Sunday, July 26, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Henry Berg is a boy whose father was a dope fiend and is no longer around. He spends most of his time imagining himself as an animal, trying to get away from his mother's hounding about his schoolwork. His best friend is a lizard named Vincent, and he's determined to keep him despite his mother's objections and a little old lady's claims that Vincent is a dragon.
I was hoping it would suck, so I could get rid of it and make a little shelf space for another book, but instead it sucked me in from page one. Having been brought to tears by the amazing Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, I thought this very similar story would just be a cheap imitation or something. Instead, I was brought to more tears.
It's basically a more realistic Jeremy Thatcher, a secret pet story with a dragon, but I didn't find myself comparing them while I was reading. Weird Henry Berg is hilarious, especially where the dragon Aelf is concerned, but it's also not afraid of hard themes. It's a story where things aren't always black and white, where more than one person is in the right, and things can be confusing. I found a fascinating theme of duality in the book, between the ancient and modern, light and dark, age and youth. It's a fantastic, exciting kids' story, with an underlayer of deep, thought-provoking material. I was very impressed.
This, Jeremy Thatcher, and The Monster Garden are three of a kind. I heartily recommend all three.
Buy Weird Henry Berg
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
FF: Welcome to The Fickle Hand of Fate! Thanks so much for this visit.
KP: Thanks! And thanks for having me too :-)
FF: What was your goal in writing StBM? Just entertainment, or do you have some nefarious plot to influence the world?
KP: Well, primarily entertainment. There are plenty of novels out there that have really deep messages (and many of them are great!). But I did also tried to include some "heavier" stuff as well...I just tried to make sure it wouldn't make a reader feel like I was hitting them over the head with it. I want readers to come away from the book having had fun reading it. If they learn something too, that's great, but I'm happy if it just makes them smile.
FF: What is one thing you wish you had known when you started writing?
KP: That the whole vampire thing was going to just explode the way it did. I wrote STBM in 2005 before Twilight (and a bunch of other vampire books) came out and it actually made it a hard sell because most of the agents and editors I sent it to (in 2006) felt that the market was saturated. So I probably would have written a non-vampire book first.
FF: What’s the best part about having a published novel? How about the worst?
KP: The fan letters. That sounds cheesey, but really, they make my day. Especially when someone actually writes me a real physical letter. Heck, I hardly get those from my family! The worst? Um, probably the people that ask me either a) are you going to be the next J. K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer or b) have I made a million dollars yet? (the answer to both of those would be NO...not that I would mind being the next J. K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer, exactly, but mostly I'd just like to be me.)
FF: Do you feel like YA writers/vampire writers are in competition with each other, or is it more like a mutual admiration society?
KP: I think most writers are very generous and we all help each other out a lot. I'm sure there are some out there that view it as a competition, but I've never met any. After all, the more people read, the better the world is! All the writers that I know are generally happy to recommend each other's books. I know I am! There are so many great YA books out there.
FF: You mention on your website that you don’t read vampire books anymore in order to keep from accidentally recycling ideas. What do you read instead?
KP: I read a little bit of everything, though my reading is way down lately because of our baby (Max) and with writing. I prefer fantasy, though. And also I (of course) read a lot for YA Books Central.
FF: Were any characters from StBM based on real people?
KP: Um, not really. There are pieces of people in the characters, but nobody in particular was really the inspiration for any of the characters.
FF: Do you have a StBM playlist, or music you use to inspire you?
KP: If I listen to music while writing, it's usually pretty mellow, otherwise I get distracted. So mostly stuff like Portishead and Morcheeba or Amy Winehouse.
FF: What actors would you choose to star in a StBM movie?
KP: That's really tough. Someone had asked me this before and I'd picked out a couple, but every time I pick someone I see someone else that would work even better. I'd actually love some suggestions! I'm not as up on my teen actors as I once was. :-)
FF: Would you even accept a StBM movie deal, or would you rather the book stayed unsullied?
KP: Oh, I would. :-) But you definitely have to know ahead of time that you're giving up some ownership. Authors generally have no control at all over what a movie turns out like (unless they're really big time like J. K. Rowling). I'd actually love to see what someone would do with it. Though I actually think a TV show would be even more fun.
FF: Thanks again for giving us your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
KP: Just that I'm happy to report that I've turned in the sequel to my editor. It won't be out until next year, but I'm still happy to have this round done! And I'm doubly happy to report that I've heard back from her with the revision notes and while some of it is a little extensive (cutting 4 chapters up front, for instance), I think it's all great stuff and I think the book is going to be so much better when I'm done with it (my editor rocks!). I'll be all finished by the end of August.
Again, the sequel comes out next year. You can find out more on Kimberly's website, complete with an excerpt from book 2!
Buy Sucks to Be Me
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Buy The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
Monday, July 6, 2009
Buy Public Enemies
Saturday, July 4, 2009
This is a collection of 24 vampire stories published shortly before or after the publication of the infamous Dracula in 1897. Some of them influenced Dracula; others were influenced by it.
I was amazed by how much I enjoyed this anthology. There were no stories I disliked, and only a few that didn't impress me. I tend to think of that time period as a little bit one-note with all the stories being the same, but there's an astonishing variety here. The disembodied finger gave me doubts and the man-eating trees destroyed my conception altogether.
I will emphasize that this variety is all about ideas. The stories in this anthology could've all been written by the same person stylistically, and I found that I liked that... There's no getting caught up in verbal acrobatics and a writer frantically trying to "find their own unique voice." It makes it a lot easier to get lost in the story for the story itself.
Fingers and trees aside, there's a lot of classic vampire stuff here. Back then "vampire" still meant "horror story," and these stories are actually scary, while still containing that essential vampireness that we still love today. A special effort has been made to include stories that aren't reprinted often, so there's new material here even for the most hardcore fan. (Some of these haven't been reprinted since they were first published, over a hundred years ago!) There's even a tasty poem translated from the original Romanian.
I recommend this anthology first to any short story writers and horror writers in particular, because there's a lot they could pick up about pacing, technique, etc. that is still just as useful today as it was back then.
For vampire fans (and I mean fans of vampires altogether, not just any book with vampires in it. You know who you are,) you should definitely read Dracula, then move on to The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories or The Dracula Book of Great Vampire Stories, both of which have plenty of the classic short stories like The Vampyre and Carmilla and Dracula's Guest, and then settle down to savor Dracula's Brood, one story at a time. It doesn't look like it's in print anymore, so get it while it's here and cheap.
Buy Dracula's Brood