great they’re books are doing, you would never send on tour?

And the booksellers and librarians who host authors on tour—what do you make of the whole thing?

And those who’ve seen authors on tour doing appearances what do you reckon?

DragonCon panels

Because I have friends who insist on proper con reports I thought I’d talk about some DragonCon panels. Most of which were excellent and peopled by knowledgable and entertaining folks.

First I must rant:

Hey, Author People, yes, you lot, who respond to every question with deeply tedious plot descriptions of your own books and never mention anyone else’s work—I have written down your names and the names of your books. And I will NEVER EVER EVER buy them or recommend them to anyone. You are boring and the death of many a potentially good panel. I am filled with hate for you and your kind.

Okay. I feel much better now. Now onto the good panels which were all part of the YA thread. So many thanks to the folks what ran it: Bev Kodak, Suzanne Chatham, Lydia Watson, Karen Smith, Heather Lauer, Tara Smith, and Mary Moline! You are all deeply awesome.

My favourite was the one I did with Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson and Scott which was excellently moderated by Bev. We nattered about how we write together, swap ideas, critique each other, and how important it is for us to be part of a writing community. This involved sharing anecdotes from those dark days when we thought we were the only ones incapable of finishing a story or ever selling one. Or—now that we’re published—meeting the deadlines from hell. It was a lot of fun and only marred by being cut off before enough people could ask questions. The few we got were dead smart.

I also enjoyed the panel where Maureen Johnson went berko at the two members of the panel who dared to dismiss the “expanding pants” section of YAland. By which they were referring to Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and all the other chicklit YA books. As Maureen writes those kind of books and considers their writers and readers to be her people she was somewhat ticked off. I ably assisted her by pointing out the quality of not only Maureen’s books but also Meg Cabot’s, Sarah Dessen’s, Rachel Cohn’s, Jaclyn Moriarty’s and many, many others.

I find dismissals of whole genres particularly bizarre when they’re coming from lovers of a genre like fantasy and sf which is routinely dismissed as trash. Can we all agree not to trash a genre unless we know it well? Reading one or two or even a dozen examples does not cut it.

My most embarrassing moment was on the YA around the world panel. I was bemoaning how little non-English YA gets translated. Then Cassie Clare pointed out from the audience this little thing called manga. Der! I smack my forehead. How did I forget manga?

My favourite panellists—other than Holly, Cassie, Maureen and Scott—were the librarians. Specifically, Susan Fichtelberg, Bonnie Kunzel and Diana Tixier Herald, who not only have an encylopediac knowledge of the field but are also witty and smart. They kept bailing us out when we’d describe a book then flail hopelessly for the author or title. They knew. Every. Single. Time. They also kept referring to YA books for their examples and not TV shows or movies. I’ll admit I was a little depressed by the folks who only used media examples and seemed not to have heard of even the most famous YA writers.

Fortunately, they were few in number. The vast majority of the audience and panellists were dying to talk about J. K. Rowling, Diana Wynne Jones, Garth Nix, Jonathan Stroud and Stephanie Meyer—an excellent fight broke out about her character Bella Swann—and oodles of others including Holly, Cassie, Scott and me. I also enjoyed the opportunity of telling many more people about the glories of Kathleen Duey’s Skin Hunger, which I managed to mention not just on all my panels but from the audience of many more. Read it!

Maureen’s editing skills

Maureen put together a vid of hers and Scott’s DragonCon footage:

It is fabulous in all ways!

Well, except for one way: Maureen promised me that she would edit me out. She did not. I am unhappy to realise that her promises are WORTH NOTHING.

Other than that everything is good. Watch, enjoy! DragonCon and DragonTrain were teh awesome. When I’m less knackered I’ll tell youse all about it. Especially our dramatic readings from the worst book ever written.

DragonCon Blues + Urban legends

The worst thing about DragonCon—other than the way too many people thing—is that it’s on the exact same weekend as the WNBA conference finals. I missed seeing Phoenix sweep San Antonio (woo hoo! Amy—sorry, Rebecca) and will miss all the Indiana-Detroit games (please Indiana win tonight!)

Seeing all those insanely brilliant costumes is some compensation I suppose. Riding on the train with Holly, Theo, Cassandra, Maureen and Scott ditto. Sitting around in a hotel room with them telling ghost stories also not too foul.

Which reminds me what are your favourite urban legends? Feel free to leave a link in the comments if you don’t feel like telling the whole thing. So far we’ve done the finger nails one, the hook, the headless roommate, the evil clown statue, and the finger licker.

Still at DragonCon

I’m not quite sure what to make of DragonCon. It’s way bigger than any other con I’ve been to ever and, I gotta be honest, large crowds of people freak me out. And this place is nothing but huge crowds. On the other hand, the costumes are incredible.

Say hello to Mr Resident Evil 2:

oh my!
Photo by Scott