Category Archives: Behind the Bill

Behind the Bill: Laura Langston

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1. What was your favourite book growing up?

I can’t pick just one. I remember being enthralled with the book of short stories my grandmother gave me at Christmas when I was maybe eight. A Collection of Stories for Girls I think it was called. By the time I was 11, I was hooked on Nancy Drew and I’d fallen in love with a series of Sue Barton nurse books too. She had red hair (how glamorous!) and helped save lives (how meaningful!). My next big love was a book called Mrs. Mike. In it, a 16 year old Boston girl moves to the Canadian wilderness and falls in love with a Mountie. It was a wonderful story with themes of overcoming hardship, resilience and living a life of purpose. In my teens I went through a Russian novelist phase (Anna Karenina was a favorite) and I also loved Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice. I have eclectic taste.

2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

I was in Grade Four and I wrote a short story about a girl who was trapped in a box and managed to escape (somehow) so when her parents went to open the box, it was empty. I’m sure Freud would have loved it. My teacher did. I got five out of five.

3. If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why?

Oh, this is such a tough question. Just one? Really? Honestly, it depends on my mood. I’d love to sit down with Paulo Coelho or Madeleine L’Engle or maybe Meg Cabot because she’s funny. Today I’d like to lunch with JoJo Moyes because I adored her novel Me Before You and it would be a total fan girl moment, plus I could pick her brain about characterization. She tackled a difficult subject and created characters who aren’t necessarily likable, yet you couldn’t help but sympathize with them. It was a love story without a traditional happy ending and it worked very, very well. I’m in awe of that kind of talent.
4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?

Because I spent so many months hanging out with Sloane and Isaac and I know them pretty well, I’d probably say Lexi, Sloane’s best friend. She’s a terrible hypochondriac but funny. I’d like to find out what makes her tick and why she’s so terrified of illness. I sense a story there.
5. Describe your book in 5 words.

Rich, thoughtful, absorbing and heartfelt.

langston_ArtofGettingStared_pbTHE ART OF GETTING STARED AT hits shelves September 9th across Canada!

Join in the blog tour this month! Our dedicated bloggers will be sharing their reviews along with their own thoughts on the one thing they wish they could tell their teenage selves about body image. The schedule is:

09/02 More Than Just Magic

09/03 Xpresso Reads

09/04 Chapter by Chapter

09/05 Mostly YA Lit

09/06 Padfoot’s Library

09/07 Maji Bookshelf

09/08 Pop Goes the Reader

09/09 Emilie’s Book World

09/10 Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup

09/11 Conversations of a Reading Addict 0

9/12 Addie’s Book Blog

 

Behind the Bill: Una LaMarche

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What was your favourite book growing up?

That’s such a tough question! The first book I can remember really loving was Kay Thompson’s Eloise, because I, too, am a city child—although I did not have a swanky upbringing at the Plaza Hotel, much to my chagrin. As a teenager, though, I really began to have an emotional reaction to books, and the ones that affected me most deeply were Little Women and Maeve Binchy’s Circle of Friends. Those two just killed me. I was so invested in the romantic relationships, I literally wrote passionate graffiti on the spines.

Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

When I was about three years old I wrote a book titled “FOOD BOOK,” in which I drew pictures of different kinds of foods. But that was really more illustration-heavy. My first truly finished work was “When Cathy Learned Sign Language,” a short story about accepting deaf people that I wrote in the first grade. My teacher laminated it and everything.

If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why?

 Fran Lebowitz, because she’s so quick and funny and brilliant, both on paper and in person.

If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?

Jaxon (the male protagonist of Like No Other), because I just love him. I wrote him as a kind of John Hughes male lead, in the tradition of John Cusack in Say Anything, that sort of nerdy guy with a whip-smart wit and a heart of gold that you can’t help but fall in love with even though he’s your best friend.

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Una is doing a Canadian blog tour this week to celebrate her book birthday! Follow along with us:
July 25 Library of Clean Reads review

July 27 More Than Just Magic review + Q&A

July 28 Sam Couture Reviews

July 29 Words of Mystery

July 30 Pop Goes the Reader review + guest post

July 31 A Lot of Loves

Aug 1 Leonicka.com

Aug 2 Emilie’s Book World

Check out Una LaMarche’s fantastic LIKE NO OTHER, available now!

Behind the Bill: Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins

Today we’re thrilled to introduce Rachel Hawkins, author of Rebel Belle and creator of sassy Southern heroine, Harper Price.

1. What was your favourite book growing up?
Roald Dahl’s Matilda was the first book that had me locking myself in my room until I’d finished it. Dark and twisty, hilarious and moving, plus a bookish heroine with SUPERPOWERS? Yes, please!
2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.
I wrote my first “book”, Skytwister, when I was in Kindergarten, and it was a truly epic piece of fiction about a unicorn and a princess. It was also about 6 pages long. I actually still have it, though, complete with a note from my teacher inside about how she hoped I’d keep making up stories for people to enjoy, which was really neat to see.

3. If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why?
Agatha Christie, mostly because I want her to tell me where the heck she was back when she “disappeared” for awhile in the 30s, and also because I wouldn’t mind learning her secret to churning out that many books that fast!

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?
I would definitely choose Harper from Rebel Belle. She’s a smart, resourceful lady who loves shopping and the color pink. We’d get along famously.

5. Describe your book in five words.
Deadly Heels, Killer Queens, Shenanigans. 🙂

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Rebe Belle is on sale today! Happy Book Birthday, Rachel!

Behind the Bill: Morgan Rhodes

Morgan Rhodes Author PhotoFALLING KINGDOMS, the first book in Morgan Rhodes‘ high fantasy quartet of the same name is in paperback today. We went Behind the Bill with the Canadian author to find out more about her world building and history as a writer.

What was your favourite book growing up?

The first thing that pops into my mind is the Adventure series by Enid Blyton – The Castle of Adventure being a particular stand out in my memory. My mother suggested I read these, since she loved the books as a kid. And I loved them too! I remember a pet cockatoo (which was awesome) and I remember lots of adventure and danger and mystery the kids would get themselves into. And treasure. I loved books about hidden treasure!

Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

I have a very earnest but aimless completed YA trilogy about angsty teen ghosts stuck in a small town due to a nasty curse. I absolutely loved these books and even considered self-publishing them recently…that is, until I opened them up for the first time in a decade and read them. Yikes! Nope. They would need far too much work to make them readable, but I still love the idea.

If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why? 

It would have to be J.K. Rowling since I am amazed by her success with her amazingly timeless series, her skill as a writer, and also her ongoing love of writing beyond the books that made her famous. She’s an inspiration in so many ways.

If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?

Out of my four main characters – Cleo, Magnus, Jonas, and Lucia – I would have to choose Magnus. He fascinates me, how he says one thing but thinks another…I wonder if he could fool me too! Plus, he strikes me as somebody who needs a friend and a hug, even if he’d never admit it.

Describe your book in five words

Battle. Betrayal. Magic. Forbidden romance.

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Behind the Bill: Michael Betcherman

Michael Betcherman

Meet Michael Betcherman, Canadian author of Breakaway, a Best Book for Kids and Teens selection and a finalist for the John Spray Mystery Award. Michael’s latest YA novel Face-off is a page-turning blend of family secrets, international intrigue, and high stakes hockey action.

1. What was your favourite book growing up?

Lost Horizon by James Hilton. The main character in the book ends up in Shangri-La, a monastery in Tibet. Shangri-La is a paradise on earth, where people age incredibly slowly and live for hundreds of years – as long as they don’t leave the monastery. There is much more to the book than this, but it was the idea not aging that captured my imagination when I was younger and starting to come to terms with our mortality. I liked this book so much that I chose it for my elective reading every year in high school. (I thought of adding a facetious comment about not telling my teachers I did this, but I was living in Toronto, not Shangri-La, so none of them are around.)

2. Tell us about the first piece of fiction you ever finished.

The first piece of fiction I ever wrote was a screenplay called Breach of Trust, a thriller about a young woman who falls in love with her murdered sister’s husband, only to suspect that he is the one who killed her. The villains are two lawyers who conspire to defraud the two sisters out of their inheritance. ‘They’ say you should write about what you know, but I assure you that the fact that I used to be a lawyer is purely coincidental.

3. If you could have lunch with one writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Conversations with a dead person tend to be a trifle one-sided, so I’d definitely choose someone who’s alive. There are many authors I’d be honoured to lunch with but the one who jumps to mind is Stephen King. He’s an amazing writer, and I would love to know he manages to be so productive. From what I hear he’s a really good guy so hopefully he wouldn’t mind my grilling him about his creative process.

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose and why?

I would definitely want to hang around with Lara. She reminds me of my daughter – feisty, witty and brave – and spending time with my daughter is one of the great pleasures of my life.

5. Describe your book in five words.

Identical twins uncover long-buried secrets.

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Thank you, Michael!

Behind the Bill: Robert Paul Weston

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We’re thrilled to introduce you to Robert Paul Weston, Canadian author of many fantastic novels, the most recent being Blues For Zoey which is celebrating it’s book birthday today!

1. What was your favourite book growing up?

Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. When I was a kid, I liked hearing stories and telling them, but I didn’t particularly like reading. In short, I was a reluctant reader. But I was good at faking it. I learned that if a teacher saw you with a book in your hand, you could get up to all kinds of mischief and no one would suspect it was you (who broke that window). Then one day I ended up winning an audiobook of Danny, the Champion of the World and, ebing able to hear it, it became the first real novel I “read.” After hearing it, I really did read it. On paper. I’ve come to think everyone has the book that turns them into a reader. This was mine.

2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

I grew up in a small town northwest of Toronto called Georgetown, Ontario. My elementary school was named after the town’s founder, a businessman named George Kennedy (not to be confused with the prolific American actor). When I was 5 or 6, the school had an anniversary. To celebrate, every one of us was issued a yellow helium balloon. Each one was affixed with a little message from us and a tag telling whoever found it to contact the school and let us know where it was found. We all released them at once and some wafted as far away as Los Angeles and Central America. Mrs. Ingalls, my teacher at the time, assigned us the task of writing a story about the adventures of our balloon. I remember mine was the longest in the class (I hadn’t yet learned the adage of quality over quantity) and features elephants and pirates and aliens and perhaps even piratical green elephants from Planet X. That was the first thing I ever wrote. It was pretty madcap. Some things don’t change.

3. If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why?

With these questions, I believe it’s always best to aim for the dead. Since it’s hypothetical, I definitely want to meet a ghost, someone who lived life start to finish. I want a complete picture. In that case, I choose George Orwell. He lived a far-ranging and far-reaching life and I admire his thoughtful, lifelong dedication to his craft. At the same time, his style changed, in ways that were both subtle and dramatic, between Burmese Days and 1984. I’d want to talk about that, along with his countless adventures all around the world.

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?

It would have to be Mortimer Yorgle from Zorgamazoo. He’ll always be my favourite, partly because he and Katrina were the first characters I brought to life through publication and also because I think we have a lot in common.

5. Describe your book in five words.

Yes, I suppose I ought to mention Blues for Zoey, since that’s what this is all about. I’ll sum it up like this: money, music, mother, murder, mystery.

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Thanks so much, Rob! Learn more about Blues for Zoey by following the blog tour, schedule below:

Feb 3 Library of Clean Reads

Feb 4 Me on Books– Guest Post

Feb 5 CanLit for Little Canadians– Q&A

Feb 6 Misbehavin’ Librarian

Feb 7 Maji Bookshelf

Feb 8 Curling Up By The Fire

Feb 9 Lost in a Great Book– Guest Post

Feb 10 The Book Wars

Behind the Bill: Robin Benway

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Today’s Behind the Bill feature is Robin Benway, author of Audrey, Wait!, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June, Also Known As (the first book to feature teen spy Maggie) and Going Rogue, new this week.

1. What was your favourite book growing up?

Definitely any of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I loved that Ramona wasn’t a perfect kid and was always saying and doing the wrong thing. I can remember reading “Ramona the Brave” when I was six or seven and thinking, “I feel the same way that Ramona does!”

2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

The first piece of writing I ever finished was “The Pesty Little Brother,” a book I wrote in second grade about (you guessed it) my pesty little brother. Of course, now he’s grown up and about a foot taller than me and a generally lovely person. Sorry, dude.

3. If you could have lunch with one writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

This is so difficult! Either Dorothy Parker, Judy Blume, George Saunders, Lemony Snicket, or Beverly Cleary. I have so many questions for all of them! We probably wouldn’t even have a chance to eat because I’d bug them the whole time.

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose and why? 

Without a doubt, Angelo. Even though I created him in my imagination, I still feel like I know nothing about him. I want to know more about his childhood, growing up, what he really does in the Collective. And I’d want to know what he’s wearing and where he gets his suits made.

5. Describe your book in five words. 

Spies, friends, family, danger, love.

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Thank you, Robin!

Behind the Bill: Hollis Seamon

Today’s Behind the Bill feature author is Hollis Seamon, author of the funny and poignant novel,  Somebody Up There Hates You

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1. What was your favorite book growing up?
Strangely, the phone book. Or the dictionary. Any big fat book that I could hold on my lap and pretend to be reading. See, before I could actually read, I used to love to sit on the couch with a big fat book and make up my own stories, sort of superimposing them over the words I couldn’t yet decipher. So I looked for books with lots and lots of words. That’s all I needed. I think that I knew, even then, that words had a magical power and I didn’t try to make up stories unless I could attach them to the sight of words on paper, in black and white, full of mystery and potential. (I also made up stories about playing cards—you can imagine, all those kings and queens and jacks were just ripe for adventures. Some of that playing card storytelling came back to me when I was writing Somebody Up There Hates You. You’ll find it in the poker scene, late in the book.)

2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.
This may not have been the very first thing I finished, but it’s one of the first I remember, because I actually won something by writing it. I lived in New Jersey and there was a children’s show on TV, way back, called the Sandy Becker Show. (No one remembers this show except one guy I know, also raised in New Jersey—probably it was just a little local program.) Every month, Sandy Becker gave away a parakeet (I know, a very odd prize—but true, I swear) to the kid who sent in the best letter explaining why he or she just absolutely needed, wanted, required a parakeet. As you can see, this was a challenge. I mean, really, who needs a parakeet? I got that, even then. I took it as a kind of ridiculous assignment in whining on paper. So, when I was about eight, I wrote a letter to Sandy Becker, explaining how I’d never ever had a pet of my own. On and on it went, bemoaning my terribly lonely and pet-less life. I conveniently left out my five siblings and the family dog, assuming that what I was writing was a kind of fiction—just a story about a little girl who really, really, really wanted a parakeet. And I won! On November 1st, the day after Halloween, my parents drove me into New York City, to the tiniest little studio you ever saw (it seemed so much bigger on TV) and I appeared on the show (too terrified to utter a word) and picked up my blue parakeet and took him home to a newly purchased cage. Where he promptly died, two weeks later, on my birthday, November 15. Sandy Becker gave up the whole win-a-parakeet contest shortly thereafter. Apparently they all died, every last bird, within a couple of weeks of being won. An early lesson, I suppose, in the fleeting rewards of writing competitions.

3. If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Charles Dickens. Because I figure, over the time it would take to eat a hearty lunch, Charles Dickens would tell more fascinating stories, filled with more fascinating characters, than anyone else ever could. And, because he had a pretty big ego, he wouldn’t expect me to say a word. I could just eat and listen and that seems pretty much the perfect lunch, to me.

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose and why?
I’d love to hang out with Richie’s Grandma. She’s a hostess in a bar in New Jersey; she drinks, smokes, swears, and has bright red fingernails; she believes that teenagers in love and lust deserve privacy; she, reportedly, gets in one good punch to a guy who hurts her grandson. Come to think of it, she might even remember the Sandy Becker Show. Maybe she saw my appearance! Richie’s Grandma, for sure.

5. Describe your book in five words.
Incredible dying boy grows up.

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Thank you, Hollis!

Behind the Bill: Maureen Fergus

Today’s Behind the Bill author feature is Maureen Fergus, author of The Gypsy King and it’s sequel A Fool’s Errandnew this month!

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1. What was your favourite book growing up?

I had lots of favourites including The Little House books, Charlotte’s Web, The Island of the Blue Dolphins and anything by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

The first piece of writing I ever finished was a novel that ended up being the first book I got published, Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Goodlooking) Hero. Eleven years, four never-to-be-published manuscripts and a bazillion rejection letters separated the first draft and the finished manuscript – but hey, who’s counting?

3. If you could have lunch with one author, alive or dead, who would it be & why?

J.K. Rowling, because she is my hero. Writing The Gypsy King trilogy was a huge undertaking – trying to keep track of subplots and characters, managing the pacing, laying the groundwork for revelations, throwing in twists – the fact that Rowling did this over seven books (and did it so well!) just staggers me.

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book, who would you choose & why?

Azriel, of course, because he is funny, charming , fearless and absolutely GORGEOUS!

5. Describe your book in five words.

Action-packed, humorous, harrowing and hot

Thank you Maureen for joining us today! And for creating our favourite book boyfriend, Azriel.

A Fools Errand by Maureen Fergus

Behind the Bill: Carol Goodman

Today’s Behind the Bill author feature is Carol Goodman, author of the recently released BLYTHEWOOD.

1. What was your favourite book growing up?

There was a collection of fairy tales I loved. I can still remember the illustrations—one of an old woman in a red cap and apron who turns into a woodpecker, Midas’s daughter running to her father and turning him into gold, Sleeping Beauty lying in a castle surrounded by a thicket of thorns, Beauty crying over her Beast—but I’ve long since lost the book and can’t tell you what edition it was. But it inspired a love of fairy tales that I’ve never lost. I think that’s why I’m always looking for the door to Faerie in just about everything I write.

2. Tell us about the first piece of writing you ever finished.

When I was nine my fourth-grade teacher asked us to write a story. I wrote one about a girl named Carol who goes to live with a herd of magical horses. And then I wrote another and another, until I had a ninety-page, crayon illustrated collection called “The Adventures of the Magical Herd.” I’m not sure I ever “finished” it exactly. My teacher called my mother in a for a parent-teacher conference to say that while it was great I was writing these stories I had to do my other work too. That’s pretty much been the story of my life ever since.

3. If you could have lunch with one author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Charlotte Bronte, because Jane Eyre is my favorite book and I think she could use a good meal.

4. If you could hang out with one of the characters from your book BLYTHEWOOD, who would you choose and why?

Miss Emmaline and Miss Harriet Sharp at Violet House. Because they would give me scones and tea and Victoria sponge cake. Perhaps Charlotte Bronte could come too.

5. Describe BLYTHEWOOD in five words.

Girls’ School for Fairy-Fighters.

Thanks to Carol for going Behind the Bill with us today. Check out BLYTHEWOOD, in stores now!