Category Archives: Features

Saying Goodbye to The Gypsy King

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A guest post by Maureen Fergus

I finished writing Tomorrow’s Kingdom, the final book in The Gypsy King trilogy, on a Saturday morning in early June last year. I’d stayed up until two the night before, hoping to finish it off, but when I got so tired that I had to squint to keep from seeing double, I decided that perhaps a little sleep was in order. I staggered over to the couch and collapsed. Two hours later, I was back at work. Four hours after that, my family started to wake up. As the hours slipped by, a hush fell over the house.

From time to time, my husband or one of my kids would tiptoe by and whisper, “How much do you have left to go?”

“A couple of pages,” I would murmur, my eyes glued to the screen, my fingers flying across the keyboard. “Less than a page … a paragraph … a sentence …”

Then, before I knew it, the answer was, “I’m done.”

And just like that it was over.

The feeling that came over me then was a strange mixture of tranquility and emptiness. Tranquility because I’d driven myself rather mercilessly in an effort to finish this trilogy and I could hardly believe I’d actually done it; emptiness because the kingdom of Glyndoria, its cast of characters and their destinies had been my all-consuming passion for so long that I didn’t know what I was going to do without them.

It was an adjustment, to be sure. It took a few weeks for my brain to stop feeling like a sponge that had been squeezed too hard, and a few months for me to stop repeatedly waking up during the night because I was dreaming about some particularly dramatic or tragic scene from one of the books.

Recently, I was asked which characters I missed the most now that I was finished writing the trilogy. The answer is that it can be hard to let go of characters as complicated as Persephone, as irresistible as Azriel and as deliciously evil as Mordecai, but if I’ve done my job as a writer, by the time I’ve finished a book (or in this case, a trilogy) I’ve told that part of my characters’ stories that I was meant to tell. For me, there shouldn’t be a powerful feeling of wanting to stay connected to them. Sometimes we meet people who have a profound impact on us at a certain point in our lives. Then we or they move on and our time together becomes a special and important memory — an experience that helps to shape who we are and the path our lives takes.

The characters from The Gypsy King trilogy are like this for me. There are still nights when the citizens of Glyndoria, good and evil, visit me in my dreams. But while I enjoy connecting with them again, I don’t really encourage them to linger.

Because you see, I’m working on a new young adult novel about a different boy and a different girl in a different world, and I owe these new characters and this new story nothing less than my undivided attention.

TOMORROW’S KINGDOM is available from Razorbill Canada on July 8th 2014.

Top Ten Reasons Why We Love Lesley Livingston

Today is the book birthday for NOW AND FOR NEVER and we’re celebrating all things Lesley Livingston! Here are the Top Ten Reasons we love this brilliant Canadian author:

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1. She’s smart and not afraid to show it. Lesley has a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Toronto specializing in Shakespeare and Arthurian literature.  She is a fountain of all kinds of knowledge, including pop culture, literature, history, and folklore. She dropped by the Indigo Teen Blog to say a number of smart things about storytelling, history, and Star Wars.

2. She throws the best launch parties! If you’re in Toronto on Thursday, May 29th you should drop by Dominion on Queen at 7pm and find out:

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3. The girl can SING! The proof? Check out this impromptu performance at the launch of Starling. Did we mention she throws the best book launch parties?

4. Book Boyfriends. Lesley writes some of our favourite fictional crushes. Stoic Sonny, fiery Fennrys, and lovely, sweet Milo- whatever your type, Lesley’s got a (fictional) crush for you!

5. She is a great reader. Lesley often records her own audio books. Here she is reading from Every Never After at the launch party:

 

6. Lesley is the Queen of One-Liners. Like this one:

“Now that I’ve crossed ‘Paranormal Phenomenon’ off my life-experience to-do list, I might as well start working my way up to ‘Close Encounter.’ ” -from Once Every Never

Or this one:

“What did Shakepeare know? He probably would have rewritten that bit if he’d thought about it.” -from Wondrous Strange

7. Mythology Maven. Lesley has an extensive knowledge of mythology, which she incorporates into her engrossing, fully-realized worlds. You’ll find nods to Celtic, Norse, and Egyptian mythology- among others-in her books.

8. Kick-ass Heroines.

Lesley’s ladies are smart, witty, and capable heroines. You won’t find any shrinking violets or passive victims in her books. She writes the kind of characters you want to be BFFs with- especially if you’re traveling through time or trying to deal with an ancient curse.

9. She’s good on the twitter.

10. She’s witty. It’s no surprise that Lesley’s books are praised for being funny; her heroines clearly get their sense of humour from the author:

 

 

Be sure to pick up Now and For Never, in stores today!

 

 

Friday Reads: #WeNeedDiverseBooks Edition

Inspired by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks conversations happening on twitter this week, we gathered some of our favourite YA reads featuring diverse characters and experiences.

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NOT YOUR ORDINARY WOLF GIRL by Emily Pohl-Weary

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BLUES FOR ZOEY by Robert Paul Weston

karma

KARMA by Cathy Ostlere

pointe

POINTE by Brandy Colbert

undermyskin

UNDER MY SKIN by Charles de Lint

time to dance

A TIME TO DANCE by Padma Venkatraman

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YOU SET ME ON FIRE by Mariko Tamaki

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LIKE NO OTHER by Una LaMarche

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THE SECRET SKY by Atia Abawi

 

 

 

Dear Reader: A Letter From Megan Miranda

Vengeance_US cover

Dear Readers,

I want to tell you about the genesis for Vengeance, how it became an idea and grew into a book, but the truth is that it’s all tied up in you and a book that came out two years ago. This book exists because of emails and tweets and questions you sent to me. It’s because of messages you sent to my publisher. It’s because you asked, after Fracture came out: but what happens next?

And the truth is, at first, I thought—anything. Anything happens next. That was the journey of Fracture. Delaney had to discover, for herself, what makes life worth living. I also liked to image that the characters were happy for a time. In a way, the next phase of their lives was just beginning. They had made it through.

Right before Fracture was published, I had written a short story called Eleven Minutes from Decker’s point of view about the time Delaney was trapped under the ice and the days she spent in a coma. In a lot of ways, Decker’s story was just beginning at the end of Fracture. He was a hero—the guy who rescued her from the ice. But he was also the reason she was out there in the first place, and he had a lot of guilt about that.

Eventually, there was a tipping point. Suddenly when you asked, what happens next? I started to wonder, no, really, what does happen next? And for that, I thank you. Questions have always fueled my story ideas, and so I started to think:

What if a girl survives something that should be un-survivable, but there are several other deaths in her place?

What if everyone believes a guy is a hero, but he still sees himself as the reason behind all the tragedy that happened in Fracture?

What happens in a place like Falcon Lake—where there were too many coincidences surrounding a girl that miraculously lived?

What happens to people after the falling in love stage? After they have forgiven each other for everything? Are there things that are not forgiveable?

What makes someone believe in a curse?

What happens when you do believe?

I wrote a 1-page concept, just for myself, playing around with the idea. It originally turned into a pitch, in Decker’s voice, about Falcon Lake.

This is how it started: Nobody really believes in a curse.

This is how it ended: And I believed.

I spent six years living in Boston before they won the World Series, breaking their 86-year curse. Even though I wasn’t a RedSox fan, there was something about that curse that identified the city, that bound people together. Driving down a main street, there was a sign that said “Reverse Curve.” But someone had spray-painted over it, changing it to say “Reverse The Curse.” The city let it stand, because it was such a part of the identity, even when used in jest. But how many near wins and heartbreaking losses before it stopped being a joke, becoming something people kind of really almost believed?

I think there was some sort of identity in that sign. Some claiming of the curse: It’s our curse. We suffered through that. It belongs to us. So I took that idea, but changed the stakes. What if it’s not a game, but a life? How much coincidence before you really believe? Before nobody will touch the lake?

My parents recently took a trip to Hawaii and wanted to bring back a volcanic rock for my son who’s obsessed with volcanoes. A tour guide told my parents there’s a curse. It’s bad luck. My parents don’t really believe in curses. But they left the rock. There’s something about superstition that feels too close. Too possible.

This is a story about stepping across that line. For dipping a toe in the water and suffering the consequences. For trading in lives. It’s a story about what can be hidden in a place that embraces the idea of a curse.

It’s also about Decker and Delaney, and guilt and love, and grief and hope. I hope you enjoy the journey. I loved taking it. Thank you for asking the questions that sparked the idea. This book wouldn’t exist without you.

Megan Miranda

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!

Ten Reasons Why You Should be Reading AKA: GOING ROGUE by Robin Benway

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Going Rogue, the follow up to the spy-tastic Also Known As is out today! Here are some reasons why you should check out this series:

1. Who doesn’t love a good spy novel?

2. Roux goes down in history as one of the best book BFFs ever. Poor little rich girl with a wicked sense of humour and a mostly empty NYC penthouse apartment? Love it!

3. Robin Benway is all sorts of cool. Check out her Instagram account here for proof and lots of pictures of cute dogs.

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4. Jesse will make your top ten Book Boyfriends.

5. Robin Benway has been posting a playlist to go along with the book and it is rad.

6. Why choose between a New York City or a Paris setting when you can have both?

Going Rogue

7. Just look at Maggie’s outfit on the cover. Those tights. Those shoes. I have tried to create this look above. All I am missing is a locked briefcase.

8. This series is pure fun, just ask River & Sam. And we can ALL use a little fun in January.

9. Get a taste of Robin’s sense of humour with this bridge story, Going Roux.

10. More Angelo! You will love this stylish, ultra-cool confidante/substitute uncle. I picture a dapper Stanley Tucci (more Devil Wears Prada than Catching Fire).

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Robin will be stopping by the blog to chat soon. Stay tuned!

Real Girls in the Kitchen: Amy

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I want to preface this by saying this: I don’t cook. Like ever.

But, a bunch of us decided to take a few of Haylie Duff’s recipes from The Real Girl’s Kitchen for a spin. I chose the Corn Chowder because my mom used to make something similar and I wanted to see if I could do it too.

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Armed with my ingredients and a lot of self-doubt I set to my task. I strayed a bit from the recipe because it called for peppers and onions, both of which I don’t love, but realize they add flavour, or so people tell me. Again, I don’t really know what I’m talking about. So with a heavy hand with the bacon (obviously) and more corn than was needed, I whipped up this delightfully easy to make Corn Chowder. It was FANTASTIC, if I do say so myself, and extremely filling. I’ll have lunch and dinners for awhile!

final product

I found the instructions super simple, with enough leeway that you can tweak the recipe to your own tastes (onions=no, bacon=yum).

With my new found confidence in the kitchen, I’m going to try out a few more of Duff’s excellent recipes and maybe throw a dinner party. Or not. I don’t know. Baby steps people!

-Amy

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

Blog Tour: A FOOL’S ERRAND

Hold onto your satchels, fellow fans of The Gypsy King series! A Fool’s Errand doesn’t just equal the level of greatness of The Gypsy King; it surpasses it. With more action, more romance, and more intrigue, A Fool’s Errand gives readers what they want and so much more.

What I love about these books is not only the amazingly defined characters and the intriguing, fun fast-paced plot, but the writing is just so wonderful and engaging. From the minute you start reading, Maureen Fergus  will sweep you up into the world she creates. A Fool’s Errand will leave you on the edge of your seat but don’t worry; the exciting climax of The Gypsy King series will be published in Summer of 2014.

-Amy

Maureen in the Razorbill Canada offices last fall, picture care of scififanletter.blogspot

Maureen in the Razorbill Canada offices last fall, picture care of scififanletter.blogspot

Learn more about Persephone, Azriel, and author Maureen Fergus on the blog tour next week! Check back each day for reviews, juicy tidbits, and chances to win your own copy!

Oct 7th: Chapter by Chapter

Oct 8th: More Than Just Magic

Oct 9th: Emilie’s Book World

Oct 10th: A Lot of Loves

Oct 11th: Esther’s Ever After

Oct 12th: The Hard Cover Obsession

Oct 13th: Lazy Day Reviews

Author Guest Post: Fiona Paul’s Belladonna Blog Tour!

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Razorbill Canada is thrilled to be hosting a guest post from Fiona Paul, author of the oh-so-sexy Secrets of the Eternal Rose series! In Venom, she introduced us to Cassandra Caravello and the dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies in Renaissance Venice. In Belladonna (out July 16!), Cass must journey to Florence in order to save her fiancé, Luca – even as she tries to forget Falco, the stormy and mysterious artist who broke her heart. Throw in a hint of vampirism and a lot of intrigue, and this historical romantic thriller is the perfect book to devour on those steamy summer nights ahead. Many thanks to Fiona for kicking off her blog tour with us! Now let’s take a little tour of Florence, shall we?

 Hi everyone! Fiona Paul here. Because Cass travels from Venice to Florence in BELLADONNA, I thought I would kick off the Canadian leg of the blog tour by highlighting some of Florence’s famous tourist attractions—ones that Cass sees throughout her travels in 1600 and that you can still see today.

 1.       The Duomo: The Duomo, AKA the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower) is the main church of FlorenceItaly. The dome was designed by  Brunelleschi and remains one of the largest domes in the world. Also located on the cathedral grounds are St. John’s Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile.

The palazzo where Cass stays in Florence is just a couple of blocks from the famous Duomo complex, and in the book she uses the Campanile as a landmark to find her way home.

Duomo_MarcusObal

Image: MarcusObal

2.      The Ponte Vecchio: Ponte Vecchio means “old bridge,” and while it has been rebuilt multiple times, the current structure has been standing for over 750 years. In Cass’s time, the shops along it were mainly butchers and fishmongers who took advantage of the convenient waste disposal system of the Arno River below. Currently, the Ponte Vecchio hosts more upscale jewelers and art dealers, as well as souvenir vendors.

 The Ponte Vecchio crosses the river near the small church of Santo Stefano, where Cass will run across a familiar face from VENOM… 

Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy

Image: Marius Fiskum

  3.       The David: In 1600, Michelangelo’s David stood in the Piazza della Signoria, a public square outside the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of Florentine government. It was later moved to the Galleria dell’ Accademia and a replica was erected in its place. Michelangelo’s David is slightly over five meters (approximately seventeen feet!) tall and is one of the most famous attractions in all of Florence. Cass will see the David as she is traveling throughout Florence by carriage with her friend Madalena. 

David_Rico Heil

Image: Rico Heil

 4.       The Fountain of Neptune: Also located in the Piazza della Signoria, Ammannati’s Fountain of Neptune was constructed during the sixteenth century as an allusion to Florence’s dominion over the sea. The Florentine people, however, were not impressed with the work and used it as a washbasin for their laundry.

As Cass is traveling to Villa Briani to meet the mysterious Belladonna for the first time, her carriage passes through the Piazza where she sees this fountain.

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© User: Dthx1138 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

  5.       The Uffizi Gallery: Technically, Cass doesn’t see the Uffizi since she’s too busy searching for evidence to clear Luca’s name to go sightseeing, but I couldn’t talk about things to see in Florence without mentioning it. Completed in 1581, the Uffizi Gallery is one of the oldest art museums in the world. Today it houses collections by da Vinci, Giotto, Titian, Botticelli, and Raphael, just to name a few.

 Even though Cass doesn’t visit the Uffizi, when she returns home to Venice, it’s one of the first places Agnese asks her about. 

UffiziCeiling

© User: Sailko / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Now that you’ve seen the major sights of Florence, you’re all ready to start reading Belladonna! Follow the rest of the tour for more fun lists, exclusive content, and a chance to win a signed copy of VENOM, BELLADONNA, and STARLING (an ARC) at the end.

Follow the Tour!

July 9: A Glass of Wine

http://glass-of-wine.blogspot.ca/

July 10: Conversations of a Reading Addict http://conversationsofareadingaddict.blogspot.ca

July 11: Fantasy’s Ink

http://fantasysink.blogspot.ca/

July 12: Read My Breath Away

http://readmybreathaway.blogspot.ca/

July 13: Emilie’s Book World

http://emiliebookworld.blogspot.com

July 15: Book Nerd Canada

http://booknerd.ca/

July 16: Wrap up and Giveaway!

http://fionapaulbooks.blogspot.com

Fiona’s Twitter: twitter.com/fionawritesYA

Fiona’s FB: www.facebook.com/fionapaulbooks

 fiona paul web res