Lauren Kate and Fallen

Thanks for checking back! Here’s my interview with the charming Lauren Kate:

KML: How are you doing today?

LK: I’m great! I am packing up to hit the road for my book tour. I’m feeling really excited.

KML: You have a very extensive tour ahead of you, five weeks I hear.

LK: Yeah. I love touring, I have in the past. Hopefully I’ll have as great of an experience this time. It’s great for me, having spent so much time alone in front of a computer. It’s great for me to get out and be able to talk to so many people. I feel like I catch up on everything that’s going on in the book world when I’m touring so I’m very excited.

KML: Fallen made its debut last year. I can personally say that as a bookseller, it served as lively competition for many of the standard YA titles that teens were being exposed to. Do you think that your novels offered a contrast or do you think it was playing into the same themes?

LK: The only time I think about that is during interviews. As with many writers, while working on a book, I’m not trying to work against or with others that are trying to tell a story. The books that Fallen stands on the shoulders of are all apart of the themes that I like. My main focus is to tell the best story I can tell.

KML: In Fallen and Torment you play with very familiar themes (Nephilim, reincarnation, etc.) which we have been seeing in film and media a lot lately. How have these themes been reflected throughout your life?

LK: Reincarnation is something I’ve always been fascinated by. I think I have had one past life experience in this life. It has to do with a castle in Scotland, and I’ve never been there. I’ve only seen photos of it. I’m hopefully going to check it out this fall while I’m in the UK. It’s only something I’ve been thinking about, what you would retain if you died and come back as something else. In the Fallen series, when working on Luce’s character (right now I’m working on Passion, which is the prequel), Luce’s soul is always the same but her character in each of the lives when she comes back is very, very different. This is because of the way she was raised, where she was brought up, who she met, who she interacted with, and how this all shaped her. When she meets past versions of herself she is alarmed at how different she can be. So that’s something that always fascinated. As for the Nephilim, that’s something I stumbled onto later. As I was doing research for Fallen, I don’t think I’d ever heard of them or knew much about them. Because my series is about an angel choosing love over heaven, obviously there would be some heaven. They play a big part in Torment and the rest of the series.

KML: Why did you choose to write for the YA genre?

LK: That wasn’t really a conscious choice. I’ve been writing short stories since I was seventeen years old. 80 percent of any story or book I try to write has about a seventeen year old girl. I’m not really sure why, it’s a voice that comes naturally to me. When I started writing Fallen, I didn’t know it would be YA. That may have to do with how the publishing market is right now, that it got slotted into a place that I really didn’t know where it would end up as I was writing it.

KML: Do you feel that Luce is living up to your idea of what kind of heroine she should be?

LK: That’s a great question. She’s beginning to. When I first started writing Fallen, I had an idea in my mind about a very different narrator. I wanted to write somebody more like Lyra Belacqua, a great fictional hero of mine. I realized as I was writing it that she couldn’t be quite as self assured as I wanted. She’s going through so much; she had to begin at a very different place than she ends up. She’s going to end up very empowered, enabled, and active. For me, she starts from a very low place. It was a bit of a struggle to write that kind of character but it’s been really rewarding that the further along I get, the more punch I can give her in the upcoming books. Surprisingly, it’s been a lot of fun.

KML: Angels have lived in our mythology throughout human history. What do you find most interesting about angels that make them worth writing?

LK: The reason I like writing about angels is because I also like writing about demons. I really like the dualistic nature of good and evil. Good and evil rely on each other so much and there’s a feeling of interplay between the two of them. One might not be able to exist without the other, what does that say about the relationship between them? We paint them as such opposites, but in the books I’m writing, they really come together and fuse into one another often. The exciting thing is determining ‘what is the nature of good and evil?’ and is it as clear cut as we think it is?

KML: There are several kinds of love that pulse through your novels, there are many levels of love that Luce experiences, as a daughter, friend, and lover. What were you hoping that the reader would understand about love after reading your novels?

LK: That’s another great question. The question I get asked a lot is how do I know if it’s true love and that’s a separate answer from the answer to this question. In this case, what is important about love that I’m trying to show about Luce and Daniel is how enduring it is. It’s really hard for a lot of readers and for me to write, coming into the middle of things. There’s so much back story between these two that the reader isn’t privy to, that Luce isn’t privy to, Daniel doesn’t display in anyway, at least in Fallen and a little bit more so in Torment. I think it’s a stick-to-itiveness that I want to show these characters have for each other because they feel something very deeply though neither of them can understand the complexities of it or the challenges of it, and they persevere. I think that’s a very important element of love, not giving up on someone. As I’ve been writing Passion, in a way it’s the most rewarding to write so far. I get to show why all of this angst and secrecy is worth it. I get to show the true nature of their love. That perseverance is applying to the reader, maybe, trying to get to the point where everything is illuminated.

KML: The marketing campaign for Fallen and Torment is in full swing. I can boast that I own a very slimming Torment T-Shirt (which I love). What can we look forward to as we wait for the third installment of your Fallen series?

LK: Definitely a lot of me on the road. I’ll be traveling to 8 cities in the US in the next 3 weeks. Then I’ll be in the UK for 2 weeks. When I get back, I’ll be doing a lot of local appearances around LA and several throughout the southwest and southeast in the winter. What’s really fun for me is all of the foreign editions of Fallen and now two of Torment that are starting to come out. With each of those there are new teasers and trailers available on my website and Youtube. As you said, the t-shirts are great. I think there’s going to be a lot more of that kind of thing to come in the future.

KML: Can you tell us more about The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove?

LK: That’s my first book. In some ways it’s similar to Fallen. It’s a southern gothic story, set in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s basically a retelling of Macbeth told from Lady Macbeth’s point of view set in a contemporary southern high school. It’s a very saucy tale. Natalie is the opposite of Luce. She’s conniving, knows what she wants, and will stop at nothing to get it. She’s really sharp and funny. It’s a great book. I’m hoping it will get more readers in the wait between Torment and Passion.

KML: Who are your main influences as an author?

LK: My oldest influences are probably F. Scott Fitzgerald (the Great Gatsby is absolute perfection to me, and I love all of his other books too), I love Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Don Delillo, and more recently I’ve been inspired by The Hunger Games. I think Suzanne Collins is incredible. I love Philip Pullman, Frances Hardinge, Maureen Johnson and John Green. I just read a really great book called The Replacements by Brenna Yovanoff. I’m so impressed by her.

KML: Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers that they may not already know?

LK: My complete excitement about Passion. Readers right now haven’t even gotten their hands on Torment but I’m a little bit further down the road and already thinking about how killer this third book is going to be. For anyone who feels that at the end of Torment they have so many more unanswered questions, I promise to deliver in Passion.

KML: Good! I can’t wait.

For all of you psycho-author fans, here’s a copy of the tour schedule. I hope to see some of you out there!

Love Never Dies

Lauren Kate is coming to your area on a 9-city tour!

San Francisco

September 28 @ 6:30 PM

Barnes & Noble

6050 El Cerrito Plaza

El Cerrito, CA 94530

San Francisco

September 29 @ 7:00 PM

Kepler’s Books

1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Seattle

September 30 @ 6:30 PM

University Bookstore

15311 Main Street
Mill Creek, WA 98012

Seattle

October 1 @ 7:00 PM

Borders

16549 Northeast 74th Street
Redmond, WA

Portland

October 2 @ 2:00 PM

Powell’s Books

Cedar Hills Crossing

3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.

Beaverton, OR 97005

Portland

October 2 @ 7:00 PM

Barnes & Noble

12000 SE 82nd Avenue

Portland, OR 97266

Los Angeles

October 3 @ 11:00 AM

OC Children’s Book Festival

Atlanta

October 4 @ 7:00 PM

Barnes & Noble

Mansell Crossings

Shopping Center

Alpharetta, GA 30022

Atlanta

October 5 @ 7:00 PM

Books- A- Million

5900 Sugarloaf Parkway
Lawrenceville, GA 30043

Memphis

October 6 @ 6:00 PM

Davis-Kidd Booksellers

387 Perkins Road Ext

Memphis, TN 38117

Memphis

October 7 @ &:00 PM

Barnes & Noble

2774 N Germantown Parkway

Memphis, TN 38133

Nashville

October 8 @ 4:00 PM

Davis-Kidd Booksellers

212 Green Hills Village Drive

Nashville, TN 37215

Nashville

October 9 @ TBA

Southern Festival of Books

New York

October 11 @ 7:00 PM

Barnes & Noble

91 Old Country Road

Carle Place, NY 11514

New York

October 12 @ 7:00 PM

Borders

1260 Old Country Road
Westbury, NY 11590

Chicago

October 13 @ 7:00 PM

Anderson’s Bookshop

123 West Jefferson Avenue

Naperville, IL 60540

Chicago

October 14 @ 7:00 PM

Borders

1540 E Golf Rd
Schaumburg, IL 60173

Lauren will also be visiting local schools throughout her tour.

For media, contact: Noreen Herits / 212-782-9677 / nherits@randomhouse.com

Or Roshan Nozari / 212-782-9677 / rnozari@randomhouse.com

A great big thanks to Lauren Kate for taking the time to talk to me and to her wonderful publicist, Noreen for setting everything up for me. Don’t forget to check out Lauren Kate’s website! Her books are available at Borders.com.

Happy Reading!

Fall for Lauren Kate’s Fallen

Have you ever met someone that left you stunned? You think that somewhere you’ve seen that smile before. The goose bumps crawl across your arms and neck as you try to place the hair and the eyes into any memory you’ve ever had. It’s impossible. You know you have never met, but you can’t let go of that feeling. Then, he flips you off and gives you the cold shoulder. That’s the relationship that begins between Luce and her brand new reform school crush, Daniel.

Luce has had some problems in her past, a mysterious fire that she can’t explain and shadows that flit through her peripheral vision more often than she would like. Her parents, desperate to figure out how to help their daughter, send her to a reform school where she would be strictly monitored. So began a parade of interesting characters that would make Luce’s experience at Sword & Cross anything but typical.

Fallen’s imaginative plot arc takes the classic story of enduring love to a whole new level. Luce is a character that, while not a kick ass heroine, is an honestly lonely girl that just wants to know what’s wrong with her. You can’t always start with a character that knows who she is and what she’s setting out to do, that’s part of the journey! Kate’s characters speak to a side of teenagers that we hardly see in YA lit—a realistic need to just be a teen. Throughout the somewhat mundane, there is always an eerie quality that saturates the narrative. From the creepy feeling that she’s seen Daniel before to the bone chilling sensation the reader gets when Luce talks to Cam for the first time, Fallen does not fail to deliver on atmosphere.

The follow up to Fallen, Torment, continues to impress the reader with intricate plot twists. Often the reader will feel as if there is a wealth of information just beyond the veil and any hint of dialogue will reveal everything we’ve been dying to know. The battle for true love wages on while Luce continues to feel as if everything is being turned upside down on her. The past haunts her every shadow and Daniel is just as infuriating as ever. With clever quips that made me laugh out loud and run to share with my friends, Torment kept my attention and entertained me though it ripped out my heart and broke it into a million pieces. I was, however, promised redemption in the next installment, Passion. Fans of Fallen will definitely love this heart aching sequel and will continue to ache until Passion comes to clear away our doubt and fears. Readers who have yet to get involved with Lauren Kate’s enchanting characters would do well to give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed. I was incredibly lucky to have an opportunity to talk with the lovely and charming Lauren Kate (seriously, she’s the nicest person). Come back later to check out that interview!

115.75.48.6

Reckless: Surprisingly Not a Wreck.

Cornelia Funke has done it again! She has created another beautiful fantasy, but this time it seems that she is targeting adults. I discovered Funke with the release of Dragon Rider. Yes, I know, a children’s book. Say what you will! That book was great. The landscapes were picturesque and beautifully described, the character was one I could support, and the story was wonderfully told. Since that book I was driven to read her other works. Thief Lord, which was more planted in reality, had some of the best dialogue I have ever read. Who can forget the epic that was the Inkworld trilogy? Those stories are what I dreamed about as a child. The ability to bring books to life was all I wanted for Christmas… well, that and the power to control static electricity… but no one got me that, either.

Reckless is the story of a boy who finds his place on the other side of an enchanted mirror. Jacob Reckless becomes entranced by the world that lay hidden in his father’s abandoned office. As a young man he makes the discovery, and then over the years he constantly disappears into that other world. He leaves reality behind with each visit, including his mother and younger brother, Will. The story officially begins with Jacob and his brother as adults. Will has been afflicted by a disease that is the stuff of fairy tales. The boys live up to their names, Jacob risks bringing his sensitive brother into a world that he is not ready for, and Will keeps risking the love of his life as they search for a cure. Jade stone spreads across Will’s skin like a plague and mythic Goyl (humanoid creatures made from stone and fiery rage) hunt him for that legendary color. The world is filled with dangers, dwarves, vixen girls, and unicorns that could rip you apart.

Cornelia Funke has a way with language. I always want to learn German so I can read her books the way she writes them. She has a beautiful landscape that expands and grows inside of her mind and she lets it develop every time she writes. Her characters are filled with life, truth, and faults. It is their inner torment that makes them beautiful and stand out in a world that is constantly changing and threatening them.

Reckless will drop on September 14th, 2010. Her books can be found, as always, at Borders.com. If you have a chance, check out her world. It has plenty to offer.

Come back this weekend for a special surprise! Happy reading, lovelies.

Rough Week

So it’s been really difficult the past few days. I graduated last Thursday, celebrated Friday, worked all weekend, and barely had a second to breathe. Not to mention, my colleagues have had their own problems with family and home life. So, in deference to them, I think it’s only fair that BEA review waits until they’re ready to write. Thank you all for your patience and support. To make it up to you, I have a book review! Hooray.

Siren by Tricia Rayburn is a novel about a girl that is terrified of everything. Vanessa jumps at shadows cast by the sun shining through the leaves, the creaky groans of an old house, and the silence that fills you when there’s nothing left to say. Her sister is the complete opposite,  proud and fearless. Justine is beautiful, vivacious, and foolish. A fight ignites between mother and daughters. Justine ran away into the stormy night, never to be seen again alive. Vanessa is shattered by the death, but is driven to discover the secrets her sister had been keeping. In a glimmering hope to face her fears and find out what Justine had been hiding, Vanessa seeks out Justine’s summer flame, Caleb. He had been there the night she died, and he had the answers. To her surprise, Caleb ran away from home, leaving his own brother perplexed and looking for answers. Together, Simon and Vanessa work to track down Caleb and find out what he knows about Justine’s death. The secrets are nothing like they expect, uncovering rapid and escalating storms that lead to mysterious deaths ending with smiles.

Rayburn’s novel was something different for me. The heroine began in a terrified state and changed, but not into a brave and fearless Valkyrie. She gained confidence throughout the novel, which is only natural when a character comes of age. The character development worked incredibly well. Vanessa pushed through mostly on her own. There were outside forces helping her along but it was still Vanessa that made decisions. I had not yet read a book about sirens in the YA genre, and this was a great introduction. I love when authors take myths and own them, which is what Rayburn did. These sirens were terrifying and beautiful, real and destructive. Some of the teen drama was predictable, but necessary to drive Vanessa’s heart. I would have liked it if certain story lines had been fulfilled and details hashed out, but the novel ended with a little question mark. I can live with the little question mark.

The novel was filled with twists and turns that kept me hooked from page to page. I didn’t really know who the villain was or who was responsible for what terrible occurrence until towards the end of the novel. I certainly didn’t anticipate the connections between Vanessa and the sirens. Fans of Twilight, FallenCity of Bones, and Tithe will definitely enjoy Rayburn’s Siren and should pick it up July 13th.

Check out Rayburn’s blog and show her your love. As always, her books are available here.

Happy reading!

Herbie Brennan Gives Us Dish

Herbie Brennan has written over a hundred books in science fiction, young adult fiction, children, and nonfiction genres, all of which speak of his interests and his mind. His YA titles are Faerie Wars, The Purple Emperor, Ruler of the Realm, and Faerie Lord; all in the Faerie Wars series. He has also released a mystical James Bond novel for teens called The Shadow Project.

Faerie Wars is about a boy named Henry who is suffering from some family problems– his home is breaking, his father is leaving, and his family doesn’t understand him. The only person who even kind of gets him is good old Mr. Fogarty, the odd old man Henry helps around the house. Alternately, in a parallel but not quite world, there is Pyrgus. He is a bleeding heart prince that can’t stand the sight of anything being intentionally injured. Prince Pyrgus gets off on the wrong foot with an influential member of the Faeries of the Night, forcing his father to send the boy away somewhere safe. Something goes wrong and though Pyrgus was supposed to end up on a secluded island where he can relax in the sun, he winds up in Fogarty’s backyard as a tiny faerie with wings. Henry and Mr. Fogarty get wrapped up in Pyrgus’s world and try to help him get back to where he belongs. Together they must figure out the ulterior motives behind sending Pyrgus off track.

This has been one of my favorite books for years. It was one of the first to get me into fantasy for young adults. Of course, I had been reading Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl. Faerie Wars is what really started it, though. Brennan wasn’t afraid of touching upon themes and ideas that young adults weren’t used to at the time. I almost dropped the book when I found out in the first few chapters that the main character’s mother was having an affair with a woman. I was 14 at the time. Brennan masterfully blended scientific research with fantasy, keeping everything in a realistic light. One thing you’ll notice that I love about Young Adult is when there is honesty in the writing, and that’s what Brennan had. His characters were true to themselves and their hearts, even the villains. I can’t help but to smile when I hold this book in my hands because I know that between the covers there’s a wonderful story waiting to carry me through alternate universes and on a perilous journey. If you like Harry Potter, love Artemis Fowl, then read this series. It will blow you away.

Mr. Brennan gladly took the time to talk to me and give me insight on his experiences as a writer. Luckily, we were able to Skype chat between his sunny Ireland and my cloudy New York.

Kiss My Lit: Where did you get the idea for Pyrgus and his world?

Herbie Brennan: I had no interest whatsoever in Faeries or Faerie mythology. What happened in a nutshell was that a friend of mine that was in the toy business at the time rang me up several years ago and said they were doing some market research, and as far as they could see the coming thing in toys was going to be Faeries. They wanted to do a range of Faerie figures—getting the actual figurines made in America. The big gimmick was that they would have silk wings, butterfly wings. He wanted me to write some booklets to go with the individual figures. I said sure but nothing came out of it. A couple of years later he was over visiting me and I asked him about this old Faerie project. He said “It’s gone onto the back-burner and we’ve gone onto other things. The point of fact is that research we did was rock solid. I’m absolutely convinced that Faeries are going to be the coming thing and you should be writing about Faeries.” And I said “Look, Steve, I have no interest in Faeries in the wide world.” And he said something odd, Mary. He said “What do you know about butterfly names.” I told him that I knew nothing about butterfly names. He said “Humor me. Get yourself a book on butterfly names, and tell me if you don’t think it would make fantastic fantasy characters.” I went out the following day and I bought this guide to butterflies and moths and I leafed through it. He was so right. You’ve got characters like the Purple Emperor and Holly Blue, and even the Latin names were absolutely fantastic. There’s the Pyrgus Melvae, which is the Grisly Skipper. The names started to work in my head. An environment came up around them and the characters came up. I couldn’t let them go. Eventually, I wrote a couple of chapters (I didn’t have a publisher). After 3 or 4 chapters I thought I was wasting too much time on this, I have other projects on hand. I sent it to my agent, and I said “Look, do you think this is worth following through?” She said to me “No, I don’t like this. It’s too separate strands of a story. You’ve got a boy in the human world and he’s got his own particular kitchen sink problems and you’ve got these fantasy characters living in another world. They don’t come together.” So I said “I’ll see if I can bring them together.” And I wrote another 4 chapters, that was 7 chapters in all. I sent them off and didn’t hear from her for months. Suddenly she optioned it. It was on the day of 9/11 and one of the editors was actually stuck in New York and couldn’t get out. He did a deal and I finished the book.

Kiss My Lit:Was Faerie Wars always going to be a series?

Herbie Brennan: When I started it I had no idea it was going to be a series. By the time I finished it, I knew the story wasn’t finished. I wanted to do at least a second book. When I finished Purple Emperor, I knew the story still wasn’t finished. I realized I was into one of these things that go on. I wanted to see what would happen to Henry and Holly. To me the whole series was Henry’s story. I love happy endings and romantic endings. I wanted them to get married and they did eventually.

Kiss My Lit: Do you think you might revisit those characters as adults?

Herbie Brennan: I didn’t when finished fourth book. I thought that’s it, I had enough of Faeries, I’m going on to do something else. I did, in fact, start another series. Then I started getting e-mails from fans saying wait a minute, what happened to Henry and Holly after they got married, and you didn’t tell us what happened to Fogarty, and you didn’t tell us what happened to Pyrgus, and what’s going on about this and what’s going on about that. Eventually I just caved under the pressure. I wrote one more; it’s a thing called Faeman Quest. Faeman being an amalgamation of Faerie and human. That’s coming out next January. Having got that one out of my system, I told the publishers this is definitely a stand-alone thing just to tidy up loose ends. I got an idea for another one about Faeries. This will go on forever.

Kiss My Lit: Will there be The Shadow Project?

Herbie Brennan: There’s one more also coming out in January of next year. There is a second Shadow Project called The Dooms Day Box with the same set up, same characters, with one new major character added. The theme of that one is time travel. I don’t know whether that will go beyond the two books. I was contracted originally for two books in that series. I would imagine that an awful lot of that will depend upon sales if the publisher will come back to me for more.

Kiss My Lit: Why did you blend science fiction and fantasy?

Herbie Brennan: I was brought up on sci-fi, I had never much of a fantasy reader. I absolutely adored science fiction. Occasionally I would come across something that’s a blend of science and fantasy. One that impressed most was The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee. That took you through the whole book thinking you were reading a sort of Sword and sorcery type fantasy, but right at the end twisted the thing and you’ve been reading science fiction. The characters, when they came for Faerie wars, were very much fantasy characters, but my leaning has always been science fiction. I don’t plot my books. I do a synopsis for publishers, and then throw it away. The characters go their own way. End up with books totally different from what I set out to write. They are usually as surprising to me as they are to anyone else.

Kiss My Lit: You’ve written many nonfiction accounts of elements and ideas that many people consider to be science fiction. How is it different exploring those themes as an academic rather than as a fiction writer?

Herbie Brennan: I didn’t start out as a fiction writer, I started out as a factual writer. My very first book was a consequence of a peculiar out-of-body experience I had when I was in my twenties. I was intrigued by that and researched it to discover other people had similar experiences. I produced a book on the subject called Astral Doorways. That was a reflection of what an interest I had. To be honest with you, I tended to write like that for a very long time. I become interested in something, research it, and simply write it. After about three or four published books, my agent got me a commission to write a historical novel. I wrote three historical novels at that time. They didn’t sell particularly well. One of them was quite a good novel, the other two not so good. I went back to nonfiction. I was at that for years and years, and oddly enough the same man who gave me the idea for Faerie Wars years before rang me up one day and said “Have you ever heard of Game books?” and I said no. He went on to say “You should have a look at this, there’s a couple of writers that put together something called Warlock of Firetop Mountain and it’s a game book based on a sort of dungeons and dragons type of approach. It’s a very good idea, but it’s not particularly well written. You could do better.” And I went out and got a copy. I thought great idea, I think I could probably write it a little bit better. I sat down and I started writing GrailQuest. That’s been my biggest seller ever. It ran into millions internationally. What this comes down to is these things grow on me organically rather in any planned way. Developing things factually, to me, is exploring ideas. Developing the same things fictionally is just another way of exploring ideas. I have noticed, and I was fascinated by, people pay far more attention to an idea you put forward as fiction than an idea you put forward as fact with scientific research.

Kiss My Lit: Do you have any upcoming projects?

Herbie Brennan: There’s nothing literally in the pipeline. I’ve got three proposals going out. Literally any day now my agent is en route to New York, you might bump into her on the street. Hopefully might strum up a bit of business there. At the moment I’m sitting in the sunshine in Ireland without a cloud in the sky, doing absolutely nothing.

Kiss My Lit: Who was your favorite character to write?

Herbie Brennan: Henry. Very closely followed by Mr. Fogarty. I love Fogarty, I thought he was absolutely gorgeous. I wish they’d make a movie because I’d love to see him on-screen.

Kiss My Lit: So what are you reading now?

Herbie Brennan: I’m reading Scarlett Thomas’s Our Tragic Universe. I read her first novel called The End of Mr. Y, I thought it was absolutely fascinating. When this one came out I grabbed it and I’m enjoying it hugely.

Kiss My Lit: You’ve written endless numbers of titles for nonfiction, adult fiction, and young adult. Which is your favorite genre?

Herbie Brennan: I think Young Adult. I can relax into it more. I endlessly fight with publishers about content of YA books. Publishers have this feeling that young adults should be treated as children and I feel they should be treated as adults. If I’m absolutely honest, I don’t think I’ve ever grown up properly. My mind runs along the same lines as it did when I was eighteen which is a very long time ago now, but it hasn’t changed a great deal. I like writing for youngsters, but only up to a point. It’s like eating chocolate, if you eat too much it sort of palls on you eventually. But up to that point I do enjoy writing for kids because you can be silly. With young adults you can explore ideas that an older generation of readers just isn’t interested in. I find that intriguing. Even though I happen to be reading Scarlett Thomas at the moment (and she’s an ideas writer), I find that when I want to find really stimulating ideas, I go to young adult authors. I just think that there are much more interesting ideas coming up in young adult literature now than in more serious adult literature.

Kiss My Lit: Can you tell me a little bit about the Servants of Light and how your affiliation influenced your writing?

Herbie Brennan: I’m not a member of the Servants of the Light. I’m terribly friendly with the woman who runs the organization. When I was in my mid teens and early twenties, I underwent magical training for about nine years. The first four years was with a very sober organization called the Society of the Inner Light, which is part of the Dawn Tradition. I joined the Society, but left soon afterward because I felt it was turning into a sort of religious group, which I have no hassle with. I just wasn’t interested in joining a religion. I was far more interested in magical practice. I discovered then a program called Helios which was written and run by some former members of the Society of the Inner light. Helios just concentrated on magical training, so I trained in that for five years. I left the training aspect. Helios then turned itself into the Servants of the Light. The original founder of Helios, Ernest Butler, God love him, died. He was diabetic and lost both his legs before he died. Absolutely tragic end. When he died, the organization was taken over by a woman named Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. Dolores wrote to me a few years afterward because she read a few of my esoteric books. We became friendly and remained close friends ever since. I give talks to them occasionally; a lot of them think I’m a member. The influence… I don’t know. There obviously must be an influence. The training I had was cabalistic. That certainly sends your mind in particular directions. It wasn’t a question of becoming interested in the subject because I was involved with these organizations. It was a question of becoming involved with these organizations because of my interest in the subject. I’ve been interested in magic since I was a child. I’ve been interested in hypnosis, I hypnotized my first subject when I was nine years old. I have been interested in spirituality, yoga, Indian, Oriental mysticism from my early teens. When you have these interests, you tend to follow them through which is what I did. I think the interests are certainly present in my books. All you have to do is look at the list of titles and you see it’s spread all over. All you have to do is pick up Faerie Wars and you see it all over the text. I am interested in magic, I’m interested in mysticism, and I’m interested in science. That comes through as well.

Kiss My Lit: I read that there was some movie interest in Faerie Wars, did that pan out?

Herbie Brennan: It did and it didn’t. I don’t know if you know anything about the movie business, andI certainly didn’t until Faerie Wars. What they do is if they’re interested in your book, they take out an option. That means they pay you money and you aren’t allowed to sell it to any other studio or movie maker until the option runs out. They are on their second option at the moment, each option running for three years, I think. Or 18 months, I can’t remember. At the moment there is no actual sign of them making the movie. It looked very hopeful a year ago. When the recession hit, I think they were trenching. Movies take such astonishing amounts of money. You can see that you have to be extraordinarily careful if you’re going to make one. If you write a book that doesn’t succeed, you just lost a bit of time. If you make a movie that doesn’t succeed, you lose millions and your career comes to a screeching halt. I can’t say I blame them. There’s also been a bit of movie interest in The Shadow Project. They’ve got a Hollywood producer who is at the moment talking to studios about the possibility of funding. But it hasn’t gotten as far as the option stage yet.

Kiss My Lit: Is there anything you’d like your readers to know?

Herbie Brennan: I’d like them to know I love them.

I’d like to thank Mr. Brennan again for giving me his time and talking to me about his career and upcoming projects. Show him some love at his website, check out Herbie Brennan’s Bookshelf to learn more about him and his work. Don’t forget to check out his books for sale here.

Were Raising

Raised by Wolves is a novel by Jennifer Lynn Barnes set to drop in June of 2010. This is not her first novel, she has written Golden, Platinum, Tattoo, Fate and The Squad series. This new novel is about a girl named Bronwyn, or more affectionately, Bryn. At four years old, her family was brutally murdered by a rogue werewolf driven by blood lust and a desire to kill. Bryn hid from him as long as she could, relying on a survival instinct. Her life is intercepted by Callum, Alpha of the Stone River pack of werewolves. He takes Bryn under his wing and she becomes a human in a pack of werewolves, claimed by the Alpha as something special.

We meet Bryn when she’s fifteen years old, already accustomed to pack life as a human and cherished by the Alpha as precious and fragile. There is something wrong in the air and even Bryn’s weakened human senses pick up on it. The wolves are antsy and they don’t want their human charge to be roaming the woods at night. Bryn latches on to this, never one to be put down by dominance games. She is her own woman and she aims to stay that way. Her stubbornness and need for independence leads her to a boy named Chase. He was mauled by a werewolf and left for dead. Callum found him and brought him into the fold, giving Bryn an opportunity to meet the boy and stumble upon the secrets of the pack. Together they must decide where their loyalty truly resides, with the pack or with each other.

The beginning of the novel is very hard to get through, Barnes consistently uses clichés and already established phrases. Instead of saying “to a T” several times in a chapter, I felt that she could have found more creative ways to depict how perfect and absolute the situation was. Some of the dialogue felt forced as well as the portrayal of some characters, for example Devon. It is understandable that he is a metrosexual, but the obsession with movie musicals and high fashion tends to depict him as a stereotypical homosexual. It’s not enough that Dev is more interested in how he looks than in how strong he is; the stakes for him need to be higher in order to claim him as different from the pack.

I almost gave up. Almost. Then, it seemed as if everything Barnes was holding leading up was unleashed in a tidal wave of emotion and strength. When the focus of the story became the emotions of the characters and what it meant to be a pack, I was sucked in. There was so much in her description of what the pack felt and how they all affected each other and protected each other that it latched onto my heart. My doubts vanished and I was happy that I spent time with these characters.

Barnes explores very important themes for teenage girls. Bryn wouldn’t succumb to the dominance of the pack. She held onto her independence for as long as she could. There are too many girls out there today that think it’s okay to let someone else take their independence. Bryn would teach them that it’s not. Everything that’s in your heart belongs to you and only you. Another theme is family, which in a way weaves through the theme of Bryn’s fight against dominance. There is a difference between letting your family in and being protective and letting them control you and hurt you because you did something wrong. Just because they have ties to you as a family does not mean they have a right to destroy you from the inside. Family is something different, and that is what Bryn discovers with the help of her friends.

The novel ended on a question mark. There seems to be the possibility that Bryn’s story could continue, and I certainly hope it does. Definitely a good read for the summer, be sure to pick it up when it hits stores on June 8th. She has her own Live Journal, so go show her some love. Raised by Wolves is available for pre-order.

Happy reading!

P.S– I know I haven’t been keeping up as much as I should, and I suck for that. I’m in the final stretch of my semester and everything is rising up into a crescendo of chaos and disorder. Summer approaches filled with promises of lazy afternoons and wonderful books to read. Thank you for all of your support and interest. Hold on with me during the next couple of weeks. I need you guys.

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.