Friday, August 24, 2012

Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Congratulations to Suzanne Selfors on the release of The Sweetest Spell (Walker, 2012)! From the promotional copy:
Emmeline Thistle, a dirt-scratcher's daughter, has escaped death twice-first, on the night she was born, and second, on the day her entire village was swept away by flood. Left with nothing and no one, Emmeline discovers her rare and mysterious ability-she can churn milk into chocolate, a delicacy more precious than gold.Suddenly, the most unwanted girl in Anglund finds herself desired by all.

But Emmeline only wants one-Owen Oak, a dairyman's son, whose slow smiles and lingering glances once tempted her to believe she might someday be loved for herself.

But others will stop at nothing to use her gift for their own gains-no matter what the cost to Emmeline. Magic and romance entwine in this fantastical world where true love and chocolate conquer all.

More News & Giveaways

Very Pinteresting: The Hot Social Network is Taking Educators by Storm by Kate Messner from The Digital Shift at School Library Journal. Peek: "Pinterest bills itself as a virtual pinboard that helps users 'organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.' Although still in beta phase, the site has grown astronomically—faster than even Facebook and Twitter—reaching 10 million visitors each month."

Picture Book Titles to Avoid by Mary Kole from Peek: "If I get a sense that your book is going to be didactic from the title, I will be that much less excited to read it, and so will your audience."

Is a Blog Tour Worth the Trouble? from Peek: "Blog tours harness the power of social media, spreading news of your book almost instantly to countless people through the virtual ripple effect of retweets and shares."

Advice to New Writers: Green Triangles Should be Both Triangular and Green from Kristin Cashore. Peek: "People will confuse their expectations with your intentions and with the quality of your work. This will happen. So you need to keep hold of what your own expectations/goals were"

Questions to Ask Yourself about Your Manuscript in Progress by Carol Lynch Williams from Throwing Up Words. Peek: "What would happen if you set the book elsewhere?"

Debbie Dahl Edwardson's Whale Snow: a recommendation by Debbie Reese from American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "By the end of the story, we know why Amiqqaq is named Amiqqaq, we know a little about how his family prepares whale meat, and Amiqqaq's mom has taught him about the 'spirit of the whale.'"

Social Media Suicide by M.J. Rose from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "While a presence on social media outlets can be valuable it can’t–except in unusual cases–take the place of strong publisher support."

Five Reasons Your Opening Scene is Like a Blind Date by Marissa from Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing. Peek: "First impressions do matter."

Not Who You Think They Are: A Character-Building Exercise by Emilia Plater from YA Highway. Peek: "... who me is can change, literally from minute to minute."

YA Authors Narrate 'Every Day' by David Levithan: video from Entertainment Weekly. Peek: " told from the point of view of a teen named A who wakes up in a different body every morning. While Every Day has an out-there and fun paranormal twist, it’s every bit as relatable, wise, and believable as the best realistic teen fiction."

Zoraida Cordova on Breaking the Rules from Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing. Peek: "In my unprofessional opinion, 'write what you know' should be applied to the internal workings of our characters."

Author Insight: First Time All Over Again by S.F. Robertson from Wastepaper Prose. Peek: "What book do you wish you could read again for the first time?" Note: insights from various YA authors.

Tu Books: Why Target an Author's Race in an Award? by Mitali Perkins from Mitali's Fire Escape. Peek: "Just wondering why you decided to focus the award on 'writers of color' rather than 'main characters of color'?"

Poem Depot: A Poetry Commotion is primarily devoted to poetry in all its forms and facets: old and new, sense and nonsense, graphic and laughic, courtesy of Douglas Florian.

The Practice of Writing by John Vorhaus from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Writing isn’t easy, but it really isn’t hard. You put a word on the page, then another and another (and another and another) and soon you have some words on the page."

The Truth About a Writing Life by Donna Gephart from Wild About Words. Peek: "...even though I’ve published three novels and been writing professionally for over twenty years, I have no idea how to write this novel."

Literary Agent Spotlight: Kendra Marcus from Literary Rambles. Seeking picture books, middle grade, and YA--fiction and nonfiction. Likes humor, Latino/Hispanic characters, and "unusual nonfiction."

American Indians In Children's Literature is now on Pinterest! Learn more about great books.

Cynsational Giveaways

The winner of signed copies of Jo Whittemore's books, Front Page Face-Off (2010), Odd Girl In (2011) and D Is for Drama (2012)(all Aladdin) was Deena in New York.

The winner of Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom (Book One of the Heroes in Training series) by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams (Aladdin, 2012) was Jayne in Florida.

A free substantive edit of one manuscript from Deadline: midnight Aug. 28.

See also Annette Simon on Robot Zombie Frankenstein & Giveaway from Jama's Alphabet Soup.

This Week at Cynsations

Cynsational Screening Room

Digital Symposium II: The Nuts and Bolts of Success: hosted by Austin SCBWI, this conference is scheduled for Oct. 6 at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. Check out the promotional video.

More Personally

Last week's highlight was teaching a YA writing workshop at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers' Conference.

Eternal, Blessed & Diabolical at the VCFA bookstore.
Tim & Leda in front of College Hall.
Magnificent YA writers in workshop.
More magnificent YA writers in workshop.
Former advisee, VCFA grad & rising star Erin at Main Street Grill.
Walker Books (U.K.) cover

A Diabolical Chat: a Q&A interview about my latest release at Undercover Blog. Peek: "The arguably creepiest element, though, is a pop-art reproduction (think: Andy Warhol) of an image from the actual Codex Gigas, originally created by a monk who’d sold his soul to the devil. A framed copy hangs in practically every room of the school and the devilish figure depicted seems almost as if it’s watching…because it is." Note: post includes excerpt from the novel.

Congratulations to Austin's own Nikki Loftin on the release of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy (Razorbill, 2012)!

Cheers also to Liz Garton Scanlon, the Austin Public Library Illumine Honoree in Children's Literature! Speaking of Austinites, check out August news from the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels.

Personal Links

From Greg Leitich Smith

Cynsational Events

Join Newbery Honor author Marion Dane Bauer for a free live teleconference at 7 p.m. EST Sept. 19. She will also be offering a free live webinar on "Point of View in Fiction" at 7 p.m. EST Sept. 26. See more information.

The Austin Teen Book Festival is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at Palmer Events Center. Keynoters: Neal Shusterman and Libba Bray. Note: Greg Leitich Smith is moderating the "Where We're Going, We Don't Need Roads" panel.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Voice: Gina Rosati on Auracle

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Gina Rosati is the first-time author of Auracle (Roaring Brook, 2012). From the promotional copy:

Sixteen-year-old Anna Rogan has a secret she’s only shared with her best friend, Rei; she can astrally project out of her body, allowing her spirit to explore the world and the far reaches of the universe.

When there’s a fatal accident and her classmate Taylor takes over Anna’s body, what was an exhilarating distraction from her repressive home life threatens to become a permanent state. 

Faced with a future trapped in another dimension, Anna turns to Rei for help.

Now the two of them must find a way to get Anna back into her body and stop Taylor from accusing an innocent friend of murder. Together Anna and Rei form a plan but it doesn’t take into account the deeper feelings that are beginning to grow between them. 

What was the one craft resource book that helped you most during your apprenticeship? Why? How would you book-talk it to another beginning writer in need of help?

I’ve read dozens of amazing, insightful writing resource books, but the one that stands out and really made a difference to me is Story Engineering by Larry Brooks (Writer’s Digest, 2011).

I wrote Auracle by the seat of my pants, and when I look back on all the suggestions made by my agent and editor, if I had known the information presented in Story Engineering, my first draft would have been cleaner, I could have saved myself a lot of editing time and the publication process would have gone much faster.

The main idea behind Story Engineering is the need to outline, or at the very least, to know your beginning, your end, and your major plot points. He breaks the process of writing a novel down into six core competencies (concept, character, theme, story structure, scene execution and writing voice), and thoroughly describes them in plain English using short examples to illustrate his points.

It’s a no-nonsense guide to writing from someone who has written and had several novels published within the conventional publishing system. It’s definitely the best $17.99 investment I’ve made in my writing.

As a librarian-author, how do your two identities inform one another? What about being a librarian has been a blessing to your writing?

Photo courtesy of Marc Nozell.
I’m not a librarian, but I’ve volunteered one day a week in a middle school library for the past six years, and that has had a major impact on my writing life.

Years ago, when I worked for a Burger King regional office, we were required to work in a restaurant for a few days so we could appreciate things like why we shouldn’t call the restaurant during lunch rush, the pain of burning fry oil splashing on our arm and understand what was important (the customer!).

It’s the same thing for me working in a library…

I’ve learned to appreciate that there’s no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to the teenage reader. I’ve learned to appreciate the role of a librarian, the limited resources they have to work with and the uncomfortable spots they find themselves in when a book is challenged.

I’ve even learned to appreciate the basic nuts and bolts of book layout – that publishers should never use black paper inside the cover because that’s where we stamp the books and they should always leave a blank space for the Date Due slip to be glued.

In return for a few hours a week spent checking books in and out, processing new books, and re-shelving returns, I get to study the elusive middle grade reader in their natural habitat, see which books they get really excited about (and which books are returned with a bookmark stuck at the halfway point) and gain all kinds of insight from my wonderful librarian friends about the world of middle grade and young adult lit.

One of the biggest thrills I get is when my librarian hands me the current VOYA or School Library Journal and asks what books I recommend she buys for the library. Volunteering in a school library brings the reason I write YA full circle for me.

Cynsational Notes

Find Gina at Twitter, Facebook, and Good Reads. She's a member of the Apocalypsies and the Class of 2k12. See also Gina's blog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Mette Ivie Harrison on How to Find Time to Write

By Mette Ivie Harrison
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

I have five children, ages 9 to 18, four of them teenagers.

One daughter takes lessons for three instruments, is in school plays and two competitive choirs, graduated in three years from high school and took five AP classes. Another daughter is in robotics competitions, takes AP classes at four different high schools, and is on swim team. My youngest daughter wants to be an actress and has asked me to write, direct and perform in neighborhood plays with her each summer. One son is into Science Olympiad, scouts, and cooking. My youngest son has karate four days a week, as well as all the regular homework, church activities, and scouts.

I sold my first novel when I had four kids under the age of 6 and babysat two other preschoolers five days a week.

Now, six novels later, I am a competitive triathlete in my spare time. I am currently ranked #41 in the nation in my age group (40-44). I race one Ironman a year, which takes about 20 hours of training a week. I also race more than a dozen Olympic distance races, which takes more like 12 hours a week. I train my husband, kids, and friends. I do races with them, as well.

I am a busy person, but I still get in three-to-four hours of writing every day.

How do I do it? Here are some of my secrets:

Everyone has the same 24 hours a day
  • If you want to add writing (or more writing) to your current schedule, the first simple principle is that you will have to make room by taking something else out.
  • No one is going to make writing time for you. You will have to wrest it away from other commitments, and it will not be painless.
  • If you have nothing you can give up, you will not find time to write.
What should you give up?
  • Cleaning is on the top of my list.

Close doors of your children’s rooms or any rooms you need to.

Look, see how simple it is.

then closed.

Much cleaner.

Other things you can give up:
  • Television
  • Dates to the movies. Stay home instead and have quiet time together when you can write with a babysitter upstairs.
  • Newspaper reading
  • Sleep (Lots of writers write into the wee hours. Others wake up at dawn. I was always one of the ones who woke up at 5 a.m. when my kids were small, to fit in a few more hours).
  • Shopping (Hey, it saves money, too!)
  • Answering the telephone
  • Lunches with friends
  • Saying "yes" to everyone who asks you to help them with a good cause. PTA/church/political action committees included.

Multitasking can be your friend.
  • Do two things at the same time (sewing and going to church, talking to friends and making dinner).
  • Or do three things at the same time.
  • Plan out novels while you drive.
  • Read and make notes on good writing.
  • Write dialog while you listen to other people talk.
  • Use your friends as models for your characters.

Do writing in quick bursts.
  • If you have ten minutes to write, take your laptop or a notebook with you everywhere. Use those lost ten minutes.
  • Write while waiting in a doctor’s office.
  • Write while waiting in line.
  • Write in the ten minutes before bed, or just after you get up. 

Make writing a priority.
  • It doesn’t have to be your top priority, but it needs to be somewhere in the top five.
  • Don’t let things lower on the priority list bump your writing out of whack. For instance, kids leaving homework or lunch at home is not more important than your writing time.
  • Pay yourself to write and use that money to fund preschool or babysitting time. 
Keep your writing space sacred.
  • If you have a writing space and it’s important to you to keep quiet, make some rules about when kids or spouses can come into that space.
  • Protect that space with your own attitudes. Don’t constantly invite others into it. Don’t give yourself excuses not to write. Go into that space, and get it done.
  • I can write upstairs in chaos for certain things, but for others I need absolute concentration, especially when I get an editorial letter.

Keep kids involved in your success.
  • Try rewarding your children for giving you writing time.
  • Include your children in celebrations when you finish a novel or sell one.
  • If you’re writing for children, use your kids as readers. Pay them if necessary, but only if they give you useful feedback.

Cut off your Internet.
  • Some writers will program computers to cut off internet use for a certain period, to encourage them to keep working.
  • For me, I find I set myself a goal of 500 words, then let myself go onto the web for 10 minutes as a reward. It can keep me going for hours.

Set yourself a writing goal every day.
  • If you are currently writing 1,000 words a day, try to double it.
  • Make it a competition on-line with friends. #wordwar is a twitter hashtag. You can join others and try to win.
  • Don’t let yourself go to bed without meeting your goal. You will lose sleep at first, but will become more efficient in the long term.

Keep good people in your life.
  • You’ve heard people say “don’t feed the troll?” I think people who are bad for you will naturally leave your life if you just stop feeding them your energy.
  • On the other hand, good people will stay in your life if you feed them your energy instead.
  • Good people in your life will make it better, richer.
  • Believe me, you don’t need the bad people just for research.

Plan time to relax.

Deal with your anxieties about writing.
  • Every writer I’ve met is afraid of reviews, of rejection by agents and editors. Writing is hard work, and criticism is even harder.
  • Find ways to deal with your anxieties. If I get an editorial letter, I let myself rant for a while. Then I dig back in and tell myself I only change things I want to change.
  • I lie to myself when working on a first draft. I tell myself it’s just for me, that no one will ever read it. Even if it’s under contract, I tell myself that I might write something else instead.
  • Think about writing as a skill rather than a gift.

Figure out what your routine is and stick with it.

Remember, your way is not my way. But do it your way and do it now!

Cynsational Notes

From Indiebound: "Mette Ivie Harrison is the author of The Princess and the Hound (Eos, 2007) and several other novels for young adults. She has a Ph.D. in German literature from Princeton University. She lives with her family in Utah."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Career Builder: Frieda Wishinsky

By Lena Coakley
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Canadian author Frieda Wishinsky has written many acclaimed books for children including Please Louise, illustrated by Marie Louise Gay (Groundwood Books, 2007), which won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, and Explorers Who Made It…Or Died Trying (Scholastic Canada, 2011), currently nominated for both the Hackmatack and Red Cedar children’s choice awards.

She grew up in New York City, but now lives in Toronto, Canada.

What memories of your debut author experience stand out? If you could offer advice to the new voice you once were, what would you say?

I met my first editor at lunch at an SCBWI New York conference many years ago when it was held at Bank Street. We happened to stand near each other while choosing food in the long line at the cafeteria. I liked her immediately. She was (and is) kind, smart and encouraging.

We talked about writing, life, etc., and it was only at the end of lunch that I asked, “Could I send you a manuscript?”

“Sure,” she said.

So I did.

After she rejected (graciously and supportively) seven manuscripts over the next two years, she finally called me about my eighth submission. “We’d like to publish your book,” she said. It was a magic moment. There’s nothing like that first yes.

That book, Oonga Boonga (Little Brown, 1990; Scholastic Canada, 1998; Dutton, 1999), is still in print after over 20 years. And the editor and I are still friends after all those years, too. A friend and a book. There’s nothing better than that.

To the young me I’d say: “Cherish words of encouragement, stay true to your voice, listen to wise suggestions for revision, only send in your best work, and never give up.”

Would you describe your career as a hike up a mountain, a winding road, a path of hills and valleys or hop-scotching from rock to rock across the rapids? Why?

My career is a winding road. I’ve meandered to different genres, followed my interests, taken a new fork in the road, and ventured into new themes. A fellow writer once suggested I stick to one genre. She said it’s important to “brand” yourself. “If you’re all over the map and writing in different areas, it’s not good for your career,” she insisted.

Maybe she was right. I don’t know. What I do know is that part of the joy of writing for me is finding the story or idea that I’m excited about and pursuing it. I’m always amazed at what intrigues me or what draws me in to learn more and then write about it.

I’ve written about such diverse subjects as Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park, in The Man Who Made Parks, illustrated by Song Nan Zhang (Tundra, 1999) because I’ve loved Central Park since I was a kid and it’s still one of my favorite places on earth.

I’ve written about explorers whose daring and persistence astound me like Exporers Who Made It…Or Died Trying (Scholastic Canada, 2011) because I would never have ventured into the unknown like they did, and I am fascinated about their personalities and times, and have often wondered what made them take such enormous risks.

Co-writing with the author Elizabeth McLeod, I’ve written about food in Everything but the Kitchen Sink, illustrated by Travis King (Scholastic, 2008) because I love food and its history.

I actually stick food into many of my books. I added hot chocolate into my biography of Einstein, What’s the Matter With Albert?, illustrated by Jacques Lamontagne (Maple Tree, 2002). I have no idea if Einstein ever drank hot chocolate or even liked it, but since this book had a fiction element I figured, why not assume that he did? And the book’s main character, Billy Whitestone, loves hot chocolate. I imagined him drinking hot chocolate with Einstein while interviewing him for a school newspaper. (I know I would have loved doing just that!)

I’ve written about bullies and friendship, often with a humorous angle in picture books, like You’re Mean Lily Jean, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton (Scholastic Canada, 2009; Albert Whitman, 2011), but I’ve written about bullies in both chapter books and novels as well.

Writing about them has helped me cope with them when they show up (and they always do). And friendships and humor have helped me deal with life through good times and bad.

Writing across genres has given me joy. It’s made writing a path full of surprises. It’s given me a sense of freedom to choose what I like to explore. It’s allowed me to dive into subjects that intrigue me. I think that makes my writing stronger because I write out of a passionate interest in a theme, subject or emotion.

So what do I do when I’m rejected? I try to be patient and not get too discouraged. (Not easy.) But after moaning and groaning I usually drag myself up, dust myself off, and follow the next bend in the road. Most of all, I try to always love the journey. In the end, it’s the best part of writing. That and the people you meet along the way.

How have you grown as a writer? What skills have you seen improve over time? What did you do to reach new levels? What are areas that still flummox you at times?

I’ve learned that you can’t write to trends; it won’t work. You have to write about what interests you. Readers can tell if the writing isn’t authentic, if the theme doesn’t engage you—if it’s not your “voice.” An author’s voice is what keeps me reading a book.

And sometimes you have to stop writing and let yourself goof off. Sometimes the best writing comes out of taking time off from writing. You’re still writing but not consciously. That’s when some of the magic happens. When you let go.

What do you want to say to established mid-list authors about staying in the game?

Network. Keep your name out there with presentations and social media. But most of all, if you still love writing, keep writing. There’s so little we really can control except our words. And if they’re good, I believe they will find an audience.

Cynsational Notes

The Career Builders series offers insights from children's-YA authors who written and published books for a decade or more. The focus includes their approach to both the craft of writing and navigating the ever-changing business landscape of trade publishing.

Lena Coakley was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high school, creative writing was the only class she ever failed (nothing was ever good enough to hand in!), but, undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

She became interested in young adult literature when she moved to Toronto, Canada, and began working for CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers, where she eventually became the Administrative Director.

Witchlanders, her debut novel, was called “a stunning teen debut” by Kirkus Reviews and was the winner of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the Americas region. She is now a full-time writer living in Toronto.

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Voice: Heather Anastasiu on Glitch

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Heather Anastasiu is the first-time author of Glitch (St. Martin's, 2012)(author blog). From the promotional copy:

Zoe lives in a world free of pain and war. Like all members of the Community, a small implanted chip protects her from the destructive emotions that destroyed the Old World. Until her hardware starts to glitch.

Zoe begins to develop her own thoughts and feelings, but nothing could be more dangerous in a place where malfunctions can get you killed. And she has another secret she must conceal at all costs: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As she struggles to keep her burgeoning powers hidden, she finds other glitchers with abilities like hers, and together they plot to escape. But the more she learns about beauty, joy, and love, the more Zoe has to lose if they fail. With danger lurking around every corner, she’ll have to decide just how much she’s willing to risk to be free. 

How do you psyche yourself up to write, to keep writing, and to do the revision necessary to bring your manuscript to a competitive level? What, for you, are the special challenges in achieving this goal? What techniques have worked best and why?

Facing resistance to getting words on the page is definitely something I’ve fought with. I’ve come up with an arsenal of tools that can usually get me past the paralysis so that I can get working each day.

My most basic tool is setting a daily word count and sticking to it. No. Matter. What. The actual amount varies depending on what kind of deadlines I’m facing, but it’s usually somewhere from 1,000 to 2,000 words a day, and I try not to let up for even a single day.

When approaching a new scene, I’ll do a brief sketch of the goal, conflict, and end point, then I make myself start writing. Even if it feels stunted and wonky, I just keep going.

Most often the writing will start loosening up as I get into a scene. Some days it doesn’t, but that’s okay too. Words are still getting down on the page and the story is moving forward.

When I’m on a tight deadline, I’ll meet my word count in the morning, then do an editing session in the evening. Editing as I go is something that’s become necessary to avoid tons of wasted pages. It helps me stop and think through the plot as I go. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s wasted pages.

Then again, my last book had to be completely rewritten from scratch, so I’m trying to be more zen about embracing the process, even if it means tossing out whole drafts! Each step gets me closer to a book on the shelves that I can be proud of.

While getting words on the page is the first and foremost challenge, finding the inspiration to keep the writing and the characters fresh is also something I’m constantly aware of.

On Sara Zarr’s podcasts, she talks about the need to keep the well of creativity full and finding ways to refill it when you feel depleted. When I’m feeling creatively exhausted, I try to go back to the basics. Spending time surrounded by the beauty of the natural world is something I find very fulfilling. Because of a chronic illness I have, I can’t go hiking like I used to, so instead I go for long drives.

When I lived in Texas I couldn’t count the number of hours my husband and I spent driving around the central Texas Hill Country. I love that moment of getting to the top of a hill and seeing the incredible vista spread out below, with hills sloping into one another as far as you can see into the distance.

Another regular source of inspiration is Natalie Goldberg’s books, especially Writing Down the Bones (Shambahala,1986). She approaches writing practice as a means of getting to know one’s own mind and as a way to be fully present in the moment. That’s what I want both for my writing and for my life in general—to be fully present.

As a science fiction writer, going in, did you have a sense of how events/themes in your novel might parallel or speak to events/issues in our real world? Or did this evolve over the course of many drafts?

As I was coming up with some of the gadgets for the world of Glitch, I was definitely thinking about how the increasing role of technology in our lives affects the way we interact with one another.

Community garden outside Heather's window.
In general, I think that the things that make life feel meaningful will continue to be a constant, no matter how technology affects the ways and means of communication. There is no substitute for the physical and emotional intimacy of relationships with the people around you. The impulse to love and make love is the best of what makes us human.

In Glitch, true to dystopian form, those in power attempt to regulate, control, and dampen individuality and the emotions which create those important human connections. For me, a main theme in the book is about the way human nature fights back and evolves to conquer even the most invasive means of control.

Even without a dystopian setting, though, it’s easy to fall into certain patterns of living that are drone-like. Commute back and forth to work, come home with only enough energy to watch TV, fall into bed, then wake up the next day and do it all over again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Busyness eclipses everything, and days or decades can pass half asleep.

It reminds me of that quote from Thoreau about why he went into the wilderness:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately […] and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” 

Waking up from a life spent as an unthinking drone is the central metaphor in Glitch, and one that I continue to find very personal. In writing the novel, I was excited to explore what it would be like to watch a person wake up from a lifetime of emotionless monotony and discover the world around her.

I think that sense of passionate discovery is also a good parallel to what it’s like to be a teenager. Suddenly everything seems brighter and more intense, and you get to start deciding what kind of person you want to be in the world.

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