Yesterday, I finished a book portraying a larger than life character. So I thought I’d piggyback off of Kari’s thoughts and add my own, review-style.
I decided I had to read THE GRAVEYARD BOOK after pouring through Kate’s analysis of it (look around her site, she pulls out awesome aspects of the book over multiple posts).
Actually, I “read” this one by audiobook. I have to tell you, the experience was especially delightful because Neil Gaiman was the narrator.
What could be cooler that hearing a book read the way the author intended it????
Plus, I must add that Gaiman has this magical storyteller’s voice. He was created to tell tales.
Of course, the book gets to break all the rules. Hopping character perspective mid-narration. Following a character from infancy to adolescence. Noticeable (but wonderful) use of adverbs. The thing is, Gaiman does it masterfully, and I didn’t mind A BIT. (And, as Mary Kole says–geniuses can get away with this kind of behavior much easier than an aspiring writer can.)
The main character, Bod, is exactly the kind of person you want to root for, you want to follow around, you want to be. Even when he’s making a stupid decision, you know it will work out, because you know deep down that he has a good heart. He does things I’m not brave enough to do. He has talents I only wish I had. But he’s humble and kind, and I’m pretty sure we’re BFFs now.
I didn’t want the book to end. As I felt the narrative wrapping up, I caught myself pausing the story and finding all sorts of reasons to do something else.
Not because I was bored with the story.
BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT IT TO END.
The biggest revelation this book offered me was its simplicity. The plot was straightforward. You could see every brick that built the tale. You knew where it was going. I enjoyed every delicious word of it. Each character was delightful and unique. For goodness sakes, I was sad to stop living in a graveyard!
And because I didn’t want it to end, even after it was over, I kept thinking about the story. How could something so beautiful and simple apply to my life? How can I hold on to the delight I felt in the narrative?
And then all of my graveyard memories came flooding back to me. I learned to drive in a graveyard.
My friends and I would walk through it before youth group and talk about life.
We drove around it in the back of a truck on Halloween to scare ourselves, and my dad hid behind a tombstone and TERRIFIED us.
I used to (need to again) visit my aunt’s and my grandma’s graves and remember who they were.
We played football in the field that wasn’t yet full of graves.
It was one of those places where I learned that there are real people and there are fake people. And there are real people who act like fake people because they’re too afraid to be real.
All of which proves that this is truly a great book. Any book that can pull me through the above thought process gets a 20 out of 5 hearts from me.
The layout is a work in process. Thanks for loving me anyways
In case you’re wondering, this is what I’ll be doing this weekend. That, and eating lots of delicious homemade food. Salsa, guacamole, fajita vegetables…mmmmm can you smell it??????
But I’ll miss you. You should come! heh.
A strange phenomenon keeps happening.
90% of the books I read contain two phrases.
They’re usually hidden somewhere towards the end of the book. Sneaky. Is this some kind of writers’ code that I’m not yet privy to????? .
GOSSAMER. gossamer. goss-a-mer. It sounds neat. It was cool the first time I read it, but (almost) every book has someone or something that gets compared to gossamer threads. It’s so weird.
DREAMLESS SLEEP. Why do all the main characters fall into a dreamless sleep? I’m so confused??? This keeps happening???? I had already noticed the trend, and then I was listening to THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, and I heard it again. NEIL GAIMAN, NOT YOU TOO!! There must be a conspiracy.
If you know about a secret writers’ code that I don’t, please let me know and I will quickly add these phrases to my novel.
Otherwise, let me assure you that you will neverrrrr find these phrases in any books by MBW (oh yes, they will be on the shelves someday).
Unless it’s as a joke.
But it could just be that weird things are happening to me! because I read two books in a row (THE MAGICIAN -Michael Scott) (MAJESTRUM -Matthew Hughes) (I need to do more reviews soon!) that had stone-skinned demi-god characters!!
Weird!?! How do two authors come up with the same image, and how do I read the books back to back????
There was some other weird coincidence, but I’ve forgotten now. shoot.
I should’ve prefaced this post by telling you that as I’m typing, I’m drinking a concoction of two earl grey tea bags in one coffee cup. I call it caffeine soup.
Hope ya’ll have a safe and happy weekend!!!!!!!!!
Oooo–PS. I am so changing the banner. Sorry, I’ve left it up for a couple days. I’ll fix it once I’m back from vacay.
WOW PPS. I won a COOL contest. I’M NOT WORTHY. Anyways, check out Tahereh’s blog to see it. YAY!
Today we are fortunate enough to peek inside the genius brain of Jacqueline West, author of the BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE series.
As soon as I saw the cover of THE SHADOWS I knew I would love the story, but it wasn’t until I read about the book that I was smitten. Roald Dahl meets Neil Gaiman?? A creepy Victorian mansion?? Paintings you can travel through??
Where have you been all my life?!!!???
Definitely sounds like it will be my new fav. I had to meet the author. So I stalked her and asked for an interview. She was gracious enough to oblige. As you’ll see below, she’s quite awesome. Please check out her Livejournal and visit her website to find out more. Also, her book trailer is below the interview.
1. What’s your revision method? (Do you use critique groups and/or beta
readers? How many revisions do you average before you feel that your work is ready?)
JW: I revise as I write, so it’s hard to keep track of how many times I go through a manuscript before it actually goes off to my editor – and then, of course, there’s more revising. Once a manuscript feels fairly polished, I usually have a small selection of people read it and give me feedback. (Often it’s just my husband, who reads it aloud to me. The dog sometimes listens, too, but he has very little to contribute.)
I don’t currently have a writing group, because we’ve moved around a lot in the last few years, and I prefer critique groups that meet in person. But I have found them to be very supportive and inspiring in the past…so, if any writers in western Minnesota are searching for group members, look me up!
One thing has stayed consistent for me: No matter how much I revise, I’m never sure that my work is “ready.” Letting someone else read it for the first time or sending it to my agent or editor often feels like tearing open a cocoon: you’re not sure if you’ll find a finished moth, or a surprised pupa with stumpy little wing-nubs.
2. When you begin a manuscript, do you favor an outline, or do you tend to fly by the seat of your pants?
JW: I’m somewhere in between. Often, in the first flush of inspiration, I’ll make a whole bunch of notes about the potential plot, working out a chain of events. When I actually begin the writing, the notes give me a general framework, but I toss out as many ideas as I keep. I find if I’ve outlined in too much detail, I write merely to advance the plot, and the tone, style, and humor of the writing get lost. Instead, it sounds like an eight-year-old describing a movie he just saw. (‘And then…and then…and then he says…’.) No one wants to read that.
3. What’s the weirdest source of inspiration you’ve ever experienced?
(Gardening? People watching? Cleaning the bathroom?)
JW: Inspiration seems to have no pattern for me, so I just try to keep my eyes and ears open, and to carry a pen wherever I go. I’ve found it in so many odd places that it’s impossible to name just one – in hospital waiting rooms, in my grandparents’ bathroom, in lots and lots of cemeteries, and of course in crumbling old houses (although I’m not sure that’s very weird).
These days, when I’m waiting for a messy knot of ideas to work themselves into something I can use, I play fetch with the dog, down in our big, bare basement exercise/martial arts room (a.k.a. The Training Chamber of Doom.). Something about the repetitive action and the empty space helps me to step back from the problem, and I’ll suddenly see solutions that were hidden before.
4. When did you first realize you were destined to write?
JW: I’m not really sure how to answer. If you mean “destined to write” as in to write as a career, I’m not sure that was destiny –it was more of a long, strange struggle, full of failed attempts and experiments (and lots of really embarrassing teenage poems). If destiny was really in charge, she sure could have made it easier.
I write because I can’t help it. I’d be writing if no one else ever saw my work, if I never got paid for it, and if I never even attempted to get published. And I’ve been filling journals and typing poems for so long that there was never a moment of realization. It’s just become part of my identity. Writing is the lens through which I look at the world.
On the other hand, I was reluctant to call myself “a writer” – even in my own mind – until I was making real money by doing it. I realize how hypocritical and silly this is, but it’s the truth. I’m in a long-term, love/hate relationship with external validation.
5. If you could go back in time to the point when you decided to try this writing thing as a career, what is the one piece of advice you would give your past self?
JW: Hmm. This has the Back to the Future conundrum all tangled up in it. If I advised my past self to do something differently, then my present self might not be where I am. And I’m happy where I am. I appreciate the experiences I’ve had, even the difficult ones, and I couldn’t have found better people to work with: my agent, my editor, my publisher. I’d probably just pat past-Jacqueline on the shoulder and tell her not to be quite so hard on herself. But even that might be dangerous.
6. How do you fight the am-I-crazy times when you doubt yourself or your work?
JW: Ugh. Those times come much too frequently. Realizing that they come to everyone – even writers I really respect – is very soothing. Talking to other writers or reading other writers’ blogs and journals helps me feel less alone. Books like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird are therapy for distraught writers. And sometimes crying to my most patient and loving family members (people who are obligated to be nice to me, even when I’m at my most self-pitying and whiny) is a relief. I remind myself of all the encouraging things that have happened to me and the kind things people have told me about my work. If nothing else helps, sometimes I simply need to take a break from writing for a day or two, so that I can come back to it more objectively.
Bonus!!! If you could choose one single meal to eat three times a day, every day, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
JW: Bread, fresh fruit, and coffee with milk. The bread should be sourdough – fresh and dense and squishy. The fruit should include raspberries, strawberries, and pineapple. (And no kiwi. Sorry, kiwi.) The coffee should be French roast, with plenty of skim milk. In other words: BREAKFAST. All the time.
See? Told you she sounded quite awesome. I immediately wanted to purchase THE SHADOWS, but it doesn’t come out until June 15th. Luckily my birthday is June 4th, so I will be preordering it as a gift to moi. Check out the trailer::
Even Natalie Whipple, who is talented enough to land the awesome Nathan Brandsford as an agent, struggles with writer self-esteem and has some great points to make about it. Like the fact that you wouldn’t be a writer if you didn’t think you had something to offer.
Nate the Great himself has some encouraging words about frustration and negativity. I especially like his part about the power of the spoken “whatever.”