Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
A gritty, romantic modern fairy tale from the author of Break and Gone, Gone, Gone.
Be careful what you believe in.
Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.
Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Hello everyone! Today on the Lantern, we have the pleasure of talking to YA author Antony John, author of Busted: Confessions of an Accidental Player, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip, Elemental and today, we'll be talking to him about his fabulous sophomore novel, Five Flavors of Dumb.
I'm glad you think so. To be honest, I felt sure that as long as music (in all its angsty glory) remained at the heart of the novel, then it would never descend into outright cheese. After all, who ever referred to Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix as cheesy?
I'm often asked if I'd consider writing for another audience. The simple answer is no. I'm still very connected to my teen self, and pretty much every idea I come up with is geared toward a YA audience. Not only that, but writing YA is incredibly gratifying. There's an opportunity to explore almost any subject and write in almost any style—which is very liberating for a writer—while at the same time keeping the focus on telling a story (something that seems to be forgotten in adult literature).
I vividly remember an acknowledgment in a Jonathan Safran Foer novel in which he thanked someone for always reminding him to "feel more." I think that's tremendously good advice. As long as we truly empathize with our characters, we're unlikely to simplify or marginalize their feelings. Interesting, three-dimensional characters are at the heart of good YA, and readers won't connect with a character that doesn't ring true.
Antony, thank you so much for talking to us today.
Everyone, you can contact Antony though Facebook, at: www.facebook.com/pages/Antony-John/124596187591570, or you can visit his website at www.antonyjohn.net
Five Flavors of Dumb is available on Amazon, both in the US and the UK.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
In the wake of the post-9/11 sniper shootings, fragile love finds a stronghold in this intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer.
It's a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.
Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him...and if he’ll do it again...and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.
Lio feels most alive when he's with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable...and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.
Hannah Moskowitz has been on my TBR radar since her first book so the opportunity to read an ARC of her third book a year before its official release, thanks to Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab system, was too good to pass up.
Teenagers are frequently accused of being shallow and simple creatures. The problems of the typical adolescent are usually categorised into the clichéd worries over school, family and sex, and are all too often used as oversimplified forms of characterisation in YA. In a genre oversaturated with shallow minded love stories and derivative high school stories, it’s so refreshing to see a book with such intricate character studies of its two main protagonists. This book really is one of the strongest character studies I’ve ever seen in YA. Lio and Craig (and I honestly can’t decide which one I love more) are so intricately put together, so detailed in their personalities, right down to the smallest, seemingly insignificant details that fit together like puzzle pieces.
Alternating between Craig and Lio’s points of view, Moskowitz manages to handle several very heavy topics – family death, cancer, sexuality, world tragedy – deftly, without slipping into soap opera mode. Everything feels real and brimming with emotion yet never overwrought. As this is a character study – there’s no real plot to speak of – this is where Moskowitz really shines. I dare any reader not to become attached to Craig and Lio. The emotions ever present in the story are raw, often unflinchingly so, and Moskowitz never shies away from the grey areas of the story and thankfully manages to avoid becoming preachy and clichéd. Chris and Lio do solace with each other but it’s not some magical healing love that solves everything for them – it’s just as messed up, awkward, confusing and beautiful as them. I truly appreciated not just the gay love story but the fact that it was interracial – Craig is black and Lio is Jewish – and such markers of identity were merely incidental, not some misguided form of tokenism. Their quirks feel so natural, as does their entire story. To watch their bittersweet and often bumpy relationship unfold is an emotional experience.
The other part of this book where Moskowitz’s skills flourished was in the book’s atmosphere. It’s a time of fear – the D.C. sniper shootings in post 9/11 America – and the entire story is steeped in this inescapable mood of terror. Craig and Lio’s narrations both capture the dread of living not just in a city but in a world where fear has become so normal that it’s part of everyday life. It’s something one as a reader definitely gets caught up in, along with the entire spectrum of emotions the story is steeped in.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Gone, Gone, Gone” but there were times where it felt as if the story dragged. It’s a short book but I think it would have worked perfectly as a novella. As it is, it’s still immensely readable but could benefit from more editing. There’s still a year to go so I’m pretty sure there will be more work done to it. I was also a little disappointed by the lack of story time dedicated to the female characters of the story. I really wanted to know more about Adelle, Lio’s therapist, as well as his sisters. Moskowitz has such deft skill for characterisation so it was disappointing to not see some of that dedicated to the women of the story.
This is a book about what makes you the person you are, and how the smallest, or biggest, of things can change not just you but everything around you. Reading Craig’s and Lio’s stories was truly a fascinating and often highly emotional experience and one I highly recommend you pick up upon its release. There aren’t many books like “Gone, Gone, Gone” in the YA market these days and I definitely think there should be more love for such intricate and complex character studies in a genre, and with an age group, so often misrepresented as shallow and simple. That’s definitely not the case and “Gone, Gone, Gone” is the perfect example of that. I would go out on a limb and say that on the strength of this and her upcoming book "Teeth" (which I have also read an ARC of and will review/fail excitedly over in due course), Moskowitz has established herself as one of the strongest and most underrated voices in modern YA.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Thank you so much! I was very honored. I've never won anything for writing before, and when they announced it I had had no idea I was even in the running, so it was a lovely surprise!
In your own words, can you tell us what “Speechless” is about?
Speechless is the story of Chelsea Knot, a big time gossip queen who winds up deciding to take an oath of silence after she spills a secret that has very serious consequences.
Chelsea is quite a gutsy heroine – she doesn’t come off as such at the beginning, but I really came to respect her when she stuck to her vow of silence, even when others tried to bully her into submission. How did you go about writing her?
I knew she was not going to start off as the most sympathetic. The original title was actually The Redemption of Chelsea Knot, since that really is the story-- this girl starting off at a really bad place and working her way up into realizing a lot of things about herself and other people. I wanted to write a very different character than Harper in Saving June; Chelsea is more immature at first, very image-conscious, focused on herself, and lacking some real perspective, though all of that changes over the course of the story. The thing she does share in common with Harper is that underneath it all, they are both strong-willed, it just takes Chelsea longer to really figure that out about herself. I enjoy writing characters who find their strength in hard situations. When I was writing Chelsea, I really tried to focus on her transformation and journey and make it believable. She isn't fully evolved and perfect by the end, but she is much more enlightened than from where she starts.
There has been some talk about how writers should avoid dark subjects in YA. In “Speechless”, a boy becomes victim to a hate crime after he is outed by Chelsea. Did you worry about going in this particular direction with the novel?
I actually wrote this book a few years ago, before the whole It Gets Better campaign and the gay bullying-related suicides were all over the news. That was a total coincidence, so it wasn't something I wrote thinking I wanted to tackle that subject matter on purpose due to that. It did worry me a little considering the attention those issues have gotten lately, and I did go back over the story just to double-check and make sure I was treating it with the proper emotional weight.
Even though both of my books have had some mature issues in them, I try to keep it balanced with some lightness. I don't believe in shying away from pretty much any subject matter, though. These are real world issues and things teenagers are dealing with in their actual lives, so it only makes sense to write about them. I only hope that when I do, I'm writing about them as honestly as I can.
What would you say is the best thing about being published? And the worst?
Oh, wow! This is tough. For the best, there really is something magical about holding a real book with your name on it in your hands. That was a very big deal for me. You put a lot of work into a story and go through so many drafts, and then you get to see it in its final form and it's the ultimate payoff. But one of the other things I love most is just being lucky enough to have a readership, people who take the time to read something I wrote and sometimes even contact me to let me know-- it is very surreal and humbling. I never take that for granted!
As for the worst... I don't even want to say anything because I feel like that'd come across as ungrateful! I guess I would say that there is a certain pressure that comes with it. Not even from outside sources, but pressure you put on yourself. In some ways having a second book coming out has made me more nervous than having my debut, because some people have expectations and the last thing you want is for people to be disappointed.
Both your novels use music and sound as a leitmotif, and “Saving June” even comes with its own playlists. But if there were three albums you would take with you on a desert island, what would they be?
Only three albums?! I can't just bring my iPod? Okay, okay, let me try to narrow it down... I think I'd go with I Guess I Was Hoping For Something More from Tarkio, Channel Orange from Frank Ocean, and Begin to Hope from Regina Spektor. But that's just for today. Ask me tomorrow and my answer would be completely different!
If one of your novels were made into a movie, what would your dream cast be?
For Saving June, Kat Dennings for Harper and Johnny Pacar for Jake. Amanda Seyfried would be a great Laney, except I think she is too old to be playing high school now! For Speechless, I think I'd pick Emma Roberts for Chelsea and Darren Criss for Sam.
If you were to go on a road trip, where would you head off to?
I am actually road tripping to Toronto with a friend next month, and I am very excited about it, as I have never been to Canada!
“Speechless” comes out on August 28th. Unless it’s super top secret, can you tell us a little bit about what happens next?
I am working on a third book, and I don't mean to be coy but I want to wait until I'm further into it before I try to explain what it's about. I am the worst at describing the plots of my own books, honestly!
Hannah, thank you so much for talking to us!
For more information about her books and general updates, you can go to her official author's website at http://www.hannahharrington.com/.
Both "Saving June" and "Speechless" are available on Amazon.