Sunday, October 31, 2010
Any Halloween stories you'd like to share?
Here's one. It's a bright, sunny day here in Brooklyn. I'm sitting on my couch in the living room, writing this post. I can hear someone upstairs. S/he's walking around in my bedroom. The only problem? I'm alone in the house. No. I'm not joking.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
A man in Belfast claims to have discovered something rather remarkable in some old movie footage from 1928. A woman appears to be speaking into a cell phone. (And no, there weren't any cell phones in 1928.)
Check out the footage below. It's clear that she's clutching something small and rectangular in her hand. And she seems to be speaking into it. (Watch the whole video for slow-mo and stills.)
Here's my question. OK, let's say she's a time traveler. Who's on the other end of the phone?
I think an obvious explanation has been ignored. She's an alien.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
(Above: Coming to get you?)
An English florist discovered a deadly South American poison dart frog in a batch of tropical foliage.
Two monkeys have been made station masters at a train station in Japan. They don't look terribly competent if you ask me.
You say they're "pets?" Tell that to the neighbors, lady.
There's an animal that is able to clone itself. We must stop them before they take over the world!
Earlier this year, a stalker pheasant was terrorizing England, and an escaped hippo was roaming free in Montenegro.
Painting with maggots.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Earlier this week, I discovered this photo posted on some of my favorite blogs. Apparently, there are many (male) bloggers out there who believe that a Barnes & Noble shelf labeled "teen paranormal romance" is a sure sign of the death of literature/the coming apocalypse/the idiocy of the book-buying public/their own superiority.
I commented on a number of the posts. Not only because The Eternal Ones is considered "teen paranormal romance," but because I've actually read many of the books on this shelf, and I know just how good some of them are. One of the bloggers took my comment to heart, did a little research, and decided we may not be idiots after all. (His blog is wonderful, by the way.)
There are a number of things that continue to bother me, however, and I'd like to get one of them off my chest. Most of the blogs that posted this photo are written by science fiction fans. (I, too, am a fan. That's why I regularly visit such blogs.) And many of the books on the "teen paranormal romance" shelf are essentially science fiction for young women (and enlightened young men). If these indignant bloggers bothered to read a few of the books they're mocking, they might be pleasantly surprised. But it takes less time to post a picture and point a finger than it does to offer an informed critique.
I'd also like to point out that it took the science fiction genre DECADES to receive the respect it deserves. It wasn't long ago that the mainstream literary world would have dismissed the entire sci-fi shelf (including the works of my beloved Philip K. Dick) as meritless trash.
Veruca Salt: Will Violet always be a blueberry?
Willy Wonka: No. Maybe. I dunno. But that's what you get from chewing gum all day, it's just disgusting.
Mike Teavee: If you hate gum so much, why do you make it?
Willy Wonka: Once again you really shouldn't mumble, 'cause it's kinda starting to bum me out.
I was in kindergarten the first time I saw Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (that's the original version). I recall being rather intrigued by two things in particular. Everlasting gobstoppers. And the "three course meal gum." Now, researchers may have made flavor-changing gum a reality. Let's just hope they've managed to get rid of the unfortunate side effects.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Need to ask your dad, brother, uncle, or grandfather for something? (Karate lessons? Bail money? A kidney? A place to hide while you're on the run from the law/gangsters/CIA?) According to a study conducted by a major pharmaceutical manufacturer (I'm going to let that fact go without comment for now), men are more likely to grant the wishes of a female loved one at 6PM.
Gee, I wish all studies funded by major pharmaceutical manufacturers were this practical!
Monday, October 18, 2010
One of the things I love about Brooklyn is that people here go ALL OUT on Halloween. Half the houses on my block are already decorated for the holiday, and the creativity on display is pretty astounding. (I should really take some pictures.)
I probably won't have the opportunity to decorate my own house this year, but I may have found my theme for next Halloween. I recently came across a guide to building a Zombie Barbie Garden. (What are you supposed to do with all those mangy old Barbies, anyway?) I love it!
I just got back from my second favorite city in the world--Austin, Texas! I always love going to the book festival down there. Not only is it a chance to meet some wonderful authors, it's often my last chance to experience a little good weather before it gets dreadfully cold here in New York.
This year, there was a big bonus: The chance to participate in a panel that was held in one of the coolest settings ever. (See above.) The room was in the Texas State Capitol Building. I have no idea what kind of business usually takes place there, but I felt very, very powerful. Ha. And the panel itself was pretty amazing. That's me (trying to look tough) with authors Mary Mancusi (Gamer Girl, Bad Blood, Girls That Growl), Andrea Cremer (Nightshade) and Heather Brewer (The Chronicles of Vladamir Tod). And a big thanks to Soren for stopping by!
I'd also like to thank the lovely ladies from Amarillo who saved my butt later in the evening. (And Andrea's and Heather's.) We were stranded at an event. No taxis in sight. Then six heroines appeared in a minivan and offered us a ride to our hotel. If only I could think of a way to repay you . . . (And I WILL repay you. I never forget a good deed.)
(SECRET MESSAGE FOR "ANONYMOUS." I RECEIVED YOUR NOTE, BUT DIDN'T PUBLISH IT. CONSIDER IT DONE. CHECK BACK IN EXACTLY ONE WEEK.)
Friday, October 15, 2010
Calla is a remarkable character. She’s strong, brave, beautiful—and flawed. (A difficult combination to achieve.) And yet what do I love most about her? That hair! (I, too, have written a book with a white-haired heroine.) What do you suppose is so alluring about young women with white hair?
I’m entertained by this question because I had a strong resistance to writing a blonde heroine (with no good reason – my dad is blonde and I like him a lot!), but Calla was without a doubt platinum blonde with golden eyes. She looks like the flower that’s her namesake, elegant but strong. I also think that white blonde hair has a translucent quality that conveys mystery.
The love triangle in Nightshade is absolutely delicious. I finished the book months ago, and I’m STILL finding it hard to choose between Ren and Shay. I want them both! Which guy would YOU choose?
Thank you!! I love writing the steamy scenes. I think it has to do with the fact that I was born a hopeless romantic and I adore being swept away by passion. One of my favorite responses to Nightshade is that so many people are torn between Ren and Shay. With regard to part two of your question – I’m afraid I have to give you the same answer I give everyone: I’m Team Calla because it’s her choice not mine.
Having spent some quality time with you in the recent past, I know you write very quickly. (And I’m incredibly jealous.) You say you almost go into a trance. Describe your work area, sartorial choices, and level of personal hygiene during these trances.
My work area is wherever I happen to be. I have a writing desk, but honestly it’s covered with books and notes and not actually somewhere I could get writing done. My most frequent writing spot is on my couch in the company of my pug and border collie, but I have been known to write on my deck, in coffee shops, in airports, and on planes. Sartorial: depends on if I’ve had to see people during the day. If yes, then I’m wearing normal clothes. If no, I’m probably in a t-shirt and yoga pants. Personal hygiene: same as above, except that when I’m really in a story I have problems remembering to do things, i.e. I’ll get in the shower and then just get back out without having washed my hair or anything.
Young adult literature is filled with some fabulous libraries. The one in Nightshade is particularly awesome. I must admit, I feel a little tingly whenever I set foot in an old library. These days, when almost every answer is just a Google search away, why are we still so drawn to these places from the past?
Since you’re speaking to a historian I feel like it’s in my blood. I’ve spent a lot of time in archives. I held one of John Winthrop’s bibles in my hand (for anyone who wants to know, John Winthrop was a governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony). Libraries are repositories for the human past in a way that is akin to archaeological evidence. Books, manuscripts, maps are all tangible. They have scent and texture. The internet is fantastic for its volume and speed, but it lacks the ability to ground you in the material past.
I know you grew up in a part of the country where wolves roam the woods. Have you ever come face-to-face with one? Would you like to?
Sadly, I have not, though my father has several times. And I’ve seen their tracks. When I was growing up the wolf packs were small as conservation and reintroduction programs were just getting off the ground. Now there are several wolf packs roaming the Chequamegon National Forest near my hometown. And yes, I do hope to encounter wolves in the wild someday.
The world you created for Nightshade is incredibly complex. How long have you “lived” in this world? How long do you intend to stay there? (In other words, how many books will be in the series?)
I stepped into Nightshade’s world in November of 2008 and I plan to stay there until 2012 for now (that’s four books, three in the trilogy plus a prequel). After that????
I don’t think it’s a secret that Nightshade ends in a cliffhanger. How could you do that to me!?!?! WHY, WHY, WHY?
I seem nice and cheerful, but in truth I am quite evil.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Right Place and the Right Time
When I read The Eternal Ones I fell in love with the characters Kirsten created, but I was equally bewitched by the settings she created. I often talk about the wolf mythology of Nightshade deriving from my upbringing in Northern Wisconsin and a follow-up question I’ve encountered is: So why isn’t your book set in the woods of Wisconsin and Minnesota?
I believe place is as vital to a book’s life as much as any of its characters. I love my home territory, but it wouldn’t have worked for the world I built in Nightshade. First, I needed mountains. There are some lovely hills along the North Shore of Lake Superior. But they are hills, not mountains. They might want to be mountains, but real mountains laugh at them (sorry, Lutsen).
I needed the “Call of the Wild.” The forests I grew up near are most definitely wilderness, but American history has attached a specific mythology to the West. I wanted to build on that mythology. The West evokes a spirit of freedom, hardship, and discovery that doesn’t quite resonate with more easterly locations in the U.S.
Place becomes even more powerful in narratives if the book’s setting is in touch with its own history. Again, Kirsten did a marvelous job in carrying echoes of the past into the present in The Eternal Ones. Though Nightshade is set in present-day Colorado, I’ve tied the wildness of the West with the history of witchcraft and warfare of medieval Europe. The events affecting Calla and her pack connect to an unbroken line of conflicts stretching across centuries and an ocean.
Bringing together place and time adds depth to a world and further complicates the motivations and choices of its characters. I hope Nightshade’s readers will feel the push and pull of past and present, history and myth as they join Calla on her journey.
(Above: Yes, I know that's not a pirate.)
The other day, I was reading about pirates (as I'm wont to do), and I came across an interesting "fact." Some pirate experts (can you imagine a better job?) claim that sailors may not have worn eye patches to look tough or to cover up injuries. Instead, the eye patch might have been a trade secret of sorts. If a sailor always kept one eye in the dark, that eye wouldn't need time to adjust when the sailor went below deck.
Interesting, right? (Perhaps you already knew?) Anyway, I was thinking that this might have a few practical applications for those of us who don't spend our days on the high seas. Perhaps you have some suggestions?
Monday, October 11, 2010
A bomb was just discovered in the Marble Cemetery! I'm not making this up. Check out the news report here!
Here's a little message for the person responsible. Soon, you will wake up in the middle of the night to find a pale, elfin girl with colorless hair staring down at you. Don't bother to beg for mercy.
(And I would just like to state for the record that I wrote the previous post long before I heard about this. What a bizarre coincidence!)
UPDATE: This report from the New York Times leads me to believe that the device was discovered at the OTHER Marble Cemetery. (Yes, there are two of them. They're about a block apart, and people tend to get them confused.)
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Earlier this week, residents of upper Michigan reported hearing the sound of an explosion in the woods. When they investigated, they discovered a mysterious crevice had suddenly appeared. The crack was over 600 feet long and up to five feet deep in places. And it's growing. There have been no earthquakes in the area. So what do you suppose could have caused the fissure?
Anyone out there in Michigan feel like doing a little investigative reporting for Ananka's Diary?
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I live in New York. I know nothing about horticulture or farming. So maybe you guys are already aware of the facts I plan to put forth in this post. But I gotta say, I just had my mind blown. By carrots.
Are you aware that carrots were purple before the 17th century? Yeah. Purple. Apparently the Dutch are responsible for their current color. (Did they breed orange carrots because they were tastier? Or to celebrate the powerful House of Orange? Who knows? The Dutch work in mysterious ways.)
Among the other things I recently learned about carrots. (All taken from this enlightening post.)
1. Carrot seeds are they key ingredient in an ancient concoction proven to counteract the effects of poison.
2. The Romans believed carrots were aphrodisiacs. Everyone in ancient Rome grew them.
3. That whole "carrots improve your eyesight" thing? It's an urban legend cooked up by the British government.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Tomorrow evening, I’ll be reading from my new book, The Eternal Ones, at the Jefferson Market Library in Manhattan. So if you’re in town, come say hi. (And be sure to check out the other authors who will also be reading. See the list below!)
(6-7:30, Jefferson Market Branch of NYPL, 425 6th Ave, at 10th St.)
Maria Boyd, Will
Matt de la Pena, I Will Save You
Kirsten Miller, The Eternal Ones
Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall
Samantha Schutz, You Are Not Here
Suzanne Weyn, Empty
Lizabeth Zindel, A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills
Friday, October 1, 2010
Check it out on MTV's Hollywood Crush Blog!!! And if you like it, please comment on the MTV site and let us know!!!!
(Don't forget to check out the blogs for the other four Breathless Books! The links are in the post below!)
And in case you're wondering the music is "Breathless" by Miggs, and it's available for download here, at the Breathless Books portal!)