Bestselling author Lauren Kate of the FALLEN novels talks about the origins of her new book, Teardrop, the first in a new series about a seemingly ordinary teenage girl whose tears have an extraordinary magical power - today on the NOOK Blog.
When I lived in rural Northern California, the nearby lake was a flooded valley that had once been the site of a small village. Imagined ghosts of this underwater town haunted me, leading to an obsession with flood narratives, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Noah’s Ark to Plato’s Atlantis.
I was especially drawn to the legend of Atlantis. I wanted to learn more about this glorious, advanced ancient civilization, which disappeared so completely under the ocean that it slipped into the realm of myth. So I started with Plato, who wrote two cryptic texts called Timeaus and Critias, neither of which he finished. They are the earliest—and, many scholars say, the only “true”—accounts of Atlantis, filled with compellingly exact descriptions, down to the measurements of the land and the types of metals found in the ground.
Scholars agree that Plato had a very clear vision of Atlantis but disagree on whether Plato believed Atlantis actually existed. Most vote no, claiming he created Timeaus and Critias as part of a writing assignment Dionysius II gave him at a literary festival.
But for many—including the occultist writers whose books I devoured while preparing to write Teardrop; the Turkish and Greek graduate students who led me on an Atlantean research-scavenger hunt through Athens, Greece, and Ephesus, Turkey; and Dr. Richard Freund, whose research on seeking Atlantis in southern Spain was the most compelling to me—the existence of Atlantis is historical fact. I found these people’s faith in the lost land inspiring, and together with the poetic truth I found in Plato’s writings, I was able to create my own Atlanteology.
For several years I knew I wanted to write about Atlantis, but I didn’t know whose voice would tell this story. I tried on several different narrators but couldn’t get anyone’s voice to carry the story beyond a chapter or two.
Inspiration struck one day when I was crying. My husband was listening to my sob story, never mind what it was about. He couldn’t reach me; I was trapped under the flood of my emotions, as tear-shedders often are. But then he extended his hand, touched the corner of my eye with his finger, and captured the tear welling up. I watched as he brought my tear to his face and blinked it into his own eye. Suddenly we were bound by this tear. Suddenly I wasn’t alone. And suddenly I had the first scene between my hero and the boy she loved.
That tear unlocked this story. Instead of an angry god generating the deluge, a single tear incites Teardrop’s apocalypse. And in the tale I wanted to tell, I knew that a tear capable of flooding the world could only be shed over a mighty heart broken.
NOOK – So, Ben and Beth, could you describe your book in ten words or less?
Ben – I can do it in seven. It's a hell of a rousing puzzler.
Beth – It's a mystery and love story with mystical overtones and gory murders.
Ben – That's twelve words, Beth.
Beth – Well, you had some extra words left over so I used them.
NOOK - How did you come up with the idea of making the author of Walden a 19th century sleuth?
Ben Oak – It hit us one day while we were visiting Walden Pond that Thoreau had all the makings of a great detective. He had an insatiable curiosity and always wanted to get to the bottom of things—including the pond itself. Thoreau measured the length and depth of Walden with amazing accuracy. A friend of his said he could measure a man at a glance as well.
Beth Oak – We call Thoreau America's Sherlock Holmes because he had an instinct for detecting human foibles and razor-sharp observational skills.
Ben – Razor-sharp senses too. People at the time remarked how no hound could scent better than Thoreau, and how he saw as with a microscope and heard as with an ear-trumpet. He also had a photographic memory.
Beth - Thoreau also knew how to track, hunt and use firearms. Those are handy survival skills for a detective. He answered to no one. Like all the best detectives in fiction, from Sherlock Holmes to Philip Marlowe, Thoreau was a self-reliant loner with his own code of honor.
Ben – In fact, Thoreau was the one who originated the idea of marching to the beat of a different drummer.
NOOK - Well, you two must have to march to the same beat when you write books together.
Beth – Not really. We follow the same plot outline, but we go about telling the story from two different points of view, in the voices of Dr. Adam Walker and his cousin the artist Julia Bell, who both help Thoreau in his investigations.
Ben – Adam and Julia don't always see things the same way, and neither do we, but it's fun to work things out together. Luckily we have each other as a sounding board, or should I say shouting board?
Beth – Our discussions get pretty heated at times, but when it comes to plotting an intricate mystery with various suspects and motives, we think two heads really are better than one.
Ben – Even if we butt heads at times! We're passionate about our work and each other so it all works out in the end.
Love historical mysteries? Check out the collection here.Read more...
Are you as excited as we are about bestselling author Wally Lamb's newest novel? We Are Water is the affecting story of a Connecticut family in upheaval as its wife and mother leaves and plans to marry a successful businesswoman. Read Wally's post about the inspiration and writing process behind the book, now available on NOOK.
You might say that We Are Water began in a radio station in my hometown of Norwich, CT, where I was promoting my just-finished comic novella Wishin’ & Hopin’. “So what’s next for Wally Lamb?” the announcer asked, and not wanting to appear dopey by revealing my lack of plan, I improvised. “I’m thinking of writing about the flood,” I said. If you’re from Norwich, you know that theflood refers to the devastation caused when, in 1963, the collapse of a dam unleashed millions of gallons of water on the city, destroyed the shopping district, and took five lives. I was a 12-year-old eyewitness to the horrors that night.
My inspiration for the title came in 2007 when my wife, Chris, and I attended a performance of the musical “Ten Million Miles,” which featured a Patty Griffin song titled “We Are Water.” I liked the alliterative sound of the phrase and scrawled it on the front of my playbill. What does that mean?, I kept wondering: We are water? I started writing the novel to find out. Usually I title my stories after they’re finished. This time, the title came first.
We Are Water ended up being a multi-voiced story about a family and a nation in transition. It’s 2009. Barack Obama is in the first year of his presidency, the State of Connecticut has recently legalized gay marriage, and Orion and Annie Oh’s twenty-seven year marriage has ended because Annie, a successful outsider artist, has fallen in love with Viveca, her champion in the art world and her bride to be. As the wedding approaches, it elicits a variety of responses from ex-husband Orion, a university psychologist, and the Ohs’ three grown children: earnest do-gooder Ariane, her born-again twin brother Andrew, and the twins’ wild card younger sister Marissa. Likewise, the impending ceremony pries open a Pandora’s box of toxic secrets that have festered beneath the surface of the Ohs’ lives. In this, my fifth novel, I explore the themes of class, race, evolving social mores, and the origins and purpose of art. As were my earlier novels, this story is an exploration of power and powerlessness and their effect on flawed but humane characters.Read more...
The moment we've all been waiting for is finally here - Veronica Roth has finished her wildly popular dystopian teen trilogy, the Divergent Series! Allegiant, the fiery conclusion to the trilogy is now available on NOOK. Veronica visits the NOOK Blog today to do a Q&A about the story behind the stories - her writing process, the challenges she faced, and who she'd most love to see reading her books.
What’s the first thing you did when you finished writing the trilogy?
Veronica: I’m pretty sure all I did was continue with my regular routine—walk the dog, eat dinner, etc. I’ve been waiting until I’m done with the Four short stories to really process that the trilogy is done. I have a few edited drafts of Allegiant lying around my apartment, so maybe when I finish with the short stories I’ll burn the stacks of paper to commemorate the end of the series. That sounds weird, but I think it’s appropriate to grieve a little bit—it changed my life so drastically. It’s bittersweet.
If you could catch anyone reading your books, who would it be?
V: My writer dream has always been that I would someday see someone reading one of my books on the train, and that has never happened—so I would really love to catch anyone reading them on a Chicago El train. Catching one of my favorite authors reading a Divergent book would be wonderful, too.
What has been your most challenging scene to write in the trilogy?
V: The hardest scenes for me to write are ones that weave in complicated pieces of world-building—it’s difficult to communicate information clearly without it feeling like exposition. So some of the most challenging scenes, for me, were the ones in Allegiant when a lot of the questions that have built up over the last two books are answered. The scene in the first book where Al begs Tris for forgiveness and she refuses him was a hard one, too. I don’t really blame her, but that was painful to “watch,” so to speak, knowing what would happen next.
Has writing any part of the trilogy changed the way in which you see the world?
V: So many times. For me, the page is a safe place for me to challenge my own beliefs about the world. The faction system is essentially my own personal utopia: a world in which people are forced to fit themselves into neat categories, and to take personal responsibility for the brokenness in the world. Writing the series has made me dismantle my own worldview, in a lot of ways—has made me abandon my own legalism and to start looking at people in a more nuanced, complicated, and probably more loving way. And that’s just one example. I grew up a lot while writing these books.
What book made you fall in love with reading as a child? Bestselling childrens' author Jonathan Stroud understands that sometimes all it takes is just one book to open up an incredible new world for children of all ages, and he's got a fantastic list of his favorite kids' books that changed the way he felt about reading forever - today on the NOOK Blog.
Jonathan: A great book has magical powers. It doesn’t just divert or entertain you, it changes you forever. It does this by becoming part of you – ever afterwards, it’s part of your mind and make-up, causing you to respond to the world in a subtly different fashion.This is true throughout your life, but the books you read in childhood are the strongest and most powerful of all. Here’s a list of 20 books I’ve loved, at various times and in various ways. Some are classics from my early years, some more recent kids’ titles that have blown me away. There are scary books, funny ones and great adventures: a few manage to be all three at once. They’re all available as ebooks, and they’re all worth reading and rereading. Enjoy!
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The greatest adventure story ever written, and the fountain-head from which all modern young adult fiction flows. Countless classic scenes, but try the one where Jim Hawkins and his mother sit in the dark listening to the tapping of the blind man’s stick on the road outside: Stevenson achieves almost Hitchcockian levels of suspense here.
Humphrey the Horrible and his family of ghouls must seek a new home when their castle is modernized. Eva Ibbotson was a pioneer of the genre-bending children’s book. Her stories manage to be creepy and hugely funny all at the same time, and this one, where the ghosts are the heroes, is one of the very best.
Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley
For readers still too young for MR James, this is the perfect introduction to the delights of the English ghost story. Deliciously succinct, inventive and macabre.
Revenge of the Witch (Last Apprentice Series #1) by Joseph Delaney
Young Thomas Ward gets a job fighting the powers of darkness. Horrid ghosts and fantastically scary witches await. A superb supernatural thriller.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman harnesses the dark power of fairy tale in this modern classic. Scariest bit? The ‘other mother’ with button eyes. Eek!
Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hobbit J R R Tolkien
Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
Collected Ghost Stories M.R. James
The Wolves of Willougbhy Chase Joan Aiken
A Wizard of Earthsea Ursula Le Guin
Sabriel (Abhorsen Trilogy Series #1) Garth Nix
The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G.Wodehouse
Tell Me: What's your favorite childrens' novel?Read more...
Do you have a special Halloween tradition? Bestselling paranormal romance authors Rebecca Zanetti and Dianne Duvall love Halloween and have some great traditions - scary, funny, and sentimental - that they enjoy each year with family and friends. Read all about their Halloween experiences and memories, today on the NOOK Blog.
Rebecca Zanetti: Being a paranormal author, I love Halloween. These days, I love the mystery of the thin veil between our world and the next. The chill in the air that makes me shiver, the rustle of dying leaves, the sense that we’re not as alone as we’d like. That feeling inspires me to write and go as dark as I want in my novels. To keep entertained, I read a Cynthia Eden or Kate Douglas paranormal to keep me in the spirit.
Before I became an author, Halloween was a day to have fun and a night to party. The ironic thing in my family is that our mom didn’t like Halloween. Our mom coached our softball teams, was always the team room mom, and took great care of everybody, but Halloween wasn’t her thing. In fact, she usually forgot about trick-or-treating until about an hour before it was time to head out.
So we’d trump up to our grandmother’s house for last-minute costumes. I don’t know how many years I went trick-or-treating as a gypsy, because Nana had a lot of play jewelry and make-up. My younger sister always got stuck with whatever wig we could find. One year she’d be a lion, and the next year just a random guy with a wig, but boy, did we have fun.
When my husband and I bought our first house, I started going all out with Halloween decorations right off the bat. He had no idea he’d have to deal with real hay over the front porch (that inevitably ends up all over our house), fake cobwebs to walk through (he’s six-and-a-half feet tall, so there’s no way to put them high enough), or Halloween monster music playing throughout the house all month.
Then we started having kids, and I went to town! When the kids were little, I bought costumes for them about three months in advance every year. It was so much fun! Even as a tiny baby, our son went as Blue’s Clues, so imagine my shock when my daughter turned ten and decided she’d choose her own costume.
Guess what she chose?
Yep. She went as a gypsy with tons of fun jewelry and bright make-up. My mom laughed so hard, I was afraid she’d break a rib. At that time, my grandmother had passed on, and my mom had Nana’s old jewelry box. My mom, my daughter, and I had such a memorable time scrounging through the costume jewelry and sharing the good times from years ago. Sometimes traditions sneak up and bite you. In fact, sometimes you create a tradition without even knowing it.
So these days, Halloween is close to my heart because of the times I’ve shared with the four generations of women in my family. Sometimes on Halloween night, when that veil between the worlds becomes thin, I can feel my grandmother right next to me.
I’m looking forward to being near her again this year.
Pick up Rebecca Zanetti's newest paranormal romance, Shadowed, on NOOK.
Dianne Duvall: My favorite Halloween traditions have altered over the years. As a child, I loved trick-or-treating, of course, and often spent weeks agonizing over just the perfect costume I should wear. The first real cold front of the season would usually choose that night or the previous one to roll through, forcing me to cover my costume up with a coat. Nevertheless, I would go door to door full of excitement, collecting as much candy as I could, and then head for the Halloween carnival my elementary school held each year. A haunted house, face painting, cake walks, contests, and other games lasted well past my bedtime, but it never failed to make the night a memorable one.
Though I no longer go trick-or-treating and I can’t remember the last time I attended a Halloween carnival, the holiday has never lost its appeal for me. In fact, Halloween is the reason October is one of my favorite months. I’m that person in the neighborhood who goes all out with decorations (there is always one). As a teenager, I often thought it would be fun to litter the yard with zombie dummies and giant spiders, add some gravestones and a fog machine or two, and toss in spooky sound effects. Alas, some homeowners associations frown upon such things.
Instead I spend the entire month of October indulging my love of horror and paranormal romance. Even when paranormal romances were fewer and farther between, publishers would oblige readers looking for books to put them in the Halloween spirit by releasing a nice selection of paranormal romances throughout the month. Vampires. Demons. Ghosts. Aliens. You can find it all in the ever-changing genre, which happens to be my favorite. Even when I don’t have a book releasing in October myself, I look forward to October, because I know I’ll soon be losing myself in the pages of novels by favorite authors that boast powerful preternatural creatures that I could only find in horror movies…books that contain deliciously dark and deadly action scenes that keep me flipping pages late into the night, desperate to see what will happen next.
Then there is Stephen King. Who doesn’t like to bury his or her nose in a good Stephen King novel as Halloween approaches, or watch one of his novels that were made into movies? Silver Bullet and Creepshow have always been favorites of mine. Some satellite television channels even offer Stephen King movie marathons to get viewers in the Halloween spirit. Others offer a countdown to Halloween by showcasing a different scary movie every night. The plethora of horror films that flood the airwaves is another reason I love the season. I just can’t ignore a good slasher film, zombie flick, vampire saga, or good old-fashioned ghost story. Big budget or no budget, I love them all, and Halloween brings them out of the proverbial woodwork.
Which leads me to my favorite tradition of all, the best part of Halloween night isn’t doling out candy to little ones garbed in cute, scary, or just plain weird costumes. It’s lowering the lights once the doorbell stops ringing, sinking onto the sofa, finding a place to prop my feet on the coffee table laden with candy that wasn’t dispensed to trick or treaters, and settling in for a nice long Halloween movie marathon: Halloween 1, Halloween 2, Halloween 4, and Halloween 5. I don’t remember when this precise tradition began, but it has become my all-time favorite Halloween tradition.
Pick up Dianne Duvall's latest paranormal romance, Darkness Rises, on NOOK.
Tell Me: What are your favorite Halloween traditions?
Do you have a favorite story with a magical setting? Bestselling children's author Barbara Mariconda has quite a few, and she voyaged far and wide to find inspiration for the fantastical settings in her own novels. Today she visits the NOOK Blog to share her travel stories, as well as to list her own favorite magical tales. The newest book in the Lucy P. Simmons trilogy, The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons: Lucy at Sea, is now available on NOOK.
Have you ever visited a place that had a magical personality all its own? For me there’ve been many.
In the Lucy P. Simmons trilogy, there's a mansion on the coast of Maine, the wide-open ocean where there’s nothing but sea and sky, and the strange, haunting rusty red land of the Australian Outback. All were settings that struck me as magical – and places I’ve visited and loved.
The Victorian house that embraced Lucy and became her greatest ally was inspired by my own home – though mine was not nearly as grand. Living on the Atlantic coast, the ocean’s always been a source of wonder – in fact, there’s a small nearby island rumored to hold chests of gems and gold that belonged to Captain Kidd but the legend is that three separate curses prevent anyone from locating the treasure or inhabiting the island.
In researching the Lucy series I also ventured to the Outback, camped in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in a swag on the ground under the shadow of another magical site – the brilliantly hued rock formation called Uluru, sacred to the Aboriginal people.
These places served as inspiration for Lucy’s adventure and became the source of all kinds of magic – but perhaps the greatest magic that touched Lucy – and can touch all of us – is the power of love that travels across generations and even beyond the grave!
Here are some other magical books that have enchanted me, that I love to recommend to readers:
The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
The Grey King by Susan Cooper
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Comment below with your picks for the best magical stories.Read more...
I started writing the first book of The Maze Runner in 2005, and it didn’t hit bookshelves until 2009. Then came several years of the sequels, the development of the movie, the growth of my fan base. So I’m approaching 9 years of Thomas and the Gladers being a part of my life, and hopefully it will continue on for many years to come. Like with my wife and kids, I can’t really remember life before them or without them.
But, having said all that, I’m beyond thrilled to move on to my new series, The Mortality Doctrine, beginning with The Eye of Minds. This story and world already means a lot to me because it’s been gelling for a long time in my head. (Most of my life takes place up in the old brain, which can be a very scary place.) The very first spark of an idea came to me when I saw The Matrix in the late 90s. I kept expecting a twist that never happened, and that never left me. So I like to joke that I stole this book from something that never existed in a movie.
Some people may think that writing a book gets easier the more you do it. I’m not so sure that’s true. The first book of Maze Runner went through a billion drafts before it saw the light of a bookstore, and The Eye of Minds was almost as tough. I spent weeks outlining, something on which I’d never spent so much time before because I’m usually too excited to get on with the writing part. I wrote the original draft in first person, working very hard to craft it as best as possible. However, my editor, in probably one of my biggest challenges and disappointments, felt strongly that the point of view wasn’t working. I rewrote the whole thing, this time in third person. And from there, much recrafting, rewriting, reworking.
In the end, I feel strongly that I’ve created something of which I can be proud. The Eye of Minds is the result of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and I hope that my readers will have a fantastic time giving it a go.Read more...
In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, bestselling author Alice Hoffman visits the NOOK Blog today to share inspirational tips from her new book Survival Lessons, a collection of astute sentiments inspired by her own struggle with cancer. Rather than focusing on the disease itself, Alice provides simple yet powerful suggestions on finding the beauty around us - as well as taking life-changing journeys - even during the darkest of times. Survival Lessons is now available on NOOK.
- Buy maps, guidebooks, a new suitcase.
- Think of a place where you can find peace or adventure. I long for oceans, beaches, blue skies. I favor beach towns: Provincetown, Monterey, Montauk. I love them in the summer, when they're crowded and noisy, and even more off-season, when I can walk the beach alone.
- Pack up your car. Get plane tickets. Opt for the train. Go with your best friend or invite the long-lost love of your life. Go alone or, better yet, take your dog.
- Travels with Charley, which tells the story of his journey crisscrossing the country, searching for the heart of America in the company of his beloved poodle, Charley.
- If you can't take a trip sometimes the best journeys can be found in a book. Roddy Doyle's Ireland, Dennis Lehane's Boston, Sue Grafton's California, Ernest Hemingway's Paris.
- Go out to your own backyard or to a park down the street. Open your book. Let the journey begin.
For more inspirational ideas, watch Alice Hoffman's Survival Lessons video here.
My new book, The Bride Wore Size 12, is about a bride who is struggling to keep her wedding from spinning out of control. This is a feeling that might be familiar to a few brides out there, though I’m pretty sure most brides never had to deal with what my heroine, Heather Wells, does in the days leading up to her wedding day:
Who can resist a bride, all dressed in white? Not me. I love books and movies with wedding scenes in them, especially when the wedding could come crashing down around the bride at any moment. Spunky Maria (soon to be Von Trapp) walking down the aisle in her seemingly mile-long train in that church in The Sound of Music. Why is this scene so great?
Because not only is Maria finally marrying the man of her dreams (the Captain, of course), and his children getting the stepmother they deserve (instead of that nasty baroness who was going to pack them all off to boarding school), but there are (spoiler alert) hordes of Nazis gathering at the Austrian border. Hitler could show up at any time!
Now that’s a wedding!
Or take Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala’s secret wedding ceremony in Naboo’s beautiful Lake Country (really Lake Como in Italy) in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
But we all knew the bride was one day (spoiler alert) going to give birth to Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia! Not to mention, the groom going to embrace the dark side, and turn into Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith!
Talk about raising the stakes!
Weddings-with-a-twist haven’t only been fodder for cinematic fare. What about the now infamous “Red Wedding” scene in George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series? (The less detail about that I go into, the better, as feelings are still running high on the fan forums.)
Mr. Martin certainly isn’t the first author to lob an explosive wedding altar reveal at readers. Both Charlotte Brontë (in her 1847 classic Jane Eyre) and R. D. Blackmore (in his lesser known 1869 novel Lorna Doone) did it as well, though—spoiler alert—both brides ultimately meet with better fates than those in Martin’s book (in Lorna’s case, it’s admittedly touch and go for a while).
Why are wedding day disasters so irresistible to authors (and to screenwriters)? Especially since I want there to be a happy ending for my characters (and everyone else’s) just as much as readers do.
But as a writer (and reader and viewer, as well), I also want to watch that bride (and groom) work for it. I want them to be entitled to their happiness. I want to watch them earn it.
Maybe because then, once they’ve successfully battled those Nazis, clones, white walkers, Doones, or murderers, I feel like I can enjoy that well-deserved happily-ever-after right along with them.
But of course, after reading and writing about all these poor brides’ wedding day disasters, when it came to my own twenty years ago, my husband and I did what we considered the only sensible choice:
We eloped!Read more...