Archive for the ‘Attolia’ Category

Best Fiction for Young Adults 2011

January 12, 2011

Alas and alack, SUSPECT did not win through to the final list of 99 titles.  But then, I didn’t really expect it to.  A quick tour through the nominations assured me back in November that my book was quite light  by comparison without having the high concept of something like Natalie Standiford’s CONFESSION OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS.  But I still feel like I’m in wonderful company since Richard Peck and Robin McKinley didn’t make the final cut either. I was delighted, however, to see the most recent fantasies by Megan Whalen Turner and Elizabeth Bunce on the list.


Best Fiction for Young Adults 2011

November 12, 2010

SUSPECT was nominated to YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list! A group of fifteen will evaluate the nominees at the American Library Association Midwinter conference and come up with the 80 or so  finalists.  I’ll add the link once this list is updated.  Right now, it only shows the nominees through September 30.  My son wanted to know what kind of list this was. I told him that Megan Whalen Turner was on it and instantly received a high five.

Reverse Chronological Order/Explanation of Dedication Page

August 30, 2010

One thing about blogs is that people will generally read things from newest to oldest.  So I’m going to work my way backwards from my decision to submit SUSPECT to Peachtree to how I came up with the original idea for SUSPECT in the first place.  It was essentially a ten-year journey from my first scribbles on this YA mstery to its acceptance by Peachtree. 

Some brilliant people like Megan Whalen Turner and Clare Dunkle essentially sold their first novel to the first editor who looked at it.  I started out with a bit of talent and a mantra that I picked up from Jane Yolen: Bone-headed stubbornness pays.  I didn’t really know whether I was any good at writing, but I did know that  could be bone-headed.  Most people can’t get a B.S. in electrical engineering without that. 

So anyway, in the summer of 2005, I asked the publicity people at Peachtree if they’d like me to drive over from Southwest Michigan to the American Library Association national convention in Chicago to sign in their booth.  Some writers on the listserv that I belonged to indicated that sometimes publishers are willing to have you come sign books if you’re willing to do it on your own dime.  In fact, many writers will use this time to introduce themselves to editors during a quiet moment.  I wound up getting the chance to hang out with Peachtree authors Jeanie Franz Ransom and Dori Hillestad Butler.  Jeanie and I had been critique partners since at least 1995.  We knew Dori through a writers’ listserv and had met a few time.

Dori had written two books for Peachtree at that time, SLIDING INTO HOME and a new one called DO YOU KNOW THE MONKEY MAN.  Lisa Mathews, my editor at Peachtree had edited both of them. I knew that the second book was a mystery, but it was great to finally get my hands on a copy of it.  MONKEY MAN had humor, suspense and honest emotion.  That’s what I wanted my YA mystery to have. Moreover, I had learned that Lisa could be downright evil when it came to tormenting characters.   I’ll always remember my reaction to something she came up with for Matteo in Defending Irene:  “That’s evil!  It’s perfect!”

But I knew that the novel wasn’t ready for Lisa yet.  I’d learned a lot of things about writing since I finished the first draft of what became SUSPECT back in 1999.  After making the rounds and collecting a load of rejections, it had gone into seclusion on my hard drive.   I decided to finish work on a current project before sitting down to revise my mystery.   After all, I had a bit of momentum going. 

Jeanie read the new version of my mystery before and during one of our writer’s retreats in Missouri before I submitted the story to Peachtree.  When she finished, she looked up at me and said, “You know,  _____  _____  _____  _____  ___.”  And she was right.  But I can’t tell you what she said because that would give away just about everything.  

Writers who instinctively avoid conflict in their lives need people like Lisa and Jeanie.  And that’s why SUSPECT is dedicated to them:

For Lisa Mathews,
my evil-minded editor
and for Jeanie Ransom,
who knew how this story had  to end. 

Below that, I tucked in thanks to my three kids.   The book that I wrote in 1998 and 1999 probably wasn’t fully up-to-date on high school trends and behaviors.  This one was.  I haven’t been living through high school, but I have had front row seats.  That helped me so much with the details needed to give the appearance of reality.  How about the pink and blue stuff?  Check out the cleaning scene with Jen and Bri.  Gretchen became an expert in how, when and where to use them during the time she spent in housekeeping at the Boyne Mountain Resort.  My other two kids competed in a variety of sports: volleyball, basketball, track, and cross country.  I was able to update my knowledge of those sports that Jen participated in through hours of watching and cheering.

Historical Fantasy

August 28, 2010

I ran across a new fantasy designation today.  Of course, it could have been knocking around for awhile, but here is how Elizabeth C. Bunce, author of CURSE DARK AS GOLD, put it:

 “Historical fantasy” means my work is inspired by real places and cultures of the past, but with fantastical, otherworldly, or magical elements.

Some of my favorite fantasies definitely fit into this category: the Attolia books by Megan Whalen Turner, the Westmark trilogy of Lloyd Alexander and CURSE.  And since I’ve always been one to write what I like to read, my current work in progress fits into this category as well.  

I’m looking forward to Bunce’s new book, STARCROSSED, which is coming out this fall.  It’s already an ALA Best Books for Young Adults nominee.


July 12, 2010

Megan Whalen Turner has updated her website.  In it, you can find pictures, podcast and interviews.  But this link will take you directly to a short story out about a much younger Gen.

An Attolia Alert!

May 3, 2010

I was wandering through the Publishers’ Weekly website when I ran across an interview with Megan Whalen Turner. 

I smiled when I discovered that Ms. Turner has the same advice for potential readers that I always give.  She recommends reading them in order and avoiding the merest glance at the flap copy of the later books.  It can ruin the experience. 

The interviewer noted that THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA had the most upsetting first chapter that she’d ever read. I had to agree that it was the most devastating opening I’d ever read.   I had made the mistake of reading a review in advance, so I knew what was going to happen. I still cried. 

Ms. Turner is working on her next book, but she declined to say much about it.  Like many other readers, I’m hoping that Costis returns for the next book in the Attolia series even though I truly enjoyed reading about what happened to Sophos in CONSPIRACY OF KINGS.   I’m not going to say that I can’t wait for the next book.  I can wait as long as it takes for a master to shape her next great novel.

Conspiracy of Kings

March 4, 2010

Attention all fans of Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia books!  You’ll find a 60+ page excerpt of Conspiracy of Kings on the HarperCollins website.    Naturally, they didn’t put it up there as a public service.  The chapters are there so you’ll read it and then rush out to buy the book on the very day that it becomes available.  It worked for me!  Of course, I already intended to do that.  I usually guard my morning writing time carefully from distractions.  Not today!  I gulped down the beginning of Sophos’ tale.  It’s a good thing that I’m not still in the middle of revising Suspect.

For any readers of this blog who haven’t read the Attolia books, get thee to a library.  I always recommend the following.  Read the books in order.  Don’t even GLANCE at the flap copy of any book except the one you’re reading. (And frankly, I’d advise against that for QUEEN OF ATTOLIA.)  Let Turner’s world unfold.  Betsy Bird of Fuse #8 pretty much admitted that she should have done that in her review of KING OF ATTOLIA.  So if you haven’t read the books, don’t read that review either.   

Instead read as follows:


First click of the day

February 10, 2010

Fuse #8 continues to be one of my first clicks of the day as I check out her unscientific poll of the top 100 chapter books.  Sometimes I kick myself that I didn’t add a book to my list.  Today, I discovered that I’d read and adored four out of five on the list even though none of them were in my top ten.  (My misunderstanding of the definition of chapter books meant that I hadn’t put THE THIEF on my list. And I absolutely adore Megan Whelan Turner’s Attolia books.)  So check out 85-81.