Saturday, March 23, 2013

Skype with author Sarah J. Maas!!!

Sarah Maas: dreaming up a plotline... or schem-
ing how to get someone to bring you ice cream?
Okay clubbies, this is really cool.  I'll try not to use too many exclamation points, but I make no promises.

So remember Throne of Glass, that sweeeet book we read for our meeting in December? An awesome teen girl/assassin, an intense competition, creepy supernatural forces, plus a hot prince, a bad king, and dreamy captain - ringing any bells?  Hello?

Well, better start remembering soon, because we're skyping with the author at our next meeting!! F'reals, kids - we'll be skyping with Sarah J. Maas at our next meeting (Thursday, April 4th at 6pm)!!!


Throne of Glass is actually Sarah's first novel, and she's younger than most authors (she's a young Young Adult author... a Young Adult author who is young... whatever). Check out her bio from Amazon:
"Sarah J. Maas was born and raised in New York City, but after graduating from Hamilton College in 2008, she moved to Southern California. She's always been just a tad obsessed with fairy-tales and folklore, though she'd MUCH rather be the one slaying the dragon (instead of the damsel in distress). When she's not busy writing, she can be found geeking out over things like Han Solo, gaudy nail polish, and ballet."
Not gonna lie - she sounds pretty adorable. Check out her website for more about her and to get Throne of Glass extras! She also has a blog and is on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. There's also a Throne of Glass Facebook page!

So get reviewing!  Or remembering. Or re-reading.  Or whatever works for you - just get ready!  Keep checking this blog:  there'll be info to refresh your memory on the book, Throne of Glass trivia and quizzes and other cool extras.  Get started now by taking a look at the summary for Throne of Glass, or click here to see all past blog posts on about it.  You can also have a look at this sweeeet book trailer:

Oh yes, this is happening.  The meeting's Thursday, April 4th, 6pm - BE THERE FOR AWESOME.

See, that wasn't too too many exclamation points.  Haha, tutu.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Skyping with Hannah Barnaby, Part 2!

It's here - part 2 of our skype session with Wonder Show author Hannah Barnaby!  (If you missed part 1, click here.)  Keep reading - in part 2, Hannah talks about what's currently on her "must-read" list, favorite movies, and authors who inspire her.  Also, she answers juicy (spoilery!) questions about Wonder Show that you don't want to miss!

Just like with part 1, be sure to leave a comment to take credit for a question you asked (include your name and your question's number in the comment), and when you see words in brackets like [these], it's extra info or something that I've added that wasn't in the original question/answer.  Also, all spoilery questions are at the end of the interview, so if you don't want the end of Wonder Show spoiled for you, stop reading when it says "SPOILERS!" below.

Now for the interview!...

Q&A with Hannah Barnaby, Part 2!

19.       SMITH PUBLIC LIBRARY: What book is currently on your must-read list?
Wolverine: the early years.

HANNAH BARNABY: I'm currently re-reading I Capture the Castle for about the 9th time.  I also want to read more current YA fiction, especially the other Morris Award finalists [the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, for which Wonder Show was nominated – click the link for more info and to see the other nominees].

20.       SPL: What was your biggest inspiration to become an author?

HANNAH: I was actually in denial about wanting to be a writer for a long time, because I didn't think it could really happen.  But I had some really great teachers in college and graduate school who encouraged me.  And then my boss at Houghton Mifflin when I was an editor sent me to the Vermont College writing program, and that's where I couldn't deny it anymore.  What I love about writing is that there's no right or wrong way to do it; it's all about finding your own path. 

21.       SPL: Is there a movie that you like that is about your favorite book? Also where are you from?

HANNAH: I love the movie Big Fish, which is also about story-telling and larger-than-life people.  As for where I'm from, I grew up all over New York State, mostly in the Albany area.

22.       SPL: What's your favorite book?

HANNAH: I don't know if I can pick just one!  I love APrayer for Owen Meany and Cider HouseRules by John Irving.  I also love John Green's books and Han Nolan's. Both excellent YA writers.

23.       SPL: Are there any authors who inspire you?

A "giant" holding a "human torso" in a
wonder show, back-in-the-day.
HANNAH: Some of my teachers at Vermont College were amazing writers and mentors. Books by M.T. Anderson, Carolyn Coman, MartineLeavitt, and Norma Fox Mazer are all MUST READS if you haven't read them yet.

24.       SPL: What would you like to tell people about following their dreams?

HANNAH: Just because you are meant to do something doesn't mean it will be easy.  Nothing worth having comes without a struggle.  It's the struggle that teaches you who YOU are.

25.       SPL: Which character are you most like?

HANNAH: Probably Portia.  But also a little bit like Gideon, and a little bit like Jimmy, and almost all of them. They came from me so we must share some things, right?  I just hope I'm not too much like Mister [also see question #6 in part 1 for more info on this answer].


The following questions contain Wonder Show SPOILERS!

This girl was advertised as being "four-legged"
... yeah, probably not really four-legged.
26.       SPL: Can you give us an idea about Portia’s life 10 years after Wonder Show ends (even if you have to make it up!)?

HANNAH: I think she and Gideon are running a bed and breakfast for freaks in Florida. [LOL.]

27.       SPL: What made you think of Portia’s aunt not watching over her [and leaving her at the orphanage]?

HANNAH: Part of it was needing certain things for the plot. I needed to get Portia to a place where she was on her own.  And I needed her to want to leave that place and get even further away.

28.   SPL: What is your favorite chapter and why?

HANNAH: The chapter in which Caroline dies was really hard to write, but also kind of fun because I'd never written a murder/death scene before. I had to research poisons and how they were used and what they did to people, which probably worried my family a little bit.

29.   SPL: What chapter is the murder/death scene?

HANNAH: When Caroline dies. It's not technically murder, but Portia feels responsible because she gave Caroline the poison.

30.   SPL: Why did you want Caroline to die?

HANNAH: I didn't want her to at all! But sometimes authors have to do terrible things to their characters in order to move the story along. I felt so guilty for the longest time.

31.   SPL: What’s the turning point in the story?

HANNAH: I think it's when Portia realizes that she is not going to find Max and she decides to go back to Mister's and take charge of finding her file there. It's the point at which she knows that she has to see things through in the "bad place."

32.   SPL:  Are Portia's parents REALLY dead?  And what about the rest of her family?  I'm nursing a pet theory that Jackal is secretly Portia's uncle and just won't tell her.

HANNAH: Oh, I love that idea!  I think her parents are really gone. She lived at a time when people vanished and were not heard from again. There was no internet, no way to track people down. But I tried to give her a new family that seemed unstable but actually turned out to be the best group of people for her to continue with.

33.   SPL: Can you please write more novellas, possibly about the Wonder Show entertainers?  I wanted more of their stories!

HANNAH: I would love to. You never know what the future will bring.

* * * * * * * * * *

Ooooo, I like the idea of Wonder Show novellas.  I'm looking forward to Hannah's next book, too - she told us about this, but since I don't have her answer in writing, here's a quote from another interview where she describes her next book:

"Another young adult novel, with a contemporary setting. It’s the story of a girl who’s been in a car accident which her brother didn’t survive, and her quest to track down the recipients of his organs…with a dark purpose."

Sounds subtly creepy... and if Wonder Show is any indication, "subtly creepy" is something Hannah does well.

Dont' forget to comment below to take credit for the questions you asked - and to thank Hannah!  She's been super nice and generous for taking time to skype with us and answer all our questions!  If you have another question for her, comment or email us (soon!).  And keep your eyes on the blog - on Saturday (that's March 23) I'll post an announcement about an extra-special something we'll be doing at our April meeting!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Skype with Hannah Barnaby, Part 1!

Hannah Barnaby's fancy author pic.
In case you missed it, we actually got to skype with author Hannah Barnaby (author of Wonder Show)  at our last meeting! Ms. Barnaby was incredible - she has a great sense of humor, she'd answer any question we could think to ask, and she was really generous to skype with us anyway - maybe we should send her a big THANK YOU?  CommentsectionGO!

The interview's pretty long, though, and I know if I'm too ADD to read the whole thing at once, some of you will be too, so I'm posting the interview in two parts.  Check out Part 1 after the jump (click the link that says "Ready more" at the bottom) for Hannah's thoughts on Wonder Show and its characters, how she cures herself of writer's block, and what she'd do for an act if she was in a circus sideshow.

Before the interview, though, THREE THINGS:
  • I have no idea who asked which questions, so take to the comments and take credit for your question!  
  • This interview is SPOILER FREE, which means that if you haven't read Wonder Show, any questions that could give away parts of the story have been moved to the end of Part 2.
  • Whenever you see words inside brackets like [these], that's something that wasn't in the original question or answer that I've added as helpful info and etc.

And noowwwww (drumroll on your laptop, please)... 

Q&A with Hannah Barnaby, Part 1!

Back in the day, being a strongman meant
wearing a ladies swimsuit. 
1.       SMITH PUBLIC LIBRARY: How did you come up with the idea of the book?

HANNAH BARNABY: I have always loved circus history, and I had a dream about a girl running away from home on a bicycle. When I woke up, I couldn't stop thinking about her and wondering where she was going and who she was trying to get away from.  So I sent her to the carnival and made up the rest as I went along.

2.       SPL: Do you have any plans for a second book?

HANNAH: Yes, but not a sequel to Wonder Show. I'm currently working on another YA novel, about a girl who is tracking down the people who received her brother's organs after he died in a car accident.

3.       SPL: Did the stories that Portia [the main character of Wonder Show] hears as a child come from real gypsy stories or where they made up?

HANNAH: No, I made them up. I have Italian relatives on my husband's side, and I've heard many stories about them.  The stories that Portia's family tells are what I imagine my husband's ancestors sounded like.  In fact, the name of Portia's mother, Quintillia, is taken from my father-in-law's family.

4.       SPL: Can you say one word that describes the whole story?

HANNAH: “Powerful”. And “hopeful”.  I guess that’s two words!

Daisy and Violet Hilton, the conjoined twin
sisters on which Pippa and Polly were based.
5.       SPL: Do you have a favorite character, and why?

HANNAH: I love Polly and Pippa (they count as one, right?) because they are based on a real-life pair of sisters [also conjoined twins] who worked the vaudeville circuit and were movie stars.  They ended up working at a grocery store in North Carolina, bagging groceries.

6.       SPL: Is there a character who you are like in the story?

HANNAH: I am a lot like Portia in some ways, but not in other ways. I try to give each of my main characters one trait that we share, so I can relate to them, and one thing that's very different, so I don't forget that I'm not writing about myself.  Portia and I are both very stubborn and we don't always let people help us.  [Also, see question #26 for a little more on this answer.]

7.       SPL: Have you ever had writer’s block? And if so, what’s the craziest thing you have done to get out of it?

HANNAH: I have had periods of what I called "writer's block" but were probably just laziness.  One thing I do to get myself started when I sit down to write after not writing for a while is listen to a certain song that I associate with the story. I make a playlist for every project.

8.       SPL: What's the playlist for Wonder Show?

A wonder show's "Bearded Lady",
 plus a bearded someone-else!
HANNAH: I think it's on my website, but I'll have to check [It’s not on the website, Hannah! Put it up, pretty please?]. It was a very odd combination of songs, many from the 1930s and 40s.

9.       SPL: What made you want to write Wonder Show?

HANNAH: I had always wondered if I could write a novel, and then I heard about a grant from the Boston Public Library.  I applied with a proposal to write what became Wonder Show, and I won the grant.  So I got to spend 20 hours a week for 9 months working on the book.  And I still didn't finish!  From the time I started the book to when it was published, it was SEVEN YEARS.

10.   SPL: What was your biggest inspiration while you were writing the book?

HANNAH: I had all kinds of inspiration, from the work of other writers to photographs from old carnival shows to music that I loved.  It all created an atmosphere in my head that transferred into my writing.

11.   SPL: Are you planning to write any other books for younger kids and adults?

HANNAH: I have a few ideas for picture books, but they are really hard to write because every single word has to be perfect.  I don't know if I'll ever write a book for adults. I just don't find most adults as interesting as I find young adults. Maybe I'm stuck on my high school self.

12.   SPL: How old were you when you started righting Wonder Show?

HANNAH: I was 30.  I really thought I'd publish a book before that.

Um, OUCH?!
13.   SPL: What do you do when you're not writing?

HANNAH: I have kids, so they keep me busy most of the time.  I love to knit, I love photography, and I love to cook.  And bake! I bake a LOT.

14.   SPL: Since you have kids, is it hard to write new books?

HANNAH: Yes! But next year, they will all be in school at least a few days a week so I'll have more time.  Sometimes I feel bad when I work - my son just wants me to play blocks!  And I think if you really love to write, you can't ignore it. You find a way.

15.   SPL: Are there any of your family members that are like the characters in Wonder Show?

HANNAH: Most of the characters are different from the people I actually know.  They are more based on actual carnival performers that I found out about during my research.  I probably include things in my characters that are based on people I know, but I don't always realize it.  And that way, I can deny it if they ask. *laughs*

16.   SPL: Has someone ever recognized you in public for your writing?

HANNAH: Like, recognized me on the street?  No, not yet!  My picture isn’t actually on the back flap of the book jacket with my bio, so probably makes people recognizing me less likely.

Signs for a wonder show, plus the "bally", a stage where
someone would shout out things to entice people to come in.
17.   SPL: Is there anyone in your family who is interested in writing books like you?

HANNAH: My dad loves to tell stories, and I think he would have been a writer if he didn't have to support a family.  My mother-in-law was a teacher, and she wrote some picture books when she was younger but they were never published.  One was about what all the animals do in the zoo when it rains.

18.   SPL: Can you imagine yourself traveling with the wonder show like Portia? If so, what would you do?

HANNAH: I probably don't have any talents they could use.  Maybe I could learn to throw knives if I had Marie to teach me.  There weren't many good jobs for people who weren't special in some way.

* * * * * * * * * *

She loves books, knitting and baking?  Three of my favorite things!  She definitely makes my list of authors I'd want to be friends with if they weren't busy writing AMAZING books (and, you know, if they lived around here).

Stay tuned for Part 2 - if you asked a question and don't see it here, look for it in the Q&A's Part 2 (coming on Thursday)! Leave a comment to:
  1. Tell us which question is yours!
  2. Ask Hannah one last question - we'll send her an email with the questions and post her answers here on the blog!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sci-fi Springtime!: Dark Side of Nowhere by Neal Shusterman

Happy spring break, Smithies!  I know it's a busy week - we had Delirium author Lauren Oliver here at SPL on Monday (our report on that coming soon!), and we had a Mad Hatter's Tea Party for the littler kids on Thursday.  But in between library stuff and doing that pesky spring break project for school,  why not get started on our book for next month, Dark Side of Nowhere by Neal Shusterman!  Check out the synopsis:

The Dark Side of Nowhere by Neal Shusterman

"Jason is having a bad day. The kind of day when you just don't feel like yourself. Only for Jason, it's not just a feeling. He really isn't himself.

Not any more.

Who is he? That's the problem. Jason isn't sure. And it's not just him. Everyone in town is acting weird. His friends. His parents. Everyone. Billington is usually such a normal town. As Jason is about to discover, nothing will ever be normal again."

Alright, that wasn't a great synopsis - the book is way better, and it's totally as creepy as the title implies.  Srrsly, "Dark Side of Nowhere"?  How awesome a title is that?!  (Answer: AWESOME.)  Plus, there's lots of weird science fiction-y action, adventure, hijinks, whutevuh.

So get to reading - next month's meeting is Thursday, April 4th at 6pm at SPL.

And keep watching this blog sweet bloggy goodness.  Coming soon:
  • An announcement of another EXTRA AWESOME thing we're doing at the next meeting!!  If you didn't already hear about it at the last meeting, that is. 
  • Our post on last meeting's skype with author Hannah Barnaby (read the entire interview!)
  • A report on Delirium author Lauren Oliver's recent visit to SPL!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lauren Oliver Event TODAY!!!

Ah dang kids, Lauren Oliver will be at the library in, like, an hour!  If you're not already at the library, what are you waiting for? Get over here - this is going to be awesome!  How often do you meet a New York Times bestselling author?  Yeah, that's what I thought.

So get to the library post haste! - people are already lining up.  Get yourself a numbered wristband to secure your place in line for the book signing/photo op; the wristband doesn't secure you a seat for the talk, though - another reason to get here soon - and, if you don't already have one of Ms. Oliver's books, buy one from Barnes and Noble's table in our lobby.  And get excited - the event starts at 3:30pm TODAY in our multipurpose room!
Check out this fake propaganda-style poster we made for the event - Lauren Oliver
herself re-blogged it from our teen tumblr!!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Skype with Hannah Barnaby TOMORROW!

Hannah Barnaby's fancy author pic.
It's almost that time! Time for our next meeting, where we'll be discussing Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby .  Have you finished the book yet?  In case you forgot -


Start thinking up some questions to ask Ms. Barnaby now. Please?  Because you guys are really smart, but I know what some of you are thinking.  "Buuuuuuttt I've never talked to an author before and she's prolly really smart and I don't want to look dumb so I just won't say anything 'kay?"

First, breathe.  That was a crazy run-on sentence.  Second, don't worry about it, I'm sure she's really nice (check out her website.  You can totally tell she's nice.).  Third, we've got you covered: here are some suggestions of questions and starting points for thinking up some of your own.


  • Ask questions about the book:  For instance, think about the characters.  Are you still wondering why they acted the way they did? Were there other parts of the story that didn't make sense?  What about the ending (if you're finished reading) - do you have questions about what the characters might do after the book ended?
  • Ask about her writing choices: An orphanage, a circus sideshow, and the Great Depression.  Are you wondering why Ms. Barnaby chose to use these places/time as the setting?  Or why she chose the types of characters she did, from Jackal to Delilah? And why did she do that changing-point-of-view-thing between chapters (first we had a narrator, then we were in Gideon's head, then Jimmy's head, etc.)?
  • Ask about being a writer: If you dream of being an author, now's your chance.  Why did she want to be an author? How does she get ideas - is there a certain place or activity that's especially inspiring?  Does she have a favorite method or place to work on writing?  
  • a gazillion other questions:  Feel free to ask something that isn't mentioned here!  Even one or two random questions are okay:  "What's your favorite flavor of pie?  What's Jackal's favorite flavor of pie?"
Plus, since this is the first time we've skyped with an author, here are some tips on keeping the conversation friendly, fun, phresh, etc.:

  • Call her "Ms. Barnaby": Can't go wrong if you're really polite - even too polite - so call her "Ms. Barnaby", unless she tells you to call her something else.
  • Take turns, speak loudly and clearly: Since she's not in the room, she'll have a harder time hearing.  Take turns asking questions - one voice at a time - and be sure to speak loudly!  If you want to comment on her answer to a question, go for it!
  • Be honest, but be nice:  Authors are people too! You can criticise the book - most authors just want your real, honest thoughts on their book - but be nice about how you criticise. A book doesn't have feelings, but its author does.  If you liked the book, be sure to say that, too! 
  • Bring something to take notes, if you want: If writing's your thing and you want to remember her advice later, bring a notebook/paper/pen/pencil/old napkin/whatever.
That's it for now!  If you want more info on Hannah Barnaby, check out an earlier blog post - go to the last three paragraphs for links. Be sure to come to the meeting - tomorrow, March 7th, 6-7pm at SPL.  Let's show Ms. Barnaby just how smart, polite, cool, phlegmatic (HAH, kidding) Wylie teens really are!