Tag Archives: interview

Moar Pie for Everyone, or Why Simon Pegg was right

20 May

Hi.

So I made it (barely) through my first week of post-trip hangover. It wasn’t easy. More than one cookie were consumed. I had no choice, I tell you!

But some cool things did come up, like my getting to talk to Vanessa Barger about This Is Sarah and writing and Antarctica. Thanks Vanessa! And speaking of Sarah, Apryl at Apryl Showers was kind enough to share her thoughts on This Is Sarah.

Set in a small town, where no one would believe such horrors would occur, the abduction of Sarah  Evans ricochets through everyone from school friends to neighbours. There is an incredibly realistic feel to the novel. The pace is even, with a slow tempo allowing you to really engage with the emotions of each character. In fact the reader could almost be one of the neighbours or a school pupil – someone who knows of the missing girl but has no real personal connection.

Many thanks to Apryl for her kind words. And in the thanks department, thanks to Mad Swirl for publishing Premonitions of a Sash, and to Cultured Vultures for Radiation Day 22 and to Blue Hour who published Radiation Day 24, Radiation Day 26 and Radiation Day 30.

During treatment I got a lot of mileage about my own fear and experience and out of my husband’s but it wasn’t until I was in radiation every single day, sitting next to the same people that I really started to understand what my friend Don was talking about when he said:

Funny thing, one thing nobody ever said to me – in this time when you will be so inward looking, so concerned with self, make sure you look about you as you go for regular treatments.

The staff, the fellow patients – there is so much there to take in, so much about who we are as humans, how we handle things. How we share, especially casually, in greeting, even silently, in the nod of a head or a smile. 

I didn’t say much during radiation. I came in, changed, kept my headphones in, forced myself to return their smiles, muttered a good morning and hoped my wait wouldn’t be too long. The waiting room was in fact the hardest part of radiation treatment. Just me, at 37, with a bunch of much older people. I tried to block it out. But you can’t block something all the time for 38 days in a row. You just can’t. So little by little, Anna, and Maria, Betty, the guy I called The Angel cause he was dressed in white from head to toe and the Russian guy who didn’t talk to anyone and the old black woman who was getting full brain radiation – all of them just sort of crept into my life. I found out from The Angel that she lost her sense of taste. I remember him sitting there, shaking his head asking, “Can you imagine anything worse? Not being able to taste anything at all?”
It was comments like that which helped shake me out myself. That made me look around the room, and as Don said, really see this moment in my life.
I hope I did all of them a bit of justice on the page. They were good people who like me, were stuck somewhere terrible. They made the best of it. I hope they’re doing okay now.

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In other news, (and getting to the point of this post) I just finished reading On Interpretations and Other Essays, the classic Susan Sontag book. I’ve only read her interviews prior to this so I really enjoyed it, though there were some high and low points as with all books. My favorite essays were On Interpretations with its stellar conversation about form and content, and On Culture and the New Sensibility – which though written in 1965 is very relevant today with the constant high vs low art debates. Because SURPRISE, SURPRISE, the internet is MAD again.

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The new sensibility is definitely pluralistic; it is dedicated both to an excruciating seriousness and to fun and wit and nostalgia. It is also extremely history-conscious; and the voracity of its enthusiasms (and of the supercession of these enthusiasms) is very high-speed and hectic. From the vantage point of this new sensibility, the beauty of a machine or of the solution to a mathematical problem, of a painting by Jasper Johns, of a film by Jean-Luc Goddard, and of the personalities and music of the Beatles is equally accessible.

So this time Simon Pegg is in the hot seat for his comments about comic book movies. He has, as required in this age of super-sensitive interneting, issued an apology. But before we all pat him on the back I think we need to take a look at what he’s ACTUALLY saying:

“Now we’re essentially all-consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.”

This morning on my way to work I listened to Claude Debussy’s Prelude A l’Apres Midi D’un Faune (Afternoon of the Faun). I don’t listen to Claude much on my walk (or really much classical because of the trucks on 5th avenue). It opens with a harp. Upon the first note, I immediately thought of this:

That’s a scene from one of my favorite episodes of The Monkees where Peter sells his soul to the devil to learn how to play the harp.

Do you see where I’m going here?

Debussy = sounds lovely = Happy Ally

The Monkees =  goofy laughs = Happy Ally.

That’s the point of art. And variety makes for good “art-ing.” I think the #IReadYA thing is great but if you ONLY read YA, well…..you’re missing out. I’m sorry but you just are. It’s just as bad if you only read the New York Times Bestseller List or if you only read “literary” fiction written by white guys in Manhattan. White guys in Manhattan don’t know everything there is about this world. You’re limiting your own experiences if that’s all you’re reading.

If you’re only getting one small slice of the art pie, you’re not getting enough pie. MOAR PIE!

Now what I think Pegg here is talking about is that there are A LOT of comic book movies. Since 2010 there have been about 30 superhero movies made. THIRTY! And the reason there are so many is cause they make money. For me, his criticism is about the fact that we are paying the industry to keep feeding us the SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  Honestly when I think about the money spent on these movies, I feel dizzy. But as long as we keep forking over our paychecks the industry will keep churning it out. That’s how business works. What are we getting out of watching the Hulk smash things? Do we really need another Spiderman reboot?

There has always been and will always be good science fiction and fantasy out there. Moon and Europa Report were two really well done movies that I walked away THINKING about. Come on, an alien that helps humans BE more human by trying to understand them? That’s why it’s classic. That has staying power.

Look, I love sci-fi. I love fantasy. I also love Godard. These things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. One of the best comments I ever got in my life was when someone looked at my goodreads list and said “wow….you’re all over the place.”

Yes, I am. Proudly.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that Sontag’s comment, made in 1965 can be the last one necessary to end this whole high vs low art thing. Time to put the tired conversation to rest. Let’s all stop hating on Simon Pegg, now okay?

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Speaking of “the solution to a mathematical problem….” I got back to work on Palimpsest this morning along with the help of some really great beta reader notes (I love you, guys). I also happened across this great video explaining the Fibonacci Sequence, a mathematical premise that is featured in my book.

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The Golden Mean

The sequence, for those of you who don’t know, is the following:

0,1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144

and on and on and so forth.

It is derived by adding the first number to the next number. So:

0+1 = 1

1+ 1 = 2

1+2 = 3

2+3= 5

3+5= 8

5+8 = 13

8+13 = 21

13+21 = 34

21+ 34 = 55

34 +55 = 89

55 + 89 = 144

and so on and so forth. But the real cool thing is that the Fibonacci sequence is EVERYWHERE. In the spiral of a seashell, in the arms of the galaxy. Even in your own bones!

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flower

index

Aspects show up in art and architecture and in our DNA.

And this is why math and science are amazing.

Check out the video. It’s not long and it’s got cool music.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

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Interview with Samuel Snoek-Brown on the release day of Hagridden

19 Aug

 

hagridden

 

So today’s the kick off to the blog tour for  Samuel Snoek-Brown’s debut novel, Hagridden and guess who gets to start it?

That’s right!

Me!

Sam and I met via Jersey Devil Press – a great magazine that I am proud to be a part of. I’m a big fan of his writing so when Columbus Press contacted me to help out with the tour for Sam’s book I jumped at the chance.

sam

For those of you unfamiliar here’s some information:

As the Civil War winds violently down, fears of the South’s uncertain future fuse with its unraveling traditions. Against the backdrop of this post-apocalyptic landscape, so littered with corpses and mythology and desperation, two women, stranded and alone in the Louisiana bayou, fight to survive.

Described as both a historical and contemporary piece of literary fiction, Hagridden, is a hunting drama that unflinchingly approaches race, culture, apathy and humanity.

I got my hands on an ARC and this book is the real deal. Sam is also going on an in-person book tour down in Texas so if you’re in the area – be sure to check him out. Dates and times are available on his website here.

And the book is available for sale here!

 

It is clear from just the first opening pages of Hagridden, this book must have took an incredible amount of research. Can you talk a little bit about how you went about that research and why, as a Portlandian (well, technically Ex-Texan Portlandian) you chose to set your book in the bayou?

 

I did grow up in Texas, but I have a lot of family from Louisiana. My mother was born in Deridder; her parents are buried in Rosepine. My aunt and uncle and cousin lived out near Johnson Bayou and Cameron, in exactly the region where Hagridden is set, and that’s why I set it there — when I decided to write a Civil War novel that set aside the battlefields and the national-scale politics so I could focus on the intimate, the personal, the struggle for individual survival, those saltmarshes of southwest Louisiana made perfect sense as a setting.

 

It’s funny that you bring up the difference between my own place in writing the novel and the setting of the book itself. I hadn’t really thought of that before , but I did write this book all over: in Texas, in the United Arab Emirates, in Louisiana, and of course here in Oregon. (And my publisher is in Ohio! That’s a wide-ranging story!)

 

That distance did impact the research. When I was drafting it overseas, I didn’t have access to any print materials about the Civil War, let alone the minutia of Acadian homebuilding, 19th-century American clothing, books on bayou flora and fauna, Cajun folklore, etc. So I did most of my initial research online, and only really got to the book sources when we moved to Portland. But even then, our interest in and perspectives on the Civil War in the Pacific Northwest is different than it is in the South, and that’s reflected in our libraries’ print collections, which is why I finally took a research trip to Cameron Parish in Louisiana to hit their local collections, talk to the people, walk the land, visit the cemeteries, dodge the gators . . . .

 

Where did the story at the heart of Hagridden come from? I read in a previous interview that while working as an office cleaner you once found a compartment in a wall containing papers, money and lock-box for a handgun. That, to me, sounds like the beginning of a novel right there. Was Hagridden a similar experience? 

 

Oh yeah! That old story! I was a maid, actually — or, I worked for a maid service — and the hidden compartment was in some guy’s home office, which made it even creepier. Later, I babysat for a home hairdresser whose client claimed to be a mercenary and once showed her his secret gunroom. Yeah, I should definitely write that book!

 

The kernel of the novel came when I was in grad school in Texas. I’d been tapped to introduce Louisiana writer Tim Gautreaux when he visited our campus, and the morning I was writing my speech, I was watching old samurai movies on tv, and in my mind, the civil wars of medieval Japan came together in my mind with our own Civil War and with the Southern fiction themes of cultural isolation and survival amid change. Once I saw that, the book felt necessary — I really wanted to read that novel! So (eventually) I wrote it.

 

You were the recipient of a 2013 Oregon Literary Fellowship. Can you tell us a little bit about the award and what it meant for your ability to write your novel?

 

The Fellowships are organized by Literary Arts, Oregon’s literary nonprofit that also hosts the Portland Arts & Lectures visiting writers series and the Oregon Book Awards. With the fellowships, the idea is to provide support for writers and publishers to develop or complete their artistic projects, but they go beyond just the finances: the year I received a fellowship, I also got season tickets to the Arts & Lectures series (I got to meet Salman Rushdie and Chris Ware!) and a week-long retreat at a writer’s cabin. It’s a big deal because a lot of the writers and publishers the fellowships have supported have gone on to become major names in Oregon and national literature. Stevan Allred, Kerry Cohen, and Cheryl Strayed are all former fellowship recipients, and the fellowships have helped develop important indie presses like Chiasmus, Forest Avenue Press, Future Tense Books, and Hawthorne Books.

 

With Hagridden, the core of the book was basically done when I submitted it to Literary Arts. It needed a lot of work, sure, but roughly speaking, the story was there. I just needed to revise it, and to revise it, I needed to be able to see the book as a finished whole. But at the time, I was still more focused on the words that made up the book, the trees but not the forest. My wife recognized this and encouraged me to apply for the fellowship, and even just the application process helped me see Hagridden as a complete book, ready for polish, which I spent the rest of that summer working on. Receiving the fellowship gave me both the drive and the confidence to actually start thinking about publication. And, of course, it also funded the research trip that helped me develop those important character details and get a stronger feel for the geography and the history of the region — the book wouldn’t have come out as rich as it did, and might not have caught the attention of my publisher, without that trip.

 

You don’t use dialogue tags. What’s that about? Is it a direct influence of Cormac McCarthy? How do you think it changes the storytelling?

 

That initially came about as an accident of the drafting process. I wrote the first draft of the novel for NaNoWriMo in 2009, but that year my wife and I were planning a trip to Vienna for Thanksgiving, which meant instead of the usual 30 days to knock out the rough draft, I only had two weeks. So at first, I was just skipping the quotation marks and even some of the speaker tags because they slowed me down. Anything to keep the writing going.

 

But as I got further into the draft, I realized I liked what it was doing to the narrative, and when I got into revision and tried adding the quotation marks into the dialogue, I felt like that punctuation was setting the dialogue apart, separating it from the story. Without the quotation marks, every sentence on the page is part of the story — it’s all narrative, even when people are speaking. That’s what I wanted for this story; it made it feel larger somehow. I don’t usually write dialogue this way, and I’m not planning to in my next novel, but here, it felt necessary.

 

And yeah, McCarthy is absolutely an influence on me. Him and Tom Franklin (who turned me on to McCarthy) — they weren’t the only voices I turned to while writing Hagridden, but they were the loudest voices in my head.

 

Your other book, Box Cutters is a collection of short stories. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about stories as if they were stepping stones to writing a novel. Did you feel this way? Was Hagridden your first attempt at a novel?

 

I think from a craft perspective, when writers are first starting out, it’s useful to think about it in this way. I like to point to Faulkner’s comment in a Q&A at the University of Oregon in 1962: when someone asked him about the difference between short stories and novels, he said, “All the trash must be eliminated in the short story, whereas one can get away with some of it in a novel.” I usually use that quote to complain about the sloppiness in some of Faulkner’s novels (I generally prefer his short fiction), but it is a good introduction to the idea that one should learn short stories before attempting a novel, because the short story teaches you compression and control. If a writer can learn that early, it will help her contain any narrative at any length.

 

But I don’t think any writer should treat stories as “stepping stones” to the novel, as though the novel is the ultimate form of fiction that we all should be striving toward. It’s true that novels sell better than novellas and stories and story collections, but that’s a problem for the marketers to figure out, and it certainly shouldn’t suggest that the novel is somehow the bigger, better version of the story. If anything, Faulkner was right in that the story is the better form for being so contained and precise.

 

So, frankly, I think once a writer has learned the craft of writing, her sense of story should be developed enough that length isn’t really an issue anymore. These days, I don’t often sit down and say, “I’m going to write flash fiction” or “I’m going to write a novella” or “I’m going to write a novel.” I did plenty of that early on, and if someone has solicited something from me and length is an issue, I can still do it, but mostly I just sit down at the desk and say, “What story do I want to tell?” And the story dictates the length.

 

And no, actually, Hagridden isn’t my first novel. I started a cheesy action novel when I was in seventh grade, though I never finished it. I wrote most of a bad Anne Rice-ish vampire novel in high school and college, but it, too, never really went anywhere. The first novel I finished was a comedy I wrote for my undergraduate thesis, and I wrote another novel as part of my doctoral dissertation. I still sometimes think of revisiting those, but really, they were mostly practice novels so I could figure out issues of time management and story structure. They were, to paraphrase Bill Cosby, the stories I had to tell so I could tell you this one.

 

What was it about teaching writing that interested you? What do you make of the adage that you can’t “teach” writing? Probably not much! What have your students taught you about your own writing?

 

I think that last part of that question wraps up everything else I have to say about the first two questions: I teach writing because my students become a writing community and they wind up teaching me as well. Mostly they do this by reminding me to keep returning to the beginner’s mind, as Natalie Goldberg says — they keep me fresh. One of the biggest complaints about writing workshops, especially at the graduate level, is that they can homogenize writing, and I think that’s a legitimate concern. It’s something to guard against. But when I teach writing, whether it’s upper level creative writing or introductory essay composition or summer workshops for teenaged writers, the students I get to work with haven’t gone through graduate workshops, they haven’t been trained to write in certain ways or according to certain traditions. That training is important, and I value the traditions I come out of as a writer, and I encounter a lot of student writing that would benefit from some of that training — but I also encounter total freedom, the utter absence of preconceptions. I sometimes read work from students that reminds me there are no rules except the rules that work, and they blow the cobwebs off all my old habits and wake up my own writing. That’s exhilarating, and it’s why I wanted to go into this field, as much to share what I’ve learned from great writing teachers as to learn what I never knew from great student writers.

 

Since you are a teacher and you teach writing, what is your view on work-shopping your own work? Do you have a writing group that you work with? If so, what was the biggest piece of advice they gave you when you were working on your novel? What piece of advice did you ignore?

 

I don’t actually have a formal workshop group in the way I did in college or in the way some of my writer friends do. Sometimes I think I’d like to have one — I have always benefited from it. But mostly, my experience in workshops taught me that in a din of disparate voices, I needed to find those few writers whose feedback I could trust to push me in the directions I needed to go, and then I had filter out the rest of the noise. In my writing life now, I feel like I have that in the few writer friends I work closely with. So when I send things out for feedback, it’s not in a formal, workshop-group sense, but one-on-one. I share things with some colleagues at the colleges where I work and from a handful of writer friends online.

 

These days, I’ve also learned how to read a rejection letter as feedback, and I sometimes get valuable advice out of that. When I received my Oregon Literary Fellowship, an agent in New York contacted me and asked to see the manuscript. She ultimately turned it down, but in doing so she gave me some valuable comments that helped me develop the characters quite a bit and refine the themes in the book.

 

I don’t think I really ignored any advice regarding Hagridden. When it got to my publisher, we discussed some questions about some of the vocabulary, and I was right about some of it but a lot of it I changed. Other than that, as far as I recall, no one ever really gave me feedback that challenged the nature or structure of the story, and the advice that required fairly substantive rewrites was all good advice and I took it. I feel fortunate to have gotten such good feedback on this novel!

 

I read in an interview that if you were marooned on a desert island the only piece of fiction you would have with you is Alan Moore’s The Watchman. Are you a big comic book fan? And if so, do you see links between the way mythology is used in comics vs literary fiction?

 

Ha! I’m sure that answer changes every time I see the question, but yeah, I definitely reread The Watchmen once a year. It’s practically a perfect book. And I am a comic book fan, absolutely. I’m not an ubergeek — I can’t compete with the real fans! — but I do have a pretty sizable collection of comic books and a growing bookcase of graphic novels. I’m fascinated by visual narrative, and I think the insights that comics authors bring to the narrative craft are profoundly useful even for us textual writers.

 

I don’t know exactly what the relationship here is — maybe it’s because our contemporary Western mythologies are best expressed in the form of superheroes, or maybe it’s because our very first religious/mythological texts took of the form of sequential visual narrative (comics!) on ancient scrolls and stone friezes — but I definitely think there’s a connection between mythology and comics, and I do think it’s often more effective (or at least more immediate) in comics than in literary fiction. When I wrote my dissertation novel, probably the strongest criticism I got about it was that the characters all felt a bit too large and the story a bit too outlandish, which of course was the point when I wrote it, but as I went back over the book after finishing my PhD, I realized it was such fair criticism that I couldn’t bring myself to leave that too-large outlandishness in the book. I would need to do a major rewrite, to effectively start again from scratch, which broke my heart because I loved the story so much. I wrestled with it for a long time and tried several versions of manuscript reboots, but it just wasn’t coming together. And then I realized it’s because the problem wasn’t in the story– it was the medium. If my novel could become a graphic novel, all that “outlandishness” would suddenly seem perfectly ordinary, and no one would question it. (That’s still something I’d like to work on, if I could find the right artist — or the right artist could find me — to collaborate on that afterlife novel!)

 

I think by treating the legend of the rougarou as a legend in Hagridden, and not as a literal thing, I’ve circumvented some of those problems and, I hope, made a new myth of the bayou. But it’s just grand enough, I think, that I do sometimes daydream of a graphic novel version of Hagridden. (Again, if the right artist came along, I’d love to see that happen!)

 

The publishing industry is a state of flux currently. Self-publishing or Indie publishing has become such a force that many of the big name presses are putting out digital only imprints. What is your opinion on this? Are they legitimizing good writers who need the support from a big name press or are they taking a bite out of the indie world on a venture that is low cost to them since it’s e-book publishing only? And what advice would you give to new writers trying to break into the publishing world?

 

I confess, I’m not involved enough in the industry as industry to speak with any authority on the issue of large corporate presses encroaching on the digital indie market. But advice to new writers? That I can tackle.

 

Here’s the most important thing I can say to writers trying to break into the market: Be patient, and keep working.

 

This is actually terrible advice, because the patience part is almost impossible to do. I know. I’m terribly impatient, especially about my writing.

 

But it’s important to keep in mind. When you send out a story and you have to sit around waiting, whether it’s the traditional months the lightning-fast digital hours — the wait can be excruciating. That’s why I always have several projects in various stages of work, so that when I send something out, I can focus on the next project and hope to forget about the current project floating around out there in the world. I don’t forget about it, of course, but in between all those mail checks and long sighs and stiff drinks, I have something else to work on. I’m writing, because that’s what we do: we write.

 

There’s this traditional path toward publication, this story we’ve all been told. I might be in the last generation for whom this would actually still apply, because this is a revolutionary time in literature and the traditional narrative is shifting, but the old story was this: You read a ton and went to readings and met other writers, and you wrote stories. And you sent those stories out, and you collected rejection slips until finally something took, and then little by little, you put together a list of publications. And you kept reading and studying and meeting people. Eventually you met the right people, or pulled together the right manuscript, and you put out a collection, maybe a chapbook. And that got your name out of the magazines and onto the bookshelves, and in the meantime you worked on a novel. Which is when you started all over — collecting rejections, putting together lists, honing your craft. Until finally you found the right person at the right time, and your first major book comes out, and suddenly you’re an author.

 

It’s an old-fashioned and heavily romanticized story, but it’s one I latched onto early on and, little by little, over years and years, I’ve actually managed to live that story. I’m tremendously fortunate, and that story involves so many generous people, and I feel so lucky. But to truth is, it wasn;t just about luck. It was about the work, and it took me YEARS. Like, decades.

 

These days the story is different, and with so many amazing small presses and the improvements in self-publishing, the path for some people (some people) is getting shorter. But for most of us, breaking into publishing takes an extraordinarily long time, and the only thing you can do to ensure that it might eventually happen is to keep working.

 

So my advice to new writers is to be patient, and in the meantime, keep writing, keep reading, keep putting in the time.

 

You’re just starting out your blog tour…what do you hope that readers will learn about Hagridden? What do you think we should know before we start your novel?

 

I suppose the one thing I keep hearing a lot are some preconceptions about the book. Some people hear that it’s historical fiction and they think it’s going to be a romance. Some people hear that it’s a Civil War novel and they think it’s going to be about battles and politics. Some people hear that it’s about an older woman and her daughter-in-law trying to make their way in the world, just the two of them, and they think it’s a heartwarming story that kids might like. Some people hear about the rougarou and think it’s going to be a horror novel.

There’s a love story in here. But there’s also some fairly graphic sex.

There are some soldiers fighting in here, but there aren’t large battles — most of the violence is brutal and intimate. And that brutal, intimate violence starts on page 3.

The woman and the girl do have a complicated but deeply devoted relationship — but they’re often ready to kill each other. Literally.

There’s at least one rougarou in this book, but it’s not supernatural — and it’s possibly more terrifying because of that.

 

 

And we’re finished….

14 Jul

cover

After two weeks of madness, the blog tour for This Is Sarah is officially over! Phew. I had a really great time, answered some fantastic questions and even told a lie or two.

So without further ado, here’s a quick recap and thank you to all the blogger who took a little time out to help me spread the word about This Is Sarah. I posted earlier, covering the first half so picking up where we left off….

Thanks to Cynthia, Lee at Rally the Readers, Jen McConnel, Tracy at Fresh Coffee, Jay Scott, Meradeth Houston at Write Stuff,and Danielle at Consuming Worlds who were all kind enough to include an excerpt from the book from either Colin or Claire’s point of view.

Next up were deleted scenes: Thanks to Judith at the Cozy Corner  and Erin Alberts for including one from Claire’s point of view. The excerpt was a section from Claire’s journal about quitting the band after Sarah’s disappearance. Jesse at Pretty in Fiction and Mary Waibel both shared a medication journal from Colin highlighting his nervous breakdown and finally, Denee at Novel Reveries shared a post from Sarah’s journal, where we get to see her reaction to Colin’s confession that he’s in love with her.

Then I headed over to Enna’s blog to talk about writing, inspiration and why I wrote about loss. Next up was Crystal’s blog where we played a little truth or lie game. I was asked to give three statements, two truths and one lie and the readers had to guess the lie in order to win a copy of This Is Sarah. It was a lot of fun. Since the winner was already picked here were my three:

1. Ally fell off a waterfall in high school and cracked her skull open.

2. She was kicked out of the country of Monaco when she was 16 for “trespassing.”

3. She’s stepped foot on nearly every continent in the world.

Those of you know know me in real life know that regrettably, the lie is #3 but I’m working on changing that.

Next up was an interview at Hiver et Cafe where we talked about research, free time and my desert island book choice (Salinger, baby. Salinger). Speaking of Salinger I also blabbed on about him at the Daily Mayo.

Then I headed over to Bibliophia, Please. When Kayla agreed to be part of the book tour she asked me to write about the research that I did. So I wrote a post about missing kids. It wasn’t easy research and it wasn’t an easy post but there are links at the bottom of the post where you can help out in the search for missing children. 2,300 Americans are reported missing every day. 100 of those are kids who have been abducted. 2,300 families left wondering. If you have the means to help out please do.

And finally, I was thrilled to be interviewed by Sam Snoek-Brown, author of Box Cutters and the soon to be released Hagridden. Sam and I talked about my feelings about the YA label which has gotten a bit of backlash lately, why my writing style is so sparse (i.e., I suck at florish) and what the hell is up with my obsession with Antarctica, already? Answer: This Man

Scott

 

And I think that just about wraps it up. It’s been a fantastic tour and I can’t thank the bloggers enough for taking the time to share This Is Sarah. It’s still on sale on amazon for $0.99 if you’re an ebook reader. You gotta pony up more for the paperback. That’s just the way the world works.

In other news, I unexpectedly wound up spending the weekend with my entire immediate family, including both sisters and my nephew who all live far away and while the reason we were all together was, let’s just say not ideal, seeing them was amazing.

malinenkos

Like they say, the secret to having it all… is knowing you already do.

And I do, thanks to those guys up there.

Peace Love and Starbursts,

Ally

Interview at Reading Lark

8 Jun

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‘Ello kids.

Just wanted to give you a quick heads up to let you know that the nice folks over at Reading Lark invited me for a chat.

And they offered to do a giveaway so you can win a copy of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb.

And there is still a giveaway going on over at Buried in Books.

Double your luck.

Or double down.

Or double mint gum.

I don’t know. Double something!

And cause our momma’s raised us right, we say Thank You to the fine birds at Reading Lark with candy.

Starburst

Peace and love and starbursts,

Ally

Interview at Dab of Darkness

4 Apr

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Hi folks. I’m over at Dab of Darkness talking about  poetry and fiction and goats and why I’m obsessed with Robert Falcon Scott and this:

Paper Heart which was published by Jersey Devil Press, was a story I was very proud of mainly because I had adopted a completely different writing style for that one and that was no easy feat. It was rejected numerous times before it found a home – most people were hung up on the notion that a person would be born with Ectopia cordis(a heart on the outside of the body) and that it would be made of paper. Also, the boy with no tear ducts seemed to baffle people. That’s why I’m thankful for places like Jersey Devil Press. They let me send them all my really weird stuff. And they were kind enough to nominate me for a Pushcart – which while I realize TONS of people get nominated for and it doesn’t really mean anything – but it meant something to me that the editors at Jersey Devil picked my story out of all the other fantastic stories they had published.

You hear that JDP? You guys rock.

Many thanks to Susan at Dab of Darkness for the interview. And how do we say thanks? With candy!

Starburst

Also completely unrelated I fell for the Doctor Who Fan facebook page April Fool’s Day joke where they said Matt was leaving (Me: oh sadness) and that David Tennant was coming back (Me: ohmygodohmygodohmygod) and I gotta say, shame on you Doctor Who Fan page. It’s not nice to toy with a woman like that.

Interview at Middle Grade Ninja

28 Mar

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Howdy

I’m over at Middle Grade Ninja facing the 7 Questions.

Buh buh BAAAAAA

(or other suspenseful sounding noise)

and in one of those questions I trace the origin of Jack Tripper. True story.

Always is, Jack. Always is.

So many many thanks to Rob at Middle Grade Ninja who also reviewed Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb earlier this week.

And how do we say thanks? With candy!

Starburst

YAY! CANDY!

Interview at My Paranormal Book Reviews

18 Mar

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I’m over at My Paranormal Book Reviews talking about Lizzy and Shakespeare and research and we wound up touching upon an issue that  quite a few people have asked me about. What if Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare?

 I love the concept of Lizzy and Dmitri being descendants of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. Did this concept require a lot of research on your part? 
It did actually. When I first decided that I wanted to write about the descendant of Shakespeare I went out and picked up a couple bios on him. I mean, I had read Shakespeare before – he’s one of my favorites – but I knew I was going to need a lot more information. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt was the most useful. It was a fantastic look at a man for whom there is not a ton of biographical information on. When I decided that my bad guy would be descended from Marlowe I read the World of Christopher Marlowe by David Riggs which was also a fantastic bio. I wanted to avoid the “conspiracy theorists” who like to say that they were the same person – which in my opinion is pure nonsense.

Okay so seriously, these people really exist. There are Oxfordians who believe that Shakespeare was the Earl of Oxford. Seen the movie Anonymous anyone? I hear that is the bunk it’s pedaling. I’m far too much of a Stratfordian to watch it.

And then even worse are the Marlovians. They are the people who believe that Kit Marlowe faked his own death and then re-imagined himself as Shakespeare.

They claim his pseudonym comes from the following lines in Tamburlaine: “Thy words are swords. Shaking their swords, their spear.”

Get it? Shake? Speare?

Yeah…..and just for the record the Earl of Oxford died in 1604. The Tempest, Shakespeare’s last play included a famous shipwreck which took place in 1609 and in 1610 pamphlets were written outlining what happened which he probably used for source material. So I guess the Earl was writing from beyond the grave.

Cause you know that makes way  more sense than Shakespeare having just EXISTED.

All the same, thanks to the lovely Shar at My Paranormal Book Reviews for taking the time to talk with me. She gets some Starburst.

Starburst

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