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Author Interview with Victoria Aveyard!

Victoria Aveyard was born and raised in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, a small town known only for the worst traffic rotary in the continental United States. She moved to Los Angeles to earn a BFA in screenwriting at the University of Southern California, and stayed there despite the lack of seasons. She is currently an author and screenwriter, using her career as an excuse to read too many books and watch too many movies.







Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.



1. Where did your inspiration for THE RED QUEEN come from?
I first decided I was going to try and write a novel towards the end of my senior year of college. Of course, I tried to write one for years, but never came close to finishing. Now I had a few screenplays under my belt and I was ready self-published novels for the producer I was interning for. It sort of pushed me to want to write my own again, and I started brainstorming. The image of a teenage girl about to be executed, but who suddenly defends herself with her own burst of lightning, came to me during this period, and RED QUEEN grew out of this idea.
2. The setting for RED QUEEN is a mixture of “old and new” in a sense. How did you create the world of Norta?
I've always been in love with the amazing fantasy worlds of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, HARRY POTTER, and A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, but knew I'm nowhere near the skill level of creating something with 1/10th of that depth. So I worked to find the happy medium, a place of strangeness as well as familiarity. There are flairs of dystopia, flairs of second world fantasy, and I hoped to find a balance between the two. Plus I just loved playing with the contrast of a very feudal society that also was technologically advanced and full of superhumans.
3. Were any of your characters based off of people you know?
The character of Farley was definitely inspired by one of my best friends. Not necessarily in character, but the conception (name and appearance wise) came from her. And of course, the family dynamics, particularly the best parts of Mare's parents, come from my own family and parents.
4. Is there anything you wish you could go back and change now that the book is out?
Just because I'm a worldbuilder, I'd want to go back and flesh out the book even more than it already is, probably for the worse. But it would just be fun to dig deeper into what's already there, adding characters and showing more of the world.
5. What do you typically read while you’re writing? Do you avoid certain genres?
When I'm drafting RQ books, I tend to steer away from YA books. Mostly because reading another book in the genre just makes me want to work on my own, so I would never finish reading anyways. So I mostly stick to high fantasy and historical fiction when I'm working. Currently I'm in book 2 of Ken Follet's Century Series and about to start The Plantagenets by Dan Jones.
6. You’re visiting Books Inc. on Valentine’s Day, so share your most romantic story with us!
My family and I were on this Transatlantic cruise when I was about 18. My boyfriend at the time was with us and, honestly, he was a complete jerk. I don't know what we were doing together. Luckily I met another guy onboard, this kid from Wisconsin. He helped me out of a really bad spot and over the next few days it was a sickening, immediately falling in love situation. He was an amazing artist and he encouraged me to pursue my own passions and dreams. Of course, the night I planned to tell my family and break up with my boyfriend (admittedly not the best idea on a long voyage), the ship hit an iceberg and sank. Wisconsin kid didn't make it. I survived on a floating door.
7. Are you a panster or a plotter?
I'm always rearing to go, almost to a fault, so I'm a panster at heart, but ultimately I have to make myself plot and outline. But I don't outline very intensely. Usually 3-5 pages to outline an entire novel, and most of the time I go off outline by the time I'm into act 2. Sticking to a strict, preordained structure doesn't work for me or the characters, so when they go off what I've envisioned, I'm all forward. My usual rule is to know how it starts and know how it ends. Act 1 and 3 I know very, very well, before I really dig in.
8. Coffee or tea?
Coffee. I'm not a tea person at all.
9. Favorite movie? TV show? Band?
I went to film school so I could write you pages about my favorite movies (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, ET, etc.) and television shows (Battlestar Galactica, LOST, Friday Night Lights, Game of Thrones, 24, Band of Brothers, Mindy Project, Seinfeld, The Simpsons). As for music, my favorite artist of all time is Bruce Springsteen. And, being from Massachusetts, I'm a diehard Boston sports fan. GO PATS SUPER BOWL CHAMPS AGAIN. BR4DY.

Victoria will be at Books Inc. Burlingame on Saturday, February 14th. That's right, Valentine's Day!!! Come meet her and ask all those questions that we're answered here!

And don't forget to enter our celebratory giveaway for a box of ARCs HERE!


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Review - Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Publication Date: February 9th, 2010
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantasy

Tender Morsels is a dark and vivid story, set in two worlds and worrying at the border between them. Liga lives modestly in her own personal heaven, a world given to her in exchange for her earthly life. Her two daughters grow up in this soft place, protected from the violence that once harmed their mother. But the real world cannot be denied forever—magicked men and wild bears break down the borders of Liga’s refuge. Now, having known Heaven, how will these three women survive in a world where beauty and brutality lie side by side?

Anne Nesbet recommended this book to me after hearing me confess my love for The Kingdom of Little Wounds, and it certainly hit the mark! Fairytale horror centered on the oppression of female bodies and psyches might be my favorite sub-genre of all time. There's just so much to be said and explored, especially in a setting unhindered by realism. Lanagan is not a lazy writer. The prose is intricate and dense, the plot anything but formulaic. For me, the disturbing violence and vast number of perspectives that the narrative forces the reader to consider show that Lanagan wrote this story for more than entertainment. It isn't meant to be easy to digest, so don't suggest it as an easy read. It is difficult, but it delighted me even as it horrified me.
Ivy from Books Inc. Berkeley

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Extra Big Congrats to Our Dear Friend Jandy Nelson on Her Printz Win!!!!!

We couldn't be more excited for Jandy Nelson, author of 2015 Printz Award Winner, I'll Give You the Sun!!!
Jandy celebrated the launch of this brilliant novel with Books Inc. back in September and if you'd asked us then, we'd tell you no one is more deserving of this honor!
A favorite amongst Books Inc. staffers, Jandy never fails to deliver stories so beautiful you'll want to read them over and over again.
As Connie from Books Inc. Opera Plaza says, "I’ll Give You the Sun is stunning. I was completely mesmerized reading it. Jandy Nelson knows how to pull at the heartstrings and she does it well. A book to break your heart and put it back together."
So hats off to you, Jandy, on your well-deserved win!


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Giveaway - Victoria Aveyard is coming!

Victoria Aveyard, author of the lovely debut RED QUEEN, is coming to Books Inc. Burlingame for Valentine's Day! To celebrate we're giving away a box of YA romance ARCs to one lucky winner! Just spread the word about our event and gain entries via the Rafflecopter form below!

The Deets:
* One lucky winner will receive a package of ARCs!
* Entries must be submitted through the Rafflecopter form.
* Must be 13 or older to enter.
* Prize will be shipped via UPS, PO Box addresses not accepted.
* We are not responsible for any lost, stolen, or damaged packages.
* Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond.
* Prize will be shipped in 2 weeks - a month.


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Author Interview with Rachel Hartman!

Rachel was born in Kentucky, but has lived a variety of places including Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She has a BA in Comparative Literature, although she insists it should have been a BS because her undergraduate thesis was called “Paradox and Parody in Don Quixote and the satires of Lucian.” She eschewed graduate school in favour of drawing comic books. She now lives in Vancouver, BC, with her family, their whippet, and a talking frog and salamander (who fight zombies)(really. There are a lot of zombies in the Pacific Northwest).








Lyrical, imaginative, and wholly original, this "New York Times" bestseller with 8 starred reviews is not to be missed. Rachel Hartman's award-winning debut will have you looking at dragons as you've never imagined them before...
In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side - while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.
The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.
When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive--and dashing--Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina's struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult... while its discovery could mean her very life.






1. The concept of tending the garden of grotesques is very fascinating; could you tell us about where this idea came from?
It came from an ancient mnemonic device called a Memory Palace: an imaginary building wherein one places things that need to be remembered. Each item on your list correlates to a specific room of the palace, such that when you walk through the rooms again, you encounter all the items on your list. I like the idea of a geography of mind, that there are places inside ourselves that we can visit, that have some kind of symbolic significance. The garden also corresponds a bit to what it's like to live inside a writer's brain, peopled by all kinds of strange characters.

2. You're a musician yourself & music plays a large part in SERAPHINA, is there a greater significance incorporating musical themes?
Music, like any art, has many uses. It can bring people together, pull them apart, illuminate and inspire and act as an extended metaphor. I use it all of these ways at one point or another in the book, but I do feel rather strongly (especially as regards themes and metaphors) that this is for the reader to discover rather than me to explain. I can tell you, however, that one thing I particularly wanted to convey is what it feels like to perform music in front of an audience. It is one of the most transcendent experiences I've ever had, and something that non-musicians (or very shy musicians) may not be familiar with. 

3. Set in the high fantasy land of Goredd, Seraphina’s world is incredibly well-crafted. How much research did you do while developing the setting? Is any of it inspired by other mythical places?
My first inklings of Goredd came to me when I was in seventh grade, so in some sense all the research I've ever done has gone into it, and that's a great deal. I've long been fascinated by the Middle Ages, especially music and material culture, and have accumulated quite a collection of books. Not all my research came from books, however. Goredd is based not so much on mythical places as on real ones I visited when I was sixteen and lived in England. Canterbury Cathedral, Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, the rolling countryside (and oast houses) of Kent -- these and more beloved places are all present in the book and are a big reason the setting feels so vivid.

4. You use such vivid imagery and descriptive language in SERAPHINA. Can you imagine it being turned into a film? If so, who would you like to see cast? Would you prefer live-action or an animated style?
I have a weirdly hard time imagining it as a film. I guess that if/when that ever happens, I'll be surprised by everything I see on the screen -- which I consider a good thing. I rather like being surprised. The only character I envisioned as any specific actor was the Ardmagar Comonot, leader of dragonkind. I described him once to my editor as "Shatneresque," and that was it. Forever after, he's been William Shatner in my mind. 

5. SERAPHINA has been nominated for and received many awards since its publication. When you first started out, did you think it would become such a big deal?
Certainly I always hoped it would find a wide audience. I worked in bookstores for many years, however, and so I had a pretty realistic notion of what the odds were. Sometimes wonderful books fail to find their readers, and sometimes they unexpectedly catch the zeitgeist just right and take off beyond all expectations. It's actually pretty hard to predict, in my experience.

6. What’s your go-to playlist while writing?
It depends what kind of scene I'm writing. I have rather specific requirements sometimes, and will put a single song on infinite repeat until I've sucked all the joy out of it. These days I'm listening to a lot of folk metal, but there's usually prog rock and medieval music somewhere in the mix. 

7. If you weren’t an author, what career would you want?
When I was a small child, I wanted to be a fire hydrant. I'm not sure my aspirations have matured a whole lot since then.

8. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I'm a reformed pantser who reluctantly plots, only to punch my plot in the face at every possible opportunity. I hate the constraint of an outline, but if I don't outline at all, I have trouble reining everything in.

9. Coffee or tea?
Tea, forever and ever, amen.

10. What’s your favorite TV show? Movie? Band?
I am enjoying the living daylights out of Agent Carter on TV. My favourite movie is probably not "Aguirre:The Wrath of God," but I like to pretend it is because I have a terrible time choosing a true favourite. My favourite band at the moment is The Gloaming, which features some transcendent Irish fiddling as well as my favourite vocalist, Iarla Ó Lionáird.

Rachel will be at Books Inc. Palo Alto on Monday, February 2nd at 7PM to answer any more of your questions!

And don't forget to enter our celebratory giveaway for a box of ARCs HERE!


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