Returning Vampires Snippet Celebration + In The News

Yesterday I had a nice long conversation about YA and Blackwood and related topics with Louisville public radio station WFPL's ace arts reporter Erin Keane (who is also fabulous writer–highly recommend both her poetry collections), as a preview to the Writer's Block Festival where I'll be panel discussioning about YA (and signing) on Saturday. The resulting story is here.

And, if you didn't know (gaspALARM), tonight is…

…the return of The Vampire Diaries.

In honor of this momentous fall occasion, here's a teeny not-spoilery snippet from a scene between Miranda and Phillips in Blackwood:

She blinked, but he couldn't tell if it had worked until she said, "You snooped in my room?"

He had her.

"I had to help pack your stuff." He wrinkled his nose. "You have a thing for brooding vampire brothers?"

"You've seen it?"

Keep her talking. He shrugged. "Study lounge has a TV. Doppelgangers are hot. I'm not proud."

Happy Thursday, y'all.

Dept. of Nice Surprises Redux

So, yesterday was a loooong Monday.  I still had some work to do when I got home, but I couldn't get home. All the streets surrounding our house were blocked off for some mysterious race, so I had Christopher meet me at the only accessible pub grub place I could find. As we were–finally–on our way back after the streets re-opened, I was checking twitter on my phone and saw an i09 update that said "What's more thrilling than a fantasy about the Chosen One? How about the Cursed One?" And I actually thought to myself, Huh, the cursed one instead of the chosen one is kinda how I think about Blackwood; I wonder what the link's about?

Wellll, it turned out to be a lovely review of Blackwood by the fabulous Charlie Jane Anders. Snippet:

There have been a ton of young adult fantasy novels lately where one person stands against a dystopian world, or faces a terrible menace, and they're sort of the chosen savior. But Gwenda Bond's YA debut, Blackwood, takes a very different tack: Her heroine, Miranda Blackwood, is the cursed one, who bears the mark of the betrayer, and she's also the most hated person in her small town. Blackwood is a neat spin on all of those YA fantasies about being special — especially when it turns into a story about "freaks in love."

Go there for the rest. I don't read all reviews (because I don't want to go crazy), but it really is amazing when someone has read the book you were trying to write. And that's how I feel about this one. Day = made, in other words.

Also, a new interview conducted by the delightful Megan Whitmer has just been posted at I talk about Blackwood and Lexington's wonderful literary community and Other Things.

And! I'm told that SOON I will be able to share VERY EXCITING NEWS…but not quite yet. *commences secret chair dancing but tries not to be obnoxious about it*

Quick Update! (Writer’s Block Festival & Other Things)

I'll be at the Writer's Block Festival in Louisville on Saturday. I'll be doing the following panel in the Green Building Gallery:

1-2:15: Younger Games:  The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Writing Young Adult Fiction

Young adult fiction is hot! Consider the recent Twilight and Hunger Games series, which have been enthusiastically received by both young and adult readers. Join our versatile panel of contemporary young adult fiction writers:  Gwenda Bond (Blackwood); Katrina Kittle (Reasons to Be Happy), and Kelly Creagh (the Nevermore series) moderated by YA novel and short story writer, Matt Jaeger (The Creation of Lilith Pomegranate and The Care Takers). Our panelists will discuss their writing lives and the challenges and the benefits of writing fiction for a young adult audience.

Copies of Blackwood (and everyone else's books) will be on sale courtesy of the wonderful Carmichael's, and I believe I'll be signing at their spot in the Green Building at 2:30, right after the panel. (If that time changes I'll post here. But books should be on sale all day, and I'm happy to sign copies whenever so approach at will.) If you're in the Louisville area, come out and say hi. Most festival events–including the panel–are free to attend.

A few other things:

  • Leo Elijah Cristea review: "Bond writes a compelling, addictive story that merges together so many genres it’s difficult to really call it one or the other: with elements of romance, mystery, the supernatural and even horror, Blackwood is a unique, exciting story that kept me glued to the page. It is an engrossing, detailed story that is deliciously written and marks Bond as a writer to look out for." (Another review I want to marry!)
  • Book Angel Booktopia review by Jenni: "I really enjoyed this book, it incorporated the legend of the Lost Colony well into a contemporary setting blending the past with the present cleverly. The way the plot twists and turns keeps the book exciting from start to finish, there were a couple of moments that left me feeling completely surprised."
  • Much Loved Books review of the audiobook: "The narrator of Blackwood made it interesting and kept me entertained. I even forgot a few times that it was just one person doing all the voices for the characters. I loved her accent and the different tones she uses to get across the emotion the characters are feeling."
  • The LOVELY Megan Whitmer says nice things and is giving away a signed copy of Blackwood over at her blog.
  • The Cynsations giveaway is also still going.

And one last link that is too interesting and important not to share:

Thursday Hangovers

*Also hoping this revelation means that starting tomorrow I will get the kind of revision progress in that I need to be getting, which I haven't this week thus far. Lots of thinking, but not enough writing fixety. Also hoping–tentatively–that the next week might bring resolution on a front that has taken seemingly forever to resolve but could be exciting. *is intentionally mysterious* Keep your fingers crossed. (You know, when they're not busy with other things.) Ciao for now.

Monday Hangovers (Lots & Lots Of Things!)

I'm almost in sight of being caught up–except for finishing the new novel revision, but working on it. Unbelievable! Or, rather, in honor of The Princess Bride movie's recent anniversary: Inconceivable! So…if I owe you a response or a guest post or something like that it should show up in the next few days.

There are many links today, so let's get to it:

Memefied: The Next Big Thing?

Today I'm doing something I don't usually indulge in: a meme. Author of the super-fab debut novel Fair Coin and forthcoming follow-up Quantum Coin E.C. Myers tagged me to answer "Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing."

It's up to the taggee whether they want to talk about their current book, their next one, or what they're working on now. I figure everyone who reads this blog knows all about Blackwood by now and I'm not ready to talk yet about the secret book I'm currently revising, so I'm sharing a little bit about The Woken Gods. Right now, it's slated for release in July 2013 (ack! less than a year!).

Here goes. Be gentle. (And I'll be tagging some excellent authors at the end.)

What is the working title of your book?

The Woken Gods.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

There was a man with a suitcase full of them and it was the shiniest. I could tell you where he was, but then I’d have to kill you. Okay, not really. I’ve always loved mythology, but am sometimes frustrated by books where the gods feel too much like oversized humans. I also really love high stakes adventure, secret societies, family drama, libraries, and books where our world has experienced a major shift of some kind. Add into that mixture some of the concepts explored in Lewis Hyde’s brilliant nonfiction book Trickster Makes This World and the result is The Woken Gods.

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I am so bad at this, because I actually don’t stay that current about who are the hot young actors and actresses these days and I don’t use reference pics of actors when I’m writing. But, off the top of my head, maybe Nina Dobrev from The Vampire Diaries could play the protagonist, Kyra Locke, because I do adore Nina Dobrev.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Ten years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke, all around the world. Now, in a transformed Washington, D.C., that has become the meeting ground for a no-longer-secret society and a council made up of the seven tricksters who are the gods’ main emissaries to humanity, a 17-year-old girl must find a mysterious missing relic and navigate intrigue involving dangerous gods to save her father.

(Two sentences. I cheated. Sue me.)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About five months. But that’s a deceptive answer, because I’d previously written a couple of entire drafts I threw out before I finally managed to get the concept and story right. (At least, I hope they are.)

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh, I am really, really bad at this, and it's such a fraught question. So I'm going to go with American Gods meets Raiders of the Lost Ark*, but with a teen girl at the center and everyone aware of the gods and the society’s existence.

*Not a book, but go with it.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I think I already answered this one in the part about where the idea came from. Next!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Did I mention there’s intrigue? And scary gods? And smart teenagers? And flying monsters, secret passages, and a ziggurat somewhere in D.C.?

Next up: Go read E.C.'s entry, and I'm tagging: a fabulous writer I met while at the Vermont MFA program Rachel Wilson (you're going to be hearing a LOT more about her and her debut Don't Touch!), and two of my fellow Strange Chemists, Sean Cummings (Poltergeeks! Out next week!) and A.E. Rought (Broken! Out in January!).

See y'all next week.

Tuesday Hangovers & Nattering & You Want Some Bookmarks?

We had a lovely weekend with the Small Beer Press contingent–Kelly, Gavin and Ursula–and Karen Joy Fowler in town for the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. Topics discussed included: should we be the first to cosplay or start a tribute band based on The Casual Vacancy (related: I adore J.K. Rowling; she comes across as the smartest and classiest in every interview she does*), socialist credentials, and ice cream. It was LOVELY.

A few links of note:

Fabulous books I have read lately: Meljean Brook's Riveted (another excellent steampunk romance), Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken (gothic banter, ftw), and David Levithan's Every Day (just gorgeous).

A few Blackwood things, including free-to-a-good-home bookmarks:

  • Nova Ren Suma is running a big international giveaway where you can win a featured debut of your choice, including Blackwood.
  • A Fantastical Librarian review: "It turns out I was right to be excited, but I ended up loving the book for completely different reasons than I'd expected. For it wasn't the historical elements that drew me in or the theatrical aspects of the story; no, I got completely taken in by the story's female lead and titular character, Miranda Blackwood."
  • Serendipity Reviews review: "I was totally hooked throughout the book. I really love how the author has interpreted this piece of history. An excellent debut where the author has taken a true story and completely made it her own by adding elements of magic and paranormal activity."
  • Also, a little reminder that if you've recently read the book, you might be interested in my photoset from our Roanoke Island trip and/or my pinterest board for Blackwood.
  • We're almost a month out from release now (ack! hard to believe!). It's a complete thrill when people get in touch to say they enjoyed the book, so please do if you're so inclined, and tell a friend, your favorite teen, a review site of your choice, etc. It is all much appreciated. We live in a complicated bookish world, and the best way to sell books is still through word of mouth. Thanks for any of that you do, and for reading the book. I hope I get to write lots more of them.
  • AND, finally, I still have quite a lot of bookmarks, and it seems silly to keep them in the box behind my desk. If you're a librarian, teacher or bookseller (or similar) who'd like 50-100 (or some other number), get in touch. (And if you know same who you think would be interested, please pass this on to them.) They are lovely–this photo doesn't even really show how lovely (Christopher designed them); in reality they are glossy and beauteous and fine, fine bookmarks.


And now back to my previously scheduled cold and trying to catch up on All The Things.

Updated to add: I've seen some buzz about the part about unicorns in this New Yorker interview–it seems like a joke to me? Frankly, I find the need to comment on her make-up and the pop psychology moments and intellectual snarberry (snark meets snobbery) as far more worth getting mad over.

Dept. Of Nice Surprises On A Friday

Thanks to E.C. Myers for alerting me to this glow-inducing Blackwood shout-out from extraordinary writer and bookseller extraordinaire Kate Milford in the latest YA for Grownups column at the Atlantic. (Read her work, seriously.)

The list is "Teen Reads Better Than 'Fifty Shades' " (which, yes, some cheeky people have pointed out is probably most of them…), described thus:

"With a nod to the "sexy" books that got us started down this road—especially the Judy Blume canon, and especially Forever—this time, we offer up some contemporary books in which Y.A. authors are broaching adult-ish topics in ways that are not just sexy but also are just plain good writing, doing it, we dare say, better than the hyper-popular E.L. James.  "Some do have actual love scenes like Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Shiver, and Graceling," explains Angulo Chen, "but others are all about the emotional connection of being in love for the first time and giving in to those feelings of passion for a really breathtaking kiss, or an old-fashioned snogging session." With the help of her and some of our favorite Y.A. experts, we came up with a few recent and upcoming teen books to consider post-Fifty Shades. We're calling them the steamies."

Or "swoonies," which is probably more applicable to Blackwood, since the romance is more of the emotional connection, awkward moments, and nerdy conversation variety. Still, it makes me so happy to have it included. Anyway, go check out the whole thing! Seriously fine company. Friday made.