Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Phoenix. The silver kind.

Cindy Pon's debut novel, Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia is getting a ton of attention and I'm so excited to interview her here. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, but I know she is a generous, dedicated, innovative writer and just check out this beautiful cover.

For Cindy, the same 5...

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
reality bites soundtrack.

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
lots of light. loads of shelves. a huge desk for writing and painting. ergonomically correct! a room with a view.

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
li rong. he's chen yong's little brother. i really love him as he makes me laugh. and is just a huge flirt, but has a good heart. he added the touch of lightness that we needed in a very difficult journey.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
gosh. i plan on holding a big contest on my blog. i'll probably be fretting and surfing aimlessly.

Buy Cindy's book here and visit her here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sequels... not really.

I received an email from a reader this weekend. She said some nice things about my book, asked me what I was working on, and then said very plainly that she hoped it was a sequel.

I've said this a few times, but when I started This Is What I Want to Tell You, it was a very different novel about the twins' mother and her love affair with their father. I'm not going to write a sequel because I'm not yet sure where the characters went. They have to grow up and I want them to do so in the imaginations of the readers. I love where I left Nadio and Noelle, poised in this uncertainty, and while I miss being with them, I think I've told their stories as fully as I can.

Their mother, however, I am still working with. Her story is so full in my mind. I know who she is and where her affair led. I also think it is interesting that she was 17 when she met the twins' father, just a little bit older than they are. Her story at their age is one I might tell. It's certainly not a sequel, not really a prequel, but a story that is linked. I wonder if it would take away from their story, though. Lace as a teenager is a very different person and I want readers of This Is What I Want to Tell You to always see her as mother to the twins.

I'm not sure, but I'm intrigued.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Things I am looking forward to

There are about a million things I'm looking forward to... summer vacation, west coast road trip, 4th of July in Vermont, Chloe's third birthday, sharing What he Left Behind with Eliot and Marie (my favorite new writerfriends, more on this later), reading reader reviews of This Is What I Want to Tell You (my favorite kind of reviews)... but mostly. Right now. I cannot wait to go here.

I have a love affair with Rome... it's a complicated kind, the best and worst days, the saddest and fullest but I am so full of the memory of that city and the people I knew there... Kate and Branch gave me my first look at Rome, from their courtyard apartment to old Bridge Gelato, the view of Trastevere... even just the winding streets around Piazza Navona

and the best trips to Santorini and Siena, Todi to Cairo

and bless them they chose this city to get married and bring us all back together... H sent me a quote from Andre Aciman today that says it all...

"One always longs for the other home but home, as one learns soon enough, is a place where one imagines or remembers other homes."

Two weeks.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I have done a lot of these debut author interviews, and I will do them all year... but this one (belated though it is) is especially dear to me. See, publishng a book is a crazy thing. It's scary and disappointing and thrilling and confusing... so many emotions and ideas come along with it. For me, one of the amazing things has been the people I've met along this journey. And Neesha is one. From the first conversation over black coffee and vegan scramble, to a sweltering day at the Brooklyn Festival of Books, to a workshop on Healthy Teen relationships, Neesha has been a source of support, humour and guidance. She is a beautiful writer with a fierce committment to justice and truth. She's a mother of two amazing girls. She is the kind of friend we are lucky to find... perhaps most important, though, her book, Shine, Coconut Moon, is a must read. The narrator, Sam, struggles with family, identity, friendship, love, prejudice in ways that are honest and absolutely unique and real. 'The same 5 Questions' for Neesha Meminger.

1. You mean my inspiration? Hmmm...I'd have to say it's watching documentaries and films that stir me up and make me want to create, to be part of the energy out there that's helping shape us as a global community. And I love difference -- I thrive on difference, so I look for things that are unusual, unique, whispered, spoken in hushed tones, or generally off the beaten path. And I guess they fuel me to create things that are also about breaking silence, breaking barriers, and creating change.

2. The Joshua Tree, by U2. Particularly the songs Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, and Where the Streets Have No Name.

3. Sunlit, quiet, nature outside, preferably a view of a body of water, large wooden desk, kitchen close.

4. Molly is Sam's best friend in SHINE. I loved writing Molly because she was kind of a synthesis of all my best friends in high school. She's spunky, fun, warm, loyal, and has her heart in the right place.

5. Eat some yummy food, spend time with my kids and Hollis, and somewhere in the day I will take a few moments to close my eyes and just stop. Savor the moment. Breathe it all in -- this first novel going out into the world. A moment that will never happen again.

Buy Neesha's book. And visit her here.

Breathing... you should read it.

Cheryl Renee Herbsman is a fellow debut author. She wrote a love story of the sweetest kind-- its inspired by her own. Her characters, Savannah and Jackson, are the kind that stay with you, the kind that you envy and believe in. You can learn more about Cheryl here and buy her book here. And you should, you really should. Reading it is that kind of dream state nostalgia that the best books are made of. For Cheryl, the same 5 questions...

1. I usually have peanut butter and jelly on an english muffin for breakfast. Then I don't eat until I'm done writing. Chocolate is usually necessary at that point :)

2. I think there are two songs by Taylor Swift that work together here: Love Story and A Place In This World.

3. I have this image in my head of a deserted, gorgeous beach with a huge bed in the sand where I write. But the truth is I get too distraced outdoors. I write on my bed (in my bedroom) with candles and incense burning and an inspirational object, picture, or quote nearby.

4. All my characters seem to come to life on their own. I don't plan them. Jackson appeared on the beach in one of the earliest scenes. I got a sense just from "seeing" him that he was a good guy. Then his character unfolded with the story. Parts of him are inspired by husband. I think we all deserve a Jackson :D

5. By the time this is posted, I will know the answer to this question. At the moment, I'm still in shock over the whole idea. I'll definitely celebrate with my family and have a giveaway on my blog. Other than that, I don't know yet!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Back... with fellow debut authors

As I am apparently known to do... I fell off the radar. I fell off the blog tour. I fell out of commission. In what I hope will be a flurry of catch-up, good news, juicy tales and reading recommendations, I want to tell you about a BUNCH of fantastic new books out there. Check out the following titles and 'same five questions' from some amazing debut authors...

Carrie Ryan, author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which you can buy here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
I wish it were brain food but when I'm in deadline mode I eat pumpkin seeds and drink diet coke.

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
I wish I had a soundtrack but I can't listen to music when I write so I'd have no idea what music would work!

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
Just somewhere cozy and comfy. When I'm writing I love to just let the rest of the world fall away. But when I'm doing anything else I love sunlight and fresh air.

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
One of my secondary characters is Cass, the protagonist's best friend. Like most of my characters she came about out of necessity. Originally she was going to play a totally different role in the book but changed as the story developed.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
I had such a fun time on my release day! I was lucky that I ended up in Ireland at a castle with other YA authors and we had a fantastic dinner and popped champagne. I wrote a blog post about it here: It's going to be really hard to top next year :)

Deva Fagan, author of Fortune's Folly, which you can buy here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
Tea and toast.

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
An excellent mix tape of Renaissance music my friend Jenny made.

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
A spacious sunny room with purple walls, gauzy white curtains, a beautiful old-fashioned roll-top desk big enough to hold my computer, a nice big cork board crammed with visual inspiration, and a comfy armchair where I can go to brainstorm in my journal. So far, all I have the curtains. But I'm working on it!

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
The second character who really came alive for me (after Fortunata, the main character) was Fortunata's father. The thing that defined him for me, right from the start, was imagining the horrible, grotesquely ugly shoes he created (having "lost" his shoe-making skills after the death of Fortunata's mother). I knew he loved beauty more than almost anything else, but that he was a meek and gentle soul and would not fight or get angry over the loss of his skills and the changes in his circumstances. That would be up to the more hot-headed Fortunata!

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
On the day my book actually comes out I'll just be doing my normal write/go to the day job/walk-the-dog routine. But I am planning to celebrate on the weekend following the release by going contra-dancing with friends, visiting a botanical garden, having an indulgent dinner out with my husband, and taking our dog to one of our favorite off-leash parks. And of course, visiting a bookstore!

Sydney Salter, author of My Big Nose & Other Natural Disasters, which you can buy here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
I try to drink just tea, but I love a yummy BLT for lunch. And I do reward myself with chocolate.

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
Oooh! Lots of stuff like LCD Soundsystem, Sleater-Kinney, My Morning Jacket, The Raconteurs, Vampire Weekend, White Stripes, Smiths, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Andrew Bird, Modest Mouse, Fleet Foxes, and Richmond Fontaine.

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
Oodles of bookshelves, light, and a great view. A few cats lazing around. I kind of have that now, but it's in my living room (and my desk is always a mess!) I'd love to have an attic to myself!

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
One of Jory's friends is Megan, a girl who appears to have it all. I had amazing high school friends who seemed so much more accomplished than me. I often felt like I lurked in their shadows. I combined several of their traits and gave them to Megan--and then I, um, let her have a downfall. That never happened to my own friends, but it makes for better fiction!

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
Pinch myself!

Cynthia Liu, author of The Great Call of China, which you can buy here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
Diet Dr. Pepper and Snickers bars (together!).

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
You can listen to it on the "movie" soundtrack. (

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
I can write practically anywhere. But I always dream of a cabin in Maine, snow outside, and Bambi-esque deer outside my window.

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
I needed a good contrasting character for Cece and Jessica seemed about right. She's bold, brash and says things that would never come out of Cece's mouth!

5. What did you do on your launch day?
I held a big party online and hundreds of guests came to celebrate. I had the best time EVER! Snoop and I decorated my web site, served up some Chinese food and set up games. That also when the book trailer debuted (see question #2). And you can still enjoy the food here at And sign my guestbook! ( Latecomers are always welcome!

J.E. MacLeod, author of Waiting to Score, which you can buy here.

1. My favorite food in the world is probably breakfast cereal. Yummy. So since I generally write before my son' school ends, that would be my fuel, right? I eat the same cereal every day for weeks, or months until I get sick of it and then move to a new one. Right now it's this granola mixture with pumpkin seeds and it's so tasty. Yup. Pumpkin seeds are not just for Halloween anymore.

2. Oh man. This is a hard one. How about Rock n Roll Part 2 by Gary Glitter. Totally a hockey song.

3. My perfect writing space is where I am right now. In the living room on the couch, with my laptop perched on a cushion in my lap. Footstool in front to stretch out on. Yup. I'm good. Bad posture and all that, but comfy....

4. Jane, who is Zack's "Goth Girl", came to life pretty much the same time Zack did. The girl he is crushing on. In many ways she's very different than him, but they are sort of reluctant soul mates. Reluctant on her part because she hates hockey players. Her back story which doesn't come out until much later in the book explains a lot about why she is the way she is. It's all about looking beyond the surface in Waiting To Score.

5. I plan on pigging out. Seriously. I don't drink alcohol anymore so champagne is out. I thought to my self, "self what is the next best thing?" and the answer I came up with was chocolate cake from the Cheesecake Cafe. One slice is about a billion calories-- it's about as tall as a size 12 foot (but tastes much, much better) I'm taking along my hub and Superson for help. I'll probably giggle a lot that day, too.

Leigh Brescia, author of One Wish, which you can buy here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food? Chocolate (or anything sweet, really. I don’t discriminate. If it’s sugar-laden, I’m there).

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel? Probably the soundtrack to Grease. Lots of Broadway show tunes and oldies, because Wrenn is an “old soul” when it comes to music.

3. Describe your perfect writing space. I have to be comfortable, which I am, because I write in the living room in my club chair. But if I could design my ideal space, I would put my writing chair and footstool in a sunroom (with tons of windows and natural light), with the added bonus of a fireplace (for winter).

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?

Zoe is Wrenn’s best friend. I created her because Wrenn really needed a voice of reason. She’s an artist and has had a pretty unconventional upbringing, but she’s very down to earth. She causes her share of drama, though, when she decides she wants to meet a guy she met online.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
I have *no* idea. I keep dropping hints to the guy I’m sorta married to but not allowed to talk about online that I want to celebrate with dinner at a local Japanese Steakhouse (because I love me some Hibachi chicken and shrimp). I might head to the local bookstore to see if my book is in stock . . . or I may be stuck inside grading papers and sending out plagiarism warnings all day. . . . We’ll see. :)

And tomorrow... the amazing Neesha Meminger, my support in this crazy writing journey... please come back for more. I promise I'll keep writing. And check out all of these amazing lady writers.