Good morning, book people!
Some more whitewashing discussion on The Hunger Games this morning. This post by author Malinda Lo (Ash) makes some great points–Lo discusses color and class, and reading cues for racial background. Here’s the description of Katniss from early in the book:
straight black hair, olive skin [and]… gray eyes
That could definitely be taken as ambiguous, though with that, and the fairness of Katniss’ mother and Prim, I’ve always read her as biracial–particularly since she shares the “Seam look” with the rest of District 12, and her mother and Prim do not. (To my mind, she also identifies more with the Seam than with her family.) Make sure you read the comments on Lo’s post, too.
JJ, an editorial assistant at St. Martin’s, talks about her read of Katniss as white over at Uncreate Conscience. I don’t agree with her whole post, but it is a thoughtful critique worth reading. An important point from the conclusion:
Here’s a question I have about speculative fiction (including science fiction and fantasy): if race is not specifically mentioned, or the world has a different idea of “race” than ours, how does one go about indicating ethnicity? If it’s important to the author that a character in a work of spec fic be of a specific race, how can one indicate that? If ethnicity isn’t important, what can s/he do to change the default assumption of “whiteness”?
At the WSJ, Jeffrey Trachtenberg fills us in on a Random House/THQ Inc. deal. THQ is a developer and publisher of “interactive entertainment software” (read: video games). It’s mostly paid content, so it might be worth stopping by a Starbucks with your laptop/phone/iPad if ebooks and interactive books/games are your cup of tea (or coffee).
Over at Lightning + Lightning Bugs, agent Weronika Janczuk posts more about agents and self-publishing. Some useful commentary, some nice summations. Expect a few more posts like this–as my friend Livia pointed out at our last critique group meeting, a lot of agents were putting out their thoughts about ebooks and self-publishing last week. True, it’s probably not all tied into the Amanda Hocking news, but her St. Martin’s deal has lent a certain amount of legitimacy to self-publishing–legitimacy I think the big houses and agents have been waiting for (but unwilling to bet on) for a while.
Cory Doctorow has a new column up at PW, on the “the Baroque process of getting a book listed on both Lulu and Amazon.” It’s long, but Definitely Worth Reading. If you read only one thing from this list today, make it this piece.
And finally, a bit of fun–bookish webcomic Unshelved reviewed Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan last week. Here’s a snippet; click through for more. (via Scott Westerfeld)Read More
Good morning, book people! I’m wrapping up a big writing project today & Mir & I are properly recovered now (thanks to a series of naps), so I’ll be back to some semblance of normality on the interwebs this week.
Sad news this morning–children’s novelist Diana Wynne Jones died early Saturday morning (UK time). If you haven’t read one of her novels, you need to get out your kindle/nook, or head down to the bookstore today. My favorites (so far)–How’s Moving Castle (different, and better than, the movie), and the Chrestomanci series, particularly The Charmed Lives of Christopher Chant.) There aren’t really words to describe this post about Diana (and if you have ever read her, you know that she is Diana, because reading her is like reading an old friend) by Neil Gaiman, except to say it made me cry.
Emma Bull over at Tor.com also remembers Diana, a woman who,
“told stories the way some people eat ice cream: eagerly, with delight and no self-consciousness. She told them about her family in a way that made them familiar characters in my imaginary world, and she talked about her characters as if they were family.” (via Neil Gaiman)
Here’s a full obituary about Diana from The Guardian, with all the concrete details that entails. It’s a marvelous and detailed essay by Christopher Priest, though, so go here rather than Wikipedia if you’ve never read Diana/want to know more.
Sometime soon–perhaps this week, perhaps next–I’ll post about Diana’s books, and why I love them. She has a new book coming out, Earwig and the Witch, in the UK and Japan, later this year.
The Rejectionist has a short post (as in 100 words sort of short) on qualities that do not a strong female character make. It’s a blitzingly short read, but an essential one.
“Amanda has created such a fresh, unique, fabulous world, and I am absolutely dead set on bringing it to the screen without compromising any of that,” Ms. Tatchell said by telephone from Vancouver, Canada.
The three novels — “Switched,” “Torn” and “Ascend” — follow an emotionally damaged high school girl, Wendy Everly, who realizes that she may not be human. With the help of a boy, Finn Holmes, she discovers the mysterious world of Trylle, which is populated by beautiful trolls.
I’ve heard a bit of griping about Amanda Hocking’s success, so here are a couple of things to remember about her–yes, she’s sold a million copies over nine novels. And yes, she’s made around two million dollars. But she has put in a lot of work, and has hired freelance editors for her books. So while she may’ve been on-trend with her novels, there’s definitely more to her success than that.
And finally, an interview with Diana, and a study project. I love the opening to this first one–the way she says, “Do come in,” makes me feel like I’m cracking a new novel.
On the Miyazaki adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle (spoilers)
Diana Wynne Jones author study, by Raarbecca, part of a school project. See if you catch the snippet of Howl’s Moving Castle soundtrack a couple of minutes in.
ETA 9:58am: US details for Earwig & the WitchRead More
Good morning, book people! The snow is back in Cambridge, and we’re holed up with hot coffee and a snuggly kidlet this Presidents’ Day. How about you?
So this is not really six links–I think it’s closer to ten. But that’s just because I give value for your blog buck, and also because I feel bad counting anything that doesn’t get it’s own separate paragraph. So, without further ado…
Over at SLJ’s A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy Liz explains how one of the YALSA awards, the Morris, works, and asks if the use of a shortlist [builds] excitement the way, say, that the Oscars build excitement?” Quick note: I am in favor of shortlists, and think they actually benefit the authors because booksellers can make sure books are in stock ahead of the awards. Without a shortlist, sleepers like this year’s Newbery, Clare Vanderpool’s Moon Over Manifest can take a while to get onto shelves, and that can translate into lost sales. More thoughts later this week.
Have you worked out your BookPrint yet? The folks at Scholastic are helping readers connect by asking them to “share the five books that most influenced you.” Although I’m signed up, I’m still trying to figure out what those books are! There are some great names in the system already–including Oprah, Alice Walker (!), and Marian Wright Edelman. There are also some fun polls to play with (Which classic romantic hero would you rather attend a ball with?). And over at OOM, bookseller Michael walks us through how he worked out his own BookPrint. More on this later in the week, too.
If you’ve ever felt belittled for writing genre fiction, you need to read this post by Harry Connolly over at Charlie’s Diary. Harry is writing specifically about the science fiction and fantasy divide (aka the SF/F snobfest, and I say that as someone with a science degree) but the post smack of familiarity for those of us in the YA trenches, too. Perhaps we should all send the link to Martin Amis.
The Guardian has a truly excellent piece on emulating great authors to learn how to write, or how to write better, complete with reading list!. This is how I learned to write; in high school, one of my teachers had us borrow voices for a whole semester. Without that grounding, I’m not sure I’d have developed my own voice properly, or love writing quite so much.
Also at The Guardian, John Dugdale tells us the most borrowed library books of 2010. No surprises in the kidlit list, but it’s nice to see Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton still making the grade.
And finally, back to Charlie’s Diary for an overview of how the publishing industry is structured. It’s wry, and worth reading. It’s also part of a series, which I’m still reading, but definitely recommend. Just follow the hyper-breadcrumbs.
Update: Fascinating read via @JasonAshlock. Is Borders Guilty as Charged? Phillip Downer, former CEO of Borders UK, walks us through Borders’ blunders, one by one.
I’ll be back later with the first post in a new series, Cover Notes.
What are you reading this morning?
Image Credit: brew books, via flickr.Read More
Good morning, interwebs! It’s finally warming up in Boston (finally!) but I still need a morning coffee and something to read. Here’s what I’m checking out this morning.
Update: Mir just stuck his foot in my coffee (not hot) so it might be tea for me today…
11:58 am: This should probably be 8 links now, because my interview with Scott Westerfeld about the Bitch Media 100 feminist YA books is now up @ PopMatters.
From the weekend NYT – More kids are using e-readers, and e-book sales for January show it.
From last week’s Guardian Books Blog, reflections on no longer being a young novelist.
And, in case you missed it, here’s Gribbens’ reasoning, excerpted from the introduction to the book.
At ebookNewser, a quick piece on Sarah Salway’s 2004 book, Something Beginning With, rocketing up Kindle charts with a little help from Twitter.
GalleyCat reports that AOL is acquiring Huff Po for $315 million.
And finally, more from the NYT, with a January 30th piece about young Americans of mixed race identifying as mixed rather than one side or the other. Some of the language in this piece is frustrating, like “ethnically ambiguous,” but it’s an interesting read nonetheless. Provides some insight into the YA market, too.
What are you reading today?
Image credit: 5.0OG, via FlickrRead More
Late last week the YA community dissolved into a firestorm. Bitch Media, a non-profit and the folks who put on Bitch Magazine, posted a list of 100 feminist YA books on their blog. For the most part, it’s an excellent list. But it has behavioral issues:
a) when Bitch received a complaint about one of the books on the list, Jackson Pearce’s Sisters Red, they removed it without discussion, and without exploring why the book had been recommended, largely because of this Book Smugglers review;
b) they didn’t check the books out first.
Subsequent discussion prompted the removal of two other books, Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels and Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl. Why were the books removed? They contain rape, rape culture, and trigger content.
The debacle soon exploded into what Scott Westerfeld calls a “red hot mess.” Some authors–Scott Westerfeld, Diana Peterfreund (Rampant), and Maureen Johnson (The Bermudez Triangle) that I know of, so far–have requested their books be removed, which Bitch has (rightly) refused–caving again could have been the end of their credibility for not just a while, but a very, very long time. The interwebs are forgiving once. Twice…not so much.
Update, 2/7/11 – >a href=”http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/136748-scott-westerfeld/”>My interview with Scott Westerfeld is now up @ PopMatters.
But there’s no such thing as a perfect book.Read More
Bricks-and-mortar bookstores will continue to decline—which puts further pressure, as noted above, on commercial publishers to show their value to an author beyond distribution. Mike Shatzkin boldly predicted: “We’re looking for a reduction in shelf space of 50% in the next five years, 90% in the next ten years.”
One caveat: the e-book industry growth is primarily driven by Big Six publishers, rather than independent publishers. National Book Network president Rich Freese, whose company distributes 200 independent publishers, said: “Ebooks aren’t even 5% of our sales, and they won’t be 50% in two years.”
Anyone who’s walked into a Borders lately knows about the decline of the brick-and-mortar bookstore. But I think the caveat can be extended to niche stores, too. Children’s bookstores, science fiction stores, crime and mystery stores–these specialty markets hold potential as a brick-and-mortar store because they depend on hand-selling. In a Borders or a Barnes & Noble, it’s easy to get lost, and it’s common for the folks at the information desk to not know much about any given genre. In a specialty store, like the Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Cambridge, MA, or The Elephant’s Trunk in Lexington, MA, the staff know their titles, and can guide readers to the right books. (Some big stores also have well-informed, caring staff, but it’s rarely the case.)Read More