Category Archives: Guest Posts

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.

Dear Reader: A Letter From Emery Lord

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Dear Reader,

When you have a book coming out, one of the questions you get most often is: “So, what’s it about?”

I have a lot of answers: OPEN ROAD SUMMER is about best friends, about summer and travel and music. It’s about setting who are against who you want to be and trying to close that gap. It’s about all kinds of love–family and friends and yourself and the flirtation that might just become something more one day.

But, if we’re going behind-the-scenes here…the truth is, for me, this book is mostly about forgiveness.

It’s strange to me that forgiveness rarely gets talked about. No one ever says, “I like that girl. She’s really good at forgiving people.” But how and when and why to forgive? That’s one of the hardest, best things I’ve had to learn in my 20-something years.

So, OPEN ROAD SUMMER is about forgiving your family for not being perfect. Of course they’re not perfect. It doesn’t matter. They’re yours.

It’s about forgiving your best friend because, in some ways, she has what you want. It’s okay to wish that you could trade lives sometimes. She feels the same way about you. I promise.

It’s about forgiving the people in your life who bailed on or betrayed you. They hurt you. It wasn’t your choice, and that sucks. But the choice you do have? Who you’re going to be from here on out.

It’s about forgiving the girls who were bitches to you in junior high. Holding on to that bitterness doesn’t change what happened. And becoming a bitch yourself? That makes you the same as them.

Most of all, it’s about forgiving yourself. So you made a bad choice or six. Maybe you were reckless, with your choices or with others’ feelings or even with yourself. Being a teen and human is not about whether or not you’ll mess up. You will. It’s about you DO with that mess.

So, reader, thanks for taking a summer road trip with Dee, Reagan and me. I hope you see the concerts and the American landscape and the fireworks, and I hope you see yourself in one or two of the characters. But mostly, I hope it reminds you that, as our girl Taylor Swift would say, today is never too late to brand new.

Emery Lord 

Excited about OPEN ROAD SUMMER? Find out more when Emery drops by to fill out the Behind the Bill questionnaire next week! In the meantime, check out this awesome video:

Dear Reader: A Letter From Megan Miranda

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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: 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!

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.

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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. 

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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. 

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© 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

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Guest Post: EVERY NEVER AFTER by Lesley Livingston Review

Al is trying to come to grips with being the third wheel with her best friend, Clare, and Clare’s boyfriend, Milo, who also happens to be Al’s cousin. Little did she know that she was about to embark on an adventure that will test her skills and her friendships.

by Siobhan Clayton

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Title:
EVERY NEVER AFTER

Author:
Lesley Livingston

Publication Date:
12 Mar 2013

It’s happening again!

Despite their vow to each other at the end of Once Every Never, best friends Clare and Allie once more find themselves in trouble—and travelling in time. Indulging in a low-key vacation at Glastonbury Tor, taking part in an archaeological dig while soaking up the sights of summertime England, the girls have promised each other: no time travel shenanigans; no involvement with dangerous Druids or villainous museum thieves; and definitely no weirdness about the fact that Clare is now seriously dating Milo, Allie’s super-genius hottie cousin!

But when Allie makes an unexpected discovery at the dig site—a skull—the grisly artifact sends her spiralling back in time to a Roman encampment besieged by rampaging Celts. Caught between the Legions and the war band, Allie is rescued from certain death by Marcus, a young Roman soldier with a secret. As she struggles to survive in the past, Clare and Milo race desperately against time in the present to bring Allie home…before she loses her head OR her heart.

REVIEW

It has happened again. Al and Clare are thrust into a situation that involves time travel and a man who doesn’t seem to want to disappear, even if he is trapped a thousand years before he was even born.

In Every Never After, we follow Clare and Al on a journey that spans years, thousands of years, in fact. But this time it’s not Clare who goes back in time, it’s Al, and she has bigger problems than losing her heart to a very handsome solider—she has no way of getting back.

What I loved most about this book was the rich history that surrounds not only Al, but also Clare and the very sweet Milo. They all have a connection to the past, and it’s evident on every page. The representation of the Roman time period is amazingly done, and I found myself wanting to read more and more of those passages. These parts of the book were solely focused on Al, and I was so glad they were. We didn’t get to see a lot of her in the first book, and this time we got a clear view. I love Al—she is so much more than you think. Yes, she is obsessed with technology and being the third wheel to Milo and Clare’s relationship, but she doesn’t seem to see what everyone else around her does—that she is beautiful and wanted.

Al and Clare are two of my favourite young adult characters. Why? Because they are smart, naive, and just plain awesome. Al is a self-professed geek who loves Star Wars and anything tech related. Clare is trying to find her place in between two people she considers the smartest she knows, and not being able to help Al is tearing her apart.

If you have not read this series yet, please do. Lesley Livingston has a way with words. She knows how to capture the essence of a teenage girl on the brink of her life, or two teenage girls in this case. The dialogue is sarcastic and full of wit. You will not be disappointed!

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