Thursday, 27 October 2011

Hometowns and Settings

Does your hometown influence your writing?

The ever-so-adorable Theresa Milstein is with me today with a guest post to promote Fangtales.  Her short story 'Allured' is included in this YA anthology.  Theresa spent time thinking about setting when writing her piece, so she thought she'd share her perspective on how our hometowns shape us and frame our writing.

Here's Theresa:

“It’s a suburb of New York City where moms drive oversize silver trucks to Starbucks and most kids play soccer whether they want to or not.  It’s the kind of place where kids are trained from birth to compete.  In everything.  School, sports, friendship, clothes. . .you know, everything.”
- D.J. MacHale, Morpheus Road: The Light

My blogging buddy, Jessica Bell wrote a recent post asking the question:

What's the first wonderful aspect of your hometown that comes to mind when you think about it? And does it make you feel nostalgic?

Just 1 aspect and 1 hometown?!  
How about 10 aspects and 2 hometowns?

Until age 9, I lived in New York City.  This is my childhood list:
Soot snow mountains
Fire hydrant sprinklers – watching on
X-rated movie theatre ‘round the corner
Giant Catholic Church, opposite direction
Friends and neighbors from everywhere in the world
Walking everywhere and noisy elevated subway
Dark school with caged stairways and paper towel ceilings
Parks with cement cause scraped knees
Crowded and noisy, horns and double-parked cars
Independence with caution

For the rest of my childhood, I lived on Long Island.  If I hadn’t lived in NYC first, this list might be different. If I write it from my teen years, it would also be different.  This is my childhood list:

Sameness of big houses and people
Mowing lawns and lawn pride
Mandatory soccer
Cars drive everywhere
Bicycling through lazy summers
Playing video games at the bowling alley
Backyards with sprinklers 
Basements with toys
Inhaling greenery from flower and vegetable gardens
Designer jeans

Though these places are only an hour drive apart, the contrast is great.  Being a city kid and suburban kid are like two different beasts inside me.  My childhood experiences help me write city and suburban characters.

Kimberley Griffiths Little writes about life on the bayou in The Healing Spell and her soon-to-be-released Circle of Secrets.  I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what that life is like there if I hadn’t been introduced to that world by her:

“I sit in the prow of the motorboat, worms jiggling my gut the whole way, fat and sassy on all that cake I just ate.

When we get to the swamp house, I watch my daddy tie the rope around the dock piling, get my suitcases out, and set them on the scraggly lawn.  Wind moans through the giant cypress trees surrounding the house, making the Spanish moss float in the air like mermaid’s hair.”

- Kimberley Griffiths Little, Circle of Secrets

Recently, I read Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord in one sitting.  Because she spent time on an island in Maine, she could bring that tiny world realistically to me, as I sat in on the Charles River in Cambridge, overlooking the Boston skyline.

I’ve mentioned before that I can make up anything in the world in my books, but I like my setting to be based on a place that I know.  I must know the physical ground to ground my book, no matter what other fantastical elements exist.  The places I’ve lived have had a profound impact on me as a person and as a writer. And knowing a place helps me bring authenticity to my pieces.  But I need to take it further like other authors who know their settings enough to make them  character-like – Carl Hiaasen and Kate DiCamillo, for example.

Where we’ve lived is so much of who we are.

In November, I’m going to post an interview with Jessica Bell about her upcoming book, String Bridge.  She explains how living in Australia and Greece has influenced her writing.

Can you list aspects of your hometown?
How did where you grew up influence your writing?
Which books or authors do wonders with setting?
Links you might want to use:

My blog:

Barnes and Noble:

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little

I waited so long for this book to arrive on my doorstep so that when it finally did, I almost screamed in delight!

Livie, the main character, did not only make me reconnect to my child-self but also helped me come to terms with the things in my past, things I can never change.

The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little helped me understand my own fears when I was an eleven year old girl.  Most of all, it made me understand and love my mother more than I already do or did.

This is one of the books that I highly recommend to both children and adults alike.  It's an emotionally powerful book.  It may not have the same effect on you but I can assure you that it is an excellent read.  I am certain you will enjoy every word, every page.  To me, this means I will be reading more books by Ms Little.

Back cover blurb:

Twelve-year-old Livie is living with a secret and it's crushing her. She knows she is responsible for her mother's coma, but she can't tell anyone. It's up to her to find a way to wake her momma up.

Stuck in the middle of three sisters, hiding a forbidden pet alligator, and afraid to disappoint her daddy, whom she loves more than anyone else, Livie struggles to find her place within her own family as she learns about the powers of faith and redemption. Livie's powerful, emotional, and sometimes humorous story will stay with readers long after the last line is read.
Set in the lush bayou of Louisiana, Kimberley Griffiths Little brings Livie's story to life with power and grace.

Disclaimer:  I own a copy of the book 'The Healing Spell.'  This is an honest review and I was not compensated for this.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

What are you reading?

Whew.  That was close!  I thought I lost this blog.  *Inhale.  Exhale.*  No, don't blame Blogger.  It wasn't Blogger.  It was me.  I logged in using the wrong email address, hahaha!

Moment of craziness over.

Wow! It's finally October.  Summer is gone!  We had a lot of sunshine over here in England last week and before that...and yes, it was heaven for most people.  Me?  I had heat rash around my neck! Eeeeekkk! But no worries, it's fading away slowly, thank God.

No big news about myself today but guess what?  JUICY NEWS about our pals, Theresa Milstein, Talli Roland, India Drummond and Jessica Bell!

In no particular order:

Juicy News 1:  Author Theresa Milstein's short story "Allured" is included in a YA anthology, Fangtales - and it is NOW AVAILABLE on Barnes and Noble and  Check it out!

She's got a blog tour promoting Fangtales - go visit her BLOG to find out more!

Theresa is also doing a guest post right here, yes, on this blog, on the 27th October.  Please don't forget the date and see us in two weeks' time.

Juicy News 2:  Another prolific writer and talented author, Talli Roland, is self-publishing her latest novel, Build a Man!  I can't wait to get my copy!  What are you waiting for?  Check it out!  Click HERE.

Juicy News 3:  Let's not forget to mention that Author India Drummond custom designed the cover for Build a Man! Look at that! How amazing!  I'm so impressed!  So if you have a book that you'd like custom artwork for - you know who to call.

Juicy News 4:  Author Jessica Bell's  String Bridge, is coming out in November!  Woot, Jess!!!!  Only a month away!  I've read this book and I so loved it.  I will be posting a review on this one soon.

Just want to give you the heads up, blog friends!  I will see you again after a few days hopefully.  Anyway, I will be over at your blogs!  *HUGS*