San Antonio, Part 2 Friday, Nov 28 2008 

alansign1alanaudAfter the tower discovery, and getting totally lost on the Riverwalk (What?  It doesn’t go around in a neat circle, like a racetrack? or a moat?), I was at sea. Thankfully, under the benign auspices of both NCTE and ALAN, I was able to pull myself together enough to meet amazing fellow writers – like Barry Lyga and Ellen Hopkins, on our “Negotiating the Edge” panel, moderated by the stalwart and thoughtful Lea Clifton.  Between Sonya Sones’ Authors Only cocktail party, a Monday night happy meal (hi, Cory!), an intense but too-brief lunch (Don and CJ, you’re the best), and a dinner hosted by my publisher, Farrar Straus & Giroux, led by the award-winning Jeanne McDermott, where the only thing more delicious than the dinner was the conversation, I left town with my feet firmly on the ground, metaphorically speaking.

Wildlife in San Antonio, or. . . Thursday, Nov 27 2008 

mosaicsa. . . is it a more alien form of life?  Note the position of the “tower” (as viewed from my balcony in the Hilton).  Now, note the angle of the dog’s head in this colorful mosaic (found on the fabled Riverwalk, lined with shops and restaurants, a fun tourist destination – or is it?).  Coincidence?  I think not.

sa

My Town Monday: Detroit Monday, Nov 24 2008 

…though I’m technically in San Antonio this Monday.  But Patti Abbott’s got me here, on her very fun and literate blog, talking about YA novels, the passion of the puppets and Under the Poppy, and what it means to be a writer from Detroit, oh yeah.

MCB in the D Tuesday, Nov 18 2008 

img_8732This view comes to us courtesy filmmaker Diane Cheklich, with whom I’d just finished doing the Dequindre Cut (aka the Director’s Cut, since it was Diane, and she was getting visual). It was in the 30’s and snowing, coffee was essential, so we rolled over to the Mercury Coffee Bar, and became pleasantly caffienated/chocofied. Join us sometime.

Shift happens Saturday, Nov 15 2008 

As a conference title, it’s pretty catchy: NCTE in San Antonio, “Shift Happens” (though I bet there’ve been more than a few email typos along the way: It’s called what?!).  The first NCTE I attended was in ’04, in Indianapolis, and I remember leaving the conference feeling a whole lot happier about life than I had been when I walked in: so many informed and passionate teachers, who read so widely and cared so much about their kids.  No matter what else was wrong with the world that fall (which, one recalls, was plenty), life was going to continue, and things were going to be, in some fundamental way, OK.

As much as writing is a business and a profession, it’s also a state of mind, and as consuming as these kinds of conferences can be (especially to a timid forest creature like myself, who spends most of her time under this pixelated rock), the nourishment and stimulation they provide – those minds, those ideas, those sharp elbows! all clashing and meshing – is like nothing else.  And as a forest creature, I like meeting the other creatures in the forest, too.  Writing is by necessity a solitary occupation (see Ventura, Micheal, “The Talent of the Room”), but it doesn’t have to be lonely.

I’ll be presenting on Tuesday, 11/25, on an ALAN panel: “The Edge: Negotiating Boundaries in Young Adult Fiction,” along with Ellen Hopkins and Barry Lyga, on a topic that so many YA writers know so well, that in a way defines YA as a literature: where is the edge, between a book that’s meant for young people (and what does “meant” mean, anyway? Written for? Allowed for? Marketed to?) and one that isn’t? And who decides where to locate that edge, where to draw those lines, and what happens when they’re crossed?  It’s a volatile topic and I’m excited to be part of the discussion.

So see you in San Antonio, I hope.  Let’s mingle in the forest, let’s tell each other what books we’ve been loving lately, let’s rub elbows, let’s talk.

BFF Sunday, Nov 9 2008 

There are a lot of friendships in Headlong – not only Lily’s with Hazel, but Lily’s other relationships: with Magnus; and Constance, her roommate; and Kells; and Edward Flowers; Julia and the other Vaughn girls; her teacher, Ms. Nell . . . .Each friend is a different facet of Lily, each elicits a different response.  Some of the friendships ask more from her than she’s ever given before, others she finds stifling, too small for the person she’s becoming. But the deepest water in the story flows between Lily and Hazel.

So I started thinking about other deep friendships, relationships, in the fiction I love: Jo March and Laurie Lawrence, say.  Or Harriet and Sport and Janie.  Or Smilla and that poor little kid on the roof.  Or Walker Percy’s Lancelot and his silent psychiatrist friend.  (And those are just the ones I can see from my desk.)

A friend of mine, who lost her first, best friend from childhood, told me that when she died, “I lost the language we spoke together.  No one can speak it with me now.”  To speak a common language is to swim in the deeps. What do we gain, what do we give, from these intense connections, where sexuality/romance plays no overt part?  Is your own deepest water flowing between you and a friend? There are so many ways to love.

Sarah Miller reads books Thursday, Nov 6 2008 

There, I said it: Sarah Miller is a champion reader as well as an accomplished writer.  At dinner last night, with Helen Frost, she shared a little of her largesse, and now my To Read list is longer, and richer.  Is there a better review than word of mouth?  (And can you blame me for being rather very happy that she dug Headlong? and Kissing the Bee is on the pile?)

Plus, she and I and Helen talked about books and writing and how we do what we do and what happens when it doesn’t work and oh, what happens when it does; and that was a joy.

Yes we can Wednesday, Nov 5 2008 

. . .and yes, we did.  I am so proud of our new President-Elect, and of our collective choice to move forward as a nation.  What a moment.  What a night.

America 2.0 – Election Day Tuesday, Nov 4 2008 

For those of us in the States, this is the big day, American History 2.0.  Time to vote!

We each have a vote; we each have a story.  As a writer as well as a citizen, I support – I require! – freedom of speech and expression: to fully be who we are, we must be able to speak and be heard.  One of the aspects so distressing about these last eight awful years is that oppressive, miasmic feeling that no matter what, no dissenting voice would ever be acknowledged.  Today we can speak to change that.  Today we vote.

See you at the polls.

Stars in my eyes Monday, Nov 3 2008 

Wow – this was a cool way to start the week: a starred review from PW, for Headlong.