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Tanith Lee, an author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, has died. She was 67 years old.
The British author wrote more than 90 books and 300 short stories, as well as poems, four several radio plays, and television episodes. Lee’s publisher Tor revealed the sad news on their website yesterday. Here is more about Lee’s life from Tor:
Born in 1947 to two professional dancers, Lee grew up with a love of weird fiction, sci-fi, and Shakespeare. Struggling with then-undiagnosed dyslexia, Lee was unable to read until the age of 8, when her father taught her. Thereafter, she made up for lost time, publishing her first vignette at the age of 21. She worked various jobs as file clerk and assistant librarian as she sent out her work. Her first published novels were children’s fantasies The Dragon Hoard and Animal Castle, published by Macmillan in 1971 and 1972.
Jeannie Mobley writes middle grade and YA fiction. Her debut novel, KATERINA’S WISH (Margaret K. McElderry Books), won the 2013 Colorado Book Award, is on the 2014-2015 William Allen White Award Master List, and represented Colorado at the 2013 National Book Festival. Her second novel, SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS, released September 2, 2014. When not writing or reading fiction, Jeannie is a mother, wife, lover of critters, and an anthropology professor at Front Range Community College, where she teaches a variety of classes on cultures past and present. You can visit her at www.jeanniemobley.com.
What typically comes first for you: a character? An era? A story idea? How do you proceed from there?
I tend to start with big ideas–themes or threads that I then build a story around. In Katerina’s Wish, I started with ideas about what constitutes “magic” and to what extent our own attitudes shape our luck in the world. In my newest book, Searching for Silverheels, I was interested in two varying views on a local legend, and how either way, the character could be seen as a “strong woman.” That got me thinking about what really constitutes strength and womanhood, and it went from there. My next step is matching the setting and historical time period to my idea.
What’s your favorite thing about writing historical fiction?
The fact that I can find historical settings to focus the lens on topics, themes, or social issues. For example, in Searching for Silverheels, I chose World War I to explore the issues surrounding strong women, because women are called to do a wider range of things in wartime than at other times. And World War I had the unique additional feature of the clash between President Wilson and the Women’s Suffragist Movement. Of course, I could tell a story about all the ways women are strong in any place or time, but I like historical fiction because I can pick times and places to make the issues much more intense.
What kinds of sources do you use?
I use different sources at different points in my research. I have a background in history and historical research, so that eliminates much of the initial work I might otherwise have to do. But, in the early stages of formulating an idea or picking a time period, I rely heavily on informational websites and textbooks–the kind of sources that give broad overviews of a topic or time period.
My next step is to create ideas for world building–getting the local setting, the voice, and the details of ordinary life right. This involves reading sources from the era–newspapers, books, reports–anything that gives me a sense of how people wrote or talked. I also look at oral histories that give details of life. Since I write for kids, I especially like oral histories in which people are remembering back to their childhood, because those give me details about what life was like for kids, which is often lacking from history books.
I also love to look at historic photographs for background details, and especially ones that evoke other senses (like the smoke boiling from chimneys in turn-of-the-century coal camps. I try to think about how that must have smelled, how gritty the air must have felt, how the laundry drying on the line must have taken on that smoke.).
There are many good sources for all of these things, but since my work so far has been centered in Colorado, I’ve found the Western History Archives at the Denver Public Library to be a wonderful source of photographs, www.coloradonewspapers.org to be a great place to read for voice, and a variety of sources of oral history, the most extensive being the National Archive oral history project, which has many recordings online that let you hear the actual voice of the teller, as well as the details.
How long do you typically research before beginning to draft?
Not long, or even at all. If I’m working with a new place or era with which I’m not familiar, I might spend a few hours doing background research, and a few more listening or reading for voice. I may read a novel written in the era or watch a movie set in the area (not really research–more just a good excuse to read a book or watch a movie.) But mostly, the story is most important to me in the first draft, and it guides me as to what details I need to find. So I research as I write the first draft. For example, in my current WiP, I had a conversation going on between the front seat and back seat of a car in 1930. I had a character glance in the rearview mirror to see the people in the back, and realized that I don’t know for sure when the rear-view mirror became standard in vehicles. So, I made a note in the margin–“would the car have a rearview mirror?” and when I finished writing the scene, I stopped to look it up.
What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching?
I tend to love (and get lost in) the quirky details, but also the strange connections. So, I lost a whole day one time on the history of toilets on trains. Fascinating, if you go in for that kind of thing. And I am often stunned by connections that sometimes make me feel like I’m channeling instead of creating. In my newest book, Searching for Silverheels, I needed a last name for a character. At the time, my son was in high school, so he was getting recruitment mail for colleges. There was an envelope sitting on the table from Stanford University. I looked at it, changed it from Stanford to Sanford, and made it the kid’s last name. Later, while doing some back-up research on the Silverheels legend, I learned that one of the “eye witness” stories that claims to know the truth about the legend is in a manuscript at the Colorado Historical Society, written by a man named Sanford. The Sanford in my story is searching out an eye witness, just as the real Sanford was. So, I adjusted the story so that my fictional Sanford hears the same story that the real Sanford heard. But the names, that was just a crazy coincidence that sent a chill up my spine when it happened.
Because life isn’t always clear cut, the motives behind our actions don’t always make sense. But stories need to follow a logical path. What sorts of decisions have you had to make about “muddy” historical figures or events in order for your book to work?
In Katerina’s Wish, I was deliberately vague and never named the coal camp in which the main characters live. I did this because I wanted to avoid the political implications of setting the story in the place where one of the major battles of labor union history took place. Many readers have made the connection, which is fine, but I didn’t want to imply that my characters were directly part of a movement.
On the other hand, in Searching for Silverheels, I did want to connect my suffragist to the real women’s suffrage movement, so I set the story in the exact month and year when the members of the National Women’s Party were arrested at the White House, and that arrest is a catalyst for setting up the climax of my story. I did, however, create some fictional responses to that event that I don’t think really happened. I am always careful to create an author’s note that clarifies the real from the fictional, but I also think that some of the fun for readers of historical fiction can be looking up the truth themselves, and seeing where the author has been honest and where she’s told lies.
Why is historical fiction important?
I think historical fiction has the opportunity to give kids a passion or curiosity about the past. I think a lot of people are turned off by the idea of “history” because they see it as the dull retelling of a bunch of boring dates about boring politicians. It took me years to figure out that people saw history that way, because for me, history was always about story. I grew up in the west where I could explore old cabins and travel roads that used to be railroads or wagon trails, and to me, that continuation of the past, as a compilation of extraordinary stories about ordinary people, is what history has always been about. Hopefully, historical fiction can make kids (or adults) see history that way too.
The post Straight From the Source: Author Jeannie Mobley on Writing Historical Fiction appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.
Bestselling author John Scalzi has inked a substantial book deal with Tor Books.
The sci-fi author will write thirteen books – 10 adult and three young adult titles – over the next 10 years for the publisher. The deal, reportedly $3.4 million, was led by Ethan Ellenberg of Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. Titles will include a new far-future space opera series, as well as sequels to “Lock In.”
“Well, now I know what I’m doing for the next decade,\" said Scalzi in a statement. “And that’s a good thing. In an era when publishing is in flux, this contract with Tor will let me spend more of my time doing what readers want me to do: writing books and making new stories for them to enjoy. It also gives both me and Tor a stable, long-term base to grow our audience, not only among established science fiction and fantasy fans, but among readers of all sorts. Science fiction is mainstream culture now, and there are so many people discovering just how much there is to enjoy in these stories of ours. We have much more to share. That’s what we’re going to do.”
The estate of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have filed a copyright and trademark lawsuit against Miramax for the movie, Mr. Holmes. The film stars Sir Ian McKellen (pictured, via) as an elderly Sherlock Holmes.
The story for this film adaptation, based on Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, served as the inspiration for the script. Variety.com reports that Cullin and Penguin Random House, the publisher of Cullin’s book, have also been named defendants in the complaint.
Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter: “According to the complaint, Doyle’s public domain works ‘make references to Holmes’s retirement,’ but the ones still in copyright tell ‘much more about Sherlock Holmes’ retirement and later years,’ such as the detective’s attempt to solve one last case, how he ‘comes to love nature and dedicates himself to studying it,’ and how Holmes develops ‘a personal warmth and the capacity to express love for the first time.’ Mr. Holmes screenwriter Mitch Cullin allegedly took ‘protected elements of setting, plot, and character’ to create his work, setting up a defense that will likely explore what was covered in earlier Doyle work and what might be generic ideas not worthy of copyright protection.”
The cover for Stephen King’s The Bazaar of of Bad Dreams has been unveiled. We’ve embedded the full image above—what do you think? Follow this link to see the animated version of this jacket design.
Each short story in this collection is accompanied by a passage of commentary from King on his writing process. Some of the pieces featured in this book include “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation,” “Blockade Billy,” and “Drunken Fireworks.” Scribner, an imprint at Simon & Schuster, has scheduled the release date for November 3rd.
A British court has ordered the publisher of the Daily Mail to apologize to J.K. Rowling for alleging that she made up a “sob story” from her days as a single mother.
The article, “How JK Rowling’s sob story about her single mother past surprised and confused the church members who cared for her”, was published by the Daily Mail in response to an article that she wrote an article for the single parent charity Gingerbread’s website about her experience. The Huffington Post UK has more about the defamatory article:
…the article alleged Rowling “had given a knowingly false account” and “falsely and inexcusably accused her fellow churchgoers of behaving in a bigoted, unchristian manner towards her, of stigmatising her and cruelly taunting her for being a single mother”.
The court found that article to be defamatory and ordered Associated Newspapers Ltd to pay damages to Rowling, which she plans to donate to charity.
Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Herman Wouk is turning 100 next week. To celebrate, he is writing a book.
His book “Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author” will come out from Simon & Schuster this December. The memoir will cover Wouk’s years in the Navy during World War II, the inspiration for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Caine Mutiny.” The new book is already available for presale on Amazon.
The Associated Press has more: “In a statement issued through Simon & Schuster, Wouk calls his new work a “light-hearted memoir” and thanks readers who have stayed with him “for the long pull.””
Author Jeff VanderMeer has inked with Macmillan for a new novel.
Borne is slated to be released in 2016. Sean McDonald, an executive editor and vice president at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, negotiated the deal with Sally Harding, a literary agent at The Cooke Agency.
Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter: “Borne is set in the future, where a woman named Rachel, scavenging for usable detritus, stumbles upon a creature she calls the Borne, whose origins and composition are mysterious. Is it an animal or plant? A deity, or a cruel experiment?” (Photo Credit: Kyle Cassidy)
A historian named Mark Griffiths claims to have uncovered “the true face of” William Shakespeare. According to Country Life magazine, this likeness of the Bard can be found on the title page of John Gerard‘s 1597 botany book, The Herball.
The video embedded features Griffiths recounting how he made this discovery. Below, we’ve posted the cover from the May 2015 issue of Country Life magazine which showcases Shakespeare’s portrait.
The world’s greatest English playwright lived from 1564 to 1616. Given the publication date of Gerard’s plant tome, this means that the image was created during Shakespeare’s lifetime. The Guardian reports that “the only known authentic likenesses of Shakespeare are in the First Folio and the effigy on his monument at Holy Trinity church in Stratford-upon-Avon. Both of these were made posthumously.” (via CNN.com)
Margaret Atwood is the first author invited to participate in the Future Library, a time capsule of culture built in Norway last year that won’t been seen until 2114.
The Canadian author is adding her manuscript to the time capsule next week and to mark the occasion, she published some thoughts on Wattpad about the who experience. Check it out:
As a child, I was one of those who buried treasures in jars, with the idea that someone, some day, might come along and dig them up. I found similar things while digging in the various gardens I have made: old nails, old medicine bottles, fragments of china plates. Once in the Canadian arctic, I found a tiny doll carved of wood – rare wood, for no trees grow there and such a piece of wood must have been driftwood. That is what the Future Library is like, in part: it will contain fragments of lives that were once lived, and that are now past. But all writing is a method of preserving and transmitting the human voice.
The novel is part of The Future Library project, spearheaded by Scottish artist Katie Paterson. The project organizers planted 1,000 trees in Norway to supply the paper to print a collection of books in 2114. They plan to invite one writer a year to contribute a new text and print all of the books in 100 years.
The legendary Stan Lee plans to write a graphic memoir. Lee himself designated comics artist Colleen Doran to create the illustrations for this project.
The Touchstone imprint will publish Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir on October 6th. The publisher also plans to produce a deluxe slipcase edition; Lee will sign a limited number of these particular books. Senior editor Matthew Benjamin negotiated the deal with the team at the Susan Crawford literary agency.
Lee had this statement in the press release: “As Marvel just celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary, I thought maybe it’s time for a look at my life in the one form it has never been depicted, as a comicbook…or if you prefer, a graphic memoir. It strikes me as a horrendous oversight that I haven’t done it before! If I didn’t know everything about my life already, I’d envy your voyage of discovery!”
Journalist & author Bob Woodward thinks that Osama Bin Laden didn’t read his book closely enough. If he did, he might not have lived in the Pakistan hideout.
Woodward shared his opinion with The Washington Post after news came out that his book was among 38 other English language titles on Bin Laden’s book shelf during the raid on his compound in Pakistan. This information was published along with a number of documents that were declassified by the government this week. Here is what Woodward had to say to The Post:
\"If he read ‘Obama’s Wars,’ bin Laden’s takeaway should have been Obama does not like war but is willing to use lethal force,\" Woodward said in an e-mail. \"The American commander-in-chief in fact prefers covert Special Forces raids targeted and aimed at capturing or killing known high-value terrorist in their hideouts. A close reading might have sent him back to a mountain cave. Follow-on reading about Nixon (\"All the President’s Men\" and \"The Final Days\") could have shown him the destructive power of hate. As Nixon said, ‘When you hate your enemies, you destroy yourself.’ \"
Throughout his lifetime, John Green has juggled many roles including young adult author, video blogger, and entrepreneur. Thanks to the Paper Towns film adaptation, he adds the title of “executive producer” to his résumé.
One job that Green has never tackled is “casting director.” Despite this fact, many of his fans have been hounding him about possible actors and actresses to star in the Looking for Alaska movie.
Green has responded to these rabid requests through his social media channels with this retort: “I. Do. Not. Cast. Movie. Adaptations. Of. My. Books. I am not a casting director. Please stop threatening to kill me.” Below, we’ve collected Green’s Twitter messages in a Storify post.
Author Patricia Park has learned the hard way that not anyone can write a good book. While she dealt with her share of tough writers working as a book publicist, Park has written her own book and learned the hardship of being a novelist.
The former publishing professional has penned a column for The Daily Beast which details what she learned when leaving the publishing business to work on her own novel. Here is an excerpt from the piece:
Having worked in the business made me think I knew how the sausage factory was run, but in continuing with this oft-used publishing metaphor, I knew nothing about raising the pig from which the sausage was made. As difficult as it was to publish and promote books in a shrinking market, I soon learned it was that much harder to write one in the first place.
Park’s first novel Re Jane came out earlier this month. The book is a Korean-American retelling of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë set in NYC and Seoul.
In June, Alfred A. Knopf will release Judy Blume’s new adult fiction book In the Unlikely Event. The story came to Blume from an event back in the 1950’s where three plane crashes descended on her hometown of Elizabeth, N.J. within a two-month period.
Usually, Blume relies much more on life experiences to inspire her storytelling. For this project, she elected to try a different creative process and conducted extensive research to inform her writing.
Here’s more from The New York Times: “She spent hours at the Key West library, going through Microfilm in a room so dusty she wore a surgical mask, until her husband bought her a Microfilm machine on eBay to use at home. As she started writing, she lavishly layered in the historical details that define the small, specific universe of the book: the names of the department stores in Elizabeth where each person would have shopped, the songs and jingles that ran through their minds, the way young women stored their angora sweaters in the freezer to keep them from shedding. Her characters’ lives, and how the crashes changed them, started to take shape in her mind.”
Bill Gates has released his latest reading list: Beach Reads 2015.
The list includes: “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh; “The Magic of Reality” by Richard Dawkins; and “What If?” by Randall Munroe.
“Last year, there was only one book on my summer reading list that you could reasonably call a beach read,” Gates explained on his site. “This year I tried to pick a few more things that are on the lighter side. Each of these books made me think or laugh or, in some cases, do both. I hope you find something to your liking here. And if it’s not summer where you live, this list will still be here six months from now…”
Follow this link to read the entire list.
The cover for Jennifer Weiner’s forthcoming novel has been unveiled. We’ve embedded the full image for Who Do You Love above—what do you think?
US Weekly reports that this project marks the first time Weiner wrote a love story. Atria Books has set the publication date for August 11th.
Author Annie Dillard has inked a deal with HarperCollins.
Entertainment Weekly reports that the Ecco imprint will publish an new essay collection curated by the Pulitzer Prize winner. Some of the pieces featured in The Abundance include “Total Eclipse,” “Expedition to the Pole,” and “This is the Life.”
Novelist Geoff Dyer will contribute the foreword. According to Dillard’s website, the book will be released either later this year or in 2016. (Photo Credit: Phyllis Rose)
How do you kill of a character in your book? Make them so interesting that the reader can’t believe that they are dead says James Patterson.
The author posted a video with the tip on his Facebook page today as part of a promotion for his new master class. Here is more about the class:
James Patterson, the author of 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times Best Sellers, reveals his tricks of the trade for the very first time. In this course, he guides you through every part of the book writing process.
Poet Franz Wright has died. He was 62 years old.
Wright (pictured, via) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for his book, Walking to Martha’s Vineyard. Click here to read some of Wright’s poems.
Here’s more from The Washington Post: “Sometimes, he said, poems appeared to him fully formed in his mind: All he had to was type them out. His 2001 collection ‘The Beforelife’ was a dark, candid look at his addictions and his experiences in a mental hospital. Mr. Wright continued to chronicle his journey of self-discovery with ‘Walking to Martha’s Vineyard,’ which touched his troubled memories of his father and examined questions of mortality.” (via The Huffington Post)
Artist Lydia Hess has inked a deal with the HarperElixir imprint to create two new coloring books for adults. The theme of these two books, Sacred Nature and Sacred Symbols, will focus on spirituality.
Each title will feature 50 illustrations. The release date has been set for October 6th.
Publisher Claudia Riemer Boutote had this statement in the press release: “Coloring Books for the Soul are a unique addition to the rapidly growing adult coloring book category. The sacred elements of nature and mystical symbols illustrated in Lydia Hess’s unique scratchboard-montage style provide a creative outlet for adults to replace stress and anxiety with imaginative, inspired expression and a soul nourishing experience.”
Atonement novelist Ian McEwan gave a commencement address at the graduation ceremony for Dickinson College’s class of 2015. McEwan spoke to the students about freedom of expression; he urged these newly minted graduates to do their part to preserve this important right. The video embedded above features McEwan delivering his speech.
Time.com has posted McEwan’s piece in its entirety. Here’s an excerpt: “It’s worth remembering this: freedom of expression sustains all the other freedoms we enjoy. Without free speech, democracy is a sham. Every freedom we possess or wish to possess (of habeas corpus and due process, of universal franchise, and of assembly , union representation, sexual equality, of sexual preference, of the rights of children, of animals—the list goes on) has to be freely thought and talked and written into existence.”
In the past, a great number of authors have delivered moving commencement speeches. Coraline writer Neil Gaiman’s 2012 “Make Good Art” talk went viral. Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling’s 2008 “Very Good Lives” talk has drawn more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.
Young adult writer Sabaa Tahir has landed a deal with Penguin Young Readers Group. The Razorbill imprint will publish Tahir’s sequel for An Ember in the Ashes.
The company executives have ordered a first printing of 250,000 copies for this book. The release date has been tentatively scheduled for April 2016.
Here’s more from the press release: “In her next novel, Tahir takes readers into the heart of the ruthless Martial Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers and haunted by the events of An Ember in the Ashes, Laia and Elias must outwit their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.”
Melissa Stewart, award-winning author of more than 150 nonfiction books for children, steps into our Author's Spotlight today. In her post, she shares about the chunk and check process, which will help your students conduct research.
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age range: 10 and up
genre: contemporary middle grade
Filled with a delightful range of quirky characters and told with heart, the story also explores themes of family, friendship, and courage in its many forms. . . . It has something to offer for a wide-ranging audience. . . . Offering hope to those who struggle academically and demonstrating that a disability does not equal stupidity, this is as unique as its heroine.
— Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
Mullaly Hunt again paints a nuanced portrayal of a sensitive, smart girl struggling with circumstances beyond her control. . . . Ally’s raw pain and depression are vividly rendered, while the diverse supporting cast feels fully developed. . . . Mr. Daniels is an inspirational educator whose warmth radiates off the page. Best of all, Mullaly Hunt eschews the unrealistic feel-good ending for one with hard work and small changes. Ally’s journey is heartwarming but refreshingly devoid of schmaltz.
— School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
Please tell us about your book.
Fish in a Tree is about sixth-grader, Ally Nickerson, who misbehaves in school to hide the fact that she struggles with reading and writing. Since her dad is in the military, she has moved from school to school; this has helped her keep her secret. Having moved so often, she has not had to opportunity to forge strong friendships as well – until she meets Kesiha and Albert.
It is also very much a school story with eight different student personalities interacting with (sometimes crashing into) each other and their teacher Mr. Daniels.
What inspired you to write this story?
Well, my own life inspired the story. Although I’ve never been tested for dyslexia, I have been suspicious that I have at least a touch of it. I was in the lowest reading group in grades one through six. Mr. Daniels is based on my sixth grade teacher Mr. Christy. I realized about halfway through writing it that Fish in a Tree is a love letter to him and all teachers like him.
I have no doubt that Mr. Christy saved me. I came into sixth grade wondering what would be come of me and left sixth grade with a laser focus on becoming a teacher and helping kids like he helped me. He set a high expectations. Even as a child I knew this was a high compliment and I tried very hard to reach every bar he set for me. He completely changed my perception of myself in on year – a powerful transformation. The man was amazing.
Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
This book required a lot of research, actually. I had the opportunity to speak with some people who have dyslexia and were not helped until they were older. Unfortunately, even with all the screening in the early grades, kids still slip through the cracks until sixth grade or higher. Being a teacher I know that it is a very difficult job. When a child is very bright, they can often compensate very well and mask their difficulties. Ally Nickerson is such a child.
I also had to do a lot of research for Albert. He is a walking encyclopedia but that took hours of finding facts that were not only pertinent but interesting as well.
What are some special challenges associated with writing contemporary middle grade fiction?
I think one of the special challenges associated with writing contemporary middle grade are authenticity. At least for me. It takes courage to be honest but middle grade readers respond very well to it – in fact readers of all ages do.
So, as the writer we have to crawl into our own basement sometimes in order to get it on the page. Both of the books that I have written make me feel very vulnerable in this regard. They’re honest. And they are me. The vulnerability was difficult at first but now I see it as a gift and I’m grateful to be able to share those aspects of myself with readers.
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
The topics my book touches upon that make it a perfect fit for the classroom are family life, love of siblings, being different is a gift, bullying in the sense that we can’t control the bully’s behavior but we can control how we respond to it, a family struggling financially, and how learning disabilities are not necessarily disabilities – just a different way of learning.
The post Classroom Connections: FISH IN A TREE by Lynda Mullaly Hunt appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.