Wednesday, October 22, 2008
1) Where did you get the inspiration for The Brothers Torres?
I wrote a short story a while back in which two kids play with fireworks in the back yard, and because it was a short story, I had to end it. Unfortunately, it ended poorly for the characters, and they were no longer friends at the end. A few years later, I picked the story up again and decided that I didn’t like the fact that the characters weren’t friends. So I imagined a world in which that ending never happened. What if they stayed best friends up through high school? What would their world be like? How would they have changed? And The Brothers Torres pretty much came from that starting point. There’s still a bit of that original short story in chapter two of the book, actually.
2) Were any characters based on any one you knew? Any part of the book on events that happened in your own life?
Most of the “true” things in the book are related to the setting, or to descriptions of people, of the food, etc. I went to soccer camp once with a kid who had only one eye, though. He used to take it out all the time, put it in people’s soup, wash it off in his mouth. That’s where Zach’s eye tricks came from.
3) Will there be a sequel to The Brothers Torres?
That’s a good question. I’ve always thought it would be fun to write a sequel, but tell it from Zach’s point of view. That way we could learn more about him at the same time that we pick up on the next part of Frankie’s story.
4) Do you have a favorite New Mexican dish? (Is it the same as Frankie’s, by any chance?)
Indeed, Frankie and I share a weakness for the stuffed sopaipilla. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at making them, although I don’t have a deep fryer with a temperature gauge, so my sopaipillas aren’t as light and fluffy as I’d like.
5) Favorite Shakespeare play?
I’m a big fan of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played Oberon in college—shaved my head, wore leather, had tattoos drawn all over me, and decorated my head and face with 22 different piercings—so I’m partial to that one.
6) Do you have a favorite place to write? Favorite place to read?
I generally alternate between my house, a bubble tea place, and a coffee shop. When I find myself getting too comfortable in any of those places, I know it’s time for a change.
7) Do you listen to music while writing?
I listen to music, but I can’t just listen to any music. Generally, I listen to house or electronica concerts/podcasts I’ve downloaded. They’re two hours long, have few words to distract me, and have a continuous beat that keeps me going.
8) Favorite YA books & authors?
I like Pete Hautman’s Godless a whole lot. I just read E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which I enjoyed tremendously, and not just because the protagonist is named Frankie.
9) Favorite things/hobbies you like to do in your spare time?
I like to ski and scuba dive, but it’s been a while. I’m a fan of the Denver Broncos and the Universidad de Chile soccer team, but I’ll pretty much go to any live sporting event. I try to get on my bicycle for a long ride as often as possible.
10) Do you have a favorite word?
I like the word “Defenestrate,” both for how it sounds and for its meaning: to throw someone or something out of a window. In Spanish, I like the word “espectacular,” which tends to roll off the tongue.
11) Any advice for aspiring authors?
My only advice is this: if you write, you’re a writer. We tend to want validation from other people before we take ourselves seriously as writers, but if you’re serious about it, then it doesn’t matter what other people think. Put your butt in the seat, do your work, and have confidence in yourself.
12) Is there any specific question you would have liked to answer?
Nope. Thanks a lot!
A few This or That questions just for fun!
Cooking or eating out?
Cooking, mostly. At least I try.
Coffee or tea?
Decaf or Half-caf coffee.
Movies or TV?
Definitely used to me movies, but since my son arrived, it’s TV shows on DVD.
Hot dog or hamburger?
Burger, for sure, preferably from my wife’s restaurant, Becks Prime
Coke or Pepsi?
Vanilla or chocolate?
Vanilla ice cream. Chocolate pudding.
Cake or pie?
Yellow cake with chocolate frosting.
Ice cream or sherbet?
Rainbow sherbet whenever possible. My wife makes fun, but I love it.
City or country?
City close to mountains. Otherwise, country.
Winter, Spring, Fall, or Summer?
My thanks to Coert for a great interview! Now I definitely have to try a stuffed sopaipilla!
Keep you eyes open for a Brothers Torres-related contest soon!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!
Lenore of Presenting Lenore Lenore has great posts in general! Book reviews, blurbs, recommendations and other interesting tidbits! And don't we all just love the adorable pictures of Emmy?
Liv of Liv's Book Reviews I just love Liv's Bits 'n' Pieces interviews with authors!! That, along with some great reviews keeps me checking back at her blog often to see what's new!
Beth of Books and Love One of the first blogs I came across as I ventured into blogs featuring book reviews, and I've been checking her blog ever since! Beth is such a nice person with great reviews!
Carol of Bookluver-Carol Carol has great author interviews, reviews, and not to mention neat reviewer interviews!
Chelsea of The Page Flipper Chelsea writes some really detailed reviews that makes me really want to read those books! Not to mention that she's a fellow YABC demi-goddess and writes great reviews for YABC too!!
Kelsey of Reading Keeps you Sane Kelsey writes honest reviews that are to the point! And a very fitting title--reading definitely keeps me sane!! (Love the new layout, btw!)
Just Blinded Book Reviews First off, what a cool blog title!! Yet another site that I keep returning to for new, fantastic reviews!
Linda Gerber Ms. Gerber does plenty of interesting "ramblings" as she sometimes calls them, and has plenty of generous giveaways and some fantastic release parties!
Aella is a lovely person who has plenty of book reviews on great books!
And although she nominated me, I really do love Rachael's blog as well!!
Rachael of The Book Muncher Because she's just a wonderful person with a wonderful blog! Rachael posts so many great reviews and keeps adding more and more books to my TBR list!!
And an update on what I'm up to...
My computer crashed (yes, I know, again). My elderly IBM apparently decided it was through working for me and I now (or at least for the time being) must make my updates from other computer(s), which, needless to say, is not quite as convenient. I hope to get a new computer sometime soon (pity about my files, I hadn't expected my old computer to give out quite so soon) but school work and the like have been keeping me really busy as well. But I am reading! Or at least trying to, in between calc problems ;) And I am trying to keep up my reviews! Once December comes around, I think things will have settled down a bit, and hopefully I will find myself in front of a brand new, shiny, computer that isn't prone to crashing!
I have a few interviews and reviews on some great books to come!
Oh, and did I mention that I finally got a Facebook? :) If you have a moment, look for me there & friend me if you'd like!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thanks to Scholastic, I have 5(!!) signed copies of Top 8 to give away to you all!!
Check out my review of Top 8 here & my interview with author Katie Finn here!
[EDIT] Sorry guys! I completely forgot to mention that this contest is only open to people in the US! So sorry!! Thanks to Ellie who brought this to my attention! [/EDIT]
A quick blurb for Top 8 (courtesy of Barnes & Noble):
Madison MacDonald is seriously freaking outWant to win a copy of this great book? Just comment on this post with your name, email address, and your favorite social networking site!
Everything in my life was working out. I had my three best friends, a brand-new boyfriend, and the lead in the school play. Aside from that history paper I hadn't started, things felt perfect.
Then I returned from spring break to find my Friendverse profile hacked. Someone clearly out to ruin me had spilled the most damaging secrets - AND posted the worst photos of me ever taken - online.
Now my boyfriend and I are broken up, half the school hates me, and I'm in deep trouble.
Get my boyfriend back, figure out who could have done this, and clear my name!
Also, pass history.
Want an extra entries?
1) Post about this giveaway on your blog, myspace, etc. somewhere people can see it, and send me/comment with the link! (1 extra entry)
2) Know the answers to these questions? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for 2 extra entries! (hint all answers can be found either in my interview w/ Katie Finn or my review of Top 8!)
- Where did author Katie Finn grow up?
- What color is main character Madison's computer?
- Where did Madison vacation with her family?
Please put "Top 8 Contest" in the subject line!!
Please get all you entries/extra entries in by November 16th (midnight, EST)!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Lily may be life-guarding on a beach with cute guys during the summer, but her best friend Chrissy Gibbons has really hit the summer jackpot—she gets to intern for the hippest, coolest magazine that so many people love: Savvy! Despite having to do some mundane things during her internship internship, there are some definite perks: parties, cute guys like Michael Davies, and meeting ex-supermodels like Jessica Cordero.
To top things off, Savvy is holding a contest for the interns to determine who the first teenage Savvy columnist will be! Chrissy knows she’s the perfect candidate for the job, but she doesn’t have to worry about that yet, right? I mean, she has all summer to write her entry column. In the meantime, Chrissy would rather be setting up “chance” meetings with Michael and hitting the hotspots with Jessica at night!
But when Chrissy bails out on Lily over and over again so she can attend parties of famous designers and other star-studded events with Jessica (and stagger into her home at unearthly hours, more than a little buzzed) Chrissy might be turning into someone completely different. She wasn’t the kind of person to ditch her best friend all the time, and definitely wasn’t the kind of girl to stumble in drunk past without letting her parents know where she was. But all of those things Chrissy used to care about seem to be tossed aside without a second thought when she gets constant invites to attend classy parties with Jessica.
Surely Lily understands why Chrissy can’t turn down these fantastic parties, right? Doesn’t Lily have that cute guy Graham to hang out with, doesn’t she? And Chrissy can hardly turn down Michael when he wants to hang out with her!
But is all this glitz and glamour really that good for Chrissy? She’s come to work more often hung over than not, and she’s already caught Michael hitting on hot girls at the parties she brings him to, more than once. She’s become a rebellious party girl who’s lost her good sense and put herself above her friends and family. And with the summer quickly drawing to a close, Chrissy better shape up and think of what to write, or she may miss out on a great opportunity to become a Savvy columnist—and may even lose her best friend!
At first Chrissy didn’t act and sound mature enough to be a seventeen year old, but that quickly passed. Savvy Girl was a very realistic novel with, in my opinion, well crafted and believable characters. After becoming a Savvy intern and getting invited to a few bashes, Chrissy acted like most sixteen-year-old girls would after hitting a few high-class parties and meeting cutes guys for the first time. All the same, it was nice to see her grown up and learn more than how to file papers during her summer internship and adventure!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Onto the interview:
1. What inspired you to write Top 8?
Well, at some point a while back I realized that I was completely addicted to my social networking sites. And I noticed that it was changing the way my friends and I were communicating. So I started thinking about how a story could be told using the framework of one of those sites – and then the story just came from there!
2. Did you base any events or characters from Top 8 on events that happened in your own life/people you actually know?
Not in any big ways -- I just used some small details. For example, I based the two towns in the novel, Stanwich and Putnam, on my hometown of Greenwich , Connecticut . And Madison shares my taste in books and theater. Also, I have a friend who is obsessed with all things French, so the character of Lisa was a little nod to her. The thing that was probably the most directly taken from real life was the Jimmy and Liz stuff. Two of my friends went through an ugly breakup and were constantly changing their MySpace names to insulting, revealing things, like Jimmy and Liz do in the novel. I remember at the time thinking, “I'll have to use this someday…” J
3. What's your favorite part about being an author?
I have LOVED getting feedback from readers! It’s just the best thing ever. I’ve gotten lots of comments, and it’s just so amazing to hear from people who’ve read your work.
4. Any least favorite parts of being an author?
I have to say, I really like most of it so far! But there are definitely days where the writing is a struggle and I sit in front of the computer for hours with no success. That's not any fun, and too many of those days in a row can start to feel discouraging. But it's all part of the process.
5. Any favorite YA books?
Sooo many! This is going to have to be a very abbreviated list; otherwise it would run on for pages. But I LOVE Sarah Dessen, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, and Shannon Hale. I also love the books Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe and King Dork by Frank Portman, and I just finished Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway, and really liked it. I also love David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.
6. Who was your favorite character to write about in Top 8?
It came as a surprise to me, but I really enjoyed writing Kittson. I had really not been expecting that. I think her character definitely became more prominent because I had such fun writing her.
7. What kind of computer do you use when you write? (is it bright pink like Madison 's?)
I wish! You can actually get your computer painted pink, and I really thought about it a few years ago. I guess putting it in the novel was my way of trying that out. I write on a Mac PowerBook that’s currently on its last legs. I desperately need a new one. Maybe I’ll get that one painted pink… J
8. Are you working on any other YA novels at the moment?
I am! I’m about 1/3 of the way through my new novel. It’s a little darker than Top 8, and with a main character who isn't quite as confident as Madison – she’s a little more like Schuyler, come to think of it. I don’t really want to go into specifics yet, but I’m having a lot of fun with it right now.
9. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Read and write as much as you can. I think there’s no better way to learn. Also, plot is important. I have an unfinished, 500-page novel in a drawer, because I realized at some point that it was just my characters talking to each other and wasn’t actually going anywhere. Now, I like to know my beginning, middle and end before I start writing. But mostly, the best advice I can give is to just sit down and write! Writing is like anything else -- you only get better with practice.
Katie Finn grew up in Manhattan and Greenwich , Connecticut . She now lives in Brooklyn and only checks her MySpace and Facebook three—okay eight—times a day. Friend-request her at www.myspace.com/katiefinnwrites or write on her Facebook wall!
Thanks to Ms. Finn for taking the time out to do this interview! I hope you get the a new computer of whichever color you'd like! :)
& Stay tuned for a chance to win a copy of Top 8!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Madison MacDonald is just your average teenager; she attends her local high school, hangs out with her friends, has a (new!) cute boyfriend, and is part of the popular Friendverse network that just about every teenager has a profile on. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary until the day she gets back from vacationing in the Galapagos with her family only to find that her Friendverse profile has been hacked and utterly changed.
Unfortunately for Madison, the damage goes beyond the new bad songs posted under her ‘favorites’—her hacker has been writing nasty comments to and about her friends! Some awful secrets have been revealed about pretty much everyone
The good news is that her three closest friends believe that she was hacked and did not write all those revealing comments herself, but the bad news is that not many others believe her, and her boyfriend, Justin, is now dating someone else! Many people are hurt by what Madison’s hacker posted about them—harsh comments that Madison knows that she may not have said to their faces, but did say behind their backs to others, or at least had thought to herself.
Despite making a list and doing a bit of investigation,
I found this book rather predictable, but Top 8 does have some good morals/lessons behind it. It’s definitely more hurtful to speak about people behind their backs, and it’s a good thing that
I also really like the title—it really fits for this book, but isn’t too ordinary or common, and after reading this book, I think it might have a bit of foreshadowing to it as well!
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