Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Breathless Books



Imagine my glee when I learned that Penguin (my publisher) would be making a television ad featuring five of their books--including The Eternal Ones! It's like a dream come true. The picture above is a still from the ad. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

I haven't seen the full commercial yet, but I have seen images created for the other four "Breathless Books." (I've read all of the Breathless Books, and they're amazing.) You can check out more stills by clicking the links below . . .

The Replacement

Nightshade

Matched

Sapphique

The full ad will premier Friday, OCTOBER FIRST, on MTV's Hollywood Crush Blog! Check back Friday for the direct link!

In the meantime, excerpts from all of the Breathless Books are available for download at breathlessreads.com!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So What Do You Think?





Does this guy get paid to scratch giant rodents--or is he a little eccentric?

Ninjabread Men





Do you like cookies? Do you like ninjas? Of COURSE you do! Who doesn't? Thankfully, a genius over at Instructables has come up with a handy guide for creating your own ninjabread men cookie cutters!

Just in time for the holidays!!! (Helpful hint: Why not make them ninjabread GIRL cookies? Or hey, why not IRREGULAR cookies? Just a thought.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Anyone Up for a Visit to the Marble Cemetery?






I just realized that Manhattan's secret Marble Cemetery (you know the one!) is holding its annual open house on October 9th and 10th! Anyone interested in joining me for a visit? Send an email to kikistrike@gmail.com!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Interview with Author Brenna Yovanoff!



1) The Replacement is one of the most original stories that I’ve read in recent years. Sometimes it’s easy to identify an author’s influences, but I must admit, I’m drawing a blank here. What was it that sparked the idea for this book?

First, I need to put this out there: I am a huge pack-rat. I try not to be messy about it (much), but I save everything, and everything seems interesting and fun and like it might come in handy someday. I think my influences function in sort of the same way. The Replacement owes a lot to Shirley Jackson's short story “The Lottery,” because I knew I wanted that same kind of creepy-town vibe, but it also draws a lot from punk music and Victorian culture and my abject terror of water I can't see the bottom of. (In light of this, it probably won't surprise you that I like making collages.)


2) Do you know (or have you known) any children that you secretly suspect might be changelings? (I have, but this is about YOU, not me. Haha.)

I have to say, as an inveterate babysitter, I have known some pretty weird kids. No changelings however, although one of my cousins had me worried for a while.


3) I love books and movies that scare the @$*& out of me. The Replacement certainly fits that bill. Do you enjoy having a good scream now and then? If so, which films or books would you recommend?

Oh, I am so obsessed with scary movies! The last movie that really, really got to me, and I can't even explain why, was the Spanish film The Orphanage. Something about the cinematography, plus the storyline, plus the setting just completely terrified me. And I'd be remiss if I didn't confess that to this day, Pet Sematary by Stephen King is, without a doubt, the scariest book I've ever read.


4) In your novel, some very small children find themselves in terrible trouble. (I won’t say any more.) As the mother of a very small child, I found this ABSOLUTELY HORRIFYING. Do you have children? If so, how could you imagine such things?


While I don't have kids, I really like them and I come from a big extended family, so I've always spent a lot of time with them. The idea of something bad happening to anyone defenseless, whether children or animals, scares me to no end. Which, come to think of it, is the common thread between The Orphanage and Pet Sematary!


5) There’s no way that a person who writes books like The Replacement can be just another average Jane. Are you as interesting in real life as I imagine you might be?

Well, that certainly depends on what you're imagining! I like to tell people that I have two different speeds. One speed is leisurely. When that's my general setting, I like sewing, cooking, gardening, and drinking tea. Also, babies, puppies, scrapbooks, and mittens. The other speed is how I actually get stuff done. It usually involves contact sports, too much eyeliner, pulling all-nighters, and climbing things I'm not supposed to be climbing.

6) Let’s talk about The Lady. She’s one of the more unforgettable characters I’ve encountered. (Along with the Morrigan.) Out of which dark, desolate corner of your brain did you drag HER?

The Lady is interesting because when I think about her now, she seems very Dickensian, but while I was writing, I had no idea where she was coming from. Looking back, she really owes a lot to Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, though. Both those books have these very vengeful, self-righteous villains, and I can definitely see that at work with in her character.

7) I have a hunch we might see more of Mackie and Tate. Am I on to something? Will there be a sequel?

I actually don't have anything special planned for them right now. There's definitely potential for a sequel, but right now, I'm working on another standalone. We don't have a title yet, but I can say that it will feature demons, monsters, kissing, and probably something on fire.

Thanks so much for having me, Kirsten!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guest Post from Author Brenna Yovanoff



Hi, everyone,

I'm really excited to be guest-posting here on Kirsten's blog!

Last month, I was lucky enough to have Kirsten as a guest on my own blog, and I got to ask her a few questions. In the Eternal Ones, main character Haven Moore and her good friend Beau run a very successful business making formal dresses for their classmates, so naturally I wanted to know if Kirsten was a whiz with the sewing machine. (I'm an incredibly nosy person and I always want to find out if authors really are skilled in the pursuits they write about.)

In my novel The Replacement, which just came out on Tuesday—holy surrealism, there is a lot of music-talk. Mackie loves music. He loves listening to music and going to shows, and he particularly loves playing the bass. And lately, I've been discovering that there are other people out there who are just as curious/nosy as I am. They read about Mackie, and then want to know if I play any instruments.

Now it's time for a confession: I'm terrible at music. And I don't mean in that tone-deaf, when-I-sing-karaoke-your-ears-bleed kind of way. Although, that too. I mean, I'm really terrible at music—terrible on a fundamental level. I simply Don't Get It.

How bad, you might ask? Well, I will tell you. I'm so bad that I actually failed my introductory music class in high school. Not just “didn't do that well,” but failed it. I didn't even have the self-possession to be upset, because I was so confused. It was the first time in my life that I had ever failed something where I tried really hard and showed up every day. Also, if high school had taught me anything, it was that if you try really, really hard, they will probably give you a pity grade. Nope, no pity grade. Just a big fat F.

So when people ask me if the scenes where Mackie talks about music are based on personal experience, the answer is no, no, and absolutely no flipping way. Luckily for me, there's fiction, and the great thing about fiction is, no matter how slim the odds are of you ever playing a really rocking solo, it lets you pretend.

Thanks for having me, Kirsten!

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Review of The Replacement



This week, I'm going to be spending some quality blog time with Brenna Yovanoff, author of the fabulous new book, The Replacement. Below, you'll find my review (though it's probably pretty clear by now that I really enjoyed it). In the days to come, I'll be posting my interview with Brenna, and she'll also be paying a visit to this very site!

So, without further ado, here is my review of The Replacement . . .

I’m afraid most novels don’t stay with me for long. I usually gobble one up, wipe my mouth on my sleeve, and move on to the next one. But occasionally I’ll come across a flavor so unique that it lingers for months—even years.

I read The Replacement ages ago, and I swear I can still taste it. (The flavor it left behind? A mixture of rusty iron, human blood, and holy ground. Rather delightful, I’d say.)

The Replacement is the story of a boy named Mackie Doyle who has grown up in a town that isn’t quite what it pretends to be. Prosperous Gentry, with its minivans and golden retrievers, may seem like the ideal place to raise a family. But once in a while, a child dies inexplicably, and the whole town chooses to look in the opposite direction.

Mackie might be the sort to search for the truth—if he weren’t hiding a few secrets of his own. He’s always been painfully aware that he doesn't belong with the people of Gentry. His eyes are too dark. His skin is too pale. And he suffers from a painful, embarrassing allergy to anything made out of iron.

It all adds up to something quite sinister, but Mackie’s parents refuse to discuss their son’s origins. Instead, they simply urge him to fit in at all costs. So Mackie has spent his entire life trying to avoid being outed as a freak. Now that he’s reached high school, he seems to have finally succeeded. He has friends, a social life—even girls who are dying to kiss him.

It’s the very worst time for his allergy to grow life-threatening. Suddenly, a whiff of iron-filled blood makes him faint. A car ride nearly kills him. That’s when a strange man appears with a message. Mackie’s suffering is a sign—a sign that it’s time to finally go home.

Beneath a slag heap on the edge of his neighborhood, Mackie discovers the dark world that created him—and the secrets that Gentry has been desperate to hide. And he’s finds himself faced with a choice. He can save his town from the horrible beings who live beneath it—or he can choose to save himself.

Months after I finished The Replacement, I still find myself following Mackie into the underworld beneath Gentry. It’s unlike any land I’ve ever visited, and the creatures Mackie meets there are among the most horrifying ever imagined. I love a good scare (I think most of us do), and The Replacement certainly did not disappoint. But it was the original idea at the core of the novel that impressed me the most. This isn't one of those books that borrows from other novels or tries to ride a trend. This story is completely unique and unpredictable. I can think of no higher praise.

If I'm being a bit vague, you must forgive me. I don't want to give too much away. There are a few characters, for instance, that you should meet on your own. And a few sinister secrets I'd rather not spoil. But I will make you one promise: You’ve never read anything quite like The Replacement before.

If you’re looking for a book to take you somewhere new, The Replacement will do it. Just make sure you pack a good flashlight. It's awfully dark down there.

Check out Brenna's blog here.

The Strange Face in the Mirror





(Above: What do you think she saw?)

Here's a fun experiment. All you need is a mirror and a dimly-lit room. Sit with your face about a foot and a half from the mirror. Stare at your own reflection. In about a minute, you may begin to see something unusual.

Here's what other people have reported seeing:

Strange changes to one's own face
A parent's face
The face of an unknown person
The face of an animal
The face of a monstrous being

Creepy! So try it, and report back! (More information available here!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Smart Young Adult Books!



The Eternal Ones is #1 on the Daily Beast's list of "Smart Young Adult Books!" I've never been #1 before!

Check out the list here! I need to order eight of these books ASAP. (I've already read Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, which was amazing.)

I Survived a Tornado!





That's right. I don't care what the National Weather Service says. (They haven't reached any conclusions yet.) I am 100% positive that a tornado passed over or near my house last night!

I grew up in North Carolina, where the storms can be extremely fierce. (And, after Florida, NC leads the nation in lightening-related deaths.) But I have NEVER seen anything like the storm that hit New York City last night. The wind and hail were battering my building with such force that I was certain my skylights would be destroyed.

See some pictures on the New York Times website.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Places to Avoid: Shijiao





"Residents of a township in southwest China have been running scared after more than 160 cobras escaped from an illegal breeding laboratory, state media said Thursday.

People in Shijiao township in the huge Chongqing municipality have found the deadly snakes in outdoor toilets, kitchens and on the streets since they escaped earlier this month."

More here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Best Laugh I've Had All Week



"The vampire craze in teen literature – exemplified by the "Twilight" book series – could be affecting the dynamic workings of the teenage brain in ways scientists don't yet understand."

This was the conclusion of a conference of scientists, authors, and educators that convened at Cambridge University earlier this month.

Maria Nikolajeva, a professor of literature at Cambridge had this to say about the Twilight series, "If you look very, very clearly at what kind of values the 'Twilight' books propagate, these are very conservative values that do not in any way endorse independent thinking or personal development or a woman's position as an independent creature. That's quite depressing."

Okay, let's stop for a moment and chat. I'll set aside my personal feelings about Twilight. (For the record, I've read the entire series and enjoyed every page of it.) Nikolajeva seems to be implying that there are certain books that are "dangerous" for teens. The books she deems dangerous appear to be those that don't jive with her personal values.

So the brains of young women (and men) could be damaged unless they're force-fed a diet of novels featuring strong heroines and feminist values? This is the most ridiculous bunk I've come across in ages. It's essentially the same argument that was used to ban comic books in the fifties. (All that violence would warp young minds.) Or attack the Harry Potter books. (All that whimsical witchcraft would lead impressionable young people to ride broomsticks and join covens.) Or censor books with a little bit of lovin' in them. (All that romance would lead to generations of wanton teen girls.)

Science has shown that the brain continues to develop during the teen years. I'm not going to dispute that. However, a developing brain does not mean that your mind can be warped by exposure to values that haven't been sanctioned by the Cambridge literature department.

Here's my advice to teenagers. Read EVERYTHING. And avoid anyone who suggests that books like Twilight can be dangerous.

Read more about the conference here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Octopus Cake and a Video





(Above: The work of master baker Karen Portaleo)

Last night I was on This Week in Books! Check out my interview here!

I've Seen the Future: Poo-Powered Street Lights!





If you've got a dog, you've got poo. The question is: What should you do with it? There are many, many options available to you. (All of which I will leave to the imagination for now.) However, if you're ecologically-minded, you might try using it as fuel.

A dog park in Cambridge, MA, has recently installed a "methane digester," which takes unwanted pooch poo and uses it to power street lights, a tea cart, and a popcorn machine. (Not sure how I feel about that last one.)

Apparently it's a pretty easy process turning poo into power. (You can read more about it here.) Which makes me think . . .

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This Is the First and the Last Time I Will Say This: OMG!





(Above: May I have a glass of that, please?)

There are SHRIMP in New York City's drinking water! Tiny, microscopic crustaceans! The clear-thinking folks at National Geographic have tried their best to assure the water-drinking public that the wee beasties aren't dangerous (and they ARE kosher). But OMG! There are SHRIMP in New York City's drinking water. I LOVE shrimp!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Well Hello There!





So I'm back in Brooklyn after a week in Georgia. I had a fabulous time at the Decatur Book Festival. The highlight? Meeting blog regular EQ! Thanks so much for coming, EQ. You're every bit as dangerous as I expected you to be!

(By the way, I'll post a full list of my trips soon. And yes, I will be in Chicago in the near future!)

Now back to business. I've been meaning to post about the ring shown above. It was made from a copy of Sherlock Holmes! (Not sure which book, though.) Artist Jeremy May has been fashioning rings from a wide range of classic novels. (See them here.) Now if only I could get my hands on a Kiki Strike ring. (Which should come with a secret compartment for hiding poisons, small documents, or Liquid Roadkill.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hitting the Road





So if any of you come to Decatur on Sunday, I will be INCREDIBLY THRILLED. But don't think I'm neglecting the rest of the country! I'm going to be traveling a lot over the next six months, and there's a very good chance I'll be visiting a town near YOU!

Next stops . . .

The Brooklyn Book Festival on September 12th
The Texas Book Festival in Austin (my second-favorite city)

Heaven, I'm in Heaven





I just came across a sweet little shop selling some interesting stuff.

There are special drops that will temporarily turn a person's teeth a terrible yellow if added to hot liquids like coffee. (Love that one.) Powders that can set off a sneezing fit. Mists so foul-smelling they can knock your enemy off her feet. And of course . . . "Liquid Roadkill."

While I REALLY don't recommend trying these out in real life (and I doubt you can purchase them if you're under 18), it IS nice to dream.