Proud To Be…

This Is Me From Now On is a Middle Grade novel that was released in April of 2010. I was skeptical at first, since my specialty is Young Adult. I quickly found out that my misgivings were unfounded. I read an excerpt of the novel online and was blown away. If I didn’t know that the characters were in seventh grade then I would have guessed by the language and the introduction of the characters that they were entering junior year of high school.

 

Barbara Dee was kind enough to send me a copy of her novel for me to read and review for Kiss My Lit. This Is Me From Now On is about a girl named Evie entering the seventh grade with her two best friends. We enter the novel at the end of summer, when everyone is starting to feel the walls of school closing in. It was time for Evie to find out which educational track she was going to be on for the school year. It was also time for Evie to make a new friend. Francesca is her new quirky neighbor that doesn’t believe in the rules and constantly breaks them. Francesca rocks Evie’s safe little world and shakes it loose. Francesca is a “little bit psychic” about something, like the secret romance between two teachers. Will their efforts to bring together a tragic love bring joy and an awesome grade in U. S History? Or will it just bring disaster?| 

The language in this novel was oddly grown up for seventh grade girls. I love that the main theme in the novel is not romance or trying to get a boyfriend. It’s about friendship and making a friendship last no matter what’s going on around you. I think a lot of girls have trouble with this when they get to be preteens. At this age you’re starting to figure out who you are and it’s possible your old friends might not like who you’re becoming. Evie is struggling to figure out who she is and Francesca’s freedom of self shows her that not everything has to fit inside perfect rules. Witty and spunky, Dee’s writing made me smile all the way through. It was clever and an honest throwback to being in middle school and trying to figure things out. 

Barbara Dee is a wife and mother of three. She started writing her first novel Just Another Day In My Insanely Real Life when her youngest was just starting to hit the public school cycle. Her second novel, Solving Zoe, is up for the 2010 Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year under the “Coming of Age Category” for 9-12 years old. Solving Zoe is also a nominee for the 2010 3 Apples Book Award under the teen category alongside great titles like Spinelli’s Stargirl and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

-What drew you to this level of writing (In terms of Middle Grade vs. Young Adult vs. Adult)? 

There are two reasons that I write for this age group. One of them is that when my own kids were this age (one of them still really is), there just didn’t seem to be enough choices for them in the library or even in book stores. Lots of times kids outgrow the children’s section but they’re not ready for the darker, edgier stuff in YA. I read a lot of YA, I love YA, I don’t have a problem with YA and I prefer to read YA, sometimes. I think sometimes when kids are 11, 12, 13, 14 sometimes; they’re not quite ready for it. I wanted to write books that were funny but took this age seriously. [Books] that didn’t write down to them or condescend to them, that took their emotions, their needs, and their thoughts seriously but at the same time are a little lighter and brighter than the things that are in YA. I tried to deal with concerns that kids this age have, but do it in a way that’s not quite hardcore YA. The other reason is that I have a strong sense of how I felt when I was that age. I can go there really easily and draw on emotions from that age really easily. Every writer has a reservoir of emotions to go back to and for some reason mine is the emotions of a 12 or 13 year old girl. That’s just very natural for me. 

-Who was your favorite character to write in This is Me From Now On

I really identified with Evie. When I was a 7th grader, I was a very good girl who played by all the rules and wanted to please my teachers and got very good grades. But I felt a little bit restless. I became friendly with a girl who was much wilder and less inhibited than I was. She always had me a little bit off balance but it was one of those friendships that really made a huge impact. The details of This is Me From Now On are not the details from my own life, I don’t use them. The emotion of those years, I used. I felt like Evie feels and I was both fascinated and horrified by this friend in the same way Evie is so I used those emotions. I identified very strongly with Evie but the character who’s my favorite is Francesca because I was drawn to that sort of character as a kid. I really like hanging out with her even now, I think she’s just fun! Everyone needs a Francesca in their life, it’s just that you have to be very careful of the chaos a friend like that can cause. 

-Do you think you’ll write for older kids or even adults? 

I might, I’m not sure about adults but I might very well write for older kids at some point. The next book I have coming out next spring is called Trauma Queen which I think is edging a little further toward YA, but I’m still very comfortable in this age group. I still don’t feel bored with this group nor have I exhausted all of my creativity writing about this group. It’s not like I have plans to write a YA imminently, but at some point I certainly would not rule it out. 

-What do you feel are the most important themes that you explore? 

Learning how to read other people in a nonjudgmental way, learning how to accept your own imperfections and other people’s imperfections, getting out of your comfort zone is one of the major themes of This is Me From Now On. That’s a very good thing for kids at that age to be able to do because I think kids feel trapped. In my books, I have that theme a lot, of kids feeling trapped by their relationships and ready to make new ones and not quite knowing how to do that or knowing how to bridge old and new relationships. I think one of the big themes of This is Me From Now On is learning how to accept and express yourself and even though sometimes other people might not want to hear what you have to say, it’s important to you and you have to express it. Feel comfortable with yourself. That’s a theme of Trauma Queen and Solving Zoe too. 

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-How do your kids feel about your career? Your husband? 

They’re really happy about it! It’s nice for them because when they see that their friends are reading my books and liking them, and laughing and thinking that they’re cool, that’s nice. I spend a lot of time over at the middle schools in town. I just had a lunch party at our local library and their friends came. It was very nice, for This Is Me From Now On, we had them act out scenes from the book. It became a celebration not just of me and my book but of all the kids in town who like to read and feel that this book is a product of the whole community. We all know each other and every time I have a new book that comes out, everyone’s excited about it. I show my drafts to kids, and I’ll ask “What’s a word a kid would use for this?” and they’ll tell me, or they’ll say “a kid would never say that”. I feel like it’s a product of our family and our community. It’s a nice feeling. 

-What are some of your favorite books?
When You Reach Me,
by Rebecca Stead. Liar, by Justine Larbalestier, and Going Bovine, by Libba Bray are my three favorites from this year. 

-What do you think of the books your kids are reading in school?
I used to be an English teacher myself. I taught a lot of Shakespeare, Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet, Huckleberry Finn, so I love books that are classics. I also think graphic novels are great. I would like kids to have access to every book in the YA section. I’m not judgmental about books at all. By the time they’re in high school they should be reading Pride and Prejudice in class and graphic novels at home just for sheer pleasure. In the MS years, sometimes the list they have to choose from is finite. I’d like to see more choices. 

-Do you think you’re going to write a sequel to This is Me From Now On?
I’m always a little bit nervous about sequels. Unless you’re JK Rowling, sometimes sequels have a rehashed quality to them. This Is Me From Now On has a certain spirit to it I’d be afraid of losing. If I did it, it would be because I had more plot in my head that I wanted to tell. I think I’ve got the characters and I would like to spend more time with them, but I wouldn’t want to write a book just to spend more time with them. I would want to have a story to tell. I think it ends on a question mark, which leaves it open for future adventures and I certainly think that the character Francesca would be hatching up new schemes. It wouldn’t be too hard to do it, but I’m not thinking of one immediately. 

-What’s the most common question your fans ask?
They often ask if there’s going to be a sequel. I find that flattering because that means they like the book and they want to keep reading. I love it when they ask that. Sometimes they ask if there is going to be a movie. I wish there would be, I would love for there to be a movie. I will tell anyone who wants to buy the rights to my book that I will be the easiest writer to work with. I don’t have any control over that, though. It’s not up to me if there will be one. 

-What are you reading now?
Actually, I just picked up Megan McCafferty’s Sloppy Firsts. I never read her before. She’s somebody who’s written a bunch of sequels too. I’m always interested in people who have written series. I haven’t started yet, but it’s on my book shelf. 

-Who is your inspiration?
Honestly, it’s not like I have a person who I look to. I really think about my own emotions, how I felt when I was that age. That’s where I start. I think you can imagine a character from the outside but unless you can connect with the emotion that the character is feeling in a very personal way based on your own emotions, it’s harder to develop the full character. So, when I’m thinking about starting a new book I think “Does this ring true for how I know I felt when I was that age?” and if it doesn’t seem to be calling up the sort of emotional memories that I have, then I don’t connect with the character and it doesn’t seem to be the kind of character I want to spend time with. I don’t use it. So, this may sound weird but in a certain way my inspiration is myself as a twelve year old. 

I would like to thank Ms. Dee for taking the time out to chat with me. She’s a wonderful lady and writes stunning and interesting books for kids. Definitely pick her up, even if you feel like you may be too old. Some of her themes are the ones we don’t outgrow. Check out Barbara Dee’s website here. Her novels are available for purchase here

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Flashback: Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce’s career was launched in the early 80’s with the release of Alanna: The First Adventure. This was the beginning of the quartet of novels titled The Song of the Lioness. From there, Pierce continued to release a new novel every couple of years. With 26 novels completed and more on the way (some of which are going to be the highlight of my life), she is one of the most prominent fantasy writers for the Young Adult genre.

Her novels have been re-released over and over again with new faces, and there’s no doubt as to why. Her command of fantasy elements keeps the reader stuck fast to the page, unable to leave her wonderful characters until their story has been completed. Every time I introduce Pierce to someone, they always come back for more.

Her most recent book, Bloodhound, is the second book of the Beka Cooper series. This series is about a young girl that starts out as a trainee for the Provost’s Guard (essentially training to be a police officer). The series is about her dogged determination and how she will not let crimes go unpunished. She gets involved with some rather tricky situations but instead of walking away, she sinks her teeth in and never lets go. Terrier is the first book of the series and the third, Mastiff, is rumored to be released in 2011. The excitement sets my blood fizzing.


My favorite stories by Pierce are set in the circle universe. The first quartet set in this universe was titled The Circle of Magic. This quartet introduced four youths that had been rejected or abandoned by society in certain ways. They come from all different walks of life, from the richest to the poorest. Sandry is a noble girl that was left alone while the town she was visiting suffered from a vicious plague. Daja is a ship trader– her ship was destroyed in a storm leaving her stranded in the middle of the ocean. Tris came from a merchant family and was passed around whenever anything went wrong around her. Lastly, there’s Briar the thief. He was about to be sent away for good, but he was saved at the last-minute like the rest of the characters by a mysterious mage that knew there was something worth saving. Niklaren Goldeye found each child and brought them to the Winding Circle Temple because somehow he know that was where they belonged. Together these kids learned what made them so special, they found the spark of magic that helped Niko to find them in the first place. They forged a bond that went deeper than blood. They were bound by magic.

There was a followup quartet called The Circle Opens which explores each character out in the world on their own. They are a little bit older and have seen so many things that they probably shouldn’t have. Now they have to make choices about their futures and who they’re going to grow up to be. They also have to learn what being a mage really means for them.

Other titles set in this world are Will of the Empress and Melting Stones. There are rumors of more novels set in the circle universe, which I personally hope are true.

What I love about Pierce is that her stories are so easy to relate to. Her plot lines do not pander to teenage daydreams, romances that look like they won’t work out but end up being the best thing ever and how could she live without him? Her characters are realistic in their personalities and their behaviors. Their interactions are honest and true to their development. She tests their character time and again with difficult problems and horrible truths. Her female characters tend to be strong and independent, standing in the face of adversity and not letting their weaknesses get the better of them. Most of them use that weakness to fuel their strength.

I highly recommend her books for teenagers today. Most novels that come out for teen girls have female leads that are pushovers, waiting for their true love to fix everything. What if true love can’t fix everything? What happens then? Tamora Pierce offers a brand of story telling that doesn’t rely on love to be the story. Pierce has been a pioneer in this genre for a long time and she never ceases to amaze.

Check out Tamora Pierce online to see her compendium of novels and to find out a bit more about this remarkable author. Her books can be purchased here.

Zinc May Not be Magnetic, but Zink is!

Today I had the privilege to have a chat with the author of Prophecy of the Sisters, Michelle Zink. She’s a New York mom with a lot of spunk and energy.

Prophecy of the SistersThis novel begins with a rainy day and a funeral, setting the mood for the rest of the novel. Sadness is there, even when there is love and passion. Siblings Lia and Alice stand on opposite sides of a prophecy, of a war that stretches back through their ancestry. But are the roles they were built for the roles they intend to play? The eerie language held me captivated throughout the entire novel. The magic within the novel was not overdone, it was subtle and felt new. Zink has an understanding of myths and it shows throughout her writing. Wives tales that we have grown up with are there in the underbelly of her haunting series. Next to be released is Guardian of the Gate.

Kiss My Lit says: Hello Mrs. Zink, how are you today?

Michelle Zink says: Hi, Mary!

Michelle Zink says: I’m good! How are you? And you can call me Michelle or MZ if you want! ❤

Kiss My Lit says: Heh, thanks. I’m pretty good, glad that I was able to steal my parents’ internet.

Michelle Zink says: Me, too! I’m glad I was able to get my grocery shopping done on time! 😀

Kiss My Lit says: Hooray!

Michelle Zink says: So you can just feel free to ask away!

Kiss My Lit says: Well, what attracted you to the Young Adult genre?

Michelle Zink says: I always feel like it picked me! I think everyone has an age that they are perpetually stuck at (at least in their own mind). For me, it’s about nineteen. It’s such a magical, terrifying, exhilarating time of life!  I remember being a teenager so vividly, and I still love reading about that time of life. The fact that I have tremendous admiration for teens – for their enthusiasm and passion and open-mindedness – just makes the chance to connect with them an added bonus!

Kiss My Lit says: It’s great you feel that way, what do you think about adult fiction writers that are jumping on the Young Adult bandwagon?

Michelle Zink says: I think anything that contributes to the collective repository of reading material – especially for teens – is a good thing! I also think having writers come to YA from other genres increases our likelihood of seeing fresh story lines. Sometimes YA can start to feel derivative. Like everyone’s basically writing the same thing with different names and places. It’s very possible adult fiction writers can bring something new to the table. In fact, I’ve read less YA since I’ve been writing, because that I worry about someone else’s story or voice creeping into my own work. Also, I’m oddly inspired to create fresh YA stories after reading adult ones!

Kiss My Lit says: So you have three kids, how do you feel about what they’re reading in school? Is there anything you’d suggest?

Michelle Zink says: Actually, I have four! Honestly, they don’t read much in school that is inspiring. Especially at the high school level, I wish they’d rethink some of the work they assign. I don’t think it speaks to the modern teenager, and while I see the merit in introducing young readers to the classics, I sometimes think it comes at the cost of turning off far more teens to reading in general. As for recommended reading, my youngest daughter (10) is totally infatuated with the MG series, Warriors. My 13 YO son really enjoy Star Wars fan fiction and the Rangers Apprentice series. My oldest daughter (15) is a girl after my own heart. She loves Graceling, White Oleander (a MUST read for college students it if you haven’t read it – the movie doesn’t count!) and anything by Tamora Pierce or Ellen Hopkins. Unfortunately, my musician son, who is almost 18, doesn’t read as much as he used to. That said, his very favorite is Catcher in the Rye, and he does read Star Wars fan fiction a lot. He’s more of a movie buff, though!

Kiss My Lit says: Graceling was awesome. Has she read Fire yet? Cashore made me cry.

Michelle Zink says: She did! And she loved it every bit as much! Believe it or not, I’m JUST finishing Graceling now. I’ve owned it for so long, but it took me this long to get to it!

Kiss My Lit says: I recommend it a lot, Katsa is way too strong a character to not introduce to young girls. What other books have you read recently?

Michelle Zink says: I adored Incarceron by Catherine Fisher and Finnikin of the Rock by Mellina Marchetta. ADORED! Both flawless novels, in my opinion. I do have a fondness for adult literature, though, and I highly recommend Shadow of the Wind and The Angels Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (very dark and Gothic) and anything by Sarah Waters (especially Fingersmith and The Little Stranger). Both authors are beyond brilliant.

Kiss My Lit says: I understand writing wasn’t always your career choice, what was your first career?

Michelle Zink says: My first career was in sales and marketing. I got into it as a way to face my fear, because I’m terribly anxious and shy and self-conscious in front of people. You know how people say “everything happens for a reason”? Well, they’re right! All those years in sales and marketing, going to trade shows, giving presentations, leading client meetings, etc., forced me to learn how to fake confidence. It comes in handy on tour, believe me!

Kiss My Lit says: I do believe you. I started reciting poetry competitively just so I can tolerate having the attention of more than ten people at a time. How did your family feel about your switch in career?

Michelle Zink says: They were very supportive. My kids, especially, always believed in me. When I would feel financially desperate and say, “I should probably just go back to work,” they’d say, “No. You should keep writing.” I don’t think my then-husband was happy to lose my income. But that would be one of the many reasons he’s my then-husband. 😉

Kiss My Lit says: Nonfiction. I personally think you made a good choice.

Kiss My Lit says: What myths inspired you when working on Prophecy of the Sisters?

Michelle Zink says: The biggest is the biblical legend of the Watchers. They were angels sent to watch over mankind, but they fell in love with mortal women and were banished from heaven. After that, they were known as the Lost Souls. The entire Prophecy mythos is based on that legend, and almost all of my books are based on real legends and myths.

Kiss My Lit says: And do you think your series is going in the right direction?

Michelle Zink says: Well, it’s completely finished now as I just last week turned in my final edits to book three. I always feel like the story already exists somewhere, and it’s really just my job to channel it correctly. When I try to impose my own will on the story, it feels wrong, off, to me. Which is why I don’t do it! LOL! Because of this, Prophecy feel like it came full circle for me. I hope it feels that way for readers, too.

Kiss My Lit says: What experiences have you gained since the publication of Prophecy?

Michelle Zink says: Oh, man! That’s a loaded question! So much! Just the experience of seeing a piece of my creative soul go out into the world has been fraught with wonder and joy and fear. I’ve become a much better writer through the opportunity to work closely with my editor on three books. This is an added bonus to publication that no one talks about but that is not to be underestimated. Most importantly, I’ve connected with so many amazing readers and writers from all over the world (the Prophecy series is published in over 25 countries).

Kiss My Lit says: Wow, that’s incredible. I think it’s great that you feel so open with your fans, too. Do you think that having that openness helps you with your writing?

Michelle Zink says: Actually, it can HURT the writing. That’s because it’s hard to tune out all the amazing readers who love Prophecy and have their own ideas about how things should go. When I was writing books two and three, I’d hear their voices in my head. “Will Sonia get a boyfriend? I really want Sonia to have a boyfriend!” Will Alice stay evil?” “What about James? I want to see more of James!” Lol! I have to make a concerted effort to listen to the story, because it’s not going to be as fulfilling for the reader if I don’t do that. But having a direct relationship with my readers HAS had a positive impact on my life in so many ways. It’s wonderful to connect with such passionate readers and it’s an honor to know that they feel that way about my work.

Kiss My Lit says: Speaking of readers, I have two blog followers who asked me to pass along a couple of questions. Matt would like to know: What is your most memorable piece of writing from when you were in school?

Michelle Zink says: Aw, you asked your blog readers for question?! How did I miss that in my Google Alert? That’s a great idea! I don’t really have one piece of writing that stood out for me. I was always tinkering. Playing with short stories and angsty poetry! I think tinkering is underrated as an improvement device for writers!

Kiss My Lit says: Ha ha, true. I actually posted on my fan page, and then my phone auto-corrected your name to Sink. It made me sad.

Kiss My Lit says: Andrew asks: When drawing inspiration from real people, how much of a character comes from that person rather than from her imagination?

Michelle Zink says: I’m sorry I didn’t see that! I try to comment when bloggers post about me or my work. 😦 But I understand, because my phone still auto-corrects “MZ” to “MS”. Lol! As for Andrew’s question, very few of my characters are inspired by real people. They come to life almost fully formed for me, and I fill in the details based on what will serve the story.

Kiss My Lit says: Another one popped up, Liz would like to know if it is more satisfying to hand write the story or would you rather type it?

Michelle Zink says: I always type because I can move faster that way and I’m very strict about the amount of work I expect from myself. When I’m drafting a new book, I usually write it in under three months. That would be tough to do if I had to handwrite and then type it up. Plus, typing is now second nature to me, and my thoughts come much more smoothly at the keyboard than they do at the page!

Kiss My Lit says: What’s your best advice for writers just starting out?

Michelle Zink says: Finish something. I know it sounds simple, but we writers are famous for our infatuation with shiny new ideas. We tend to work on something for a while until it gets tough or boring. Then we abandon ship and start something new. But you will never be a published writer if you don’t finish something, and you will never learn as much from any conference, mentor, class, or how-to book as you will through the process of starting and completing an entire book.

Kiss My Lit says: Simple, yet effective. Thank you so much for all your time. I have two last questions, though. What is the exact release date of Guardian of the Gate and is there anything you’d like to share with readers?

Michelle Zink says: It’s totally been my pleasure, Mary! Thank YOU for taking the time to speak with ME! Guardian of the Gate releases August 1st, and I hope to announce a new series sometime this year. Stay tuned…

Michelle Zink has her very own blog! You should check it out and leave her comments. Her newest book (Guardian of the Gate)  is already available for preorder at book sellers such as Borders and Amazon.

Happy reading!

Holly Black: The Darker Side of Young Adult Lit

I just finished Holly Black’s collection of short stories; The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. I’ve had the privilege of being introduced to Black’s writing when I was still in high school. My English teacher offered the students that had the best scores a chance to read whatever book we wanted. She had a class set of advanced reader copies of Tithe, Black’s first novel. My teacher told me that it was a modern faerie tale. I was in.

TitheTithe was raw and edgy, filled with shadows that hid conspiracies and secret plot points. Kaye was a protagonist that walked the razor’s edge of sanity. Everywhere she turned, faeries were there calling out to her. Black’s use of detail is enchanting, gripping the reader and pulling them under into a dark world made of very dangerous creatures. Black finds beauty in mundane objects, giving a destroyed merry-go-round horse an ethereal quality, creating magic where there was none to be found. Kaye becomes a pawn in a deadly game between two courts of faerie. Her childhood friends, filled with innocence and folly, have darkened over time. She finds herself navigating the double-sided words and tricky riddles that sprinkle the language of the fair folk. Kaye needs to rely on what she learned as a human to help her survive the world that had always called to her. The plot played out beautifully, keeping the reader on the tips of their toes, forever surprised and rethinking.

ValiantThe sequel, Valiant, was no disappointment. Beginning in a familiar Jersey setting, the main character (Val) finds herself in Manhattan. She starts living on the streets after finding out that her boyfriend and mother were having an affair. She finds herself living in a subway tunnel with a couple of junkies and a boy who is gifted with the Sight. This novel maintained a similar feeling of dark treachery moving behind the scenes. Black also approaches a very important topic among young adults; drug abuse. The drug of choice for these characters is like nothing any junkie has every shot up; it was a faerie medicine that gave mortal humans a taste of magic. This novel was intense and vibrant, revealing the desperate damage that teen girls can experience and how they choose to deal. The gritty truth of living on the streets, the heartbreaking honesty of kids that do what they have to in order to survive, and the youth that can’t live without their fix, all of these things are strongly represented in our rotten reality. Valiant does beautiful work of creating a glowing light around the despair that drags us down in everyday life.

IronsideThe conclusion to the Modern Faerie Tale collection, Ironside, tied the first two books together with wit and creativity. Characters came together from each novel, creating a tapestry of relationships that are as fragile as a snowflake. Roiben and Kaye’s relationship teeters, as precarious as it always is. Val is not as prominent in this novel, but one of her street rat friends is. Kaye is pulled into an impossible task in order to prove her love to Roiben. The faerie courts, as always, are treacherous and ready to destroy the balance that Kaye has become accustomed to. Yet again, Black twists words into unnatural but beautiful shapes. She uses words they way her faeries do, creating curses and spells of redemption. Ironside was engaging and twisted in all the right places. Black understands the complexities of human and faerie nature so well that the characters on the page could be sitting next to the reader, telling their tales in shaky, excited whispers.

The Spiderwick ChroniclesHolly Black continued her career with the Spiderwick chronicles, a short series of five books created for children. These treated faeries with the same eerie respect and understanding that they are not all light and flowers, they are much darker than we anticipate. Our heroes in these books are much younger than the cheeky teens in her young adult novels. She continued the story in Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, utilizing the beautiful and detailed artwork of Tony DiTerlizzi. The artwork compliments Black’s writing with careful lines and outstanding imagery.

The Good Neighbors: KinThe Good Neighbors: KithThat was not the only time that Black teamed up with an artist. She also has a series of graphic novels with Ted Naifeh titled The Good Neighbors. While graphic novels tend to be a short read, Black and Naifeh craft a marvelous tale of shadows and trickery that makes you take the time to truly look at the images. Kin and Kith chronicle the story of a young girl whose mother mysteriously disappears after an argument with her father. Kind will be the conclusion to this series. Rue starts to see things after her mother’s disappearance, things she can’t explain. When faeries begin to circle her life, taunting her and her father, Rue must figure out what this has to do with her mother. The inner working of Rue’s mind reveals the confusion of being raised to believe you are what you are not.

The Poison Eaters and Other StoriesAside from several compilations, Black released a collection of her own short stories. Poison Eaters and Other Stories contains several stories that were featured elsewhere before finally being bound all together. I first read “The Coldest Girl in Cold Town” in The Eternal Kiss, a vampire anthology. Black consistently defies the expectation of the supernatural and approaches it with a darker perspective, an honest perspective. She realizes that the world is not shining and filled with white beauty. The world is dark and painful. She shows this in each short story. Black’s active imagination utilizes every corner of magic and mystery. She often takes advantage of a familiar New Jersey setting or resorts to New York. She takes the creatures that are frequently romanticized and brings to the table the “what ifs” that are never considered. What if being a vampire is not romance and living forever in secrecy? What if faeries didn’t just want to play pranks? What if a tailor could save a life?

Black’s next release will be the first in a series called Curse Workers in May 2010. The novel will be called The White Cat. She will also be featured in several anthologies due to be released this year. The one that I am looking forward to the most is Zombies vs. Unicorns. I’m down for the unicorns. They’re some tricky creatures. Besides, Zombies are fairly simple to figure out.

See Holly Black’s website here to find out more about her books and her writing.