Update on books (what else?)

How is it that I only just discovered this amazing website?

It’s got blog posts on writing advice from YA authors like Lish McBride (HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER, which was a really fun supernatural romp) and Laurie Faria Stolarz (BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARE), advice on setting and POV and creating conflict in your story, and how to differentiate a YA novel from an adult novel. I especially love this one by McBride, in which she writes for young adults. It’s true. People often dismiss YA fiction, thinking they’re easier to write than adult fiction. Well literary snobs, news flash: a story is a story. Crafting one is difficult, no matter what genre they’re in or what demographic they’re targeted at. McBride also shares her thoughts on her own writing process, and Stolarz gives some pretty sound advice for writers.

And I just realised I haven’t spoken about this book, GRAFFITI MOON by Cath Crowley, yet! I read it a couple of months back, and fell completely in love with it.

Here’s the excerpt and blurb from goodreads:

“Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers.”

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

The prose is lyrical and funny and poignant, full of heart and wit, while the characters are flawed and bumbling and real and uncertain but hopeful. Gotta love some teen angst in a YA novel. Crowley’s characters, Lucy and Ed/Shadow, convey a certain sense of whimsy without coming across as pretentious or annoying. They are funny, witty and like all young adults, they dream. They are fearful and excited about their future, and in that one night after their Year 12 exams they find a piece of the future in each other.

It’s the kind of book I wish I had written.

And yet another book I wish I can write: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor.

I’ve talked (more like gushed and raved) about this book before here, but now that the sequel to DAUGHTER is out, called DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT, I decided to reread DAUGHTER because that’s the whole problem with writing an amazing series. It takes a long time to perfect the book and get it published and by the time it’s released readers would’ve forgotten what happened in the previous book.

I’d like to say I’ll write something as amazing as this one day, but that day seems pretty far away for now, because Taylor’s writing is UP THERE. In terms of plot (tightly woven), pacing (riveting), characters (a main character who is not too cloying or or clueless or damsel-in-distress-y, but not too unbelievably tough and brave either) and prose (OH GOSH THE PROSE! I can go nuts just talking about it).

And it looks like I’m not the only one who thinks the world of this book from the National Book Award finalist. Joe Roth, the producer of ALICE IN WONDERLAND from Universal Studios, will be making the DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE movie. I’m always hesitant about movie adaptation of books, because once a book hits the silver screen somehow it feels like it’s being shared with the rest of the world and doesn’t belong to you alone now. I know it sounds dumb, but I like discovering a wonderful book and living in my version of the world the book’s created, without a bunch of fanatics who snatch the book off the shelves after they’ve watched the movie and gotten into the hype. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that DAUGHTER and SHIVER (by the multitalented New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater, whose book is going to be made into a movie though the details are still in the works) will not rob me of the memories associated with discovering and living in the worlds those stories have created.

I’ve also gotten my hands on THE CURIOSITIES, an anthology of short stories by the Merry Sisters of Fate, a writing critique group that comprises of Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff (THE REPLACEMENT) and Tessa Gratton (BLOOD MAGIC). They used to each write a short story every week on their website, which is now defunct. It’s so nice to have a tight circle of friends who love to write as much as you do, who put up with your writing quirks and rip your stories to shreds and cheer you on when you’re in a writing funk, whom you can learn from and hone your craft together with.

So if anyone is willing to be in a committed writing relationship, drop a comment here or email me at jcxw2590@yahoo.com.sg. I am not kidding. I want my own Merry Fates circle! After taking those playwriting classes in university, I’ve come to realise how fun and helpful it is to be part of a group of creative, talented (and angsty – sorry, guys, but we were kinda angsty!) writers. Sadly, though, it’s hard to find people who can spare the time to devote to their writing, unless we’re all full-time writers. Otherwise, you know, life just gets in the way.

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