2018 September Curiositales Magazine with Ibi Zoboi and Kendare Blake

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Interview with Ibi Zoboi of Pride

Recipe for Haitian Meat Patés

A look at resiliency in YA Lit




BLOOD, GORE, & HUMAN BACON Interview with Kendare Blake of Two Dark Reigns






LANTERN Bring a touch of magic to your everyday with this tutorial


MY PRECIOUS Cosplayer Lillie takes on a couple of classics, and more

CONTENTS 09 Editor’s Letter 11 12 14 22 27

A note from the editor. Contributors Learn more about this month’s writers, photographers, and crafters. Giving Back Learn more about this month’s charity. The Magic of Pride Ibi Zoboi of Pride. Ibi Zoboi | Share Your Shelf Ibi shares her favorite goodies. Reader Mail Share your thoughts and opinions.

28 Seeking Contributors

Like what you’re reading? Join our team! 30 Fiction Food Recipe inspired by American Street.

35 I Get Back Up Again Resiliency in YA Lit.

40 Blood, Gore and Human Bacon

Kendare Blake of Two Dark Reigns. 48 Kendare Blake | Share Your Shelf Kendare’s tour of bookish items. 52 Bookstagram Creators Check out these awesome readers. 86 DIY Fairy Lantern A crafty tutorial.



98 My Precious



Photo Essay featuring lillie_cosplays. 110 Butterfly Blood by Rebecca Carpenter Chapter One preview. 122 September New Releases

124 Around the World






Letter From The Editor

It’s time for all the chaos and activity that comes with the back-to-school time of year. Reading for pleasure often goes out the window as homework and other activities fill our time. However, two books being released this month, Pride and Two Dark Reigns, are worth carving out some personal space. Ibi Zoboi and Kendare Blake both cover family issues in their novels, but in completely different ways. I hope that reading this month’s issue of Curiositales can provide you a little escape before you get back to the business of learning. Gillian St. Clair Editor-In-Chief




EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Gillian St. Clair CONTRIBUTORS Kelsey Bjork, Lily Ardor, Ashley Olafson, Lillie Forteau, Elle Jaufret, Juliet White, Rebecca Carpentor


ONLINE Curiositales is a digital monthly magazine. We also engage readers with a free newsletter. For your regular dose of all things bookish, subscribe at www.curiositales.com

COPYRIGHT Copyright 2018 by Curiositales Magazine. All rights reserved. This magazine or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in review.



Lily Ardor runs a craft blog sharing stories of design and her adventures in creative living. LILLIE FORTEAU Musician, writer, artist, founder of the Kalamazoo cosplayers.

ELLE JAUFFRET Elle Jauffret writes from personal experience about the culinary arts, mysteries, and France. JULIET WHITE A writer with an obsession for all things library.

REBECCA CARPENTER Author, freelance copy editor and intern for a small press, helping others attain their writing dreams.




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GIVING BACK Every month you read, you're giving back. Curiositales donates 10% of every purchase to a nonprofit. Check out this month's organization. 12



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It’s the magic of first love.

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THE MAGIC OF PRIDE Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Kelsey Bjork

tories are magical. They take readers to new worlds where they can meet interesting people from all walks of life. That is why when a reader finishes a story it can be difficult to say goodbye. Luckily, not all stories end on the last page. Instead, they get retold by others, but with a twist. That is what author Ibi Zoboi has done with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Featuring all characters of color and set in Brooklyn, Pride is still very much its own story despite being a retelling. The protagonist, Zuri Benitez, has her world shaken up when a wealthy family, the Darcy’s, move in across the street. But that is not the only change Zuri is going through; she is also dealing with the gentrification of her neighborhood as well as a looming deadline for college applications. CURIOSITALES

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Zoboi herself went to college as well; she has an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is also a graduate of Clarion West Writers Workshop which she will teaching at next year. This program lasts six weeks and prepares its students for writing careers in science fiction and fantasy. “CW is where I starting honing my craft,” Zoboi said, “so I’m immensely grateful to be back as an instructor.” Zoboi identifies as a sci-fi/fantasy author, and that has not changed with her upcoming novel. Just as she included elements of magic in her first novel, American Street, she does so in Pride as well. “It’s the magic of first love,” Zoboi said.

My Caribbean characters have their own traditional values and these are the cultural details I include in my stories.

“The landlady, Madrina, is a Santeria priestess. She honors Ochún, the orisha of love. It’s a love story, so I had to include a love goddess! A turning point in the story is when Zuri dances for Ochún. If you’re familiar with this tradition, then you know that a dance is an offering of sorts. If there was some hesitation or ambiguity before, then a dance offering will seal the deal. This is slight magic, but that’s what makes it real for me.” Along with magic, Zoboi also included spirituality. This is an element that she loves to include in all of her stories, and she greatly appreciates it when other authors of YA books do so as well. She said that the “spirituality for my characters takes the shape of magic in my stories.” “My Caribbean characters have their own traditional values and these are the cultural details I include in my stories. Fabiola is Haitian, therefore she practices the Vodou 16


tradition, In Pride, Madrina the landlady, is old school Puerto Rican and she practices Santeria. These faiths are part of who my characters are. Including spirituality simply adds layers to their cultural backgrounds.” In turn, of course, this helps make her characters feel more real. Another way in which Zoboi was able to make her story feel more authentic was by incorporating her own background. Pride takes place in a neighborhood in Brooklyn called Bushwick, and although Zoboi did not live there as a teenager, she said that she is “a New York through and through.” “I know what it feels like to sit on a front stoop and there’s a cute boy across the street or down the block. There’s an art to sitting on steps in a certain way so that you’re seen and you look cute,” Zoboi said. “As a teen, my friends and I would walk to the corner store just to be able to run into cute guys. I remember walks around the block and train rides. First dates were in and around the neighborhood. New York is very walkable so there was lots of walking and talking. The whole neighborhood would know who was messing with who.” But Zoboi has not lived in America her entire life. Just like her character Fabiola in American Street, she too is a Haitian

immigrant. And in 2009, she was able to create The Daughters of Anacaona Writing Project (DAWP) which she did from 2009-2014. This creative writing program for teen girls lasted during the summer and involved an exchange program between Haitian girls and Caribbean girls who were in Brooklyn. After the earthquake in Haiti, Zoboi said that despite the circumstances, the Haitian girls remained positive. Instead of discussing the disaster, they chose to focus on their love for their country. “The teen girls in Haiti had so much love for their culture. They had so much to say about Haitian food, music, language. I grew up always hearing about the negative things happening in Haiti, from the news and my own family,” Zoboi said. “It CURIOSITALES

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was so refreshing to be in Haiti and hear how young people loved their country even after facing so much tragedy.” The impact these girls made on Zoboi can be seen in her work. Her character Zuri has the same positive attitude and love for her culture. “This pride is also part of Zuri’s resilience. She’s witnessing the changes happening in her neighborhood, and since poetry is her creative outlet, she documents her love for everything from the ‘boys in the hood’ to her landlady, Madrina.”

Poetry is her creative outlet.

much like the poets of the Black Arts Movement. Amiri Baraka was Leroi Jones. Ntozake Shange was Paulette Williams, and even Toni Morrison was Chloe Wofford. I personally was continuing in the tradition of Black writers,” Zoboi said. “I loosely translated my very French first and last names into similar words in the Yoruba Language. My current last name is my husband’s Liberian last name. Some people think it’s French, as in Dubois, but it’s from the Loma people of Liberia.” Zoboi has a blog, and in it she once discussed the necessity of “decolonizing the imagination.” Groups of people can be influenced to view themselves in a negative way due to racism and other means. Zoboi’s phrase is referring to the idea of changing negative mindsets that unconsciously influence the way people look at themselves and others.

She discussed the ways in which people can adopt this idea and why it is important that others do this as well. “To me, decolonizing the imagination is a long She went on to say, “I’ve worked with process. Proclaiming this phrase means teen girls for over fifteen years, and when that I recognize that even my imagination given the opportunity to write their truths, has been usurped by another culture.” they always gush about their family, cultural foods, their neighborhood, their race, “For example,” Zoboi continued, “I know and their nationality. Zuri is a reflection that even black writers can create probof those girls--lots of resilience, pride, and lematic black characters and ideas. We’ve love for where they come from.” been indoctrinated to view even ourselves in a certain light. So I have to do the work An interesting fact about Zoboi is that Ibi of constantly checking myself and my Zoboi is not her birth name. She actualwork for dehumanizing content. Part of ly chose to change it when she became a the colonization process involved separatwriter. “I started my writing life as both ing people from their traditions and mema journalist and a spoken word poet. Way ories. For Haitian, Vodou has been basback then, everybody had a stage name tardized in the media and this is a result 18


of colonization.” That is why Zoboi believes it is important that she and others help bring to light what is real. “My job as an artist is to humanize my people, make our stories and truths whole again. I also have to dig for old truths that have been buried. Currently, I’m thinking about our way of telling stories and how I can include these traditions in my novels--lyricism, symbolism, nuanced characterization. It’s constant work and it shifts with each new project. In my personal life, I’ve already decolonized on so many levels.” Zoboi’s writing process is heavily influenced by her background in oral storytelling tradition. “My books come to me aloud, as music, as lyrics. I have to hear the feeling of a story first. The written part of the story is the very last step. First, it’s sound, then feeling, then words on the screen.”

At the end of the interview, Zoboi had this final message to give: “I hope readers and fans seek more depth and more nuance in everything that they do. Peel away at layers, ask big and small questions. Look for deeper meanings in everything. Personally, that’s what keeps me hopeful and enthusiastic. I live and create as if magic lives beneath every surface and around every corner.” If you would like to discover the magic in Pride, you can get it on September 18! Links to where the book is available can be found here. If you would like to read more about Zoboi or follow her on social media, check out her website!

Although this is Zoboi’s second novel, she is not fully ready to discuss what she has learned from her journey so far. “I’ll have lots to share about my debut experiences in the future. But I’ll let those memories simmer a bit. I’m still learning from them.” She did, however, go on to talk about success and the way it means something different to everyone. “Some people want shiny things--the visible markers of success. My successes have been in the background, those incredibly magical moments that I can’t and won’t share on social media; those moments that let me know that I’m on the right track and there’s a greater purpose slowly unfolding.”

TWITTER: @ibizoboi WEBSITE: ibizoboi.net INSTAGRAM: @ibizoboi


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Share Your Shelf with Ibi Zoboi


Owls and owl mugs

I was a wise owl in my former life. I think I still am. So I love them on everything, especially mugs. I sip tea while I write and a good owl mug is the perfect muse. 2.

Bloodchild by Octavia Butler

A short collection of stories and really poignant and insightful essays by my favorite author. 3.

Hibiscus tea

The hibiscus flower is Haiti’s national flower. It’s beautiful and it also makes a perfect tea.


Funky frames

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was nine so they’re part of my whole persona. I love colorful, cat’s eye frames the most. 5.

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

This is a transcript of Campbell’s conversation with Billy Moyers. He delves into world mythology and the larger purpose of story. It reminds me of why I became a storyteller. I’m fascinating my myths and folktales. 6.

Books with black girls on the cover

I have daughters. I need these books to be both art and mirrors on our shelves. 22


7. Ankara print-covered bookmark I love Ankara print, African wax fabric in vibrant shapes and colors. I used to make them myself, but recently, a came across a teen who sells them in front of my local Trader Joe’s. I love them with colorful tassels, a jewel, or a cowrie shell. 8.

Small, hardcover spiral note books

I still take notes by hand and I need to be able to fold back the pages. And I need my notebooks to last. LaurAmzGifts on Etsy


Colored ink

I own way too many colored pens. It’s an obsession and I’m hellbent on hoarding as many yellow pens as I could find. Orange, as well. 10.

Vintage typewriters

They remind me the work our elder writers had to do. No google, no Twitter--just those keys, a blank page, ribbon, white-out, and their imagination. I’ve got my eye on a yellow one on e-bay for when I redecorate my office!


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Curiositales is self-described as “the magazine for all things bookish”, but I found while reading it that this statement isn’t entirely true. This magazine should market itself as being for all things YA, rather than just “bookish” in general as it only promotes or discusses YA book-related things. This is only the first issue, so I don’t know if it will include nonYA books in the future, but so far it seems to be geared towards YA readers specifically, and especially towards women/girls. I think the biggest attractions are the author interviews. This issue featured interviews with both Sara Henning, author of Sea Witch, and Bree Barton, author of Heart of Thorns. Both interviews were well-done and entertaining, and have left me very excited for both releases. And I hadn’t even heard of Heart of Thorns yet! -Halei

Reader Perspective

Thoughts On Our First Issue

Full of nerdy book loving humans just like you and me, so who could be better equipped for bring us a magazine of bookish goodness?!

For starters, I LOVE the emphasis on supporting all different groups of people. Not only is there discussion on diversity and representation, they are supporting important organizations such as Girls Write Now, which is a fantastic way to spread their message to all women. There is something in this magazine that caters to every single reader, to which I applaud them for.

All contributors who submitted pieces of writing allowed their voice to really shine through empowers the reader to do the same. As for the author interviews, I appreciate how both featured authors share a positive outlook on their personal experiences and how you can take control of your life. Just as well, sharing photos of author’s bookshelves was such a cute and fun piece! Although, my favorite feature would have to be the bookstagram section! I loved seeing everyone’s content and having my eyes open to other creators work and their passion for it. -Jess

Share your thoughts on our latest issue, send us an email at mail@curiositales.com


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Curiositales Magazine is on the lookout for contributors. If you have an idea geared toward the YA readership, send us an email: contribute@curiositales.com. Our readers are creative and talented and we want to feature you. Send us an email to be considered for an upcoming issue. Short Story Criteria: Around 3,000 words Submit a Word Document

Payment $50 within 30 days of publication. 28




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By Elle Jauffret

The props used in the composition of the photograph were inspired by the following quotes: “[…] two tea candles, […] a small brass bell, a white enamel mug, a cross, and a piece of white fabric. I bring the cloth up to my face and inhale the fragrance. […] It smells of Manmans’ magic—our Iwas, our songs, our prayers.” (p.29) “She gave me a pair of one-hundred bills, two fifties, and five twenties from a pile of endless bills.” (p.59) “This place is like a whole peristyle devoted to the children of Ezili. […] bins filled with rollers of all colors and sizes […] (p.177) 30


AMERICAN STREET by Ibi Zoboi One of the things Fabiola Toussaint (the main character of American Street) missed the most upon immigrating to Detroit from Haiti was Haitian home-cooking, so here is a Haitian staple dishe: Haitian Patés (Haitian beef patty). Here’s the recipe so you can try it for yourself:

RECIPE - Haitian Meat Patés (Haitian turkey/beef patty) Ingredients: Puff pastry dough 2 tsp. olive oil 1 medium onion (diced) 4 garlic cloves (minced) 1 medium shallot (diced) 1 Caribbean red pepper (or mild chili pepper) (diced) 1/8 tsp paprika 1/8 tsp oregano 1/8 tsp cumin 1/8 tsp chili powder 1 tsp. thyme 1 tsp. rosemary 1.5 lb ground turkey or beef 2 tbsp. tomato paste 1 tbsp. lime juice Heat oil in medium skillet. Add onion, garlic, shallot, pepper in a skillet. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add all the spices (paprika, oregano, cumin, chili powder, thyme, rosemary) and the meat. Cook until fully cooked (between 5-10 minutes). Add the tomato paste and the lime juice. Stir well and cook about 3 minutes longer. Then, set aside. Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface into a rectangle (about 10x12 inches and 1/8 inch-thick). Cut pastry into 8 rectangles (about 3x5 inches). Place one scoop (a little bit over a tablespoon) of filling in the center. Lightly brush edges of each square with beaten egg. Fold half of pastry rectangle over filling, forming a square. Press down pastry edges with fingertips to seal tightly. Lightly brush pastry with beaten egg. Place on baking sheets and bake in oven at 350°F for about 30 minutes (until golden/light brown) CURIOSITALES

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French-born, Californian lawyer by day, writer/home chef by night, Elle Jauffret writes from personal experience about the culinary arts, mysteries, and France. She received the 2016 SDSU Writers’ Conference Choice award and loves creating “fiction food” based on the books she enjoys. You can find her at ellejauffret.com or @ElleJauffret on Twitter and Instagram




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I fall down, I get up again: Resiliency in YA Lit


ne of the main differences between YA lit and adult fiction is hope. However dark young adult novels get— and some are dark enough that we crave night vision goggles—a ray of hope filters through the pages. Resilience is a life skill that we all need, but it’s not something we’re specifically taught in school. Thankfully, humans have always drawn life lessons from art and that’s true of YA lit, too. The sheer doggedness displayed by the characters populating these books provide us with a well of inspiration for getting through the rough stuff. From fantasies like Kristin Cashore’s Graceling Realm series to Ibi

by Juliet White

Zoboi’s American Street, resilience is an ever-present theme. Before YA was acknowledged as its own vibrant form of literature, we saw a lot of “problem” novels. Books explored a particular issue, from eating disorders to teen pregnancy. Critics complained that, in some of these stories, the characters took a backseat, rather than being fully fleshed out. Still, these tales focused on the descent into a problem and, many times, the process of emerging on the other side. In 1999, Laurie Halse Anderson’s groundbreaking book Speak came out. The novel was exceptional for its unflinching exploration of the aftermath of rape. Melinda CURIOSITALES

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Sordino starts high school as a pariah. No one wants to be associated with the girl who called the cops to shut down an endof-summer party. What Melinda’s peers don’t know is that she was assaulted at the party. Throughout the book, Melinda wraps herself in a protective layer of silence until, by the conclusion, she reclaims her voice. Sexual assault is one of the hardest topics for people to discuss. That’s why it’s so crucial for readers to be able to spend time with characters who have had similar experiences. Books like Courtney Summers’ All the Rage and E.K. Johnston’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear continue to show that trauma may mark us, but it doesn’t have to define us.

Trauma may mark us, but it doesn’t have to define us.

In literature, LGBTQ+ youth can see themselves in the pages of authors like David Levithan, Julie Anne Peters, Malinda Lo, Bill Konigsberg, Nina LaCour, Meredith Russo, and more. There are plenty of struggles in YA queer lit, and the need for “coming out” stories endures. But this genre has expanded to embrace narratives where labels around sexuality aren’t always integral to the plot, and resiliency may be tied to other issues entirely. Out of all the genres, fantasy books most often address grit and persistence. Quest narratives require characters to undergo grueling trials to achieve a goal. However, the most engaging aspect of YA fantasies often isn’t the physical journey. It’s the emotional one. Only by passing through fire does a protagonist realize his or her true strength. You’ll discover this theme again and again in novels by fantasy writers like Scott Westerfeld, Kendare Blake, and Maria V. Snyder—to name but a few.

One of this year’s most breathtaking YA fantasies is Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (published in March 2018). In a richly-crafted world, that draws on West African mythology, Zélie embarks on an epic quest to recover her people’s Whatever struggles we face, there’s a YA magic and end their oppression. The aunovel waiting on the shelves, featuring thor expertly juggles multiple perspeccharacters who don’t give up when adver- tives, with each central character hitting sity strikes. However, this tenacity should rock bottom, yet still summoning the not be mistaken for flawlessness, or for a strength to go on. lack of doubt and despair. The novels of Ellen Hopkins serve as a reminder that we In April 2018, Justina Ireland’s may stumble a lot before we find our foot- genre-bending Dread Nation, was released. ing. Hopkins’ fast-paced stories are told Jane McKeene is the magnetic star of this in verse, from multiple points of view, layered alternative history slash fantaand delve into issues including addiction, sy. The novel is set in a post-Civil War homelessness, abuse, and mental health. version of the United States in which the



dead came back to life during the Battle of Gettysburg. Jane shows us that dealing with zombies requires much less resilience than living in an inherently racist society. While she shouldn’t have to face either, she is the ultimate survivor. Since many YA historical novels are set in turbulent times, resilience remains a popular thread. The Librarian of Auschwitz, by Antonio Iturbe, is a heartrending read that is based on the true story of Dita Kraus. In Auschwitz, fourteen-year-old Dita takes responsibility for eight books that have been smuggled into the camp, literally risking her life to protect them. The narrative never shies away from the utter horror of Dita’s circumstances but her resilience shines through and, at the book’s conclusion, a spark of hope remains. Ruta Sepetys is another author who has conquered the challenges of the YA historical novel. Whether she’s crafting a tale about a girl fighting to forge a better life for herself in 1950s New Orleans (Out of the Easy) or of characters attempting to survive a sinking ship at the end of World War II (Salt to the Sea), hardship and endurance remain constants. It’s hard to predict which upcoming releases will portray resilient characters in an uplifting way. However, there are some overlooked gems already available that explore this theme. In Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass, by Meg Medina, Piddy Sanchez overcomes bullying. Nina Berry’s The Notorious Pagan Jones features a celebrity actress turned reform-school-girl, who struggles for redemption and a comeback. Finally, Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie reminds us of the guts it takes to protest, when the repercussions are all too real. Life always present challenges, and the prospect of rising again can feel exhausting and overwhelming. But, no matter what other fantasies our favorite authors weave for us, the resilience of the human spirit is no fiction.

As a kid, Juliet White slept with a flashlight in her bed for late-night stealth reading. You can find her obsessing about libraries @JulietWrites on Twitter, or visit her at julietwhite.com. CURIOSITALES

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I love darkness and humor. Especially horror and humor.

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endare Blake (author of Anna Dressed in Blood, Antigoddess, and Three Dark Crowns) is a huge fan of horror and fantasy, and she is not afraid to include blood and gore. Much of her work is dark, but that doesn’t mean that she lacks a sense of humor.

BLOOD, GORE, AND HUMAN BACON Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Kelsey Bjork

“I love darkness and humor. Especially horror and humor,” Blake said. “I think they go together like peas in a pod. Like shoes and socks. Like bacon and anything. It’s why Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of my favorite shows growing up, why Cas was such a smartass in Anna Dressed in Blood, and why I am always recommending that people watch The Cabin in the Woods.” Her favorite moment of darkness mixed with humor, however, comes from Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. “Narcissistic murdering psychopath Patrick Bateman is ruminating on how many crunches he does, and how he hopes CURIOSITALES

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that his masseuse will notice how ripped he’s become, and then she walks in and says how nice it is to see him after two days. Like dude she’s not going to notice a change in how toned you are after two days. I don’t care if you’ve been crunching nonstop. Ridiculous.” Blake does not shy away from violence. When asked if there are any hard lines that she is not willing to cross, she said, “Not really. I mean, you’re not likely to read anything from me that involves any kind of phallus and any kind of throbbing, but never say never, I guess. I can say with near certainty that I’ll never write an exploitative or gratuitous scene of animal violence. If an animal is hurt in my books, it better mean something.” When writing such dark stories, it may seem like separating yourself from the world in the novel would be difficult. Some authors may have rituals to get themselves back in the real world once they finish writing, but for Blake, this is not the case. “I never live my stories. I guess you could say that I’m not METHOD. So I’ve never done so deep a dive into one of my fictional worlds that it becomes a waking reality,” Blake said. “I can write a scene torturing someone with poison and then get up and feed my pet kids a nutritious lunch. Throw a ball around, give some snuggles, and then right back to torturing when they’re down for nap time.” Although Blake can easily separate herself from the darkness in the worlds she creates, as is the case with many authors, writing from the perspectives of several 42


people can be quite challenging. It can be easy for authors to be so influenced by what they actually believe that the opposing arguments they make can seem weaker or less believable. This is something that Blake had to deal with when writing Three Dark Crowns.

I can write a scene torturing someone with poison and then get up and feed my pet kids a nutritious lunch.

The story focuses on three sisters who have magical abilities. Mirabella is an elemental, Katharine is a poisoner, and Arsinoe is a naturalist. These triplets are all queens and equal to one another. That is, until their sixteenth birthday when they must fight to the death in order to decide who will become the Queen Crowned. Blake has said that she can relate to all three sisters and that she can see each of their perspectives, but writing for each of them was still a challenge. “When the sisters are torn about something, when they’re driven almost equally by opposing desires within themselves, that’s often difficult to write. Mirabella was the most challenging sister for a long time, be-

cause she was fighting to balance so many things: her love for her sisters against her duty to kill them, her obligations to the island and the family who raised her against the desires of her own heart.” Characters can be unpredictable sometimes. “She would make decisions that seemed sometimes contradictory, and one moment she would want to run while at the same moment she believed that she was destined to rule. That poor girl almost fought herself to a standstill,” Blake said, “and me right along with her. Now it’s Katharine who gives me trouble, in much that same way.” Blake has created many strong female characters including Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood and Cassandra and Athena from Antigoddess. And Three Dark Crowns, which is matriarchal, is no exception. Not surprisingly, Blake has found inspiration from strong female characters in

the works of others. One of her favorites is Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones. “I love Cersei Lannister. More so in the show than in the books. In the show, she is unapologetically doing what she has to do in order to carve out a place for herself. And she’s doing a damn fine job of it.” But that is not the only person she named. Her favorites range from a psychologically abused but powerful queen, to a young girl with special gifts and the ability to travel to parallel universes, to a priestess trying to preserve her culture and religion. This wide range of characters helps prove the fact that there is more than just one type of strong female character. “I also love Jane Eyre, for her resilience and strong sense of self. Lyra Belacqua from The Golden Compass for her brave heart and general gumption. And Morgaine of Avalon from The Mists of Avalon,


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much for the same reasons I love Cersei, even though they go about it in totally different ways.”

She is unapologetically doing what she has to do in order to carve out a place for herself. And she’s doing a damn fine job of it.

case when it comes to writing a series where the author may be getting responses from their first release as they are working on their second. Blake has been in this position, but when asked if she feels obligated to satisfy fan expectations, she said that she does not. “How can I, when I can’t even satisfy my own? What happens in the story is simply what happens. I have little conscious control over it,” Blake said. “Very often, my stories do not end how I hoped they would end.”

But that does not mean that she does not listen to her readers at all. “I do respond to feedback in the sense that fan favorites probably have an effect on me. People want to see more of Pietyr and Kat, or Billy and Arsinoe, and maybe I’ll pay special Creating characters and stories that readers will love may be fun, but some authors attention to the moments that they have.” Despite what all Blake has said, she does can find themselves being influenced by not actually believe in endings. Rather, their fans reactions. This is especially the



she says that the author simply stops writing. This, of course, makes choosing when to stop writing difficult. When it comes to knowing when the right time is, she said, “I think you just kind of sense it.”

the things she loves about the way social media has positively affected writers and the reading community.

“I can only speak for myself but I will say that it allows readers an easy way to contact me. They can tag me in their thoughts without addressing me directly, which would have been a godsend for a shy kid like me back in the day. And I’ve seen it connect fandoms, connect readers to each other in a way that didn’t happen before the internet. And that, is very cool.”

Blake was asked if there was a question she wishes people would ask her or if there was anything else she wanted to share, and she had this to say: “Hmm. Not really? I used to wish I’d be asked what flavor ice cream my characters would be, but I’ve been asked that now. Maybe if someone asked me what animal I would be? Because I think I would be a pig. I’ll eat pretty much anything, and I’m very low to the ground. Plus in the cannibal apocalypse I bet I would make a very nice side of bacon. This interview keeps coming back to bacon. Human bacon in this case, but it still makes me think I ought to take a break for lunch.”

Sometimes I get the urge to pop in and check on Cas and the gang. But I think I’m too afraid that they’re all dead.

“Like, I sense that book four, which I am calling 67 Dark Maids-a-Milking as a working title, will be the last book I write on Fennbirn Island. But since I’m not blowing the island up at the end, there will always be part of me that wonders what’s happening there, or wants to dig a little deeper into the history.” She added, “Sometimes I get the urge to pop in and check on Cas and the gang from Anna Dressed in Blood. But I think I’m too afraid that they’re all dead.” So just like readers, even authors like Blake find themselves daydreaming about what has happened to characters after a book ends. And Blake is definitely a fan of hearing what readers think of her characters and her work. That is one of

When it came time for a parting message for readers and fans, Blake said, “Was ‘human bacon’ not enough?” To learn more about Blake, you can check out her website. Here, you can also find links to all of her books! INSTAGRAM @ kendareblake TWITTER @ kendareblake kendareblake.com CURIOSITALES

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S L R I G Y L D A E D N E E S R E V E e v N ’ u o y e k i L , . s v . s v It’s in! w n a c e n o y l n o and Each queen has magical gifts . . . but only the w inner gets to live.

MEET T X E N r u yo N O I S S E S OB 46


Join the fandom today! @ThreeDarkCrownsSeries Also available in audio


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Share Your Shelf

with Kendare Blake

1. TBR Piles. My stacks and stacks of unread books. Because they represent future happiness. 2. Custom Note Pad. Someone gifted me one that says “From the desk of Kendare Blake” and features cute photos of my pet kids. I think it’s obvious why I love that. 3. Eraser shaped like an ice cream cone. I don’t even use pencils but it’s just nice to have. 4. Scented Candles. These are designed around a Three Dark Crowns theme. I really enjoy seeing what candlemakers come up with, which scents they assign each character. 48


5. Fan Art. A stack of fan art gifted to me, because it’s great to see so many talented artists’ interpretations. 6. My Anderson’s Bookshop and Lexa Hillyer’s Spindlefire mugs Good for coffee, tea, wine sometimes. 7. Red Sparkly Notebook I don’t remember where I got it but I have jotted down so many notes and scenes in there.

8. A desk lamp like the one that stomps down the “i” in Pixar. Sometimes when I’m being unproductive I pretend that it is judging me. 9. T-shirts. T-shirts collected from literary festivals. They’re usually my husband’s size and I like to make him wear shirts with my name on them. 10. Book themed tote bags. Because it’s nice to show reader pride at the grocery store.


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“Not all who wander are lost.” — J R R Tolkien


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What’s the best life lesson you’ve learned from a book? There are two life lessons I learnt from The Hobbit: that even the smallest creatures can change the world, and that you shouldn’t refuse new experiences even if they frighten you. These lessons, especially the second, have impacted on many decisions I’ve made and continue to make.

If you were stuck in a dystopian novel, what would you bring with you? Food. And lots of it.



Who is the most impressive author alive? George R R Martin. To be able to create a world as detailed and rich as Westeros, and such unique characters and such a unique plot is just remarkable.

What book would you love to see turned into a film? I’d love to see Uprooted by Naomi Novik turned into a movie! I’d love to see the magic come alive on the screen!

What fictional skill or craft would you like to master? If I could choose any fictional skill or craft to master, it’d be teleporting. I’m constantly late for things and teleporting would solve it. And of course, I could visit any country and travel without having to spend eternity cramped in a plane seat.


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Favorite piece of technology Favorite piece of technology from a futuristic novel? from a futuristic novel? To be honest, the only futuristic novel To honest, the only futuristic novI’vebe read is Ready Player One (and I’m el I’ve read is Ready Player One (and not sure living in a virtual reality game I’m notbe sure in a virtual would myliving favourite idea of reality technogame would be my favourite idea of logical advancement). I usually prefer technological advancement). I usually books set in historical settings, rather prefer books set in historical settings, than futuristic. rather than futuristic.

What sub-genre do you wish What sub-genre do you wish you read more of? you read more of? I’d love to read more psychological thrillI’d to read more psychological ers!love I started reading more crime books thrillers! I started reading more crime this year and am really enjoying the books this year and am really enjoytwisted psychological thrillers I’ve read ing theThey’re twistedso psychological thrillersbut so far. dark and shocking I’ve read so far. They’re so dark and so engaging. shocking but so engaging.

Favorite bookish merch/item? I love collecting bookmarks and prints inspired by bookish quotes! I have a whole basket full of bookmarks on my bookshelf haha.

What book changed the way you view the world? Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I studied this book in high school and it taught me that humans can be monsters too. It taught me that our curiosities and inventions are not always ethical and can impact society very negatively.




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“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” — St. Augustine CURIOSITALES

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What’s the best life lesson you’ve learned from a book? I recently read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and was reminded to always pursue your passion, unapologetically. There will be times where you’re misunderstood or told to change, to be a certain way, but you should only try to act in ways where you will better yourself because you chose to.

If you were stuck in a dystopian novel, what would you bring with you? I’d bring comfortable shoes for when I’m on the run from the government. 62


Who is the most impressive author alive? Leigh Bardugo! Her craft, from world building to character development, is just brilliant. She’s an unstoppable force, an outstanding author, with books that have so much complexity and depth.

What book would you love to see turned into a film? There’s definitely a lot, but Uprooted by Naomi Novik is at the top of my list. The book itself is already loaded with beautiful imagery that I think would translate really well into a movie.

What fictional skill or craft would you like to master? It would be something supernatural, maybe magic or even the ability the bend elements!


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Favorite piece of technology Favorite piece of technology from a futuristic novel? from a futuristic novel? To be honest, the only futuristic novel Honestly, much I’ve read isI don’t Readyread Player Onefuturis(and I’m tic novels, but The Lunar Chronicles by not sure living in a virtual reality game Marissa is one of myof favorite would beMeyers my favourite idea technoseries. From the books, I was always logical advancement). I usually prefer fascinated byhistorical her use of robots and books set in settings, rather androids, even though the thought of than futuristic. it in real life does make me uncomfortable.

What sub-genre do you wish you read more of? What sub-genre do you wish

you read more I’d love to read moreof? psychological thrillers! I started reading more crime books Detective fiction! I’m a big fan of the this year and am really enjoying shows Sherlock Holmes and I’ve Blueread twistedlike psychological thrillers Bloods of dark their and suspense, mysso far. because They’re so shocking but tery, and thrill, but for some reason, I so engaging. don’t read books with similar plots.

Favorite bookish merch/item? I have a small piece of artwork, an ink drawing of Hogwarts, that my best friend gifted me, and it is something that I’ll forever cherish.

What book changed the way you view the world? The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver was the first assigned book that spoke to me beyond the assigned pages and papers that were produced. It was profound, and had intriguing storylines, plots, and themes that seemed to transcend beyond the pages of the book, at least for me. 64



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“You could rattle the stars, if you only dared.” — Sarah J. Maas


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What book would you love to see turned into a film? It’s such a hard question! To be honest I’m afraid of film adaptations, because it is not possible to turn a book into a movie without losses and sometimes these are so bad that the whole essence of the book could disappear somewhere in Hollywood. But I would be curious to see Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake as a film.

What book changed the way you view the world? I’m not sure if it changed my world, but lately Some Kind of Happines by Claire Legrand impressed me so much. It made me stronger in my belief that compulsory readings at schools should deal with actual problems. The book is about Finley, an eleven years old girl suffering from depression and anxiety. As I’m going to be a teacher and will teach literature to children in that age I think it is pretty important to supply them with reads that are dealing with these kinds of common problems! I love this book so much, and I would be happy to see it translated to my language and share it!

What’s the best life lesson you’ve learned from a book? I’ve relearnt this from one of my recent read from last month, and it is the following: it’s completely okay and usual that you have bad days and periods in life, even if you think you should be happy with what you have. 68


Who is the most impressive author alive? For me it is Sarah J. Maas now. I love how she spins her stories, all the twists and turns and how she can pin me to the armchair, because I literally can’t put down her books. I adore her characters and all the development they go through in the books and what they represent.

What fictional skill or craft would you like to master? I wish I could learn how to Apparate! Life would be gloriously easier, if I could just disappear into thin air and reappear in the other place in a heartbeat! Just imagine how much time could be saved with not ever sitting in overcrowded public transportation!

If you were stuck in a dystopian novel, what would you bring Food! Perhaps mainly sweets, a girl must eat and have her fair share of chocolate! And I guess a weapon could come handy, to protect myself and those who I love! But first: chocolate!


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Favorite piece of technology from a futuristic novel? I’m quite impressed with the cyborg technology in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Just think about how many people could be saved like Cinder was! Oh, and a city on the Moon?! Although I’m afraid of flying but I would definitely pay a visit to that place!

What sub-genre do you wish you read more of? I tend to get lost in fantasy stories and books and just escape, so I think I should read more contemporary works, poetry and classics. I’m planning to dive in to Russian classics in the near future, for example.

Favorite bookish merch/item? It is so hard to choose! There are so many awesome items, but if I have to pick I say book sleeves! I love the idea, that the book is protected in my bag, and there are so many amazing designs!




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“To the stars who listen— and the dreams that are answered.” — Sarah J. Maas


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What’s the best life lesson you’ve learned from a book? Fangirl taught me that it’s okay to be an introvert. It taught me that it’s okay to enjoy fictional world over real ones, and relish your time with a hobby that you love. I always go back to this book when I feel down or maybe isolated because of my introversion. After a good reread of Fangirl, I remember that it’s okay and being an introvert makes me who I am!

What fictional skill or craft would you like to master? I’ve always been interested in moving this with my mind. The Blues in The Darkest Minds do this with their telekenesis!

Who is the most impressive author alive? For me, that would have to be Cassandra Clare. She created this entire world of Shadowhunters that now have three intertwining series under its belt. She writes amazing action, humor, and romance for her characters (and there’s so many). It’s so impressive! City of Bones is also the book that got me hooked on young adult fiction, so I am continuously impressed by her work.

What sub-genre do you wish you read more of? I’d love to read more historical fiction!

If you were stuck in a dystopian novel, what would you bring with you? Hmm...how about a cell phone? No one uses cell phones in these dystopian worlds! 74


Favorite piece of technology from a futuristic novel? In The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Cinder is a cyborg that basically has a computer in her head. This desire is a bit extreme since she isn’t really human, but it’s be cool to basically have a smart phone in my head

Favorite bookish merch/item? I love my Shadowhunter Army enamel pin! It definitely makes me feel like an ` honorary Shadowhunter.


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What book would you love to see turned into a film? I think Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. It follows the drama at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school. It features a great diverse band of characters, lots of competition, and a bit of mystery! I think a film adaptation would do great at keeping me on my toes (no pun intended).

What book changed the way you view the world? The Hate U Give gave me a new perspective on what it meant to be black in America. There was so much I related to in the novel, but I also read new truths of the characters that I’d never experienced. It altered my view of the world with its rawness on a topic categorized as “taboo”. It made me realize that we don’t allow people [of color] to speak their truths because it’s viewed as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘touchy’ when really, it’s someone’s reality. 76



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“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” —JK Rowling


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What book changed the way you view the world? The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is one of my favourite books PERIOD. I loved everything about, but having Death as the narrator, definitely had me thinking about my own mortality and what it really means to live, long after I finished the book.

What’s the best life lesson you’ve learned from a book?

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien taught me that you don’t have to be big to have a major impact on the world!

Who is the most impressive author alive? Rick Riordan for sure! I don’t think I have read any author who has written such an expanse of diverse characters, especially in the middle-grade genre! Even better is the fact that these diverse characters aren’t just minor people in the background. Representation is so important and Rick does it SO, SO well! Plus, who doesn’t like reading about mythology?

Favorite bookish merch/item?



My LOTR One Ring replica! My friend got it for me a few years ago and it was my first piece of bookish merch (besides bookmarks).

What fictional skill or craft would you like to master? Potion making! Oh myyyy, the potions I would make! I would be the friendly neighbourhood potions dealer! You need something to get you out of a test? Sure! Felix felicis? I got you! And my prices would be very reasonable too ;)

What sub-genre do you wish you read more of? Historical Romance! I think I’ve only read about 3-4 historical romance books. There are SO MANY out there, I don’t know where to start!

If you were stuck in a dystopian novel, what would you bring with you? A map! Like in most dystopia’s, I would most likely be on the run from the government. I wouldn’t want to trust technology since I’m not tech savvy enough to avoid being tracked by them through my phone or computer usage! So good old fashioned maps all the way!


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Favorite piece of technology from a futuristic novel? The Warcross game from Warcross by Marie Lu! Honestly, I don’t think this tech is too far off! We already have VR; I could definitely see something similar to this being established within the next 10-15 years! It would give me another excuse to never leave my house…

What book would you love to see turned into a film? Okay, I’m going to cheat and say two! First, Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller! Mainly because I want to cry and see Patrochilles in all their glory! The 2004 ‘Troy’ movie had Achilles and Patroclus portrayed as cousins and I was just like? Um no! Secondly, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik! I think the cinematography and costumes would be amazing! Plus, the story was just so beautifully written! Though, I don’t know how well the multiple POVs would translate onto the big screen!




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Escape to a world of magic and wonder when these enchanting fairy lanterns light up your night. The best part? You can make your for as little as $15! A special thank you to Lily Ardor for this whimsical tutorial. Make sure to tag her on social with your creations!



Supplies Jar with a Lid Fairy printable Scissors Tea light Dark Gray Paint Copper Paint Pen or Marker Brushes / Paper Glow in the Dark Paint (color Natural) Stick (I used a barbecue stick) Plastic Bag (I used a recycled grocery bag) Metal Wire Needle Point Pliers Card Board (little piece) Foam Sheet Plastic Greenery Moss Drill Tape Optional decor ( twine , glass vial, key)


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1. To begin you’ll need to attach your lid to your jar and drill a hole big enough for your on and off switch. The hole doesn’t need to be perfect because it won’t be visible. You will be covering most of it with moss. Here’s a quick tip: (optional) Your edges will probably be rough, You can hammer out all your rough edges against a flat surface if you’d like. Then glue your tea light with the light switch facing up and apply extra glue around all the sharp edges.

2. Following that use your pen to trace a circle onto your cardboard and cut it out. I used my lid to trace the circle. I did need to cut it down a bit smaller. It needs to be able to fit into your jar easily.



Here’s the free fairy printable.


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3. Cut out your fairy printable and attach it with tape to your foam sheet. Then neatly cut your fairy out again.

4. Add a little stand to your fairy. Don’t forget to secure it with some glue. Add some moss to your cardboard circle and attach your fairy to the edge of the circle.



5. Cut out your fairy printable and attach it with tape to your foam sheet. Then neatly cut your fairy out again.

6. ANTIQUING: Next add some copper paint to your gray paint. Mix it a little and make your antiquing brush using a stick and a piece of plastic bag. Apply hot glue around the stick and wrap the plastic bag around it.


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7. To antique dip your plastic brush into your gray paint and dab most of it off onto another paper. You only need the tiniest bit of paint on your plastic brush for this effect. Once you’ve dabbed most of the paint off apply it on the inside of the jar around the top and bottom avoiding the middle. Use rubbing and dabbing motions. MAKING THE HANDLE 8. Ok now cut your wire long enough to make a handle. Wrap it around the jar in a circle and secure it. Fold over what’s left of the wire and secure it to the other side of the circle. You should have a handle ( view video for reference) Keep in mind this doesn’t need to be super tight. You should be able to slide it off easily because you’ll be adding twine to it.

9. Then take your fairy and insert her into the jar and use some hot glue to decorate the lid and handle with some greenery. 92


10. Ok I totally did this step backwards. You should probably apply the greenery on the handle after adding the twine to it. For this step I doubled my twine and wrapped the circle of the handle in twine. You can probably wrap the handle itself too. I literally just thought of that.. It would probably look cuter too. To finish it off attach your key and glass vial with some twine and glue. I added a bit of glitter to my glass vial. That’s it. Don’t forget to watch the video for more details.


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Here’s a video on this fairy lantern night light. Hope you like it.


Lily Ardor runs a craft blog sharing stories of design and her adventures in creative living. PINTEREST www.pinterest.com/lilyardor FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/Lilyardor YOUTUBE @ lilyardor INSTAGRAM www.instagram.com/lilyardor www.lilyardor.com




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Check out this free preview of Butterfly Bones by Rebecca Carpenter Bethany should be dead, just like the doctors predicted. But along came the butterflies, altering the order of nature. And now nature is hell bent on revenge. Because when fate’s path is disrupted, it’s only a matter of time before balance must be restored. At birth, Bethany Keatley was diagnosed with a rare bone disorder and sent home from the hospital to die. But nature has her own plans for Bethany. Haunting and twisted. Like nothing you’ve ever read before.

CHAPTER ONE Don’t look at the needle. Don’t freak out. I focus instead on a row of embryonic mice preserved in ethanol. As Dad passes by, the syringe reflects in the specimen jar, distorted and magnified. Crap. Being a human pincushion sucks on butt. Not a cute, tight one, but a saggy old one covered in hair. Yes. It’s that bad.

inject into your backside?” “Because the wood chairs at school are already torture on my bony butt.” He looks me over, scrutinizing every inch of my body and mumbles, “Arms are definitely out of the question.”

“Dad, I’m not one of your test subjects. A sigh escapes my lips, and I lean over Stop talking like I’m not here.” Hard to his desk. “Let’s get this over with.” My believe after all I’ve been through I want fingernails dig into the underside of soft to major in applied biological sciences wood as the other hand slips down the with a focus on research, and minor in waistband of my pants, exposing a kaleiLepidoptera—just like Dad—especially doscope of bruises. I wish I was a normal since science has robbed me of an infifteen-year-old. I have dreams that I am. volved, normal father. But I do. Science has been there my whole life, my only “Why don’t we give your hips a break and constant, and I can’t wait to leave this CURIOSITALES

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small-minded town and start a career. Plus, science doesn’t care how tiny I am.

untary torment is more accurate.

“Dad, you stink.” I wave my hand in front of my face, stirring up formaldehyde vapor in the air. “Embalmment of Death” I call the au naturel musk. And I reek of it— my hair, skin, even my eyelashes.

I glance at the clock. At this rate I’ll have to run all the way to the bus stop, my backpack loaded with textbooks and notebooks from last night’s homework assignments.

“Occupational hazard,” Dad says. Invol-

“Don’t forget this.” Dad dangles a breath-

A bone-deep ache seeps from my hip and “Back to the hip we go.” Goosebumps sweeps across my stomach. My heart rate erupt as Dad wipes the site with an alcoincreases like I’ve just run the mile. That’s hol prep pad. Brace for it. My knuckles different. But I don’t have time to worry. pale as the metal tip pierces skin. Besides, Dad knows what he’s doing— he’s been giving me hormone my whole “Start counting,” he says. “1, 2—” A wince life. breaks through my gritted teeth. Something’s wrong. My hip burns like it’s been Bouncing up and down, I massage the site doused with diethyl ether and lit on fire. for ten seconds and dart through open The scorching sensation intensifies until French doors into the living room. my head spins like a mini tornado’s ripping through it. Holy Mother of Pearl, I’m “Thirty seconds, Bethey,” he says. “You gonna pass out. have to work the muscles long enough to break down scar tissue.” And then it’s over. I whip around and glare into his eyes. “What the heck did I skid to a stop. I hate the nickname. It’s you just put in me?” bad enough I’m built like a ten-year-old. Can’t he respect my wishes and not treat “I added an accelerant to the B. selene3 me like one? “Bethany, Dad. My-namehormone,” he says, taping a cotton ball is-Bethany.” The cuckoo clock mounted over the puncture. on the north wall in the front room strikes seven. “And I’m gonna be late. I’ll massage “What did you use—sulfuric acid?” He it on the bus.” stares at me, eyes squinting. “Don’t be so dramatic. I used a protein enzyme from “Going to be late.” He peers over his bifothe caterpillar.” cals. “Slang makes you sound uneducated.” “Regardless of what it is, it burns like hell.” “Is it still burning?” “That’s beside Oh, Mylanta. And cussing makes me the point.” Dad ruffles my black hair. I sound like a degenerate. I roll my eyes. push away his hand as a flood of body Isn’t the entire population of Springs, odor nearly knocks me over. Georgia uneducated?



ing mask. In the past week, thirty students were diagnosed with influenza. With my unclassified bone disorder—something akin to osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare bone disorder resulting from abnormal collagen tissue—he doesn’t want me to take any chances. I fling my arms into the air. “I’m gonna— going—to be late!” I rush into the lab and nab the mask. No way in heck I’m gonna wear that. If it’s my time to go, then so be it. “Happy?” He removes a hundred-dollar bill from his wallet. “Do you need lunch money?” Money is the only thing that Dad never seems to be in short supply of. Every year he applies for grants, and every year he’s approved. Just find a rare species of butterfly, show how you can increase their numbers, and donors will throw money at you. “I packed my lunch.” My hand brushes the energy bar in my pocket. Not the healthiest meal, but I’ll get a good dose of protein. At least that’s what Dad says when he eats them for dinner. “For tomorrow, then.” He hands me the money, heads to a table with a microscope, and positions his face over the lens. “Tomorrow’s Saturday.” “What?” I shake my head. “Bye, Dad. See you after school.” I shove the items in my pocket and exit the lab. “And take a shower.”

television actor with too much chest hair is my father’s hero. How about Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, Jr., or Sir Alexander Fleming, the founder of penicillin? I glance at the yeti and frown. Hadn’t anyone heard about waxing in the 80s? Gross. Parking my butt on the couch, I slide my arms through backpack straps and clip the sternum strap. Yes, I am a dork. But without the extra support, the bag slips down my ski-sloped shoulders. Coupled with bones that grow slowly and that whole non- puberty thing, I’m not that physically different from other kids—kids in elementary school, that is. No one ever thinks about shoulders. But I think about them all the time: square, narrow, broad, normal—all beautiful. I’ll give anything to stand tall, shoulders back, and not appear to be slouching. With all my might, I shove off the couch, gather the remaining textbooks and the bag of Hershey’s Miniatures from the coffee table and head for the door. Chocolate! Just holding the bag gives me strength. At the bottom of the porch steps, I pause and wave. “Bye, Mom. See you after school.” Her headstone stares at the house, always watching over Dad and me. A gust of wind pushes me forward, setting me on my way.

Stooped over, I trudge the half-mile driveway to the bus stop. Bees zoom from one blazing star wildflower to another. A flock Above the stone fireplace, the framed Tom of sparrows play follow-the-leader into Selleck poster follows me. I stick out my the branches of an oak, and all at once, the tongue and offer my best stink face. Out of canopy bursts into chatter. A kaleidoscope all the great men in the world, an early 80s of Boloria selene butterflies rise from upCURIOSITALES

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land bent grass and flutters around me. Happiness fills my heart, and I want to sing. A classic movie pops in my head, and I belt out, “The trees are alive, with the sounds of birds. Chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp.” I love living in the woods. And with our property sitting on fifty acres in the forest, I have a big area to explore.

might as well be Mt. Everest. Mr. Maloney, the bus driver, rises from his seat, his horse-jockey frame not much taller than me. “Do you need help?” Wavy white hair tops his head like whip cream on pie.

No doubt. But if I accept, I’ll never live A diesel engine roars as the school bus it down. “I got it, Mr. Maloney.” I latch rolls past my stop. Ah, crap to the 100th onto the handrail and hoist myself up. degree. “Wait!” But the obnoxious engine One step. Two steps. I pause and catch drowns out my elfin voice. I drop my my breath. You can do it. One more tug, books and frantically wave. The bus backs and I stand at the peak of one of the tallest up. Thank goodness. I really don’t feel like mountains in the world, or something like turtling it to school. With engine exhaust that. As I fist-pump my accomplishment, swirling in the breeze, I snatch the binders the entire busload stares. and chocolates from the ground and waddle to the open door. From across the aisle, Leah Mitchell pans me a dirty look. “Maybe you should ride LaShawn Jefferson, my nearest neighbor, the short bus.” leans his head out the window. “Sometime today, Quasimodo.” The bus erupts “Good idea. Then I won’t have to deal in laughter. with small-minded bigots like you.” My cheeks grow warm. Nothing like a good dose of humiliation to get the blood pumping in the morning.

She sticks her upturned nose in the air and turns away. What irony. Last year, schoolmates shunned Leah for the abundance of moles all over her body. No one except me But at least LaShawn has an excuse for would even talk to her. But a few visits to acting like a donkey on steroids. His fathe dermatologist paid off big. With her ther drinks too much, and his mother mole-free complexion, she’s been accepted works three jobs to put food on their table. into the popular crowd—the same group Often alone with his inebriated dad, enthat had been so mean. Evidently, she’s as during verbal abuse is a way of life. And shallow as her moles. now, with a sinister smile on his face, he slings the insults. At the back of the bus, Cal Ripken Carter B rears up. “Maybe if you had a mom, you ut I have other things to worry about; could make it to the bus on time.” He namely, how in the heck I’m going to changes his voice like a baby. “Mommy!” climb up the stairs. I sigh and dump my The guys surrounding him chuckle. books on the top step. Backpack my butt. What an ass. So I’m a degenerate, but I I’m packing a refrigerator. The three steps can’t think of a better word to describe 114


him—except adding more swear words. I meet Cal’s gaze. “Well maybe if you didn’t throw like your mom, you’d be more than a bench warmer.” “Loser.” Cal chucks a pen. The Paper Mate clears three-quarters of the bus and drops on the ground. Drawing in my lips, I hold in a giggle. Even my wimpy arms can throw better than that. “Your namesake must be so proud.” “Freak!” Cal lunges into the aisle, his eyes wilder than a tiger on the prowl. “That’s enough, Carter!” With eyebrows lowered, Mr. Maloney’s finger shoots out like a dagger. “Sit down or you’ll be walking to school.” I pretend the jerk’s words don’t hurt, but the remark about my mom pierces deep, slashing into my heart. Mom died of cancer before I turned two. Why would anyone use that as ammunition? But it isn’t just the cruelty of his words that grinds at me, his tone is more serrated than Dad’s fishing knife. I duck into my designated spot—the first seat on the bus— and massage my thigh and wounded self-esteem all the way to school. Thank goodness it’s my last full year of riding the bus. Next October, I turn sixteen. And even better, with all my extra credits, I’m on track to graduate two years early. I can’t wait to leave this town and start my life. With a Nestlé Crunch warming on my tongue, I relax into my seat and fantasize

about driving a convertible Mustang. Of course in my dream, my best friend, Jeremiah, is right there next to me. My mind flip-flops between having him wear tight jeans or his swim trunks. Both are delicious. But since it’s my vision, I go all out and dress him in nothing but boxer briefs. The vision of his chiseled body, brown curls blowing in the wind, and his head swinging my direction as he offers a flirtatious wink sends a tingle over my chin and tickles my lip. Oh. My. Goodness. Before we reach the school, the pain from my hip has downgraded to a dull throb, and my heart rate is normal. Phew. At my locker, I empty my bag and head for art class. Exiting their zero hour weight-lifting class, a herd of senior guys stampede from the gym and overtake me. Caught in the middle, I’m forced from my route. A wayward elbow strikes my head and almost knocks me to the floor. “Ouch! Let me out of here.” But the tight-knit group doesn’t budge. A blonde marches in front of the horde and raises her arm. “Stop!” The mass halts. I jump to obtain a better look but can’t see past all those muscles. The senior class’ most popular jock, Jon Rice, steps forward. “What can I do you for?” Did he just say that? Guys are so Neanderthal. “Didn’t you see that little girl trapped between your sweaty bodies?” Little girl? I don’t recognize the sensual, raspy voice. In one motion, the crowd turns to the cenCURIOSITALES

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ter. Crap, crap, and triple crap. Fire creeps up my neck. I back-peddle and bump into a bulging thigh. Faster than chocolate in the microwave, I want to melt into the floor—and then lick myself. Chocolate makes everything better. The blonde parts the group and snatches my hand. “You guys should pay more attention.” I’ve never seen this girl before. And as small as Springs is, everyone knows everyone. Laughter erupts. With a flip of her wrist, the blonde waves them along. “Go take some steroids or something.” The girl pulls me to the side and bends down to my eye level. Worried my rescuer might figure out the mistake, I bow my head. “Are you okay, honey?” I nod and wish the blonde away. But the girl’s genuinely trying to help, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings, or even worse, embarrass her. Besides, it’s nice having someone be kind to me for a change. “Did you get off at the wrong bus stop?” I chew my cheek. Should I tell the truth or play dumb? “This is the high school. The elementary is on the other side of town.” The elementary? Are you kidding me? Someone needs to buy that girl a pair of glasses.

right school?” Before I can answer, Mr. Garcia, my math teacher, rounds the corner. The unrelated twin to Mario Lopez pauses outside his door and converses with a couple of students. “Oh good, a teacher.” The blonde nabs my hand, swinging it while she leads me toward Mr. Garcia. “And a cute one at that.” I cringe, my heart banging in my chest louder than cymbals crashing together. Will he reveal my true age? Mr. Garcia glances up as we approach. His eyes lock on the blonde, sweep to me, and finally on our clasped hands. I subtly shake my head, hoping to heck he catches the hint. The blonde pushes me up front. “Can you help this girl? She needs to get to the elementary school.” Mr. Garcia’s brows lower. “Why?” “She got off at the wrong stop.” Mr. Garcia’s eyes narrow even more. “And who are you?” “Oh, I’m Zoey. I’m new here.” The way the girl’s built, and since today’s the first time I’ve seen her, she has to be a senior. If on rare occasion I bump into her, I can pretend to be lost again.

Mr. Garcia stares at me. I shrink under the intense scrutiny and shrug. Please don’t My eyes dart left and right. A group head- say anything. ing to class stares with puzzled expressions. Thank goodness the blonde is obliv- He reaches out his hand. “Thank you. I’ll ious. take care of this.” A shroud of anxiety lifts as the blonde hands me over. “Bye, little “Poor thing. Do you want me to help you girl. Good luck.” With her heels clicking find a teacher so we can get you to the down the hall, Zoey disappears into the 116


crowd. Mr. Garcia’s protruding eyes make me want to whack him in the forehead and pop those peepers back where they belong. But what I don’t want is to talk. I’ve had enough humiliation for one day. I shake my head. “Don’t ask.” With my ears ablaze, I beeline to class. Most students dodge the front row. But as long as I sit near the teacher, the bullies leave me alone. The “Zero Tolerance for Bullying” policy is just another “feel good” regulation. Unless they ban kids from being teenagers, persecutions will continue. Evilness is in our nature. Mix that with frenzied hormones and egos the size of Missy Lumins’ triple E whoppers and you’ve identified most kids at Springs High. I slip into my desk at the front of the class and doodle on the inside cover of my sketchbook. Ashanique, Abby, and Alejandra, with Leah Mitchell in tow, migrate into the classroom. The A Club, as they call themselves. They’re the popular girls from the rich part of town. Ashanique has brunette hair, Abby red, Alejandra blonde, and Leah black—none their natural color. Each girl dons a streak of purple under her right ear. In elementary school, we’d all been friends. But something happened in middle school. Maybe it was puberty, or lack of in my case. As soon as their boobs started to poke out and boys paid attention, they no longer wanted me around. No one did. Normally I avoid eye contact and un-

wanted attention from the popular group. Survival of high school depends on a low profile. But long blonde hair catches my eye and sends my blood pressure rocketing. The new girl joins the A Club and stops right in front of me. Crap times a thousand. Zoey isn’t a senior. But who starts a new school on a Friday? I slouch in my desk and shift my bangs over my face. Through black strands, I peer at the girl who’s more beautiful than anyone I’ve ever seen. With her full lips, clear-blue eyes, high cheekbones, and perfectly straight shoulders, Zoey makes Barbie look plain. Abby nudges Zoey and points. “You have an admirer.” Zoey’s smile vanishes upon seeing me. Red streaks her neck, and disgust stamps her forehead. Covering my mouth, I whisper, “Sorry. I didn’t want to make you feel bad.” Zoey glares with the sharpness of a thousand needles. “But embarrassing me in front of the whole school was okay?” Abby’s phone beeps. She glances at the screen and shows it to Zoey. The new girl shoves the phone in my face, and my heart stills. “See what you did, you little freak.” A lump forms in my throat, blocking my windpipe. I squint at the phone. A picture of Zoey and me holding hands covers the screen. Underneath, the caption reads “New girl digs lesbo midgets.” CURIOSITALES

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Rebecca Carpenter is a native of western Colorado. She is married with two grown children and has been blessed with five amazing grandchildren. She owns and directs a large childcare center where she shares her love for books. She also works as a part time freelance copy editor and interns as anassistant-to-the-editor for a small press, helping others attain their writing dreams. She self-published amemoir about her teen pregnancy in 2012, and her award winning, science fiction young adult novel,Butterfly Bones, was released on Nov. 28 th , 2016 by Lakewater Press, with the second book in the Metamorphosis series, Butterfly Blood, was released in August of 2018.




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Around the World T

he Stuttgart City Library officially opened in September 2011. The neutral, minimalist design houses a shell of books around a five story gallery. The natural light and stacks of books bring coziness to the clean space. Visitors can access several areas of the library including the central foyer, children’s library, music library, study rooms, Graphotheque, administration and café. At 131 feet, you definitely won’t miss Stuttgart City Library towering over Mailänder Platz. Be sure to visit at night, too, when the grey and white building lights up with an irridescent blue glow. The library is open to, and embraces people of every culture around the world.




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