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Author Interview with Arwen Elys Dayton!!

Arwen Elys Dayton spends months doing research for her stories. Her explorations have taken her around the world to places like the Great Pyramid (which she explored by a single fading flashlight when researching Resurrection), Hong Kong and its many islands, and lots of ruined castles in Scotland. She enjoys creating complete worlds inhabited by characters who charm, frustrate or inspire.

Arwen lives with her husband and their three children on the West Coast of the United States

 

 

 

 

 

 

The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.
As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world.
And she'll be with the boy she loves--who's also her best friend.
But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes.
Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought.
And now it's too late to walk away.

 

 

 

 

1) What was your inspiration for writing Seeker?
The main character in Seeker, Quin Kincaid, showed up in my mind one day and simply wouldn't leave. Quin brought with her a complicated family situation and bunch of unpleasant emotions. I saw immediately that she lived in Scotland. I realized early on that she was a talented and optimistic girl, but I had the sinking feeling that her life wasn't going to go at all the way she wanted it to.

Around the same time, I was reading The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene, which is a wonderful book on physics, written to give anyone a basic grasp of the subject, and I became fascinated with string theory. If string theory is true, and there are many “extra” dimensions curled up at every point in the universe, how might one access those dimensions? That line of thought was the first step in creating the special knowledge and skills of Seekers as a group.

2) I’ve heard you spend a lot of time doing research while writing; what kind of research did you do for Seeker and how much time did you spend on it?
I go down many different research paths when a story is taking shape in my head. I like to follow any thread that interests me, even if it doesn't end up being directly relevant to the story I tell. While I began to see glimpses of Seeker, I researched all sorts of things, like the history of London Bridge, the early days of Hong Kong, how swords are made, and stranger topics like royal murders throughout history (which was basically a study of family members plotting against and then killing each other(!)).

The best part of researching Seeker was traveling to Scotland and Hong Kong. They are fascinating places on their own, each with a strong and undeniable identity, but there's something about the difference between them that particularly inspires me. In many ways the city of Hong Kong and the Scottish countryside are opposites of each other. Visiting them and imagining both places in the same story created a friction in my mind that gave Seeker a lot of its energy—ancient and timeless (Scotland) meets modern and ever-changing (Hong Kong). I love the contrast.

From the first moment I began to imagine this book, I saw Quin in Scotland. It was her natural place. And from the first moment I set foot in Hong Kong, I began to see a large part of Seeker unfolding there in its crowded, dynamic, futuristic streets.

3) Seeker is definitely a fantasy novel. Would you consider writing something set in a contemporary world?
Yes, absolutely. Unfortunately, my mind seems to twist even our contemporary world into something a little strange. I have an autobiographical idea based on growing up at a boarding school (which I did), but already it's growing into something a bit fantastical, even while remaining heavily based in things that actually happened. I suppose I get bored with the "real" world too easily. (The fact that I put quotes around real, as though the real world isn't actually real at all, is probably not a good sign.)

4) Are any of your characters based off of people you know?
Well...yes and no. In some ways this book—with four teenagers as the main characters—allowed me to take the worst moments from my own teen years and make them much, much worse than they were, and then force my characters to live through them.

In Seeker, Quin and John and Shinobu have all the problems of teenagers, but their lives have much higher stakes and more serious consequences. The hardest moments in the book are sort of a distillation of those teenage moments that made me cringe or cry or want to hide—but they've been expanded into events that are huge, dangerous, life-threatening.

Aspects of Quin are probably based on my own teen years—although she's much more interesting and cool than I ever was. And there are elements in John and Quin's father that have some basis in a couple of people who were in my life at one point. Once I began writing the book, however, all of these characters stopped being anyone but themselves!

5) If your book is made into a film, who would you like to see cast?
I would love to let my imagination run wild, but I also want to be considerate of the actors who are ultimately cast in the parts—I don't want them to feel that they weren't my choice! So it's probably better if I stay mum on this one.

6) Are there any authors or novels that have inspired your writing?
As a young reader and writer, I was first inspired by C.S. Lewis. Reading the Narnia series over and over as a kid sent my imagination into overdrive. It was an entire world—actually many worlds—created in the author's mind, and yet it was almost as real to me as my own life.

Now I read and love so many genres, particularly historical fiction, contemporary fiction, science fiction and fantasy. Some books I've really enjoyed this past year are We Were Liars, Outlander, Legend, The Name of the Wind, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

7) If you weren’t an author, what would be your ideal career?
Could I still do some other sort of writing? If so, I'd want to be a travel writer, though it's hard to imagine doing that without it leading to ideas for novels...

If I have to forgo writing altogether, I would be a teacher. I love working with kids.

8) Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I can work either way, but for Seeker, I spent a lot of time plotting before I wrote. (That sounds rather nefarious, doesn't it?) Because a lot happens in this book, and it happens in several different points of view, I wanted to be as efficient with chapters as I could. That's a lot easier if you plot things out ahead of time.

I have an idea for a very different sort of series after this one, and I think I may be able to be more of a pantser for that one. We'll see!

9) Coffee or tea?
Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee. Wait...no. The truth is that coffee and I care about each other very deeply and we will always be good friends and have lovely memories of each other, but we've mutually decided that we should live apart for a while. I am crazy when I drink coffee. With fully leaded coffee, I will start randomly calling up everyone in my address book because, "It's been so long and we really should chat! ... Yes, I realize another dentist is providing my dental care now, but that doesn't mean you and I can't be friends, Dr. Agami..." So, most of the time, it's no on the coffee. (I can have decaf now and then if I'm very well behaved.)

Luckily I also like tea. My favorite tea for writing is a combination of licorice tea and Rooibos, with a little sweetener (I like stevia, but honey is also great). I can drink pots of this without turning into a lunatic.

10) Favorite movie? TV show? Band?
These are hard questions to answer! I love so many movies and listen to so much music...but here goes:
Music: lately I have been listening to a lot of Phantogram, Ed Sheeran, Manchester Orchestra and Hozier.
Movies: I tried to come up with a recent favorite but realized that would be impossible without spending days making lists. So instead, here are a bunch of movies I enjoyed this year: Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, The Theory of Everything, Big Hero 6, Mockingjay, The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Book of Life, Wild, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Fault in our Stars, Birdman, Begin Again... I could go on, but that's a lot!
TV: Game of Thrones and Fargo!

Books Inc. Kids Review - The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, Illustrated by Kevin Cornell
Publication Date: January 13th, 2015
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Humor/Realistic Fiction
Ages: 8-12

Miles Murphy is not happy to be moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town that's famous for one thing and one thing only: cows. In his old school, everyone knew him as the town's best prankster, but Miles quickly discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster, and a great one. If Miles is going to take the title from this mystery kid, he is going to have to raise his game.
It's prankster against prankster in an epic war of trickery, until the two finally decide to join forces and pull off the biggest prank ever seen: a prank so huge that it would make the members of the International Order of Disorder proud.
In The Terrible Two, bestselling authors and friends Mac Barnett and Jory John have created a series that has its roots in classic middle-grade literature yet feels fresh and new at the same time.

As a prankster meself, I was eager to see where Mac and Jory would take this theme, and they take it over the top of course! And then a coo moos. Because the school is full of them! Don’t worry, your kid won’t get too many ideas, but you might get a few. Thoroughly enjoyable, and it is a new school story. And there are cows.
Reviewed by Cheenie at Books Inc. Burlingame

New kid Miles arrives at Yawnee Valley with the express intent of being the school's greatest prankster.  But when he finds the slot already filled by the nefarious Niles, the two go head-to-head in a battle of mischief and deceit. It's fun and cute, good for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid crowd.
Reviewed by Marie at Books Inc. Chestnut
 

Review - Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Publication Date: February 10th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: High fantasy

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.

Mare Barrow, a poor adventurous thief gets the chance of a lifetime, to save herself and her loved ones, or to ruin them all. I was pulled into the interesting world created by Aveyard - historical, steampunk, even political. In fact, the political climate seemed to mirror our own very closely, making some quietly obvious points. Happily, there’s plenty of room for the sequel. Filled with entertaining costuming, gadgetry, and completely engrossing atmosphere, Red Queen is a dark mystery that keeps you guessing right up to the final two lines.
Reviewed by Cheenie at Books Inc. Burlingame

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!
 

 

Highly Anticipating - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School by Benjamin Chaud and Davide Cali

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School by Benjamin Chaud & Davide Cali
Expected Publication Date: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Page Count: 44
Ages: 6-9
Genre: Humor/Picture Book

First, some giant ants steal breakfast.
Then there are the evil ninjas, a massive ape, mysterious mole people, giant blob, and countless other daunting (and astonishing) detours along the way to school. Are these excuses really why this student is late? Or is there another explanation that is even more outrageous than the rest? From Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud, the critically acclaimed author/illustrator team behind I Didn't Do My Homework Because . . . comes a fast-paced, actionpacked, laugh-out-loud story about finding the way to school despite the odds--and the unbelievable oddness.

Why we can't wait: Everyone at Books Inc. Kids LOVED I Didn't Do My Homework Because... and we are just SO EXCITED for this next book from Benjamin Chaud and Davide Cali! We guarantee this is going to be a hilarious book filled with fabulous illustrations and a hilarious story about childish excuses! Seriously, don't miss out on this one!

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