It’s a good day when one is able to read book a book that delights and intrigues. It’s an even better day when one is able to devour said book in a few sittings. Use it to block out the chatter of public transit, unwind with it at a coffee shop on break, or simply sit with it on the couch after spending two hours too long covincing that six year old that yes, it is bedtime.
The books on this tour are these kind of books. The kind you can’t put down. We at Kinderlit were curious about how the authors came up with their story ideas, and what about those ideas made the books compelling.
WHAT WAS THE GENESIS OF YOUR LATEST NOVEL? WHAT CAME FIRST AND WHERE DID YOU GO FROM THERE?
Emma Mills, author of First & Then:
I had a few general ideas to start with. I knew wanted to tell a story about someone who was applying for schools (because I was applying for schools myself at the time, and was a bit frustrated with the process!). I love sports stories, and I liked the idea of a sports story where the star player is not the most popular person in school, but in fact, is widely disliked. And I was interested in the idea of siblings building a relationship with each other. So First & Then kind of evolved out of all that. And of course I found a great bit of inspiration in Austen’s works!
Emma Mills is a debut author better known to her subscribers as vlogger Elmify. She is also co-creator and co-host of the “life skills” channel How to Adult.
Josephine Angelini, author of Firewalker:
I grew up in Massachusetts and my books are (sort of) about witches, so the genesis of the idea goes back for me. I think I always knew that I’d write something with witches in it someday, but from there I went in an entirely different direction. I didn’t want to do witches like they’d been done before. I wanted something fresh and totally unexpected, so I introduced the concept of parallel universes and created a Fanta-sci world. It’s definitely unique.
Josephine Angelini is the internationally bestselling author of Trial by Fire and the Starcrossed series. She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in theater, with a focus on the classics. Originally from Massachusetts, Josie now lives in Los Angeles with her screenwriter husband, her daughter, Pia Marie, and three shelter cats. You can visit her on Facebook, her website, or follow her on Twitter .
Leila Sales, author of Tonight the Streets Are Ours:
Tonight the Streets Are Ours is about a girl who becomes fascinated by a blogger from afar and ultimate sets out on a road trip to track him down in person. This is something that I personally have done a few times in my life: There are a handful of online writers over the years whose work I admired so much that I tried to befriend them in real life. Whenever I tell stories about doing that, people think it’s such a weird and funny experience, so I realized it could work as a good jumping off point for a novel!
Leila Sales is the author of the novels This Song Will Save Your Life, Mostly Good Girls, and Past Perfect. This Song Will Save Your Life garnered two starred reviews, was included on the American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list, was one of Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of the Year, and was listed as one of the Best YA Books of 2013 by Buzzfeed.com. It has been published in ten foreign countries, and it has been optioned for stage and film development.
Leila grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Chicago. When she’s not writing, she spends her time thinking about sleeping, kittens, chocolate, and how to get more of all of them. Leila lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in children’s book publishing. Follow her on Twitter.
First & Then is a coming of age love story of Austen-esque proportions.
Devon, in her final year of high school, is laboriously plodding towards her future. Uninspired by her current situation, she opts for the haven of avoidance as a coping mechanism to deal with all aspects of her life. She isn’t sure where she’ll be going to college yet, but doesn’t really like to dwell on that. There’s also the thing where she’s been wishing her best friend was her boyfriend for the last few years, which hasn’t come to fruition. She’s stagnating, in desperate need of something to shake her loose, and then, comes Devon.
Her younger cousin Foster, carrying his own burdens, enters her life, and suddenly she must readjust her schedule, her social time, and her perspective. When his latent talent is unveiled in their shared gym class, it puts her squarely onto a new path. She’s encountering people she’s never met, going places she’s never been, and taking hard look at who she is. At how she perceives the world- and the people in it.
Yates has created a book that could easily be translated to the screen. There is a certain effortlessness about the way the story unfolds, description and stream of consciousness in harmony. By the end of the first page, the reader is exposed to heroine Devon’s wry sense of humor, the kind that induces one of those minor giggling fits one tries to repress in public. Usually without success.
The characters are believably flawed, and in situations that most young adults find themselves in at the end of their secondary school career. Devon, while directionless, is still a smart, capable person. What is particularly interesting is how Yates has subtly measured the cause and effect of a single change. When Foster is introduced, the focus seems to be on him, and her resentment of having to deal with his encroachment of her social circle. Yet without him, she wouldn’t have met Ezra (a transfer from another school), been exposed to new friends, or discover the romance that she has been longing for. He is her catalyst, providing her with the opportunity to rise to the occasion, to stretch, and to re-examine her own values. The story also demonstrates that everyone-including adults can be fallible, encouraging readers to follow their gut, as opposed to simply accepting one side to a story.
Yates’ allusions to Pride and Prejudice are well placed, and obvious to readers who have enjoyed both texts. Devon’s personality traits, emulate those of Elizabeth Bennets , particularly in her humor and sarcasm. Her romance with Ezra is a slow burn, and they run into all kinds of issues, much as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.
A strong debut from a delightful writer.
With a tip of the hat to the best-selling Grisha Trilogy, Leigh Bardugo is back in full form in her latest novel, Six of Crows. The book is a departure from the characters in the first series, starting anew with six young people, struggling to escape from a city and system which they resent for it’s maltreatment, and injustice. The city itself is separated by class system. Ketterdam’s slum, otherwise known as “The Barrel” has produced some fine gangs, one of which, “the Dregs” (touche) is supported by a young criminal mastermind named Kaz Brekker. Kaz has been tasked to do the impossible, to find the maker of Jura Pardem, a drug which amplifies a Grisha’s abilities to a Deity-esque status for a short time, but becomes addictive and deadly to the user. This maker is trapped in the highest security prison, where people who have tried to breach it have been famously tortured and killed, a la Vlad the impaler.
Still, for the amount of money and the opportunity of revenge, Kaz is determined to make this happen. To do so, he gathers a team of 6 individuals, a grisha heartrender, a wraith, a sharpshooter, a soldier, and an unknowing hostage as insurance, each with something unique to bring to the table. In the beginning, he treats most of his team as pawns, however, as time goes on, he realizes that the team is as one entity as is a machine to it’s parts- if one piece is missing, everything falls apart.The heist will be like none before it, and everyone has something to lose.
Bardugo’s world is intricate, as always. The city and surroundings are viscerally experienced through each character’s perspective, as it is passed back and forth, chapter to chapter, giving the reader a diverse worldview. Although those who have read the Grisha Trilogy may find the first chapter a bit of a review, it is necessary for those who have not been introduced to the universe that Bardugo has created.
The characters themselves have relationships that intrigue, seduce and manipulate, adding depth to a plot that could be lost driving straight towards the main event, the heist itself. It is clear that she loves these 6 adventurers- and demonstrates this through clairty of voice. Each is an individual, and as such, the dynamics of the team are realistic, and at times, emotional. Bardugo cleverly ensnares readers with her fast paced charm, and wit. Her writing has become honed, more severe in this iteration, which is necessary for the plot to be fully realized.
Bardugo has given readers a book that is difficult to put down. A fast-paced and highly enjoyable read.