Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the Old

The close of one year and the opening of the next always leaves me in a restless state of mind. I remember a year ago, on the eve of 2010 and the excitement with which I approached the year of my greatest dream coming true - the publication of my novel, Nightshade.

Any expectations I had were far exceeded by the experience that was 2010. I am so grateful to Penguin and InkWell for the amazing work they did to make my dreams a reality. And I will never have enough thanks to all the readers (that's you!!) who took Calla and her pack into their hearts.

2011 brings more excitement and I'd just like to wish you a Happy New Year and thank you again for being with me on the adventures that each new day brings!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pub Date Across the Pond!

Hooray!!! Nightshade is officially out in the UK today!

Thanks so much to the amazing team at Atom Books - I'm ecstatic that Nightshade is making friends in England, Scotland and beyond even as I write this message.

If you haven't yet checked out the UK Nightshade web site, you should as it is soooo very pretty.

Since it's very, very wintry from Minnesota to New York to London I thought this might be an appropriate song to celebrate the day. I hope you'll brave the elements to go pick up your own copy of Nightshade and give it a nice, cozy new home!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Signing and Some Winners!

It's the post-Christmas lull. The space of days between Christmas and New Year's always strikes me as a bit odd. It's a time of winding down and reflecting on the year - but also of anticipation, looking toward what's to come in 2011.

If you're looking for something to do and happen to be in Northern Wisconsin, you can stop by Stage North in Washburn (on beautiful Lake Superior) for my reading and signing tonight at 7.

I also have some winners to announce from last week's contests. Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by!

The winners of Catherine Fisher's giveaway are:




The winners of Lisa Desrochers' giveaway of a signed copy of Personal Demons is:


Congrats to the winners! You'll be getting an email from me in the next few days asking for your mailing deets.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Q&A and a Contest!

It's Christmas Eve Day and Catherine Fisher was kind enough to answer my questions. Here's the interview and if you leave a comment you might find that Santa brings you Catherine's book (albeit slightly after the holiday)!

There are so many fascinating elements at work in this series, but let’s start with the obvious one: how did you come up with a living prison?

I have had the idea of a sentient building for some time now. It's not a new idea, but buildings often feel as if they have a personality, and might speak in different ways. In my RELICMASTER set I have a section where the heroine, Carys gets trapped in a building which talks to her. It's an abandoned, drowned palace, and I enjoyed making its voice both sarcastic and neurotic. That was just one scene, but it probably laid the foundations (!) for Incarceron.

I loved the way your world was both historical and futuristic – what inspired that blend of an artificially engineered past and a dystopian future?

As you know, it's hard to think back into the processes of writing and see where things came from. It had to be a future world because of the Prison's capabilities, and then the idea of the frozen past of the Era just seemed a good contrast As I elaborated on it I realised it threw upall sorts of interesting images. Both Finn and Claudia think the other's world is a paradise, and find out it's hell. So there was this past/present, hell/heaven idea running through which I enjoyed.

Do you think we too often idealize the past (as has occurred in an extreme way in Incarceron)?

I think we do idealize the past in some ways. Certainly there is a sort of nostalgia for the old days and a whole industry here in Britain based around heritage. On the other hand it's easy to think the past was totally alien to us, but in many ways people don't change. I often visit prehistoric sites like Stonehenge and Avebury, and think about how the people who built them had the same basic concerns that we do. And we're living in their buildings all the time.

If you were placed in Incarceron, what part of the prison would you hope to land in?

I would definitely not want to be in Incarceron! If I was, maybe Blaise's tower would be the safest and most interesting place. Though there are whole swathes of the Prison that even I don't know about.

The second book in your series, Sapphique, is titled after one of the novel’s characters. That’s such a unique name, where did it come from and does it have a special meaning that you could share?

I invented the name Sapphique out of various bits of words- as you say, unique might be one of them, also sapphire, opaque, words I like. It's a feminine sounding name but then I made the character male. I wanted a one word title that would intrigue the reader.

What has been your favorite part of writing this story?

I enjoyed the Chaingang scene and the bits with Jared and the Queen. I also like Rix and his crazy patchbooks. Keiro is always fun to write. And Claudia's changing relationship with her father. But like all books, the enjoyment usually comes after the work!

Thanks for the great questions Andrea, and I really enjoyed Nightshade.

Best wishes Catherine.

Thank you, Catherine!! And remember, readers, leave a comment below for a chance to win!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

UK Blog Tour

Christmas is almost here - I can hardly believe it! We've just passed the Winter Solstice, which means each day brings us a little more sunlight - considering that this time of year in Minnesota it gets dark at 4 p.m. I find that thought more than a little bit comforting.

Exciting things afoot on the other side of the Atlantic. Atom Books has kicked off the countdown to Nightshade with a fabulous blog tour! You can read excerpts from the book and soon some awesome UK (and AU/NZ) blogs will feature interviews and guests post. There's also a contest to 'cast' Calla - and I can't wait to see who readers think would best portray her on screen.

You can also check out the Atom's fabulous Nightshade web site and download some gorgeous wallpaper.

Though the official release date of Nightshade in the UK isn't until December 28, I'm getting reports that copies have been sighted at WH Smiths and Waterstones. So if you're looking for a last minute Christmas gift? (hint, hint)

Merry Christmas and I hope Santa brings whatever you've been wishing for!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Guest Post: Catherine Fisher!

Today I'm delighted to welcome Catherine Fisher, author of Incarceron and Sapphique!

Twists and turns.

I don't know if this goes for everyone, but as a reader I enjoy being made to work. I like books where things are going on that I can't quite grasp, and I have to stop and muse a bit sometimes. I like it when the writer plays tricks on me. One brilliant example is a book I really admire, Christopher Priest's novel The Prestige. About a third into it I gradually began to sense that I was being hoaxed, or manipulated by the author. Read it, and you'll see what I mean. If you manage to work out what's happening, you, as reader, feel good about yourself and about the book too. And if you don't even notice, and the author completely floors you with some revelation later on, there's a strange pleasure in that too, I think.

With Incarceron and Sapphique I wanted to set up parameters and then blow them up. I wanted to place a few small explosive charges that would stun the reader as they travel through the book. If you've read them, you might guess which things I mean. Sometimes even I can't see these coming, which is good, as it means I can't give them away by leaving clues. What Attia announces about Claudia is one of those. I was as surprised as I hope the reader is.

It's probably quite perverse to enjoy leading the reader down one path and then whisking the very ground from under his/her feet, but it's fun.

The danger is that there's a fine line between being pleasantly puzzled or surprised and being totally lost and therefore bewildered. I know I tread that line sometimes, maybe at the end of Sapphique. I just hope readers still with me by then will be prepared for anything. I really

think that books should be an adventure, and challenge the reader and make them engage. That things which seem true may not be. That the boy tied across the transit lines may actually be part of the ambush. That the writer, who seems so nice, and to be telling a straightforward story, may be spinning you a whole sticky web of lies. Just like Finn.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Naughty and Nice: A Contest

In case you didn't already know it, I have a fabulous critique partner, Lisa Desrochers. Lisa and I met at the San Francisco Writers' Conference in February 2009, decided to start swapping our drafts and within the year we both had book deals!! I'm still reeling at our good fortune and am always grateful that I have such a wonderful writer and friend in Lisa.

Lisa's debut, Personal Demons, is smokin. Check out her blog and leave a comment below for a chance to win a SIGNED copy of her book!! (Thank you, Lisa!!!!)

I'm thrilled to have two of the book's stars - Luc (a demon) and Gabe (an angel) - stopping by for an interview today.

Me (looks at Luc and Gabe, fans self): Ummmm, is it getting hot in here?

Gabe (jerks thumb at Luc): You’ll have to take that up with him.

Me (coughs, hurrying to change the subject): So, guys, the holidays are coming up – what’s on your wish list this year?

Luc (smirks): Frannie, over easy.

Gabe (rolls eyes): There’s the Christmas spirit. (smiles at Andrea) It’d be horribly cliché to say peace on Earth and goodwill toward man, wouldn’t it? So, I’ll just settle for Frannie’s soul.

Luc (glares at Gabe): Shouldn’t you be impaled on the top of someone’s Christmas tree?

Me (beaming at Gabe, too nervous to sneak a glance at Luc): Time to be nice - Luc, I know you’re going to hate this – what’s one trait you admire in each other?

Luc (raises eyebrow at Andrea): Seriously?

Gabe: You’re complaining?

Luc: I am.

Gabe: I’ll start. Luc is…creative.

Luc (barks out a laugh): That’s the best you could do?

Gabe: It’s better than “seriously?

Luc (looks back at Andrea): See what I have to put up with? Okay. Give me a second… Gabe is…bright.

Gabe (throws up hands): You admire my brightness?

Luc (shoots a glare at Gabe): What do you want from me?

Gabe: I guess a reasonable answer is too much to hope for?

Luc (slumps in chair): Fine. He’s loyal, I suppose.

Gabe (nods): And Luc is courageous…when he wants to be.

Me: Okay...I guess we’ll give naughty a spin too. What have you done lately that might make Santa skip your house?

Gabe: Can I plead the fifth?

Luc (smiles at Andrea): I’ll give you his list. He’s been up to all kinds of very questionable angelic conquests, such as trying to get into Frannie’s—

Gabe (holds up hand): Whoa, there, brimstone-breath. I have done absolutely nothing outside my scope as a Dominion.

Luc: Except kissing Frannie.

Gabe: How do you know about that?

Luc: She told me.

Gabe (shifts in seat) (looks at Andrea): He, on the other hand, would have a much easier time answering the question: Have you done anything in all your pathetic existence to redeem your sorry demonic butt?

Luc (crosses arms): I have.

Gabe: Such as?

Luc: I can’t see how that’s any of your business, and this isn’t your interview. (Turns to Andrea) Santa has plenty of reasons to skip my house and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Me (tries not to blush while Luc keeps looking my way): Uh...moving along...since I love philosophy, let’s wax thoughtful for a moment. We’ll be seeing you again soon in a book titled, Original Sin. What’s your take on that concept?

Luc: Depending on which belief system you buy into, original sin can be interpreted in any number of different ways, all of which work for me. Whether you look at it as the specific sin of Adam and Eve that lead to the fall of man, or the more Catholic doctrine that it’s the general state of sin that all men are born into, it means that man will always sin and I will always benefit.

Gabe: No. It means that sometimes man sins—

Luc (smirking): And so do angels.

Gabe (shaking head): The concept of original sin is founded in Christian doctrine. In reality, it’s not nearly as cut and dry as organized religion would like to make it seem. Man has free will. What that means is they are free to make their own choices. There are temptations—

Luc (grinning): Tell me about it…

Gabe (glaring at Luc): and sometimes man falls prey to them. In the end, a man’s conscience is going to dictate how he deals with those temptations, but I don’t buy that man, in his true essence, is born to sin.

Luc (leans forward and smiles wickedly): How about you, Andrea? Up for a little original sin?

Me (holds Luc's gaze for a moment, stands up, bolts because I'd prefer to hang on to my soul) (calls over shoulder): Thanks for stopping by you guys! Merry Christmas!!! Say hi to Lisa for me!

Wow - that was...intense...ummm.....remind me to bring a chaperone next time. And don't you guys forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of Personal Demons. I'll take entries through December 25 - whether you've been naughty or nice!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Catherine Fisher

I've got a lovely Christmas gift for you, dear readers! This week I'm featuring author, Catherine Fisher. Catherine has penned some truly fabulous books that I'm so happy to talk about - as well as featuring two of my favorite book covers!

If you weren't paying attention in the early part of 2010 you might have missed the release of Incarceron (maybe not though - considering it did hit the NYT best seller list). But if you're Team Jacob you've surely noted that the film version of Incarceron will star no other than one Taylor Lautner!

Incarceron is a fantastic tale that weaves mystery and suspense in a world that features a living prison with dangers, rules, and societies contained in its ever-changing walls and a world outside the prison that boasts incredible technology side-by-side with strange trappings of the past. I don't want to describe the book to much as I think losing yourself in this fascinating world is one of the best parts of the novel.

If you haven't read Incarceron yet, now is the perfect time because the second book in the series - Sapphique, will be what you want to pick up with your bookstore gift cards post-holiday. Sapphique will be available December 28 (cough - same day as Nightshade's UK release - cough).

Catherine will stop by the blog Wednesday and Friday. I can't wait - be sure to check in for a chance to win her book!!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Happy Friday, everyone!

The randomly selected winner of Five Flavors of Dumb is:

Christina Ferko!

Congrats :) Keep watching the blog for more giveaways leading up to Christmas. I'm going to celebrate the weekend with one of my favorite Christmas songs:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Book Alert & Contest

I have a special guest on the blog today: Antony John is the author of FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB, a fabulous book that recently hit bookstores. I had the pleasure of meeting Antony earlier this fall and he is such a cool, fun person that I want you to know who he is and how awesome his book is. Antony was gracious enough to stop by for an interview - and if you leave a comment below you'll be entered to win FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB!!

We first met at Anderson's YA conference in Naperville, IL in September - meeting awesome authors, like yourself, is one of my favorite 'perks' of being a writer. What have been some of your favorite things about being an author?

* Oh boy, I could write a dissertation on this one!

First off, you’re spot on when you say that the biggest perk is meeting other authors (and also editors and agents). People who dedicate their lives to an aspect of children’s literature are invariably doing it because they’re passionate about it, and it’s so energizing to be around them. Meeting you in Naperville was a case in point. I could’ve just sat and listened to you talk about Nightshade all day, although that might have defeated the purpose of our panel, right?

Second, I love the rush of writing: those times when you get in a zone and the words just pour out like you’re in your own personal IMAX movie. It’s thrilling, and exhilarating, and I’m in the incredibly luxurious position of knowing that those words will most likely make it into print one day. I get the feeling both of us know how lucky we are to be able to say that.

As a random third, I have to admit that being a YA author definitely wins me the Coolest Job prize at social gatherings. Every time I attend a party I’m reminded that (a) people find authors fascinating, and (b) a lot of adults are reading YA these days (and they’re very opinionated)!

Tell us about Five Flavors of Dumb:

* Five Flavors of Dumb is the story of Piper Vaughan, a deaf high school senior. When her parents raid her college fund to pay for her baby sister’s cochlear implant, Piper resorts to managing her school rock band as a way of making some money. It’s crazy, funny, heartfelt, and uplifting—at least, that’s what the reviews are saying.

Since this book is, in part, about a band - did you listen to music while you were writing it? If so, can you tell us a song from the playlist as an example?

* Oh yeah, I listened to LOADS of music. In fact, I have a playlist of over a hundred songs that I listened to over and over while I was writing. (I’ve played most of these songs at least 20 times according to iTunes, which tells you how long it takes to write a book.)

But as the example, I’m going to name a couple songs that actually appear in the book. (I’m not going to say HOW they appear, though, because that would spoil the surprise.):

Nirvana – Seasons in the Sun

Jimi Hendrix – Star-Spangled Banner (live at Woodstock, 1969)

What surprised you the most about writing Five Flavors of Dumb?

* Ooh, good question. I think I’d have to say the most surprising thing was how fully I got inside the head of my main character, Piper. I spent several months researching deafness before I wrote a word, by which time I had a truly deep understanding of who Piper was, and what made her tick. She’s smart, sardonic, determined, and someone I would have loved to know when I was a teen. Writing from her perspective felt effortless, and I think that’s a good sign!

What are you working on next?

* My next YA will be coming out around spring 2012 from Dial. It’s called The Hallelujah Book Tour, and is the story of a boy who writes a spiritual self-help book that becomes a bestseller. He’s sent on a promotional tour along Route 66, but things don’t exactly go as planned, particularly when a former crush hitches a ride.

After that, around fall 2012, the first book in my Elemental trilogy will be released (also with Dial; can you tell I like my editor!). It’s set in a dystopian colony of the United States where everyone is born with powers of the elements—earth, water, wind, and fire—except for one boy who is powerless . . . or is he? I’m so psyched about it I can barely see straight.

Please visit me at (and friend me on the Facebook link)!

Thanks for having me along today, Andrea. And Happy Holidays to all your readers!

Thanks so much for being here, Antony & readers be sure to leave a comment below so you're entered in the contest!

Friday, December 10, 2010

How to Say Goodbye?

This week was awesome because the final book in Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series, Last Sacrifice, was published.

This week was horrible because the final book in Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series, Last Sacrifice, was published.

Readers, do you understand this contradiction? I'm sure you do.

One of the best and worst things about books you truly love is knowing they'll come to an end. When the books are part of a series it seems to me that this anticipation, joy, and sorry are amplified because you're that much more invested in the story arc and its characters.

I loved Last Sacrifice - it was a fantastic conclusion to the series. But I woke up this morning feeling a little blue because I'd spent time in the last two days sneaking time to cuddle up with my book and devour it. While I have many other wonderful books to read in my house, there is something about waiting for a book you've been wanting and stealing that time to spend with it that makes the experience exceptional.

This isn't a sudden revelation - my husband woke up to find me sobbing in bed at 5 a.m. because I'd just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

"What's wrong?" He asked.

"I finished the book!" I cried.

Despite my post-book blues, I wouldn't trade the wonder of that emotional journey with characters for anything. But I'm wondering - how do you cope with the end of favorite series?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bloggers Rule!

If you haven't already seen it around the blogosphere there's a really fantastic event happening called Best I've Read 2010

This event brings together loads of awesome bloggers discussing their favorite reads of 2010. I'm over the moon that Nightshade is being featured on many blogs. Even better: there are TONS of giveaways going on as part of BIR2010.

Today you can read interviews and enter giveaways for Nightshade at Once Upon a Twilight and Mundie Moms.

Thank you so much to all the bloggers for their support of Nightshade - you guys are the best!

Go check out Best I've Read 2010 and be sure to enter the awesome contests!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chat Tonight

Hey Blogger Friends,

Just an FYI: I'll be chatting live at 7 p.m. (CST) tonight on Night Owl Reviews with P.C. Cast and Cindy Bennett. Hope to see you there!


Thanks to everyone who stopped by to welcome Matched into the world! I'm pleased to announced that the two winners are:

Sylvia sylvia_uy4(at)yahoo(Dot)com


Amanda amandatheaker(at)gmail(dot)com


Friday, December 3, 2010

Q&A with Ally Condie

I love it when author friends stop by and indulge the weirdness of my brain! Here's my Q&A with Ally Condie, author of Matched.

The opening scene of your book describes the matching event, and Cassia has chosen a green dress to wear (which is also on the cover). Green is my favorite color and I love that dress – the story intimates that her choice of color says something about her, but what made you decide her dress should be green?

*I wanted Cassia’s dress to be green for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons is very superficial—I wanted it to match her eyes! More importantly, I also liked the symbolism of the color green and its traditional connections with growth, spring, etc. And finally, I liked that it had a connection with the green tablet, which is important to the story.

It’s fascinating that culture has been limited to the 100 lists – did you actually create a list of each 100 books, songs, etc. If so, what was that like?

*I didn’t create the lists in their entirety. I do know a few items on each list. The list the Society created would be very different from my own personal list, so it would be a little daunting to create theirs. They wouldn’t include anything subversive, they would limit the diversity of the list, etc.

In the Society, it’s dangerous to be exceptional. Do you think our world ever tries to limit originality?

*Yes, I do. I think we have a lot of cultural ideas about what beauty and success should look like and we like people to fit those molds. However, we do also live in this time of unparalleled freedom of expression, so that is pretty amazing.

This is totally random, but does the Society allow people to have pets?

*No, they don’t! And you’re the first person to notice that! I thought it was this sort of creepy thing that there are no animals on the streets or in the yards, etc. It’s just another way the Society exercises control. The people in the Farmlands have farm animals, but there are no actual pets.

If Cassia were to step into our world for a day, what do you think she would be the most surprised by?

*I think she would be most surprised by the way we can listen to and write and read whatever we want, and she would also be surprised by how much we take that for granted.

I’m dying for more of the story – what are you working on now and what can I bribe you with to get it early (chocolate?)?

*I’m working on the sequel right now. I’ve been working on the sequel for a year! I wish I could write more quickly. But I’m like you in that the story can take over my mind (when I’m not with the kids). I was leaving to go write earlier today and I backed into my husband’s car with my car. He was thrilled. I really need to finish this book. ;)

But you could possibly bribe me with a copy of Wolfsbane. ;)

Ha! Thanks, Ally :)

Thanks for letting me stop by, Andrea! And huge congrats on the success of Nightshade!

Thanks to Ally for being here and thanks also to Penguin, which is giving away two copies of Matched to blog readers. Just leave a comment below and you will be entered in the giveaway!!!