Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Bookish Life in iPhone Pictures (1)

So, I have noticed that my Instagram account contains a lot of bookish pictures. I figured I would start sharing them here as well... if that is something you think you would be interested in!

Without further ado...
Stacks on stacks on stacks
Preparing for the movie!
A little light reading
My lovely UK Harry Potter books, accompanied by owl bookends :)

Our new color-coded bookshelf

Perfect combo

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hogwarts, A History

I just got back from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and... it's amazing! Absolutely 100% wonderful. I thought I would share the photobook I made with all of you. I'm so excited to get it!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Authors Are Rockstars Tour: Gabrielle Zevin Guest Post and Giveaway

As a part of the Authors Are Rockstars Tour (hosted by Fiktshun and Two Chicks On Books), I get to host Gabrielle Zevin today in Bookland! Wooooo!

Why do I think Gabrielle Zevin is a rockstar? Well, it's obvious... isn't it? I absolutely adored her book, All These Things I've Done and seriously cannot wait for Because It Is My Blood. The main character, Anya, is an incredibly real character. She is completely flawed, but that is what makes her so amazing. I truly appreciate when an author is able to create a flawed character that ends up being really likable... and Gabrielle Zevin does just that!

Also, whoever is able to imagine a world where chocolate and coffee are illegal is completely amazing to me. I would not even want to think about a world like that, let alone spend so much time crafting the world and writing about it. Seriously.. if you can get me to love a book where coffee (which may as well be my lifeline) is illegal, you're a rockstar! 

Now you can read Gabrielle's awesome guest post. :) (And Gabrielle was super rockstar-like in that she is including a giveaway too (which is international)!
On Hair and Hair-oines!

So, full disclosure. I have Anya Balanchine’s hair as described in All These Things I’ve Done. It is long, voluminous, dark, curly, and in the absence of product and the presence of humidity, occasionally prone to frizz. (One of the things that truly scares me about the future world of ATTID is not the fact that chocolate is illegal, but that hair products are rationed.) My hair blows out and flatirons well, and I’d say I do that maybe twenty percent of the time. At this moment, I am a couple of days into a flatiron and it’s slightly wavy, like straight hair that’s been to the beach. I’m prettier than I can even stand. (I jest!) In general though, I like my hair au naturel, and I’ve never wanted to become one of those women who treated curls like they were a plague to be eradicated by any means necessary. The reason I like my hair is because it is the perfect combination of my mom’s hair and my dad’s hair. Mom is Korean; Dad is of Jewish/Russian descent. And my hair looks like hair that comes from those people, those backgrounds. I like those people. I like that background. I like my hair.

It annoys me in movies or books when the nerdy girl gets “pretty” and the way we know that she’s “pretty” is that her once curly hair has become super straight. Exhibit A: Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries. Exhibit B: When Hermione goes to the ball in Harry Potter. (Don’t even get me started on the evolution of Hermione’s hair in the movies…) You know what I’m talking about. The subtext of these moments is that a girl cannot have naturally curly hair and be attractive. Is the bravest thing about Brave the fact that Merida is unabashedly curly? 

In writing, the selection of a character’s hair is no small matter. (Dare I say it is a hairy matter?) Certainly, there is an extent to which hair determines character. Would Anne Shirley be Anne Shirley without the red hair? Perhaps it’s a cliché, but the red hair symbolizes her outsider-ness, her specialness, her very Anne-ness. The inciting incident for her relationship to Gilbert Blythe is the moment when he insults her hair, calling her “Carrots!” Consider Daisy Buchanan in Gatsby. We think of her as a blond, but her hair actually changes colors throughout Fitzgerald’s descriptions. These shifting descriptions are no accident.

But as a writer, why I really think hair is important is because it’s one of the few things in life that a person can easily change. For the most part, if you want to be a redhead, you will be a redhead. If you want to have pink hair or blue hair, you will. Hair is not destiny in the same way that, say, height is. Hair color and style speak to the place and time one lives in, one’s health, one’s religion, one’s style, the style of one’s mate or parents or friends, I could go on. Hair can have intent in it or discontent, too. This is to say, we learn a lot about a character from the way he or she wears (or is made to wear) their hair. 

After name, hair is one of the first decisions I make about a character. Elizabeth Hall in Elsewhere was blond and blue-eyed. It was my first novel, and in retrospect, I think I needed her to look as differently from me as possible so that I could be freer in my writing. With blond hair and blue eyes, there was no chance anyone would mistake her for me, which allowed me to be more emotionally open. In Margarettown, one of my novels for adults, the male narrator thinks Margaret Towne is red-haired but later in the book, it is revealed that she has been dyeing her hair the entire time. The hair becomes a symbol for all the things the male narrator doesn’t know about his beloved. On the various foreign jackets, sometimes Margaret is depicted as a blond, sometimes as a redhead. I find this very appropriate. In Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, Naomi wakes up in an ambulance as a bottle blond whose roots are showing, and this ought to tell you pretty much everything you need to know about her character.

Last year, my publisher decided to re-jacket All These Things I’ve Done. Despite the fact that covers with girls on them are as common as iPhones, I was not all that upset when the new concept included a photographic depiction of the main character. While I had liked the original hardcover concept very much, I had strongly objected to the copy on the front. The copy had spelled out the world (“Chocolate is contraband; caffeine is illegal,” etc.), which I felt emphasized the wrong thing for readers as they approached the book. All These Things I’ve Done is a book about a deeply flawed girl, Anya Balanchine, not a world, and I hoped (hope!) that the new jacket would let readers know that they would be reading a novel that emphasized character. Furthermore, I liked the girl on the jacket. She was strong looking, not too pretty or girly, a little bit Lisbeth Salander. Of course, I did have to point out to my publisher that the cover model’s hair did not match the description of Anya Balanchine’s hair in All These Things… but no one seemed to think it was a problem. And as I thought about it, it wasn’t a problem for me either. The girl they chose captures something of Anya’s spirit. Ultimately, I think this is more important than if the model had the right hair. Although I’ve spent the last thousand words or so telling you how important hair is, I also think book characters are MORE than just hairstyles. Hair is a fine place to start, but if it doesn’t speak to a character’s situation, I won’t write it into a book at all. Not to put to fine a point on it but women are more than just hairstyles, too. Judge me by the content of my character not the quality of my flatiron, you know?

Incidentally, by the end of the series, Anya will have a hairstyle very much like the one on the jacket. Most women don’t have the same hairstyles their whole lives, after all. Anya is a sixteen-year-old high school girl in book one, but she will be in her twenties and in a very different place in her life by the end of the series. Not to mention, she has always been a retrospective narrator, telling the story from some future place and time, after all. In the future, Anya’s hair will look exactly like the girl on the jacket’s, I promise.

Giveaway Details:
-International (thanks to Gabrielle!)
-You must be 13 or older to enter
-Ends at 11:59pm EST on August 31, 2012
-Winner will be chosen through Rafflecopter
-Winner will be announced here and emailed
-Winner will have 48 hours after notification to respond with their details or prize will be forfeit and awarded to someone else
a Rafflecopter giveaway