Thursday, September 26, 2013

19 What We Wish We'd Written

Today, we're debuting our new Thursday feature: Wish I'd Written. WIW will feature YA authors telling us which two or three recently published books they wish they had written themselves and why. It should be a great way for us all to discover new books we might not have chosen for ourselves.

To kick it off, the AYAP team is revealing the books we wish we'd written. And we are debuting three of our new interns today. Everyone give Alyssa, Kate, and Talynn a warm welcome!

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Martina, our fearless leader, loves reading and writing books about beautiful, vicious, magical worlds that intersect our own, and about the monsters of myth and folklore that sometimes show more humanity than we do. She lives in Virginia with a husband, two kids, a cat, a fish and Auggie, a therapy dog who is convinced it's his job to make the world a better place. The first book in her Southern Gothic trilogy will be released Fall 2014 by Simon Pulse. You can reach Martina here, on Twitter via http://www.twitter.com/MartinaABoone, or at http://www.martinaboone.com/.

Here's what Martina wishes she had written:

This is going to come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, but here are my picks. And even if you threatened to pull out my fingernails, I couldn't pick just one.

I wish I had written THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love the Raven Cycle books, but those are for the me I am today. THE SCORPIO RACES is for the teen me, the one who adored horses and fairies and incredible, plucky, delightfully real teenagers living lives that seemed small to them, but to me seemed enormous. THE SCORPIO RACES has everything that teen me would have wanted in a book. Add that all up with beautiful writing, a setting that feels so real I can see myself riding across the fields or walking into the shops and kitchens, and I love it today just as much as I would have loved it years ago. It is also perfectly structured, for me at least, in the sense that I love both Puck and Sean Kendrick equally, which makes it impossible to choose who should win the race. When I first picked it up, I read it through nonstop, and I've read it several times since. I love it every time, and I always find more to love. To me, that's the hallmark of a brilliant book.

I wish I had written BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I love the setting, and I love Ethan and Lena, Amma and Macon Ravenwood, Ridley and Link and, well, all the beautifully flawed and living, breathing characters. The book drips with authentic atmosphere, and the magic, the whole Caster world, is deeply layered and fascinating. This is the book that got me thinking about writing a Southern Gothic, and since I have now sold that book plus two sequels, I will always be deeply grateful and indebted to Kami and Margaret for the enormous gift they gave to me and to their legions of loyal fans. I'm delighted that there is going to be a spin off series with Link and Ridley.

I wish I had written DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor. I have my own version of a twist on angels and demons, but when I read Laini's, I put mine firmly in the bottom drawer. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is so original, so beautiful, lyrical, and haunting, that there is no competition for it. I love Karou and Akiva, but I also loved Zuzana and Brimstone, Kishmish, Issa and the whole cast of wonderfully original characters. It helps, of course, that I am from Prague, and that I adored Laini's descriptions. (I also have a cousin named Zuzana, for the record.) But in the end, what got me most about this book was the mythology and the romance. Both are heart-stopping. If you haven't read it yet, and read it multiple times, go get it quick. And the sequel. And make sure you are ready for the third installment when it is released in May.

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Jan, our scheduler and contest coordinator extraordinaire, writes young adult fantasy of the contemporary and traditional varieties. She lives in Oklahoma with a husband, two kids, two cats, a dog, and a mother. Instead of unpublished, she prefers to call herself pre-published. While she enjoys drafting, her heart is truly in rewriting and editing. Recently, Martina called her “better than aspirin”, so her new goal is to become better than valium. She loves ladybugs, fairies, blue roses, cats, musical theater, and pretty much all things geek. You can find Jan on twitter at https://twitter.com/janlewis77.

Here's what Jan wishes she had written:

After I wrote this, it ended up being more about the authors I wish I was, rather than the books I wish I'd written. That counts, right?

1. INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows - I remember following Jodi's blog before she got her deal for the Incarnate series, back when Ana's name was Erin. I was incredibly fascinated by the little snippets that she shares on her blog. So when Incarnate FINALLY came out, I was chomping at the bit for it. And I was definitely not disappointed. Jodi's writing style is absolutely gorgeous, and I am so jealous of her ability to balance action and description. Plus, the world of INCARNATE is so incredibly detailed and wonderful. Sylph, dragons, and a city whose walls have a heartbeat?? A civilization of people who have been together through multiple reincarnations, and all of a sudden there's a new person in her first incarnation?? I mean, come on! It doesn't get much more genius than that. Plus, the fact that Jodi is a delightful person doesn't hurt either. [end fangirl moment] So basically, I wish I'd written INCARNATE, because then I would be a creative world-building genius.

2. STRANGE ANGELS by Lili St. Crow - Okay, I have to admit that I love everything Lili has ever written, both for adults and teens. Her ability to show both the pretty and the ugly is just astounding. Dru, the heroine of STRANGE ANGELS, gets sweaty and snotty and pukes, and I love it. The way Lili writes it is so realistic, but she manages to not gross me out. I really wish that I could write with the same grittiness she does, and if I'd written STRANGE ANGELS, I would have that talent. That's why I wish I'd written it.

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Alyssa, our Guest Post Coordinator, is a twenty something Communications and Publishing student who hails from Vancouver, Canada. When she is not in class, she is at the bookstore where she works—whether or not she is on duty. Her passion for reading started at a young age and has continued to grow, so most of her pay cheque goes toward buying books to fill her already overflowing bookshelves. Her favourite genres within YA are dark and gothic, paranormal, contemporary, high fantasy, and retellings. When she doesn't have a book in hand, you can find her hiking, picking out her next tattoo, or enjoying the outdoors. Visit her blog at http://sweptawaybybooks.blogspot.ca/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/alybabybooks .

Here's what Alyssa wishes she had written:

1. I'm going to steal the same one as Martina here, but Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of the most magical books I have ever read. The setting is so beautifully described, the romance so incredibly forbidden and the characters are so wonderfully fleshed out they make me wish I had come up with--and had the talent to write--this incredible book! And the covers have to be some of the most spectacular in YA lit!

2. The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson is easily one of the most brilliantly written high fantasy stories in YA. Elisa (and I love that we share the same name, albeit spelled differently) is one of the strongest and bravest YA leading ladies ever, and her character growth is some of the best I have seen. The romance made me swoon constantly, and I was so sad to see this series end. I want to keep reading all about Elisa and Hector and all of the babies I am sure they would have.

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Kate, our Giveaway Wrangler and Teen Reviewer, is a thirteen-year-old homeschooler in love with everything mystical (which would explain her obsession with Harry Potter). When she’s not daydreaming, she’s writing, reading, and spending time with her family, friends, and adorable dog . . . or she’s stealing all of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from the cupboard. You can visit her blog at themagicviolinist.blogspot.com.

Here's what Kate wishes she had written:

At first I was going to say the Harry Potter series, because I totally wish I could’ve written that, but then I saw that I had to single out one book, and you can’t really do that with a series. Ahem. Anyways.

I wish I’d written Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. It’s such a simple, sweet, heartbreaking book that’s very character-driven (my favorite kind). You feel so much for these characters that you’re almost surprised to find that they’re fictional. You get so attached to them that they’re almost like your best friends, no, family. I finished it wishing I hadn’t, because I couldn’t ever read that book again for the first time.

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Talynn, our First Five Pages Workshop coordinator, is a stay at home mom because she loves to homeschool her children while trying to find a few quiet minutes alone to write a new chapter of her current WIP. She drinks coffee by the gallon, which competes for first place in a race with Dr. Pepper. She doesn't think twice about hiding the dirty laundry under the bathroom sink if it means gaining a few extra minutes to work on edits. (She respectfully asks you to keep that tidbit of info a secret.)

Here's what Talynn wishes she had written:

I wish I had written BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. My favorite thing about this book is how I feel like I'm right there in the story. The atmosphere and mood is amazingly authentic and real. Ethan and Lena feel like neighbors and friends. I didn't want their story to end! The world building was natural and believable and the characters moved the story along perfectly. It was the first Southern Gothic I'd ever read. Just writing this makes me want to read it again!

19 comments:

  1. I'm reading an ARC of the last book of the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy (I had to find summaries of the previous two to figure out what was going on). It's really good so far, though. :)

    Okay, now I really need to read The Scorpio Races.

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    1. You have to let me know what you think of it! It is one of those books I want to stand on the corner and shove at people. :)

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  2. I haven't read any of these! I guess I'm going to have to stack my to-be-read pile a little higher.

    My "wish I'd written that" book would have to be BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE by Thalia Chaltas, because it's just...WOW. So powerful and engaging and heartbreaking, yet hopeful.

    Another one would be ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis. Oh, to lure readers in and keep them riveted from the first page to the last the way that book did for me! That would be a dream come true.

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    1. I almost included Beth's book. It's fantastic isn't it? So engaging and tense all the way through. I love the entire series. And thanks for the tip on BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE! I haven't read that one, but it sounds great. The title is wonderful too, it has so much angst right in those four little words.

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  3. Oh, I LOVE Incarnate! I would have loved to have written that book. I also wish I'd written Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. It still amazes me, something written so poetically and yet it keeps the pages turning. Ahhh, to be able to write like that :)

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    1. I remember doing a post on figurative language shortly after SHATTER ME came out, and it was a great book to use because almost every page has an example of something poetic. That's an achievement on its own, but considering how fast she wrote that book? WOW.

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  4. Completely agree on Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Beautiful Creatures. I'd add The Raven Boys. I really wish I'd written that!

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    1. LOL, but I had to stop somewhere, right? Also, Sarah Ockler and I have had enough late night fan-girl moments about THE RAVEN BOYS and THE DREAM THIEVES that I think I've said just about everything I should about it and more. After the last one, a bunch of us ducked into a chat room and went on for about another hour and a half speculating on where the series is going and talking about the characters.

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  5. Martina, Daughter of Smoke and Bone ALL THE WAY!

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    1. I am planning to do a DoSaB photo tour while I am in Prague in December, Ange. Just for fun. Not that we need any photos. Laini's descriptions are so vivid and evocative that they are better than the reality.

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  6. I read and adored Incarnate. I don't know if I could possibly choose one story, but I see several titles of interest worth reading. Thanks for this new theme.

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    1. Hope you enjoy whatever you haven't read yet. There isn't a book on here that isn't swoon-worthy!

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  7. It's nice to "meet" the folks who keep everything running so smoothly here.

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    1. Thanks, Rosi! I'm excited that we have such a fantastic crew joining us!

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  8. I just finished THE SCORPIO RACES last night, and that's definitely on my "I wish I'd written that" list. I loved DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE as well. Lovely lyrical writing. And I tend not to read series (too many books on my to-read list, and nothing grabs me that much) but GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS was one of my exceptions! Nicely original and fresh. INCARNATE and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES are now on my to-read list. Thanks for the fun sharing, gals!!

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    1. I'm glad we could add to your already groaning TBR pile, Carol! :D

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  9. Martina, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was almost a "I wish I'd written" but it was more of confirmation to me that something so wild and beautiful and monstrous *could* be written about. And Alyssa, I'm just finishing the Bitter Kingdom right now and I LOVE THAT SERIES!!!

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    1. Margo, that is an excellent way to put it! I don't know if you've ready anything else by Laini Taylor, but you should try at least LIPS TOUCH THREE TIMES. Wow. Her language and facility with character and emotion are spectacular. And I just realized I haven't commented on Rae Carson's picks or Jodi's and that's a huge oversight because I loved both series. And I loved ELEANOR & PARK so much. I'm saving up FANGIRL as a treat. It sounds fantastic!

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Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)