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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Interviews, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. tips for giving a stellar interview

Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

Because I enjoy eating and living indoors, I have a day job.

I’m in the marketing and communications departments of a regional health system. Part of my job involves media relations. Most weeks, that means interacting with reporters from local television, radio and print media. Recently, we had calls from reporters Cosmo and the Huffington Post, but that was a weird week!

What does all this have to do with you, my little parfait? Well, because I arrange interviews, I also help to prepare the interviewees, many of whom are new to the experience and naturally nervous. Since there may be interviews in your future, I thought why not share these tips with you?

TV interview

  • Practice with a friend. Video your interview. Look for what you’re doing
    Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

    Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

    well and do more of that!

  • Look at the interviewer, not the camera.
  • Bring a copy of your book with you. Don’t assume the interviewer will have one.
  • Don’t wear checks or stripes.
  • See tips for radio interviews.

Radio interview

  • Smile as you speak.
  • Be sure you know how long the interview will be, so you can pace yourself.
  • Ask if you can send questions ahead of time. The interviewer may really appreciate it, and you’ll know what to anticipate and how to prepare.
  • If you can’t send questions ahead, it’s absolutely okay to ask the interviewer the direction of the interview (is it more about your book, about you, about your writing journey, about advice, about your favorite panini–you just never know).
  • Prepare yourself a cheat sheet with answers to anticipated questions, but DO NOT write out every word. Make it more a “grocery list” of prompts. If you create a word for word script, you’ll be too tempted to just read it and you’ll come off sounding stiff even when we all know you are super cool.
  • Have a cup of water handy. (A bottle takes too much time to open.)
  • Thank the interviewer.

Phone interview

  • Use a landline, if available, so you don’t have to worry about your call being dropped mid conversation.
  • Try to be relaxed and conversational. Listeners will respond to your personality, not your perfect diction.
  • See tips for a radio interview.

For any type of interview

It’s easy to get flustered. Make yourself a cheat sheet with basic information so if your mind goes blank, all you have to do is read–

  • The title(s) of your book(s)
  • Web site name and address
  • How readers can can contact you
  • Where your books are available
  • Details about the event or signing you’re promoting (date, time, place, etc.)

And finally . . . 

It’s not uncommon for an interviewer to wrap up an interview with a question like, “Is there anything else you’d like to say?”

Think about using this as an opportunity to promote someone else’s book. David Sedaris does this every time he goes on tour for his own newest book. Isn’t that a beautiful, generous gesture? It’s a delightful chance to pay it forward for an author or illustrator who has been especially supportive of you.

Now, if you have an agent, publicist or your publisher’s marketing team advising you, please listen to them and learn. Use my suggestions when/if they seem useful to you. Most of all, no matter how an interview turns out, remember you, my little blueberry scone, are still one of the coolest, most talented people on ten toes.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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2. Stitching Together an Animated Leap of Faith: An Interview With ‘The Prophet’ Director Roger Allers

We spoke with Allers about awards season, women in animation, and why we still don't see enough anthology animation at the multiplex.

The post Stitching Together an Animated Leap of Faith: An Interview With ‘The Prophet’ Director Roger Allers appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

0 Comments on Stitching Together an Animated Leap of Faith: An Interview With ‘The Prophet’ Director Roger Allers as of 11/27/2015 6:21:00 PM
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3. Interview with Donna Maguire, Author of The Silly Willy Winston Series

BookBuzzr - Interview with Donna Maguire

In an effort to understand Children’s Book Authors, their inspirations, their writing process, their needs, their problems,… we reached out to Donna Maguire, author of the Silly Willy Winston series who after close to 40 years in the advertising business Donna left it behind to care for her grand niece and nephew in Nevada some years ago.

Donna believes that the love for reading is more nurture than nature and reads to her grand children often. It was this reading that led her to pursue her life-long passion of writing children’s books. A collection of 4 books and fifth in the making, Donna joined me for my first ever video interview. I’m so exited it turned out so well. :)

In the interview Donna answers my questions about -

  • her journey to becoming an author
  • her inspirations, her muse, her learnings
  • the challenges she has faced and what she did about them
  • marketing activities she has done and her learnings
  • why she has her own online store for her books & her favourite tools for book marketing
  • her plans for the next book launch and the Silly Willy Winston Review Club

You can see all of Donna’s books and read more about her at www.sillywillywinston.com. Also connect with her on Twitter at @DmmSilly and on her Facebook Page.



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4. Q&A and Giveaway: Dragon Storm by Katie MacAlister

Katie MacAlister dropped by the virtual offices to answer a few questions! Be sure to enter the giveaway, too!

Do you have any favorite book boyfriends of your own?

Oh, mercy, just line my books up and start reading off the hero names. I’ve said before that I write books for myself first, and that’s absolutely true. I love all of my heroes, and it’s only because publishers won’t let me write all the heroines as me that I bother with writing those dishy men females who are worthy of them.

Outside of my books, I was one of those girls who grew up with the hots for Sherlock Holmes. As an adult, I’ve been quite fond of several of Georgette Heyer heroes, particularly those who give in to their senses of humor (Sir Tristram from Talisman Ring, and Freddy Standen from Cotillion).

What are five books on your night stand/bookshelf?

This is going to be a very disappointing answer, I fear. Right now on my nightstand are Sol y Viento (a Spanish textbook), Art: A Brief History by Marilyn Stokstad (an art history textbook), History of Italian Renaissance Art by Frederick Hartt and David Wilkins, Introduction to Forensic Science by Richard Saferson, and Step Aside, Popsm a Hark! A Vagrant Collection by Kate Beaton.

What’s your favorite quote or scene from your book?

I think the scene where Gary meets Jim is one of my faves. Especially since Gary is showing off, and Jim is instantly jealous of Gary’s toys.

If your couple’s relationship had a theme song, what would it be?

Roar by Katy Perry. The need to rise above people who want to put you down is pertinent to both hero and heroine. Plus I can see them both singing it loudly.

Tell us about the cover process. Is this what you had in mind?

I’m lucky in that my publishers have excellent art departments who take a few bits of scattered ideas that I pry out of my brain, and turn them into gorgeous covers, usually involving lick-worthy men. And this cover is no different. It’s not a bad thing to find yourself stroking a book cover, is it?

Where do you find inspiration for you writing? Do you use real people/places as a foundation?

I’ve always told myself stories, so writing is really just an extension of that. My inspiration is my muse, who I picture as a bon-bon eating diva who reclines of fainting couches a lot, waving a languid hand whenever she wants something, and basically ruling me with threats of going away on vacation if I attempt to work her too hard.  I seldom use real people in my books, since the people in my head are much more flawed and thus suitable for me to torment, but I do use as many real locations as I possibly can. I rely heavily on past trips to Europe as the source of many locations, and those I haven’t visited I usually research by finding people who live there, and haunting online webcams, and photo galleries.

Do you have any hobbies or activities that you enjoy outside of writing?

When my arthritic hands let me, I like to spin wool into yarn, knit, and sew a variety of things that never quite turn out as I’ve envisioned. I’m a gamer girl, as well, so I’m online in games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars The Old Republic, Hearthstone, Lord of the Rings Online, and way too many other games.

I’ve also decided to go back to school, and am enjoying online classes at Fort Hays State University so I can add a history degree to my list of credentials.

Would the 10 year-old version of yourself kick your butt or praise you for what you’ve accomplished in life?

Oh, she’d be thrilled that I’ve survived the last few years, since they included everything from the death of my husband to moving to a new house. And I think she’d be quite happy with the body of work I’ve produced in the last ten years, although I know she’d tell me I should stop insisting on having time off between books, and instead write non-stop.


About Dragon Storm

According to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he’s now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep-until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon’s dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman . . .
Bee isn’t sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he’s grown to love with fierce intensity.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1hQ84jD
B&N: http://bit.ly/1OFgvN4
iBooks: http://apple.co/1jQSK7v
GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/1MAdTdq
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1QNqSft
BAM: http://bit.ly/1OPgyo0

About Katie MacAlister

For as long as she can remember Katie MacAlister has loved reading, and grew up with her nose buried in a book. It wasn’t until many years later that she thought about writing her own books, but once she had a taste of the fun to be had building worlds, tormenting characters, and falling madly in love with all her heroes, she was hooked.
With more than fifty books under her belt, Katie’s novels have been translated into numerous languages, been recorded as audiobooks, received several awards, and are regulars on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. A self-proclaimed gamer girl, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her dogs, and frequently can be found hanging around online.





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5. MATT CHATS: Nicola Scott on Making ‘Magick’ with Greg Rucka

Nicola Scott is probably best known currently for her time drawing for DC Comics. Her smooth, sleek linework on titles such as Secret Six and Earth 2 was distinct but still fit in tonally with the rest of the DC Universe. Despite her success with that style, she switches up dramatically for her creator-owned Image title Black Magick, written by Greg […]

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6. A Visit with Stephen Alcorn: For the Love of Drawing

The Alcorn Homestead & Gallery; Mixed media on paper   Pictured above is an image from illustrator and printmaker Stephen Alcorn. It depicts the home he grew up in; Stephen’s father was artist, designer, and children’s book illustrator John Alcorn, who died in 1992. (There’s more information here at 7-Imp about John and his work.) […]

1 Comments on A Visit with Stephen Alcorn: For the Love of Drawing, last added: 11/24/2015
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7. Life With Greg: Swierczynski preps the next arc of Archie’s The Black Hood

Duane Swierczynski put Greg Hettinger, the star of his series from Archie’s Dark Circle imprint, through the ringer in the first arc of The Black Hood. Throughout “The Bullet’s Kiss” arc, Swierczynski’s background as a crime novelist shined through the pages, as each chapter of the five-part series read like an addictive crime novel. It was impossible […]

1 Comments on Life With Greg: Swierczynski preps the next arc of Archie’s The Black Hood, last added: 11/24/2015
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8. Jenn Murray interview on ‘An Irishman Abroad’

Fantastic Beasts actress Jenn Murray recently appeared on the podcast An Irishman Abroad, answering questions about her character and the movie:

“Jenn discusses how she landed the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them role, how the job of an actor is much more than just auditioning and acting, how she handled the challenge of playing the lead role in Dorothy Mills a film in which her character had seven personalities and the performance that earned her an IFTA nomination. We also hear about the Jim Sheridan film which sparked her passion for acting.

Jenn speaks about the trials and tribulations of drama school, how she strengthened her character, learned to cope with rejection and chose to abandon social networks while also explaining her theory that we can use desire to override fear.’

Murray – like Redmayne – also mentioned the pressure of featuring in Fantastic Beasts as a result of it not being a series of books with characters and events that the actors can get to know beforehand:

With Harry Potter, they had the novel to refer to, the people knew what was going to come up, people imagined them when they read them, but this is an original screenplay.’

Jenn discussed the intimidation and excitement of working with hugely successful actors and actresses on a large set at Leavesden Studios (“We did a read-through with all the actors in Leavesden Studios, and there were hard copies of the script, everyone was at a square table, and that was the first time I held it in my hand”) and confirmed that production will end in January.

“We walked onto a big set, and Eddie Redmayne was there, and I’ve watched his work for years, I remember him from Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and when you look at someone’s face, you want to hear their story, and he had that.

[On Samantha Morton]: I had admired her for so many years because of her choices, she was a real actress – she took risks, she was very courageous.”

Brooklyn – in cinemas now – features Jenn alongside Julie Walters (Mrs Weasley), Jim Broadbent (Professor Slughorn) and Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley).

Murray will be portraying the character ‘Chastity’ in Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them – the first instalment of which is released November 18th 2016.

Listen to the whole podcast here!

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9. StoryMakers On Location | The Westchester Children’s (and Teens!) Book Festival

StoryMakers On Location - Westchester Book Festival Image

On a brisk fall morning, more than twenty authors and illustrators gathered at the White Plains Public Library for the second annual Westchester Children’s (and Teens!) Book Festival. Community members including children, parents, and educators were invited to meet the authors and illustrators, shop Barnes & Nobles pop-up shop, have their books autographed, and take in a reading of picture, middle grade, and young adult books. Literacy advocacy organization First Book gifted an age-appropriate book to each child in attendance.

The Westchester Children’s (and Teens!) Book Festival was a reunion of sorts. Rocco Staino and the crew ran into Stephen Savage, Julie Chibbaro, and J.M. Superville Sovak; past Read Out Loud and StoryMakers guests. Rocco interviewed authors and illustrators who cover a wide range of topics including fantasy (Tracey West), civil rights (Eric Velasquez), bullying and the power of creativity (Matt Davies), immigration and tradition (Tanya Simon & Mark Siegel), special education (Delores Connors), healing through yoga (Susa Verde), and being multiracial (Torrey Maldonado).

Meeting authors and illustrators is a good reason to attend a book festival, but it is not the only one. Visiting a book festival gives parents (great family activity) and educators the ability to connect with other community members and organizations interested in childhood literacy. While several festival guests were aware of KidLit TV we were able to interact with a new group of readers, viewers, and literacy advocates.


We’ve provided time stamps (in parentheses) and abridged summaries, from the author or publisher’s site, of books discussed during this episode of Story Makers On Location.

Anya Wallach (00:25)
Stage Struck: Showstopper! (Co-Authored by Lisa Fielder) – Book 2 begins just days after the debut of the troupe’s first production. Relishing her success, Anya turns her attention to the troupe’s second show. But trouble rears its head almost immediately when their beloved barn venue is jeopardized.

Stage Struck: Curtains Up! (Co-Authored by Lisa Fielder) – After 12-year-old Anya is cut from her middle school soccer team, she decides to pursue her true passion, which is theater. With the help of her sister and new friend Austin, Anya puts together a kids summer theater troupe (The Random Farms Kids Theater), recruiting area kids as actors and crew members.

Susan Verde (01:03)
I Am Yoga (Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds) – New York Times bestselling illustrator Peter H. Reynolds and author and certified yoga instructor Susan Verde team up again in this book about creativity and the power of self-expression. I Am Yoga encourages children to explore the world of yoga and make room in their hearts for the world beyond it. A kid-friendly guide to 16 yoga poses is included.

You and Me (Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds) – You and Me is a loving tribute to how fate brought two best friends together. An adorable cat muses about the what-ifs in life: What if he had slept late that one special morning? What if he’d missed his train on that fateful day? Then he might never have met his favorite person in the world, and his entire life would be different!

The Museum (Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds) – As a little girl tours and twirls through the halls of the art museum, she finds herself on an exciting adventure. Each piece of art evokes something new inside of her: silliness, curiosity, joy, and ultimately inspiration. When confronted with an empty white canvas, she is energized to create and express herself—which is the greatest feeling of all.

Eric Velasquez, Illustrator (01:51)
New Shoes (Written by Susan Lynn Meyer) – When her brother’s hand-me-down shoes don’t fit, it is time for Ella Mae to get new ones. She is ecstatic, but when she and her mother arrive at Mr. Johnson’s shoe store, her happiness quickly turns to dejection. Ella Mae is unable to try on the shoes because of her skin color. Determined to fight back, Ella Mae and her friend Charlotte work tirelessly to collect and restore old shoes, wiping, washing, and polishing them to perfection. The girls then have their very own shoe sale, giving the other African American members of their community a place to buy shoes where they can be treated fairly and “try on all the shoes they want.”

Gary Golio (03:00)
Bird & Diz (Illustrated by Ed Young) – A playful tribute to the creators of Bebop, starring sax player Charlie “Bird” Parker and trumpeter John “Dizzy” Gillespie! As they juggle notes and chase each other with sounds, the two friends create a new kind of music, thrilling fast jazz full of endless surprises.

Tanya Simon (Co-Author) & Mark Siegel (Illustrator) (03:35)
Oskar and the Eight Blessings (Co-Authored by Richard Simon) – A refugee seeking sanctuary from the horrors of Kristallnacht, Oskar arrives by ship in New York City with only a photograph and an address for an aunt he has never met. It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his new home in the north of the city, he passes experiences the city’s many holiday sights, and encounters it various residents. Each offers Oskar a small act of kindness, welcoming him to the city and helping him on his way to a new life in the new world.

Susanna Reich (05:55)
Fab Four Friends: the Boys Who Became the BeatlesThe true story of how four ordinary boys growing up amid the rubble of postwar England became the bestselling band in history.

Matt Davies, Author/Illustrator (06:14)
Nerdy Birdy (Written by Aaron Reynolds) – Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd. One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle. When he’s at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky.

Ben Draws Trouble – Ben loved drawing more than anything else in the world (with the possible exception of riding his bicycle). He drew boats as well as bicycles, sharks and spaceships. But most of all he loved drawing people. When Ben loses his sketchbook his world is turned upside down. Who will find it? And how will they react? Find out in this worthy successor to Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies’s first picture book, Ben Rides On.

Ben Rides OnBen loves his new bike. In fact, he loves it so much he even likes riding to school (especially if he can take the long way around)! That is, until an encounter with the local bully, Adrian Underbite, leaves Ben bike-less. When Ben discovers where his bike actually is, the reader is in for a dramatic, and literal, cliffhanger. Will Ben ever be able to get his bike back?

Neil Swaab (07:24)
The Secrets to Ruling School (Without Even Trying)It’s the first week of middle school, i.e., the Worst Place in the Entire World. How do you survive in a place where there are tough kids twice your size, sadistic teachers, and restrictions that make jail look like a five-star resort? Easy: with the help of Max Corrigan, middle school “expert” and life coach. Let Max teach you how to win over not just one, but all of the groups in school, from the Preps to the Band Geeks. Along the way, Max offers surefire advice and revealing tips on how to get through universal middle school experiences like gym class, detention, faking sick, dealing with jocks and bullies, and acing exams (without getting caught cheating).

Tracey West (07:57)
Dragon Masters: Power of the Fire DragonIt’s time for the Dragon Masters to battle the dark wizard! This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow! The Dragon Masters are going to visit Queen Rose’s kingdom. But Rori and Drake must stay behind. Then a four-headed dragon attacks the castle — and Maldred is riding it! How is Maldred controlling this giant dragon? Will Rori and Drake have to battle the dark wizard on their own?

Bianca Turetsky (08:18)
The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the NileWhen Louise Lambert tries on a lavender Grecian gown during a visit to the mysterious Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale, she feels a familiar tug and falls back in time, arriving at the dusty base of an enormous pyramid. She has landed in ancient Egypt…or has she? It turns out that Louise is on the legendary Old Hollywood film set of Cleopatra, but her time there is short-lived. Rummaging through the wardrobe tent, Louise gets her hands on a pearl necklace that dates back to 51 BC, and she suddenly finds herself whisked away once more, this time to the ancient city of Alexandria, Egypt. Gold and jewels shimmer in the Egyptian sunlight, but poisonous snakes and dangerous enemies also roam the palace halls. Louise quickly learns that life as a handmaiden to Queen Cleopatra is much more treacherous–and fashionable–than she ever could have imagined.

Delores Connors (09:05)
I Don’t Want To GoWhat is it like for a child to go from a mainstream classroom into a special education class? For Mark it’s a challenge, and he doesn’t want to go. Mark is struggling with the idea of moving from his “big classroom” into this “little classroom.” I Don’t Want To Go, through its poignant narrative, brings home the point that emotions can have a strong impact on student learning.

Torrey Maldonado (09:41)
Secret SaturdaysSean is Justin’s best friend, at least Justin thought he was. But lately Sean has been acting differently: telling lies, getting into trouble at school, and hanging out with a tougher crowd. When Justin finally discovers that Sean’s been secretly going to visit his father in prison and is dealing with the shame of that, Justin wants to do something to help before his friend spirals further out of control. But what if confronting Sean means Justin loses his very best friend?

White Plains Mayor Tom Roach & White Plains Superintendent of Schools Paul Fried (02:32)
Tamia M., child festival attendee (05:32)

Max Rodriguez & Brian Kenney (10:24)

The Westchester Children’s Book Festival is a partnership of the Harlem Book Fair, the White Plains Public Library, The City of White Plains, the City of White Plains Youth Bureau, and the White Plains Library Foundation. Festival sponsors include TD Bank, New York-Presbyterian Westchester Division, MVP Health Care Hudson Health Plan, Westchester Knicks, and First Book.


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Executive Producer – Julie Gribble
Producer – Kassia Graham

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10. More from Lisbeth Zwerger . . .

“‘It is the same thing with you,’ said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn’t much.”   Today, I’m following up my Q&A last week with Lisbeth Zwerger—be sure to check out the […]

3 Comments on More from Lisbeth Zwerger . . ., last added: 11/19/2015
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11. #778 – I Don’t Want to be a Frog by Dev Petty & Mike Boldt

I Don’t Want to Be a Frog Written by Dev Petty Illustrated by Mike Boldt Doubleday Books for Young Readers  2/10/2015 978-0-385-37866-6 32 pages      Ages 2—6 . “Let me ask you something . . . If you could be any animal in the world, what would it be? Probably NOT a frog, right? …

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12. One Picture-Book Roundtable DiscussionBefore Breakfast #5: Featuring Team Roar!

  Good morning, Imps. I’ve got another picture book roundtable discussion today, this one with the team behind Roar!, which was released by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster in October. Roar!, written by Tammi Sauer, tells the story of a young boy playing imaginatively in his home-made dragon costume. He’s pretty pumped about his big, […]

1 Comments on One Picture-Book Roundtable DiscussionBefore Breakfast #5: Featuring Team Roar!, last added: 11/18/2015
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13. Rebooting Charlie Brown With ‘The Peanuts Movie’ Director Steve Martino

We spoke with Martino about merging the worlds of 2D and 3D animation, and why a Charlie Brown who is actually recognized and praised isn't much of a stretch for Schulz.

0 Comments on Rebooting Charlie Brown With ‘The Peanuts Movie’ Director Steve Martino as of 11/17/2015 3:52:00 PM
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14. Barry Deutsch on Hereville

deutsch_hereville how mirka caught a fishIn our November/December issue, reviewer Shoshana Flax asked Barry Deutsch about the third entry in his graphic novel series about “11-year-old time-traveling Jewish Orthodox babysitter” Mirka. Read the full starred review of Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish here.

Shoshana Flax: We hear more about the modern world in this third installment. What do you think the neighbors think of Hereville?

Barry Deutsch: I can honestly say no one’s ever asked me that before! The people in the next town over are pretty suspicious of Hereville. There are a lot of weird rumors flying around, as you’d expect. (The Hereville folks tend to be pretty insular.) But in real life, one of my neighbors has become a big Hereville fan! We sometimes talk about it on the bus.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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15. Frog Explains Why He Doesn’t Want to be a Frog!

Kid Lit Reviews is pleased to welcome Frog and his father. Frog is the star in Dev Petty’s debut picture book, I Don’t Want to be a Frog! from  Doubleday Books for Young Readers and artist Mike Boldt. Frog doesn’t like being a frog. He’s rather be a cat, or an owl, or even a pig. Dad just …

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16. How Audiobooks Are Made, Narrator Emily Woo Zeller Tells All

Stacey here chatting with my Doppelganger and fellow PubCrawler Stephanie Garber about one of my favorite ways to read a book—audiobooks! A good narrator can really enhance the “read” in so many ways. So Stephanie and I thought it would be fun to chat with the person who narrated Under a Painted Sky to get a behind-the-scenes look.

Before we begin our interview, some basic understanding. Audio rights are one of several rights one can grant a publisher, and they are another potential revenue stream. If you grant this right, your publishers can either make your audiobook themselves through one of their in-house audiobook imprints (an example would be Penguin Random Audio for adult books and nonfiction, and Listening Library for YA and children’s books), or license the rights to a third party publisher (like Tantor Media, which published UAPS). Whether an audiobook is actually made simply depends on whether your publisher believes there is a demand. I’ve seen several estimates of how many traditionally published books turn into audiobooks each year, and the one I’ve seen most cited is 10%.

Now onto our interview!


Stacey: How did you get started in the biz of audiobooks?

Emily: I got started in audiobooks through an audition process. I found out about the submission information through my network of actor friends at the time. I had just moved back to the US from having done animation in Hong Kong for a couple of years and was itching to get back in the groove somehow. I was already immediately involved in theater so that was my base.

The ironic twist in my life. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher told my parents that I needed to pay more attention and practice reading out loud because I was struggling. Ha! I guess I took that information to heart.

Stacey: Where did you come by your beautiful, clear voice? Is it something people commented on (or got you dates or jobs)?

Emily: Thank you! I’ve used and trained it my entire life. I started singing and dancing and learning how to use my body and voice from a very young age. As I got older, my studies became about understanding alignment and breath, which have saved my voice. And I’m always learning.

Over the years, I have played many great parts in musicals and theater so that’s primarily where I got my kicks using my body/voice.

As a budding adolescent, I was told on a number of occasions by peers that my voice was sultry and I could work for a sex hotline. Oh, 13-yr-old conversation! Now that I think about it, maybe that early exposure to a sexualized existence for women and girls and the limitation to it helped me along toward my feminist ways. Not that there’s anything wrong with working on a sex hotline or reading steamy scenes out loud, but being a sex worker was perhaps not the only aspiration for a 13-yr-old girl.

Stephanie: I would love to know how you prepare for work. Do you mark up the books so you know which voice to do? How do you ‘create’ a voice for a particular character?

Emily: I always read the book beforehand—a piece of crucial information about a character or the plot may come up at the end of the story and heaven help the person that has to go back and fix everything!

Sometimes authors provide a lot of information about a character and so the voice comes very clearly based on that. How does that person stand, walk, breathe, what culture are they from, why is their voice scratchy or smooth or high-pitched or low-pitched, etc.? Sometimes all you know is that it is a woman or a man who works at the post office or serves food. Then, I get to have a little more room. On my first job, I was told that I could take it easier with the character voices because people were listening to a book (not watching a cartoon). It also depends on the tone of the book. Some are more fantastical than others and varying points of view from book to book lend toward different tones of narration.

Stephanie. How does one learn to speak with a particular accent? Do you speak any languages?

Emily: I speak conversational Cantonese and some Mandarin…and I can parrot very well phrases in Spanish, German, French, Japanese, Korean, Russian, etc. I love languages and accents and dialects and have had a lot of exposure to them.

Chinese is a language spoken at home and I studied Mandarin as a foreign language in high school and had a few dance teachers who spoke almost exclusively in Mandarin. I’m always listening for language variations and practicing. Perhaps being a singer/musician and learning both a tonal language and English together growing up helped with having an affinity and knack for a broad range of sound? If I weren’t doing it for books/work, it’d probably be a hobby! There’s also a great resource called the International Dialects of English Archive that I use when I don’t necessarily have an accent or dialect off of the tip of my tongue.

Stacey: During an especially emotional scene, when you sound like you’re crying, it makes the listening cry, too. Are you really experiencing sadness when you’re doing that voice in that a moment?

Emily: Often, yes. Narrating a story is participating in the story to a certain degree—sometimes more than other times depending on the nature of the text, but certainly always being invested in the telling of it.

Stephanie: How many hours a week do you spend narrating? Do you have a day job?

Emily: I am a full time voiceover artist and a good portion of the work I do is in audiobooks, though I sometimes also do work in animation, commercial, and other aspects of voiceover. I love the format of audiobooks. Though it can be very taxing recording long sessions for long stretches of days, especially as someone who does this work full time, I’ve learned how to take care of myself so that doing this work that I love so much is sustainable. I can’t record for more than 5 or 6 hours a day before everything (voice, brain, body) starts going haywire. I am an independent contractor who runs my own business, so the hours and work itself vary widely.

I also perform physical theater or something else where I’m acting, singing, and/or dancing. I am also a teacher, mostly teaching yoga now.

Stephanie: What’s your favorite voice to do?

ScissorhandsEmily: My favorite voice is one that I have yet to use in a book or show! It’s a shy young boy who has really bad allergies. I’m working on getting him into a project with some colleagues where he can be an animated character or a puppet.

Stacey: For people who want to go into the business of narrating audiobooks, what’s your best advice?

Emily: Be prepared to work hard: Take acting classes. Pay attention to how people sound and what makes them sound that way. Practice. Listen.

Stacey is giving away the audiobook of Under a Painted Sky, so you can see for yourself how lovely Emily’s voice is!

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17. Interview in Cardboard: A Talk with Dana Sheridan


Good morning, everyone, and thank you for attending yet another edition of the A Fuse #8 Production interview series.  I am, as ever, your host Betsy Bird and before we go much further you might have noticed something a little different about me.  Is it my hair?  The fact I have my contacts in?  Or could it possibly be the fact that I am a toilet paper tube wearing a cute red dress* with matching shoes?  Sharp eye spotters will realize it is the last option.  It’s like Michel Gondry, but even smaller!

Yes, as you see here I am appearing before you today in my toilet paper tube form, due entirely to our guest Dana Sheridan.  Dana is one of those people with a life and job so amazing, that you may find you resent me slightly for introducing her to you in the first place.  The quickie bio is as follows:

dr dana“Dana Sheridan received her Ph.D. and M.Ed. in Educational Psychology from the University of Virginia. While her academic work focused on how children learn in free-choice environments, her professional passion has always been the design of dynamic hands-on programs and presentations for children. She has worked in a variety of settings, including a children’s hospital, special collections libraries, a children’s museum, a science center, and a major city zoo.

Additionally, she has been a guest lecturer at literary society meetings, children’s literature classes, and education courses. She currently works at the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University, and blogs about her creative literacy work at Pop Goes the Page: blogs.princeton.edu/popgoesthepage

At which point you might say, “There’s someone at Princeton who gets to work with children’s books all the time?”  Yep.  And what’s more, her projects?  They’re drop dead amazing.  But enough lead up!  Let’s talk to the woman one-on-one.

Betsy Bird: First off, your job is so incredibly interesting, but it’s not the kind that you learn about in library school.  Can you tell me a bit about how you came to it?

Dana Sheridan: The short answer is a friend spotted it for me! The long answer is that my friend, Mary Maher, is childhood friends with Lila Fredenburg, the former head of HR at the Princeton University Library. The Cotsen Children’s Rare Books and Special Collections Library was looking for a new Education & Outreach Coordinator, and the job was drastically different from the other University library postings. So Lila sent the job description to Mary, who is a denizen of the children’s museum world. And Mary sent it to me. And I yelled and screamed and jumped around and had my application in a week later. I had just finished my Ph.D. at the University of Virginia. While in grad school, to counter all the dry academic reading I was doing, I started revisiting my favorite children’s chapter books. The next thing I knew, I was devouring stacks of 15-20 books a week. I was thoroughly enjoying reading for the sake of reading, not realizing I was setting myself up for the perfect job at Princeton University. When I received the offer from Princeton – and I am not kidding about this – I was so excited, my nose started bleeding.

BB: What does a typical day look like for you?

DS: I arrive at work at 8:30am, and depart around 6:30pm. What falls in between those hours varies wildly. My library offers two weekly story times that meet year-round (with the exception of August). During the academic year, we have a bi-weekly children’s literary society, a bi-weekly collections education program for local schools, Saturday events, 3 author webcast premieres, a writing program for teens, and an annual writing contest for kids ages 9-14. My creative blog, Pop Goes the Page, posts twice weekly, year-round. I also do workshops and site visits to other places…and…I am the only full-time person on staff! I have an assistant who works 20 hours a week, and I hire Princeton University students for targeted projects as well. So on any given day, I could be photographing a blog project, researching a historical program, prepping for a preschool story time, working with my assistant to develop a new program, doing the post-production on an author interview, or all five at once!

BB: Part of what I love about what you do is how you’re able to really tap into your creative side.  I’m thinking not just of the projects you do with the kids but of your blog work as well.  What project would you say has remained your favorite to do?

DS: Oooo not fair! That’s like asking me what my favorite children’s book is! I do so many different things, and they all have their special moments. Seeing a 3 year-old create a project they’re proud of, interviewing an author I admire, talking books with tweens, helping a University student develop a workshop (we have a whopper Harry Potter Latin one coming up), or sharing a laugh with my assistant when I’m doing something ridiculous for the blog. It’s all good.

minotaur ridesBut it you were really going to pin me down, I would probably say my favorite was a Lightning Thief event in 2011. We had 34 different tables that each featured an element of the series as hands-on project, demo, performance, activity, or something cool to take home. We had science, history, art, giant snakes in “Medusa’s lair,” Greek hoplites in full armor, a 1,200 ton ice sculpture of a Greek temple (Poseidon, of course), a Socratic method philosophy table, dyslexia and ADHD awareness tables, harp music, architecture, Mythomagic, mechanical bull “Minotaur Rides,” delicious blue chocolate chip cookies – the works! The audience was thrilled (there were about 5,000 people in attendance), everything went without a hitch, I got to spend the day draped in a comfy chiton, and it was just completely…magical. But the reason it’s my absolute, ABSOLUTE favorite event is that 6 days later, my precious baby daughter was born. She managed to wait until I had penned the last thank you note, and then off to the hospital I went the very next morning! The fact that I managed to attend the event, see all the hard work pay off, observe how delighted the attendees were, AND get to cuddle a newborn 6 days later makes it my number one.

BB: A lot of your work has examined the necessity of making reference collections and rare books accessible, in some way, to kids.  How do you go about doing that sort of thing?  I have kids.  Their hands are remarkably sticky.

DS: Yes indeed! The Cotsen Children’s Library is actually a wing of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University. We have over 600 centuries of rare books, objects, original art, manuscripts, and games all related to children’s literature. One of my programs, Cotsen in the Classroom, takes collections education to local schools and homeschools. Each grade level has its own designated area of the collections, from Beatrix Potter to 18th century geographic games. I used reproductions of historic objects and high res photographs of collections items on display boards. There are plenty of hands-on activities built into each 45 minute presentation. If you’re interested, You can see an article I wrote about the program here: https://popgoesthepage.princeton.edu/teaching-the-untouchable/

BB: What do you have coming up in the future?

DS: Currently, my assistant and I are testing out Viking activities for a How To Train Your Dragon program and doing historic research for a Victorian tea program. Additionally, I’m crafting questions for a terrific Alice in Wonderland panel I’m moderating for the NYPL in December, and gearing up for three library workshops in Long Island in January. I just finished interviewing Tracey Baptiste (author of The Jumbies) so that’s in post-production for February. But the BIG FUN comes in April. I’ll be interviewing Norton Juster in front of a live audience (the interview will be available as a webcast too!) AND we’ll be hosting a big math literacy program called “A Day in Digitopolis” that same month. I’m also in the middle of reading Charmed Life at our story time for 6-8 year-olds (They love it! I knew they would!) and merrily planning story time projects, blogging, and having miscellaneous good times.

BB: Thanks, Dana!  I appreciate your answering my questions and for giving us a sneak peek into your life.  And because I figure we should give you your proper due, here’s a quick series of photos from a variety of Dana’s different programs.  The first two might be my favorite.  Dana conducted a tie-in craft for the book Pirate, Viking, Scientist by Jared Chapman.  It was so successful that folks from Little, Brown followed her steps for the annual Halloween costume contest.  See if you can figure out which ones are the publishers.



The kids were told to look fierce, by the way.

Here are more images from the Lightning Thief party she mentioned:

elizabeth_dana_plus one

the greek warriors

This is ice.


For far more of this kind of thing, Dana’s amazing Pinterest page can be found here.

Thank you, Dana, for joining me today!

[*  I thank her too for putting me in a red dress.  Long time readers will recall the Red Dress Incident of 2006, when I attempted to locate a red dress to wear to the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet the year Higher Power of Lucky won (you’d need to read the book to know why).  My attempts met with abject failure, so this comes as a nine-years-in-the-making consolation prize.  Ta.]


3 Comments on Interview in Cardboard: A Talk with Dana Sheridan, last added: 11/13/2015
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18. Advice from a kid: Miranda at age 9 and at age 13

A while ago I posted an interview here with Miranda, a very special person to me. Recently, I asked her similar questions about her reading habits and those of kids she knows. The answers show a trajectory  and are useful information for writers, so I also posted this on www.writersrumpus.com. Nine-year-old Miranda and I went […]

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19. J.K. Rowling and the New Children’s Book

In an interview with BBC Radio 2 to discuss Robert Galbraith’s Career of Evil, Rowling said, “I have written part of a children’s book that I really love so there will be another children’s book and I have ideas for other adult books…”  when asked if she would ever write as J.K. Rowling again.  Several sources, including Time and USA Today, have latched onto this statement.  However, this is not the first time that Rowling has mentioned the book.

Scholastic did an interview with J.K. Rowling for the Harry Potter Reading Club in 2012.  In that discussion, Rowling said, “I think that the next thing that I publish is likely to be a book for children.”  Rowling then said that she knew “someone would seize on it and say, “She is definitely doing it!””

Here it is, three years later, and that is exactly what has happened.  Rowling also said in 2012, “So I try not to commit myself too much with my plans.”

Since that time, Rowling has been writing the Robert Galbraith books, a Harry Potter play, and the screenplays for the Fantastic Beasts films.  It is no wonder then that she says in the BBC Radio 2 interview, “I’m not going to give you an absolute date [for a new book], because things are busy enough.”

Is this the “political fairytale” she talked about right after finishing Potter? Or have things changed in the last few years, as they most commonly do (an encyclopedia became Pottermore, and the story line of Cursed Child became the 8th Harry Potter). We are all anxious for another children’s book by J.K. Rowling, but we also know that just like the Cursed Child play, it will come when the moment is right.

To listen to the entire BBC Radio 2 interview, see here; to watch the Scholastic interview, see here.

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We sit down with Tom Taylor, the master of vestigial limb slicing and universe spanning conflict.

4 Comments on INTERVIEW: Tom Taylor Breaks Limbs, Hearts, Universes in GREEN LANTERN: EDGE OF OBLIVION, BATMAN/SUPERMAN, last added: 11/7/2015
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21. Betareaders Rock: Meet the Readers Who Proofed This Gulf of Time and Stars, and Win a Copy of the Book!

A few years ago, we had the pleasure of hosting a wonderful world building Q&A with Julie Czerneda around her then-new release, A Turn of Light. Now she’s back, but instead of us asking her the questions, she turned the spotlight onto the unsung heroes of the literary world: beta readers. In honour of the latest installment of her Clan Chronicles sci-fi series, This Gulf of Time and Stars, we have the privilege to share with you not just a giveaway, but an interview between an author and her trusted second (and third) pair of eyes.
So without further ado, welcome Julie!

Science fiction folks know. What they like and don’t like. Most particularly, they know what they love. All about what they love. I’ve been to conventions. Trust me. You can count me among them for I’m just as cautious about a “new” take on a beloved film or tv series. Hopeful, yes, because I want more. But cautious.

Because, seriously. What if They mess it up?

There’s no mysterious and plural They involved in my books. There’s just me. My publisher, quite rightly, expects me to know what I’m doing. My readers do too. So when I returned to write more about Morgan and Sira, I understood the stakes. I had to get it right. Me. All by myself.

Unless…I had help. What if I could find another set of expert eyeballs? Someone who’d recently reread the first six books of the series. Someone who cared about details. Someone who loved the story enough to tell me if I messed up their hopes for it.

Impossible, I thought, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Having received permission from my publisher to grant access to the unpublished manuscript, I set up a webpage with quiz questions drawn from the series, and launched a Betareader Competition. (You can try it yourself, with answers!)

EGAD! People leapt to participate. It was amazing. I took the top ten respondents and grilled them with a second, tougher quiz. At the end, I’d found my readers. I’m delighted to introduce Carla Mamone and Lyndsay Stuart, winners of a tough job and official betareaders of the first draft of This Gulf of Time and Stars.

Carla Mamone is a newlywed from Ontario, Canada, who loves to relax with a good book, her cat in her lap, and a hot cup of tea. She loves puzzles, the colour pink, and all things furry and cute. Carla earned a Bachelor of Arts in music, studying voice, composition, and music theory. She is currently working as a secretary for her family’s appraisal company, but hopes to soon join the publishing profession editing science fiction and fantasy novels.
Lyndsay Stuart got her start proofreading while working on internal communications for a big player in the Canadian automotive industry. She has worked as a mosquito identifier, is the kind of person who has a favourite lichen (Xanthoria fallax), earned a Tae Kwon Do black belt in Korea and can kick serious butt as a swordsman. She has a husband whom she saved from a bear and two little children who she thinks are the sweetest little monsters that ever were even though they’ve covered the whole house with chocolate finger prints.

Julie: Ladies, whatever made you do all this?

Carla: When I heard about the betareader competition, I thought it sounded really fun and interesting. I’m a very meticulous person, so I knew I could (hopefully) do a good job. Plus, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to work with one of my favourite authors.

Lyndsay: I was spending a lot of time stuck in a chair with a new baby and needed to set my mind to some work or go crazy.  It was a chance to use my powers for good.  Besides, how could I live with myself if I let the chance go by without even testing myself on the quiz?  

Who am I kidding? While all that is true, the draw was the chance to read the book early!  I’m terribly impatient and all the work was worth it!

Julie: I have to admit, it was wonderful knowing you were both so excited to do this. But it was work. What did you find the hardest part?

Carla: Not being able to tell anyone about the story. I love talking about the books that I am reading, so it was really hard not to talk about such an exciting story. My husband would ask me what was so funny or why I was crying and I couldn’t tell him about any of it. That was definitely the hardest part.

Lyndsay: The characters and the story aren’t mine so who am I to say when they aren’t right?! It was a bit tough to look at things a little more critically than usual – especially when the story was so interesting & exciting that the last thing I wanted to do was flip back and double check things! In a few places I had to highlight the text and admit that I didn’t understand the reasons underlying particular tensions or a character’s reaction to ::cough, cough:: circumstances.

Julie: Carla, you went above and beyond. I do believe I would have trusted your husband. But thank you for being so good about the non-disclosure thing. (Sorry about the tears, but it did help to know where the story had impact.) Lyndsay, when you showed me what you didn’t get, that was great. Very often I’d been obtuse, or found a different way to tweak. Now, I’ll feel less guilt once you’ve told us what was the most fun.

Carla: Not having to wait until November to see what happens next to Sira and Morgan. I also really enjoyed working with you and Lyn. You’re both so kind, I couldn’t ask for better people to work with.

Lyndsay: I bounce-floated around the house for a month, the surprises in the story are so good! Julie doesn’t just dish out surprises, she’s given us clues about the next book too! I have my guesses and can’t wait until you guys read the book. There is much to discuss.

Julie: Back at you, Carla. And the wait’s over now! One thing I’d asked, and you provided, were any bits you especially enjoyed. Thank you both for those.

The crucial factor, for me, in choosing a betareader wasn’t only expertise, for many people had that, but how well—and quickly–you could communicate my mistakes to me. Time was of the essence, as I had only the gap between my submitting first draft and the final galleys in which to make corrections. You were both amazing, but be honest, how hard was it to squeeze this into your lives?

Carla: The timing actually worked out perfectly. I was in the middle of planning my wedding and was getting pretty stressed and overwhelmed. Betareading gave me an excuse to take a break from wedding planning for a few weeks. So, after I was finished, I was excited to get back to planning and didn’t feel as overwhelmed.

Lyndsay: When this competition began I had a 2 month old baby and a 2 year old toddler, all my reading, studying and annotation couldn’t happen until nap time and I knew Julie was depending on me. Eek! I learned that diapers and reading tablets do not mix with pleasing results.

Thankfully it seems that my real world job experience reviewing written material paid off and for once I got to offer helpful suggestions on something I love. Is this what we call a Unicorn? It’s at least Cinderella getting to go to the ball.

Julie: Congratulations again, Carla! And how lovely being a reader was something good at the time. Whew! Lyndsay, as a person who started full time writing with a 6 month old and a 2 and a bit, I tip my hat. It’s hard enough to get to the bathroom, let alone think. Bravo, both.

Both, you see, because I decided to have two betareaders. (As well as a trusty standby third in case.) Why? Firstly, so you could, if you wanted, talk about me behind my back. The main reason, however, was because I saw from your quiz answers regarding the sample scene that you each identified different problems to bring to my attention. I’m not sure you knew that, but I knew I should have you both. How did you choose what to point out to me?

Carla: I tried to find anything that didn’t match the characters’ personalities or descriptions from the previous novels. I didn’t include anything that was specific only to Gulf, unless I felt that it was necessary.

Lyndsay: Hmm, how to answer without spoilers? For example, there was a section where the timeline had a tiny hiccup. A discrepancy of +/- a few hours doesn’t usually jog a reader out of the story, but in this book I had to point it out. It mattered because the characters can’t go out in the dark so the timing issue created an impossible situation.

Julie: Humbled, I was. Grateful, most of all. Thank you, Carla and Lyndsay, from the bottom of my heart. Gulf wouldn’t be the book it is without you, and you gave me the confidence to send it forth knowing those who’ve loved the series will continue to do so. It’s only fair to let you two have the last word!

Carla: I just want to thank you, Julie, for your wonderful books and for letting me be a part of this one. I had a great time!

Lyndsay: To Julie & DAW, I’m very glad to have gotten this opportunity and thankful to all who helped make it happen.

To you, Readers, I must say that at the end of Rift in the Sky Julie promised all of us we “ain’t seen nothing yet.” Julie knows exactly who and what we love and she’s filled this book up with all of it. Wondering what’s next to come is killing me! Until then it’ll be a big treat to read the final, polished version of This Gulf of Time and Stars.

Julie: Thanks again! A last, last word. (I get to do that.) Invaluable as my betareaders’ expert eyes proved–followed by those of my alert editor, copyeditor, and proof readers–please remember the responsibility for consistency and continuity in the Clan Chronicles is mine alone.

As it should be. Enjoy this new installment!

And now, the giveaway! Enter to win a free copy of This Gulf of Time and Stars, open to participants in the US and Canada. If audio books are more your thing, we’re giving away one of those, too! Listen now to a sample from the audiobook of This Gulf of Time and Stars narrated by Allyson Johnson, courtesy of audible.com


Cover Credit: Matt Stawicki

The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future with interstellar travel where the Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification will conclude the series and answer, at last, #whoaretheclan.

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Julie Czerneda author photo credit Roger Czerneda PhotographySince 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has shared her love and curiosity about living things through her science fiction, writing about shapechanging semi-immortals, terraformed worlds, salmon researchers, and the perils of power. Her fourteenth novel from DAW Books was her debut fantasy, A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel, and now Book One of her Night`s Edge series. Her most recent publications: a special omnibus edition of her acclaimed near-future SF Species Imperative, as well as Book Two of Night`s Edge, A Play of Shadow, a finalist for this year’s Aurora. Julie’s presently back in science fiction, writing the finale to her Clan Chronicles series. Book #1 of Reunification, This Gulf of Time and Stars, will be released by DAW November 2015. For more about her work, visit www.czerneda.com or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

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22. One Writer’s Process: Jeannine Atkins

The woods in Sterling, Massachusetts, where Jeannine Atkins grew up, stimulated her curiosity in many ways. She wondered about the things that might be hidden under rocks, and years later such wondering led her to write Girls Who Look Under Rocks, a book about girls like Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, and others who became naturalists as adults. Wandering near the woods gave her child’s

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23. Five questions for Tim Wynne-Jones

Tim_Wynne-JonesAt the start of Tim Wynne-Jones’s The Emperor of Any Place (Candlewick, 14 years and up), Evan, reeling from the death of his single father, has no choice but to contact his paternal grandfather, Griff — whom Evan’s dad called a murderer. A gripping story-within-the-story unfolds about a WWII Japanese soldier stranded on a haunted island. How Wynne-Jones weaves these strands together is elegant, surprising, and exhilarating.

1. How much did you know about WWII Japan and Japanese folklore before writing this book?

TWJ: Very little! I’ve had the good fortune to travel in Japan, and loved it, but I cannot claim any particular prior knowledge of Japanese culture or folklore. For years I had wanted to write a World War II book to honor my father, whose experience of the war in Europe scarred him. What we would call PTSD now, but which he did not acknowledge as more than “shell shock,” haunted him and had an effect on us, his children. War does that: spirals down the years and decades, affecting generations. Whenever I tried to write myself into the war, so to speak, I found it impossible, and only after a great deal of time did I come to the realization that the European war was my father’s war. Which left me with the “Other War,” in the Pacific Theater, the one I knew next to nothing about. That gave me the freedom to research deeply, to dig and imagine and finally find a corner of the war that I could inhabit, fictionally.

As I was getting to know Isamu Oshiro, I realized he would have grown up with the folklore of his people just as I have grown up with the folklore of mine. And as soon as I started reading up on that, I knew it would be an integral part of Kokoro-Jima. I have played with the idea of the jikininki, giving them a unique back-story. This is what Bram Stoker did with Dracula: take an existing folktale and breathe new life into it. It has happened down the ages and was one of my favorite parts of writing this book.

2. Did you write the different threads of the story one at a time or were you working on them all at once?

TWJ: Oh, the threads. The threads were a complete schmozzle! There were so many threads — far more than made the final cut. At one point I had thirteen point-of-view characters all clamoring to tell their stories. “Me, me!,” they shouted until my head hurt. What really came first was the story-within-the-story, that of Isamu’s adventures on the island of ghosts and monsters. Then there was the very lengthy task of finding out who else was going to make their way to that mysterious place and how it would all play out and how those people were related to the contemporary characters. I drew a whole lot of family trees!

wynne-jones_emperor of any place3. Did you make Griff up? Or is he based on someone you know?

TWJ: Griff grew out of my research and wide reading about the war, but with aspects of various people I’ve met, including my father. War shapes a man, whether he wants it to or not. A lifetime of fighting wars has shaped Griff. There was a whole novella-length part of the book that I eventually took out, about when Griff was a young man, Evan’s age, stationed in Iceland, before he was shipped over to the Pacific after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was, among other things, a love story. He alludes to that in the novel, but originally I had the whole story as part of this book. That was when the novel was over six hundred pages long and…well, something had to go. But I’m so glad I wrote his story. It really helped me to get to know him and see that he wasn’t always like he is now. Once he was young and in love, with his whole life before him.

4. This book is: realistic family story; fantasy; mystery; ghost story; historical fiction; war story; contemporary fiction; story-within-a-story; and more. How’d you make that all work?

TWJ: Phew! Put that way, I’m not sure! It took a long time, I’ll say that much. I usually spend a year or so writing a novel. This one took more than three and a half years. There were so many parts of the story I wanted to tell, and I juggled all that in such a way that there were many, many versions. Gradually, the stories that needed to be there stayed and the other parts fell away. Along with the Griff novella, there was another whole novella telling us Hisako’s story as she lived through the invasion of Sampei. I think it was only when Evan rose to the top as my central character that I knew what I could include and what had to go, no matter how interesting it was to me in and of itself. This is, in the end, Isamu’s and Evan’s book, and there is nothing in it now that doesn’t shore up their stories and, hopefully, weave them together: the Emperor of Kokoro-Jima and the Emperor of Any Place.

5. Do you believe in the afterlife? (Or the beforelife, in this case?)

TWJ: Do you want the long answer, the short answer, or the truth? The afterlife has been a part of human culture — the Human Mind — for so many millennia it’s not something one can simply dismiss. I don’t believe in heaven as a place, per se, so much as a deeply rooted concept, but I do believe that the idea operates on us and through us while we are alive. So in a way it does exist as we live in a world with this unanswered and persuasive question hanging over our heads. It was only after a long time of writing this novel that I came up with the idea of preincarnation, and I loved the poetry of it. I quickly learned that there are other definitions of this word out there, but my own definition and its appearance on Kokoko-Jima captivated my imagination. I love the idea that there was — is — this magical island in the largest of our oceans where the future waits in ethereal form and recognizes us for who we are, if we happen to wash up on the shore there. I suppose that even if heaven is only a metaphor, it’s a particularly powerful one. And I take metaphors very seriously. A metaphor is how we describe something we have no description for. Sounds like heaven to me!

From the November 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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24. MATT CHATS: Declan Shalvey on Injecting Himself into the World of Creator-Owned

After making his presence in the comic book industry felt in a big way on a run with Warren Ellis on Moon Knight, Declan Shaley moved over to creator-owned with the writer. They set off on a series more complex and less marketable than one about a white-caped crusader, to great results. I spoke to […]

1 Comments on MATT CHATS: Declan Shalvey on Injecting Himself into the World of Creator-Owned, last added: 11/10/2015
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25. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson on The Book Itch

Vaunda Micheaux NelsonIn our November/December issue, our editors asked Vaunda Micheaux Nelson about revisiting the source material of her BGHB Award–winning No Crystal Stair in new picture book The Book Itch. Read the full review of The Book Itch here.

Horn Book Editors: What compelled you to revisit the material from No Crystal Stair to create your picture book The Book Itch?

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson: I was writing in Lewis Jr.’s voice in No Crystal Stair when I realized that his perspective might entice younger readers into Lewis Sr.’s world. Moved by Lewis Jr.’s story, I wanted to explore how his father and the bookstore influenced him in particular. You could say Lewis Jr. cut in line and stepped onto the speaker’s platform, making me pause the longer work.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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