Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What Was Mine ~ TEASER

So, my two honours papers are down and I have four minor papers to go, but I'm back to teasing, because, well, I love teaser tuesdays and also, I haven't exactly been studying. All I do these days is watch the big boys in shorts run around the big ball to snag the golden cup and I can't help it 'cos I love the beautiful game and its beautiful players.
Anyway.
Onto the teaser.


*snipped*

YOUR COMMENTS JUST MADE MY DAY!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why I just had to read MONTACUTE HOUSE

So basically I read all genres, although it does depend on my mood and and if I've had anything to eat or not (which is when I hate reading about blood and gore and bloody-gory vampires and all). However, contemporaries are my favourites.
Contemporary = ETERNAL LOVE.
But like I said, I'm open to all genres, although the one I'm kinda lacking in is sci-fi, which can be blamed on the fact that science and I were mutual enemies back in school. Hmm...
So, anyway. The thing about books is that I pick them up at random. Like, I don't decide okay, I'm gonna read about a beautiful marble vampire now, or time to read about murder. I don't. Books interest me. I pick them up.
And when I read the Bookseller preview of Montacute House, I knew I had to get my hands on this book. Even though it was historical. And I haven't read much historical except the Luxe books and Celia Rees.
I JUST HAD TO READ THIS BOOK.

So what is Montacute House about?
Here's the book jacket blurp: A boy is found dead, his body blackened and blistered as if the devil himself had danced upon it! Then Cess' friend goes missing and she realises that the death of the boy and her  nected.she becomes involved in a terrible intrigue that involves more than just the inhabitants of Montacute House and stretches right out into the whole of society. Soon Cess herself is in real danger as she threatens to uncover secrets people would kill to keep hidden.

Lets start with the cover. I think it perfectly captures the eerie atmosphere of the book. I love how the book jacket has a deliberate rusty feel to it because it only makes the book seem even more authentic. The girl's face, the mansion, the leaves..PERFECT.

And the book? Well, it's quite simply, outstanding. This is Lucy Jago's first attempt at teen fiction. She had previously written an adult non-fiction title, but she nails it with her YA debut.
At first, things might seem confusing because a lot of unexpected things happen simultaneously and I was wondering how Ms. Jago would pull it off, tying all this together. However, before the first chapter was over, my worry and confusion were packed away into a little box in my brain, because I was racing through the story. The suspense and tension that pervades through this book is terrific. Generally, it takes me time to relate to protagonists who are as young as 13 but the surprising thing is, kid protagonist or not, this book will pull in anyone of any age.

Ms. Jago's research is extensive (do you know there really is a Montacute House in Somerset today?) and her writing, in spite of this being historical fiction, is easy and quick, yet, so very, very authentic. What starts off with poultry farm girl, Cess, coming across a precious pendant in the chicken coop soon turns into a fight for survival. A skillful blend of witchcraft and politics this is a rather ambitious novel, and one that Lucy Jago pulls off with aplomb. The 1590s Somerset setting has just the right feel and ring to it, which makes Montacute House not just extraordinary, but original and imaginative and a fantastic blend of fact and fiction.

Whether or not historical fiction is your thing, you won't be able to put this down.
I stayed up last night to finish this. And I loved it.
I bet you will too.

Meanwhile,visit Montacute House with Lucy Jago:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I love writing about teens

That should be a given.
Considering how I love reading YA and writing YA.
YAs are actually all I've written. Well, actually, my protagonists' age changed with my age. When I wrote my first book Fantastic Five (which was a rip-off of the Famous Five) at eight, my favourite MC was eight. When I tried my Great Novel of the Century at 10, my goody-two-shoes MC was 10. And on and on it went. Till about the time I turned about 17. And then my MCs stopped turning into my doppelgangers. I turned into an adult-teen (18) but that didn't change my MC's age as well. I was growing up and growing on, but guess what? My characters were still teens. Well, technically, I'm still a teen too. And I officially remain so till about the beginning of July, but...my characters aren't shooting off into their Big Two-Os, too.

What I'm trying to say is, I don't just write teen fiction because I'm still a teen (which was initially the reason)..I write because I love writing about teens. Why? Well, maybe now that I'm on the threshold of leaving my teens, it's getting kinda nostalgic and all that blah, but mainly because teens are..fun.
And crazy.
And impulsive.
And do whatever they wanna do.
And take no shit.
Because they are neither kids nor adults and because they are a blend of both. Because they are smart and stupid and it's okay to be stupid sometimes and not give a rational explanation for everything that they do. Heck, teens are fun to write about! This is when you let your hair down (or up, whatevs). These years are crazy and things that happen take on whole new meanings and you can break into tears at the drop of a hat or laugh out loud at the silliest things. And...alright, so I'm not saying these things don't happen to non-teen adults as well. Look at me. I might be turning 20 next month but I doubt how much that's gonna change me from from what I am. I still feel the way I felt when I was 16 *shrugs* I still love gummy worms...and don't shoot your maturity guns at me! And I do love adult books too. And I do have a romantic comedy (my first ever romcom) on my list of WiPs. It's called Bowled Over and features a 21 year old mad-as-a-hatter female writer..and I love the bits I've written because it's so genuinely different from anything I've tried. I generally don't do comedy. I do, um, sad-funny, I guess. But here's the thing...this WiP struck me when I was 18 and while I wrote snips and pieces of it, I think I still need a bit of time to write the full fledged adult fiction. It's gonna come around. Soon, yes. But maybe, not exactly right now.
Because while I'm away from it all, I'm still close to the disappointments and excitements and longings of high school. Of those insane ideas. Of just letting go and caring and not care about the world. Of, I don't know..still trying to figure things out. I think that's the best part of writing about teens. Because the characters are at a juncture where they are trying to figure things out, make sense of life and are sometimes gripped with an overwhelming desire to climb Mt. Everest and stand on top and scream, 'Fuck you!'

In What Was Mine, Ronni is extremely impulsive. She dyes her hair purple, pierces her nose, wants to get a tattoo...all on the spur of the moment. And she's seventeen. Now if a thirty year old woman does that, no offense meant to anyone, most probably she'd be called a loon until and unless she goes around explaining her behaviour to the ones who question her.*

And when I write about Ronni, I love how strong yet vulnerable she is.
I love it when she's confused (which probably makes me a sadist).
I love how crazy she can be.
And how mature.
And how stupid sometimes.
And seventeen.
A teen.


*This might not be the case with everyone. And it's in no way meant to segregate or victimise anybody.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

GRIEF

My grandfather was a paper technologist. Every time I'd show him a book I'd bought, he'd look at it and then tell me how long it would take before the pages yellowed. Most of the time they proved him right.

I used to love the month of June, 'cos that meant my birthday (in July) was just that much closer. This year June harks back to things that make me stop and stare and wonder how unfair the world can be sometimes. Wonder about the flippancy of life. How it's there. And then, not there. How it can make you laugh one moment, and cry the next. How time sometimes won't just stop even if you want it to. Because the world is sometimes so cruel, it doesn't listen to you..and just goes on.
You might lose the person you love the most. But nothing really happens.
Your heart may be breaking and you know there's no chance of it being stitched back together. But the sun still rises. People still laugh. Some even dare to be happy. The day still stays sunny. The night still gets dark. All the while someone so important is missing. But the world doesn't change.

Grandpa didn't have an overwhelming personality that was intimidating. Grandpa was like the sun. He made things bright. He was cheerful, optimistic and he said the funniest things. He made you feel ridiculously happy.
Grandpa was like a best friend. He'd be the only one I'd read my poems to. And while I read those angst drenched verses, he listened. Sometimes he said things, sometimes he didn't. But he always made me glad that I'd read them to him.

Monday marks one year without Grandpa. Friday, the 5th, he was talking to me. Two minutes later he couldn't breathe. Two hours later he was admitted to the hospital. Two days later..while Mum and I were on our way to see him..we lost him. All it took was a phone call. And all the while I was wondering if the people in the bus with us, knew what had happened. Whether they knew how my world was crashing down. Whether they had any idea at all.

Hours later at the hospital, I saw a little girl with her grandfather. She was holding his hand, asking him to buy her something. I used to do that a lot as a kid. I'd beg and beg him to buy things for me which Mum wouldn't let me buy. And he'd always relent. And then, we'd go off together...mostly, to the candyshop.

Grandpa loved Dickens and old classics and black shoes. He always wore socks. Always.
He loved David Copperfield and Hamlet and Macbeth. Aunt Betsy Trotwood (from David Copperfield) was his favourite fictional character. He'd randomly quote her lines. And he always quoted correctly.
He was fond of nuts and fruits and hated spice.
He also hated the air conditioner. He said it gave him a headache and a sore throat.

The week after I'd think that maybe he was just in the next room. Or perhaps on an extended holiday. I hoped. But everyday, a little bit of that hope died.

Loss is something you don't ever come to terms with. It's just something you end up living up. Most of the time life keeps you distracted, but sometimes the chasm of loss opens up. And then you don't know what to do. Courtney Summers wrote a heartfelt post on Grief and Writing. I don't think any post has struck me quite as much as that. Because I felt she was saying aloud the things I wanted to say. The theme of grief and loss runs throughout my WiP, What Was Mine. And it's hard writing it because like Courtney says, it's like peeling off a band-aid. Because sometimes the feelings hit closer home. I write 'cos I want to say some things aloud. Feel things with my characters. And grief and loss are things that everyone of us has been a part of. I think it speaks to us all.

I was so mad at myself 'cos I doidn't finish my book when grandpa was gone. He didn't see my book and I wanted him too, so much...

Now it's like carpe dium. I must hurry and finish 'cos I don't know what's gonna happen next.

And while I write I like looking at Grandpa's photo. He spurs me on.


Friday, June 4, 2010

LAUREN MECHLING HIJACKS BLOG! (+ Gateway To Fame Contest)

Hello book (blog) lover!

Lauren Mechling, author of the Dream Girl books, here. I have hijacked Bee's blog in order to convey some Very Important Information.

 
You might not know it by looks alone (no pink hair, no metal bar through my septum), but I've become a total hacker worthy of her own "Dragon Tattoo" installment. And I'm not just talking about how I've cracked the code and broken onto Dreamcatcher's Lair. My new book MY DARKLYNG, which I co-wrote with Laura Moser (my hilarious co-author on the "10th Grade Social Climber" books), is a YA thriller chockablock with multimedia awesomeness that will be appearing in serialized form on the awesome website Slate.com. The first installment runs today, and there will be more excitement every Friday for the rest of the summer. Also: it's free!

 


Slate is calling MY DARKLYNG its "juicy summer read for vampire lovers (and haters!)." It's about a normal 10th grade girl named Natalie Pollock whose own fiction addiction gets her into major trouble. She's been reading Fiona St. Claire's yummy "Dark Shadows" book series since middle school and when she sees a post on Fiona's blog about an open casting call for the model for the next book's cover, well, she can't resist. What she had thought was just a random field trip turns into a dark and terrible new-best-friendship, scarier and more thrilling than any of Fiona St. Claire's vampire novels.

 MY DARKLYNG is different from anything you've ever read before--it's a first-of-its-kind story told in simultaneous platforms. Huh? you ask. Okay, so here's the deal: While you are perfectly free to follow the MY DARKLYNG chapters on Slate and leave it at that, we have been milking the magic world of the Internet for all its worth. Why limit a story to mere words? What about pictures and videos and weird Tweets and scary Facebook wall posts that bring texture to the story and bring the characters to life? With that in mind, we found real (and really awesome) teenagers to play our characters. Here's a picture:




Pretty, right? Expect to get to know these faces really well over the course of this book.

Without further ado, this is the Slate page that will host the chapters. 
Here is Natalie's Facebook page--well worth "liking" so you can follow when weird things start happening on it.
Natalie's Twitter page is here.
Fiona's (the vampire writer) Twitter page is here.
Natalie's best friend Jenna tweets here.
James (the vampire model) tweets here.
And Fiona's loving sister Tilly uses this Twitter page.

Natalie and Jenna post Youtube videos here. Here's a sample video that shows them getting ready for the audition that will change their lives.





Now YOU can help make our great experiment in Internet fiction even more amazing. There is an upcoming scene that has a missing detail. We need to come up with something that Natalie and her best friend Jenna got in trouble for doing at a slumber party. Please write in your suggestions in the comments section. The winner will be chosen in a week and featured in MY DARKLYNG--if your answer is selected, it'll be like the story is actually winking at you from the screen.



I know this is all a bit much to wrap your head around. Sorry for any confusion--just read the first installment and take it from there. Please please post comments or send us emails telling us how you're finding the series. We can be reached by my website.


And if you find yourself feeling afraid, don't say I didn't warn you!

your humble hacker,
Lauren Mechling

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TEASING Again: Jukeboxes and Waves!

I vowed not to return to blogosphere till my exams are done, but I couldn't help not teasing. In this scene, an old coat Ronni's wearing to camouflage herself as she goes to get a fix from Dan, stirs up some unwanted memories...(PS. The first bit of conversation is with Aunt Ruby)

*vamoosh*
 
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