Interview with Cyn Balog

June 28, 2009 at 11:34 AM | Posted in Agents, Interviews, Writing Advice, YA | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,
I’m sure you guys have been hearing lots about Fairy Tale (Delacorte June 23rd, 2009) around the YA blogosphere lately. Today, we have the author of this hotly anticipated read “invading” Teens Writing for Teens to “cause havoc”. Let’s have a warm round of applause for the magical Cyn Balog!

Now, with a title like Fairy Tale, I just have to ask – what’s your favourite fairy tale, and why?
My favorite is Cinderella. That is because I had a very similar nickname growing up and everyone would call me that. I had the Disney movie growing up and I watched it a gazillion times. Though it kind of freaks me out that Cinderella, for some reason, has no toes. OBVIOUSLY she would be the only one who can fit in that glass slipper, if she has no toes. Ew.

Hmm, now that you bring it up, that is kind of disturbing. As you’ve mentioned on your blog, fairies are an age-old concept. But every author puts a unique spin on these magical creatures. What differentiates your fairies in particular?
I started FAIRY TALE as a spoof of the fairy genre… I really didn’t take it very seriously, especially since the whole fairy thing was really just an aside to the main story, which was losing one’s first, seemingly perfect love. I have to confess that sometimes I’ll read a fairy book and my head will spin because it’s too embroiled in the lore. My fairies are fairly simplistic, something that people who aren’t into the lore can understand and relate to.

Early reviews of Fairy Tale mention great things about the characterization – and they do all sound so intriguing! If you could meet any character from your book, who would you choose, and what would you guys do for a day?
I think I would like to meet Pip, because he’s sweet and gentle and would basically do whatever I wanted to, like even hold my purse for me while I shopped.

Aww, that would be sweet! Speaking of the realm of the fictional – do you have any fictional or literary crushes? (Who?)
Almanzo Wilder from Little House on the Prairie.

Oh, good one! If you could bring any fictional character (book, movie, tv, any form of media really) to life, who would it be, and why?
I’d bring Bella to life, but not Edward, because it would be really hilarious to watch her try to survive without him.

Haha, slightly sadistic, but that would be an interesting social experiment nonetheless. Are there any juicy tidbits you’re allowed to share about your upcoming YA paranormal Sleepless?
Um, sure. It features a really hot, sexy sandman named Eron. Sandmen are like, the new fairies. I am soooo sure of it. At least, in my dreams.

That does sound intriguing! You bet – sandmen are definitely going to be in very soon. ;) What do you do when the muse has gone on vacation (i.e. the inspiration is lacking)?
You have to write through it! That’s the only way to get over it. I once had writer’s block for 10 years, and I know that writing breeds more writing, and when you stop, it’s impossible to start up again. Now that most of my work is on deadline, I have to push myself through it. I work really well on deadlines; they make it impossible to have writer’s block. It’s either, have writer’s block and starve, or get over it and eat ;)

Words of wisdom – share a quote of personal significance?
Hmmm… something sticking in my head…. “Hit the road Jack, and dontcha come back no more, no more, no more, no more.” Okay, no, that isn’t really inspiring, but I went out to eat a few nights ago and that song was playing in the restroom and I now can’t get it out of my head.

Now, about the unexpected. What are the best and worst unforseen things that have come along with this whole process (e.g. the planning, outlining, writing, querying, submitting, publishing, etc.)?
The best thing, especially writing for young adults, is that you will have a bunch of teens coming up to you or emailing saying they love your book… and that just plain rocks. They are the best audience a writer can wish for. I don’t think adults are as willing to lavish praise on a person, so it’s just so nice since this world is getting increasingly cold and unfeeling. Like, I can come home from being cut off in traffic and stepped on in line while checking out at the supermarket, read my mail, and go, Ahhh!

Anything you’d like to add?
Um, hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more?

  Thanks for the great interview, Cyn! More information about both Cyn and her recent release Fairy Tale can be found at Cyn’s home on the web.


About Fairy Tale

Morgan Sparks and Cam Browne are a match made in heaven. They’ve been best friends since birth, they tell each other everything, and oh yeah- they’re totally hot for each other. But a week before their joint Sweet Sixteen bash, everything changes. Cam’s awkward cousin Pip comes to stay, and Morgan is stunned when her formerly perfect boyfriend seems to be drifting away. When Morgan demands answers, she’s shocked to discover the source of Cam’s distance isn’t another girl- it’s another world. Pip claims that Cam is a fairy. No, seriously. A fairy. And now his people want Cam to return to their world and take his rightful place as Fairy King.

Determined to keep Cam with her, Morgan plots to fool the fairies. But as Cam continues to change, she has to decide once and for all if he really is her destiny, and if their “perfect” love can weather an uncertain future.

*Cross-posted from Lucid Conspiracy


Interview with Jaclyn Moriarty

April 9, 2009 at 8:52 PM | Posted in Authors, Interviews, Uncategorized, Writing, YA | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m really excited to share this next interview, because Jaclyn Moriarty is an author whose work I exceptionally enjoy. The Year of Secret Assignments is definitely one of the more memorable books I read when I first started getting into YA. And I have gone back to it a few times as well, because the characters and storytelling style were just that awesome. Feeling Sorry for Celia and The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie were also highly enjoyable reads. She currently splits her time between Sydney, Australia, and Montreal, Canada. She has just completed her new book, very exciting. And without further ado…

Where do your ideas for writing come from?

Sometimes I lie on the floor, close my eyes and listen to music. Sometimes I ride around on the ferry on Sydney Harbour and look at the water. And sometimes I listen in to other people’s conversations in cafes.
Ooh, those all sound relaxing and inspiring! Do you find certain characters harder to write than others?

I’ve just finished writing a new book in the Ashbury-Brookfield series, and it has some characters from earlier books, including Lydia and Emily. For some reason, it always takes me a while to get into Lydia’s head. I think it might be because she is complicated and secretive. On the other hand, I find Emily easy to write – she always seems to have something to say. The difficult thing with Emily is getting her to shut up.

That’s very exciting! I kind of like Lydia’s secretiveness; she’s quite mysterious. What would you say is one event that changed your life utterly and irrevocably?

Having a baby.

If you couldn’t write, hypothetically, what would you do instead?

I suppose I would go back to being a lawyer, but that would make me cry. I used to want to be a teacher, or a psychologist, or an astronomer.

All very interesting aspirations! I’m glad you chose to be a writer though ;) What do you do when inspiration is lacking (i.e. the muse has gone on vacation)?

Run up and down the stairs, eat chocolate, listen to music, or just sigh and start googling the names of old boyfriends.
What advice would you give to other young aspiring writers?

Don’t worry if you find it difficult to finish your stories, or if you haven’t got anything published yet. It can be a good thing to shift between stories for a few years – it helps to develop your style and imagination. Every now and then make yourself finish a very, very, very short story, just to remind yourself that you can. And you’ve got your whole life to get published.

Well said! Name three things you couldn’t live without?

The ocean, blueberries, Charlie (my little boy).

Words of wisdom – give a quote you live by?

My mother’s philosophy is that you should take on any problem with relish, throwing everything you’ve got at it until it’s solved. My dad decides what he wants to achieve and then makes it happen, ignoring the problems completely. I think they both have a point, but I would like to add that you should give yourself lots of treats along the way.

Thanks for the great interview, Jaclyn!

Cliches in YA

March 17, 2009 at 8:27 PM | Posted in YA | 25 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

It seems to me like almost everyone has at least one of these elements in their novel:

– a gorgeous, obnoxious guy the cynical MC is secretly in love with;

– a tomboyish MC who has a gorgeous  (usually blonde) sister;

– a supportive, “unique” best friend who drives an antique ’60s VW (painted mustard yellow) with a name (preferably Goldie–for Goldie Hawn);

– a black friend who is amazingly beautiful beyond beautiful (and has usually a creamy food skin tone, ie chocolate, caramel) (bonus points: hazel or green almond cat eyes);

– a vapid beauty-queen stepmother;

– the awkward, clumsy new girl at school who’s really insecure but all the boys are smitten with anyways;

– a quirky tomboy who becomes a model, singer, princess, national hero, actress, etc.;

– a Hero in A fantasy Novel who Is on a Quest to Destroy evil (bonus point: if your hero is the Chosen One) (bonus point #2: if almost every Word in your Novel is Capitalized to Suggest an important Title);

– a vegan/vegetarian MC who also believes in Star Wars showings, the Metro, and combat boots/Doc Martins;

– abusive parents;

– txtspk.

I rest my case.

– linda

The Real Difference Between Us….

March 16, 2009 at 3:25 PM | Posted in Life, Op-Ed | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I remember watching an interview with a teen writer. Several – in fact all of them – included one familiar question.

What is it like being a teen author?

Now, I am assuming here (not always a good thing) that these interviewers want to know what it is like being a successful teen versus being a successful adult. Instead of, say, being a teen writer in general. Just, “what is it like existing?” doesn’t feel like what they are asking. With that clarified, I would like to answer this question in two ways. One way is how I imagine these interviewers obviously want it answered. The other, in a more personal way that a lot of us here may identify with.

Being a teen gives us, basically, an advantage in the young adult market. We just know things. Adult writers will sometimes look at, say, their own kids, or the kids they teach or mentor or just come in contact with and say “They aren’t old enough to understand this,” or “I don’t want to introduce them to this,” or “they won’t be able to handle this.” Even worse, they will do a direct opposite. They will say “They may be kids but in this modern time they know everything” and then put in way too much sex, drug use, or language. Far more than necessary and far more than anyone, teen or adult, is comfortable with. As teens, we know what teen readers not only can handle, but what they want to handle and what they want in fiction for a good read. “What is it like being a teen writer?” It is like having an advantage over the adults. It is knowledge and experiences remembered. It is not looking at what other authors are putting into their books as a guideline for content but just knowing without a thought how far really is too far, what is interesting or catchy or in an opposite case what is too boring.

Secondly, I think the major difference for me is that we have more time. If you get into writing when you are ten, instead of forty, you have roughly thirty extra years on an adult to spend time doing what you love. You grow in talent, not faster, just earlier, and can spend up to sixty, seventy, eighty… ninety… years doing what you love instead of thirty, forty, fifty… I love that I have so many years ahead of me to write. I imagine when you all think of it you agree!

I would love to know what everyone else feels on this point. What do you feel when you hear the question “What is it like being a teen writer?”

~ Race

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.