Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hudson Valley YA Society: Lance Rubin, Nova Ren Suma and Tommy Wallach.

Where: Oblong Books, Rhinebeck, NY.
When: Sunday, April 26, 2015.
Who: Lance Rubin (Denton Little's Deathdate), Nova Ren Suma (The Walls Around Us) and Tommy Wallach We All Looked Up).

It was a beautiful day for a drive upstate.  The sun was shining and flowers could be seen everywhere. I had almost forgotten what flowers looked like after this past winter.

After eating a delicious hamburger at Terrapin...wait, it wasn't just a "hamburger." I usually don't eat burgers out because I never feel well after and I always think the reason is the restaurant must use cheap meat.  However, this menu boasted local Hudson Valley meat.  Not only that, you could pick your bread, toppings and sauce.  I went for the burger on a soft brioche roll, topped with smoked Gouda and Maple Mustard sauce.  Yum.  Anyway, I digress. 

The authors started the event by telling a little bit about their books and reading from them.  One astute attendee stated that all their novels have a thematic similarity of death and they were asked to address this observation.  Nova explained that she was always interested in an afterlife and ghosts and feels there is a lot of drama and urgency of those moments.  Lance said that he thinks a lot about death and time.  He often asks himself, "Where was I two years ago? Three? Five?"  He then got the idea that what if you could look ahead to a date?  Would it change your life?

The story became a metaphor for what it means to be alive. ~Lance.

Tommy admitted that everytime he does something, he thinks about how many more times he'll get to do it.  For example, he's seen Star Wars 30 times.  He'll probably only get to see it 30 more times and then...that's it.  "It makes me sad." He confessed. 

Jennifer from Oblong Books.
What was the most challenging scene to write and what was the most fun?  Nova said that the murder scene was a bit frightening to write.  However, when she did, it surprisingly became fun because it was " not her."  She felt like she was channeling the moment and the terror.  Her most challenging was the beginning.  The opening few paragraphs took her four weeks.  Nova said that she has a way of not being able to move on without a starting point and many times felt like a failure.  "I couldn't find my way in."

It was very interesting to see that these published authors have as much doubt as anyone.  In Lance's novel, the self eulogy was fun to write and the hardest was a part in the book called "The Sitting" which is the time you are waiting to die. 

Tommy said there is a moment in the the book where two characters spend the night together.  He had a hard time with the morning after scene until he made it just dialogue and then it became the most fun.  The most challenging was the 2nd part of the book because it is structurally complicated.

How did they get to YA?  Tommy said he wrote six books before his published one. He had no intention of writing YA, but then the YA idea came to him. Lance always thought he was going to be an actor and did some acting and screenplays.  (He is also the voice of the Berenstein Bears.) However, he eventually realized the lifestyle of an actor wasn't what he wanted. He read Hunger Games and had a "What if?" moment and he put the idea for a screenplay into his book.  Nova observed that none of them came to YA intentionally.  She had an MFA and was mostly writing short stories and adult novels (literary fiction). When she worked at Harper Collins she was a Production Editor and came across the book Feathered by Laura Kasischke and was blown away.  "This is YA?" She thought and realized that this is what she should be writing.

Their advice for writers? Lance advised that you should treat your writing as if you already have a career in writing.  Focus on the doing of it.  Tommy stated simply, "Write."  Start writing what you want to write. 

What I loved about this event was that it wasn't so much a Q&A, but more of a discussion.  The authors fed off each other's comments and contributed to a conversation that was inspiring and exciting.

~I am giving away one (1) signed copy of The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

City of Masks - Audio.

Title/Author: City of Masks, A Cree Black Thriller #1.

Read by: Anna Fields.

Genre: Supernatural

Publisher: Blackstone Audio.

Source: Library.

Synopsis:  In City of Masks, the first Cree Black novel, parapsychologist Cree and her partner take a case in New Orlean's Garden District that leaves them fearing for their own lives. The 150-year-old Beauforte House has long stood empty, until Lila Beauforte resumes residence and starts to see some of the house's secrets literally come to life.  Tormented by an insidious and violent presence, Lila finds herself trapped in a life increasingly filled with childhood terrors.  It takes Cree's unconventional take on psychology and her powerful natural empathy with Lila to navigate the dangerous worlds of spirit and memory, as they clash in a terrifying tale of mistaken identity and murder.

Midnyte Musings: I have very mixed feelings about this book.  It is about a "ghost buster," so that alone sold me.  Also it takes place in New Orleans, double win.  I also appreciated the fact that the main character Cree (short for Lucretia) is in her 40s, so I could relate to her better than the young ingenues who dominates most stories. 

I enjoyed the debate of whether ghosts exist and why they exist and exactly what they are.  I find discussion on this theory very intriguing.  Cree explained that the people who see ghosts are like people who can hear higher frequencies.
There's only one world, this one.  It's just bigger and stronger than we know. ~Cree.
The ghost story is intriguing and I enjoyed that part.  In fact a few of the creepy parts are SO creepy they made my heart pound.  Some of it reminded me of the manifestations in The Shining or the movie Poltergeist.  Unfortunately, those passages are few and far between.  I agree that a good ghost or Horror story doesn't need many ghostly encounters or it would be gilding the lily, however, the other creepy parts just didn't have the same impact.  There is one part of the story when Cree stated that Lilah told her " of the most terrifying tales..." and then it was second hand and it was telling, not showing.  

The writing was good for the most part.  I could envision the mansions in the Garden District, the terrain of the gardens, the levee, but I think the author could have pushed it a bit more.  I don't want to read that a character reminded someone of Alan Alda, I want it to be described.  Describe his friendly face and hangdog expression.  Descrebe his sharp nose and downturned eyes.  Also, there were was just a few ramblings as well.  To describe a feeling she compared it to the first time she saw a tornado, but I feel it delved into it a little too much.  The plot was also pretty predictable and it was annoying me that Cree couldn't see see something that was obvious.

There is also a love triangle between Cree, her co-worker and the family doctor she meets during her journey, but it definitely wasn't the main storyline of the book.  My favorite character was Judith, the receptionist at her office.

Narration: The narration was very effective and Anna Fields portrayed the characters well.  I would have liked to have seen more drama from Cree.  My favorite was Judith and how she portrayed her heavy Long Island accent.
City of Masks is entertaining and I liked the fact it took place in NOLA.  I would recommend it for a light and easy read for fans of paranormal mysteries.  

Other Editions:


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