Thursday, May 27, 2010

Three Viewpoint Thursday: INCARCERON

About once a month, Renee, Vilate and I gather together to chat about a book. The following transcript is on our most recent book chat of INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher.

WARNING: I do say read with caution because the transcript does contain a significant number of SPOILERS.

Aly: So Let's start with the basic question...What was everyone's initial feeling about INCARCERON. Easy to read? Confusing? Liked it? Hated it?

Renee: I really enjoyed it. Like very much! At first, I was a little confused because we were thrown into the world of INCARCERON, with words like "Comitatus" and "Protocol" (whereas other books like HARRY POTTER usually introduce you to the new world slowly), but you catch on very quickly to how things work both Inside and Outside, and it was really engaging.

Vi: I found it very interesting, and I liked it, although I'm still not entirely sure I can pin down my exact feelings. It's this odd mixture of anachronism and dystopia, so it's like I've been trying to get those two things to line up properly or something, lol. It did keep me engaged the whole time, though.

Aly: I loved it from the beginning but I have to agree with Renee, it did require a little getting used to the world of INCARCERON. I knew it was technically a dystopian novel, but I kept getting a feeling of high fantasy in some ways maybe because of the style in which the people were forced to live. I was very engaged with the book and even when I wasn't reading it I would think about it or want to be reading it which is always a good sign.

Renee: I couldn't really identify a distinct genre. I knew for FACT it was dystopian, but at the beginning it seemed science fiction/steampunk-ish, with the heavy reference to the technologies and science used in the INCARCERON world, but there were moments, such as when some characters encounter the "Beast" where it felt fantastical, so I didn't really know what genre it was. I didn't mind either way, but just an observation.

Vi: That's interesting, Renee. I wouldn't have marked it as Steampunk, but I can definitely see the characteristics that would put it in that category.
Aly: I almost thought Steampunk at one time but there was something about the journey and then the Beast that also made me think of the fantastical. And I kept having this Sci-fi feel. Oh well, but it was good.

Oh what did people think of the premise of INCARCERON - creating the prison as a "utopian" and how it evolved and then what was revealed as the book went on?

Renee: I liked the idea of paradise or heaven becoming like a hell, although I never quite understood why the government/royalty/etc. would create a "utopia" for the prisoners. I had an easier time getting into Claudia's plight of living in frozen Time (no progress means no decay) as a kind of false utopia, but I never understood why they would pretend or try to make a utopia for the prisoners?!

Vi: I found the idea of utopia-turned-dystopia an interesting commentary. I can see how the "founders" would think it's a good idea - they get rid of their problems, but making it a utopia would make them feel less guilty about locking all those people away forever. The fact that it didn't turn out the way they hoped shows that you can't control something like that, which is a theme that I enjoy very much.

Aly: I was thinking the same as Vi, but also I almost felt that it was a little bit of an experiment that was being watched - and if you are going to experiment then of course you would start with people who are "undesireable".

I also think that it was interesting to have the two worlds to look at concurrently. In some ways, both worlds were dying without new ideas/creativity/material to feed off of. Both INCARCERON and the outside world were a little bit of the same.
Renee: That was one aspect I really liked -- the juxtaposition of Inside and Outside. Because while Inside is obviously a prison atmosphere, there are people like Finn and Gildas who have hope to keep them going, so to speak. Whereas Outside is almost more crippling because without the new ideas, creativity, etc. life kind of stagnates, and there is a sense of entrapment when things aren't moving forward. I really liked seeing how similar the prison and the "real world" were.

Vi: I liked that aspect, as well. And I liked that you could see elements of both the good and bad sides of human nature in each "world". Again, it adds to the idea that you can't control things like that with outside forces.

Aly: Let's talk characters Finn, Claudia - Gildas, Jared, and the others. Though I actually liked (or disliked depending on who we are talking about) all of the characters - I didn't actually *bond* with them the way I do sometime. I felt they were a good mix but...something was missing. Finn seemed a little too *nice* and Claudia was almost *cold* to a fault. Anyway, what did everyone else think of them?

Vi: I think I'd have to agree that I didn't really get attached to any of them. That might be why I've had a hard time deciding how much I liked the book overall. I enjoyed certain elements of each of them, especially Finn and Claudia, though I think I probably "liked" Jared the most. I think Claudia was trying too hard to get herself out of her situation and Finn was sort of letting everyone else lead him along. I'm not sure how that relationship will work out in the sequel, but it did seem a little... out of synch.

Renee: See, I actually really bonded with Claudia. There were moments where she became almost desperate in her plans to get out of her situation, but I really liked seeing a mobile female character who was proactive and carried out her plans with the help of a friend that lacked the romantic tension I'm used to seeing in most male/female friendships in YA literature. Many of the characters did lack a little oomph, like Finn, but I was very intrigued by Keiro. I didn't like Keiro, but I liked the intrigue of whether he was trustworthy or not. I kept reading to see if he would betray them (kind of a Prof. Snape thing) which made him interesting, if not likable.

Aly: I liked Jared a lot and felt that there was more to him than meets the eye. Also I liked Attia and wanted more of her story in some ways. I felt that she was the only one really looking out for Finn. The others just seemed to want him for what he could do. The struggle I had with Claudia is that she seemed to just be so dang *plow into things* in her style. Very little thinking about the others in some ways. I liked that she was strong and very bright and capable but would have liked her to be a little more *human*. But overall, I liked the sense of ensemble that the book had rather than such a strong focus on two characters and I liked the alternating perspectives.

Renee: Agreed. I liked that each of the side characters had a little history, although I would have liked more of Jared, Attia, and Gildas, too.

Vi: I can't say that I'd like to see more Gildas, lol. He's probably my least favorite character. But definitely more Jared.

Aly: Hmmm...Were there parts that you really, really liked or parts that you felt could have been eliminated? Or did the overall flow work for everyone. I didn't have a sense that things slowed down too much but a few times I felt that what happened to everyone was a little predictable.

Vi: I don't recall any particular point where I felt anything slow down. And nothing sticks out to me as a favorite part, either. The excitement picks up a lot when they finally meet Incarceron, but even up until that part, the action is pretty steady. I did feel like after a while there were some bits that were predictable, but I feel that way about most books I read.

Renee: Nothing was really slow for me either, but I felt that the connected the dots between Finn's brief memories of his past and Claudia's story took a beat too long. After like the second memory, I had reached the conclusion that Claudia reached about 100 pages later after she had communicated with him. But overall, the pace was steadily engaging, and I agree that meeting Incarceron was a bit exciting for me too -- I didn't see that coming.

Aly: Funny there were parts with Incarceron (meeting the beast/prison itself) that reminded me of Lord of the Rings. Yah, yah, I'm weird. Well before this gets too long, any last thoughts? Are you eager for the sequel? Would you recommend it?

Vi: Recommend it - yes. I think this one would engage a wide audience, and I think it'd make a good read-aloud book as well. And I am looking forward to the sequel. I'd love to see things put right and progress restored, definitely. I'm invested enough in the story that I want at least a fairly happy ending.

Renee: I would also highly recommend it, because it has elements that would satisfy various audiences, engaging plot, and it's different from the paranormal/supernatural series dominating the YA genre these days. Sequel? Oh yes! I am very eager to see how it all resolves.

Aly: I wanted to read the sequel so bad that I actually tried to see if BookDepository had it available now and it is currently out. I saw an ARC of it with a friend and need to see if I can swipe it from her after she is finished with it. LOL!

I am so glad everyone enjoyed it. Thanks for chatting!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teen Fiction Tuesday: I Wanna be Your Joey Ramone

I Wanna be Your Joey Ramone, by Stephanie Kuehnert

Publisher: Simon Schuster
Pages: 340
Reading Level: Upper Teen
Enjoyment Level: High

Ragu and I reviewed Stephanie Kuehnert’s second book, Ballads of Suburbia, a few months ago, coinciding with my interview with her. Now, I’m finally getting around to reading and reviewing her first novel, I Wanna be Your Joey Ramone. And this review will be in conjunction with our first posted Writer's Desk episode on the podcast, so be sure to watch for that coming up.

Emily Black grew up with music, a passion encouraged by her father and the stories she heard of her mother leaving to follow the music. She disliked the small town she was raised in, and did what she could to leave, leading her to start a band. As successful as the band got, Emily could never quite dispel the hope that her songs would bring her mother back to her.

Set in the early nineties, the story falls against a backdrop of punk and grunge – music that I grew up on. Music provides a great cover for the foundation the story is really built on, becoming something of a red herring to the real plot of the novel, which is a great tool for the author. Not only that, but it’s easy to see that the author loves music and has imbued it into this character, making Emily seem more real.

Probably at the forefront of the “new adult” movement in YA, Joey Ramone covers many years of Emily’s life, all the way into her early twenties. Some of the material is definitely geared towards older teens, as Stephanie Kuehnert doesn’t hesitate to tell the whole truth of things. There’s nothing really graphic in terms of sex or violence, but the raw emotions are heavy enough that a certain maturity is needed when reading.

I will say (and I have told her) that Ballads of Suburbia is my favorite of the two. I found that the ending of Joey Ramone wasn’t quite what I like in terms of closure, although that may lend more reality to the ending of the book. I also felt like I was more connected to the characters in Ballads compared to Emily in Joey Ramone. But I still enjoyed going on Emily’s journey and seeing her grow into herself.

If you’re wondering what the “new adult” movement entails, if you just want something gritty and musical, or if you just want a good coming-of-age novel, I suggest finding this one.

Until next time, go read something good!

~ Vilate

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don't)

Author: Barbara Bottner
Illustrator: Michael Emberley
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (2010)
Pages: 32
Ages: 4 to 8
Source: Own

Today is the final day of Children's Book Week and we are wrapping it up with a review of Barbara Bottner's MISS BROOKS LOVES BOOKS (AND I DON'T). I fell in love with this book from the first time I picked it up. Miss Brooks is the school's librarian. She really likes books and even dresses up as the characters in the books that she is reading. She works hard to engage her students in the love of reading. However, her enthusiasm for books does not seem to be rubbing off on first grader, Missy. When Missy complains to her mother and asks to move, her mom reminds her that their will be librarians at the next place. At one point, Miss Brooks assigns the students the task of dressing up as a favorite character to tell about their book. Missy thinks that most books are just "too silly or too pink". However, one day with a huge sack of books from Miss Brooks and the help of her mom, Missy discovers a book to get excited about and her life is changed forever.

Enthusiastic and reluctant readers both will enjoy this book. Miss Brooks isn't your typical librarian, and Missy wears knitted caps, overalls, and glasses. Michael Emberley's illustrations are colorful, and quirky and do an amazing job at highlighting the story. This book is a great addition to any classroom library and a fun read aloud that children will enjoy over and over again.

Hope you had a great Children's Book Week!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sci-Fi Saturday: Skinned, by Robin Wasserman

Skinned, by Robin Wasserman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 361
Reading Level: 14 and Up
Enjoyment Level: Medium/High

Welcome to another post for Book Week. Sci-Fi Saturday is a little more difficult to do since most of the Sci-Fi I have, I haven’t read yet. I had planned to do a little something special with the three books in this series when the third comes out later this year, but I think it’s worth posting the first review now.

Lia Khan was everything everyone else wanted to be. Until she died. Her brain functions were transferred to a body that will never die, and now all of the people who said they loved her have abandoned her. Worse than that, there are those in society who see her new life as an abomination. People fear her, and she doesn’t even feel like herself anymore. She’s been skinned, and she may never feel normal again.

I felt like the beginning of this book was kind of slow. I also will admit that I had some troubles relating to Lia in a lot of ways. It seems like she’s without real emotion except for anger and depression, so there are very few points where silver linings are visible. Not everyone will be able to identify with her. I have a smidgen of hope that Lia won’t always be such a downer. She’s gone through a really hard time, of course, so I tried to give her some leeway on that.

The other characters are mainly self-centered and nothing to write home about. The vaguely post-apocalyptic world sets them all up as rich, snobby do-nothings that only care about themselves. The character I did end up liking was Auden, a boy who takes an interest in Lia. I found him to be interesting, with a good mix of compassion and reality.

I found the basic plot and science to be interesting enough to keep me going, though I certainly didn’t race through the book. The writing is good, and I can say that the world is set up a certain way and the author stays true to that world the entire time. Even though I didn’t care for most of the characters, they are genuine for this book’s setting.

While I can’t say it has the same charm for me as Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, I did enjoy Skinned for the writing and the rich and well-done setting. I’ll be reading further in the series, too, hoping to find a light at the end of the tunnel for Lia.

Book Week is almost over… Have you read a good book this week?

~ Vilate

Friday, May 14, 2010


Author: Malindo Lo
Publisher: Little, Brown Books (2009)
Pages: 272
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Own

Malinda Lo's ASH is commonly referred to as a Cinderella tale with a twist. Similar to the original tale you have a man with a daughter who marries a woman with two daughters. Shortly after this new union, the man dies and his daughter essentially becomes a servant in the home of her step-mother. However unlike the Disney version the fairy godmother in this version is male, darker in nature and more representative of traditional fey mythology. Yet, Sidhean, Ash's fairy godparent, is not really where the twist lies. In Lo's version we are introduced to the Huntress who leads the royal hunts. It is here that the story veers. Ash enters into a friendship with Kaisa, the current Huntress. It is through this friendship that Ash's life changes.

As I read ASH, I had mixed feelings. I had heard such wonderful things about the book. Yet the first part of the story felt slow and flat. It wasn't until the second half of the book that my interest picked up. However, something was still off for me. In conversations with friends, my thoughts about the book became clearer. I actually loved Lo's descriptions of the world and it was her world that I wanted to see more of without the restraints of the Cinderella story. It almost seemed like the need to maintain certain elements of Cinderella distracted from the core of the story which was more centered around Ash's connection to Sidhean and her growing relationship with Kaisa. I wanted more of the world of faeries and the history of the Huntress and less of Cinderella.

So even though I had mixed feelings about ASH, I was actually really excited to find out that Malinda Lo is currently working on a companion novel/pre-quel entitled the HUNTRESS. I am hoping that with her next book I will get the richness of Lo's writing with what I expect is a fascinating world of the Huntresses.

Enjoy the rest of Children's Book Week by grabbing a book. Happy Reading!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Cinderella Society

Author: Kay Cassidy
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 336
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Author

Sixteen-year-old Jess Parker survives by staying invisible. After nine schools in ten years, she's come to terms with life as a perpetual new girl, neither popular nor outcast. At Mt. Sterling High, Jess gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join The Cinderella Society, a secret club of the most popular girls in school, where makeovers are the first order of official business. But there's more to being a Cindy than just reinventing yourself from the outside, a concept lost on Jess as she dives tiara-first into creating a hot new look.

With a date with her popular crush and a chance to finally fit in, Jess's life seems to be a perfect fairy tale. That is until the Wickeds--led by Jess's archenemy--begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers her new sisterhood is about much more than who rules Mt. Sterling High School. It's a centuries-old battle of good vs. evil, and the Cindys need Jess on special assignment. But when the mission threatens to destroy her new dream life, Jess is forced to choose between this dream realized and honoring the Sisterhood. What's a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn't want to wear it anymore?
(Product description taken from Amazon)

I have spent over fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to start this review. I have never encountered a book where I could easily book talk it to librarians and teens as being easy to read and good for even reluctant girl readers and yet it took me weeks to read it. I also have never had a book where I grumbled through the first 12 chapters and then went on to finish it and sincerely wanted to read the sequel.

Kay Cassidy's debut novel THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY is really a little less about Cinderella and a little more about girl empowerment. On the day of the book's release, I tweeted Cassidy something to the effect that the message of the book was important whether you were a 15 year old teen girl or 45 year old professional woman. And as I attempt to sort through my emotions or feelings about the book, I realize that in many ways my grumbling was really my inner teen insecurities protesting at being disturbed. Most days I can hide behind the "I am a successful, professional woman" facade and pretend like those feelings or struggles with self-esteem or self-worth are safely in the past. However, to be honest, most adult women I know who are successful have gotten there through the support and encouragement of other successful women mentoring them at various times in our lives.

Cassidy took very real struggles and issues that girls face throughout high school and gave them names. The Cindys, a secret club of popular girls whose mission is to embrace their strength and be extraordinary, and the Wickeds, mean girls bent on making life miserable for the Reggies, or regular girls. The Cinderella Society is a sorority or sisterhood that 16 year old Jess Parker finds herself being initiated into after moving into a new town and being the target of the leader of the Wickeds.

The story contains make-overs, hot boys, and a mission to find out the plans of the Wickeds and stop them from the way they torment the Reggies, but the real power of the story is Jess' transformation from the beginning of the book to the end. Without giving too much away, Jess learns that make-overs and having a hot boyfriend and being popular may not always be what it is cracked up to me. There are somethings that may just be more important.

Thanks Kay for reminding me of all of the women who were there to support me since high school and empowered me to become the woman and the professional that I am today.

In honor of the book, I have 10 Cinderella Society bookmarks to give away to the first 10 people who comment about a woman mentor who has made a difference in their life. Please remember to include an email address so that I can contact you about your prize. And even if you don't include a comment, please go out and thank a woman who made a difference in your life.

- Aly

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Children's Book Week at Blue Willow Bookshop

James Dashner and Brandon Mull at Blue Willow Bookshop

You know James Dashner best for penning the amazing Maze Runner, out in October of last year. He is also the author of the 13th Reality trilogy, as well as The Jimmy Fincher Saga, a series of four books.

Brandon Mull gave us the brilliant Fablehaven series, and Candy Shop Wars (which could be a movie in the next couple of years).

These two authors were great this past Monday. They kicked off Children’s Book Week at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, TX. It was a nice crowd, full of kids, and James and Brandon kept them engaged and answered a lot of questions.

I wasn’t in a very good position to get any pictures, but I had a lot of fun listening to these two authors talk about writing, touring, and their most embarrassing moments from childhood. There were some die-hard fans in the audience, and several moms and dads who’d also read the books, which is always nice to see.

They were both extremely nice. They offered up their contact information for interviews, so I hope to have some reviews and a couple of interviews for you soon!

I just wish I could’ve gotten to 13th Reality or Maze Runner before the event. And I almost finished the first of Fablehaven, but I left the book at my parents’ house this weekend. Oops! I did get the second of the Fablehaven series signed, as well as the first book in 13th Reality.

And there’s swag! I have prizes for two people who comment on this post. Leave your name, age, email address and a comment about either James Dashner's books or Brandon Mull's books. Winners will be chosen at random.

One winner will get a signed Fablehaven poster, plus a bookmark, as well as a tote and poster for Children’s Book Week. The second winner will get a signed Fablehaven poster (plus bookmark) and a signed 13th Reality poster (plus bookmark). Both winners will also receive a copy of our first issue of the Literary Magazine.

One last, fun announcement… The podcast will turn two years old in June. I’m celebrating with a birthday party, and I want to include everyone who might want to come. So if you’re in the Houston area, or could get here, and would like an invitation, send me your email address and you’ll get an evite!

Now, go on and enjoy the rest of Book Week!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teen Fiction Tuesday: Scribbler of Dreams

Scribbler of Dreams, by Mary E. Pearson

Publisher: Graphia
Pages: 240
Reading Level: Young Adult
Enjoyment Level: High

I really enjoyed this book! It's a modern-day Romeo & Juliet story that I think fans of Sarah Dessen and the Perfect Chemistry series will really enjoy. It's not too long, but it is deep and touching, and the prose is very beautiful and easy to read. With so much paranormal and fantasy on the YA shelf at bookstores and libraries, I think readers who prefer realistic fiction will really like this one.

In the story, Kaitlin Malone has been raised to hate the Crutchfield family, who has a dangerous past with the Malone family involving friendship, betrayal, lies, and even death. To escape the stigma of her family name, Kaitlin enrolls in a new school using her mother's maiden name and begins falling for a boy at her new school, who is popular and handsome, but sensitive and kind... and a Crutchfield. In order to kepe their relationship alive, Kaitlin continues to lie about who she is and in the process learns even more secrets about their families histories.

I loved that this story wasn't melodramatic. It was emotional and the characters were well-developed, but it never felt like a soap opera. There wasn't any obvious stereotyping or clichéd characters, so it felt like a very realistic situation and I could really "get into" it. It wasn't "oversexed" either. Many YA books today rely on heavy sexual tension and promiscuity to keep the plot exciting, but Pearson's writing and story is interesting enough to keep readers engaged, so I think even younger readers can appreciate this love story. (There is also no profanity.)

Also, the "warring families" was a very interesting obstacle for Kaitlin and Bram to overcome. Most modern-day stories like these deal with race or class issues that keep the lovers from being together, but I really liked that this was a different story and more similar to Romeo & Juliet. I also really liked the pace of how Bram and Kaitlin got together. It wasn't strangers to madly in love in the span of two days. There was growth and development, and I really respected that.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend. The writing is really poetic and the story very sweet and interesting.

Happy Reading.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Middle-Grade Monday: The Neverending Story

The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende

Publisher: Doubleday, Penguin, and Dutton Children’s Books
Pages: 396
Reading Level: Middle Grade and Up
Enjoyment Level: Highest

I’ve had to give this review a little more care and consideration due to the fact that the book is so near and dear to my heart. I don’t remember the exact circumstances under which I picked it up, but it was after I saw the movie (both one and two). I much, much prefer the book. Recently, I finally got a hardcover copy for my collection, and since it’s Children’s Book Week, I felt it was the right time to get a review in of The Neverending Story.

Bastian is a lonely boy who runs into a bookshop when bullies are chasing him. At the bookshop, he meets an old man, has an interesting discussion, and steals a book that intrigues him. Feeling like the worst person in the world, but needing to read the book, Bastian skips school that day, sitting up in an old attic. He is drawn into the world of Fantastica, where their Empress is dying. As he follows the adventure of Atreyu, who is trying to save the Empress, Bastian realizes that he’s become part of the adventure, and it’s his action that will save or destroy Fantastica.

Anyone who claims to be a fan of YA literature should have read this book already. Even if you don’t like it (which would surprise me), it’s one work of fiction that is very important in the young readers’ market. As important a work as the Harry Potter novels. Why? Because it is the epitome of imagination-on-paper.

Despite its whimsical surface, the story touches on loneliness, neglect, choice, and self-confidence, as well as the ever-declining world of imagination. Bastian must save Fantastica, a world where all stories live, breathe, and interact. He discovers that it’s a world constantly battled by cynicism and “grown-up” worries. Nothing is the major enemy: a villain full of emptiness and despair.

The story is inundated by wonderful, memorable characters who help Bastian on his way to self-discovery and strength. They are all able to give readers the opportunity to remember childhood (if they are grown-ups) and enhance imagination. As Tolkien said, writers are sub-creators, and a world built well will feel real. The Neverending Story is exactly that, with characters in Fantastica that make you believe they exist somewhere.

If you can’t tell, I highly recommend this book. It’s not the easiest book to procure, since it’s been out of print for a while, but if you have a chance, get it. Then read it to yourself. Read it to a child. Everyone who believes in the power of imagination will help save Fantastica for another day.

Welcome to Children’s Book Week.

~ Vilate

Friday, May 7, 2010

13 TO LIFE's Shannon Delany Stops By To Chat About Werewolves

Young Adult Lit Review is excited to welcome 2010 Debut author Shannon Delany for a guest post. Her book THIRTEEN TO LIFE comes out on June 22nd.

I have a confession to make. I write werewolves. And I love it! I’m Shannon Delany, the author of the upcoming 13 to Life series.

You have to understand, when I was growing up I read a lot of stuff. Every birthday and each Christmas I could expect a big box of books thanks to my aunt, a librarian. There would be science fiction and high fantasy and myths and legends—but no werewolves. And certainly no vampires. I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps there simply weren’t many of those books to read when I was a kid. Or perhaps my well-educated family thought they weren’t worth reading about.

I never attended the horror flicks where vampires, werewolves and creepy clowns ruled. As a matter of fact, the only werewolf/shapeshifter book I read until very recently was “A Walk in Wolf Wood” by Mary Stewart.

But I’ve always loved wolves. I was an outsider in middle school and still on the social fringe in high school. I could relate to the beta wolf—always watching the rest of the pack and wondering what it was like to be an alpha. When I got the chance to be the educational director at a privately owned zoo there were few animals I admired as much as the wolves with mysterious eyes, watching visitors from a distance.

Writing, I always imagined creating a story that would change perceptions and lives. I never imagined writing a werewolf novel.

But I wrote 13 to Life on a whim for a cell phone novel contest. I had no idea it would go anywhere; I just gave it a shot. And it took off. The characters grew. The action and emotion intensified. What started as a simple werewolf novel became layered with subtext and symbolism.

And, after I won the contest (and an agent) my brother called me. “So you’re a werewolf writer?”

I cracked up.

He laughed.

Some people still think that if you write about werewolves (or anything paranormal) you aren’t writing anything worthwhile. We have an unfortunate bias in society about literature. But I think a smart reader can find value in almost any book. Every author raises questions—you just have to find them and think about your answers to them as a reader.

So, yes. I write werewolves. And I love doing it.

Write what you want to and read even more than that.


For more information on Shannon Delany: