Tag Archives: research

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

On Kafka, Richter and Memories

1 Jul

 

I have a strange relationship with posthumously published pieces. In the one instance, I desperately want to read them. Especially if it’s an author I really like because then as a reader I get to momentarily undo their death and hear one last story.

On the other hand it feels like cheating. It wasn’t finished. It wasn’t supposed to be shared. Like splitting open their skull and sticking your fingers in there to see what’s what.

It’s just wrong.

And I feel even more strange about posthumously published journals. That’s like a sin on top of a sin. Writing that is only meant for the writer should stay that way, right? Except as a reader, I love to read journals. I love to know what they were thinking when they were working on some of my favorite stories. Virginia Woolf’s journals were as enjoyable as any of her novels.

Yet I still feel strange about it.

It’s akin to loving the rich earthy smell of a recently dug grave.

After Kafka died, Max Brod, Kafka’s literary director, published his journals in 1948 and then, in 1953, he published what is known as The Blue Octavo Notebooks. These were Kafka’s journals….but also not his journals. They were not a recording of the movements and musings of a person in their daily existence. Instead they’re little vignettes, unrelated at times yet not disjointed. A review I read described the Notebooks as a “bag of exquisite marbles.”

That’s about as close to the mark as anything I could come up with.

They were penned from 1917 to 1919 and instead of being in the quarto size journals that Kafka used for his daily journals they were octavo-sized (hence the name).

Here, I’ll give you a sample:

Everyone carries a room about inside him. This fact can even be proved by  means of the sense of hearing. If someone walks fast and on pricks up one’s ears and listens, say in the night, when everything round about is quiet, one hears, for instance the rattling of a mirror not quite firmly fastened to the wall.”

Beautiful, right?

Now that brings us to the video above, a piece entitled “On the Nature of Daylight”, by Max Richter from his album The Blue Notebooks which is music inspired by Kafka’s Blue Octavo Notebooks.

A second layer.

To read this collection AND listen to the music that was inspired by it has been an incredibly rich experience. The high lilting song of a violin, the clack of a typewriter and a woman (by the name of Tilda Swinton) reading the words of Franz Kafka 87 years after they had been written. Possibly written in secret. Possibly never meant to be shared.

And then in researching Kafka I discovered that while Kafka was writing the small sketches that would become the Blue Octavo he was reading Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling.

A third layer still….

How far back can we stretch here? What was Kierkegaard listening to when he wrote Fear and Trembling, what  was he reading? We can peel back the layers.

Secrets within secrets.

Stories behind stories.

It does strange things to a person. Both the album and the book feel so familiar to me as if I had read them before in another life and am just now remembering them for the first time.

Like an echo bouncing off Jupiter and coming back to me after such a long journey.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

13 Jun

The title is an Einstein quote.

Put on your smarty glasses kids. We’re gonna talk about Research.

Suzzallo library of the University of Washington, Seattle WA

The reading room of the Suzzallo library of the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, was built in 1926 and has a Gothic interieur. Photography by Cap’n Surly Flickr.com

One of my favorite parts about writing a book is doing the research. When I was writing Lizzy I spent hours looking up mythological creatures and Shakespeare in the library. I used books like Barthe’s and the Encyclopedia of Imaginary Places and books on how keys were invented and books about Elizabethan England and it was tons of fun.

So for my new book, Palimpsest (which I’ve talked about a little here and here and here ) I present my currently reading or recently read research list:

There’s probably a few that I’m missing….

And I’ve also branched out into podcasts on topics that I want to include like time travel, and memory, how the universe came into existence and the multiverse and doppelgangers and how our brains are wired and… and… and…

You know, easy stuff.

So I discovered RadioLab which is my new obsession. They define themselves as a show about curiosity and that is without a doubt the simplest way to put it. Here a few of my favorites. All the descriptions are from the Radiolab website. I embedded what I could for your listening pleasure.

Memory and Forgetting  

This hour of Radiolab, a look behind the curtain of how memories are made…and forgotten. Remembering is an unstable and profoundly unreliable process–it’s easy come, easy go as we learn how true memories can be obliterated, and false ones added. And Oliver Sacks joins us to tell the story of an amnesiac whose love for his wife and music transcend his 7-second memory

Memory and Forgetting includes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Rat, Adding Memory and Clive which are parsed out below.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Rat

What is a memory? Science writer Jonah Lehrer tells us is it’s a physical thing in the brain… not some ephemeral flash. It’s a concrete thing made of matter. And NYU neuroscientist Joe LeDoux, who studies fear memories in rats, tells us how with a one shock, one tone, and one drug injection, you can bust up this piece of matter, and prevent a rat from every making a memory. LeDoux’s research goes sci-fi, when he and his colleague Karim Nader start trying to erase memories. And Nader applies this research to humans suffering from PTSD.

(This podcast was what lead me to read Jonah Lehrer’s book, Proust was a Neuroscientist)

Clive

The story of a man who’s lost everything. Clive Wearing has what Oliver Sacks calls “the most severe case of amnesia ever documented.” Clive’s wife, Deborah Wearing, tells us the story along with Oliver Sacks. And they try to understand why, amidst so much forgetting, Clive remembers two things: Music and Love.

(This podcast is what lead me to read her book listed above, Forever Today)

Adding Memory

We start this section off with a question from writer Andrei Codrescu“where do computers get their extra memory from?” And then we take it literally. Can you add memories?Dr. Elizabeth Loftus says yes. She’s a psychologist in the department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California at Irvine, and her research shows that you can implant memories—wholly false memories—pretty easily into the brains of humans. Her work challenges the reliability of eye-witness testimony, and is so controversial that she once had to call the bomb squad. Then, producer Neda Pourangbrings us the story of finding a lost memory. Painter Joe Andoe incessantly paints huge canvasses of seemingly random images: horses, pastures, and – more recently – a girl with a particular about-to-say-something look on her face. He didn’t realize until recently that he’d been painting a day from his past, a fragment of an afternoon 30 years earlier.

The (Mutli) Universe(s)

Robert and Brian Greene discuss what’s beyond the horizon of our universe, what you might wear in infinite universes with finite pairs of designer shoes, and why the Universe and swiss cheese have more in common than you think.

Have you wondered if there is another you out there? Somewhere? Sitting in the same chair, reading the same blog post, wearing the same clothes and thinking the same thoughts? Well, Brian Greene says there must be one. Or two. Or lots and lots and lots and lots and… Why? You ask, well listen to Greene’s argument in this week’s podcast.

We are still furiously working on Season 5, so while you wait we bring you today’s podcast of a conversation between Robert Krulwich and Brian Greene, physics and mathematics professor and director of the Institute of Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics at Columbia University. The interview is part of a series called ‘Giants of Science‘ hosted by venerable New York institution, the 92nd St Y.

(Brian Greene wrote Elegant Universe from the list above)

And of course never underestimate the power of Wine + Doctor Who = Mind Blown when it comes to ideas. Big ball of wibbley wobbley timey wimey….stuff.

Research is one of my favorite parts because it’s when my books and my desk get covered in post-it notes and ideas are popping up like little delicious bubbles all over the place and I drive my poor husband crazy talking about it. The hard part is mashing it all together. That’s the point when I start to think that maybe, just maybe, I’m not clever enough to pull this off!

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

30 Apr
Journals, journals, journals

Journals, journals, journals

What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. – Ira Glass

So that’s got to be it, right? That’s why everything I read through after the fact causes that wrinkled brow, “ick-this-sounded-better-in-my-head” kind of thing, right?

Been a few rough mornings and I can’t seem to figure out why. Got doused recently with rejections (which normally doesn’t phase me) two short stories are sputtering into the final death throes (which means I’ll trunk them) and I can’t seem to write the book I want to be writing (which is the part that is driving me crazy).

Or at least that I want to want to write. Sigh. I wish I was feeling more confident. More focused. At the very least I wish I was finishing things that I started.

research, research, research

That’s research. Notes, drawings, books that are relevant for one reason or another. Everything I need to write this book. And yet…I’m stalled at 57 sad little pages.

I think it’s time for a step back….I’ve lost the plot (to quote Modest Mouse). I need to know where I have been in order to know where I am going. Someone get me a compass.

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