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1. Razorhurst Out in North America Today!

RazorhurstUSToday is the official publication of Razorhurst in the USA and Canada by Soho Press. For those of you who have been waiting since last July when it was published in Australia and New Zealand the wait is over!

For those of who you have no idea what I’m talking about: Razorhurst takes place on a winter’s day in 1932 when Dymphna Campbell, a gangster’s moll, and Kelpie, a street urchin who can see ghosts, tip the balance in a bloody underworld power struggle. As you do . . . You can read the first chapter here.

Razorhurst is my first solo novel since Liar in 2009. Loads of extremely fun research went into the writing of it. I walked every street in the inner-city Sydney suburbs of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, and Kings Cross, trying to imagine what they looked like, smelled like, tasted like, back in 1932 when, according to Sydney tabloid Truth, the streets were crowded with “bottle men, dope pedlars, razor slashers, sneak thieves, confidence men, women of ill repute, pickpockets, burglars, spielers, gunmen and every brand of racecourse parasite.”

Facebook Timeline_Razorhurst Tile_You Didnt Go ThereI talk more about my influences here and here on Scalzi’s Whatever. Alert readers may notice that I contradict myself in those two pieces. What can I say? The influences on this book were many! But in short: blood, razors and ghosts.

So far the response in the USA has been pretty stellar1 with starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and Kirkus (“a dark, unforgettable and blood-soaked tale of outlaws and masterminds”). The Horn Book Magazine said this: “Yoking paranormal thriller, roman noir, and historical fiction, Razorhurst teems with precisely realized period details and an expansive cast of unsavory characters, as well as numerous allusions to the films noirs and Sydney history that inspired Larbalestier . . . intensely lucid and sharp.” Yes, I am blushing.

Razorhurst Tile_UninvitedRazorhurst was just named as one of Publishers Weekly Books of the Week along side the likes of Kazuo Ishiguro. Double blush! It’s also one of the twenty books picked for Amazon’s Big Spring Books: Teen & Young Adult. Really thrilled to be on that list alongside books like Courtney Summers’ brilliant All the Rage. I may spend the rest of my life blushing.

Go forth and borrow or purchase from your favourite library or bookshop. Here’s hoping you enjoy!2

Note: For those wondering why I’ve not been responding to tweets, emails, comments here etc. I’m still not 100% recovered and have to save my keyboard time for rewriting my next novel, which publishes in the US a year from now and in Australia in November. I still love you all and hope to be less silent soon.

  1. What? I’m allowed to pun.
  2. And if you don’t here’s hoping you tell no one.

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2. Last Day of 2014

The year is practically over so here I am again with my annual recap of the year that was as well as a squiz at what’s gunna happen in 2015.1

Books Out in 2014

This was my first year with a new solo novel since 2009. Five years in between solo novels!2 I was nervous but it seems to have gone quite well.

Razorhurst was published in July by Allen and Unwin in Australia and New Zealand. The reviews have been blush-making. Including being named a book of the week by the Sydney Morning Herald, of the month from Readings Books and making Readings’ top ten YA books of the year and top 50 books by Australian women in 2014 lists, as well being the Australian Independent Bookseller’s No. 1 Children’s Pick for July. Although Razorhurst isn’t out in the US until March it’s already received starred reviews from the School Library Journal as well as Kirkus.

Then, best of all, earlier this month I learned that Razorhurst has made the shortlist of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (Young Adult), which is one of the biggest YA prizes in Australia.3

So, yeah, I’m more than happy with how Razorhurst has been received. Pinching myself, in fact.

Books Out in 2015 and 2016

I will have three books out in 2015. Two novels and a short story in a wonderful new anthology.

resized_9781743319789_224_297_FitSquareIn India this month my story, “Little Red Suit,” was published in Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar and Anita Roy, but I’m going to pretend that’s 2015, as it will be published in Australia and New Zealand by Allen and Unwin in February. Isn’t that cover divine?

The anthology is an Indian-Australian collaboration with half the contributors from each country. Some of them worked in collaboration with each other to produce comics as well as short stories. I was partnered with Anita Roy and we critiqued each other’s stories. Hers is a corker. I can’t wait to see the finished book.

“Little Red Suit,” is a post-apocalyptic retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Fairy tales were the first stories I ever told so it was lovely to return to the form. As I’ve mentioned, once or twice, I am not a natural short story writer. They are much more of a challenge for me than writing novels. So much so that I kind of want to turn this story into a novel. (Almost all of my short stories are secretly novels.) I hope you enjoy it.

RazorhurstUSIn March Soho Teen will publish the US edition of Razorhurst. I am very excited and will be over there in the US doing events in California and New York and Texas and possibly some other states. I will keep you posted. Yes, the Soho Teen edition will be available in Canada too.

Then in October I’ll have a brand new novel out with Allen and Unwin.

Let’s pause for a moment to digest that: in October there will be a brand new Justine Larbalestier novel, only a year later than my last one.

I know, brand new novels two years in a row! I’ve become a writing machine!

The new novel hasn’t been formally announced yet so I can’t tell you much about it other than it’s realism set in New York City, told from the point of view of a seventeen-year old Australian boy named Che.

The new novel will be published in the USA by Soho Press in March 2016.

What I wrote in 2014

I spent this year writing and rewriting the new novel. As well as rewrites, copyedits and etc. of Razorhurst. My novels, they go through many drafts.

And, me being me, I started a brand new novel out of nowhere, inspired by . . . you know what, it’s still a tiny whisper of a novel. I’ll wait until there’s a bit more before I start talking about it in public.

Then just a week or so ago I got the idea for yet another novel. So who knows which of those I’ll wind up finishing this year.

I continued blogging and managed to blog roughly once a week for most of the year. The most fun I had blogging this year was doing the Bestselling Women’s Fiction Book Club with Kate Elliott. I was very bummed when deadlines and travel forced us to call it quits. Here’s hoping we can get it started again some time in 2015.

I plan to blog even more next year. Er, tomorrow. Blogging, I love you no matter out of fashion you are. *hugs blogging*

Writing Plans for 2015

Well, obviously, there’ll be more rewrites and copyedits and etc for the new novel.

Then I plan to finish one of the novels that came out of nowhere. After that, well, who knows? Will I finally get back to the New York Depression-era novel(s)? The snow-boarding werewolves? The fairy godmother middle grade? Or one of the many other novels I’ve been working on for ages? Or something else that comes out of nowhere? Given that my last three novels came out of nowhere that would be the safest bet.

All of this writing is possible because I’m still managing my RSI as I described here. I’m continuing to be able to write as much as six hours a day. The few times I’ve written longer than that I have paid for it. It’s good to know my limits.

Travel in 2014

I was in the US briefly in June and then again in Sept-Nov, accompanying Scott on his Afterworlds tour. It felt like we went everywhere. Both coasts! Or all three if you count Texas as the third coast. Also Canada. It went fabulously well. Scott’s fans turned out in great numbers and many book sold and I met heaps of wonderful librarians and booksellers and readers and writers and some of them had already read Razorhurst thanks to my wonderful publicist at Soho Press, Meredith Barnes. It will be fun to go out on the road again in March.

Reading and Watching in 2014

My favourite new writers are Brandy Colbert and Courtney Summers, who both write realist contemporary YA, which I’ve gotta be honest is not my thing. That’s why I read a tonne of it this year: to learn and to grow. Both Colbert and Summers are dark and uncompromising almost bleak writers. Their books made me weep buckets. But there’s heart and hope in their novels too. I’m really looking forward to more from both of them. Courtney’s next book, All the Rage, will be out in early 2015.

I also read heaps of non-fiction this year. A Chosen Exile by Allyson Hobbs is a wonderful history of passing in the USA, which centres those who chose not to pass as much as those who did, and looks closely at the reason for deciding either way and how they changed over time. African-American family life is at the centre of this excellent history.

One of my fave new TV shows is Faking It because it’s silly and funny and kind of reminds me of my high school days at an alternative school though, you know, more scripted. I also love Cara Fi created and written by a dear friend, Sarah Dollard, who is a mighty talent. It’s set in Wales and is sweet and funny and feminist and touching and you should all watch it.

2014 was awful but there’s always hope

Although 2014 was a wonderful year for me professionally it was an awful year in both of my home countries, Australia and the USA, and in way too many other parts of the world. I would love to say that I’m full of hope for change in the future. I try to be. The movement that has grown out of the protests in Ferguson is inspiring and should fill us all with optimism. But then it happens all over again.

In Australia we have a government actively undoing what little progress had been made on climate change and stripping money from all the important institutions such as the ABC, CSIRO and SBS. This is the most anti-science, anti-culture and, well, anti-people government we’ve ever had. The already disgraceful policy on asylum seekers has gotten even worse and Aboriginal Australians continue to die in custody.

Argh. Make it stop!

May you have a wonderful 2014 full of whatever you love best and may the world become less unjust. Speaking out and creating art that truly reflects the world we live in goes part of the way to doing that. At least that’s what I hope.

  1. Yes, here in Sydney it is the 31st of December. I’m sorry that you live in the past.
  2. Yes, I had a co-edited anthology and a co-written novel in those five years but you would be amazed by how many people do not count collaborations as being a real novel by an author. I don’t get it either.
  3. If you’re from the US think Printz or National Book Award only plus money. That’s right in Australia if you win a literary award they give you money. Bizarre, I know.

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3. Razorhurst Book Launch This Thursday + Liar in Brasil

This Thursday at 6:30PM in the glorious city of Sydney the wonderful Melina Marchetta will be launching my new book, Razorhurst.

Razorhurst Kinokuniya Invite June 2014

Here’s hoping you can attend. I have SO MUCH to say about this book. It was some of the most fun research I’ve ever done. Razors! Women mobsters! Walking every street of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Kings Cross! Wearing 30s clothes! Studying enforcers!1

In other also super exciting news Liar is now available in Brasil under the title Confesso Que Menti. Here’s what it looks like:

confesso-que-menti-justine-larbalestier-ligia-braslauskas-livro-600

Hope my fans in Brasil like it even though it’s very different to my other books that have been published there.

One last thing: I know I have not blogged for several weeks thus, breaking my promise to blog at least once a week, but I was travelling and it was not possible. There will be much more bloggage from here on out. In the meantime you can always find me blathering away on Twitter.

  1. From a very safe distance in a way that they wouldn’t notice with a mask on.

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4. A Moment of Vainglory

You’re going to have to excuse this post (and the crappy photo) but I can’t help myself. A package just arrived from my wonderful Australian publisher, Allen & Unwin. It made me scream. In a good way.

This is what was in it:

That’s the official Children’s Book Council of Australia short-listed book sticker and it’s on Liar! And it’s not a joke or an accident!

*Faints*

Um, I may have mentioned that the CBCA awards have always been a huge deal for me. Ever since I was a tiny person. This really is a dream come true.

And on that cliched note1 I am off to attempt to write my next book. I may have to hide the stickered Liar. I keep fondling it . . . *cough*

Me. Writing. Now.

  1. Hey, they’re cliches for a reason.

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5. Seven Years of Freelancery + CBCA Shortlisting + Debut Novel

NOTE: I am in Sydney, Australia where it is already April Fool’s Day. However, my blog is set to NYC time cause I was too lazy to change it.

- – -

April Fool’s is the day I began my career as a full-time freelance writer. Back in 2003, having sold only one short story, I took the completely insane plunge. The first year did not go well, but since then it’s mostly worked out great. I’ve been very lucky indeed.

For my own benefit some stats:

    Books sold: 81
    Books published: 72
    Countries books have been sold in: 153
    Countries said books have been written in: 64
    Published words: 400,000 (Guestimate.)
    Books written but not sold: 25
    Books started but not finished: 32 (Guestimate.)
    Ideas collected: 2,372,456 (Precise measurement. I have an ideaometer.)

This week, as if in celebration of my seven years of freelancery, I discovered that Liar has been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s 2010 Book of the Year. I fell over I was so shocked.

Let me explain: For those of you who did not grow up in Australia, the CBCA awards are the most prestigious and longest established awards for young readers in Australia. USians: think Newbery. As a kid I would read the award winners and most of the shortlisted books every year. When I was nine I wrote a letter to the editor I was so indignant that the latest Patricia Wrightson6 book had not been considered for a CBCA because the judges decided that it was too old.7 Nine year old me’s head would have exploded to learn that one day something I wrote was going to be shortlisted for a CBCA. Frankly, the me of 2010’s head is not exactly in one piece having learned the news.

*Heh hem*

Congrats to everyone else on the shortlists and to the notables as well, which include my partner in crime, Scott Westerfeld8 and many, many, many other wonderful writers.

Today is also the day Karen Healey’s first novel, Guardian of the Dead is published in Australia, New Zealand and the US of A. Set in New Zealand, NOT AUSTRALIA AS SO MANY MISGUIDED USIAN REVIEWERS SEEM TO THINK,9 Guardian is one of the most original and unputdownable novel debuts I’ve read in ages. In fact, I was just discussing how cool it is with Melina Marchetta. How could you not buy a book that Melina Marchetta is recommending? I’m not going to tell you anything more about the book except that you should all run out and grab a copy. RIGHT NOW. OR I’LL JUST KEEP SHOUTING AT YOU. AND NO ONE WANTS TO BE SHOUTED AT.

That’s all. Happy April Fool’s day! Don’t believe a word anyone tells you today.

  1. One non-fiction tome, two anthologies, five young adult novels.
  2. 8 in September
  3. Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and USA.
  4. Argentina, Australia, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand and USA.
  5. One I hope will be some day. The other NEVER.
  6. Who was my favourite write in the entire world and died recently. A sad day for Australian letters.
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6. Signed Books in the USA

Because I just had a long discussion with some friends about what constitutes being crassly commercial I’ve decided now is the time to let you know where you can buy signed books of mine. What? Some people write and ask me that, you know. Also it’s Sunday no one will notice me being crassly commercial.

I have scribbled on copies of my books in the following places in the US of A:

    Austin

Book People
603 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703

Chicago Area

B&N Skokie
55 Old Orchard Center

Skokie, IL

Anderson’s Bookshop
5112 Main St

Downers Grove, IL

Lake Forest Book Store
680 N. Western Ave.
Lake Forest, IL

Memphis

Davis-Kidd Booksellers
387 Perkins Ext

Memphis, TN

New York

Voracious Reader
1997 Palmer Ave

Larchmont, NY

Books of Wonder
18 W. 18th St.

New York, NY

Philadelphia

Blue Marble
551 Carpenter Ln

Philadelphia, PA

Children’s Book World
17 Haverford Station Road
Haverford, PA

Portland

A Children’s Place
4807 NE Fremont St

Portland, OR

Barnes & Noble
12000 SE 82nd Avenue

Portland, OR

Seattle area

UWash Bookstore

4326 University Way NE

Seattle, WA

Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA

Barnes & Noble
19401 Alderwood Mall Parkway

Lynnwood, WA

For those of you in Australia, I will be back home and shall try to sign books at various book stores in Sydney in December. I pretty much always manage to make it to Kinokuniya and Galaxy. I’ll keep you posted.

Thus ends this crassly comercial service announcement. Normal service will resume tomorrow.

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7. Want to Know More About Liar?

The Liar pages are live. Ta dah!

There’s a plea for those who have read the book not to spoil it, a lengthy excerpt, a list of places in the world where Liar has sold, and a non-spoilery discussion of some of the influences on the book.

There’s also a review section on account of the astonishing number of early reviews that have appeared. (Bless you, book bloggers!) Though I decided not to include the blurbs from dead writers because I didn’t want my fellow alive writers to get jealous of my powerful ouija board:

Liar is almost as dark as one of my books. Not bad, Larbalestier.

—Patricia Highsmith

If you can’t get hold of a good book I suppose you could give Liar a go.

—Chester Himes

So creepy I had to put it down and seek solace in Anne of Green Gables.

—Shirley Jackson

Liar proves everything I said about parents was true.

—Philip Larkin

There would also be an essay on how Scrivener influenced the writing of the book. However, I’ve decided to hold off on posting that until after Liar is published. On account of how the Scrivener essay won’t really make any sense unless you have read the book. And not many people have at the moment on account of Liar doesn’t publish for another three months. Such a long time . . .

So there you have it some Liar content that is not even a tiny bit spoilery.

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8. Much Yay

Last week was a very big week for me. I found out that How to Ditch Your Fairy sold in Japan and Liar in France and Germany. (I also had my first lindy hop lesson. Next one is on Tuesday.)

How to Ditch Your Fairy sold to Tokyo Sogensha in Japan, who also publish Diana Wynne Jones. I know it’s tenuous proximity but it makes me happy, okay?

I can’t give more details on the French sale but I can say that my German publisher continues to be Bertelsmann Jugendbuch Verlag, who published the Magic or Madness trilogy in quick succession last year. It’s doing amazingly well over there, which I put down to the glory that is the covers:

Bertelsmann will also be publishing How to Ditch Your Fairy later this year. I met some of the crew over in Bologna last year and they were wonderful. Feels fabulous to have a solid home in Germany, which is one of the biggest book publishing markets in the world. Germans love to read. Bless them.

Sometimes I can’t believe this is real. It took twenty years to find anyone who wanted to publish for my fiction. I never dreamed it would appear in any language other than English. Yet here I am with a whole shelf full of various different editions of my books. Please let this last another twenty years.1 Fingers crossed!

In other yay news, Scott has previewed the final cover of Leviathan. It’s spectacular. And I say that as someone who loved the first version.

  1. Yeah, I’m aware of how great the odds are against that.

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9. A request for those with Liar ARCs

I know I said a while back that I would no longer be linking to reviews of my books. I’m making an exception today for the the very first review of Liar because I’m so grateful that Jenn Hartley’s review contains no spoilers. Bless you, Jenn.

Liar is the most complicated book I’ve written to date. It’s my first attempt at a psychological thriller and contains many twists and turns. I’m convinced that reading it will be a lot more interesting if you don’t know any of them ahead of time. I’d be really grateful if those of you who have an advanced copy would keep those reversals and surprises to yourself. If you’re bursting to talk about it you can always email me. Or Maureen Johnson she’s read it.

I know some people love to be spoiled but maybe you could just whisper a few spoilers in their ears rather than post it on your blogs? I really would be ever so grateful.

Thank you!

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10. Off to Melbourne

My mini How To Ditch Your Fairy tour of Australia (well of Melbourne, Perth, Sydney) begins on Sunday. I can’t believe it’s so soon! How did that happen?

To prepare yourself here’s an article about Sunday’s gig which features an interview with the fabulous Simmone Howell. I just finished her latest, Everything Beautiful, last night. It’s astonishingly good. I don’t even like realism and I LOVED this book. Go read it immediately.

Also Allen & Unwin have created a How To Ditch Your Fairy site. This is a first for me. A publisher creating a whole site devoted to one of my books! I may faint. Have I mentioned that I love my Aussie publisher?

And wait till you see the new US cover of HTDYF. Best. Cover. Ever.

For those of you in Melbourne here’s where you’ll find me:

Sunday, 22 Feb 2009, 2:00PM - 3:30PM
Me and Simmone Howell in conversation + cake
State Library of Victoria—Conference Centre
328 Swanston Street
(Entrance 3 on La Trobe Street)
Melbourne, Victoria
Go here to book

Monday, 23 Feb, 2009, 6.00PM
Talk & signing
North Melbourne Library
66 Errol St
North Melbourne, VIC

Tuesday, 24 Feb 2009, 6:30PM
Australian launch of How To Ditch Your Fairy
Readings Carlton
309 Lygon St
Carlton, Victoria

Hope to see some of you there. I’ll be the one eating a mangosteen and discoursing on the merits of Elvis’ 1968 comeback special.

What larks we shall have!

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11. Last day of 2008

Yup, it’s my annual what-I-did-this-year skiting post. I write these mostly for myself so I can easily keep track. Hence the last day of the year category. Thus you are absolutely free to skip it.1

This year was exceptional. I’m still pinching myself. My first Bloomsbury USA book, How To Ditch Your Fairy, was published and seems to be doing well. I was sent on my first book tour, which was fabulous. It’s insane how much fun I had and how many fabulous schools, book shops and libraries I visited in California, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Thank you to everyone who came to see me while I was on the road. It was a blast getting to meet you all! I loved hearing what fairies you all have!

Now this is going to sound like the acknowledgments page but bear with me cause I thanked my fabulous editor, Melanie Cecka in print, but not the wonderful publicity and sales and marketing folks because, well, I didn’t know them back then. Deb Shapiro is the best and funniest publicist I’ve ever worked with, Beth Eller is a genius of marketing, and all the sales reps who’ve been flogging the fairy book mercilessly across the USA are too fabulous for words. Extra special thanks to Anne Hellman, Kevin Peters, and Melissa Weisberg.

HTDYF also sold (along with the liar book) to Allen & Unwin in Australia. This is a huge deal because it’s the first time I’ve had a multi-book deal in Australia and A&U publishes many of the best writers in Australia, including Margo Lanagan, Garth Nix, Penni Russon and Lili Wilkinson. My editor and publisher, Jodie Webster, is a joy to work with. So’s Sarah Tran and Erica Wagner and Hilary Reynolds and everyone else on the Alien Onion team. Bless!

Both Bloomsbury and A&U seem even more excited about the liar book than they were about HTDYF. Which is a huge relief to me because, um, it is not the most obvious follow-up to the fairy book. Older, darker, scarier, completely different. Stuff like that. Here’s hoping that not too long into the new year I’ll be sharing the title, the cover, a sneak preview, and other such fabulous things.

The fairy book also sold in Germany to Bertelsmann, who published the Magic or Madness trilogy there and gave it the best covers ever. It was awesome getting to meet the two Suzannes: Krebs and Stark in Bologna. Thank you for believing in my book so strongly that you bought it when it was still in manuscript. I still can’t quite believe it.

Speaking of the trilogy it sold in Korea to Chungeorahm Publishing, which means it’s now published in ten different countries and eight different languages. All of it Whitney Lee’s doing. It’s astonishing to me how well the trilogy is doing more than three years after first publication. Fingers crossed that will continue.

I also had two short stories published. A rarity for me. My last short story was published back in 2004. These two were the first I’d written since then. Short stories are not my thing. They’re so much harder to write than a novel. ““Pashin’ or The Worst Kiss Ever” appeared in First Kiss (Then Tell): A Collection of True Lip-Locked Moments edited by Cylin Busby and was universally declared to be the grossest story ever. “Thinner Than Water” is in Love is Hell edited by Farrin Jacobs. I’m proud of them both for very different reasons. But don’t expect any more. Writing short stories hurt my brain.

Last year I was wise and only aimed to write one novel in 2008. Just as well because that’s all I did this year no stories, no articles, nothing else. I wrote the liar book and began the 1930s book. It’s very clear that I’m a one-book-a-year girl.

I also mentioned in that one-year-ago post that I had three sekrit projects. The first is no longer a secret: the Zombie Versus Unicorn anthology that I’m editing with Holly Black, which marks the first time I’ve edited original fiction. Am I excited? Why, yes, I am. It will be out from Simon & Schuster in 2010 and we’ll be announcing our insanely excellent line up of authors in the new year. Truly, you will die at how great our writers are.

One of the other sekrit projects morphed into a solo project (the 1930s book) and I’m still hoping that the last of the sekrit projects will go ahead some time next year. Here’s looking at you co-conspirator of my last remaining sekrit project! You know who you are.

Next year will be taken up with writing the 1930s book and editing the Zombie v Unicorn antho. The 1930s book is the biggest most ambitious book I’ve tried to write since my very first novel set in ancient Cambodia. I’m loving the researching and writing. Immersing myself in another era is the most fun ever! I think my next ten books will all be set in the 1930s.

My 2009 publications. This is a WAY shorter list than last year:

    September: the liar novel for Bloomsbury USA.

    October: the liar novel for Allen & Unwin.

Yup, just the one novel from me. Sorry! You should also get hold of Cassandra Clare’s City of Glass when it comes out. It’s the final book of the City of Bones trilogy and the best of the three. I read it in one sitting on my computer.2 Then later in the year there’s Robin Wasserman’s sequel to Skinned. You know you want it! Yet another book I read in one go. Also on my computer. Think how much better it will be between actual covers.

Then there’s the three YA debuts I’ve been talking about by Peterfreund, Rees Brennan and Ryan. If you read no other books in 2009 make sure you read those three. I’m also dying to read the sequel to Kathleen Duey’s Skin Hunger, which was my favourite book of 2007.

Last, but not least, the old man has his first novel in two years, Leviathan. Fully illustrated by the fabulous artist Keith Thompson and better than anything else Scott’s ever written. I’m so proud of him and of this book. You’ll all love it. Seriously, it’s worth the price just for the endpapers!

I travelled way too much this year. Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the UK, France, Canada, all over the USA, and home to Australia. Again. Looks like the same for next year. I have no idea what to do about that. I guess when you try to live in two different countries at the same time that’s the price. Oh, and lots and lots of offsets. We try to be good.

This is where I usually say that I think the coming year’s going to be fabulous. But this year I’m not sure. The economic news back in the United States has been dire. Friends have lost their jobs, their editor, their imprint. It’s scary in publishing right now and it’s even scarier in many other industries. I really hope good governance in the USA will make a difference world wide. But I just don’t know. I had great hopes for the Rudd government and here he is botching the fight against climate change and trying to put up a filter for the internet in Australia. Ridiculous. Surely Obama’s government will not be so stupid.

Here’s hoping 2009 will see a return to sanity all around the world, but especially here in Australia.

Happy new year!

  1. I would if I were you.
  2. Actually I was lying in bed. Whatever.

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12. Little round up

Firstly, the polls: I thought you all should know that the result of the poll was that Nevada is our chosen smoking state of the US of A. Closely followed by Wyoming. Hope you’re happy, Mr Williams!

The new poll is on fashion atrocities. I’m a bit cross that no one has voted for espadrilles yet. Oh, how I HATE them! Soles of shoes are not supposed to be made of rope! It’s UGLY, people! Are you all blind?! (Poll is to your right.)

Matter the second, the word count discussion has been interesting and enlightening. In fact, it made me realise more fully the why of my word count dislike. I do not care to share my day-by-day process. Don’t get me wrong I adore talking about process. But I like to talk about it overall: here’s some thoughts on rewriting, here’s a very silly set of suggestions for writing a novel, here’s how I wrote this book, here’s how I find looking at other people’s writing incredibly useful and so on and so forth.

But posting daily on my struggles or successes in the writing coal mine? Nah. Too close to the bone. I feel like I’ll come across as a massive whinger (Oh my Elvis writing this book is killing me! Why are leopard ballet sequence so bloody difficult?! What was I thinking?! I’m a hack! A talentless hack!!) or the most conceited self-satisfied writer in the universe (Wow, I am a genius! I am the Lord Barham of writing! Look at these pearls of unspeakable genius that I crafted today! How could perfection such as the crystalline words that coruscate from my fingers exist in this oh so imperfect world?! It astonishes me!). So I confine such thoughts to myself.

Oh, hang on—wooops!

Look over there: Leopards dancing! Flying giant woolly squirrels playing badminton with quokkas!

There is no matter the third.

As you were.

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13. How To Ditch Your Fairy is almost real . . .

An ARC1 of How To Ditch Your Fairy just arrived! I am filled with squee. HTDYF is almost a real book!

Here’s what it looks like:

You know what the most fabulous part of it is? (Other than the quote from Libba Bray2 ) My name is as big as the title. My name is bigger than it’s ever been! Oh, happy day!

The happiness continues when I turn the ARC over and gaze on the back cover where there’s a marketing plan. A marketing plan!

I’ve never had one of those on the back of an ARC before. And it includes the words “multi-city author tour”. So maybe I’ll be getting to your city and have a chance to meet you later this year!

My very first author tour. Who’d've thunk it?

  1. Advance Reading Copy which looks like a paperback only it’s printed on heavier paper and as is full of typoes. They’re printed to send out early to booksellers and librarians to get them excited about your book.
  2. OMG! Libba Bray liked my book!

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14. Seen in Germany + some news

Look what I saw in an actual bookshop, RavensBuch in Friedrichshafen! Isn’t it gorgeous?:

Yup, it’s the German version of Magic or Madness. It’s even more beautiful in real life. Sigh. The book next to mine (the yellow one) is by John Marsden. Two Aussies together in Germany. I’ve been stunned by how many Aussie books I’ve been seeing in translation on our travels. Oodles of them by the likes of Trudi Canavan, Sara Douglass, Sonya Hartnett, John Marsden, Garth Nix, Marcus Zusak etc., etc. World domination!

Speaking of Germany. Random House Deutschland has just made an offer for How to Ditch Your Fairy. A very enthusiastic offer and they’ll be publishing it in hardcover. I am very happy. I met my German publishers in Bologna and they’re all lovely. Possibly because they’re all named Susanne.

This is the first time one of my books has sold to another market before publication. Very exciting. HTDYF will be out in the US in early September. And I may be sharing the cover with you some time soon . . .

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15. Five years of freelancery

Another year, another anniversary. Once again I mark 1 April not by being silly like some I could mention but by saying, “Oh my Elvis. I’ve been a freelance writer for exactly five years! And I’m not starving! How on Earth did I manage that?”1

For my own benefit some stats:

    Books sold: 72
    Books published: 53
    Countries books have been sold in: 104
    Countries said books have been written in: 65
    Published words: 372,0006
    Books written and unsold: 27
    Ideas collected: 372,4568

Lots of fun had at fair today. Much publishing gossip and wisdom attained. Will share with you when not exhausted. I sleep now in order to make it to the drinks, dinner and party appointments that lie ahead of me today. Yes, my life continues to be gruelling!

  1. Luck.
  2. One non-fiction tome, one anthology, five young adult novels.
  3. 6 in September
  4. In order of sales: USA, Australia, Taiwan, France, Thailand, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Japan and Indonesia.
  5. Argentina, Australia, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand and USA.
  6. Guestimate.
  7. One I hope will be some day. The other NEVER.
  8. As of 16:32 Bologna time.

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16. Elsewhere such as Indonesia

Sartorias aka Sherwood Smith continues the cranky discussion. Both threads have really excellent comments. Fascinating stuff. If only I weren’t in computer hell, I’d be contributing to said discussions. Once things stop sucking in computerland I’ll plunge in. There’s LOTS more to be said.

In other news I just found out that the Magic or Madness trilogy has now sold to PT Gramedia in Indonesia. I’m particularly stoked about this sale as I studied Bahasa Indonesia for four years in high school. It’s a country I’ve always been fascinated by. For those keeping count—I know I am—the trilogy has now sold to ten different countries.

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17. Still the grossest . . .

Another review of First Kiss (Then Tell) edited by Cylin Busby and here’s my story’s mention:

Hands down favorite for sheer grossness (it was so gross it was funny!) was Justine Larbalestier’s “Pashin’”, a tale of her friend’s first kiss.

I am the grossest of them all.

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18. Blurb Etiquette

Recently several friends have been on the receiving end of some very bad blurb etiquette and they have requested that I set the world straight about how blurbage should actually work. I live to serve.

What is a blurb? It’s the little quotes that typically appear on the back of a book saying how wonderful it is. For instance here is what Libba Bray has to say about How To Ditch Your Fairy:1

Justine Larbalestier has a super-cool writing fairy, and I am vastly jealous! Thoroughly entertaining, totally enchanting, wickedly funny, and 110% doos, How To Ditch Your Fairy had me grinning from page one (when I wasn’t laughing out loud). And as soon as I can figure out how to do it I’m going to ask to swap fairies with Justine.

—Libba Bray, New York Times Bestselling author of A Great and Terrible Beauty

A while back I talked at length about my policy on blurbs. The short version is: Yes, I am happy to look at books and if I love them I will blurb them.2 Turns out that there are other aspects of blurbage that I did not cover. Mostly because I did not know these things happen. But apparently they do.

  1. Never offer to swap blurbs with an author. “Hey, I have a book coming out. If you blurb it I’ll blurb your book!” This is a terrible idea. I may be a blurb purist but all the authors I know only blurb books that they enjoyed reading. They do not blurb books because that person blurbed their book and they especially don’t do that for someone who has never had a book published before and therefore has no track record. Blurbs are supposed to help to sell books but they’re useless if no one knows who the blurber is.
  2. If the author who agreed to look at your book does not get back to you DO NOT bug them. There are several reasons for not blurbing a book such as not liking it, not having time to read it, and losing said book. Putting the author in the position of having to explain which reason applies is not fair. No author wants to explain to another why they didn’t like their book well enough to blurb it. Just assume it was lack of time.
  3. There is nothing wrong with receiving a blurb from a friend unless of course that’s the only reason they’re doing it. I blurbed Cassie Clare’s City of Bones because I could not put it down. I loved it. The reason I know some of the wonderful writers who have blurbed me—Karen Joy Fowler, Samuel R. Delany, Libba Bray, Holly Black—is because I love their writing. They are my friends because of writing. None of them would blurb my books if they weren’t into them. It’s not worth our reputations to blurb books of varying quality. Every author I know has said no to blurbing a book by a friend. It’s awkward, but not as awkward as having your name eternally on the back of a book you don’t love.
  4. Never claim to have a blurb from an author if that is not the case. If the author in question has agreed to look at your book with the possibilty of providing a blurb that DOES NOT mean they are going to blurb you. I looked at several books last year and blurbed none of them. The author has agreed to read your book NOTHING more. If you go around boasting that you have a blurb when you don’t odds are it will get back to the author, who will then be much less inclined to blurb you. This is a very small industry. Word gets around.

This last point leads to a bigger point: Anyone who advises you that lying: claiming blurbs you don’t have, doctoring your publications list, claiming non-existent connections etc. etc. is a good way to get “your foot in the door” is full of it.

Don’t do this. Not ever.

Finding out that someone you have NEVER met is using your name to get ahead is vastly cranky-making. Also in the age of the internet it’s almost impossible to get away with these shenanigans. Google knows when you lie.

I think that about covers it, but if I’ve missed anything do please let me know.

  1. My apologies for the skiting, but I love this blurb.
  2. In practice I do not blurb many books because I do not love very many.

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19. William Atheling Jr. Award

Thanks to Sean and Tole, I just found out that Daughters of Earth has won the William Atheling Jr. Award. Woo hooo!!!! This is the award given by the Australian science fiction community for the best criticism.

I’m stoked beyond stokage.

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20. Interviews

My first interview for Colleen Mondor’s summer blog tour went up this morning. Twas conducted by the lovely Liz B of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.

Bored with reading about me? (Elvis knows, I am!) Then check out all these other interviews with folks like Gene Yang who won the Printz for American Born Chinese.

This whole week will be awash with interviewy goodness.

PS This is the post I was trying to put up when everything went down (again) this morning. It’s post number? 666.

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21. Awards

So, um, I seem to have won three awards this year. I know! I was as shocked as you. Anyways, I thought it might be fun to have a squiz at ‘em. For annoying scheduling reasons I managed not to be at any of the award ceremonies so I’ve only just got my hands on two of them and have yet to see the third. It’s back home in Sydney being babysat by my parents (thanks Jan and John!).

Here’s the Susan Koppelman (thanks for accepting it for me, Brian):


Photo by Scott Westerfeld

The Norton (thanks, Eloise):


Photo by Scott Westerfeld

And the William Atheling (thanks, Sean):

William Atheling Jr. Award
Photo by Niki Bern

Contrast in awards styles, eh? I loves it!

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22. First Kiss

My first appearance in an anthology is now on the shelves: First Kiss (Then Tell): A Collection of True Lip-Locked Moments edited by Cylin Busby. I’m stoked to be in this collection. It’s dead funny and there’s not a dud story in sight. How could there be when they’re penned by the likes of Cecil Castellucci, Shannon Hale, David Levithan, Sarah Mlynowski, Laren Myracle, Robin Wasserman and Scott Wetserfeld?1 If you don’t believe me about the fabulosity of this anthology then would you believe Booklist?

This entertaining collection of true “first kiss” stories by popular YA authors arrives just in time for Valentine’s Day. The risk of veering into groan-worthy, “when-I-was-your-age” territory always exists when adults reminisce about their teen years, but these authors treat their own stories with the same freshness and respect with which they approach their YA novels. The stories include Deb Caletti’s thrilling and empowering kiss, “as right as warm sidewalks and plums bought at roadside stands”; Cecil Castellucci’s secret and slightly shameful smooches with a bad boy; and Justine Larbalestier’s disgusting yet hilarious drunken kiss on a floating dock. Some stories are poems, one is a play, and a few are in comic form; despite the reality-based entries and mix of forms, the collection is classified as fiction. Kissing quotes and facts are interspersed, making this a good collection for browsing. The reader will finish this volume and know that whether a first kiss is anticipated or unexpected, dreamy or forgettable, this rite of passage provokes a complex mix of fear, excitement, and relief.

“Disgusting yet hilarious”. I am SO proud. Those words pretty much sum me up. However, the kiss I describe in that story was not, in fact, mine. I cheated and stole someone else’s story. And to make matters worse I can’t even remember whose story it is.

If you only read one anthology this year make it First Kiss!

And because I’m curious—anyone care to share the story of their first kiss? I’d share mine but I really can’t remember it. Sad, but true.

  1. Though, Scott cheated and wrote a haiku.

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23. Why can’t I be Guest of Honour all the time?

I will confess that I was nervous about going to High Voltage ConFusion. There were several reasons for this:

  • I’m afraid of cold places. And Detroit in winter is COLD.1
  • I’d never been a guest of honour before and was worried I’d be crappy at it.
  • I was aware that most of the people at the con would not have heard of me or Scott and was worried that they would feel dudded of a proper author guest of honour what wrote adult sf and fantasy.

I need not have had any concerns at all. I was right that most of the people there didn’t know us or our work (unless they were a teen librarian or had teen children—there were precious few actual teens in attendance). But it turned out to be a really good thing. No pressure and no expectations. It was really relaxing. One of the most relaxing weekends I’ve had in ages.

Mostly because of Anne Murphy, our liaison. I had no idea that guests of honour get someone to take care of them. It was fabulous. Anne made sure we were fed and happy. She is the best liaison of all time. Thank you, Anne! Why can’t she take care of us all the time? We’re lost without you, Anne!

There was much fun. The Opening Ceremonies were hilarious. A picture of which below. Scalzi interviewing us was very silly and totally enjoyable. Though I was bummed he didn’t bring up unicorns or quokkas.

We got to design our own panels. Thank you so much con organisers for indulging us! And thus were able to vent about stuff that’s been bugging us for ages. Why is there so little sport in fantasy and sf? Why did our audience turn on us during that panel back in Boston in 2004? Do they really just love wheat?

Thus the wheat panel which was FABULOUS therapy for me and Scott, though audience members expecting us to follow the panel description might have been disappointed. Sorry about that! But thank you for not turning on us. You were the best audience ever. Actually, all the panel audiences were smart and engaged and awesome. Me and Scott were dead chuffed that as the weekend went on more and more folks were showing up to hear us gasbag and pontificate. Yay!

The sport panel was also wonderful. Though we had way too much to say and not enough time to say it in. I especially loved that the audience was almost entirely women. Hah! There was also a sports writer, Dave Hogg, in the audience (he really should have been on the panel) who turned out—along with his partner—to be a huge Detroit Shock fan. Go, WNBA! We had an excellently geeky women’s hoops gossip.

I’ll admit that my last few cons had left me with panel fatigue. But now I love them all over again. I wish I’d gotten to see some of the panels I wasn’t on. I heard that all of Kevin Dunn’s (the science guest of honour) were brilliant. He explained soap and and all sorts of other Caveman Chemistry. I can’t wait to read his book.

You’ll be shocked to hear, however, that the best fun was not had during the panels, but at the parties and in the bar, and just generally hanging out. The ConFusion organisers and regulars are the best people on the planet. Seriously I got into so many great conversations and arguments and teasing contests. I can’t wait to go back!2

May I share with you the three best words in the world?

Roaming Pirate Party


Thanks again, Hugh, for the photo.

I haz met the Roaming Pirate Party. They haz rum3 and pirate hats and jollity by the galleon load. Best pirates ever! I shall treasure my pirate hat and t-shirt for ever!

We got to catch up with old friends like Karen Meisner, John & Krissy Scalzi, and Doselle Young. Why don’t they all live MUCH closer to me? I miss you all already. Waahh!! Not to mention making stacks of new friends. You know who you are! Yanni! Brian! Aaron! And SO MANY OTHERS! You all made it the best weekend ever.

Hell, we even got to see a movie: Cloverfield and it were good. Very good indeed.

If anyone needs a guest of honour me and Scott are so up for it!

  1. How cold? Minus a million cold! That’s how cold. So cold that I’m back in NYC and it’s freezing and it seems warm in comparison.
  2. Any chance you could move it to a warmer time of year?
  3. Though, obviously, being a YA author I didn’t drink any of it. Heaven forfend!

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24. She’s talking about me!

There’s a new review of First Kiss (Then Tell) the fabulous anthology I have a story in. After talking about her favourite stories the reviewer has this to say:

I didn’t love every story in this collection; some were just, “eh,” and some were good but not really my thing (I have a weak stomach, so some of them made me rather nauseous!).

She’s talking about my story! The one that Booklist called “disgusting yet hilarious”. I made the reviewer queasy. Tee hee. She also says the stories range from “funny to sweet and awkward to disgusting“. Disgusting! That’s my story again! I’m so happy.

You must all read the anthology and then let me know whether you think mine is the most disgusting story. I guarantee that it is. I’m so proud.

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25. Interviews

Thought youse might be interested in a new interview with me and Ekaterina Sedia (who wrote the truly marvelous Secret History of Moscow) that just went up at Fantasy Magazine. The interview was conducted by the insightful Tempest Bradford and was all about what it’s like to be a foreignor in the US of A something me and Ekaterina know a lot about. It’s one of them most enjoyable interviews I’ve done. Any time I’m not asked to describe my books, I’m happy.

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