Angie did a really great series leading up to this day. A whole bunch of great writers (and me) posted some memories they would never want to forget. It makes for some really interesting reading. If you haven't checked these out yet, you definitely should. Here are all the links!
Beth Revis, Across the Universe.
Bettina Restrepo, Illegal.
Julia Karr, XVI.
Me! The Eleventh Plague.
Kiki Hamilton, The Faerie Ring.
Gae Polisner, The Pull of Gravity.
Carrie Harris, Bad Taste in Boys.
Elana Johnson, Possession.
After I wrote my post I got to thinking about what memory, if given the opportunity, would I want to forget? Turns out that, for me, it was easy because this is actually my most wished for super power.
I wish that upon finishing a draft of a book I could immediately forget everything about it. Forget writing it. Forget the characters. Forger the story. Everything. Wipe it from my mind. This way when I sat down to read a first draft and it would be just like reading the work of someone else. Feeling so close to your work that you can't be objective? Missing huge plot holes because your knowledge of the story and characters is covering them over? A thing of the past! I can't tell you how often I wish for this ability.
So how about you guys? Maybe you'd spare yourself morning after regrets by forgetting how much you love tequila or Oreo cookies? Or maybe there's one irritating memory that you just wish you could be done with? Heck, maybe you'd just like to live in a world where the latest Star Wars trilogy never happened. Whatever it is, let us know!
Where did you come up with the idea for MEMENTO NORA?
The idea came from current research into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Scientists are testing drugs to help lessen the strangle-hold traumatic memories have on the brain. So I just took it one step further. What if the pill erased bad memories--and what if you could get the pill as easily as you could a latte or frozen yogurt? The world, characters, and story grew out of those questions.
Do you think the world of MEMENTO NORA--not just the forgetting pills, but also the obsession with personal security, the links between government and corporations--is a possibility in our own future? What do you think exists now that might one day become the world of MEMENTO NORA?
My intention wasn't really to be predictive; rather I was reverse-engineering a world to fit my what-if question. But, that being said, Nora's world may not to be too far off from ours, given a few more decades and few more terrorist attacks (God forbid). As for what exists today, think about how we outsourced so much of the war in Iraq to security corporations like Halliburton and CACI.
In MEMENTO NORA, the story's told from three different points of view: Nora, Micah, and Winter. Can you tell us a little about each character? Why did you decide to alternate the points of view in this way?
Actually, I wrote the first draft of MN from Nora's point of view. By the end, though, I realized she didn't know all of the story, so I added in Micah's and Winter's POVs. Nora is still the main character. She's an everygirl is many ways. A happy consumer only concerned with wearing the right thing and hanging out with the right kids. Micah and Winter are two kids Nora wouldn't normally be friends with. Micah is a homeless skater and artist. Also an artist (and tinkerer), Winter lives with her grandfather because her parents are in Detention.
The sequel, THE FORGETTING CURVE, will be out next year. Can we expect to see Nora, Micah, and Winter again? What can you tell us about this upcoming title?
Though Nora and Micah are in this book, it's more Winter-centric. You'll also get to meet some new POV characters.
In MEMENTO NORA, Nora and her friends fight back against their society through a comic book. Why did you decide to base their rebellion in this form?
Since everything digital is so controlled in Nora's world, they needed a creative, low tech way of fighting back. And comics have a long history of being subversive. Artists / writers put out underground comics in the 60's and 70's, often just using a pen, paper, and mimeograph or ditto machine.
Micah, Nora, and Winter don't start as friends--their relationship develops over the course of the novel. One of the impeding factors to their friendship is the class system. Can you describe a little more about how the class system developed and what it's like in their world?
The class system isn't really any different than our own today. The divides between upper and lower may be greater--driven in part by security concerns, Upper classes can afford to cocoon themselves in gated communities, complete with their own schools, police, and shopping. Nora aspires to live in one of these compounds. Those folks with questionable security scores (like a credit score but for security worthiness) may find themselves falling down the socio-economic ladder, even ending up homeless. That's how Micah and his mom land in Black Dog Village.
One of my favorite characters was actually a minor one--Winter's grandfather. Where did you come up with this dynamic character?
Watching too much Ninja Warrior (aka, Sasuke). Yes, it's a real show.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how MEMENTO NORA came to be?
Memento Nora actually started off as a short story of the same name that was published in Odyssey magazine. After I sold the short story, I started thinking about expanding it into a novel. After about a year and half (give or take) of writing, workshopping, and revising, I submitted the manuscript to three editors who'd been on a panel I attended at a SCBWI regional conference. (These are so worth it.) My current editor from Marshall Cavendish was one these panelists.
From Memento Nora website:
“Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering.”
I’m sure most of us have said or thought, “Wow, I’d really like to forget that.” But, would we really? Part of what makes us who we are in the present is what we’ve experienced in the past. Even painful memories have their place, helping us to work through difficult emotions and move past traumatic experiences.
In MEMENTO NORA, Angie Smibert explores what a world with no bad memories might be like. Pop a pill at the TFC (Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic) and voile, bad memory gone.
When Nora discovers what it is that sends her mother to the TFC on a regular basis, she decides she doesn’t want to forget things. Instead, she vows to remember.
I'd love to tell you the whole story! But... I'm not going to. You HAVE TO read the book! Seriously - it's a gripping read - careening you from start to startling finish.
MEMENTO NORA is face-paced, exciting, and, for me, it was un-put-down-able. The characters, their situations and friendship, ring true, the writing is fabulous (including the new slang), and the story races to an ending that had me immediately emailing Angie and asking, “Where’s the sequel? I’ve got to have one! Now!”
Please excuse the gushing, I can't help it! Dystopian fans will LOVE MEMENTO NORA! It’s a fantastic story and a real page-turner! It's a small book that packs a huge wallop!
From Angie's website:
However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering.
Read the first chapter here!
Dude, doesn't that sound fantastic?
Well, it is. I've read it, and Nora will stay with you for a while. In fact, she's unforgettable. You can participate in an amazing giveaway and check out other awesomeness on Angie's blog.
Other Noteworthy Things:
- It's one of the Junior Library Guild's Spring Selections, and will be their featured book in June. Make sure you get your copy when it hits shelves on Friday!
- As if you're already not excited enough, Angie is having an amazing contest in celebration of Memento Nora. How do you enter? Simple. Each week a blogger will be doing a post in support of MEMENTO NORA (Schedule here) All you do is leave a comment on the featured blog–and on Angie's site. Each weekly comment earns you a point.
- And make sure you click over and check out what's going on at the new Memento Nora website!
- The Memento Nora project is taking place from April - November, with a DIY comic contest. Click here for all the details.
- Connect with Memento Nora on Facebook.
Congrats, Angie! Here's to a successful launch week!
So, who's had a chance to read Memento Nora? Let us know in the comments (no spoilers, please!). Who is going to die by Friday because they can't read this, like RIGHT THIS SECOND?? We wanna know that too.
And I let these blogs paralyze me. I found myself thinking things like, I'll never be successful because I don't outline. Or I'll never be a published author because I don't even know what the three act structure is.
But I'd written books. I felt like I knew how to craft a story. But I didn't outline. I didn't frame my novels. I didn't do anything all the blogs said you have to do.
Then one day, I decided it didn't matter. So what if I didn't do all those things? So what? There are all different ways to write a novel. And so my best advice is this: Find out what kind of writer you are.
Embrace that. Be that kind of writer. Let everything else melt away.
Have you ever felt like this? What kind of writer are you? What have you found that works for you?
But rather than talk about the book (which we'll do next week), I'd like offer up a signed copy of Memento Nora and a little swag. To win it, you'll need to do a little something good, though. Remember last Thursday, I mentioned a few fundraising efforts for Japan? Well, both the Write Hope and Kidlit4Japan auctions kicked off on Monday.
So here's my challenge to you. Go bid on something in one of those auctions and/or go donate to the relief charity of your choosing. Then come back here and comment on this post. Just tell us you donated or bid. Honor system. That'll enter you to win the prize pack. I'll announce the winner on April 1st.
Just wanted to share my excitement over on this side of the blogging world. Last week I was finally given the ahead to show go off my brand spanking new book cover and blurb. I put it up on my personal blog late last week but wanted to make sure all my friends here at the League blog saw it as well.
Here it is! (click image for extra mind blowing bigness)
Snazzy, huh? I couldn't be happier and that blurb is, well, still kind of a mindblower.
To celebrate I'm doing my first ever ARC giveaway over on my blog. Just leave a little comment and I'll enter you into the drawing. I'm picking the winner at the end of the day tomorrow, Thursday, the 24th.
I started noticing just how many dystopian and post-apocalyptic movies were out there after I'd finished my own book.
Today I want to present my top 10 post-apocalyptic/dystopian movies to you.
Robots try to take over the world but Spooner (Will Smith) tries to stop them with the help of the robot Sonny and Dr. Susan Calvin.
It shows a future in which reality how most humans experience it is nothing but a simulated reality created by sentient machines. Neo, a computer programmer, joins the rebellion to fight the machines.
Cyberpunk + machines taking over the world + freaky action-scenes = must-see
evil war lord + Sandra Bullock + lots of swearing= my kind of movie
apocalyptic wasteland + evil army + enigmatic postman= For those who don't need lots of action.
Find me on my blog, twitter or website.
Sadly, Barbara Poelle’s blog has been discontinued, leaving a gaping absence in what I read on the internet in my pajamas Tuesday mornings. But my favorite entries were the ones in which she used baby animals to demonstrate the publishing industry, mostly because they managed to be so accurate, yet you also wanted to hug them. I would love to keep that tradition alive right now, but if you ask me, the path of a writer looks something like this:
When you start out, you are here:
You aspire to be here:
Or, if you’re on the modest side, perhaps you’d be content to be here:
But before you can be either of those things, you should consider getting one of these:
Allow me to explain…
It makes no difference if you are a Harvard professor who perfects his literary opus in the twilight hours once the papers are graded and the kids tucked in, or if you are a teenager writing a rough draft in a spiral notebook labeled “Math” during study hall. At the start of the publishing journey, everybody is a fluffy kitten. And when you’re a fluffy kitten, all published authors, regardless of their advance, print run and popularity may seem like a Pegasus to you. This is because they’ve written a book and found a publisher who deemed it worthy of being on store shelves. That is the holy grail of the aspiring author’s journey. And, really, what more could a kitten ask for?
In my kitten phase, I had Pegasus daydreams with show pony hopes. I worked on my manuscripts on the office computer, or late at night when I was so drained from my workday I could barely remember what commas were. I was inundated with “how to write” “how to be published” “how to get an agent” “how to make editors fall in love with you” books and articles from friends and family hoping to give me a leg up. And there those things sat on the bottom shelf, unread. I perused them sometimes, but would quickly become intimidated. There was just so much advice, much of it conflicting, all of it written with adamant urgency. I decided I was better off just writing it my way and hoping for the best.
Eventually I got an agent. For a while I thought this alone would upgrade me to a Labrador Retriever or maybe a Gorilla, but despite my delusions, a kitten I remained. This realization came to me when, rather than agent rejections, I received editor rejections. Many were personal, but most were boilerplate. At times I sought advice from fellow aspiring authors, but, much like before, I found the responses conflicting and intimidating. And once again, I found myself writing and hoping for the best.
As an agented writer, I was still a kitten, but I was a kitten with a pet dragon who both knew the industry and came to know how I operated as a writer. This is a valuable combination that I hadn’t encountered in any of my prior advice-seeking adventures. There were several people who knew the industry, sure, but not one of them knew me—and that made all the difference. Thus, I give you my most valuable piece of advice: look for an agent who gets you. Because no matter where your journey to publication ends, nothing will ever be so important as where you start.
Conversations with my agent led to new drafts, and more confidence. I was still writing the way I’d always written, but I started to tackle those word documents with a fury. If something wasn’t working, I changed it. If my writing was hindered by an obstacle, I wrote, deleted, and rewrote until I was happy with what I saw. I had a whole 80’s montage thing going on.
And still, the rejections came. And still, I kept at it. (I have to emphasize my willingness to improve. If a kitten isn’t getting a dragon, or has a dragon but isn’t getting an editor, that kitten should look into what is and isn’t working in his or her writing, and go from there).
And then… success! Success came hurtling through the plate glass window of my life like an angry bull who’d had a few too many, knocking over the wingchairs and startling the pigeons. If you’re a kitten, the greatest day of your life is the day you get an agent-dragon. After that is the day you get a publishing contract. That’s when the crazy stuff begins.
What does it mean to work with an editor? Well, I can only speak for myself, but my experience has been just phenomenal. The word “editor” can evoke images of changes, red-pens, rewrites and a sledgehammer to the house of cards a writer has assembled with such precision. And, don’t get me wrong, red-penning is a part of it. But it was abundantly clear from the moment I started working with my editor that she signed on for this story because she already loved it for what it was. There were no attempts to shape it into something else. We had, and continue to have, detailed conversations about the world, the characters, and what makes the whole thing tick. Editing is a blast. Things jump out of the manuscript that never would have occurred to me before reading my editor’s notes.
After that, copyedits. I have heard a lot of authors gripe about the tediousness of copyedits, but I sorta find them comforting. The hard stuff is done. Now it’s all about commas and continuity. This is the literal red pen phase. And once it’s over, the manuscript is as done as you, the author, can make it.
Then… finished copies! On bookstore shelves! And you’ve done it. And I have news for you, whether you see yourself as a show pony or a Pegasus, you’re a Pegasus. You’re a force to be reckoned with, lightning bolts crisscrossing behind you and little rainbow clouds swirling around under your feet. This is your thing. Own it. You earned it.
THANK YOU LAUREN for sharing with us your story! And remember--comment here and comment on Lauren's interview here for a chance to win a copy of WITHER for yourself!
Well. Dude, you need to know! From March 21 (that's Monday) to April 18, there will be a plethora (yes, I just used the word plethora) of dystopian deliciousness for some 2011 dystopian releases--including XVI by Leaguer Julia Karr, Memento Nora by Leaguer Angie Smibert, and Possession by Leaguer Elana Johnson! (Yeah, okay, that's me.)
So click on this button, and be sure to check out the complete line up of events!
The books being featured are Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, XVI by Julia Karr, Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky, Dark Parties by Sara Grant, Memento Nora by Angie Smibert, Possession by Elana Johnson, and Bumped by Megan McCafferty.
Midnight Bloom Reads
I Swim For Oceans
Down the Rabbit Hole
Musings of a YA Reader
Good Choice Reading
365 Days of Reading
Books Are A Girl's Best Friend
Loud Words and Sounds
Books, Sweets and Other Treats
The Book Worms
Books in the Spotlight
The Bookish Type
A Tapestry of Words
Here's what the schedule's looking like at the moment:
I've read all of these except for DARK PARTIES. Guess I know what I'm reading next! What dystopian releases are you looking forward to this year? Next?
|(AP Photo/NHK TV)|
The Huffington Post put together a great list of earthquake relief efforts in “How to Help Japan: Earthquake Relief Options.” They highlight many, many great organizations, from Save the Children to the International Animal Welfare Fund.
I thought I’d take today to highlight several relief efforts by the YA/MG community.
Author Maureen Johnson raised nearly $15,000 for Shelterbox in a few days. (She'd raised about the same amount for New Zealand not too long ago.) Shelterbox is an international relief charity that delivers emergency shelters and supplies to disaster areas. Her fundraiser is over, but you can still donate to Shelterbox directly.
|A Shelterbox on the way to Japan.|
An international group of kidlit writers with a connection to Japan have formed Write Hope. They’re putting together an auction of books, critiques, and other prizes over the next few weeks. (Psst, you might even be able to win a signed ARC of Memento Nora.) The proceeds will go to Save the Children’s relief fund.
|Write Hope's mascot, Nozomi.|
Do you guys know of any other authors or writers’ organizations that are doing something for Japanese disaster relief? If so, please share the details below. My challenge to you is to go forth and help, if you haven't already (and even if you have). Japan is going to need help for awhile to recover from a disaster of this magnitude.
Hello!? Where have you been between 1993 until 2002?
Abducted by aliens maybe. That's what Special agent Fox Mulder would say.
Now that I've outed myself as a fan girl of The X-Files we might as well continue with our discussion about the upcoming alien apocalypse.
In X-Files the main plot involves a government conspiracy trying to hide the existence of extraterrestrials and their plan to wipe out human life on Earth. Some of those aliens live among us, posing as humans while they make evil plans. They abduct people and use them as lab rats. Some scientists even try to create the perfect alien-human hybrid.
Let's say there were aliens and the government knew about them. Would it be possible to keep that from the public? Wouldn't someone find out, post it on twitter or facebook and create a mass panic? Or maybe it wouldn't be difficult to hide extraterrestrials from us because we simply don't want to believe.
I doubt I would believe a tweet announcing the alien apocalypse, so maybe I'm one of those people who would make it very easy for the government to hide the existence of aliens.
But maybe it will be impossible to miss the alien apocalypse. Maybe it won't come gradually and in the form of alien imposters but in a wave of hungry, pitiless predators with acid for blood.
On this happy note I'll end my first guest post.
Oh, and don't forget:
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE
(My favorite X-Files quote!)
So what do you think? Are you a believer like Mulder? Will aliens visit Earth some day? Will they maybe even wipe out human life? Or is it crazy talk?
In case you're wondering who I am and what I'm doing here:
I'm Susanne Winnacker, author of upcoming YA dystopian novel THE OTHER LIFE, in which a girl leaves a sealed bunker after years in hiding, only to find Los Angeles devastated and haunted by humans infected with a mutated rabies virus; struggling to save her family, she falls for a boy-hunter who is both their savior and greatest danger when his desire for vengeance threatens them all.
Sci fi, though, has a different, but related, reason for using its own language--to show the evolution of time in a realistic way. The first thing in language to change from generation to generation is slang and cursing. You can see this now even within the living generations--many of my students had no problem whatsoever using the "hard" curse words, while my grandmother blushed at the idea of saying anything worse than "darn."
In my own work, I used the changes in slang as a clue--language takes a long time to change, and the level of change in speech was a clue about how much time had actually passed. I've gotten some criticism for it--I've read more than one review where people have felt that if I wanted to cuss, I should have just done it. I didn't use alternate curse words because I was afraid of damaging the young minds (after all, a side character from the present curses in Chapter 1)--I was trying to show that language had shifted.
And I tried to be logical about it--curse words and slang had roots in every day words--with the exception of "frex," which grew organically from the FRX, a detail that I left for closer readers to discover on their own.
Alternating languages in science fiction has a long-standing tradition. I'll wave my standard fan-girl flag and bring up what I think does language the best--Firefly. If you listen to the commentary on the DVDs, you'll discover that Joss Whedon felt that the two power-house nations of the world in the future would be America and China--so the language of Firefly is a combo of the two. You'll notice a Chinese influence in a lot of writing in the background and, of course, when the characters curse.
In dystopian works, you'll also often see made-up language as a background to the world. From Blade Runners to Panem, sexteens to Baddies, Therapeutic Forgetting Clinics to Plagues, a key element of any dystopia is showing what's changed through the way people speak.
Of course, some people hate the made-up words that authors try to show in sci fi or fantasy. There's really no way to please everyone, but whenever someone brings up language and whether or not you should show the change in it, I think of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. Whatever you think of it, there's no denying the role language played in the story--traditional Shakespearean language surrounded by a modern-day setting. Would it have been better to update the language, along with the setting?
For my part, I'm happy as long as the author has put some sort of thought in the linguistics. Even if it's as simple as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the super-convenient Babblefish, as long as the author doesn't ignore the elephant in the room and actually addresses some sort of language shift, I'm happy.
How about you? Do you like authors to play with language or not? What work do you think deals with language very well?
Anyway, I've been madly reading every dystopian tale I can get my hands on. I've noticed something about myself as a reader: I don't really want and/or need to know where I am in the future. In fact, I'd rather not know what the year is.
Here's why. If I feel like it's too close to the year we live in now, I find it very hard to suspend my disbelief. I like imagining the futuristic society as many, many years from now, in a time when I'll be long gone from this Earth. I don't feel like I need the date; I can make it up on my own. Very far into the future.
So that spurs today's question: Do you prefer near-future or far-future dystopian? Why?
I'll start it off, and you guys can add onto it sentence by sentence. (If you feel inclined to write more, have at it.) Keep it clean, though!
Here's the opening paragraph (which I just pulled out of thin air):
For me, it all started with Tom Waits.
I was introduced to him one summer at UVA's Writers Camp (Yes, I went to writers camp as a kid. It was awesome.) and became immediately obsessed with his romanticism, the richness of his language and his be-bop rhythms. I spent a lot of time listening to his albums--especially Big Time, Rain Dogs and Swordfishtrombones--and then writing surreal poems about woeful ex-cons, bowery bums and midgets (all of which, as a suburban kid from Virginia, I knew oh so much about) and paying lots of attention to the rhythm of each line, trying to make my sentences sound somewhere near as cool in my head as his did.
Eventually I realized I was not and never would be Tom Waits (even now this realization stings a bit) but eventually others came along. I spent years trying to write just like Stephen King and Tennessee Williams. Later it was Federico Lorca and Jose Rivera and Erik Ehn.
Sometimes we think that a writer's voice is this singular thing that springs fully formed from their pen when in reality that idea is probably bunk. Instead, I think that we all move from influence to influence and as we do some aspects of each stick--A focus on rhythm and meter. Types of characters or situations--and some don't. At the same time we're also developing our own little ticks and tendencies and these mix with the traces of our influences, now so slight and mixed up that they're barely noticeable, and form the sound and patterns in our writing. At least I know that's the case with me.
So what I'm saying, especially to younger writers is, yes, copy away. Read voraciously and let it effect you. Dive into your influences, experiment with them, try them on like new suits of clothes until you tire of them and go elsewhere. Eventually I think you make a soup of your tendencies and your influences. Little bit of this. Little bit of that. It all mixes together until, over time, it becomes something completely new.
What about you? Who were your influences? Can you still see their influence on what you write about or how your writing sounds?
(Oh and if you're not familiar with Tom Waits. This is a good look at what it was I was so obsessed with.)