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The Blue Mountains have been on fire the last couple of days, which is definitely not a good thing for Sydney. Bushfires are a natural part of the cycle of nature in Australia, but it doesn’t usually start up before the first day of summer. (It’s the middle of spring down here.)
This bodes ill for the next few months (and for the next few centuries of climatic uncertainty).
Here’s what Sydney looked like from my terrace yesterday at four in the afternoon. Note that the sun was high:
Click that image for the bigger, scarier version.
Justine and I are safe in the concrete jungle, of course, many kilometers away from the fire. But we’re still breathing it, and we’ve got friends whose homes are at risk.
On a lighter note, here’s an interview I did with Amy Stevenson of 4ZZZ Radio here in Australia. I talk about the Leviathan series a lot, but also about my next novel, Afterworlds.
I AM BACK. Yes, it’s been a while. But I’ve been writing, and a week ago I finished the first draft of my NEXT NOVEL. It is 135,000 words long, almost as long as Uglies and Pretties put together!
At the moment, this draft is with my agent and editor, and various novelist friends of mine. They’ll all have a gander and get back to me with comments and suggestions, and then there will be rewrites, copyedits, page proofs, sales meetings, cover designs, advanced reader copies, etc. Getting through all these stages means that Afterworlds will come out on October 28, 2014.
Yep. A year from now.
As always when I finish a book, I made a word cloud of Afterworlds. Word clouds take the most commonly occurring words in the text (omitting obvious ones like “the” and “was”) and size them by how often they appear.
I make these clouds partly to amuse and titillate you guys, and partly to make sure that there aren’t any overused words stinking up the joint. Check it out:
Okay, so what do we have here?
Darcy is the main character, so she’s the biggest word, naturally. Imogen is also key, as are Yamaraj and Lizzie. (Lizzie looks small to me, but her sections are in first person, so her name doesn’t appear as much!) Mindy, Kiralee, and Nisha are the other characters to appear, and they all seem about the right size. And yes, there is an important character that shows up as “mother”/”mom”.
Of the Dreaded Overused Words I look for, most aren’t there. No “eyebrows” or “frowned,” thank heavens. No “smiled” or “laughed.” But I will probably take a look at “looked” and “stared” when I do the rewrites. Looking ain’t a verb you need too much of.
What I mostly notice from this is how plain the words are. There’s very little sign of the genre of book I’ve written. To see what I mean, check out the word cloud of my last novel, Goliath:
Along with all the character names, his cloud has lots of words from the Leviathan milieu: “airship,” “Clanker,” “captain,” “cargo,” and “engines.” But you don’t have any of those in my new cloud. This is partly because Afterworlds is contemporary, and half of the book has no fantastic elements at all.
Indeed, this is a story told in relatively simple words. Notice “bad” and “little” in there, which make perfect sense. (Gotta read it to see why.) This makes sense, now that I see it revealed in the cloud. Must contemplate what it means, though. Certainly there’s a bit less world-building in Afterworlds than there was in the Leviathan series, but that makes sense for a stand-alone novel.
For more on the story of the book, check out this podcast with Sarah Wendell of SBTB. It’s her interviewing me and Justine in Brisbane, and we discuss both our next-year books. Click here, then go to the bottom of that page and click the player controls to listen. Lots of me talking about the plot, which some might find a bit spoilery!
First of all, thanks to everyone who came to the Mortal Instruments viewing last night here in Sydney. It was a gas, and the screams were many. So. Many. Screams. Also, I got to sign someone’s Chicken McNuggets box, because global capitalism is global.
I have some cool Leviathan VR pictures to show you, but first here’s a post about my next two weeks. I’ll be at the Melbourne and Brisbane Writers Festivals, and hope that some of you will be too.
Tuesday, 27 August
12:30 PM – 1:15 PM
ACMI Cinema 2
Corner Flinders and Swanston Streets Science/Fiction
Participants: Scott Westerfeld
Chairperson: Rob James Scott Westerfeld grew up surrounded by science and technology. It’s no wonder that his books – including Uglies, Leviathan, Midnighters and Peeps – are shaped by science. Find out what makes his stories tick, and how science can be a novelist’s best friend.
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
10:00 AM – 10:45 AM
Deakin Edge, Fed Square Federation Square
Corner Flinders and Swanston Streets The Steampunk World of Leviathan
Participants: Scott Westerfeld, Naomi O’Brien-D’Ambra The Leviathan trilogy is set in a steampunk World War I. The books even look like they were published in 1914, when almost all books were illustrated, even books for adults. Tour this extraordinarily rich world with the perfect guide, author Scott Westerfeld.
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
12:30 PM – 1:15 PM
ACMI Cinema 2
Corner Flinders and Swanston Streets Science Fiction, Science Fact
Participants: Scott Westerfeld, Michael Pryor
Chairperson: Andrew McDonald Scott Westerfeld and Michael Pryor talk about the inventions and ideas first put forward in fiction, later proved to be fact – or wildly off the mark. Who is the better guide: scientist or novelist? Or does the future rely on both?
I’m also teaching a YA Writing masterclass, but that is sold out.
Friday Sept 6th
Maiwar Green, State Library of Queensland
‘Juvenilia’ Featuring Kevin Kwan, Clementine Ford, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Kimberley Freeman (Kim Wilkins), Stuart MacBride and Benjamin Law reading work they scribbled in their youth. A special ‘Juvenilia’ mixed tape set by Simon Reynolds will wrap up the night.
No ticket required.
Saturday Sept 7th
State Library of Queensland
‘Dystopias’ Scott Westerfeld and Max Barry talk with Marianne de Pierres about dystopias, being a teenager in a world that wants to kill you and our fascination with broken futures.
Justine and I are teaching a YA class here too. Also sold out.
And I’m also doing two sessions in the kids section, but I think those are limited to schools. If I’m wrong about that, go here and check them out.
I’ll be blogging more about my trip soon, but first a note about the opening of the City of Bones movie next week. Justine and I will be hosting a first-night screening here in Sydney, which is put together by Kinokuniya Bookstore. There will also be a special greeting from Cassie herself, using some sort of magic. (Or possibly recording devices.)
So if you live in Sydney, and enjoy seeing movies on the first night with a screaming, rambunctious, has-read-the-book-several-times crowd, I suggest coming along.
Justine and I have spent the last six weeks traveling in the US, which is why there have been zero postings here. Apologies! I realize that this hasn’t been a very bloggy year for me, but it has been a writey year, and which would you rather have, really?
Let me take you on a slideshow of various things I did while in the States:
Shortly after I first arrived, I was greeted by the sight of my latest publication on bookstore shelves. It’s an essay in a collection called Breakfast on Mars, edited by Rebecca Stern and Brad Wolfe. Basically, it’s a bunch of YA writers taking on the dreaded essay, many teen’s least favorite form of writing.
My essay, for reasons you might guess, is all about illustrations in books.
If you’re a teacher or librarian, or anyone interested in non-fiction writing, you should check it out. If you ask me, Stern (a former fifth-grade English teacher) and Wolfe have helped fill a huge gap in the world of YA and middle-grade letters.
The next cool thing to happen on my trip was Manhattan Henge, a twice yearly astronomical event in which sundown lines up with the crosstown streets of Manhattan. It looks like this:
What were the ancient peoples who built Manhattan trying to tell us about May 28 and July 12? We may never know.
The third thing I did was have an amazing dinner with respected private citizen Maureen Johnson and her English offsider, Oscar Gingersnort. This was at 11 Madison, and included crazy-ass dishes like this one:
The courses were many and wondrous, and gave us the opportunity to plot the destruction of all other YA authors what to do at Leaky Con next year.
Nextly, I had a meeting with my excellent publishers about how to market my next book, Afterworlds. The ideas were many and wondrous, and will be revealed in due time. I can’t wait to see what you guys think of this book, which has been three years in the writing. (Because it’s really two books in one.)
Afterworlds will come out late next year, probably on October 28. (This date is a clue to the book’s subject matter! Spin on that one, fannish brains!)
One of my other projects for this trip was to start gathering my “papers,” all the editorial, artistic, and business flotsam that I’ve collected over the last two decades. I’ll be donating them to an as-yet-undetermined institute of higher learning as a huge tax dodge boon to future scholars.
The first step was to collect exactly one first printing of each of my foreign editions, a project which, even in its opening stages, ate my living room floor:
I also found my very first (incomplete) novel, the least embarrassing page of which looks like this:
And that’s all you will ever see of that novel, unless you travel to the as-yet-undetermined institute of higher learning personally. (It’ll be in the box with the big padlock encrusted with contact poison.)
I just realized that this piece of juvenilia is called Keeps, only one letter away from a somewhat more recent (and less appalling) novel of mine. I wonder what the ancient peoples who made me become a writer were trying to tell us about the letters “-eeps.”
In mid-July, Justine and I also had the great pleasure of teaching at Alpha, a residential sf, fantasy, and horror writing workshop for teenagers (basically, a week-and-a-half-long genre writing camp). The young writers and the staff there were smart, committed, and tremendously stylish, as you can see here:
We had a great time. The awesomeness of the students makes me think we’ll do more teaching of this kind in the future. Watch this space for details.
Also, there was a waffle tower. I haz proof:
From there, I traveled onward to San Diego Comic Con, the premier geekfest of our time. There I had many and wondrous business meetings, which you will see the fruits of soon right here. Also many costumes were witnessed. The best of which was Sharknado Hat:
I also enjoyed this shirtless steampunk dinosaur hunter (based on a Greg Broadmoor comic, I think):
Also witnessed were a cavalcade of capitalism aimed directly at the geek dollar, like these bathrobes:
And these leggings:
So let me get this straight. These are Dr Who-themed leggings in the style of van Gogh. In the words of Tally Youngblood, isn’t that one thing too many? (Nah. It’s probably one thing too few. And, yes, I know the reference from the show.)
After SDCC, Justine and I spent a week in LA, where various meetings were had. Some of these shall be the subject of my next blog post. But no, there is no fresh movie news of consequence. The usual movie options are afoot, but the feet in question are slow moving. Sorry to disappoint you. The wheel of Hollywood turns slowly, but it grinds exceedingly fine. (Not really. It usually grinds pretty crappily. But it does grind onward in the case of Uglies and Leviathan. We shall see.)
Okay, more about the trip in a week or so. I’ll be blogging here more often, because I’m almost done with Afterworlds. Thanks to all of you who’ve stuck around and enlivened the comments section while I’ve been writing.
I have three appearances at MWF this August. If you’re in Melbourne, now might be a good time to book them. (The first appears to be sold out already.)
NOTE: The MWF brochure says that adults can only come to school events if they are accompanying a child. On the website, however, you can just buy an “Extra Adult” ticket alone. Or, you can just rent a kid. I’m not sure anyone will actually kick you out either way.
Tuesday 27 Aug 2013 at 12.30 pm
Scott Westerfeld grew up surrounded by science and technology. It’s no wonder that his books – including Uglies, Leviathan, Midnighters and Peeps – are shaped by science. Find out what makes his stories tick, and how science can be a novelist’s best friend.
Wednesday 28 Aug 2013 at 10.00 am
THE STEAMPUNK WORLD OF LEVIATHAN
The Leviathan trilogy is set in a steampunk World War I. The books even look like they were published in 1914, when almost all books were illustrated, even books for adults. Tour this extraordinarily rich world with the perfect guide, author Scott Westerfeld.
Venue: Deakin Edge
Code: 1701; Age: Year 5-8
Wednesday 28 Aug 2013 at 12.30 pm
SCIENCE FICTION SCIENCE FACT
Scott Westerfeld and Michael Pryor talk about the inventions and ideas first put forward in fiction, later proved to be fact – or wildly off the mark. Who is the better guide: scientist or novelist? Or does the future rely on both?
Back in the sepia-toned days of early 2005—before Twitter, T-Pain, or even Twilight—I published a book called Uglies. Of course, back in those days, we didn’t call them books. We called them codexes, but it was much the same object: a quantity of papyrus that told a story.
Anyway, back then, book trailers weren’t really a thing. Trailers were for movies (which we called flicker-shows) or sometimes for videogames (which were collectively known as Pong). So Uglies was unleashed into the world with only the whispers of a few score Simon & Schuster sales reps (or bookmongers, as we knew them) to guide its passage.
By the time my next big series, Leviathan, hit bookstores in 2009, trailers were all the rage. So this beautiful example was created, and has since been viewed over half a million times. And yet Uglies remained untrailered.
Many of you sought to correct this imbalance by creating your own Uglies trailers, like this one, this one, this one, or this one. All of which are pretty (heh) cool.
But the time has come for Uglies to have its own official trailer!
So here it is at last: Uglies, the trailer!
If you know any other unofficial Uglies trailers, please link to them in the comments!
As the guy who wrote Uglies, there are certain kinds of news stories that are forwarded to me by everyone. Hi-tech tattoos, bizarre plastic surgery, stuff that hovers, and of course anything having to do with beauty. So it was no surprise that a recent story about the Miss Korea contest flooded my inbox.
The basic story went like this: Plastic surgery is so prevalent in South Korea that all the contestants in their national beauty contest look freakishly alike. Look, we haz proof!
And yes, I will admit that this is a somewhat chilling image. With a few exceptions, it looks like twenty photos of the same woman dressed and styled a bit differently. And yes, the South Korean appetite for plastic surgery is large. According to this NY Times article, about 20% of women there have had some sort of cosmetic procedure. These are true facts.
But whenever you run into a story like this one, that depends so heavily on a telling photographic image, please remember one simple rule: photographs aren’t real.
Photographs are artifacts of technology, records of specific combinations of light, lens, and angle. Photographs are easily manipulated. Photographs are two-dimensional representations of a 3-D world. Photographs can be more or less accurate, but they are never the whole story.
Take the worst photo ever taken of you and compare it to the best ever taken. Do they look even remotely like the same person?
For that matter, pick up your phone and take a photo of yourself right now. Then walk to a different part of your room and take another. Same place, same hair, same clothes, but often these two photos will look completely different. Not because you photoshopped them or cheated in some other way, but simply because the living, breathing, moving reality of you got sliced into two different tiny moments of time.
The forces of light, shadow, and expression morphed you into two different versions of yourself. Neither of which was real, because photographs aren’t real! Using a single image to reflect a real human being is like describing a lush, complex novel in a sentence. Sometimes you can tell which which book someone’s talking about, but a whole lot goes missing.
Back to our Korean beauty queens. Here are two of them before and after hair, make-up, and photoshopping got involved:
I say again: photographs aren’t real.
Korea doesn’t have some mass convergence of facial phenotypes caused by cosmetic surgery. Maybe they will one day, and maybe in certain social circles there one can spot noticeable similarities. But all we have proof of here is a particular aesthetic of hair, make-up, and photoshoppery associated with a particular beauty contest.
There is no emergency. Return to your homes, Crims.
(The before-and-after images first appeared on Ilbe, and as far as I can tell, reached the English-speaking infosphere on koreaBANG. Thanks to both for this valuable service.)
So whenever you read about a scientific study on beauty that relied on people rating photographs (as I did while writing Uglies), or see a story about how bloated or haggard some poor celebrity has become, or come across at photos that make you feel bad about yourself, just remember . . .
Photographs aren’t real. But you are.
On a COMPLETELY UNRELATED NOTE, here is my new author photo! I haven’t done one in ten years, and given that I just turned fifty, I figured it was time.
In the interest of full disclosure, I offer you the image before and after it was slightly retouched by my sister-in-law, noted visual effects artist Niki Bern, and include my notes to her.
Please do not actually USE that one as my author’s photo.
Instead, go with this version:
photo by Niki Bern, 2013
Everyone has permission to use this in all media forever. A bigger one can be found here.
As a reminder, here’s one of my interviews with Alan about the books:
Also, on Monday morning, US time, there will be another low-price offer for another of my books, which I’ll announce right here. I’m not allowed to tell you till then, so come back Monday!
The first book of the Midnighters series is on sale to Kindle readers for $1.99 (US only.) Click here to buy it. Monday, May 20 ONLY. So act fast.
Last night I had a great time at the Aurealis Awards in Sydney. And I’ll be appearing at the Sydney Writer’s Festival next week. On Saturday, May 25, at 11:30AM, I’ll be on a panel with Lauren Beukes, David M. Henley, and James Bradley.
What is speculative fiction, and where do the boundaries start to blur between genres and sub-genres? Have the classic genres changed now that we live in a world where technology has caught up?
When I was at Adelaide Writers Week last month, I did an extended interview with Sean Williams, who writes the Trouble Twisters series with Garth Nix. The ABC was kind enough to film the talk and put it online.
I talk about Uglies, Leviathan and the history of illustrations, living with another writer, from whence inspiration comes, my other books, and pretty much everything else writerly. It’s a whole hour long!
Hope you enjoy it. Thanks to Adelaide Writers Week for having me, to everyone who asked questions, to the ABC, and to Sean for being a great interviewer.
I don’t have a book out this year, so I won’t be on any sort of tour. But I will be traveling around a bit and doing a few live appearances (mostly in Australia) so it makes sense to list everything in one place for easy linkage. And this is that place.
Here are all my known appearances in 2013. I will update this page as things change. Note that Justine will be at many of these things.
I’ll be doing a presentation about Leviathan and the history of illustrated novels on Friday (April 26) at 5:00PM, Event Room One. (And otherwise hanging out, so come say hi.) Conference site.
INTERNET DEAD ZONE
I am turning off my internet for this whole week. Get off my lawn!
May 18, 7PM
I’ll be hosting the ceremony for these yearly awards for Australian fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Hopefully I will be funny. Click here for details.
Sydney Writer’s Festival
Saturday, May 25, 11:30AM
I’ll be on a panel with Lauren Beukes, David M. Henley, and James Bradley. What is speculative fiction, and where do the boundaries start to blur between genres and sub-genres? Have the classic genres changed now that we live in a world where technology has caught up?
This is free and no bookings required. Event details.
Alpha Teen Workshop
I’ll be teaching at this week-long writing seminar for teenagers. Admissions for the workshop are closed, but there will probably be a bookstore appearance in Pittsburgh. Check back here for details about that, or at the Alpha site.
San Diego Comic-Con
I’ll be hanging out here and getting into trouble. They might make me do a panel or two. Check back here for details, or at the con site.
Melbourne Writer’s Festival
I’ll be here and doing stuff. Details not set yet, but you can always check back here or on the festival site.
Brisbane Writers Festival
I’ll be here too! Details following. Festival site
All in all that’s a fair amount of travel, but nothing like when I go on tour. I’m kind of glad to be mostly hanging out at home and writing.
But next year i’m planning to have a book out, so who knows . . .
MONDAY MARCH 4, 5PM
EAST STAGE Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden Highways to a War: A Reading
War stories are among our oldest narratives and this session of readings will explore some of our more recent wars. Christopher Koch has taken us to Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Peter Robb has introduced us to the mean streets of Italy and Brazil. Tom Keneally has chronicled both the World Wars. Scott Westerfeld explores an alternative First World War and Ross McMullin chronicles the letters home.
It looks like I’ll be doing a reading for this second one, and with Tom Keneally! (AKA the guy who wrote Schindler’s Ark.) Click here for more.
Writing boot camps are workshops where you live for a week (or several) and focus completely on the written word. It’s a very intense experience, one that can change your writing style, your relationship to books, and even your life. Some famous camps like Clarion list many famous writers as their alums.
The most well-known SF and fantasy writing camp for teenagers is called Alpha, and takes place every July in Pittsburgh. It’s ten days altogether, including eight days of workshops and two days of attending Confluence a literary sf convention nearby.
I’ve blogged about Alpha before, but this year, I willl be teaching there, along with Tamora Pierce and Theodora Goss. If you want to apply, submissions are open now.
To quote Alpha:
We’re looking for enthusiastic, talented young writers who have a strong interest in science fiction, fantasy and/or horror and a passion for writing. Students from anywhere in the world are welcome. In the past, students have attended Alpha from Canada, the United Kingdom, all over the United States, and even as far away as New Zealand.
Learn about writing and publishing. Meet other teens who share your interest in writing speculative fiction. Talk about short stories, novels, and films. Have your submission story critiqued. Brainstorm new story ideas, write a first draft, receive feedback, and rewrite. Attend readings by the authors. Do a public reading. Learn about submitting for publication, and send off your story at our manuscript mailing party.
2013 will be Alpha’s twelfth year. Previous attendees have placed in the Dell Magazines Award and Writers of the Future contests, and have sold stories to Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Cicada, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Nature Futures, Pseudopod and more.
Workshop tuition is $1100 and includes all workshop-related costs, but does not include transportation to and from Pittsburgh, or hotel/meals at the Confluence Convention. A limited pool of scholarship funding is available for students in need of financial aid.
Here are some testimonials from previous students.
Hey, I’ve been lazy again (in all things, not just blogging) but fortunately, I have lots of lovely photos from my travels to show you. Posting photos is a bit easier than writing actual words, after all.
First, however, here’s some cool Russian cosplay for you.
These folks are doing Leviathan, complete with a plush hydrogen sniffer!
This first set are from Hungary, in fact. Got these emails while I was in Brazil and didn’t keep track. They’re from the Hungarian Steampunk and Anachronist Society, and you can see more pics on my Hungarian publisher’s FB page here, here, and here. (Thank you, Lorant in the comments! And thanks to Ad Astra, my publisher in Hungary.)
I like Deryn’s and Alek’s many leather accessories. Great boots, too.
They did this shoot in a cool old steampunk-ish warehouse, which you can see some of here:
I don’t know if there’s something going on in Russia, but around the same time, I also got some Russian Midnighters cosplay. Here’s Melissa:
And all three of the girls:
And a different Jessica (from a different group? This all came in on the same day. What’s going on in Russia? Some sort of Westerfeldian cosplay convention?):
Anyway, I love all these character interpretations. Well done, Ruskies. [And HUngarians!]
More photos soon. (See, Scott? That wasn’t so hard. You can DO this.)
Turns out I didn’t post for our whole six weeks away in St Louis, Las Vegas, New York and South America. It was a very awesome and exhausting trip. But sorry to leave you hanging.
Luckily, good times were had by all, and were well documented, so there are a ton of cool pictures and videos to share with you. Spoiler alert: Brazilian fans are very awesome.
At this exact moment, however, I’m jetlagged to buggery, and will share with you just this one amazing thing.
On our flight from Rio, Brazil to Santiago, Chile, Justine tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out the window. (She is a window sitter and I am an aisle-ist. Is there any more perfect marriage?) Outside, somewhere over Argentina, was a huge anvil of clouds, its structure revealed by the lightning flickering and flailing within.
It was a very big and violent thing to witness, especially from the fragile vantage of a flying machine. But any nerviness was totally outweighed by old-fashioned awe.
My iPad camera I managed to capture a fraction of what it looked like:
Still traveling, but here are some things you might want to see:
That’s right, there is now a paperback boxed set of Leviathan! Collect them all, or just throw them at people. (Very heavy, with sharp corners.)
Part 2 of the Uglies graphic novel is out December 4, and I haz cover flats!
I am excited.
And finally, Leviathan is out in Brazil . . . with subway ads! I am fancy in South America, it seems.
Note that Justine and I will be down in Brazil next weekend! A rough schedule follows:
4:00 pm – Presentation at Cine Livraria Cultura (room 2). About Leviatã and books with pictures. With simultaneous translation.
5:00 pm – Signing session at Livraria Cultura (ground floor), with Scott Westerfeld (Leviatã, Ugly and others) and Justine Larbalestier (Zumbis x Unicórnios)
Address: LIVRARIA CULTURA – Conjunto Nacional – Av. Paulista, 2073
2:30 pm – Debate at Livraria da Vila with the public about Zumbis x Unicórnios. With Justine Larbalestier and author Fábio Yabu. Moderator: Ana Lima. With simultaneous translation.
3:30 pm – Signing session
Address: LIVRARIA DA VILA – Rua Fradique Coutinho, 915 / 11 3814-9954
7:00 pm – Signing session at Livraria Cultura/RJ with Scott and Justine.
Address: Livraria Cultura – São Conrado Fashion Mall Shopping Center, 2nd floor
More details following, including (maybe) another event in Rio!
UPDATE This meet-up went from 7PM-8:30PM US Eastern time, 10AM-11:30AM Sydney time, October 20-21, 2012.
You can click here to read all the questions and cross-talk, or you can just read my answers below. (Sorry for the slapdash formatting. I was typing pretty fast.)
Here’s a question! What color are Deryns eyes?
Hmm. They’re blue, right?
I’d like to know any tips you have on approaching edits/revisions.
1) Read your work out loud, even to yourself.
2) Let someone else read it and have them tell you the story. In other words, test to see how well they understand it.
3) Add zombies!
Also, Scott, do you know you are awesome?xp
Like most people, some days I do, some days i don’t.
But Justine chimes in: “Yes, he really does know he’s awesome. Don’t be worried about that.”
Ummm….what’s up with this new book you briefly mentioned a few blog posts ago?
I’m about 50,000 words into it, having just rewritten the first few chapters. It’s two novels interlaced with each other, kind of like the way Peeps had a non-fiction book interlaced with it.
Scott! ? I begged my way out of dinner with my grandparents for this ?
They will forgive you. Protip: Grandparents always do.
Brazil is looking foward to meet you in November. Are you going to just be only signing books or are you preparing something else?
I’m doing some speaking about Leviathan. With slides!
So there will be a tour soon? ?
Not till my next book comes out. Brazil is just now getting Leviathan (and Zombies vs. Unicorns) so Justine and I are going down there.
Also, what’;s the scoop on Shay’s Story 2?
Comes out Dec 6, 2012. Six weeks-ish!
Any hints as to upcoming books? You haven’t been very active in terms of publishing since Goliath.
Yes, I have been lazy. Taking a brain-break, kind of.
Coming to DC anytime soon, Scott-la?
Also, can you give us any more details on the possible Midnighters TV show??? (I seriously like flipped out when I saw that post. I think my mother is a little worried with my sanity ?)
I don’t really know much. But I will blog when I do. I have started watching Chuck (those guys’ latest show) and it’s pretty good and quite funny.
Who are you voting for in the upcoming election?
Obama. (We have free healthcare for all citizens and residents down here in Australia, and it works much better than the US system.)
In addition to finishing your series of graphic novels, what other writing do you plan on doing?
See above! (The two interlaced novels.)
1) Do you remember me/recognize my name? We’ve made contact a couple of times before…If you say yes I’ll die, if no, I understand ?
I remember you all! (Well, more than you’d think.)
2) Although I know that some authors hate fanfic, you obviously don’t so will you read mine if I send it to you when I’m done? PLEASE IT IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN MOST AND IS LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER READ!!!!! (Although it’s not slash, your favorite apparently. Sorry…)
Who said slash was my favorite?? (It’s always interesting, though.) But sorry I hardy have time to read the books I’m supposed to blurb.
3) Did you know that you contradict you own rule regrading wa and la? Shay says “Hey Skinny-wa” to Tally during the ice rink scene in Pretties. I can’t find the page number because I don’t have Pretties now, but I swear it’s true.
Whenever stuff like that happens, the answer is: BRAIN LESIONS.
Do you have any theories as to why it seems that most YA authors lean more towards the left, politically speaking? (for instance, you, john green, cassandra clare…)
I think artists in general lean toward the left. thanks to a tendency to see the world from many points of view, rather than the U-S-A, U-S-A point of view. (A cartoonish way to say it, but I’m in a hurry here.)
Here’s a question.. How did you get the “different verison” of the WW1 idea?
Do you like Doctor Who?
It’s not really a thing for me. I’ve only watched one or two eps in my whole life. (One really old, one new.)
Im trying to write a steampunk comic book, and so do you have any tips for writing an awesome steampunk story?
Steampunk thrives on lots of research. Learn about Victorian era science!
Bluebells and Roses my favorite bunny-loving member wanted me to ask you what your favorite kind of bagel is?
EVERYTHING. (Or garlic.)
What is Hoffman’s first name? He is awesome, but I don’t know what his name is!
Um, that’s in the book, right? (I never know this stuff.)
Also, do you like Legend of Korra?
IT IS THE BEST.
SCOTT-LA DUDE BRO GUY. BOXERS OR BRIEFS?
Recently changed to briefs.
Also, me and my boyfriend are planning on getting married in Germany (where he‘s from). Would you like to attend our wedding?
THAT MIGHT BE WEIRD.
What’s fitzroys first name? And if you hadn’t decided, can it be Harold?
It’s Robert, because he’s named after the captain of the Beagle, the ship Charles Darwin traveled on.
1) Did you ever figure out EXACTLY how fabrication worked? As in, the how the DNA was extracted, modified, and then reinserted?
2) If you did, could you explain the process to me?
3) Do all fabs come from eggs, or just the small ones like lorises? What about the larger ones, like sniffers and the Leviathan?
They all come from eggs. Some eggs are wicked big.
4) Do Darwin’s Laws of Fabrication apply to all Darwinist countries or just Britain? In other words, is it possible for, say, America, or Russia, or even Japan to create fabricated humans now that the war has “gotten real”, so to speak?
That would totally make good fan fic.
5) Regarding Uglies; any reason you chose Seattle as the Rusty Ruins?
Was LA, but then global warming made me have to move it north to keep the climate right. Plus, there’s good architecture in Seattle.
6) Have you checked out the Pretties RP I’ve been doing on here? (Probably won’t ask that but I want to XD)
No. Sounds cool, though.
7) What would be the best way to take out a Special OTHER than the electrofied arrow trick in Specials? (Gas, high powered rifles, rockets, direct impact from a moving vehicle, etc)
Irony is always the best weapon against facism.
Favorite historic time period?
Twenty years from now.
As everyone else is probably dying and wanting to know, what can you tell us on the progress of the Uglies movie? The last update we heard was that a draft of the script was being turned in at the time The Hunger Games had been released (:
That is also the last I heard. BUT there will be an image from the visual effects lab involved (just a trial balloon) released soon.
Do you like David Bowie, Pink Floyd or Queen?
Bowie tons, Queen some, Floyd not so much,
Also, what’s Alek and Deryn’s birthdays/what season were they born in?
Argh I don’t know. But probably not between early June and Late December, or we would have seen them have a party.
I’m curious, was this an oversight on your and your editor’s part, or were Zane and Tally just a bit misinformed and got lucky when the metal got heated enough to become pliable?
Yeah, I think the whole plan was fairly pretty-minded, but they managed to make them pliable. Also: BRAIN-LESIONS.
How did you get your book published? Did you just summit the manuscript to a publisher or did you get an agent?
Got an agent first. This is always best. An agent knows which specific editor at a pub comany will like your book. If you send it in yourself, it just goes to a random editor. For example, if your book is abotu a space cat who solves crimes, your agent will know that Editor X owns five cats, and will read any book with cats in it with great enthusiasm. That’s why agents mostly live in NYC, so they can have lunch and find out who likes, cats.
scott how often do you spy on us? ?
On the WesterForum, very rarely. In real life, only when you’re outside.
Ps… do you remember that one time with that email I sent you with the news story? That stil makes me laugh
This I do not remember. SORRY.
If you could live in any era besides the current, which would it be?
Scott, what makes you decide between titling your chapters, numbering them or both? what are the benefits for each?
Chapter titles are hard, but they’re a good way to create anticipation. (A chapter called, “A Mysterious Explosion” will be read with a certain amount of anxiety.) However, a surprosing number of readers don’t look at chapter titles.
Chapter numbers are good for readers to refer to when talking about your books to each other.
Another question: Do you like the idea of Volger and Barlow being together?
I think it is inevitable that people will ship them, even though Barlow is married. They do match each other very well.
Will you be coming to Vic, Australia any time in the next 12 months?
I was just there for a wedding. But for an event, I’m not sure. I am doing the Adelaide Writer’s Festival in March, though.
What is your view on cliches in writing and how to avoid them (if they’re avoidable at all?)
As I said above, reading your work aloud will make the cliches (and other crappinnesses) more obvious to you.
If you could choose…..which Disney movie would you love to be a character in?
Anything where I can fly. So that’s probably Aladdin, or I have to be Mary Poppins.
Ok Well I just got a boyfriend Friday(<3), I am 14, how old were you when you got your first Girlfriend/(I don’t know if you are/were bisexual/bicurious when you were younger so)Boyfriend?
Congrats! My first serious gf was when I was . . . 15? But there were all these non-serious girlfriends before that. I was pretty crap at defining things until, like, age 27.
If you come to New York (like the Albany area) and I came to a real life meet-up would you rather me wear my “Special Circumstances” t-shirt or “Free Hugs” t-shirt? ?
1) Which series of books are you most satisfied with?
The Leviathan series. Usually the most recent books please me most. (Just as I’m sure your parents like the youngest child in your family best.) ((HAHA JUST KIDDING)) (((Kind of.)))
2) Is/was it difficult writing the point of view from the opposite gender?
Not really. I think teenage girls think more about what they’re feeling than teenage boys, so it’s kind of easier to write from their POV, regardless of my own gender.
Why did you choose Clankers and Darwinists; why not another thing?
WHAT OTHER THING IS THERE? WWI was kind of collision between metal and flesh (first war with tanks, etc.) so I wanted to make that more literal.
Leivathan is quite different than Uglies series,why did you prefer that subject?
I LIKE ZEE AIRSHIPS.
Are you coming to Michigan or Ohio any time soon? You did once in the fall of 2010, which was an abnormally cold fall/winter and it’s not always like that so don’t be afraid to come back!
No US tours for a while. I haz no books out.
Do people ever say anything rude to you about you being a writer?
In person? Usually not. But concerned adults write me all the time about whatever in my books. (Cutting in Uglies, alcohol in Uglies, the fact that pipe smoking is MENTIONED BRIEFLY in Leviathan, evolution being discussed. Apparently you are all VERY IMPRESSIONABLE.)
I don’t have any questions, but I just wanted to say hi.
BACk AT YOU.
Will you make a Europe tour?
Don’t know. No plans at the moment, alas.
When Behemoth will be finished in Turkey???
It isn’t yet? Hmm. Maybe the publisher is concerned about the Armenian heroine. You should write them and ask.
My brother just asked me to ask you if Deryn and Alek ever went back to Turkey or Japan.
Definitely. They travel the world solving things!
Scott, I always felt that Shay was maybe a little bit in love with Tally. Do you think that’s true?
Pretty much. Robin Wasserman’s essay in Mind-Rain is pretty good on this theory.
Will you ever come to Canada? Like, Ottawa or Toronto?
I did a few years ago. Sorry I’ve only gone to Vancouver lately.
You live near Ohio/Michigan Luna? I didn’t know.
I live in NYC and Sydney.
Do you like haunted houses?
Never been in one.
Does Dr. Cable have black hair or really dark brown hair? Or is she blonde?
I THINK IT IS DARK.
Why does Lilit call Nene the Turkish word for “grandmother” if their family are Armenians?
It’s also used in Armenian communities in Turkey.
- How important is religion in the Leviathan universe with regard to the Clanker/Darwinist thing? Is it a general rule of thumb that Clankers = Catholics & Muslims and Darwinists = Protestants?
There’s probably a loose correlation, yeah. But not a rule. (I mean, the Russians are more Catholic than not, and they’re Darwinists.)
- Do you know if the Netherlands is Clanker or Darwinist?
Hmm. I’d have to think about that.
- And finally, do you know if the Russian Revolution happens in the Leviathan universe?
It does not! But hopefully they became a nice democracy at some point.
- Oh, and properly finally, is there a chance you might be doing some kind of UK/European tour at some point in the future ever?
No plans. (The answer to all tour questions from now on is “I don’t know and no tours are planned.”)
1. why did you come up with a romance with zane in pretties?
That was an accident. I just had him as kind of an interesting character, and then sparks flew between them.
3. is there going to be an uglies movie?
Also, if the Midnighter‘s TV show does become a reality, what song(s) would you like to play during the opening/ closing credits?
Hmm. THIS IS A GREAT QUESTION AND I DON’T KNOW.
Heading down to New Zealand any time soon?
Argh no more tour quessies answered, but Justine and I MIGHT go to that Aukland festival in the next two years.
I know this question might be a little annoying, but do Alek and Deryn get married after the series ends?
Another question! When did the Clanker vs. Darwinist thing first emerge in the Leviathan universe? Does it go way back, or is pretty new?
It is my thing!
Scott-la, have you seen the show Revolution? If so, what are your thoughts on it?
I haven’t watched it yet. TV shows in post-breakdown worlds always seem cheesy to me, and I am afraid it will suck.
OUt of all the places that you’ve visited on tours…..which has been your favourite?
Bologna, Italy, BECAUSE OF THE TRUFFLES.
What do you think about Slender Man?
WHAT IS THIS???
Scott-la, are you a nerdfighter?
John and Hank are pals, but I don’t watch their videos. So I guess not.
Also, do you ship Borra or Makorra?
Strangely, I have no opinion on this. I just want to be Korra’s best friend for ever and ever.
Leviathan: The Movie……could it ever be a possibility?
A certain big movie star wants to make it but we can never guess the future.
Is Volger and his mustache behind the “I <3 Mustache” movement?
He planted the seeds long ago.
Do you follow any sports? If so, what sports.
Basketball and cricket. GO FEVER.
Scott: I named my puppy (Zane) after your book character (and a friend we know..) anywho… He turned out to be quite the handful. In case you were wondering, Australian Shepherd are a lot of work
All pets are work, because all relationships are work! This is the truth that they teach us.
How did you come up with the Wa and La thing anyway?
Based it on Japanese name suffixes. There’s a post on my blog about it somewhere. (Search on “suffix”.)
I was wondering if you had any advise for an aspiring actor/writer with confidence issues?
Hang out with people who make you feel good about yourself. Avoid the opposite.
Someone should name a dog “Smoke”
So did Dr. Cable officially start Special Circumstances in her city?
Nope. It had been around for a while, and she rose through the ranks and made it even moreso.
What your new book is about?
SECRET! But half of it’s a paranormal romance.
Crap so even elephantines come from eggs….
Scott-la as caring human being, I want to know–how are you doing today?
Slightly hungover from dinner party with Isobel Carmody last night. But enjoying you guys.
Do you think Alek and Deryn were annoying as little kids?
Deryn more than Alek.
What inspires you??
How cool the world is.
How do you get an agent?
There are many books and websites about this! (And always check out Writer Beware.)
Do you like Iron Man?
I loved the comics when I was little. The first movie was good. Not exactly waiting with baited breath for the next, though.
Has anyone offered to make a Risen Empire movie?
It comes up occasionally, but no one’s ever optioned it.(But thanks!)
Did you have any fictional girlfriends as a child? (I have 27 and a half fictional boyfriends- including Alek, Davd, and Zane)
Hmm. I must have. There was a cartoon about Aladdin and there was a really cute girl in it. This is as far as my memory goes.
How do you feel about being in the “Steampunk genre”? Are you into the steampunk subculture? If so, what do you like about it?
There’s lots of really interesting discussions about colonialism, race, and science in sp culture, and I also like people making their own costumes from scratch. (That is, not based on a particular character. In sp, people tend to roll their own.)
Do you think that, on their way to Switzerland, Alek and his men played roadtrip-like games to pass the time?
Hmm. I think they did tutoring things, like fencing lessons.
Uglies’s Story is going to be realease in somewhere else outside EUA?
I don’t think so. No translations have sold.
Do you like fan fiction that is really crazy and off the wall?
you said you spent part of your time in New York. out of sheer curiosity, what part? i hope this isn’t too stalker-ish…
1) please co-write something with Brandon Mull. he’s pretty cool.
I actually haven’t read him. And I am not well-built for collaboration.
2) something about younger adolescent children? maybe 13 year olds?
Hmm. Middle grade is really hard for me, for some reason.
If you could live in any of the universes you created, which one and why?
About how often do quotes from reviews you write appear on the books?
I blurb two or three books a year. (Out of 20 or so that I’m sent.)
Also Leviathan was nominated for the South Carolina Young Adult book award a few years ago. Congrats.
Also, which do you like better, Batman, Spiderman, or Superman?
Spider. Bat. Super. In that order. (And Spider-man has a hyphen!)
What’s your favourite David Bowie album. Mine’s a tie between Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Station to Station.
YOU ARE CORRECT IN THIS ASSESSMENT OF BOWIE’S WORK. (Probably Station to Station just wins.)
AGH yes I was wondering where in NYC scott lived so I can stalk him…
As a writer do you find it flattering that people have a lot of interest seeing your work being brought to a visual platform (tv, movies)?
I’m all about the money.
ON THAT NOTE! DC or Marvel??
Grew up Marvel, but adulthood has leaned toward DC.
Can I make up Hoffman’s first name?
Also, Scott, you’re awesome for taking time to do the meet ups!
You are all awesome for your enthusiasm!
Do you go on tumblr?
I do not myself tumbl. But I do look at others’.
Também sou brasileira, Cristina. Se precisar de ajuda, é só falar.
If I want to become a writer do I have to leave my nice comfortable Winter wonderland/God forsaking land where poplar bears dwell and move to NY or some big city?
No. Writers can live everywhere. It’s our superpower.
WAS HOFFMAN CALLED HOFFMAN BECAUSE OF FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST??
And I think that you should have justine get on and do a meetup with you sometime… ? (And hey, maybe you could just make it an author party… and invite other epic peeps too…… Just a thought
Hmm. Maybe next time she has a book out.
Scott I know from writing and reading YA books that it’s really hard to make cool human main characters, WHY IS THIS?! And you seem to have gotten better that it Deryn> Tally how did you manage to do this?
This is the mystery of fictional people. HOW ARE THEY SO COOL THEY AREN’T EVEN REAL?
What is working for the Society like?
Lousy pay, but quite exciting.
Also, new book: 1 protagonist, 2, or eight, and are they boys/girls/aliens of indeterminate gender?
Two protags, both female.
And even if you are satisfied more with Leviathan, I just want to say that Uglies is better in every way…
THIS IS YOUR RIGHT AS A READER.
Inspiration to write in the first place?
My family are good storytellers.
HE PROBABLY KNOWS WHAT MY TUMBLR IS (i’m so so so sorry scott if so)
Now I will go look for it.
There’s an interview that you said your new book would be a meta-paranormal romance. Is that right? What does it means?
YOU WILL HAVE TO GUESS FOR NOW.
1. how did you come up with a relationship with zane in pretties
Like I said, it was an accident.
2. is there going to be an uglies movie???
THIS IS A POSSIBILITY.
How did you get the idea to have Dr Barlow as a character in the Leviathan series?
I always liked her as a real historical person.
What would Alek and Deryn think about Legend of Korra if they ever watched it?
Deryn would love it. Alek would be, all, wha?
Also, *gives you a piece of virtual strawberry rhubarb pie*
So what did Lilit do after Goliath? (Meet Adela and fall in love is my best guess.)
I think the two of them work for the Zoological Society.
Why did u decide to give David a complex haircut in the manga? He’s never been to a barber so shouldn’t he have kind of crazy person hair?
That haricut was supposed to look a bit hand-done. Like with a knife.
Dr. Barlow mentions on a number of occasions that she thinks the lorises are “defective” in the books. Was this her attempt at humour, or did she actually imagine them differently? If so, how different were her expectations for them?
She didn’t expect Bovril to bond to two people, because that’s only supposed to happen if the two people are in love. BUT SHE DIDN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT IT MEANT.
Where did you get your ideas for the Risen Empire?
From all the space operas ever.
Did Volger ever have a girlfriend?
This is unclear. He seems to be a fairly confirmed bachelor.
Right now I sent a lot of mails to the Publisher in Turkey
Let me know what they say!
I’d like to know what dystopian books inspired you.
Hmm. Movies like Mad Max, and books like 1984. And all the sf ever.
hey scott, it is against copyright laws if i were to make a t-shirt with a picture from one of the Leviathan books on? like a screen-printed over the internet one? i totally understand if it’s not, but if that’s the case, you should make official ones for us :3
It’s kind of against copyright law but if you only make 1 they will not arrest you.
Which vegetable would you rather be, a carrot or a zucchini?
Carrot. Because they’re smarter than zucchini and easier to spell.
My friend Cate would like to know what became of Jaspert Sharp? If you’re not too overwhelmed with questions that is.
He served his country well and became the captain of an airbeast one day. The end.
Oh, also, why do none of your book pairings say ‘i love you’ to each other? (off the top of my head, at least, I can’t remember any mutual exchange of the words.)
Doesn’t Zane say it to Tally? (But she doesn’t say it back, is what you mean.) That’s true. Maybe it’s more interesting that way?
Do you have an easier time coming up with main or side characters?
Side characters are much easier. They can be funny, without carrying all the weight. (Like being a cool uncle is easier than being a cool parent.)
everybody who ships adelit JOIN HANDS
*joins prayer circle*
do you like tea? if so what’s your favorite kind?
Chamomile and hibiscus.
The author of Percy Jackson said you need a well paying side job if you want to be a writer, is that true for the world or just in the U.S?
Everywhere. (Although Rick clearly does not need a side job.)
Scott, you’re awesome. Just saying. Also, what is your favorite Crime/mystery show?
Um, Fringe. (Is usually pretty crimey.)
Does anyone else ship Tazza and a random hydrogen sniffer?
No. No one does that.
I like the idea of Bovril and loris #2.
They are brood siblings!
What is your dream school? (doesn’t have to be a school that actually exists)
Hmm. A school where I learn all the languages every spoke, but in my sleep.
Why do you like garlic bagels so much?
Garlic is delicious. And it cures all diseases. (NOTE: GARLIC DOES NOT CURE ALL DISEASES.)
About 1 month ago you told me on Twitter that might come to Brazil soon. You told me to stay tuned. Is there something already programmed or is it just a desire of yours?
I’ll be there in late November. Sao Paulo November 24-25. Rio November 27-28. Watch my blog for more details, and these dates might slightly shift.
Thanks for answering our questions, I was texting my mom the play-by-play as she’s a big fan. (I got her to read your books hehe) I am ze winner. She says hi
At the last minute on a Friday afternoon, you and a few friends decide to go camping in the nearby lake district. You throw together a few sleeping bags, one tent, some food, and a few extra clothes. Sure, you’re not the most experienced campers, but you’re going to have fun anyway.
The drive is longer than you think, thanks to some bad navigation and car trouble, so it’s almost midnight when you arrive at the campsite. You eat a cold meal, erect a somewhat shambolic tent, and then all crawl in together for a good night’s sleep. Not a brilliant start to your mini-vacation, but tomorrow is going to be awesome.
The problem is, you’ve managed to pitch your tent right over a rather large rock, which you somehow didn’t notice in the darkness. And now it’s in the middle of your back. The tent’s a bit too crowded to avoid this rock. So finally you climb out, ignoring the protests of your friends, and reach beneath the tent to retrieve it.
And here’s the weird thing: trapped beneath the rock was a piece of paper.
You take this paper back into the tent, where you all crowd around it with a flashlight. It’s a hand-scrawled note that says . . .
a) “I’ll be back just after midnight.”
b) “Here lies Rusty, who asked too many questions.”
c) “This place is plagued with midges.”
d) Put your own story-starting note in the comments thread below!
Don’t forget the meet-up over at the Westerforum. I’ll be there to answer all your questions (within human limits).
Here are the details:
October 20, 2012
7PM Eastern US/4PM US West Coast
Sunday morning at 10AM in Sydney
A year after Chuck ended its run, the cult dramedy’s creators Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz have reunited for Midnighters, a drama based on the Alloy sci-fi/fantasy book trilogy by Scott Westerfeld. This time, Fedak is the sole writer on the project, which is being produced by Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire, Alloy Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television. Midnighters, which has received a script commitment, is a drama centered on a small group of people all born at the stroke of midnight who have access to the 25th hour of the day. Fedak, Schwartz and Savage executive produce with Fake Empire’s Len Goldstein and Alloy’s Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo. The Midnighters book series includes The Secret Hour (2004), Touching Darkness (2005) and Blue Noon (2006).
Of course, a “script commitment” means exactly that: a commitment that a script will get written. If this script isn’t good, that will be that. But if it’s good, then you’d get a pilot commitment, and if that’s good, some episodes . . . and thus you’d have a TV SHOW!
Well, TV moves faster than publishing. So if things work out, we could be seeing an actual Midnighters show a year from now, along with the other new shows of 2013.
Do I have any involvement with this? No one’s asked me to help. (I have less control over Midnighters than my other “properties,” for reasons too boring to go into here.) But I will be snarking from the sidelines, at least.
Some of you may remember that the Midnighters TV show was a thing back in 2007. They wanted to age the characters up to their “mid- to late-twenties,” which I thought was a silly idea, and wrote this blog post about it.
But that version didn’t happen, like most things don’t happen. (Look out your window, As you can see, no plane crash just happened. Proof that MOST THINGS DON’T HAPPEN.*) And hopefully, there will be no aging up of Dess, Rex, Jonathan, Melissa, and Jessica in this version either.
Because 25-year-olds sneaking out at midnight—not magical.
Luckily, I’ve heard that Chuck was a cool show. I’ll be taking a look at it, and will report back.
Watch this space for details about Mid-TV and all of my other “properties.” (Seriously, that’s what they call them in Hollywood. It’s like they’re playing Monopoly.)
In the meantime, let’s look at some lovely Midnighters fan art of yesteryear.
*If a plane crash did just happen out your window, that was spooky, and kind of tasteless of me. Sorry.
At last it is time for Fan Art Friday Tri-Weekly plus Fan Tea Friday!
You may have noticed a paucity of blogging lately here. That’s because I’ve been either ill (much better, thank you), lazy (incurable), or working hard (new novel!). But I haven’t forgotten you guys, I’m just trying to get stuff done and letting you talk amongst yourselves. Which you are good at.
Speaking of talking, I’m having a meet-up over at the Westerforum. I’ll be there to answer your many, many questions. Here are the details:
October 20, 2012
7PM Eastern US Time/4PM US West Coast
I’m actually not sure about the Australian or UK time for this meet-up, because the clocks are all changing these days. But Sunday morning in Oz and around midnight in Greenwich Mean. Hope to see you there!
Okay, it’s been too long without any fan art. But let us start with some fan tea.
That’s right, there is now a line of Leviathan teas by Callie Segotta. It’s from Adagio, a site that lets you mix your own teas. Like Cafe Press, but tea. Here’s the label for Dr. Emma Nora Barlow Tea:
There are also teas for Alek, Volger, Deryn, and Lilit:
Sorry I’ve been blogging less. Illness sucks. But please enjoy this essay that I wrote for the BookForumDystopia issue back in summer 2010. A few things in it are a tad out of date, obviously, but the basic ideas still seem pretty sound to me.
Teens and Dystopias
Literary dystopias flourish at the extremes of social control: the tyranny of too much government, the chaos of too little. Every 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 is balanced by a Mad Max or A Clockwork Orange. Or to put it simply, dystopian literature is just like high school: an oscillation between extremes of restraint.
Teenagers, of course, read dystopian novels in vast numbers. (As I write, Suzanne Collins’ post apocalyptic dictatorship novel, Hunger Games, has entered its eighty-first week atop the NY Times Chapter Book list.) This should surprise no one. Within school walls, students have reduced expectations of privacy (New Kersey v. TLO, 1980), no freedom of the press (Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, 1983), and their daily reality includes clothing restrictions, rising and sitting at the command of ringing bells, and an ever-increasing amount of electronic surveillance. But a few footsteps away from these 1984-like subjugations, the teenage world becomes Mad Max—warring tribes, dangerous driving, and unfortunate haircuts.
Teenagers’ lives are defined by rules, and in response they construct their identities through confrontations with authority, large and small. All this leaves teens highly interested in issues of control.
When I sat down to write the Uglies series in 2003, I didn’t intend to address these matters directly. I thought I was writing a somewhat nostalgic science fiction trilogy about body image and hoverboards. But a few million copies and roughly ten thousand pieces of fan mail later, I feel qualified to speak about teenagers and dystopias.
First a quick synopsis: Uglies is set three centuries after an “oil bug” has destroyed our present-day economy and all but erased our species. The descendants of the survivors live in isolated city states, ambiguous utopias whose citizens enjoy post-scarcity technologies and rigid government control. The title derives from this society’s coming-of-age tradition, in which teenage “uglies” undergo full-body plastic surgery to become “pretties,” simultaneously adult and beautiful. (And yes, there is a Twilight Zone episode along these lines, and about two dozen novels and short stories as well. As I said, this series was meant to be nostalgic.)
The protagonist of the trilogy, Tally Youngblood, is most notable for her shifting identities. By turns she takes the roles of vandal, government informer, outcast, runaway, prisoner, hedonist, enforcer, self-mutilator, and full-throated revolutionary. Her personality is reprogrammed several times, her memories frequently erased, her allegiances always suspect.
And yet the most common line in my fan mail is simply, “I am Tally.”
I think this is because teens recognize all the roles that Tally takes on. Schizophrenia, switching sides, and even betrayal (both of allies and of self) are natural responses to being bounced between extremes of control.
During my last book tour in the UK, the big tabloid story was a grandmother barred from a shopping arcade for wearing a hoodie. The management sheepishly explained that it was just a policy, and clearly not one aimed at grandmas. They didn’t have to say at whom it was aimed. After all, five little kids in a shop is cute. Five adults, good business. But when five teenagers gather, it’s time to make an arbitrary rule, or better yet to install a high-frequency sound device to drive them out.
Whatever teens embrace—whether it’s black hoodies, rap, texting, file-sharing, hoverboards, or fictional vampire boyfriends—is soon decried as a threat to civilization. And trust me, teenagers notice this adult discourse going on around them. They know they live in occupied territory.
They also realize that these social panics and excesses of control do little to protect them from their real problems. Censoring the school paper (or internet feed) doesn’t protect anyone from bullying, or agonizing over every physical imperfection, or from sexual predators (who overwhelmingly come not from the internet but from within teens’ own families). Like Tally’s world, ours is primarily concerned with surfaces, using plastic surgeries for real diseases. Being relative newcomers, teenagers see through this chicanery better than their elders, but at the same time possess fewer skills and resources to escape its power.
So they wind up with the worst of both worlds—too much government and not enough. Is it any wonder, then, that dystopian novels appeal to teens, as do vandalism, cutting, fast cars, shifting identities, unfortunate haircuts, and black hoodies? Next time you read a dystopia that strains belief, just think back to high school, and it won’t seem so far fetched.
Thus endeth the essay. Hope you enjoyed it.
And hey, do you want to help provide classroom copies of Uglies to a junior high school in the Bronx? Just click here to find out how. (Even if you’ve got no money, voting for and “liking” the project helps too!)
Oh, and Keith did an illustration for the essay as well. Check it out!