Guest Post: Sarah Cross Tells Lies

Due to boring circumstances beyond my control, I will not be online much in February. Fortunately I’ve been able to line up a number of stellar guests to fill in for me. Most are writers, but I also thought it would be fun to get some publishing types to explain what it is they do, teach you some more about the industry, and answer your questions, as well as one or two bloggers.


Sarah Cross is the author of Dull Boy, a YA superhero novel. She blogs intermittently, posts random videos on tumblr, and is hiding in a unicorn-and-zombie-proof bunker until this whole mess is over.

Sarah says:

You may be wondering where Justine is.

And I am sorry to tell you that something horrible has befallen her.

She’s been kidnapped by unicorns.

Mo' unicorns, mo' problems
Yes: these vile creatures.

You may be familiar with the zombies vs. unicorns debate, and the forthcoming anthology that was inspired by that eternal struggle. If you take a look at the anthology’s cover, you’ll see that the zombies and unicorns are engaged in an epic battle for dominance. It’s a gorgeous panorama of rainbow-colored destruction: severed unicorn heads, zombies impaled on pearlescent-yet-deadly horns, and corpses floating in a sky blue stream.

But one element has been left out of this struggle–and that, my friends, is the human element.

Typical Team Unicorn supporters
Members of Team Unicorn pose with their deadly mascot.

Humans will not emerge from this battle unscathed. They have been forced to take sides. (Vote here … if you dare.) Either you’re Team Zombie, or you’re Team Unicorn; and Justine, unfortunately, as the founding member of Team Zombie, has been targeted by her enemies: those sparkly, bone-crushing, rainbow-mane-shaking, marshmallow-defecating, zombie-impaling unicorns. From what I understand (I’ve been sent several encoded messages, written with a crayon that was rubberbanded to their leader’s hoof), the unicorns intend to hold Justine prisoner until she betrays the zombies and swears allegiance to her sparkly captors. Since we KNOW that will never happen … I was hoping to drum up some support for her release here.

Please, if you believe in fairies … er, believe the unicorns should release Justine, leave a comment here pleading her case. Personally, I believe that zombies, humans, and unicorns can get along. But some people are so frightened for their lives (or so passionate about unicorn domination), that they’re doing their best to disguise themselves as unicorns.

Team Unicorn 4EVA
I think this is Diana Peterfreund’s new author photo …

It’s a sad state of affairs. And yet, given the ‘corns’ legendary cruelty, totally understandable.

Unicorns are more ruthless than the Spanish Inquisition. Their rainbow vomit can induce madness in even the most stable mind.

Rainbow vomit spells your doom
Unicorn torture tactic #1.

And you do NOT want to be subjected to their special blend of “Lucky Charms.” Seriously–you’re better off starving. If they bring you any colorful marshmallow cereal, beg for some gruel.

These marshmallows are not magically delicious
That’s so unsanitary, Mr. Unicorn …

I am posting these lovely unicorn pictures as a peace offering. Please, infernal unicorns, release Justine. Before Sarah Rees Brennan comes back and blogs about another Matthew McConaughey movie.

Strange maps

Found via pixelfish a blog devoted to strange maps, which I’m sure you’ve all been giggling over for years, but tis new and delightful to me.

I keep looking for detailed maps of NYC during the 1930s but so far have not found anything. There are precious few books directly about the period either. Though heaps on NYC in the gilded age and the 1920s. I wonder why? The 1930s were every bit as fascinating.

I predict a boom in books about the depression on account of what’s happening to the world’s economy right now. Is it bad that I’m glad that the current situation is helping with the writing of my book? I mean, I’m not glad that the economy is in the toilet and we may be heading into a depression . . . Just that it’s helping me understand the Great Depression better.

Er, um, look over there: flying monkeys!


I’m lying awake with a nasty case of bunker brain. Sleep eludes and weird thoughts intrude. I’m trying to combat them by

    a) planning some fun ways to promote How To Ditch Your Fairy—so far the winning plan is to glue copies of the book to the backs of toilet doors—and,

    b) trying to figure out how to describe the smell of flying foxes without using the words “musk” or “feral”.

Also I’m wishing I could draw.

How about you?

Apocalypse now

I just read a couple of short articles by Bev Clark about what it’s like living in Zimbabwe right now. It reminded me of pretty much every end of the world book I have ever read:

Yesterday, Joseph, a 12-year-old boy arrived at my office door. He was hanging limply over the railing staring at me with blank eyes. His mother had been a regular visitor, coming once every two weeks for a handout to keep her going in this country with over one million percent inflation. Her thin body was wracked by AIDS. Last week Zanu PF militia tried to force her to go to a rally. She refused. They broke her leg. Her compromised state made it impossible for her to survive. So her orphan son has carried on the visits that his mother started.

Even simple stuff like going to the toilet is difficult now:

Almost every day the office block is powered by generator. It’s seldom that we can rely on the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to provide services. Water is a luxury too. Turn on the taps and not much happens. Because toilet paper can’t be found in regular supermarkets and stores, the building administrator has demanded that all office workers bring their own toilet paper to work. Trouble is it’s hard to find so the next best thing to wipe your bum with is The Herald newspaper; a fitting use for Mugabe’s vile, daily news distorter. But that of course leaves the toilets blocked.

Remember with the rate of inflation—a million per cent—toilet paper—if you can find it—is expensive. A New York Times article by Michael Wines from early May asks,

How bad is inflation in Zimbabwe? Well, consider this: at a supermarket near the center of this tatterdemalion capital, toilet paper costs $417.

No, not per roll. Four hundred seventeen Zimbabwean dollars is the value of a single two-ply sheet. A roll costs $145,750 — in American currency, about 69 cents.

The price of toilet paper, like everything else here, soars almost daily, spawning jokes about an impending better use for Zimbabwe’s $500 bill, now the smallest in circulation.

Imagine what it’s like shopping with that kind of inflation and daily fluctuations in prices Bev Clark writes that

[t]he last time I went shopping it took me longer to pay for my few purchases than to shop for them. The swipe machines have a limit of Z$9 billion. So go figure if you want to buy a small packet of meat, which at today’s price is, Z$151 billion. Yesterday I bought a chicken for $26 billion. It looked rather strange. All bent and buckled but I bravely bought the bird needing a change from my usual beans and rice. I left it out last night to defrost and I must say that in the cold light of day it’s a bit of a sight. I threw it in the pot anyway.

She was lucky to get the chicken:

I wandered around the near empty aisles for a while checking out the near empty shelves. At the fresh meat counter a variety of Zimbabweans picked up and put down punnets of budget beef unable to afford even the bits of fat and bone trying to pass for a potential square meal.

Too many people in too many places in the world are already living in an apocalypse.

a tip for toilet designers

Ya know, toilet designer people, when folks go to the loo they do not want to be reminded that they’re going to die. How come you lot don’t realise that? What is your problem? Why do you keep designing dunnies that bring Edgar Allen Poe to mind? Is premature burial really the theme you were going for?

If it isn’t then here are my tips for what to avoid:

  • Do not use all dark wood materials
  • Do not make the toilet teeny tiny
  • Have windows, or, you know, at least gaps above and below the doors
  • Dim lighting is also a no no. Romance is not what most of us are looking for when we’re on the bog
  • Red lighting also not fabbie for the toilet experience
  • Also piped music of people screaming and hearts beating should be avoided

You think I’m exaggarating, don’t you? Nuh uh. The last few posh restaurants I went to in New York City, London, Bangkok and Sydney all featured dunnies that would have scared the living crap out of me (which I guess is sort of the point, but still!) if I were claustrophobic. They were wood panelled and so dark I could barely find the loo, let alone the loo paper.

One of them had the added charm of featuring a whole series of i.q. tests as to where the doors to the cubicles were, how to get the soap dispenser and taps to work, and how to find the exit. Just the kind of larks we’re all hoping for in a dunny.

Way to go, toilet designer sadists people.

I don’t know about you, but if there’s one place in the world that I want to be bright and clean and functional and in no way reminiscent of premature burial or i.q. tests for rats—it’s the dunny.


We went out to San Miguel’s botanical gardens, a large and beautiful cactus preserve. There have been many changes since the last time we visited in February 2004. First up there are new dunnies. La Bond and Mr Rowe will appreciate the difference. Eighteen months ago there was just one: a tiny tin shed without dunny paper or the ability to flush convincingly. Now it is a thing of splendour. Behold:

Also it comes complete with lovely guardian dog.

Last time we visited it hadn’t rained in months. This time it was autumn after much rain.



And the cactus is in bloom:

Remind me why we’re leaving again?