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5 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Hi, Leaguers! We're so excited to be new contributors! Allow us to introduce ourselves...

1.       We met online, through a fantastic creative writing community! It was one of those rare clicks you sometimes find in life – we found we could seamlessly collaborate. The future was right there in front of us, but we didn’t know it yet!

2.       We’ve lived together for nearly two years over two separate occasions – though Meg’s American, she’s done two stints in Australia living with Amie and her husband. If you can negotiate who does the dishes, you can definitely co-author a novel.

3.       We have road-tripped around the US and America. Our favourite trip might just be the time we scored the high rollers’ suite in a major Vegas casino.

4.       Amie’s a dog person, Meg’s a cat person. Meg fell for Amie’s dog while she was living in Australia, and he still loves to hear her voice on Skype. Amie continues her attempts to seduce Meg’s cat, and lives in hope of one day touching him without getting bitten. He’s kind of a one-girl cat.

5.       If we were shipwrecked, we would grab chocolate, cheese, bacon and our boxed set of Firefly as the ship went down.

And here’s one thing almost certainly did know about us, as we kind of took over the internet yesterday! Our debut novel, These Broken Stars, has a brand new cover! We're just a little bit excited about that! We'd love you guys to check it out, and we'll have our fingers crossed you win one of the six ARCs up for grabs!

E.C. Myers: Reading Between the Lines

I'm so excited to be joining the League of Extraordinary Writers! I feel like Bad Horse (the Thoroughbred of Sin) has just invited me to join the Evil League of Evil, only this group seems relatively low in the evil department so far. So maybe it's more like joining the Justice League of YA specfic.

I always have a hard time with introductions, mostly because I hate talking about myself. I mean, everything you need to know about me is in the bio on my website, right? But I didn't want to just copy that, and then I realized there's actually a lot of stuff that didn't make it into that bio. So I decided to read between the lines a little and share some more personal stuff that my "official" bio merely alludes to.
E(ugene).C. Myers is the author of Fair Coin and Quantum Coin, young adult science fiction novels published by Pyr.
Yes, this is true! (Thanks again, Pyr!) The reason I decided to use my initials for fiction publications is because when I first started writing short stories, I Googled “Eugene Myers” and “science fiction” and came up with this. I didn’t want to get mixed up with that, so pseudonym! Plus, I’ve never really been fond of the name Eugene (at least, until I saw Tangled), but I definitely am one. Occasionally I still publish non-fiction work under my real name though. What’s my middle name, you might wonder? Charles. To make matters worse, I inherited this name from my father, so when I want to be pretentious, I go by Eugene Charles Myers, II.
He was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts
This is probably the best thing I have ever written, or ever will write. (Well, I hope that isn’t true.) My mom is from South Korea, my dad had German heritage, and well, you can figure out the rest, especially if you read YA.

Alternate explanation: I am an android.
and raised by a single mother and a public library in Yonkers, NY
I owe so much to the influence of my awesome mother, who raised me and my older sister on her own, and the Yonkers Public Library system is more responsible for me becoming a writer than anything else. Sadly, the local library I grew up with (the Getty Square Branch, in the dodgy part of town) closed and relocated to a shiny new building, but I sometimes look for some of the books I remember at its new incarnation as the Riverfront Branch, which is fortunate to have a terrific YA librarian. The first science fiction book I remember reading and loving is Interstellar Pig by William Sleator.
where he survived an improbable number of life-threatening experiences—most miraculously, high school—with ample scars as proof.
If only I were exaggerating! How many times have I nearly died and/or suffered egregious harm? In order: I spilled boiling hot water all over myself (age 3), my family was supposed to be on a plane to Korea that was shot down, (age 5), I burned myself with fireworks (age 5), I was hit by a car (age 8), I nearly drowned (ages 9 and 11), high school (age 14-17), and my arm briefly caught fire (age 33). There are probably many other brushes with death that I’m not even aware of, as if this weren't enough. Really, there are probably very few alternate universes where I’m around, so I like this one a lot.
After a year in software development on Wall Street, he began a career in cable television and helped deliver quality women’s programming for nine-and-a-half years.
Yup. I worked at Lifetime Television, first as a tape librarian, then as a digital media manager. My favorite movie title there was Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?, with My Stepson, My Lover in a close second. I have also been a doorman, worked in the dining hall, worked as a communications specialist fixing people’s phones, designed and maintained websites, managed an office, and edited videos. Writing is by far the best job ever.
He attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2005 and is a member of the professional writing group Altered Fluid.
Two of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
He currently lives with his wife, two doofy cats, and a mild-mannered dog in Philadelphia.
Marrying my wife was the best decision I’ve ever made. And then I didn’t have much of a choice on the rest… :)
In his increasingly scarce free time, he blogs Star Trek Re-watch reviews with Torie Atkinson at TheViewscreen.com, reads slush for Nightmare Magazine... ...reads constantly, lurks on the internet, plays video games, and pursues other extracurricular activities that prevent him from getting enough sleep.
Free time? What’s free time, precious? I do love watching movies (some of my favorites: Superman, Donnie Darko, Dark City, Pleasantville): and TV (The Twilight Zone, Fringe, Darkwing Duck) and playing video games, but those are low in my priorities these days. Still, I’m slowly working my way through a bunch of games, including The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, but my favorite genre is platform games like Super Mario Bros. I get about five or six hours of sleep a night.

Who Am I & Why Am I Here?

Common sense might lead you to believe that you, the reader, are the one asking that question of me, but no -- I'm actually asking that of myself. I'm not a big fan of being common, and being sensical is quite boring, so I decided to turn that little phrase on its head.

Q: Who am I? 

I keep having to double check, that I am in fact, still me. Surely some kind of body-hopping is suspect when a librarian from the Midwest spends a weekend walking around NYC with Katherine Tegen, and then checks her email to find an invitation from Beth Revis to join The League of Extraordinary Writers. 

I checked. I'm me. The mirror doesn't lie. (Although, I wouldn't mind it being a little less harsh with the honesty as I get a older, ahem. Mirror - you've been warned).

A: I'm Mindy McGinnis. 

A minor note - in NYC I introduce myself as Mindy McGinnis. At home in Ohio, I still introduce myself as my farmer-father's daughter. It carries more weight.

Q: Why Am I Here?

I wrote a book called NOT A DROP TO DRINK, a post-apocalyptic survival tale set in a world where freshwater is almost non-existent. But that's not the first book I've written. I've been writing, querying, and failing fantastically for about ten years, so you'll understand the degree of non-belief I've had to apply to my recent happiness. 

A: I'm not actually here. This is happening to someone else.

It's surprisingly easy to believe this. In my normal life I go to work, scoop cat litter, drive a decade-old car I rarely wash, and eat food that is really, really bad for me. Surely someone who can persevere through ten years of form rejections has the self-control to not pop Cadbury eggs like Tic-Tacs, right?

Apparently not.

So until reality comes along and bops me firmly on the head, Little Bunny Foo-Foo style, I'm going to continue to believe that I'm actually two people. 

That's healthy, right?

Lydia Kang: Stuff I Love

Happy Valentine's Day! It seemed fitting that I should write about stuff I love, as a way of introducing myself as a new member of the League of Extraordinary Writers. These are not in any particular order. Hope the ants don't get too mad...

1. The platypus. Maybe because they're mammals that lay eggs and have venomous spines and duck bills and beaver tails and swim and aren't easily categorized. I totally get that. If could choose my Patronus, it'd be a platypus.

2. NaCl. Sodium chloride, a combustible metal and a poisonous gas, combined beautifully together to make pretzels transcendent bits of crunchy heaven. Also, we'd die without salt. How can you not love it?

3. Austen and the Brontë sisters. I'll be a fangirl until the end.

4. Baby otters. If you don't agree with this one, then I have nothing more to say to you.

5. Zombie Ants. Nature did the zombie thing well before Night of the Living Dead. I'm sorry, but a fungus that takes over your body, forces you to climb trees so spores could sprout out of your head to infect more ants? How freaking cool is that???

6. Poetry. I'm not as well read as I'd like to be, but geez, when that tangle of words comes together just so in a poem, it kills me.

7. Loki or Tom Hiddleston. Either will do. *Giggles*

8. The human body. It's so marvelously complicated down to the molecular level, yet often really straightforward. And it's easily screwed up and yet oddly resilient. Squishy and solid and just, well, awesome.

9. My book cover. *stares*  *stares some more*

10. My amazing family and friends. Goes without saying, but I said it anyway. ❤❤❤❤❤

Peggy Eddleman: Intro

Hi! I'm excited to introduce myself as part of the League! But how to do it.... Hm. How about we just go for a handful of random facts? 

I can memorize a string of 50 numbers in 5 minutes or less. (Seriously. Quiz me.)

I like cooking for my family. (But given the choice, I'd still choose eating out pretty much every time.)

Sometimes I paint pictures on walls. (And sometimes on ceilings. And sometimes doors.)

I love playing laser tag (with my hubby and three kids, who are all made of awesome), making fun movies, playing commando, and toilet papering houses.

Sometimes I like drawing stick figures. If I could draw stick figures about my book instead of struggling with the blurb that goes on the flap, I totally would. Here's what I wish I could've turned into my editor for my book that comes out this fall, SKY JUMPERS:

This is Hope. 

Hope's daredevil gene is set to super-high.

But sadly, her inventing gene is set to extra-low.

Hope & her town live in one of the massive craters left behind by one of the green bombs that destroyed most of the earth's population, and is covered by the deadly Bomb's Breath.

Which is all pretty cool.... But then there's bad guys, an invasion, lots of danger, and things go wrong.

For once, inventing isn't the answer, but the daring and risk-taking that usually gets Hope into trouble just might save them all.

And were I an agent, I'd most definitely accept stick-figure queries.

Bethany Hagen's Biography in Books

Hi everyone! My name is Bethany Hagen, and I am so excited to be here introducing myself as a new member of the League! Today, I thought I'd share my reading biography, as it were, since my life biography is about as interesting as the life of a desert microbe.

Madeline (circa 1987 - 1990): I was born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in a trailer park just across the state line in Kansas.  I still remember flipping through the pages, hoping that my parents wouldn’t discover that I wasn’t taking a nap like I was supposed to. I also chewed on this book a lot. It tasted pretty good.

The Magician’s Nephew: As the only Protestant at a Catholic school, I was a little lonely, and while I never did manage to recite the Chaplet to my teacher's expectations, I did read all seven of the Narnia books in less than a month.  This was my first introduction to fantasy and to the idea that animals drank tea.

The Lord of the Rings: This is usually the book that--aside from Jane Eyre--I name as my all-time favorite.  We read The Hobbit as a class in eighth grade, and I asked for the LOTR books that year for my birthday. They are currently bound in duct-tape. Yes, we talked about naming our daughter Eowyn.

The Once and Future King: When I was fifteen, I was about to get my first degree black belt in kenpo karate and become the co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.  T.H. White showed me the humanizing power of wit and also that you can use animals to describe the 1930s political climate.

The Dark Tower: My karate instructor literally threw The Gunslinger at me one day before our demo team practice.  This series punctuated my later high school years and college, and while I have been known to gripe about Uncle Stevie’s page count a number of times, the combination of high fantasy (a la LOTR) and Arthurian influence (a la The Once and Future King) was pure Bethany-bait.  And when Roland finally reached the Dark Tower, I did cry.  Possibly from exhaustion.

The Little Prince:  I was supposed to read this book for a college French class and I didn’t, probably because I was too busy waving a clove cigarette around at a coffee shop and checking Myspace.  But I finally did read it last month, on a whim, and I can say that it is one of the most profound meditations on love and life that I’ve ever read.  And even though I do cry frequently while reading, I cried so hard at the end of this one that my husband wandered in from playing World of Warcraft to make sure that I hadn’t broken my brain or something.  So much had changed since my tired-cry from the seventh Dark Tower book--we have a house, two adorable (if feral) toddlers, and I’m finally achieving my dream of getting published--but so much was the same.  It all boils down to taming our planets and tending to our roses, as tiresome as they can be.  

10 things you never wanted to know about Elizabeth Richards (but she’s going to tell you anyway)

1. Elizabeth is a YA author specializing in dystopian novels with a paranormal twist. If it has explosions and kissing in it (preferably at the same time), she’s there.

2. She’s an identical twin, and yes, she is the evil one, mwa ha ha ha ha ha.  *twirls moustache*

3. When querying her first YA novel, she accidentally invited an agent to her sister’s bachelorette party, and demanded they come dressed in hot-pants and fishnet stockings. This isn’t her most embarrassing story.

4. Penguin put in an offer for BLACK CITY the day after she got married! BEST. WEDDING GIFT. EVER.

5. Her favorite movie is Jaws. Or Halloween. Or maybe Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire…

6.  She’s decisive.

7.  She’s seen Daniel Radcliffe in the nude, twice, sadly both times in a theater with 500 other people. The sight of him doing a naked combat roll still haunts her dreams.

8.  Her favorite TV shows are Buffy, Being Erica, and Extreme Couponing.

9. She has a heart-shaped birthmark on her foot.

10. She can never think of ten things to say about herself…

11. Oh! She's bad at maths.

How I Was Influenced by UGLIES

Hey there! So you've seen our new design. Followed all our new people. Added some books to your lists. Joined our newsletter, and you're ready for an amazing year full of science fiction, dystopian, and speculative discussions! Right? You are ready, right?

No?! Well. You might want to take care of that. It's easy. Click here to see our new people. (They'll be introducing themselves next week, AND the week after! We have some amazing new talent here at the League!) Click here to see our books, and add them to your Goodreads list. Click here to join our newsletter. We'll be having contests and getting to know each other better in this venue.

And now onto our regularly scheduled topic week: Influences!

When I first started writing, I wrote an urban fantasy. That's the kind of whack stuff I used to like to read. I started devouring more than just Harry Potter, and I came across Scott Westerfeld's UGLIES series in about 2008.

It was new for me. Something different I'd never read before. As I was reading it, I thought to myself, "I want to write a book like that." But I had no idea what that was. So I turned to my good pal, the Internet. After some searching and researching and more reading, I realized that there was this whole genre out there called dystopia. The future as we don't know it. Warped. Different. Weird.

I liked it.

I wanted to write in it. Not only that, but I wanted there to be cool gadgets and technological advancements, and anything else that sounded cool and could explode or transform someone into something they're not.

Yeah, those kinds of stories.

So I did. I wrote my first dystopic novel, POSSESSION. Since then, I've dabbled in dystopian fantasy, and more hard science fiction, like time travel. I love making and exploring new worlds outside the realm of existence.

I've moved on to reading more of this kind of fiction too. THE GIVER, INSIGNIA, MONUMENT 14, LIFE AS WE KNEW IT, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, WARM BODIES. They're all completely different, yet awesomely the same.

They create a world beyond what I already know. I can't seem to get enough of this kind of story for some reason. It all started with UGLIES.

Have you ever read a book that expanded your horizons? What was it?

Christopher Nolan

Authors, filmmakers, songwriters, composers, artists and journalists. They’re all influences on my writing, but the films of Chris Nolan are some of my major inspirations. I saw his film Memento in a small studio screening ten years ago, with Chris in attendance. He’s British, so instead of the jeans and leather jacket uniform of directors, he wore a suit and an earnest expression. He explained how the idea came from a short story his brother wrote. In the audience Q&A after, while we all sat there shell-shocked, I was dying to raise my hand and tell him how brilliant it was. But I was there as someone’s guest and was afraid I’d embarrass him with my fan-girl gush, so I kept quiet while people asked questions that seemed more accusatory than appreciative.

Later, I watched the film again, of course. You had to, because there are so many layers in this unusual backward format. My friend, a film critic, dismissed it as “gimmicky,” and he was not alone. It opened small, in only eleven theatres across the US. But I knew I had seen an amazing piece of work, a risky story that took a lot of guts to commit to. Yes, it’s told backward, but that form was a perfect way to tell this story of a man with short-term amnesia looking for the killer of his wife. I loved how it played with different levels of reality. Like the main character Leonard, the viewer doesn’t know who to trust. Can you trust Teddy, who says he’s a cop? Or Natalie, who would have good reason to turn on you because you killed her boyfriend?

I also loved Following, his first film, very low budget, shot mostly in his parent’s house. It juggled similar themes of trust and identity. And of course, Inception played with different levels of reality, now questioning whether this life is even real? If you’ve read my book, you know these are themes that intrigue me as well. I like to set up several levels of reality but keeping it as clean and streamlined as possible, giving the illusion of simplicity. In 2011, I saw Chris at the Egyptian Theatre for the ten-year anniversary of Memento. The director Guillermo Del Toro conducted an interview after the film. Gone was the tentative, almost shy Nolan, now replaced by a confident yet thoughtful director. Even though ten years had passed, the film held its power. It was very bit the tightly-wound film noir that it had been the first time around. In fact, it was impressive in its perfection. This time, no one was there to doubt him, because ten years and five more feature films had proven that it was far more than a trick. For just a moment, I was tempted to write this post backwards. But then that would have been a gimmick.


Topic Week: Gennifer's Influences

I was probably eleven years old when my Aunt handed me a worn copy of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.  I took her book recommendations seriously.  She was the cool relation.  She cursed and watched movies late at night and put blonde streaks in my hair.  She also loved science fiction and fantasy.  She loved escaping to worlds and she was willing to go anywhere if there was a good story.  So when she gave me Ender's Game I opened the pages and found myself sucked into Ender Wiggin's world.

Today that book would be classified as a dystopian novel.  With a young protagonist it might have been cleaned up for the young adult market, which is why I'm so relieved it's not a contemporary novel.  Ender's world is one of control and violence where children are made into soldiers against the terrible Buggers ravaging the Earth.  In many ways it's a novel of action and war, but at its heart it's a coming of age story set in a strongly imagined future.

This is a novel about bullying, about the terrible ways political power can be used, about bigotry and paranoia.  I read it when I was eleven, and it changed my life.  I read it many more times over the years.

I tried unsuccessfully to read the rest of the series.  I'm sure they're well-written novels, but for me Ender's Game was complete in and of itself.  It resonated with me not because of the plot but because of its ideas.

I like ideas.  I like ideas that allow a reader to explore, that evolve with the reader's life experience.  Ideas are the essence of science fiction for me.  And at heart, all of the science fiction that's truly influenced and inspired me did so through sparks and innuendos.  I'm equally moved by ideas that hold humanity's flaws up for inspection and those that consider the immense possibility of our species.

As a reader, Ender's Game changed me.  As an adult, I learned things that made it difficult to champion the novelist and his work.  And still when I had the opportunity to tell Card in person how he influenced my career, I did so.  Because although I grew to understand not everyone we look up to deserves it, Ender's Game taught me the power of free thinking.  I shook Card's hand because ultimately he taught me idea trumps intention and the power of a story resides in the mind of the reader.

Topic week: Susanne's influences

For me there wasn’t that one crucial epiphany that made me realize I wanted to write science fiction, nor is there only one book or one movie that inspired it all. For me it was a process; a process of slow realization. Of realizing what I like in books and movies, and that it’s okay to like them.
When I was a teen, unlike many of the girls I knew, I wasn’t interested in romance neither in book form, nor on the big screen.

I read books from Dean Koontz and Stephen King (mainly those with science fiction elements). I devoured their books, but of course I was aware that I was the only girl (I knew) that read them and I thought it was a relict from my pre-teen tomboy times, and so I stopped reading those books. I stopped reading books altogether – except for those I was forced to read for school.  Because the books I was interested in – science fiction or thriller with horror elements – was something I thought I shouldn’t read if I wanted to fit in.

But I still sneaked into the living room at night to watch reruns of the Alien movies because even though I’d stopped reading science fiction/horror I couldn’t quite give it up completely.
When I started writing, I suddenly remembered all those nights spent in the dark living room – scared and yet excited, heart pounding and still smiling -, I remembered my torn and crinkled copies of Watchers and Fear Nothing and The Dark Half and many more, and I wanted that for my books. I realized that I loved science fiction elements and horror, that I preferred dark undertones to funny, that while I liked romantic elements, I didn’t want them to dominate my books completely. The thrill I’d once gotten from books by King and Koontz, and from movies like Alien, I wanted to get them from my own writing now. 

Topic Week: Beth's Influences

Today is the first day of a new feature on the League: Topic Week! And this week's topic is all about influences.

I often get asked who my science fiction influences are, and I think people expect me to say Heinlein or something similar. But the truth is, with a very few exceptions, I didn't read that much science fiction growing up. (I know, I know. This is totally going to get me razzed later.) When I was younger, there were some SF books I loved. Namely: Madeleine L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME and Orson Scott Card's ENDER'S GAME. But once I got past these, there were few adult SF books that I actually enjoyed--Douglas Adams's THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY being one of the rare ones I adored.

I blame my husband for this. See, he loves hard sci fi. I mean, whole chapters dedicated to the exact, precise functionings of the engine. He likes science fiction, whereas I liked science fiction. The adult SF books he was reading bored me to tears. I didn't care about how the science worked--I just wanted something awesome to happen, preferably by blowing up.

There were whole years that passed where I didn't really care about science fiction books at all because of this. I was limited in my understanding of the genre (really, I prefer "space opera", but I didn't even know those existed before), and that led me to dismiss the whole genre as a whole.


While I avoided reading science fiction, I quickly fell in love with Firefly (thanks to my husband, who insisted I'd love it). There was so much to love: quick plots, exciting twists, mysteries, snappy dialog. And there was science, but rather than spending ages explaining it, it just worked, much like magic tends to do in fantasy novels.

When I started working on ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, I knew from the start that I wanted to write science fiction. And I was scared. I'd never written science fiction, and I wasn't sure I could it. I knew I couldn't write hard sci fi. That was definitely not my scene.

But then I remembered Firefly. Joss Whedon presented a science fiction world which emphasized fiction over science.

Now that? That I could do.

Topic Week

One of the first changes we're incorporating here at the League is a Topic Week--a week where we all post about a single topic. To kick of February, our first topic is going to be...

"What SF book/movie most influenced your writing?"

So come back every day this week to find out what the different League members consider to be their greatest influences!