An Ode to Book Bloggers

Before this year, I'm ashamed to say that I didn't really comprehend how important and awesome book bloggers, Bookstagrammers, Booktubers and Goodreads reviewers really were.

Sure I liked your pretty photos and read some of your reviews and was grateful that someone, somewhere had taken the time to produce them. Then I moved on with my life.

Pic by @pixelski on Instagram

Pic by @pixelski on Instagram

Over the past couple of months, however, with reviews and pictures and posts of Our Chemical Hearts pouring in, I really had to take a step back and marvel at the online book community. It is a thing of wonder. 

Pic by @lisa_lostinlit on Instagram

Pic by @lisa_lostinlit on Instagram

Thousands of people working every single day - usually without pay and frequently without recognition - to help support the dreams of others. And they do this for one reason and one reason only: because they love books.  

Pic by @youngadultbookaddict on Instagram

Pic by @youngadultbookaddict on Instagram

I try to avoid bad reviews of my book, mostly because I have the delicate ego of Kim Jong-un, but I have to say, I appreciate even the not-so-nice ones. (Or at least I start to after several glasses of wine, a small amount of crying and 'Shake It Off' played on repeat). You took the time to read it. More than that, you took the time to go online and tell other people about it, which is more than most readers can say. 

Pic by the @thebooksbuzz on Instagram

Pic by the @thebooksbuzz on Instagram

When a good review pops up, or a gorgeous picture, or a blog post dedicated entirely to my book, or a short and sweet tweet, or a listicle, or anything basically, I'm reminded how much time and effort you incredible people put into this - reading, styling, photographing, writing, posting and more - and I'm floored. Absolutely floored. (And then I drink some wine and cry happy tears. Being an author is like 80% wine and crying.) 

Pic by @_sarahdreamsbook on Instagram

Pic by @_sarahdreamsbook on Instagram

So every book blogger/Tuber/Grammer/reviewer - I salute you. I always say that book people are the best people, but you guys are the very best of the best. 

Pic by @molliethereader on Instagram

Pic by @molliethereader on Instagram

We couldn't do this without you and I can't bloody wait to meet you all. 

 

 

On Tours and Heroes

I recently listened to an episode of This American Life called "The Perils of Intimacy" in which comedian Kyle Mizono met her hero, spent a week working with him and then sent him an email (with disastrous results - her unnamed hero never emailed her back). Listen to it here, it's great (and deeply cringeworthy). 

Anyway, I listened to it at the perfect time (albeit accidentally): the next day, I found out that my book launch would be in New York City and it would be with Scott Westerfeld.

SCOTT FREAKIN' WESTERFELD, author of the Uglies series, the Midnighters series, Peeps... Basically the YA books that defined YA for me before I even knew what YA was.  

I've been stalking this man (well, stalking is maybe too strong of a word) since I was sixteen. Uglies is the book that made me want to be a writer. When I was a teenager, I checked Scott's blog religiously. I emailed him when I was seventeen and asked him some questions for a school assignment and he actually emailed me back. Almost a decade later, I emailed him again when I got my book deal and he emailed me back again. 

Me receiving a reply from Scott. 

Me receiving a reply from Scott. 

Scott Westerfeld was the first author who made me realise that authors were real people and writing books was a real job. I'm not sure I would've become a writer if I hadn't discovered his work. 

So how can I meet this person without freaking the fuck out? How are you supposed to act around a person you've never met before, but whom you know so much about? 

As Ira Glass said on the podcast, "It can be so awkward meeting one of your heroes. I swear, there should be a seperate word for the phenomenon, for the specific problem of like, what in the world do you say or talk about that is going to live up to everything you know and feel about them?" 

Kyle Mizono's initial tactic was just to...ignore him. Ignore her hero. Somehow, I don't think that's going to work for me at our joint book launch. Anyway, here's my US tour dates. COME LOOK AT ME IN PUBLIC AND STUFF. 

NEW YORK: October 5
Books of Wonder at 6:00pm
Appearing with Swarm author Scott Westerfeld
18 W. 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

CHICAGO: October 7-9
Anderson’s YA Conference at the Hilton Lisle in Naperville
3003 Corporate West Drive
Lisle, IL 60532

MINNEAPOLIS: October 11
Red Balloon Bookshop at 6:30pm
891 Grand Ave
St Paul, MN 55105

ST. LOUIS: October 12
Main Street Books at 7:00pm
307 S Main St
St Charles, MO 63301

DENVER: October 14-15
Colorado Teen Book Con at Littleton High School
199 E Littleton Blvd
Littleton, CO 80121

Lookout Hollywood!

Wow, it's been a long time since I last blogged (sorry!), but a lot has happened since then - I moved from Hong Kong back to Sydney, handed in the draft of my second book (!), I'm currently travelling in the US, my international tour was announced, and I finally got to talk about the movie deal for Our Chemical Hearts

Yeah kids, you heard that right. MOVIE DEAL. 

Basically how I interact with everyone now. 

Basically how I interact with everyone now. 

I had a meeting with the studio in LA yesterday (just before my 14-hour flight back to Sydney was cancelled - while we were on the tarmac. Brutal) and OH BOY am I excited to be working with Awesomeness to bring Our Chemical Hearts to the big screen.

As an author, it's kind of drilled into you not to expect anything from Hollywood. An astronomically small number of book rights that are purchased actually end up becoming movies. But... I have a good feeling about these guys. They're doing cool stuff with book adaptations and they're entirely focused on a YA audience. I have high hopes and a lot of faith. 

(Plus I really just want to be allowed on set and have a chair with my name on it and unlimited access to the craft service and lots of champagne. Make my dreams come true please Awesomeness. #Goals.) 

Accurate depiction of me on set. Always. 

Accurate depiction of me on set. Always. 

Basically, there aren't enough reaction GIFs in the world to cover the rollercoaster of emotions that has been the last three months. Oh and there are now only FORTY-TWO DAYS until Our Chemical Hearts is released into the wild and real people will really be able to read it. How the hell did that happen? Cue internal screaming. 

 

ARC Giveaway!

Are you a special and unique snowflake? Do you want to get your hands on a copy of OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS before its mass release in October? WELL GUESS WHAT KIDS, YOU TOTALLY CAN. 

I shamelessly stole both of these images from Penguin Teen because I have no book styling skillz.

I shamelessly stole both of these images from Penguin Teen because I have no book styling skillz.

Every month until its release, I'll be giving away two signed ARCs of OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS - one on Instagram and one on Twitter. 

My Twitter is here (the competition for the current month will probably be pinned to my profile). 

My Instagram is here (just scroll through and find the relevant post to regram). 

MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR. 

TR-8R: I Hope Australia Doesn't Kick Me Out

If there's one thing that FN-2187 and I have in common, it's that we're both traitors. 

Basically what happens every time an Aussie sees me in public. 

Basically what happens every time an Aussie sees me in public. 

One thing I get asked frequently (mostly by Australians) is if my book is set in the US. (Americans, for some reason, tend to assume that the book is set there without having to ask.) I have to sheepishly look friends, family and strangers in the eye and mumble, "Yes. I'm a traitor to queen and Commonwealth. I set the story on American soil." 

A kangaroo reacts to the news that he likely won't get a cameo part in any potential OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS film adaptations. 

A kangaroo reacts to the news that he likely won't get a cameo part in any potential OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS film adaptations. 

I know, I know. Dishonour on me. Dishonour on my cow. 

So what's my reasoning for this heinous betrayal of the sunburnt country I call home? Do I really hate Australia that much? 

The answer is a big, fat NO. I love Australia. I love it a kind of embarrassing amount. I've lived in Europe and Asia, and while I was away I watched the Tourism Australia ads and Telstra's "Down Under" commercial from the 2012 London Olympics. Like, multiple times. I sometimes sobbed into my wine while watching these. That's how patriotic I am. That's how much I missed Australia when I was abroad. 

*sob* 'Straya *sob*

So why is OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS set in the US of A? The truth is, it wasn't really a conscious decision. If I'd been writing a book about magic or knights or stone circles, I probably would've set it in Europe. If I'd been writing about post-apocalyptic landscapes or venomous fauna or terrifying urban legends about bears that drop from trees and maul unsuspecting tourists, I probably would've set it in Australia. (I really need to write a thriller about drop bears one day...)

Place is as much a character in stories as the characters themselves, and for me, the US is the setting for the archetypal high school story even though I didn't go to high school there. The Breakfast Club. Clueless. Carrie. Mean Girls. Scream. Bring It On. 10 Things I Hate About You. Napoleon Dynamite. All of these and so many more were what I grew up watching, and I absorbed so much by osmosis. 

While I was living in Hong Kong, my two best friends were American, and what struck me is that they didn't realise how pervasively their culture saturates others. Or, at least, how pervasively American culture saturates Australian culture. 

From an early age, Aussies are exposed to all things American: US TV shows, US films, US books, US politics, US news. I desperately wanted to visit America when I was a kid. I wanted to eat PopTarts and go to Disneyland and wear my own clothes to school. I'd perfected my American accent by the time I was 10. I wanted to be American. 

Portrait of the author as a young girl. 

Portrait of the author as a young girl. 

Of course, as you grow older, you come to realise that the US isn't a perfect country. When you're a kid, you don't hear about the gun violence or the KKK or or the not-so-great healthcare or politicians like Donald Trump trying to build walls to keep immigrants out. That's not the America from my childhood. That's not the America I fell in love with. 

Still, when it came time to choose a setting for OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS, there was no choice really. It wasn't something I even consciously thought about. Most of the great high school stories I can think of off the top of my head are set in the US, so mine was too, albeit in a fictional town in an unspecified state along one of the (or perhaps the other?) coasts. 

As I've grown older, I've come to love Australia in a way I never could've imagined as a child. As a kid, the US was the be all and end all, and all I ever wanted was to move there and be American. Australia certainly has its problems, and it's certainly not a perfect country by any standard, but it's my country and I get all weepy and smiley whenever I fly home after any length of being away. 

I love it intensely, and I would love to set a book here one day. An apocalypse book, probably, because the landscape would be an incredible character in a book about survival against all the crazy fauna that wants to kill us. And zombies. There will definitely need to be zombies in there somewhere. But until I'm ready to write my zombie magnum opus, I'll keep writing books about high school, and I'll keep setting them in the US, and I'll keep trying (and failing) to sneak Aussie vernacular like "heaps keen" and "ratbag" past my editors. 

Don't ever change, Australia. Don't ever change. 

Don't ever change, Australia. Don't ever change.