Sunday, December 12, 2010

Quoteskimming - the WBBT edition

As many of you know, last week the Winter Blog Blast Tour took place. The WBBT (and its seasonal counterpart, the SBBT) is not an event that's been organized by some publicist or publisher. It is one of the brainchildren of Colleen Mondor, who blogs at Chasing Ray and is a columnist for Bookslut as well as a book reviewer for other sites and the founding force behind Guys Lit Wire. She's also made of awesome. But I digress.

The bloggers who participate in the WBBT pick their own interviews - who they want to talk to and what they want to talk about. They track people down and ask politely for interviews and do all their own research and coding and whatnot. No canned book promos, no canned questions (unless you count things like my "speed round", which I ask everyone I interview).

The full schedule of interviews, along with snippets selected by Colleen, can be found in this Chasing Ray post, but here are some of the quotes that particularly resonated for me this week:

From my interview of L.K. Madigan, author of Flash Burn-out and The Mermaid's Mirror:

In some ways it was liberating to write from the male perspective. Even in our enlightened 21st century, it seems that boy characters are still allowed to behave in ways that are judged more harshly in girls. A boy character dates a lot of different people, rather than having a serious relationship? He’s carefree and easy-going. A girl character does the same? She’s just easy. A boy character disobeys his parents? He’s bold and strong-willed. A girl character does the same? She’s a brat.

From Liz Burns's interview with Paolo Bacigalupi, author of Ship Breaker at A Chair, A Fireplace, & a Tea Cozy:

I think in some ways, you’re always researching. I travel a lot. I read a lot of books. It all becomes mulch. And then when you’re building a fictional society, you have lots of touchstones to guide you. Sometimes you steal something, sometimes you use a real world example as a template, but you’re looking for those touchstones.

Adam Gidwitz, author of A Tale Dark and Grimm was interviewed over at Fuse #8, and had this to say. (I know it's long, but it's so worth it):

You know, it never occurred to me that I might be writing horror for children until you categorized my book that way in your review. It’s funny. For the longest time it never occurred to me that I even liked the horror genre. I’m still too scared to pick up a Stephen King novel. And I only started watching horror films a year or two ago. What’s interesting about horror films, and what I had never realized until I started watching them, is that horror films are fairy tales for adults. Horror films, the best ones, frequently take one fear, a deep fear, or a deep anxiety, and they multiply it out into events. They create events around a protagonist that make the fear or anxiety real, exist in the world. So, in The Shining, the main character is a writer. His frustration is that he can’t get quiet and space in order to write. This frustration becomes an obsession. It dominates him, it controls him, until he starts taking out his anxiety, his anger, on his family, through murder. Terrifying. Would never happen—well, maybe once in a long while it would happen, when my fiancee’s banging pots and pans while I’m trying to write; yeah, I know how he felt… And that’s exactly the point. What Stephen King has done with that book/movie is that he has identified a deep anger or anxiety and made it real in the world. He has created symbols of it, realizations of it, that are tangible and not just emotional. Which is exactly what fairy tales do. Fairy tales take a daughter’s feelings of under-appreciation, turn them into Cinderella’s mistreatment, and then have her triumph over those who don’t get her, don’t appreciate her. They take guilt about how a child has treated his siblings, and they have a little girl cut off her own finger to open a door in a crystal mountain to set her brothers free (The Seven Ravens). What does cutting off her finger have to do with guilt? With “I made my little brother cry and I feel terrible,” for example? It’s a real world embodiment. It’s a physicalization. It takes a child’s tears and turns them symbolically into blood. And blood happens to be the realm of horror. So, it never would have occurred to me, ever, that I write horror. But you are absolutely right.

Or maybe you’re wrong. Maybe I don’t write horror. Maybe it’s just that horror writers, the best of them, write fairy tales.

From Susan Campbell Bartoletti, author of the nonfiction titles Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow and They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group, this quote from Bartoletti's interview over at Chasing Ray:

Why the divergent voices? As a writer, I also know this: for the strongest narrative possible, I have to develop the antagonist(s) as well as the protagonist(s). The stronger my antagonist, the stronger my protagonist will ultimately be.

From Sarah MacLean, New York Times best-selling author of adult & YA romance, in her interview at my blog:

I think there’s no question that there is a perception that straight-up romance is somehow less valuable than other genres of fiction, and that is certainly a part of it in YA. I’m constantly hearing from people who have never read romance that they are surprised that “there’s a plot” or that “the writing is so good.”

It’s a shocking, saddening truth that people think of romance as the bastard child of fiction — and that is no different in YA. Of course, when they open themselves up to it, they find rich stories that address the most human of desires: our desire for companionship, for friendship, and for love.

From Allen Zadoff, author of Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have, which won the 2010 Sid Fleischman Award for humor, who was interviewed by Vivian Lee Mahoney over at Hip Writer Mama:

Writing is like learning how to fly a plane. There’s no substitute for logging hours in the air. It’s the most unromantic thing in the world, but the real writer’s life is sitting in a chair every day. (Hopefully it’s a soft chair.) Sometimes I sit and nothing comes, just noise and chatter. Sometimes I sit and it’s pouring out of me. But either way, I’m working. I’m asking the hero questions, thinking about the story, outlining, discovering. It’s a process.

I work as a writing coach, and this is something I stress with my clients. When I was younger, I thought writing was about being inspired so I spent a lot of time waiting for that to happen. Today I think writing is about work. Sometimes that work is inspired, but often it’s not. We work as writers so when the miracles come, we’re already working.

Jennifer Donnelly, author of A Northern Light and Revolution was interviewed by Lizzie Millar over at Shelf Elf, and had this to say about her quest to find answers to questions like how the idealism of the French Revolution devolved into something as cruel as the Terror, and to how the world allows so many horrors to take place:

When I started the book, I felt very much as the Duc d’Orléans does, that the world goes on, as stupid and brutal tomorrow as it is today. By the end of it it, I felt more like Andi, who comes to understand that yes, the world does go on this way, but I do not have to go along with it. Andi sees that she can’t change the world, but she can change herself. And maybe that’s enough. Enough to put her own life right. Enough to make a positive impact on a few lives around her. I like to think – to hope – that maybe that idea could become contagious.

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