Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: if you could be any character in a book, who would you be?

I've been trying to come up with ideas for this post all day, and it's basically been an epic fail. I've had lots of conversations with myself that have gone like this:

Ok! Let's be Clare, from The Time Traveller's Wife! She is a hardworking artist who creates amazing sculptures, and her husband is a hot librarian time traveller! Yes!

Actually, being married to a time traveller is agonising and troublesome, which is kind of the point of the book. Not so fun.

Fine, fine. I'll be Kristin Cashore's Fire. She is the most beautiful woman in the world, and she has amazing psychic powers.

But her powers mean that no one trusts her, and she is so beautiful that monsters want to kill her and men want to capture her. In fact, stuff keeps trying to kill her throughout the whole damn book. Let me think about that one again. No.

I know! I'll be Elizabeth Bennett! I mean, who doesn't want to be Elizabeth Bennett? She is smart and witty and she ends up with Mr Darcy. And Regency women wore such beautiful dresses. Case closed. Right?

Um. Leila. Regency women = marriage fodder. Basically. You're there to be matched up and become a housewife. YAY. Not to mention, Elizabeth Bennett's family are actually kind of a royal pain in the ass. Mr Darcy's family too.

Francesca from Saving Francesca! She is both sensitive and sarcastic, and her friends are hilarious and wonderful. And Will Trombol. Oh, Will.

And Francesca's mother suffers from chronic depression. Her whole family goes through hell.

Hermione Granger! She has magic, and she's extremely smart! She kicks ass! 

And she ends up married to Ron Weasley. I apologise to all the Ron fans, but for some reason I'm just not that wild about Ron. I mean, he's a nice guy, and he would make a great friend, but I kind of feel that Hermione really should have gone for someone who was more her intellectual equal. You know?

Laura Chant, from The Changeover! She's smart, stubborn and falls in love with a strange and fascinating boy. And she will do anything it takes to save her younger brother's life. 

Aaaand her parents are messily divorced. Also, Laura has to deal with Carmody Braque, one of the most repulsive villains I've ever come across. And while Laura's love interest is fascinating, he's also kind of creepy. Oddly enough, that kind of adds to his charm, but still.

Wynter from the Moorehawke trilogy by Celine Kiernan. (If you like fantasy, you have to go read her books right now. Ok?) Wynter is only fifteen years old, yet she's already earning her way in a male profession and adept at dealing with the perils of life in the royal court. Her father is kind hearted and wonderful, and her love interest is gorgeous and charismatic and complicated. 

Wynter might have a wonderful father, but he's dying. And a courtier has very little privacy, so Wynter has to spend all her time treading exceptionally carefully to avoid trouble. I don't think I'd enjoy that so much.

So, yeah. That's what's been going on inside my head today. Not particularly conclusive.

Basically, I'd love to be any of these characters, as long as you promise me I get to go back to being my boring old self after a while. I think this says a lot about the way I read. I don't read as wish fulfillment. If I pick up a book and the main character seems too perfect or their life too easy, I don't connect with them and I put the book down. All of the characters I love most in the world are characters who struggle. I read so I can be them for a little while, and live out their battles and be carried away on the tides of their lives. Then the make believe ends and I finish the book dazed. And by that point it's usually time to go cook dinner and deal with the real world again.

I think a good character is like a good friend. They let you in on their secrets, their hard times and their good times. And they're constantly telling you interesting things, whether or not they even mean to. And in their own way, they help you appreciate why your own life is a worthy one.

And now you should go find out who my fellow highwayers would like to be!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day

A Few Days Before

Scene: Early in the morning. Josh and I are lying in bed and we are both half awake.

Me: You won't believe what I dreamt about!

Josh: Mmph?

Me: We got married!

Josh: *groans*

Me: And hardly anyone was there! And the whole thing was weirdly unstressful and matter of fact and normal.  Except that we were married. I kept having to remind myself that we were married, because it somehow just seemed like part of the stuff we do everyday already. It was actually really nice.

We drift back off to sleep.

Valentine's Day

Scene: North Head, some time in the afternoon. Josh and I are sitting on a bench looking down at the harbour and the islands and the boats flitting past. He's reading Transport for Suburbia, I'm reading The Crowded Shadows.

Josh: Do you want your Valentine's Day present now?

Me: Sure! 

Josh pulls out a small box and hands it to me. Even before I open it I'm lightheaded, shaking.

Inside there's a small, perfect ring with a stone the same colour as the sea.


Josh: It's an engagement ring.

Me: I know.  

*puts ring onto ring finger* 

*snuggles Josh*

*says soppy stuff that I'm not repeating on a public blog*

*feels even more lightheaded*

Josh: I take it that's a yes then?

Me: Yup.

Josh: Are you sure that's the finger it's meant to go on?


So, dear internet, I am engaged. Engaged. It's weird, because in one sense I've been engaged to Josh forever, but just as an Inside My Head Which Is Often Quite a Crazy Place Anyway Thing. The whole thing being, like, an Actual Thing That I Actually Tell People About is really quite weird. Yesterday it all seemed very unreal. Today it seemed very real indeed and I looked at wedding stuff on the internet when I should have been writing, even though the wedding is at least two years away and I really shouldn't be drooling over wedding stuff yet anyway.

My friends and I sometimes talk about chocolate fish. You know how in the movies, or wherever, a girl has a nasty breakup and her friends all go, 'Never mind. There are plenty of fish in the sea'? Well, we think that while there are plenty of fish, there are very few chocolate fish. Very few indeed.

I have found me my chocolate fish.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: The Next Big Trends In YA

It is 11.08pm, and I've been procrastinating. Did I ever mention how I should be, like, an Olympic level professional procrastinator? Seriously. I make it so easy. Just now, I was looking in google streetview at random streets at the complete other end of New Zealand. I still don't know exactly why. Lesser procrastinators should aspire to the level of grace and doggedness in my procrastinating.

So. Predictions for the next big thing in YA. Predictions. It's probably worth bearing in mind that I am bad enough at predicting what the next day of the week will be sometimes. I would be an appallingly bad fortune teller.

I predict that fantasy/paranormal fiction is going to stay big. We are the Harry Potter generation, my friends. We like our magic especially magical. I think angels and witches are on the rise. But in the long run, I predict that fantasy will not be so much about publishers trying to pick the next "in" creature. Instead fantasy will be darker, weirder, and more diverse. (Is there possibly a bias showing here? Of course not. Whatever would make you think that?) There will still be vampires, but plenty of other things too, from plenty of new interesting angles.  And I predict more demons and dystopias and people with magical powers, and more unusual settings. (No. Shut up. There is no bias towards the stuff that I write. I told you already. At least, not a deliberate one. Honestly. )

And given how huge Avatar has been, I think it's about time science fiction had a comeback in YA. There's lots of potential there. I don't write sf, so there's no bias this time. Just logic. Among other things, it'd be a great way to grab some of those reluctant boy readers.

Also I predict even more beautiful contemporary fiction. And that it will hopefully get more time in the spotlight. I predict LGBT characters becoming more widespread in mainstream YA. I also predict that the edgy factor in contemporary fiction (and fantasy too) is going to grow even more, that writers will take even more risks. There will be more outraged parents, more attempts at book banning, but also many more important, honest and gut-wrenching stories that show us the world in all its grittiness and all its beauty. There are going to be many, many more arguments about censorship and influence and corruption and all the stuff that people come out with when stories are so true that they're threatening. But in the end, the books are going to win, because the books always win. And the books are going to be wonderful.

And yeah. I'm kind of thinking this possibly isn't so much about predictions as it is about hope, but hope is good. Hope can change everything.

I've also been wondering whether YA won't change so much as mainstream literature will change to become more like YA. With electronic readers, and the increasingly fast pace of, you know, seemingly everything in the world, I think that there is an increasing call for immediacy in fiction. And as far as I'm concerned, YA is one of the most immediate genres there is. I think that's one of the reasons why it has stayed afloat so well, why people read it and love it who are long past being young adults themselves, why it is a genre on the rise. We want our books to be here and now and everywhere, to make a direct connection with who we are, to ask questions, and maybe even to give us hope. I think that New Adult (under that name or a different one) could possibly happen and happen brilliantly. And as a result, there might be more grey area where YA and mainstream merge. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet.

But yeah. Who really knows what the future will be? Not me. But I'm looking forward to finding out.

To find out what my fellow highwayers have predicted, visit YA Highway.