Monday, April 30, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
- Scary haunted houses. I know a lot of haunted houses are lame, but there is one outside of St. Louis called Terror Cave that is actually built inside of a natural cavern. The ‘rooms’ focus on providing lots of hiding places for the amazing live actors. These actors not only separate you from your friends, but also chase you all throughout the cave (especially if you shriek like a tiny schoolgirl, as I apparently do.) Last Halloween, I stumbled out of Terror Cave literally gasping for breath.
- Horror novels. On the adult side, I’ve read just about everything Dean Koontz has ever written. He does both supernatural and realistic horror so well. On the YA side, I remember tearing through Christopher Pike books when I was in grade school and then sleeping with the lights on and the door to my room locked. Some of my favorites are Slumber Party, Chain Letter, Weekend, and Spellbound. I don’t even know if those books are still in print, but just thinking about them makes me want to read them again!
|Vintage 80's Cover!|
- Breathtaking views. Breathless isn’t just about being scary. As a former rock climber (hey, I’ll still go if anyone is interested) turned avid hiker, I love the view from up high. I also love the ocean. Here are a couple of breathtaking views from some of my favorite vacation spots.
|Bryce Canyon, Utah.|
|Doubtful Sound, New Zealand.|
- Stunning works of art and architecture. I’m lucky to have traveled a lot, and there are so many jaw-dropping things to see that narrowing this down to a couple was excruciating.
|Notre Dame, Paris.|
|Michaelangelo's David, Florence.|
Monday, April 23, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I recently read the first draft of the excellent Delirium script. (Did you know that Delirium was on its way to the big screen? Oh, yeah, baby.) I felt the script was remarkably faithful to the book, which is fascinating, because it managed to condense 400-ish pages into a slender, moving, and breakneck-paced script of about, I don't know, 120 pages (and much of that was margin space!).
It got me thinking. So...did I use too many words as I was writing it? Would it have been possible for me to lop the book in thirds? Or is the script too condensed, too crystallized--is it missing key elements?
The answer to both questions is, I think, no. Film is a visual medium. That means its tools, is language, is totally different from the tools I employ as a novel writer. And maybe that's why I've never really "feared" that something would get lost in translation. I mean, yes, bad movie adaptations happen, but I think that in order for books to become good movies, they must transform. Being faithful to the book must mean that you are willing, onscreen, to depart from what was on the page. Just like any other translation, sometimes in order to preserve the spirit, you must alter things structurally, grammatically. And film has a far different grammar than fiction.
When I re-read the Delirium script, I realized that certain things had really changed. I hadn't noticed these alterations on first read because the script felt like a faithful interpretation to me. The spirit was there, and that's what's important to preserve.
As the French like to say...plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose...[The more things change, the more they are the same.]
So...bring on the pretty dresses and the red carpet! I'm super excited about seeing Delirium and am already brainstorming cast ideas. Any suggestions for Alex? ;)
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Some people have predicted that the apocalypse will arrive on December 21st, 2012, but I think we all just might implode before that, possibly as early as this Sunday, April 15th, when a whole host of dystopian worlds collide at Books of Wonder in NYC.
I am THRILLED to be reading at one of my favorite bookstores, BoW, with three incredibly talented young authors, Including Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me), Veronica Rossi (Under The Never Sky), and Anna Carey (Eve). And you should be thrilled too!
So please, please join us at Books of Wonder, from 1-3 pm, for a reading, a signing, and of course, a Q&A.
Can't wait to see you!
Monday, April 9, 2012
1—I am not “hardy.” Maybe I should have recognized this before; but I am just not one of those can-do, full-of-gumption people who powers on despite fatigue, hunger, and loss of sleep. No. When I am hungry, I get cranky. I like my nine hours of sleep, thankyouverymuch. And I am still suffering from jetlag so severe that all I can do is sit on the couch, wearing a hood, complaining about being cold and tired until my fiancé offers to get me soup to shut me up. If this were the 1800s, I’d be dead of consumption. Or apoplexy. Or whatever weaklings died of back then.
2—I could listen to tree frogs sing every night. I was truly moved by Australia’s beauty. Sydney is a stunning city, interwoven with harbors, parks, and bridges. I loved Melbourne, too, which, because of its narrow byways, cobblestone streets, and sidewalk cafes, reminded me very much of a European city. (Brisbane, I didn’t get to see ANY of your fair city...or I’m sure I would love you too!). But what I liked best was the thrumming of what I think were tree frogs, as well as the many bizarre bird calls that occasionally scared the sh$t out of me when I was strolling through the streets.
3—Australian wine is delicious. So is Australian coffee. But you will pay dearly for it. Truth be told, I had known about the coffee already. My favorite coffee place in Brooklyn, DUB pies, serves Australian-style coffee. Fun fact: I actually thank DUB pies in the acknowledgements of Before I Fall, for keeping me hopped up on caffeine and ready to work. As for the price...WTF?? Australia is hands-down the most expensive place I’ve ever been, and I’m counting Jimmy’z in Monaco! I come from New York City, and I was shocked.
4—Books are a cross-cultural language. I suppose this is true of any “special interest” group (weird to think of reading as a special interest, but it is), but I was really struck during my travels to the opposite side of the world that the love of books, the experience of reading and being swept away by story, is transcendent. It renders cultural and even linguistic barriers negligible—everyone understands when you say, “Harry Potter changed my life.” And yet because of that, my time abroad felt weirdly and wonderfully mundane. Book people are the same all over the place.
5—As Dorothy said, there really is no place like home. :)
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
How many times have you been told to "show, not tell," or that it's important to "write what you know?"
While these tried- and true- adages about writing are important, equally important are the tactics and habits that good writers develop unconsciously, and that thus often fail to make their way into any Beginning Writer's Handbook.
1--Turn off your ipod. Writing is about people—how they communicate, behave, and interact. You can only learn about people through observation, so rather than cranking the ipod when you’re on the subway, street, or bus, listen to people instead. Cultivate the fine art of eavesdropping, and of spying on people while pretending to be staring blankly into space. Go ahead and peep if you have to! Just don’t get arrested.
2--Go to therapy. You know how I said that writing is about people, and how they behave, speak, and interact? Well, it’s also about what they feel. And you’ll never have better access to feelings than to your own. You need to understand them, to think about what motivates and frightens you, what brings you happiness or provokes anxiety. So get a therapist! If you can’t afford a shrink, spend some time journaling your thoughts, or meet with friends for a good old heart-to-heart. Bonus? You’ll get closer with your friends.
3--Go stir-crazy. Imagination is a skill. Like any other skill, it can be strengthened through habit--and conversely, will run to seed if it isn’t exercised, like a butt that gets parked too often on a couch). Actually, butts and imagination have a lot in common: TV and endless web surfing takes a toll on each. It’s so easy, nowadays, to take refuge in worlds that have already been imagined for us—in books, movies, webisodes, cute kitten videos on Youtube. But that means that our own imaginative capacity never gets its workout. Power down the ipads, nooks, kindles, TV, and computers for a day, and feel that crazy, itchy, gotta-do-something-cuz-real-life-is-boring burn. Start daydreaming. Start fantasizing. Think yourself into different characters and different worlds.
4—Delete Angry Birds from your phone. Writing is hard. Writing often sucks. And unless you’re paid a gajillion dollars to write already, you’re probably trying to juggle writing while in school, or working, or popping out babies, or all of the above. There will always be many competing claims for your time and attention. But you know what? All of us—even the busiest among us--have five minutes here and there when we’re alone, and bored, and we surf facebook or start lobbing birds at various architecturally unsound structures. And instead of doing that, we should be writing. I wrote Before I Fall while commuting between a full time job, full-time graduate school, and part-time work at a nightclub. In spare moments on the subway or yes, in the bathroom, I typed paragraphs on my Blackberry, later emailing them to myself so I could cut and paste into a word doc. Two hundred words is better than no words. Forty words is better than no words—and if you have time to compose that pithy tweet, you have time to bang out forty words.
5--Be selfish. See entry #4. Right now, as you’re reading this, you probably should be doing something else: laundry, data entry for your boss, homework, calling mom. . .The list of obligations we’re all trying to juggle on a daily basis could fill a novel in itself (a really boring novel, but a novel nonetheless). It’s really hard to make time for writing, especially before you’ve been paid to do it; writing time usually comes dead last on a list on the list of Important To-Dos. But it shouldn’t. If you love it, it should be a daily part of your life. Period. Train yourself to value it above almost everything else except, I don’t know, peeing and eating. You can go without clean socks for a day—no one will notice. You can talk to your friends tomorrow or over the weekend. Writing is just as important as your homework. And take-out exists for a reason. Make time to write. Pretend you’re already getting paid for it, and one day you will be.
6--Take a humiliating job. I’ve worked in a variety of service jobs in my life I’ve waitressed at a rowdy Canadian bar in Paris where ex-pats liked to puke up their poutine in the bathroom; I’ve worked in swanky clubs where the patrons thought it was funny to insult the servers (when they weren’t trying to grab your ass). I’ve been called every bad name in the book—and some that aren’t in it—by leering, drunken a-holes with nothing better to do. And you know what? I’m glad. As a writer, you have to be prepared for hard criticism, rejection, and humiliation. You have to develop a thick skin, and a desire to persevere, even when you feel like crawling into a hole and putting a blanket over your head...preferably until you suffocate. So get your practice early. Toughen up. Get insulted. Get rejected and criticized. And let it roll off your back. That way, the first round of rejection letters won’t even phase you. Or the second. Or the third.
Bonus? You’ll have interesting backstory when you finally land that feature profile in the New York Times!
7—Develop a gym habit. This is strange, but half of my breakthrough ideas have occurred when I’m at the gym or taking a long run. I think it has something to do with relaxation: the brain, typically dominated by everyday concerns about bills, dinner, relationship issues, future plans, detaches from “conscious” worries, which permits the subconscious mind to start firing out ideas. If huffing on a treadmill isn’t your idea of relaxation, try yoga, or knitting, or something physical and repetitive that allows your conscious mind to “switch off.” Bonus? A hot body...or hand-knitted scarves for all your friends and fam at Christmas. :)
8—Shower more. You know how I said that half my breakthrough ideas have occurred when I’m exercising? The other half have hit me when I’m in the shower. (See above for my theories on relaxation and the unconscious mind.) So steam up your bathroom and soap up. Bonus? Your significant other will thank you!
Let me know what you think!