Monday, September 27, 2010

Outlaw Boots, pair #3: A. S. King

Today’s Outlaw Boots are worn by A.S. King, an outlaw if I ever met one (photo of her boots supplied by Amy!). She is the esteemed author of THE DUST OF 100 DOGS (from Flux, so she is an imprint-mate) a fantastic story of PIRATES! and reincarnation and history, plus the anxiously awaited (starred review from Kirkus, woo woo!) PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ, out very, very soon, and there’s a third one coming soon, but I don’t know the details. These books are for rebels everywhere. Her characters are independent, quirky, and unafraid, plus they find themselves in situations where you say, “huh?” Then you say, “hmmm,” and then you plunge back in, anxious to find out what’s next, because you can’t put her books down.

Saffron and Emer live behind the red/black cover, and Vera is behind the lime green (?) one. Spectactular art on both books, wouldn’t you say?

This is Amy.

And here are her Outlaw Boots:

--Who's your most outlaw character (in any book)--why?
Emer Morrisey--because she likes to take out people's eyeballs, probably. And she refused to be a kept woman.

--Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?
Yes. Becasue my actual nickname is "The Outlaw." I'm serious, too. Also, because I never do what I'm told. Which is probably how I got the nickname.

--What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear?
All of us wear boots. Big honking boots.

--Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character (I think this one is a duh for you):
Uh. Pirate?

--Best thing about being an outlaw:
No one tells you when to go to bed. You can spit. It's a toss-up between them.

--Favorite outlaw/badass food:

Skittles for breakfast or, if no Skittles, Peanut Butter Capn' Crunch. (Emer's answer: you eating your own ear.)

--Favorite outlaw/badass role model/why:
Mickey & Mallory from Natural Born Killers. Why? Because like most outlaws, they have baggage that perfectly explains why they're outlaws. I love that the movie explores it and I love that the characters embrace their outlawness once they decide to go for it.

Read her, read her, read her. Read her now. You won’t be sorry. And now I’m going to sit by my mailbox and wait for my copy of PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. It's coming out NOW--go get it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A love letter

Dear SKY readers:

After last week's post, I realized I forgot to give credit where credit is due--to whom do I owe my first published year (besides my awesome friends at Flux)? You, kind readers. You have been astoundingly generous and completely wonderful to me. Thank you for taking Morgan into your heart and understanding her. Thank you for carrying her around the world.

I hope you laughed, too. She's a drama queen, isn't she? But she means well.

With my love and gratitude--let's do it again sometime--


(graphic swiped from here)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Yawp, yawp, yawp, yawp . . .

. . . yawp yawp YAWP!

First, anybody know who this handsome young dude is?

That's right! It's our friend Walt Whitman, also known to me and my students as Uncle Walt, sometimes Gay Uncle Walt. I truly, truly heart Uncle Walt. He is into excess (soooo many words!), he has a bit of an ego, plus he is wonderful at detail and is deeply, DEEPLY in love with the world. Plus, without him we couldn't have had lots of other fabulous poets, like William Carlos Williams and Alan Ginsburg.

Why Uncle Walt right here and now? These lines:

"I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world."

Those words are close to the end of his crazy-ass, wonderfully intense and immense poem "Song of Myself," from his book LEAVES OF GRASS, published in 1855 (he self-published the first edition with his own money!). Every time I think writing is stupid (like today), or blogging is pointless (like a lot), I think of Whitman's words, and I take courage.

If he can yawp, I can yawp. Someone will hear us. And if not, we did it anyway. That's what matters.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The year of living bifurcatedly

Bifurcation = a split. Your word nerd moment of the day. Notice how the yin/yang is split? More on this later.

I have now been a published YA author for just over one year. Craziness. Complete awesomeness. The time went FAST. Of course, I’ve learned things. A*lot* of things:

1) my YA writing colleagues are kind, giving, smart, and tons of fun. I am honored to be part of such a crowd that's so generous. I knew this before I was published, actually.

2) I love my publishing house. Flux and its peeps are the absolute bomb.

3) I am a shy person online, but not in person. It's a mystery. I’m working on it.

4) When you are a debut novelist, don’t teach extra classes.

5) My jealousy can be intense, which both shames me and motivates me. It also doesn’t last long, which helps, because it’s overcome by #s 1 and 2, hearing from readers, and working with book peeps everywhere.

6) People don’t want to read my book.

7) People want to read my book.

8) “Success” is relative, depending on where you’re standing.

#s 1, 2, 3, and 4 are self-explanatory. #s 5 & 6: if I want to sell a million copies and be on the New York Times bestseller list, I need different material. Contemporary YA (and/or edgy YA) is a perennial category—like the sun, we just exist—and we are not generally a hot topic. That’s all right. We persist in our wonderfulness. Some days I think I should aim for trendy, but the hot would be cold by the time the book got to market.

#7 & 8 (still related to #s 5 & 6): Man oh man. Was I "successful"? Depends on who you ask. My publisher: “well, um, sales, yeah, some, well, she almost won an award, so, um . . . maybe?” (I honestly don’t know what they’d say. They might refer you back to #3). My family: “We have no idea. When is supper?” Me: “my book got read on 4 continents, and some people really understood Morgan and Tessa. I met cool people and got to do cool stuff, including seeing/listening to Neil Gaiman, and I got to talk about what I love. Hell yeah I’m a success!” New York Times bestseller list . . . well, you know.

There's a give and take between writing your passion and being marketable--this is the bifurcated part. I haven't mastered it yet. Do I write that crazy-ass storyline about those boys in the Laundromat or should I try a zombie romance (I do like that idea)? Even my husband said, when I was pitching an idea, “You need to write more marketable books.” Ouch. He doesn't know the biz, but he's a reader, so he knows what he likes. And readers vote with $.

And that's the bottom line--publishing is a business (duh) and runs on money. My literature teacher side says WOW THAT SUCKS IT SHOULD BE STORIES. And stories still matter. But marketing possibilities trump stories—-it just happened to me, and it hurt for a bit. But I can’t begrudge folks the opportunity to run a profitable business. No profitable publishers = no books at all.

So. Was it a good year? The best. Will there be more like it? I really, really hope so. Which to write next—-laundromats or zombies? I don’t know. I just want more years to find out.