What’s the book that has meant the most to you? That’s the question we asked author Ann Aguirre for today’s guest post on the official blog tour for Vanguard, the fourth book in her Razorland series. Plus, be sure to keep reading for more about the series, the tour, and your chance to win a copy of the book!
I can’t pick just one, so there are two books that I reference as being the most important. Both of these stories changed me. At some point, I picked up A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, and it was life-changing. For the first time, I saw a girl who acted somewhat differently than other girls, her family was known to be weird, she was clever, and she had adventures. She didn’t spend her time moping over her differences. For me, it was so glorious to internalize that message. I could be clever and odd and not care what others thought. It helped me a kid, tremendously.
I kept devouring books, spending my allowance on them. That $5 didn’t go far, even back then, and by eleven, I was earning my own money through babysitting. (I took a first aid and CPR class at the local hospital; I was quite the young entrepreneur!) As a teen, after I got my first job at the cinema, I put part of the money in my gas tank; the rest I spent on books.
In college, I was much the same—and here we come to the second book that changed my life. I’d known I wanted to be a writer, pretty much all my life, since I met Shel Silverstein in the fourth grade and realized that someone paid him to put words in print. Growing up in the rust belt to blue collar parents, however, it seemed unlikely I could ever fulfill my dream. People told me to get a real job, not to be foolish, and that only people who were rich, famous, or well-connected ever succeeded in publishing. And I almost believed them. I almost stopped trying.
So clearly I can remember how I felt when I discovered Sharon Shinn for the first time. I was in a dungeon of a shop in Muncie, Indiana. I didn’t really want to be there because, frankly, they sold gaming stuff: Dungeons and Dragons, sourcebooks, dice, graph paper, and pewter miniatures. I wanted to be in a proper bookstore because I had a little money to spend. (My part-time job as a pharmacy tech paid all of $4 an hour.) But I had gamer friends (and I played too, but my great love has always been books), so I was hanging around the store, waiting for them. As I wandered, I eventually came upon a wire book rack. It mostly had TSR novels (Drizzt, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance) and maybe a few White Wolf stories. I was spinning it listlessly when this fey cover art caught my eye.
Hm, what’s this? I asked myself, plucking the book from the rack. The Shape-changer’s Wife. I read the back and it sounded wonderful, so I bought it at once. While they finished shopping, I hugged the paper bag to my chest and couldn’t wait to get home to start reading. In short, I devoured that one in a few hours and then from that point on, I would buy whatever she released, even if I had to dine on ramen… or nothing at all. I loved that book, but the life-changing part came when I read her bio. She didn’t seem to be rich or famous. She lived in St. Louis. Surely, if she’d gotten a book published, then it wasn’t impossible, right? Just difficult. So I steeled myself and settled in for the long haul.
Mind you, this was around 1995.
I didn’t sell to New York until 2007, but thanks to Sharon Shinn, I never gave up on my dream.
The Razorland saga continues. Since the war ended, Tegan has dreamed of an epic journey, so when she has the opportunity to sign on as ship’s doctor, she can’t wait. It’s past time to chart her course. Millie Faraday, the kindest girl in the free territories, also yearns to outrun her reputation, and warrior-poet James Morrow would follow Tegan to the ends of the earth.
Their company seems set, but fate brings one more to their number. Tegan will battle incredible odds while aiding Szarok, the Uroch vanguard, who has ventured forth to save his people. Szarok is strange and beautiful, like a flower that blooms only in the dark. She shouldn’t allow him close, as such a relationship is both alien and forbidden. But through stormy seas and strange lands, she will become stronger than she ever knew.
About Enclave (Book #1):
When rebellion destroys the underground world in which Thimble and Stone have grown up, they take Stone’s son and try to escape the chaos. Along the way, they must evade the Freaks, beings who feed on human flesh. Leaving behind the roles of Builder and Breeder which they were assigned at birth, they wander the underground tunnels, looking for safety yet afraid to go “topside” where legend has it that the light and water will burn their skin from their bones.
Their journey takes them upward to an unimagined world of tinned food, comfortable furniture, and books. Away from their regimented society for the first time, and still facing imminent danger, Thimble and Stone acknowledge the forbidden attraction which both have denied for years.
About Outpost (Book #2):
Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.
To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.
Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.
About Horde (Book #3):
The horde is coming.
Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they’re not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn’t run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade’s love.
Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn’t been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.
This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.
Ann Aguirre is a USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.
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