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Tag Archives: Young-adult fiction

Author Interview with Fantasy Author Amy Green!

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Hi friends! So I’m super excited to introduce you to a friend of mine and a YA fantasy author. Drumroll please . . . Amy Green!

I actually got to know Amy because she was an intern at our publishing company for the summer. Which means she’s still in college, people! She’s one of those lucky ones who got published her first time around at a young age. So she was spared the years of rejection letters. You may or may not be able to relate to that, but I think it’s encouraging to see new people finding their way onto bookshelves. It can happen for you too! OK, let’s chat.

 

BB: So you’re a writer! Were you one of those kids practically born with a pen
in your hand? Give us a glimpse of where your love of story came from.

AG: Whenever I played Barbies with my twin sister, she would insist that we either have a wedding or a fashion show. This routine got boring pretty quickly, so I would create elaborate plots (Tourist Barbie gets locked in an Egyptian pyramid! Princess Barbie meets a gypsy who turns her into a talking mirror!), and then throw in a fashion show at the end, usually when Barbie was trying to find the perfect disguise for her secret missions.

Later, when I was old enough to actually write down my stories, I tried to make them just like my favorite books—at least in length. I wrote my first “novel” in seventh grade. (43,000 words…ironically, 1,000 words longer than my first published book.) It was terrible, as were the next four that I wrote in my middle school years. And the problem was, I knew it, and it frustrated me.

My mom (and teacher at the time) encouraged me to keep going. I’d get better in time, she said. And, as usual, she was right.

BB: You’ve written two books so far, how would you describe them? Where did the inspiration come from for
those stories?

AG: I’ve written two Christian fantasy books, Quest for the Scorpion’s Jewel and Escape From Riddler’s Pass, published with Warner Press in 2011 (with two more on the way soon). They’re classified as juvenile fiction (ages 8-12), but I often find them in the teen section of bookstores because the main character is fifteen. I’ve heard from both kids and teens who enjoyed them.

I wrote Quest for the Scorpion’s Jewel because my sister, studying elementary education, wanted a children’s book for her eighteenth birthday, and that seemed like a better deal to me than spending money on a present. I’m not sure where the idea itself came from, but it probably came in the shower. Most of my ideas do, for some reason.

BB: Since you’re a writer, I’m assuming you’re a reader! What books are you
currently reading? Do you have a favorite book you recommend?

I’m currently reading Pride and Prejudice (I’m a little ashamed to admit it’s my first Jane Austen novel) and Culture Making by Andy Crouch. One of my favorite books is Me, Myself, and Bob. It’s the autobiography of Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggiesTales, and the story of what happens when you let your dream become more important to you than God.

BB: What are your goals for the future?

AG: All writers fall somewhere along the outlining spectrum—some list every detail of the plot ahead of time and write in the gaps, and others start at the beginning and make it up from there. I’m in the second group, and all of my career goals are as vague as my outlines—finish projects, write more juvenile and YA books, read classic books on writing, figure out where the market is going and go there first, try curriculum writing. If I get too specific, I’d probably treat the goals as a checklist and miss some surprise opportunities on the way. My end career goal is getting more education so I can teach writing, probably at a college level. But first I have to graduate college. Working on that one right now.

BB: What advice do you offer aspiring writers?

AG: Don’t do it alone. Find a group of writers to swap manuscripts with. Or just find a reader who will give you honest and detailed thoughts on what you should change. It’s not only about having good editors, though—sometimes just talking with others who have a similar passion has been the boost I needed to keep working on a long project when writer’s block was dragging me down. I’ve probably learned more from my fellow writers than I have from books or classes.

Fabulous! Thanks so much for stopping by, Amy. You can check out her blog here.

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The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

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 So I just finished reading Kimberly Derting’s The Pledge. It’s another dystopian novel, but what made this one unique was its element of magic. I thought that gave it something extra and helped set it apart from everything that’s out there right now. I really enjoyed this book.

Here’s the skinny on The Pledge: Charlie lives in a dystopian society where a queen always rules. And for the last–well, for a really long time, the same woman has ruled. She just transfers her Essence to the next female heir, but it’s still the same super-mean evil queen. Problem: There is currently  no female heir. So not only is the mean queen fighting an uprising of revolutionaries, she’s also hunting for an heir. A family of royal descent that’s in hiding.

Charlie doesn’t realize that she herself is a princess in hiding.

As I mentioned, the element of magic is unique. I also liked Charlie’s character. She loves her family, she knows her place but she wants to fight the system, she’s loyal to her friends. However, the romance aspect felt sort of rushed to me and not all that different from what we’ve seen in this genre. She meets Max and, of course, immediately is obsessed with him. I did think Max was an interesting character and he proves to be even more interesting and has some depth, so that was good. To be honest, I feel like there’s a trend in YA fiction like this that portrays girls as always weak when it comes to guys. We keep seeing girls obsess over guys, get all weak-kneed and dreamy, make decisions that revolve around being near a guy or being touched by a guy–I’m just not crazy about this. I’d like to see more female characters show some strength. Very often in these books, the guys come across as having way more self-control than the girls. I don’t think that’s realistic or fair. I do realize these are teenage characters, so maybe it’s not all that unrealistic for them to be obsessive–but I think it would be great to see some girls who have at least as much self-control as the boys. Maybe this trend goes back to Bella and Edward–that’s the epitome of a girl obsessing over a boy to the point where she wants to die without him. I don’t mind a little of that sort of drama, but I prefer to see stronger female characters.

Part of what I thought was interesting about The Pledge was the role of the queen. Male heirs have no standing and are treated with indifference. It’s all about the girls. I thought was a unique, refreshing element. It’s the female heirs who have special powers. While that was very cool–I just wish that Charlie hadn’t been quite so predictable when it came to her immediate attraction and obsession with Max.

The Pledge wraps up well, leaving room for a sequel but not making it absolutely necessary. The pacing is great; it’s a page-turner and a very easy, fast read. An enjoyable book for dystopian fans. 🙂

Life As We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer

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 So I just finished reading Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. And I’m still trying to decide just how I feel about it. In some ways, this is a fantastic book. In a lot of ways, really. It’s incredibly well-written. Great character development, good pacing, very creative plot.

Let’s talk about the plot just a little bit. This book is written in diary form by a 17-year-old girl (Miranda), and life as she knew it has just changed forever. A meteor has knocked the moon closer to earth, resulting in world catastrophes and climate changes. Suddenly there’s no electricity, food is scarce, communicating via phone or Internet is rarely possible. The storyline is riveting, and to be honest, I read this whole book in one sitting because I could not put it down.

However, I’ve said before that I’m the kind of person who needs closure. You don’t get it in this book. It’s one of those “come to your own conclusions” book. And I don’t do well with those. If I’ve invested time and emotion into reading about people for hundreds of pages, I want to know what happens to them. Then I found out that this is actually part of a trilogy. Hallelujah! Closure, right? Well, I read lots of interviews on Amazon and apparently the final book has a really vague ending. No closure. So I’m not going to read the next two books. However, I have to say that this book was really, really good. It’s a page-turner and the author does a fantastic job of making us care about the characters and creating a very realistic setting.

So realistic, in fact, that I found myself feeling rather depressed while I was reading this book. It’s not a light-hearted read, and it never turns into one. Again, I’m not great with that kind of story. I don’t like feeling depressed when I’ve finished reading a book. But the fact that I couldn’t put it down tells me that the writing is amazingly good–it’s just not the kind of book that I want to read again and again. Still, I recommend it for fans of dystopian or sci-fi YA literature. It’s an easy, fast read that you won’t want to set aside, though; so block out some time once you start reading.

Matched by Ally Condie

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Okay, so I finished Matched yesterday. It’s about a girl living in a dystopian society–it feels very futuristic. (Think Uglies.) And I like that. The storyline itself gripped me and I was very interested to see where the author would go with it. But to be honest, I felt like the pacing was off somewhat. It seemed a little slow. I liked the characters, but I didn’t feel as connected to them as I did when reading the Hunger Games or the Uglies series. Still, the overall concept was very interesting and I’d recommend fans of those other series I mentioned try this one out. I just love the imagination and creativity that goes into writing a world like this one. Part of the premise is that, a while ago, the government decided that the world was too inundated with technology and information. It was desensitizing the people. So the government organized groups to choose the most important one hundred poems, books, and so on, to preserve, and everything else was destroyed. Now the government controls absolutely everything. What people can eat, where people work, and who they’re matched up with.  *Spoiler warning* I did find it a little strange that there’s this whole revolution vibe rising up within the main girl and guy–and yet, the fact that they even fall in love with each other is sort of proving the government’s logic correct since they matched them together on purpose. They orchestrated the whole thing!  I don’t know. I need to read the sequel to find out where the author’s going with this, I guess. 🙂

So those are my thoughts. Other news: Sara and I have completed the first draft of our book! Yay! Hooray! I can’t believe it. I know it needs work and more editing, but it feels great to have a finished first draft. Gotta love it.  It ended up being a little over 400 pages. Isn’t that crazy? I know. But we’re excited about it. Now comes the time where we send it out and hold our breath, hoping we get some positive feedback. Very scary, to be sure. But necessary.