Thursday, March 31, 2011

Road Tunes

In a couple of hours I'm heading north to Ashland, WI, my hometown. I'm doing a school visit at my old high school tomorrow morning - which is both trippy and delightful.

With a four-hour drive ahead of me I decided to splurge on some new music. Listening to music while drive is a sure-fire way to get my brain synapses firing in a writerly way. Listening to new music in particular seems to really enliven my creative side.

While I purchase a lot of music on iTunes I still buy cds. I love the jacket art and liner notes that lets me know more about the musicians' process behind this finished product. Here's what I'll be listening to on the rides to and from the Northwoods.

The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck

Though I already know the Mountain Goats to be incredibly talented, I was won over to purchase this album because I fell in love with the title tracks. The first track on this album: Damn These Vampires. Other fabulous titles for tracks: Prowl Great Cain, Outer Scorpion Squadron

Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

I haven't listened to much Lykke Li but keep reading such great things about her that I decided to give this cd a whirl. Plus Scandinavian musicians tend toward awesome - Abba, anyone?

Jonsi - Go

Thank you to David Levithan for bringing Jonsi into my life. I loved Sigur Ros, I might love Jonsi a little bit more.

Yeasayer - Odd Blood

I already listen to Madder Red and O.N.E. incessantly, today I broke down and bought the whole album. Plus the typeface on the jacket is designed to look like Norse Runes. Love.

Radiohead - The King of Limbs

It's Radiohead. Need I say more?

I'll be curious to see which tracks are particularly inspiring. Songs often spin out scenes for me and that's how they end up on my book playlists and soundtracks. I'll keep you posted with the tunes that make the cut.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

That Other Thing I Do

I always laugh when I'm asked "what did you do before you were a writer?" because I'm still doing it and have no intention of giving it up. I jokingly call my life as a history professor my 'day job' but it's a full-time endeavor and I love it.

When I've written about traveling of late it's usually been related to Nightshade, but I'm lucky that my history work takes me on the road too. This week I'm delighted to be at Saint Mary's College of Maryland for the Twelfth Annual Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Colloquium. The theme of this year's colloquium is Women in War: Object/Subject and feature historical, political, activist, and artistic interpretations of the topic.

Meeting the other visiting scholars and the faculty, students, and staff of the college has been wonderful, reminding me that gathering a group of engaged, caring people together and sharing ideas is the way the world can become a better place.

As a colonial historian I'm also enjoying the location. The college is located on the site of the first Maryland colony and has a public history exhibit that I visited.This building, the first state house, stands from 1676. It was amazing to be in a building that existed at the same moment Bacon's Rebellion and Metacom's War were underway.

And you can't have a colony without stocks. Let's all take a moment and be thankful that ear cropping and tongue dowels are no longer viewed as reasonable forms of punishment.

Maryland's colonial history has strong maritime connections and those connections continue today. The students of SMCM can take a course on colonial maritime history in which they learn how to sail The Dove - a replica of one of the colonial ships. I now really want to teach a course with a 'learn a colonial skill' component. Though I'm currently only qualified to teach students how they can identify a witch and I don't think that would be a great idea.
The campus of SMCM is lovely as well. And spring is already appearing here.

The nice barn-shaped brick building in the background is where I'm staying.

I'll return home tomorrow after a wonderful week of conversation, learning, and new friends. Thanks, Saint Mary's!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fortune Telling

Gazing into my crystal ball, I can see the future. And in the not-too-distant future this book:
will be taught - and loved - in classrooms across the country (and hopefully the world!).

Between Shades of Gray is an exceptional novel, but you don't have to take my word for it. Check out this Booklist review:

*Starred Review* Sepetys' first novel offers a harrowing and horrifying account of the forcible relocation of countless Lithuanians in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country in 1939. In the case of 16-year-old Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, this means deportation to a forced-labor camp in Siberia, where conditions are all too painfully similar to those of Nazi concentration camps. Lina's great hope is that somehow her father, who has already been arrested by the Soviet secret police, might find and rescue them. A gifted artist, she begins secretly creating pictures that can--she hopes--be surreptitiously sent to him in his own prison camp. Whether or not this will be possible, it is her art that will be her salvation, helping her to retain her identity, her dignity, and her increasingly tenuous hold on hope for the future. Many others are not so fortunate. Sepetys, the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, estimates that the Baltic States lost more than one-third of their populations during the Russian genocide. Though many continue to deny this happened, Sepetys' beautifully written and deeply felt novel proves the reality is otherwise. Hers is an important book that deserves the widest possible readership.

Ruta Sepetys has created a beautiful, heart-rending historical tale that will move and change readers. I highly recommend you get to a bookstore today and pick it up. Not only is the book incredible, but I was lucky enough to be at a conference with Ruta this past November and she is a fantastic human being. I am honored to share an imprint (Philomel/Penguin) with her!

Congrats on your debut, Ruta! And thank you for this extraordinary novel.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Winners: Editorial Edition!

Thank you so much for your wonderful entries and favorite lines from Nightshade!

Here are the lucky winners of a Wolfsbane ARC (Advanced Reading Copy)





Stacie @ Whimsical Ficery

Email your mailing info to andreacremerwrites (at) gmail (dot) com and the fabulous Editor Jill will ship your ARC to you! Thank you so much to Jill for giving away advanced copies of Wolfsbane and thanks to all of you for entering!!

I'll post any cover news/updates here as they're available.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Friends, countrymen, lend me your ears! You spoke. Penguin is listening. My wonderful editor, Jill Santopolo, has been kind enough to stop by and share a few words:

Hey, everyone. Editor Jill here. Andrea was nice enough to let me jump onto her blog to thank you all for your enthusiasm and feedback on the Wolfsbane jacket design. You’ve given us a lot to think about, and we’ll be having many Wolfsbane--related meetings here at Penguin headquarters in the coming weeks. Oh! And I have three Wolfsbane ARCs to give away today. Anyone who comments on this post with their favorite line from Nightshade will be entered to win. (Andrea assures me that she has a magical number generator that picks the winners fairly and squarely.)

More info to come! And yay Jill!! ARCs!! Leave a comment to be entered :) And please choose a favorite line that's SPOILER FREE.

Since this contest is tied into discussions about the new US cover designs it isn't open internationally (there will be future international giveaways).

All new cover info and updates will be posted here and on Twitter (@andreacremer)

Thanks you guys for your passion and commitment to the Nightshade series. Calla and the whole pack thank you.

UPDATE: Thank you for all the wonderful comments!! I'll take entries through Thursday and announce the winners Friday morning.

Another update: Due to the amazing response, Editor Jill is now giving away FIVE Wolfsbane ARCs! Huzzah!

Pick Your Apocalypse

This weekend I took in a film: Battle: LA. I will pretty much see any spectacular disaster movie, whether good or bad. I'd put Battle: LA in the good camp - it was an enjoyable romp with explosions abounding.

My husband and I bond over a shared love of the imagined apocalypse. While its depictions range from eye-rollingly ridiculous to thought provoking, there's something fascinating about the end of the world as we know it. In Buffyverse, though not one of my favorite character's, Riley Finn delivered one of the best lines of the series: "I find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse."

Pop culture has indeed dreamed up a plethora of means by which the world might end and I tend to enjoy society's demise in all its forms. The Ides of March seem an appropriate day to examine a foreboding subject. Let's have a look see:

Alien apocalypse
Since I started out with Battle: LA I might as well continue in this vein. The alien apocalypse can be zany (Mars Attacks), insidious (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, X-Files), or bombastic (Independence Day, Battle: LA). It's interesting to see what our extraterrestrial neighbors look like, covet their superior technology, and wonder how humans will manage to prevail.

Viral ApocalypseMaybe more frightening because of its plausibility, the supervirus apocalypse (The Stand, Survivors) gets popular play though not as often as other armageddons. Sometimes it wipes out the population, sometimes it makes people into vampires (Daybreakers).

And in case you were worried that all this world-ending mayhem was mutually exclusive, sometimes viruses even bring...

Zombie apocalypseA perennial favorite, the zombie apocalypse comes in many forms. Whether wrought by the slow moving undead (George Romero's oeuvre) or the hyper-charged rage-diseased variety (28 Days Later), zombies spell bad news for society but give us lots of tips for survival. Double tap.

In fact, I'm not that frightened by the onset of zombie apocalypse because I think a good portion of the population is living in a zombie-apocalypse-ready state.

Climate apocalypse
A relative newcomer to the end of the world scenarios, you'll find a few blockbusters (The Day After Tomorrow) but mostly made-for-tv fare (Category 7: The End of the World is pretty awesome). To get serious for a moment, the climate apocalypse scenario hits pretty close to home when horrible disasters (and yes, I know tectonics isn't climate, but still) are affecting sites around the globe. If you aren't already donating to the Red Cross, please consider doing so.

Nuclear apocalypse

Like viral and climate apocalypses, nuclear apocalypse is plausible enough to be truly unsettling. But saw its popularity (Dr. Strangelove, The Day After, Reds, On the Beach) wane in the 21st century. I think "too close for comfort" is part of the we don't see more films of this variety. Also because the Cold War ended. Duh.

Biblical apocalypse
Classic. Who doesn't love a good angels vs. demons battle for the fate of the world? And the four horsemen: pretty hard to top. Whether the anti-Christ is being born (The Omen, Constantine) or Lucifer's running rampant (End of Days), this type of apocalypse is chock full of supernatural goodness.

Though I'd hope none of us are rooting for the end of the world, I'd still wager that we all favor a particular armageddon. My husband is a devoted nuclear apocalypse fan, I'm torn between zombie and biblical, which makes sense given that science fiction and fantasy are my favorite genres.

What's your apocalypse of choice?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shiny and New!!

I have some VERY exciting news today!! First of all I'm thrilled to tell you that NIGHTSHADE is now an international best seller!!! (Thank you, France!)

Coming on the heels of that announcement I'm psyched to share yet more fabulous news:

NIGHTSHADE will be available in paperback this June AND features a new cover!

Penguin decided to try out a fresh take on NIGHTSHADE for the paperback release and I absolutely love it. I also loved the original cover, but I think the new cover truly embodies the novel and depicts Calla so perfectly. When I was first mulling over NIGHTSHADE I came across a poem by Margaret Atwood (one of my favorite authors)* and was struck by its first stanza:

Not you I fear, but that other

She who can walk through flesh

Queen of the two dimensions

These lines reflected the essence of Calla and were the inspiration for this new cover. I love it!

The response to the new NIGHTSHADE cover as it was previewed was so positive that Penguin has decided to makeover the series with this new theme. Squee!!! Thus I'm also able to share....


I am enthralled by how powerful Calla is in this image and the way she resembles a wolf silhouetted by the moon is exquisite. Calla would love this cover (as would Ren and Shay *cough*).

Thanks to all the talent at Penguin for giving my books such wonderful covers!!! I can't wait to see them on the books!!

The poem is in this collection by Margaret Atwood.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


No this is not a post about that new movie starring Bradley Cooper (although - yay, Bradley Cooper!)

At my household of late we've been watching the X-Files, which I missed when it was on back in the day because at that point in my life my scare tolerance was about a 2 on a 1 - 10 scale (1 The Dark Crystal, 10 being The Shining). Over time I've scaled up to around an 8 with a few variables thrown in. I enjoy a good fright, but still have no tolerance for gore. All of this adds up to me rounding up films and television shows that were once upon a time too scary for me, but am now devouring as quickly as I can find them.

I was thinking about why I particularly love the X-Files, which lead to more broad speculation about sci-fi and fantasy - which I'll always take over other genres - and why I'm mind-boggled when encountering people who say "I just don't like fantasy."

And that's that. It's not that they haven't found the right type of fantasy. This group of people don't like any kind of fantasy. They don't even like Harry Potter (fantasy blasphemy!!)

I've run into many such persons in the course of my life, and now that I'm writing fantasy I encounter even more usually in the contest of "I'd like to read your book, but I don't like fantasy. Will you write something else?" *facepalm*

The X-Files finally brought me around to an answer to this conundrum of speculation-haters. In the series Agent Fox Mulder engages in a constant tug of war with Agent Dana Scully. Mulder searchers for evidence of the fantastic in the world: ghosts, magic, monsters and, of course, aliens. Scully is the skeptic, always demanding fact and scientific proof and hoping to explain away through reason what on the surface appears impossible.

I think the population might be divided up into Mulders and Scullys: and it's all about competing visions of one's ideal world. Hailing from the Mulder camp I look at the world as full of possibility. And what terrifies me is the idea that all our imagining could be explained away. I don't want to live in a world where the magical and mystical have no traction, where miracles don't exist. That is what I'm afraid of.

Scullys are the opposite, finding comfort in a world that has boundaries that are fixed, rules that will not be broken. I don't mean this post as a criticism of said persons - only that I think I'm finally understanding their worldview and how radically divergent it is from my own.

These oppositional approaches to the world are based largely in fear. What is more frightening: a world where the fantastic and frightening may exist, or where they can be proven not to?

When asked why I write fantasy I often answer it's because of the freedom. I write to create worlds that explore things unseen, that test the limits of possibility.

I want to live in a world that is limitless. I want to believe.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Today is International Women's Day. I hope that anyone who reads Nightshade understands how deeply issues of inequality and patriarchy concern me - both as an historian and as a human being. I could write at length on this topic - but why would I when Daniel Craig and Judy Dench have already offered this:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Save the Teachers

My home state of Wisconsin has been making a lot of headlines recently and the news is not good. In case you haven't heard, the current governor - Scott Walker - has decided that to solve the state's budget woes his only option is to destroy collective bargaining for public employees.

While troublesome in a broad sense because of its disdain for labor, the group affected by this decision that I'm most worried over is Wisconsin's teachers. I'm indebted to Wisconsin's public school system for my education - which was a truly excellent one at that. Teachers helped me to discover my love of learning and my passion for writing. They encouraged me with each step I took toward my goals and when my high school A.P. English teacher surprised me at my book release party, we both cried.

When I was home over the holidays I had the opportunity to visit my former high school and meet with students and teachers. I'm returning to the high school to give formal presentations on writing in April. School visits have become one of my favorite parts of being an author. Teachers play a vital role in organizing special programs, like author visits, to schools. I'm always impressed and moved by how incredibly hard these teachers work. Educators go far beyond the expectations of their jobs in order to enrich children's lives. Teachers are among the most dedicated, over-worked, and under-appreciated laborers of our society. Rather than being recognized for all that they do to help our communities, they've become an easy political target; scapegoats for social and economic ills for which they are not the cause.

I can hardly believe my ears when accusations of over pay for easy tasks fly. Teachers are not overpaid. Many teachers have second jobs in the summer months so they can pay their bills. During the school year teachers are not simply in the classroom, they are running after-school programs, coaching, mentoring and offering enrichment for students who would not otherwise find outlets for their gifts.

The attack on teachers is nothing less than an attack on the welfare of our society. To disrespect the contributions and sacrifices that educators make in service of the community is akin to dumping toxic waste in the river of the present so that its poisons can be dealt with downstream by the future.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

24 Hour Contest

Hey Blogger Friends,

Just wanted to give you a heads up that I'm running the first WOLFSBANE ARC contest on Twitter for the next 24 hours. On March 1 from midnight to 11:59 PM any tweet with including #wolfsbane will be entered for a chance to win an ARC of book 2 in the Nightshade series.

Good bye, February - bring on March and spring!