Category Archives: Young Adult

Interview with YA Author Zoraida Córdova

 I am pleased to introduce to you YA Author Zoraida Córdova, a fellow 2012 debut author featuring the best of all mythological protagonists, the mesmerizing yet menacing merman!

THE VICIOUS DEEP will be published by Sourcebooks Fire in March, 2012

Welcome, Zoraida, why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your path to publication? Is this your first novel, or your first novel to be published?
 
I didn’t realize writing was something I REALLY wanted to do until junior high when my English teacher asked us to write a 3 page short story and mine ended up being almost 30! My agent will tell you I still have that problem…
 
Finding an agent was the easy part. I started interning at PMA Literary and Film Management one summer during college and quickly became BFFs with then Junior Agent and now VP Adrienne Rosado. I followed her around because she was so cool and knew all these publishing things, plus she paid for the drinks (hah!). 
 
At that point I was writing urban fantasy fiction before I was told it was its own genre. We tried shopping a contemporary Latin girl book, but we found out that, while NY publishing loved my words, there really wasn’t room for another brown girl book on the shelves. It sounds bitter, but I don’t mean it that way. It’s true. The market for those books is so small. I went through a bad no-writing phase because it was my first real publishing let-down. Still, I was barely 20. It felt like the end of the world, but I kept on writing. 
 
One of the most important things someone told me is to write what you know. And while I may not be part of a mermaid court, I know the essence of my characters, and I know that I love the world I’ve created. 
 
It worked!  
 
When people ask you what THE VICIOUS DEEP is about, what do you tell them?
 
It’s pretty much the story of a boy.  Tristan Hart is a teenage playboy. He’s a lifeguard, a star swimmer, and at the top of the HS social ladder. When a storm hits Coney Island during one of his lifeguard shifts, he foolishly rushes into the water to try to save someone and is caught in the rip-tide. From that moment on, his life changes. He finds out he’s a merman. A prince of the Sea Court and they’re back and holding a deadly excalibur-like search for their next king. 
 
When I was writing my novel about merpeople, I had no idea mermaids were going to be the next “hot” thing in YA literature. Did you know that as you were writing, or did that come as a surprise to you, too?
 
Anyone who knows me knows how I’ve been obsessed with mermaids since age 3. They’re my favorite mythological creature. (Though in my heart I know they’re real.) When I was telling myself “write what you know!” I added “write what you love.” And I love mermaids. At that point there weren’t many mermaids books out, not the way there will be in the coming months. I’m catching the trend, totally accidentally. 
 
How would you describe your protagonist’s voice? Why did you go that route?
 
Tristan is a pretty cool guy.  If I were a guy, I would want to be Tristan. In a weird way he’s an amalgamation of guys I’ve dated. Which might say a lot of my dating life. 
 
I started his story all because I was at Coney Island one summer. The weather was pretty shitty for July. There was a nasty storm warning and this BEAUTIFUL  lifeguard in orange trunks telling me not to go in the water. It was, like, fate. The pieces just fell into my head. The name Tristan just came to me and I could SEE him, clear as day. 
 
What is Tristan’s biggest strength? What is his biggest flaw/ mistake/ prejudice?
 
His biggest strength is his loyalty and his courage. He reminds me of a young knight who knows what the right choices are supposed to be, but who is still too young and does WHAT he feels like. 
 
His biggest flaw is that he’s impulsive and sometimes hurts people without realizing it. He has to learn consequences. His love interests are a testament to that. 
 
If your novel were made into a movie, who would you want to be cast in the lead roles? Or another way to think about it, what actors best resemble your characters’ physical traits?
 
Tough choice. Someone who read the novel said they pictured Tristan being played by Ian Somerhalder? The guy from the Vamp Diaries. I would agree, but only when I google pictures of him in real life and not from the show. Dark hair and turquoise eyes. 
 
Tristan’s main love interest is Layla Santos. I picture Mila Kunis. 
There is a wide range of characters, and honestly, I draw sketches of them from magazines I flip through to people I see on the streets so it’s hard to match current actors to them. If it ever were a movie I would feel they’d have to be a lot of fresh unknows.
 
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk, Zoraida! And best of luck with your 2012 debut.
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PURPLE DAZE: a book review

Previously Posted on Book End Babes (Jan. 18, 2010)

Sometimes a book can surprise you. Sometimes you open a book and don’t know what to make of it. Sometimes you stay up until midnight reading a book and then stay up until three, reading it again. Sometimes all three are true, and (for me) that was the case with YA novel PURPLE DAZE by Sherry Shahan (March 2011,Running Press Teens).

A compelling dip into the colorful world of 1965, the story revolves around the lives of six California high school kids: Good girl Cheryl and her sexually frustrated boyfriend, Don. Voluptuous, self-declared slut, Ziggy, and her flirting-with-disaster boyfriend, Mick. And love sick Nancy and her upstanding beau, Phil. But what makes PURPLE DAZE noteworthy isn’t so much the story, but the format in which the story is delivered.

In PURPLE DAZE, the plot unfolds not through narrative, but rather through the six characters’ varying points of view, told through poignant yet accessible free verse, traditional poems, journals, and letters, which are woven together with news reports and political speeches from the “outside” world, a place to which the kids are often oblivious.

Despite the Viet Nam war, the burgeoning feminist movement, and local race riots breaking out around them, the six friends are remarkably insulated from it all–focusing instead on the timeless teen pursuits of sneaking out, going to the movies, and seeing how far they can go without getting pregnant. Prime example, when Ziggy is forced to watch a movie about JFK in social studies class, she comments:

I fell asleep and dreamed I was in the

White House, classy as Jackie before

Lee Harvey Oswald.

looking cool in silk taffeta.

But when one of the boys gets called up for the draft, that singular event shatters the last remaining remnants of their innocence and changes the trajectories of their lives forever.

Another spin, I trip on the hem of my

fringed jeans, trying to laugh, except I’m

crying and can’t stop.

“I don’t want you to die.”

The end result is a brilliantly crafted time capsule that is as addictive as anything Ziggy would try. It makes me wonder though. How many of today’s teens are going to pick up this book with its anachronistically-styled cover and pages of free verse?

I sincerely hope all of them. This story is theirs.

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SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater

Previously posted on http://www.bookendbabes.com

In the world of YA paranormal romance, we’ve seen our fair share of vampires, zombies, ghosts, and faeries. Werewolves, too. But now and then something steps away from the pack.

Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER did that for me. With most paranormal, I am happy to go along with the story for the sake of the fantasy, but with SHIVER I found myself believing it was true. Perhaps it was the intimacy of the domestic setting (we’re rarely farther than Grace’s house or the backyard woods), perhaps it’s the movie close-up perspective on the dialogue. More likely, however, is that it’s the poetic style of Ms. Stiefvater’s writing that draws me in and makes me feel like I’m in the character’s bubble and there is no me-with-book-in-hand interfering with the realism of the moment.

Here’s an excerpt that captures the tone and emotion of the book:

With a snarl and a flash of teeth, I pushed forward. Salem growled back at me, but I was rangier than him, despite my starvation and youth. Paul rumbled threateningly to back me up.

I was next to her, and she was looking up at the endless sky with distant eyes. Maybe dead. I pushed my nose into her hand; the scent on her palm, all sugar and butter and salt, reminded me of another life.

Then I saw her eyes.

Awake. Alive.

The girl looked right at me, eyes holding mine with such terrible honesty.

I backed up, recoiled, starting to shake again — but this time, it wasn’t anger that racked my frame.

Her eyes on my eyes. Her blood on my face.

I was tearing apart, inside and outside.

I mean, YUM, right? The second book in the werewolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, LINGER, came out July 20th. I won’t go too much into the book cover (book covers are an obsession of mine), but I would have picked it up knowing nothing of the story.  Rather, I am enticed by the classic story of two people destined for each other but who are never in the same place at the same time, let alone the same species. Isn’t that the way all feel about our romantic partner sometimes?

If you’ve read either book, I’d love to hear what you thought about them.

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I had the opportunity to talk (via email) with YA author and literary agent Mandy Hubbard yesterday.  Mandy is the author of PRADA & PREJUDICE, and she is an agent with D4EO Literary Agency.  Mandy’s next YA title, YOU WISH, is scheduled to hit book stores near you August 5, 2010.

Hi, Mandy. Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about YOU WISH.

  • It’s about a cynical teen who, on her sixteenth birthday, wishes that “Every birthday wish she’d ever made would come true.  Because they never frickin’ do.”  The next day she awakes to a life size My Little Pony. Every day, a new wish arrives.  But she’s desperate to stop them before she gets to the last one–for Ben Mackenzie to kiss her. Because Ben is her best friend’s boyfriend.

Wow! So no vampires? As an agent, what holes do you see in the YA market, and did you write YOU WISH with a mind for filling a hole?

  • I think there is a ton of paranormal/fantasy right now, and that can be hard to break out with. YOU WISH is a lighter, more reality-based book (although certainly the wishes would have to be considered fantasy . . . ). That said, I just write the books I’m most interested in writing, and hope the market supports that. I do happen to be working on a paranormal romance next!

It seems like you’re in touch with your audience. What are your thoughts about YA writers asking teens to be their beta readers? Did you have any teens read your book during the editing phase?

  • I’ve never had a teen read my book, at least not before its on shelves. I guess if you worry you’re out of touch with your demographic, that would be a good thing to do. I generally just have critique partners–people who are also authors who know how to analyze story lines and plot arcs and characters.

Thanks for the time, Mandy.  And good luck with your launch! If you are interested in reading more of Mandy’s insights in the MG/YA publishing world, check out her blog on the State of the Market.

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