Internets, what does one do during a six hour layover at Auckland airport?
If one has the money and inclination, one buys an ad hoc pass to the Koru club international lounge, which is about ten thousand times quieter and more relaxing than the regular terminal, even though they don't have proper diet coke, but only Coke Zero, that weak shadow of the perfect form of non-food non-sustenance.
(I saw some reviews for the lounge while I was looking to see if I could buy access, and saw one business-class frequent flier wanting to know SINCE WHEN the GENERAL PUBLIC could gain access by PAYING MONEY for a SERVICE. I sincerely hope that person is in the lounge right now and I am offending them with my middle-class economy-flying presence. I also hope that during their next flight, they spill orange juice on themselves just before a lengthy bout of turbulence.)
One then shows one's readers the Australian/New Zealand cover to one's next novel:
I got this on the bus on the way to the airport and I grinned so much I think my seatmate might have thought I was contemplating some terrible deed.
And here's the American cover again:
Now, all they want is for things to return to normal (or as normal as they can be), but the government has other ideas. Especially since the two just spilled the secrets behind Australia's cryonics project to the world. On the run, Abdi and Tegan have no idea who they can trust - and, when they uncover startling new details about the program, they realize that thousands of lives may be in their hands.
Karen Healey offers a suspenseful, page-turning companion to When We Wake that will keep readers on the edge of their seats and make them call into question their own ideas about morality -- and mortality, too.
Internets, my publishers have been pretty generous with showing you pretty ladies on my covers*. I thought long and solemn thoughts** and then I said, "publishers, it is time for there to be a pretty gentleman on my cover. I feel this is important. For reasons. Equality reasons? Misandry!"*** I yelped, much like an MRA who has just been contradicted by someone whose lived experience as a woman is somehow not as valid as his deeply considered assumptions about how sexism doesn't exist any more.
"Karen, you know misandry isn't actually a thing," they replied. "But how about a pretty gentleman because the narrator is actually a pretty gentlemen?"
"Oh, right," I said. "Much better reason, let's do that."
And it was so, and I was very pleased! I love these colours, I love the way the tone is so different to Tegan's cooler mood and style in the When We Wake cover. I think both of the models chosen show a different aspect of the Abdi in my head, and that this perhaps will help connect readers to that Abdi. I think the designers and editors and everyone involved did a really great job.
I say this every time I get a new cover, but I say it because it's true; I am SO lucky with cover design. I am lucky that the designers are so talented and hard-working, and I am lucky that my editors take my thoughts into account. And I am very, very lucky that I work with people at Allen and Unwin and Little, Brown who will most absolutely put people of colour on the front cover without me having to explain why that's important and right.
Oh, also, why am I flying? I am flying to Boston! To do some stuff at NCTE, to wit:
2:30 – 3:45 PM Convention Center – Room 307, Level Three:
I am speaking with MALINDA LO on Fraying the Seams: Using YA literature to explore overlapping and contested identities.
Me and Malinda, that's going to be great. I imagine you can't go to that unless you're actually at the conference, but if you ARE, you should come see us; we will be awesome.
Also awesome will be our school visit to Wellesley High the next day. You probably can't go to that either, sorry.
But if you happen to be in Boston, you CAN go to:
6:00 – 8:00 PM Event with MALINDA LO and A.S. KING at Cary Memorial Library.
<em>Growing up is tough, and no one knows that better than writers of Young Adult fiction. Their teenage characters solve mysteries, unravel conspiracies, and rebel against a world of unfair expectations. YA authors tell stories about overcoming obstacles, falling in love, and the fight against injustice. Their stories teach us how to survive in an uncertain world.
Join us for a special after-hours event as Karen Healey, A.S. King, and Malinda Lo talk about identity and coming of age in contemporary teen fiction.</em>
I think actually that most people who are currently growing up know growing up is tough much better than I do, but, you know, we try. And all three of us got through it. Come and get some survival tips.
* There was actually one time when we wanted a non-pretty lady on the cover - Ellie Spencer, of Guardian of the Dead, and we couldn't find a damn stock photo anywhere. I talk about that, and about whitewashing, in another post. Instead the covers for that book are a creepy white mask (US hardcover), a pretty lady with her back to you (ANZ) and a pretty, creepy lady's face (US paperback). ONE DAY THERE WILL BE A PLAIN LADY ON A COVER.
*** Total lies.
This entry was originally posted at http://karenhealey.dreamwidth.org/70272.h
I was so angry that my howl reached the heavens and the stars extinguished themselves in fear.
I was so angry that I stamped my foot three times on the earth and the impact shattered my body into a trillion pieces hurtling through the cosmos, each a dense, screaming microcosm of my rage.
Then I put myself back together and started writing this.
What set me off was an article by Ruth Curry, excerpted from Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.
It tells the story of a young woman who moves to New York, falls in comfortable love with a dude, and then he moves to New Zealand and she follows, and things do not go well. And it talks weird smack about Christchurch, the city of my heart.
Christchurch "spreads out like a spreading stain". Christchurch "really was exclusively populated by angsty teenagers and the middle-aged". Christchurch is where Curry "jokes, meanly" that "the only options for arts, culture, and entertainment were respectively rugby, rugby, and rugby." Also, there were no bagels in Christchurch in 2006 and she is forced, FORCED, to order interesting pizza with corn and shrimp on it instead of the boring pepperoni-sauce-cheese pizza she could get in any pizza place in New Zealand if she really wanted. I will concede the horrible enchiladas. There is decent Mexican in Christchurch, but it's hard to find.
Anyway, all of this is largely bullshit, but sure, whatever. (Christchurch spreads like a GLORIOUS MICROCHIP, thank you very much). I was rolling my eyes at the exaggerations and inaccuracies, but largely feeling sorry for Curry.
Curry had apparently never anticipated that she'd hit culture shock in an English-speaking nation, and it hit her hard. She was trying to break into publishing in New Zealand on a working holiday visa (yeah, no - retail, service jobs, and seasonal fruit picking are all you're going to get without some major chops) and her boyfriend kept telling her to grow up and dragged her away for hiking trips.
Curry was living the cold, poverty-ridden, tenuously-employed life of the student without the fun parts, like hanging out with fellow tenuously-employed, poverty-ridden, cold students or learning anything. And she was living in Lyttleton, a port town just barely connected to Christchurch through a tunnel cut through the Port Hills. She crashed her boyfriend's car into an SUV and totaled the car (no indication of the health of the SUV or its driver). She was totally miserable, and she left, and he did not follow her. I nodded sympathetically along. I've had the culture shock, the employment woes, the shitty boyfriend. I got it.
And then the article concluded:
I saw Russell once more. About six months after we split up, he came through New York and stopped by to return the stuff I had stored at his sister’s. Her basement had flooded, and a lot of his own things had been ruined, but not, he said, the sweet, silly notes I had left for him every morning when we first met. A year later he got married. I know his wife; they started dating three weeks after he and I separated.
A major earthquake struck Christchurch in 2011. It was the second-deadliest natural disaster in New Zealand history. Almost every place I remember well was destroyed, the rest damaged or irrevocably changed by what’s fallen down around them.
The sympathy train screeched to a halt. Flaming eyeballs, extinguished stars, a trillion dense spinning microcosms of rage, etc.
It is not a good idea to make a deadly and very recent natural disaster the snappy conclusion to your sad travelogue. It is not okay to talk about how much you disliked a place and how down it made you and then casually mention that large chunks of it are now destroyed, because whether you meant it to or not, that comes across with a very strong hint of "and thank goodness." The 2011 earthquake is not an excellent metaphor for your failed, destructive, romantic relationship - unless your relationship killed 185 people and shattered the heart of a city.
That conclusion is not clever, nor wryly amusing. It is glib, nasty, and oblivious to the very real pain that cracks through the city Curry so despised.
I am angry. This is why.
This entry was originally posted at http://karenhealey.dreamwidth.org/70082.h
And it has promoted another thing that is less "exciting" and more "deeply terrifying": I am learning how to drive.
When I turned 17 my parents gave me six driving lessons for a present. They were eventually redeemed by my brother when he turned 17, 2 years and 4 months later. My parents were disappointed. I was sorry they were disappointed. But I was not sad that I hadn't used the gift.
Up until now, I have not needed nor wanted to drive, so I have not learned. I lived in Christchurch and Fuchu-shi (Japan) and Melbourne, all of whom had public transport systems that went from "okay, mostly" to "superb, cleaned by people wearing white gloves." But my teaching job is in a place where a car would, finally, be very close to essential.
So I have to learn.
Five reasons being able to drive would be kinda cool:
1: I could buy a whole bunch of groceries at once!
2: Lugging piles of resources to school would be significantly easier on my back and shoulders.
3: I wouldn't have to check with people if I can get a ride to a thing that isn't within public transport + walking reach, and turn down the thing/take a taxi if no ride was available.
4: Road trips! I like those! I could offer to spell the driver!
5: If there was an emergency I could drive someone someplace, although frankly I would not put me behind the wheel in an emergency unless there was absolutely no other option whatsoever.
Ten reasons driving is super awful:
1: So bad for the environment. Like, ridiculously, terribly bad.
2: I will need to acquire an exercise regime beyond "walk places".
3: A CAR WEIGHS ABOUT FIVE HUNDRED TIMES MORE THAN A TODDLER AND IF I HIT A TODDLER WITH A CAR THEY WILL DIE AND I WILL CARRY THAT GUILT FOREVER.
4: Ugh cars are so expensive to buy and upkeep and fill with petrol.
5-10: SEE REASON THREE.
I acquired my learner license on Tuesday. My Fabulous Sister has given me two ten-minute lessons in an empty parking lot, because that's about as much panic-stricken babbling is fair to unleash on her in a session:
Me: "Okay, I'm stopping, gently, gently, I turn on the indicators, I check my mirrors, I turn the wheel a bit, I put my foot on the accelerator, I turn more TURN MORE TURN MORE."
She: "You're fine, now straighten up."
Me: "It's NOT STRAI- okay, I slow down a bit, I - OMG ANOTHER CAR IS COMING INTO THE PARKING LOT."
She: "You're fine, just make sure you stay to the-"
Me: "No, nope, I'm just going to stop and wait for it to go. THIS IS SCARY."
She: "No, it's not! You're being negative again!"
Me: "DID I NOT TELL YOU ABOUT THE TODDLER?"
I'll get there. I have to learn, so I will. But at the moment, my driving life is a slow* disaster movie.
* Very, very slow.
This entry was originally posted at http://karenhealey.dreamwidth.org/69867.h
I'm back! I graduated early! That means I get three months to look for teaching jobs and write a book and sleep and bake and and BLOG and all those good things. I was thinking about some sort of Grand Return Post, and then I decided that no, the more I thought about one of those the less likely I was to write it.
So here is a brief observation for you: my sister is a filthy liar. She talked me into coming to a Body Balance class at the gym today, promising fun times and nothing I would hate. I am fat and stretchy, so low-impact "let's hold a position for a while and breathe!" stuff sounded good. And indeed, it was super fun until:
Instructor (who taught me PE in high school; my hometown is a small town): "And now for the ab work!"
Me, not at all quietly: "I'm going to kill you."
My sister: *wide, delighted grin*
I hate working my abs, and she knew it. I hate ab exercise more than any form of exercise, and I have quite a lot of hatred for many forms of exercise. Ab work HURTS. I can't seem to do any form of lifting without straining at my neck and shoulders, and those are parts that are already high-tension wire level strained. (Don't give me advice on this, btw. I know you'd mean it well, but I have bona fide expert advice from said filthy lying sister). And then my abs themselves are not strong, and have to move quite a lot of me, and all in all, it's a painful time of torment.
Anyway, I grimly flailed my way through about half of each ab exercise, and spent the rest of each one on my back, fighting to breathe and wondering if I could write a good book about a teenage sororicide.
I decided that I could.
This entry was originally posted at http://karenhealey.dreamwidth.org/69595.h
Re-reads both: Iorich and The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust. I have been a planning, assessing, academic bidding, first pass pages correcting ROBOT for the last week, and in those situations I go straight for something familiar and well-loved - i.e., something by Brust, Bujold, Mahy, or Pamela Dean's Tam Lin.
A History of the Wife, Marilyn Yalom. It's still really good I was just distracted.
Code Name Verity Elizabeth Wein. I anticipate a big, spoilery review of this later, but at this stage I am past the halfway point and full of THEORIES. I would hate to spoil for anyone else, so instead I will just make this observation: Usually when reading an Elizabeth Wein novel I have to brace myself against the terrible things that are going to inevitably happen to characters I care about. In this novel the terrible things happen from the very first page! What a relief!
The Shadowed Sun, N. K. Jemisin. I was all, what? Who? What's happening? for about thirty pages. And then I looked it up and realised the book takes place ten years after The Killing Moon. Ohhhhhh. Okay!
The Single Witch's Survival Guide, Mindy Klasky. Deeeeeelightful! Especially love the fake Brit lady.
The Bone Season, Samantha Shannon. Acquired for me by lovely publicist Abba! She is curious to see what I think of it, and thus so am I.
This entry was originally posted at http://karenhealey.dreamwidth.org/69307.h
Trust me, I'm more surprised than anyone. But it turns out being a fast-paced, enthusiastic teacher with high expectations, an ability to tactically ignore restless/distracting behaviour and - most importantly - an unshakably nerdy love for charts, graphs, and data collection works steadily in my favour.
Something to encourage me when I hit my next classroom placement!
This entry was originally posted at http://karenhealey.dreamwidth.org/68944.h
Nothing! Oh my paws and whiskers, can this be so?
It's academic bidding time in my teacher training cycle. We don't write essays - we make presentations, while tutors ask us sharp questions to expose gaps in our knowledge. It's a little like defending your thesis A LOT.
So far, I have done a presentation on NZ's National Education Goals and Guidelines and the National Administration Guidelines. Next, my various study partners and I have presentations on human development theory and practice, legal and ethical issues in teaching, and NCEA (the NZ qualifications system).
As you might imagine, this involves some reading! Some of it's dull, and some of it's incredibly fascinating, but none of it is what I consider leisure reading.
(We've also been preparing for our special education fieldwork. That starts this week, and Internets, as you can imagine I really don't want to stuff that up. Oh, and we've been working on Te Reo Māori. Thanks to Japanese, I can roll my Rs like anything! But also thanks to Japanese, I always mispronounce "au".)
ANYWAY, upshot is, nothing completed in my downtime. (ahahahaha "downtime").
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black. Oooooh, sibling stuff and media in action. I am a sucker.
Cold Steel, Kate Elliot. VAI WHAT ARE YOU DOING. STOP.
Also, I feel I should note that the copy-edit on this book is sublime.
A History of the Wife, Marilyn Yalom. Non-fiction, about just what it says. Euro-American focused, with a brief stopover in ancient Israel, but acknowledges this straight up. Awesomely feminist, intriguingly historical.
Supernaturally, Kiersten White. The continuing adventures of Evie! Can't wait. Although I have two weeks of academic bidding left, so I suspect I must.
This entry was originally posted at http://karenhealey.dreamwidth.org/68462.h
Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens. OH MY GOD there was a freaking MORAL. Man, I'm so annoyed about that. Bella revealed herself to be GRATE and then you continue the charade? Not cool, John! Not cool, Boffins! But the good people ended happily and the wicked unhappily; that is what fiction means.
Also, I was reading an electronic copy, and then I spotted a beautifully bound and truly ENORMOUS paper version in a bookshop and was mightily impressed with myself.
Courtesans, Katie Hickman. Continued as delightfully to the end. Highly recommended if you want to know what English and French demimonde ladies were up to and the societal norms they exploited and flouted during the long 19th century. (ETA: Historical accuracy apparently not a high point, but entertaining nonetheless!)
The Coldest Girl in Cold-Town, Holly Black. Holly is SO good at writing girls who are angry and damaged and proud and dangerous. I can't wait to see where Tana's going.
Cold Steel, Kate Elliot. CAT! BEE! RORY! VAI! Also, politics, magic, revolution, gender, power, control, freedom, and sport. Which are awesome! But let's face it, I'm a character reader, and I love the hell out of those four. If any of them die, I'm going to sulk for days.
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein. Y'all, don't tell me a THING.
This entry was originally posted at http://karenhealey.dreamwidth.org/68248.h
The other week, I am halfway through. I went home to Oamaru, where I have been fed and warmed. I have been writing, internets! Writing! I love it! Killing people with science!
Anyhow, a partial list of what I remember:
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson.
Blew my freaking mind. Teenage artist June is trying to win a competition that is one of the few ways a young person like her can get recognition in her rigidly controlled futuristic Brazilian city. But her association with best friend Gil and the charismatic, brilliant, and doomed Summer King Enki might end up changing much more than her personal future. Art! Sex! Politics! Class! Privilege! Technology! Bitter and petty teenage emotions that are so damn real. Worldbuilding! SUMMER KINGS. You should go and read this right now, that's why I put it first. It's really, really good.
The Chaos, Nalo Hopkinson.
I LOVE talented heroines. Like June, who is a great artist, and Scotch, who is an excellent dancer. Anyway, Scotch's biggest concerns are some family drama about her brother going to jail and having to conceal her real clothing and sex choices from her parents, and also whether she might be going crazy. And these are big concerns! But then a volcano erupts in Toronto and everything goes super weird and now she has to worry about Baba Yaga and her chicken house and a big black tarry monster called Spot and her brother has disappeared ON TOP of the other stuff. Jeez. Awesome speculative YA.
Foreigner, CJ Cherryh.
LET US DISCUSS CULTURE SHOCK AND THE PERILS OF INTERSPECIES COMMUNICATION FOR 300 PAGES AND IT WILL ACTUALLY BE TOTALLY INTERESTING, HOW DOES SHE DO THAT? Although I really didn't like the sectional nature of the prologuey bit - I half thought the whole book was going to be these short vignettes, and was so relieved when it settled into the story.
Invader, CJ Cherryh.
I could get over the introspection real quick, but I love how, at the same time Cherryh makes me go, "AWWWW JAGO I LIKE JAGO" I am constantly reminded that Jago doesn't have a concept of "like" and my feels would confuse and irritate her.
P.S. Jago is my favourite, and then Isildi. Bren stop talking to yourself. I hear that later in the series there is an avedi-central PoV, that sounds interesting.
Orleans, Sherri L Smith.
Fen, one of the residents of a hurricane-torn and Delta Fever-struck Orleans that has been cut off from the USA for decades, had a good tribe and a good life. Until the blood hunters came, and she was stuck with a newborn who didn't yet have the Delta Fever in her blood and might be able to get over the Wall - WITH the help of naive Outer States scientist Daniel, who is such an idiot. INCREDIBLE worldbuilding. Not convinced I like the ending, though ask me again tomorrow.
Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens. I didn't think I liked Dickens, but it turns out I like this just fine. I was eyerolling through the first part being all, "oh and at the end we'll learn the Secretary is actually the lost heir bleh bleh bleh" but then it was revealed! Nice plotting, Dickens! Also Lizzie and Bella should run away together y/y? Although I wouldn't want Eugene to be sad. I like Eugene, who is very much of the "... feelings? I has them?" mode.
Courtesans, Katie Hickman. (Non-fiction, not like me). Ladies of the 18th and 19th century, no better than they should be, but much better off than many. I love this entertaining and source-rich look at the lives, finances, and weirdly contradictory independence of women of the English and French demi-monde. Little bit of psychological reading of the "Surely she must have felt" mode, but most biographical detail relies on sources, not mind-reading.
Tam Lin, Pamela Dean. It's about that time again. Yaaaay, magical college hijinks! Yaaaaaay, joy of reading!
This entry was originally posted at http://karenhealey.dreamwidth.org/67843.h
I of course must respect the privacy of my students, so I don't talk about them directly here, or much about what I do with them (and wouldn't even if I had the time!) but I think professional conduct allows me to say this:
Today we were doing a creative writing lesson on writing an action scene. I gave the students this for an example:
At the soft scrape of a bare foot on stone , Luisa whirled.
The Grey Man stood directly behind her, reaching for her throat. Luisa didn’t waste a second. She took one step forward, lifting her knee sharply. Her tensed foot snapped up. Too late! With the speed of a snake, the Grey Man caught her ankle and yanked.
Luisa went down hard, the gritty rock of the clifftop scraping her hands and knees raw. She tasted blood in her mouth and felt the sharp pain of a bitten tongue. With a monumental effort, she forced herself back to her feet. The Grey Man was waiting. Watching.
“Give me the stone,” he said, his voice soft and sibiliant. “The secret stone. Give it to me.”
Luisa risked a look over her shoulder. The ocean below was rough, the sharp rocks jagged teeth. And there were predators in the water.
But none of those were as dangerous as the creature that blocked her exit.
No safe way past him. The only way out was down.
With her heart pounding in her chest, thumping against the stone in her pocket, Luisa turned on her heel and fled. Towards the edge of the cliff.
She felt a tug at her hair, but she wrenched free and leapt. For a breathless moment, she felt suspended in air, flying past the startled gulls who screamed their displeasure.
Then, she fell.
"What happens next?" they wanted to know.
"You tell me!" I said merrily, and set them brainstorming, planning, and drafting.
I think Luisa dies in about half the stories. 14 year olds LOVE gore.
This entry was originally posted at http://karenhealey.dreamwidth.org/67823.h