Summer Reading: Rick Yancey Interview

It's summer, which means I get to catch up on all the books I wind up having to sideline during the school year. First up in the pile is The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey. Book one in the series, The 5th Wave, is one of the great YA titles of all time. An alien invasion brutally wipes out the majority of humanity. It's a harsh novel and it's beyond bleak, but that's what makes it shine.

Publishers Weekly sat down with Rick Yancey to talk about the sequel when it was on the horizon. There are some spoilers in there, so read at your own risk.

I love this gem at the beginning of the interview:

"The first book also had multiple viewpoints. Some readers loved it, some readers were not so keen on it but, ultimately, I felt it was the best choice of how to tell the story because having multiple points of view dovetailed into the whole unnerving nature of the story itself. The characters don’t know who to trust – ‘Are you really who you say you are?’ – and changing the narrators adds to the unease."

My 5 Favorite Lines from Looking for Alaska by John Green

This is tough to do, but after combing through my copy of Looking for Alaska, here's what I've come up with:

  1. At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid and it hurts, but then it’s over and you’re relieved.
  2. In the dark beside me, she smelled of sweat and sunshine and vanilla, and on that thin-mooned night I could see little more than her silhouette…
  3. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating.
  4. For a moment, it was so quiet that you could hear the sound of not-breathing, the vacuum created by 190 students shocked out of air.
  5. “At some point we all look up and realize we are lost in a maze…”

Go here and here for more amazing quotes from YA novels!

Brandon Sanderson's CALAMITY is almost ready to go!

While I was catching up on what's new with my favorite YA authors this weekend, I found that Brandon Sanderson has the final novel in his RECKONERS series almost in its final form. The first book in the trilogy, STEELHEART, is hands-down one of the best YA titles in recent memory. Corrupt super-heroes, an underground resistance, and a breakneck pace. The follow-up, FIREFIGHT, was another excellent one.

Sanderson is an unbelievable writer, both in terms of quantity AND quality. His stated goal is to publish at least 2 novels a year.

I love how this blog lets you know just how much time he devotes to writing. He's stacking story upon story, edit upon edit, and the pace is unbelievable.

Read the whole thing here.

The Staying Power of John Green's Novels

A quick glance at this week's New York Times list of best-selling YA titles will make one thing very, very clear: John Green's books have been on there for a long, long time. At number one is Paper Towns, which has remained on the list for an absolutely amazing 116 weeks! (And, being honest here, it's one of his that I haven't read, but I do have a handful of students currently carrying it around).

But even more awesome is the fact that both The Fault in Our Stars AND Looking for Alaska have charted for 130 consecutive weeks. I know a lot of people felt that after the movie had come out, the sales would decline, but here we are over a year later and it is STILL on the list.

VIDEO: Marie Lu Interview with GoodReads

Marie Lu is the best-selling author of the Legend series. I love this interview because it touches on what her life was like as a 5 year-old Chinese girl who had moved to the US. She also talks about her teenage years, her favorite words, and her love of drawing.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bo-I9w2PELM&w=560&h=315]

VIDEO: 10 Quotes About Music (From YA Novels)

If you don't have a favorite song or a favorite band, I'm not sure you're human. Music plays a huge role in my writing (and it does for other authors, too!) and this awesome video from EpicReads is full of quotes about music from ten great YA titles: [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moZ3Urp6e4E&w=560&h=315]

Finding Friends in Fiction

Written by Grant Goodman, 5/14/2015 For many of us, writing comes from frustration and disappointment. We don't like what our world has to offer. We are haunted by past decisions. We look back at our ever-growing pile of mistakes and wish that somehow we could make them into something better.

I think that many YA authors still remember those scars and, with the perspective that comes with adulthood, they recognize how universal those growing pains are. I really, really wish that more people were like our YA authors. I think that far too often adults overlook the importance of empathy. Yes, it is easy to look at the problems that teens face and outright dismiss them. But that totally misses the point.

This is why good YA lit is absolutely vital. We need stories out there that offer a window into teenage life that teens themselves can recognize as authentic. One of the biggest crises of my youth was thinking that no one else understood what I was going through, not even my friends.

I found friends in fiction, Holden Caulfield, Ender Wiggins and Harry Potter standing at the lead of the pack.

I didn't have a rich YA landscape, though. I had already jumped into Dragonlance and Stephen King which mostly featured adults.

I'm curious: who are the YA characters you have found yourself identifying with?

VIDEO: John Green Discusses Romeo and Juliet

If you haven't seen Crash Course, you are missing out. John Green--you know, the guy who wrote The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, and Looking For Alaska--dishes out some great talks about the greatest literature in human history. I've been teaching Shakespeare in school, so his talk on Romeo and Juliet really hit the spot:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4kz-C7GryY&w=560&h=315]

My First Novel is Out!!!!!

Hello, readers! My very first novel, AGENT DARCY AND NINJA STEVE IN...TIGER TROUBLE! is now available on Amazon! It's available in paperback and on Kindle.

It's a story about secret agents, ninjas, robots, and ghosts. So if you understand that spin kicks, spy tech, and ghosts are awesome, then this is the book for you, no matter how old you are!

SEAL OF APPROVAL: DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier

Seal of Approval: DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier Written by Grant Goodman, 4/29/2015

Raina’s first graphic novel, SMILE, is one of the most popular books in my classroom library. I have had two copies fall apart from being read so many times. When I saw her speak at the National Book Festival in DC two years ago, she did an amazing job of connecting with the audience and even invited some of the younger ones to help her in creating a comic on the stage. An all-around A+ person!

DRAMA has been out for a little while, but I didn’t get around to reading it until this week. It has all of the successful pieces that made SMILE so enjoyable:

  1. The main character is a girl who is trying to find her place in school. In this case, Callie is a member of the drama production team at her school, helping out with set design.
  2. Her issues are the everyday issues that teens run into. She’s got a crush on a guy who already has a girlfriend. Her little brother is annoying. The drama budget doesn’t allow her to make the stage props she dreams of making. She’s wondering if someone will ask her to go to the school dance.
  3. The art is clean, colorful, and clearly emotive.

At its heart, DRAMA is about a cast of young people learning about who they are. Cassie has her heart set on being a part of the arts. One of the boys she meets has realized that he likes other boys. It’s all about identity.

DRAMA is an all-around winner of a graphic novel. Add it to your shelves immediately.

Cassandra Clare on Strong Characters and Where She Gets Her Ideas

This interview from Cosmo Girl isn't exactly new (it was done after City of Bones but before City of Glass) but it has some really great insights from one of YA's most talented authors, Cassandra Clare. My favorite part is:

I hope the fact that Clary is a smart, strong girl who faces down her fears will make readers think, She gets scared just like I would, but she still fights for what she believes in. And I hope it might even help them believe that they don't have to be perfect to fight for what's important to them.

Click that quote above for the link to the article!

My First Book is Out on May 4th!

Hello, readers! On May 4th, 2015, my very first novel will be available on Amazon!

I cannot wait for you to be able to read Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in...Tiger Trouble!

It's a story about ninjas, secret agents, ghosts, robots, and adventure. You'll find spin kicks, sword slashes, and sneakery. There are rivalries, old grudges, and romances.

I suppose it's aimed at a 10-14 year old audience, but I honestly think it's suitable for anyone who still remembers how to be an imaginative kid at heart. So, let's say it's for ages 8 to 800.

Head on over to my official website for more info AND a free 50 page sample!

Here are the cover images:

tiger trouble back cover author name on spine

Guest Post on Shannon A. Thompson's Blog!

Know Your YA History: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Written by Grant Goodman, 4/8/2015 Dark YA starts with William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the tale of a plane full of boys that crash-lands on an island. The only adult (the pilot) is killed on impact and the kids are left to fend for themselves. What follows is a tale of adolescents torn between holding onto order and letting themselves become wild beasts.

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games for its starkly brutal critique of what war does to children, then you’ll find yourself swept away by Lord of the Flies.

The boys make early attempts at sticking together. They try to establish rules and they try to look out for the youngest kids of the bunch. But the longer they are there, the more they give in to their darker urges. Their clans split and they find themselves in a power struggle with one another.

Packs of boys become hunters and they are overtaken by bloodlust. They paint their faces for the hunt and in doing so, they change into catastrophically evil versions of themselves. The peaceful kids are trampled on (figuratively) or outright murdered (literally).

Like many popular YA stories, (catching) fire plays an important recurring role. First, fire is a way of signaling for rescue. Throughout the novel, though, the fire goes out or it burns too low, which is a fantastic symbol for the boys losing their connection to the rest of human society. At the very end, fire is turned into a destructive force, meant to force one of the boys out of hiding and into the waiting ambush of those who wish to kill him.

While Lord of the Flies isn’t necessarily classified as YA, it’s a novel about young adults and their tendencies and urges. When it was first published, it pushed the boundaries of violence and despair and decades later it remains as a milestone moment for books about young adults.

VIDEO: John Green Discusses 25 Things You Might Not Know About Harry Potter

In this awesome video from Mental Floss, John Green will fill you in on 25 things you might not know about Harry Potter. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeA5yPI4MRs&w=560&h=315]