Monthly Archives: October 2011

Daisy Whitney’s The Mockingbirds & The Rivals New Covers

Recently on her blog, Daisy Whitney revealed the new paperback cover for her book The Mockingbirds and the matching, new cover for her upcoming companion novel, The Rivals. While we liked the original covers, we’re sort of over-the-moon about the new ones — so we chatted with Daisy about the changes! Here’s more:

The original covers for THE MOCKINGBIRDS and THE RIVALS had a very graphic look to them — and so do the new covers, but in a much different way. What do you like best about both versions of the covers?

I always liked that the hardcover of THE MOCKINGBIRDS stood out because you don’t see many birds or graphics on covers. But I do find myself drawn more towards people on covers, so the new versions of the covers really speak to me. I love that they’re close-ups of teens’ faces, that the teens are looking right at the viewer and not away, down or off to the side, and I like that the covers are a pair — a girl and a boy. With the new cover for THE MOCKINGBIRDS, I love the girl’s red lipstick. It’s a bold and daring choice in a story that deals with date rape, but that’s why I like it. To me, the story has always been about the other side of the assault — how Alex recovers and reclaims herself. And from a feminist worldview, I love that – in a way – she is reclaiming her right to wear red lipstick! That’s what the story is about to me — how a girl can recover from that kind of trauma. That’s why I’m glad the girl isn’t looking away or wrapping her arms around her knees. She’s strong and clear and looking straight at you because she has nothing to be ashamed of even though she’s been through a horrible thing. As for THE RIVALS, well, that boy!!! Those eyes! He’s pretty fantastic to look at. But ogling aside, I think he’s the right counterweight to Alex and the sequel is all about that — the counterweight to the Mockingbirds. The story digs into how the Mockingbirds are challenged in every way so this cover to me represents the mirror opposite, the other side, of the story.

I know authors don’t have much say in their covers, but from your perspective, what was the thought-process behind the redesign?

So very much goes into covers and I’m not terribly involved in the process, nor are most authors. I have to give credit to my amazing editor Kate Sullivan at Little Brown and my tenacious agent, Michelle Wolfson, and of course to the art design team and the designer herself, the immensely talented Liz Casal. In terms of the thought process — we all felt that a photographic cover of a girl for the paperback would speak to my readership well. I’m not a teen, but I am definitely drawn to covers with strong images of girls on them, such as Gayle Forman’s Where She Went and Judy Blundell’s What I Saw and How I Lied. I very much wanted a cover with that sort of power, and that sort of connection with the reader. After the initial decision was made to redo the covers in a photographic vein, my editor Kate oversaw the whole process and wisely waited to show me covers until this set was made! I’m glad — because as soon as I saw them in my email, I called her and told her they were my dream covers. I know that may sound cheesy and whatnot, but it’s far too common for authors to dislike or feel lukewarm about their covers. In my case, I am in mad love with these covers. They are everything I ever wanted for these books and I think they have a ton of teen appeal.

In what way do you think the new covers are a better fit for the books?

I think the new covers say more about the stories. The first one, as I said, conveys to me a strong girl. The font too fits. That sort of strong red handwritten font suggests the sort of writing on the wall that the Mockingbirds engage in. And the font for the tagline is suggestive of graffiti to me. These are all the sort of ideas and images I believe are in the book. I also like that the white background is a sort of crinkly paper and that the pictures look like yearbook photos marked up — much like the Mockingbirds would do! Ultimately, the stories are about standing up for what you believe in and about the consequences of our choices — good and bad — but also about our ability TO choose. So to have two strong teen faces on the covers conveys precisely what the stories are about. (Plus, check out the placement of the bird on THE RIVALS!)

THE RIVALS doesn’t come out for a few more months, but it is available for pre-order. For those who don’t know about it, tell us a little about what to expect?

In THE RIVALS, the Mockingbirds are challenged in every way possible. Everything that worked well about a student-run justice system in the first novel is poked at and prodded by a big cast of characters in this story. The central mystery involves a prescription drug cheating ring that the Mockingbirds are asked to investigate. It’s far-reaching and the clues never quite add up fully. Expect lots of twists and turns, and many moral ambiguities and difficult choices for Alex! But there is also a good amount of romance too. The story picks up six months after the first book ends — at the start of Alex’s senior year. She’s still together with Martin and their relationship grows, but is also challenged in many ways.

In your books, the Mockingbirds get their name from the book TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, which has also seen a lot of different covers over the years, in its various editions. Do you have a favorite cover for *that* book?

This one!

Thanks to Daisy for stopping by, and be sure to check out both THE MOCKINGBIRDS and THE RIVALS!

Book Review: Dark Eden by Patrick Carman

Just in time for Halloween, best-selling author Patrick Carman’s Dark Eden arrives in stores to scare the crap out of you. In a good way. No, really.

Carman’s Dark Eden is a super creepy tale of seven teens sent to the mysterious Fort Eden, where they will be “cured” of their acute and crippling fears. No one quite knows how the enigmatic Rainsford cures them of their fears — but except for a few aches and pains as side effect, the cure works. That’s not enough to convince 15-year-old Will Besting, however — who escapes from the group and hides out, watching the strange goings-on of Fort Eden. He knows something else is happening, he’s just not sure what … and the more he learns, the closer he comes to being the next one cured.

Carman excellently plays up the creepy factor in Dark Eden, with an eerie setting and lots of tension … you never know who might be lurking around that next corner, after all. But there’s also plenty of psychological creepiness going on as well, something only enhanced by the digital app that is an optional extension of the book. (And mad props go here to Carman and his team for dreaming up and executing a new high-tech way to experience reading! This is very cutting edge stuff, and a great way to draw in new readers.)

All the eerie, moody mystery continues to build throughout Dark Eden, making for a fast-paced, edge-of-your seat reading experience. It all culminates with a huge twist at the end that really shakes things up. It’s one I didn’t see coming (I mean, I had Patrick’s ominous warning that there was a twist — but I couldn’t have predicted what it was!).

Most of Carman’s work has been middle grade, with a few forrays into YA, and Dark Eden definitely feels like a younger YA — but that really only opens the book up to a wider audience. But before you hand this to a younger reader, make sure they’re ready for a big scare-fest.

Dark Eden is in stores today!

The Best of This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Today marks not only Halloween — but the end of our month-long feature on This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel. But before we bid farewell to this fabulous book, here’s a look back at the highlights:

This Dark Endeavor: Frankenstein-Inspired Writing Contest

Our writing contest is open through midnight (PT) tonight — and at last check, there were very few entries, so that means you have very good odds of winning!

For this contest, we invited you to write your own short story inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It can be a prequel, a sequel, an alternate ending, or maybe a missing scene from the original book.

Up to FIVE winners will receive a copy of This Dark Endeavor, courtesy of Simon & Schuster. See complete rules & details here!

This Dark Endeavor: The Frankenstein Factor

This Dark Endeavor is written as a prequel to Frankenstein, and we used that as inspiration for lots of our educational posts this month:

Exclusives with author Kenneth Oppel

We also had a great interview with This Dark Endeavor author Kenneth Oppel, in which we discuss the strategy behind the book, his sequel, and more:

Plus check out Ken’s great guest blog about what’s really frightening!

This Dark Endeavor Bonus Content

We also shared some bonus content to further enhance your reading experience:

For the comments: What was your favorite feature from this past month? Tell us below!

Paperback release puts Caster Chronicles back in top ten

With the release of the third book in The Caster Chronicles seriesBeautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (read an excerpt)–the Beautiful Creatures paperback edition is no. 4 on the paperback list. Kathy Reichs’s sequel to ViralsSeizure— is at no. 10.

This Week Children’s Chapter Books Weeks
on List
1 THE SON OF NEPTUNE, by Rick Riordan. (Hyperion, $19.99.) The cast of characters expands; Book 2 of the Heroes of Olympus. (Ages 9 to 12) 3
2 EVERY THING ON IT, by Shel Silverstein. (Harper/HarperCollins, $19.99.) Poems and drawings by the author of “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” (Ages 9 to 12) 5
3 WONDERSTRUCK, by Brian Selznick. (Scholastic, $29.99.) In alternating stories told in words and pictures, children look for loved ones. (Ages 9 to 12) 6
4 MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, by Ransom Riggs. (Quirk Books, $17.99.) An island, an abandoned orphanage and a collection of curious photographs. (Ages 12 and up) 20
5 THE LOST HERO, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $18.99.) A return to Camp Half-Blood and semi-divine characters. (Ages 10 and up) 51
6 DARTH PAPER STRIKES BACK: AN ORIGAMI YODA BOOK, by Tom Angleberger. (Amulet, $12.95.) Origami Yoda to the rescue. (Ages 8 to 12) 9
7 THE POWER OF SIX, by Pittacus Lore. (HarperCollins, $17.99.) Nine Loric aliens came to Earth seeking refuge. Six remain. (Ages 14 and up) 9
8 LEGO STAR WARS CHARACTER ENCYCLOPEDIA, by Hannah Dolan and others. (DK, $18.99.) More than 300 minifigures. (Ages 7 and up) 5
9 THE MAGIC OF REALITY, by Richard Dawkins. Illustrated by Dave McKean. (Free Press, $29.99.) The science of natural events. (Ages 12 and up) 3
10 SEIZURE, by Kathy Reichs. (Razorbill, $17.99.) Tory Brennan, niece of Reichs’s Temperance Brennan, returns in the “Virals” sequel. (Ages 12 and up) 1

The Saturday Post: Movies Galore & Other Book-ish News

Like, WHOA, on the YA movie adaptation news this week … we round-up highlights from the past week in YA-related news!

* The Hunger Games movie character posters. So much awesome. See all eight posters here, and be sure to check out our desktop wallpapers we created using the new artwork. Whose look do you like best?

* We are SO delighted to hear that 20th Century Fox has optioned the film rights to Myra McEntire’s Hourglass. We love Myra & Hourglass! And our friends at TheFabLife have already gotten a jump on discussing fantasy casting choices.

* Speaking of Myra, the cover for her upcoming sequel Timepiece has been leaked, and while we’re not a fan of leaks, we’re still a bit excited because … well … the cover is gorgeous:

* Back to movie news. Speaking of film rights … Warner Bros. announced this week that it has snatched up the rights to The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater! Congrats Maggie … and you know, good news for us!!!

* LOTS of exciting stuff from the Twilight Saga realm, as we near the Nov. 18th release of Breaking Dawn: Part 1. Here are a few highlights, but we recommend following the Twilight Examiner and the Twilight Lexicon for all the latest and greatest news in that fandom! As one highlight, here’s a short clip from the honeymoon scene:

We also love the music video debut for Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years,” one of the songs off the official Breaking Dawn: Part 1 soundtrack:

And check out these awesome new still images from the wedding scene!

* Also from our friends at Summit Entertainment … it seems their adaptation of Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion has been given a release date of August 10, 2012 — just one day after my birthday! Woo! Happy Birthday, to meeeee!

* If you’ve been on the blog this past week, you know we’ve been counting down to Monday’s release of Dark Eden by Patrick Carman. Now check out this fun new image of the book’s main characters:

* The latest book in the House of Night series, Destined by PC & Kristin Cast hit stores earlier this week! Here’s the official book trailer:

For the comments: Any news we missed? Share it in the comments below!

Exclusive Q&A with Audition author Stasia Ward Kehoe

Today, we are delighted to host Stasia Ward Kehoe’s Audition blog tour — a book that we truly think is fab-u-lous! As part of our stop, Stasia stopped by for a short Q&A:

I used to be so intimidated by verse novels, but thanks to authors like you and Lisa Schroeder, I’ve really come to love them and the way they cut right to the emotional core of a story. But I especially love the use of verse in AUDITION, the way the words act almost as a dance themselves. Was this something you considered while writing AUDITION, or was it more organic than that?

I was very interested in the possibilities of describing movement through this more lyrical literary form, so that was definitely a consideration. When I began writing Audition in verse, I had not yet come to realize how emotionally intense this form could be. That was a big surprise–and pretty intense some days.

Writing & dancing: in what ways are they similar? Different?

Stasia in a high school production of "Bye, Bye Birdie"

One of the things I am truly passionate about is my belief in the synergies between literary and performing arts. Just as a basketball player with an eye for math and spatial awareness brings these gifts to the court, an artist should put ALL his or her creative energy on the table for every project. Growing up in dance and musical theater, I tend to be very aware of cadences, rhythms, in word phrases and even in plot structures. When I wrote Audition, I actually choreographed the Country Duet that Remington creates in the course of the novel. It was a part of my writing process. And, I am also interested in the unique sense of self that being an actor—a performer—fosters in a person. So, I suppose for me, it’s not a question of similar or different. It is all one thing. Just kind of me doing my thing!

AUDITION is clearly a book about a dancer, and the very specific challenges that come with her unique life on the stage. Yet so many of the problems Sara faces can be universally applied to all teens. Why do you think this is?

I think that part of growing up is figuring out who we are and what we want apart from parents, teachers, boyfriends. So, I think, this is not a dancer-problem but a larger teen problem. In Sara, I wanted to portray a teen who is so insecure that she is swept up into a bad relationship because of the status she thinks it brings her. She is a sort of unreliable narrator in that she really doesn’t see what Rem (that “bad-boy choreographer love interest) is doing until late in the story. Finally, it seems like lots of teens I know are very committed to a sport, a performance group (music, dance, drama), or academic pursuit that takes a great deal of their time. Striving for mastery of something as a teenager is a lot of pressure and I think it’s something to which many teens can relate, regardless of whether they’ve ever put on pointe shoes!

And finally … describe how you might adapt AUDITION from a book into a dance.

Stasia choreographing a dance when she was in high school

To shape Audition into a classical, story ballet style, I suppose I’d divide it into two acts. The corps de ballet would play Darby Station friends, ballet students and maybe Upton Academy Students. The main romantic duo would be Sara and Rem, and maybe Julie and Simone could be the secondary, more comic couple. The real trick would be to make the dance Rem creates stand apart from the larger story as described in a ballet and… Obviously you’ve got me thinking! I find if fun to play with plot and structure across genres. Do you ever think a book would make a great movie, or a poem would be awesome set to rock music? Spill!

Thanks for having me here at Novel Novice today.

If you live in CA, WA, OR, NY or NH, visit Stages on Pages to see if my upcoming book tour will be in a town near you!

Countdown to Dark Eden: Halloween Playlist & a Contest

We’re nearing the end of our countdown to Dark Eden by Patrick Carman, but we still have a few tricks (and treats!) up our sleeve. Since Halloween weekend is upon us, and Halloween is on Monday (the same day Dark Eden hits stores) — we asked Patrick to share his spooky playlist.

After you check out Patrick’s tunes, keep reading for a cool contest!

Patrick Carman’s Top 5 Playlist for Halloween

1. Pink Floyd, The Wall. The entire album. Not only is it brilliant, it’s haunting. And after you listen you can go watch the movie, which will very-nearly melt your brain.

2. Green Day, American Idiot, entire album – because it will put you in a party mood, but you’ll be cynical about it, which feels oddly Halloween to me. And nobody drops an f-bomb like Billie Joe Armstrong. Halloween benefits from bad language beautifully said.

3. Michael Jackson, Thriller – it’s 23 minutes of 80’s bliss. And it will make you want to memorize a silly dance and do it in front of your friends. Perfect for Halloween.

4. Monster Mash – only because it’s such a total Halloween classic and I when I was a kid it was huge. It was like the only Halloween song.

5. Mix CD. Include one track from each artist, play at high volume, smile a lot: Ozzy, Zep, Def Leopard, M&M (dark but scary talented), Ronnie James Dio, two tracks of Iron Maiden (because truly, they are the ultimate Halloween band), Motley Crue, end with one B-52’s track in order to lift your dark mood.

Dark Eden Halloween Contest

Now it’s your turn to win some cool prizes, which Patrick and his minions sent for us to share with you! Here are the deets:

The Contest

Fill out the Novel Novice + Dark Eden Contest Entry Form, and tell us what you’re afraid of for your chance to win!

The Prizes

One grand-prize winner will receive a Dark Eden t-shirt (size M), a Dark Eden lanyard, a Dark Eden fear test CD, and a copy of 3:15 – Things That Go Bump in the Night

Nine (9) other winners will each receive a Dark Eden fear test CD

The Rules

  • U.S. only
  • One entry per person
  • Use the entry form

The Deadline

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Halloween – that’s Monday, October 31st

Leave ’em in the comments & we’ll reply!

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick Flash Fiction Contest

In The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, 14 authors write short stories based on illustrations and captions featured in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. This concept has been used by teachers and writers for years — and now we’re inviting you to do the same … with a very cool prize at stake!

Here are the details:

The Contest

Choose one of the following Harris Burdick illustrations and write a piece of “flash fiction” — a short story between 250-500 words — that’s inspired by the image:

"A Strange Day in July"

"Just Desert"

"Mr. Linden's Library"

"Under the Rug"

Submit your short story using the Novel Novice Harris Burdick Entry Form.

Need help getting started? Check out these tips for writing a Harris Burdick story!

The Prize

Five (5) winners will each receive an ARC of The Chronicles of Harris Burdick that is SIGNED by Chris Van Allsburg.

The Rules

  • One entry per person
  • U.S. only
  • Use the entry form
  • Please use proper grammar & spelling — it counts!

The Deadline

We’re giving you two weeks to write your flash fiction.

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Friday, November 11th.

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments & we’ll reply!

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel: Gothic literature

The real Chateau (Castle) Frankenstein

You can have a horror novel without gothic elements, but it’s impossible to have a gothic novel without horror. This Dark Endeavor has both in spades.

On Novel Novice we’ve talked before about what elements make a gothic novel (here and here) but Kenneth Oppel captures them so well, it’s worth revisiting.

Like horror, the birth of the gothic novel is attributed to Horace Walpole, who wrote The Castle of Otranto in 1764. The genre combines horror and romance, and its purpose is to instill terror in the reader.

Prominent features of Gothic fiction include:

  • Mystery, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses and Gothic architecture, castles (or chateaus with hidden passages), darkness, death, decay, doubles (twins), madness, secrets (like the Dark Library) and hereditary curses.

The stock characters of Gothic fiction include:

  • Tyrants, villains, bandits, maniacs (Polidori), Byronic heroes (Victor, to a point), virginal maidens (Elizabeth), femmes fatales, monks, nuns (religious debates), madwomen, magicians (alchemists), vampires, werewolves, monsters, demons, dragons, angels, fallen angels, revenants, ghosts and the devil.

Religion in gothic novels

The reformation of the Catholic Church by Henry VIII started a trend of anti-Catholicism in England. Over the next few centuries, political treaties eased discrimination of Catholics by allowing them to build cathedrals and practice their religion, but a strong sense of anti-Catholicism showed up in Gothic literature. Most Gothic novels are set in countries outside England (Switzerland/Germany), known to be the centers of the Catholic Church.

To readers, a character’s flaws are directly associated with their Catholic beliefs. Oppel attacks this touchy subject through Elizabeth and her debates on religion v. science with Victor.

Classic gothic literature

If you’re interested in reading more gothic pieces, here are some classics:

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) by Victor Hugo
  • “Young Goodman Brown” (1835) by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Fall of the House of Usher (1839) by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1910) by Gaston Leroux
  • Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Brontë

New In Theaters: Anonymous

A new movie hits theaters today, and the topic is stirring up a bit of a debate in the literary community.

Anonymous addresses the hotly debated conspiracy theory that William Shakespeare did not actually write any of his beloved plays and sonnets:

Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, Anonymous speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds such as Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Sigmund Freud, namely: who actually created the body of work credited to William Shakespeare? Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship of the most renowned works in English literature. Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when scandalous political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles lusting for the power of the throne were brought to light in the most unlikely of places: the London stage.

The theory is, for the most part, a bit absurd. I’ve never bought into it, and I am still a big fan of Shakespeare’s work. Despite that, I still really want to see Anonymous. It just looks cool! However, I’ve heard others in the lit world say they want nothing to do with it.

So what about you? Tell us in the Comments: what do you think of the premise behind Anonymous? Will you see the movie or not?

Meanwhile, here is the official trailer:

For the comments: What do you think of the premise behind Anonymous? Will you be seeing the movie or not?