Mundie Moms

Monday, November 23, 2015

Interview with @penguinteen Authors Ally Condie, Meg Wolitzer & Jandy Nelson #PenguinTeenOnTour

A couple weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview three incredible Penguin Teen YA authors, whom were in Dallas for a signing. Ally Condie, Meg Wolitzer and Jandy Nelson. Unfortunately one of my children became ill and I couldn't attend. Thankful my wonderful friend Mary could, and she graciously did the interview for me & asked the authors a few questions I had for them! Check out her recap of the signing, and her interview with Ally, Meg and Jandy below. I look forward to seeing Ally, Meg and Jandy next time they're in TX! Thank you Mary for being there for me!

Picture credit Kayte Ghaffar

Hi, guys! Mary from Mary Had a Little Book Blog here. A couple weeks ago Mundie Moms offered me the opportunity to interview Ally Condie, Jandy Nelson, and Meg Wolitzer during their recent tour and post about the event so even if you weren't able to meet these wonderful authors, you can still learn more about them, their books, and their writing process. I hope you enjoy it!

First, a panel with questions from the moderator and audience:

What inspired you to craft your story in a way that focuses on love, loss, and redemption?
Jandy Nelson: When I was writing, I'm not aware thematically of what I'm doing, but I'm an optimist. I feel like with I'll Give You the Sun, each character was locked in a stone prison of their own making, and I can't imagine ending it without a note of hope.
Ally Condie: There's not a way to read a story without including hope. I love writing for young adults because it's not frowned down upon to end on hope.
Meg Wolitzer: When I'm writing for adults, I'm taking a look at the long view, but with YA, my character couldn't see the long view. You have to let your character be annoying sometimes. It's honoring the character.

What about families interests you?
Ally: My mom said your brothers and sisters are the only people who will know you your whole life. We're not perfect and we still fight, but we're still close. I wanted to explore if that goes away suddenly.
Meg: I think family... I take my character away from her family, but everything is rooted around family. There's a quote that says every child in a family has a different set of parents. It's so complicated; you don't have to look any farther.
Jandy: When you're a kid, you pronounce things wrong because you're reading and don't know how to say them. I love writing about family and siblings. Siblings alone without their parents have their own civilizations, and I love exploring that. There's so much possibility for humor and drama and heartbreak.

Were the artistic components of your books conscious decisions?
Jandy: No, it was not that I wanted kids to love art, but more selfish: I love art and wanted to share it, but then I was worried I was including too much so it became both.
Meg: The Bell Jar was an inspiration. I think using a book within a book is such a seduction. I love that. Books are what I call a hot object. Take books away from kids and they'll become desired.
Ally: It was kind of a luxury to use The Little Mermaid. I kind of knew what was going to happen on a basic level [instead of building an entire world].

Can you share some insights about your process?
Meg: I like to have a question or problem to solve. Sometimes it's easier to tell yourself a story than face what's going on, and it's like a character will rise up and say, "I'll do that!" In this case it was a character named Jam, and then things start to happen, things fall into place. You just continue down this path, and it's mysterious, and that's what makes someone a writer.
Ally: I think of a character first, and then have them doing something. I like that moment when your character takes a life of their own.
Jandy: I started with Noah at thirteen and she was sixteen and thought I'd go dual and they'd be separated by a tragedy. I knew I'd have to write Noah start to finish and then Jude and then weave them together and it took a very long time.
Meg: [on teen writers] If you are a parent, don't whittle your children down because the world will do that. Just encourage them.
Jandy: Touching the humanity of others will help you touch your own.

What is a YA novel you wish you could have read as a teen?
Meg: Eleanor and Park (by Rainbow Rowell). It was so simple and natural. It was about people you could know.
Ally: Everything Is Fine. It's about a quirky girl and I would have loved that, to not feel so weird.
Jandy: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

How do you improve your ideas and give your writing a shot of adrenaline and make it less boring?
Meg: I read the best passage from a book where the author was excited about it. Teens who take creative writing, you don't do that for money or because your editor needs it, you do it because you love it.
Ally: I take it a step further. I like to watch Olympic clips of people winning medals. Or I'll watch a human interest piece and happily watch them take eighteenth place.

What books have you reread that reach you in different stages of your life?
Jandy: To reread things... I love to wake up in language. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He works for me. Virginia Woolf. William Stied.
Ally: Anne Tyler. Agatha Christie.
Meg: Charles Webb. Weirdly, Archie comics. I think a lot of books are about who you were when you read them.
Jandy: Ann Sexton is good for waking up your language. She's so lively.

After the panel Q&A, all three authors signed attendees books before sitting down for a short interview with me!

Mundie Moms: Everyone has a different definition of what makes a character strong. What do you feel is an important characteristic of strength?

Meg: I feel like the best thing I can do as a feminist is tell the truth of lives of girls and women. Strength appears in different ways. Sometimes it's physical, but for me, it's emotional. It's not even courage. It shows up in small moments, and as a writer, I record those small moments.
Jandy: In the context of I'll Give You the Sun, the characters are in stone prisons of their own making, and I think being strong is breaking free of that and being your authentic self.
Meg: I also think it's creating vividly drawn characters. Like female characters are sometimes generic, but I like to draw them vividly, boldly.
Jandy: Having personal fragility is human. Being good to others is strength and also overcoming really big obstacles.

Mundie Moms: Which of your characters would you have been friends with as a teen?

Jandy: Lenny. And Jude.
Meg: Jam's roommate DJ. She's just so jaded and cool.
Ally: All of them, especially Leo in my new book.
Me: I really liked Vic in Crossed. I wanted to be his friend.
Ally: Really? I loved him. Um... sorry...

Mundie Moms: What has writing your books taught you about yourself?

Ally: I think my high school running coach taught me how to run and how to write. I change with each book.
Meg: The freer you can be in the first draft, the more you can let go, you can learn more.
Jandy: When I wrote The Sky is Everywhere, I was at a loss from losing someone, and... I just got it, things I wouldn't have if I hadn't been writing.

Huge thanks to Ally, Meg, and Jandy for your wonderful books and giving me some time at the end of a long time to sit down and chat! Thanks to Penguin teen for sending this talented women on tour to Dallas! And thanks to Katie and Mundie Moms for the fantastic opportunity!

TDA / TLH Release Dates & Other News From Cassandra Clare / Mundane Monday #264

Happy Mundane Monday! Today's post is a catching up some exciting news that Cassie has recently shared on Tumblr. Below is a variety of news taking from various posts. I've included the links to each post below.

Cassie Talks TDA / TLH Release Dates

Lately Cassie has been on social media answering fan questions. Below is a question I know a lot of fans have had, which is what is the TLH series release date schedule. Cassie answered the question below here, and I've also included it below. 

Hi Cassie!! Quick question, when will the first book of TLH come out is it 2017? Will it be like
2016 TDA 1
2017 TLH 1
2018 TDA 2
2019 TLH 2
I’m asking this because goodreads says that TLH 1 is coming out 2016, 2 in 2017, 3 in 2018 and I just want to confirm with you. Thanks!!!
— project-entity-x
The first book of TLH isn’t scheduled. It is most likely, unless something weird happens, to come out after the second book of TDA. It is likely to go like this:
2016 TDA 1
2017 TDA 2
? TLH 1
? TDA 3 
Etc. But none of this is set in stone, and I feel very squirrelly about even suggesting dates and order, because they are not final. In the past, when I’ve said a date was tentative and it was then moved, as tentative dates are, people have asked in droves why the book was pushed back.
I totally get that: when you’re looking forward to something, it’s nice to have a specific date you can know when you’ll get it. And I’m grateful people are looking forward to these! Part of the reason, though, that I asked — so this is on me — my publisher not to set release dates yet was to give myself a little creative freedom. To figure out the right order of publication for the story I want to tell, and not to be constantly panicked about deadlines. (Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean I am not writing. I am a workaholic. I write 20/24.) To be able to preserve my health a bit and provide a cushion in case unexpected stuff happens (like traveling to New York to meet a contest winner!) 
I don’t know what’s up with Goodreads, but like IMDB, before a book comes out, I am not sure I would entirely trust the information provided. For instance the official site of my publisher, , says TLH 1 is coming in 2017. And it might. But I can tell you it sure isn’t coming in 2016!
I know it sucks to wait. It sucks for me, too. Every time I write a scene I like with Mark, or a funny line for Anna, I want you guys to see it. But ultimately I want you to see the polished form, the best I can make it. And that does take some time.
Okay, enough scheduling stuff. Further posts will be about writingy things!

On When Tales From The Shadowhunters Academy Book Will Be Released
Cassie also answered questions about when Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy book will be released. See her answer here, which I also shared below:
The series, just like the Bane Chronicles, will be bound up and publishing as a hard copy. (That is why they created a full cover with wraparound art.) 
I do not yet know when. The book needs to be gone through again, small mistakes corrected (they tend to be more frequent in the ebooks, as they simply don’t go through the lengthy proofing stages that the novels do). It needs to be laid out, and art for the final version created, and then it needs to actually be printed and shipped to stores.
Publishers decide on print dates, not authors, and so far I haven’t heard what the print date would be. I think it took the Bane Chronicles about ten months from being finished to being printed. Maybe that could be a guideline?
In short, it will be printed as a novel, but I don’t know when. As soon as I do, I promise I’ll let you know, and also update my existing FAQ on my website. Just as a reminder, you can also always check . Hope that helps!

A Shadowhunter Flower Card Book Is In The Works!

Cassie confirms that a shadowhunters flower card book is in the works. Check out her post about it here, and see what she said about it below:

Hallo,blueberry! So just a line to say that Cassandra Jean and I are definitely putting together all the flower cards of characters into a book. We’re excited about designing it and making it really pretty. It won’t be ready in time for Christmas, but we’re hoping for Valentine’s Day! It will contain 10-15 new flower cards of characters that we couldn’t reveal before (Like Max, above) or who didn’t get their own card yet (Celine Herondale.) As we know more, we’ll keep you updated!