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SPRING 2020

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CURIOSITALES New York, New York; USA Volume 16 Spring 2020

FOUNDER Gillian St. Clair BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION Stacy Herman SALES AND ADVERTISING Vipul Kuchhal REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS Elle Jauffret- food writer Elishia Merricks- photographer Juliet White- writer SEASONAL CONTRIBUTORS Seline DuMane Shannon Grace Catherine Linka Lyn N. Melleny Smith Bianca Visagie AUTHORS June Hur Maureen Johnson Ryan La Sala Kathryn Purdie BOOKSTAGRAMMERS Alyssa @thisbookishadventure Bezi @beingabookwyrm Larissa @thehookandtale COSPLAYERS Jess @thecalicoqueen Idyia @idyia_cosplay

COVER Merfin Images used belong to the credited creator, or have been used through standard license agreement or creative commons. For more information, email support. Copyright 2020 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.

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


Behind the Scenes

Hey bookworms, It’s with a heavy heart that I bring this announcement to you. The Spring 2020 issue of Curiositales is our final magazine issue. From day one, I have enjoyed this opportunity to talk about what I love most in the world: stories. We couldn’t have made it to our 16th edition without a ton of help and support from a ton of people in the bookish community and it has been a wonderful to meet and collaborate with each and every single one of you. In this, our final issue, we speak to June Hur, Maureen Johnson, Ryan La Sala, and Kathryn Purdie. One of the best things about this magazine is connecting with authors and fans in a wide range of genres, and you’ll certainly find that aspect present in this issue. Thank You and Happy Reading, Gillian St. Clair

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CONTENTS THE HIGHLIGHTS

66

@ beingabookwyrm

10 AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

34 AUTHOR TALK

36 CHANGE MAKERS

Interviews with June Hur, Maureen Johnson, Ryan La Sala, and Kathryn Purdie

Author Catherine Linka redefines homelessness

YA Authors who are taking the industry by storm

40 EBOOKS FOR BOOKSTAGRAM

46 PHOTO ESSAY

62 BEHIND THE BOOKSTAGRAM

A tutorial for taking photos of your digital reads for Instagram

Cosplayers Jess and Idyia present their favorite cosplays

Q&A with Alyssa, Bezi, and Larissa, this month’s featured accounts

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CONTENTS 09 Contributors 10 Chasing Home

June Hur of The Silence of Bones

15 Share Your Shelf | June Hur 26 Sharp Curves Ahead

Maureen Johnson of The Hand on the Wall

21 Share Your Shelf | Maureen Johnson 22 Fabulously Fantastical Ryan La Sala of Reverie

27 Share Your Shelf | Ryan La Sala 28 The Lure of Bones Kathryn Purdie of Bone Crier’s Moon 33 Share Your Shelf|Kathryn Purdie 34 Redefining What it Means to be Homeless by Catherine Linka

36 Changemakers: Authors Changing the Young Adult Literary Industry by Séline DuMane

38 Fiction Food

by Elle Jauffret

40 eBooks for Bookstagram Tutorial by Lyn from Nomadic Worlds

46 The Calico Queen Cosplay 54 Idyia Cosplay 62 Meet the Bookstagrammers 74 Book Reviews 76 Bookstagram Photo Tips by Elishia Merricks

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@thecalicoqueen

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CONTRIBUTORS: Writer Séline DuMane @lifebytheink

Séline is an Instagram book blogger that currently resides in Georgia, USA! Her favorite genres are classic, fantasy, and young-adult. Outside of reading, She also enjoys discovering independent bookshops, taking spontaneous trips around the world, and writing in hopes to become a fantasy novelist.

Author Catherine Linka @catherine_linka

Catherine Linka’s new novel, What I Want You to See, was published by Disney’s Freeform on February 4, 2020. She can be found at her website: www.catherinelinka.com

Cosplayer Jess @thecalicoqueen

Calico Queen Cosplay, aka Jess, has been cosplaying since 2008. As a disabled, plus size, and Romani woman, she has won multiple awards for her costuming and makeup work. She also appears as an actor and creator for Escapism Productions.

Cosplayer Idyia @idyia_cosplay

I am Idyia, a french cosplayer quite new in the community (since May 2019) :) I create all my costumes myself and edit most of my pictures

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CHASING HOME WITH JUNE HUR Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Juliet White

“In a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.” So reads the chilling tagline for The Silence of Bones—a title already designed to provoke a shiver of suspense. The land in question is 19th century Korea, where damos serve as some of the earliest female police officers in history. When you unite this intriguing setting with some stealth girl power and a dash of murder, the outcome is June Hur’s debut novel. The plot centers around Seol, an orphaned girl, who helps a police inspector investigate a noblewoman’s murder— even after he becomes the prime suspect. “It began with the opening scene where a 16-year-old is following a group of police officers to a murder investigation,” Hur explained. “Initially, I wrote it as women’s fiction. Chapter one was a murder, and the rest focused on the protagonist’s journey, discovering her identity, her sense of agency. Then my friend read the first chapter and

love reading and watching murder mysteries and thought, ‘Maybe I’ll give it a try.’ That’s how it turned into a mystery novel.” Just as Hur shifted genres, she also remained flexible with her main character’s personality. “When I first wrote [Seol,] she was supposed to be this sharp, cynical, dark, anxious girl. I had this scene of her jumping off the stairs, full of joy. This childlike wistfulness kept surfacing in her character and I realized the way I was trying to write her was not who she’s meant to be in this novel. That’s the first time I felt a character take over.” As Seol revealed her personality, Hur became conscious of how she differed from her creation. “When there is something that needs to be done, Seol will dive into that situation, looking for the truth because her curiosity’s strong. I have a sense of self-preservation, so I don’t think I would risk my life searching for the truth. She’s also very loyal. She risks everything to reinstate the reputation of the inspector

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she’s working for. There’s a naïve hopefulness to her, but I’m a very cynical person and so I appreciate that side of her.” By today’s standards, Seol’s traits seem admirable but, in the 19th century, women’s role in society was much more constricted. “When I studied the Victorian Era or the Regency Era,” Hur said, “there’s the domestic sphere and the public sphere. Women were supposed to be contained within the home. I didn’t think it would be the same with Korea, though it makes sense—patriarchy is a worldwide issue. Korean society was way more gender segregated than it was even in England.” “For example, with the way mansions were built in Korea, there was the outer sphere and then there was the inner sphere. Women had to stay within the women’s quarter and men weren’t allowed in there except if they were family members and, even if they were family members, they could only visit. They lived separately. The damos existed because male policemen weren’t allowed to touch female victims, corpses or suspects. They would hand that job over to the females.” Hur’s novel takes place during the Joseon (or Choson) Dynasty, which lasted for five hundred years. The culture featured a strict social hierarchy or caste system. Korea followed a policy of isolationism to limit the influence of the West. An influx of French Catholic missionaries threatened this stance, leading to persecutions and killings of both foreigners and local converts. Hur selected this as the backdrop for The Silence of Bones. “The murder has a connection to the political and religious tensions of the time,” she said. “Korea was a hermit kingdom. When I studied why Korea was closed to Christianity, it made total sense. They were trying to preserve tradition, and Korea’s been invaded so many times throughout history. I am a Christian, but I totally understood why they didn’t want any influence, especially the Catholic influence because it had ties to Western power. I made sure that the hero throughout the book remained a Buddhist—a lot of the women back then were Buddhists—and I introduced Catholic characters, but they were based on historical letters that Catholics sent to their parents when they were arrested.”

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Hur’s beliefs did influence one of key themes in The Silence of Bones: the notion of home. “With a lot of Christians, there’s the concept of Heaven as home,” Hur explained. “It’s the idea that, as we live on Earth, we’re constantly longing for home. I was all, ‘Oh, it’s a nice way to tie in my faith with my own homesickness.’”

When I was writing about Korea, I saw a reflection of myself and my values that I’d never experienced before.

“I haven’t lived with my parents since I was sixteen or seventeen because they live in Korea, and I came back to Canada to study at the University of Toronto. When I was writing about Korea, I saw a reflection of myself and my values that I’d never experienced before. My longing for home and for my parents surfaced. In Korean history, filial piety—being loyal and obedient to your parents—that’s a big value. That’s a value I grew up being taught. Being able to make that connection solidified that this book is going to be about home. It is a murder mystery, but the core of it is about one girl’s longing to find home, to find her family. Hur is used to having one foot in two worlds, a position that at times provides an interesting perspective and at others can feel precarious. “Something I’ve been really interested in is the concept of diaspora writers,” she commented. Traditionally “diaspora” has referred to Jewish people who maintained their culture and religion while living in other countries. However, the Japanese invasion and the country’s division caused many Koreans to similarly scatter across Asia and beyond.


The writings of members of this group have been dubbed “diaspora literature.” “There is this terror. I can write for the Western audience but, oh my gosh, if this gets translated into Korean, I’ve done my best to research but did I do something wrong?” Hur said. “Did I miss something first gen Koreans know that I don’t?’ There is certain information that we’re barred from [because] we have that language barrier. That’s been a struggle. A lot of the Korean scholarly materials aren’t fully translated and my Korean level is like kindergarten, so it takes a lot of time for me to read scholarly sources and translate it. There are translated sources but, when it comes to very niche topics, there’s almost nothing available.” “My novel is about damos—one of the first female police forces with arresting power in the world. There’s a Wikipedia page about it but, besides that, the references are very scarce. Researching itself takes so many hours. But I love history. Being able to find that one detail, it’s like scavenger hunting.” Given their shared upbringing, Hur’s sister is an invaluable reader for her early drafts. “I’m always, ‘Can you read this chapter? I won’t get angry if you’re honest with me.’ But then she’s honest and I’m like, ‘How could you say that?’” Hur confessed. “Besides my sister, no one else in my family has read my book before. My parents sup-

ported me going to university to study English literature and history because I wanted to be a better writer, without thinking about another career in teaching or anything like that. They just trusted me. Then, for the first time, my mom wanted to read my work. I sent it over to her and she’d be using the dictionary to understand what I was writing. She was like, ‘I didn’t know there were so many words in the English language.’” “The things she really liked were the references to home. My mom always felt she sent us off when we were too young, and so there’s a bit of remorse and wondering if she did the right thing. I’ve told her I wouldn’t trade the experience of living away from them for anything because I learned so much. I bonded with my siblings. Being able to live together in Canada, just on our own, created this strong sense of partnership. As my mom was reading the book, she was able to see not the tragedy of homesickness, but there’s a sense of something beautiful about knowing there’s a home and longing for it, and being okay with that—even if you don’t figure out at the end where home actually is.” In fact, it wasn’t until Hur addressed such a personal theme in her writing that she found publishing success. Previously, she crafted romance novels and historical romances, before transitioning into historical fiction. She adored the Victorian Era and

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and Regency Era, which served as the setting for her manuscripts. “I was writing and querying for around ten years, more or less. I’d write and I’d query and rewrite that same book and then query again. Agents kept asking for revisions and so I was like, ‘There must be something good about it,’ but I kept missing the point that they wanted me to revise, or maybe it wasn’t the right time for this book, or my skill level wasn’t there. Finally, I gave up. I was so tired of England because I’d been writing about it for so many years.” Hur’s identity as a reader led to the next stage in her writing journey. “Out of the blue, I was like, ‘I want to read about my history, some cool murder mystery set in 19th century Korea,’ but I couldn’t find the book I was looking for. With Victorian mystery novels, there are tons of them, but when it comes to Korean 19th century murder mysteries, I found nothing. I decided to write what I wanted to read.” The result was The Silence of Bones. After achieving a life goal, it’s easy to forget the level of uncertainty we experienced along the way, when we traveled with no guarantee of reaching a desired destination. On her path to publication, Hur realized that her drive for that prize had swallowed her love of writing. Many of us fall into the trap of putting our lives on hold until we accomplish something specific—as if only then will we be worthy of fully inhabiting the world. Once Hur allowed herself to consider the possibility of not making it, she regained her creative passion and also discovered a second career path in line with her values—working in libraries. “I’ve been able to see the library really connect the community and also serve people who don’t have access to information,” Hur commented. “When people are criticizing libraries, they think, ‘Oh, I can get all the information online, or I can order the book so cheap from Amazon.’ But we forget about the people who can’t afford Internet or who don’t know how to use it. What I love about the library is that it really stands for the freedom to access information without discrimination. It brings community together and neutralizes barriers for others who might not have the same access to books, information, or just knowledge in general, as someone who’s much more privileged does. That’s one major thing

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privileged does. That’s one major thing that I remind people, when they’re like, ‘Libraries are dying. They’re not needed.’” Broadening her professional life along with a healthy dose of self-belief spurred Hur on through periods of doubt. “It’s important to be humble, to embrace critiques, to always learn from what people say is your weakness,” she explained, “but, at the same time, it’s important for writers to have some arrogance. I told myself, ‘This book is going to reach out to a homesick youth and make them feel better.’ It might; it might not. But you need that conviction to carry you through all the rejections. I convinced myself, ‘This book is going to change the world.’ That kept me going through three, four rounds of querying.” Since Hur struggles with anxiety, that tactic proved vital in handling the subjective, competitive industry of publishing. “To give you a glimpse into my anxiety, I was invited to a panel at my university to talk about querying and agents. A week to two weeks leading up to that event, I was in the fetal pose. Anxiety runs throughout my family and, as a creative, I overthink the situation. The way I cope, is I journal a lot. Pursuing this career as an author, I really have to teach myself to embrace the fact that I’ve actually gotten a book published, and it’s published because people are interested in my work. When I get too anxious, I remind myself to slow down, be more confident, take a deep breath. I try to get perspective. I focus on that to cancel out all the noise in my head.” Short term distraction can be an effective coping strategy for anxiety—reading and TV totally count. Hur enjoyed Descendant of the Crane, a Chinese-inspired fantasy by Joan He. “Her writing is fantastic. It’s complicated. There’s a bit of mystery involved in her work,” Hur enthused. Other favorites include books by author Julie Dao and the novel We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal. If you finish The Silence of Bones and feel tempted to linger in that time period, Hur recommends the Korean show Joseon X-Files. This TV drama blends West with East. It takes inspiration both from The X-Files and from this era of Korean history, showing that when two different but enthralling things come together, the result can be greater than the sum of their parts. The Silence of Bones will be released 04/21/10.

junehur.wordpress.com/books/


Share Your Shelf 1. Online Book Friendship: Makes the reading experience even richer. 2. Audiobooks: I love listening to audiobook when I’m doing chores or working out or just too busy with life to open a physical book. 3. Muji Highlighters and Pens: I use these to take notes as I read books or when I’m revising my own manuscript. 4. All books by Tana French: She’s the novelist I always turn to when I’m in the mood for a mystery novel. 5. Bullet journal: I use them to record book related things, like thoughts in general about what I’ve read and what I’d like to write about in my own book. 6. Coffee mugs with Quotes: Something about these mugs put me in the right mood to curl up on the couch to read. 7. Book quotes on postcards: I use them whenever I need to send mail to readers and writers! 8. Framed book covers: Book covers themselves are works of art. 9. Bookmarks: I can never remember what page I left off on without a bookmark. 10. Bookends: They make my collection of books look even lovelier.

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SHARP CURVES AHEAD WITH MAUREEN JOHNSON Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Juliet White

Maureen Johnson began writing young adult fiction just to prove that she couldn’t! One headstrong moment translated into a plethora of books, along with screenplays and even a Harry Potter video game! So next time you’re polishing your stubborn streak, remember that doubling down sometimes pays off—unless your name happens to be Stevie Bell. The protagonist of Johnson’s Truly, Devious series is determined to solve a cold case tied to her school. This means convincing her parents there’s nothing dangerous about remaining at Ellingham Academy, an isolated institution in rural Vermont. But navigating the mountain roads leading to the school is a hell of a lot safer than being one of its students. The first two novels of the series delivered hairpin twists. Now a third book, The Hand on the Wall, promises a similarly high-octane ride without a guardrail in sight. Ellingham Academy markets itself as a place for the intellectual elite. The un-

solved double kidnapping that took place here? Not in the school prospectus. But one corpse isn’t enough of a challenge for people in a boarding school for overachievers and, with The Hand on the Wall, the death toll rises to three. Stevie, a true crime buff, thinks she knows whodunnit and she’s not about to skip the glory of a big reveal. Even if that means defying an evacuation order and staying at school during a massive storm, to confront the killer. “I decided to set a school up the side of a mountain that could be easily cut off because that’s when it gets good,” Johnson said. “I had to create a machine in which a detective, who is in high school, would have to solve this on her own. I broke the rules of mysteries by doing it in three parts—you don’t do mysteries in three parts. I know it was naughty but, when I write future mysteries, they will be one-book mysteries.” “When I started this series, I made a chart of motives and methods to get to

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to get to the bottom of the mechanics of the mystery. Everything was plotted from the why, and then the who and the how. You have to have every movement tracked. In the first book, people need to be in certain positions that make sense in book three. Mysteries have a very different procedure than say a romance or a contemporary novel, where I have more ability to change what happens. With mysteries, you start by knowing everything. It was like doing a word or a logic problem for four years, which as a kid I did obsessively, so I’m perfectly happy doing that.” In fact, Johnson’s always adored detectives and mystery novels. “My first reader crush as a kid was Hercule Poirot! I loved him beyond measure. I also love a will reading, a locked room, that house on the hill—all of the classic setups. I like strangers on an island, so I loved And Then There Were None. I was obsessed with The Westing Game, too. I read it every year and it’s always good. “I was an only child and I read a lot. There’s a benefit to sitting in your room really bored. It’s a great motivator.” From around age eight, Johnson envisioned herself becoming a writer. “But I didn’t know what the job of author looked like. It’s like saying, ‘You’re going to become a tree!’ It was pre-Internet so there wasn’t even a sense of how people got books made, or what was going on behind the scenes—because I would have been crawling all over that. It’s hard to explain that not very long ago, you had no idea what you were getting yourself into, which means you’re not scared of stuff that you’ve heard whispers about. You just go and explore.” “When I started out, there was very little YA. Someone said, ‘Would you consider writing YA?’ and I said, ‘Well, no, because I went to school inside a convent. I wasn’t allowed to do anything. I have no stories to tell.’ They said, ‘Well why don’t you try it?’ And I was like, ‘I’ll try, to show you how bad I’d be at it!’ It turns out that having pent up feelings is great; it’s a fine starting place.” That’s how Johnson found herself in the thick of the writing world. “YA is such a passionate community. And I mean passionate. You will get feedback and I like that. You can’t change what you do based on it, because you’ll get a 1000 conflicting

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voices. People will say, ‘I love the mom. Get rid of the mom. There’s a mom? Make the mom a dad. Make the mom a cat. You hear everything. So, you’ve got to do what you’re going to do, with the sense of trying to get better at telling stories.”

I write completely out of order. I don’t even understand how people write in order —I view it as a mystical gift.

Although Johnson’s deft at creating complex novels with satisfying endings, the way she crafts books is fragmented. “I don’t sit and contemplate my own method or style a lot,” she said. “But I write completely out of order. I don’t even understand how people write in order—I view it as a mystical gift. I start with what I see, so you can’t read a draft of mine midway through because it’s just a bag of parts. Luckily there are programs now like Scrivener where I set up outlines. It’ll have little files for each chapter so I can keep the sections I’ve written and then stitch them all together. It’s very handy.” This quirk, though intriguing, is nowhere near as elaborate as some developed by other literary figures. P.G. Wodehouse, an author Johnson admires, “had an amazing method where he would write his pages—they’d be typewritten—and he’d hang them around then room and then read them. If any of them weren’t funny enough, he would tilt them on an angle. The book wasn’t done until all the pages were straight.” In terms of process, writing for the gaming industry proved one of the less flexible experiences of Johnson’s career. “My husband works in video games and was at Electronic Arts Inc., where the Harry Pot-


ter team was located. They needed a writer [and] said, ‘Wait a second, your girlfriend, could she help us?’ And I went in and talked to them and they said, ‘Will you write this script for this game?’ and I said, ‘Sure, let’s see what happens.’” Everything was very carefully checked so you would write a lot of stuff and it wasn’t usable. It was Harry Potter, so you couldn’t change anything, and it was a little tricky but very interesting—unlike anything else I’ve ever done.” Johnson managed to add one name to the world of witchcraft and wizardry. Bucket list goal unlocked! Regardless of the project, completely detaching from work doesn’t come naturally to Johnson. “I like what I do. I have been told by my husband that I’m bad at taking time off. He taught me how to go on vacation. We went to the Caribbean and I whipped out my computer and started writing. He said, ‘Why are you working?’ And I said, ‘What am I supposed to be doing?’ And he said, ‘Sitting on the beach doing nothing.’ He’s English, and Europeans in general have a better sense that you’re supposed to take time off. I just do the things I like, with people that also do the same thing.” “There’s a group of us that travel together and help each other and work out story beats. I’ve been on retreat twice this year. We were just in Greece, so part of the day is, you get up, write, eat, swim, write, talk story… The days are broken up like that. It’s not a job, it’s a behavior. I’m real-

ly lucky that somehow I’ve found a lifestyle that accommodates a behavior of mine.” “That’s how I ended up writing some stories, because Cassie Clare is a good friend. It all came from us making jokes about things that could happen to the characters in her books, and she was all, ‘Why don’t we do this?’ So we’ve created three sets of Shadowhunters short stories. Writing is a job you do on your own, [so] getting to work with other people is always nice.” Johnson has also collaborated with John Green and Lauren Myracle on a book comprising three holiday romances, which has since been made into a Netflix movie. “We wrote short stories for Let It Snow. It takes a couple of weeks to write a short story—not very long. I decided to interlay elements of The Wizard of Oz and the yellow brick road into mine; I don’t think anybody noticed. It’s just fun—if you do it with a light touch.” When it comes to symbolism and theme, Johnson encourages readers to bring their own interpretations to her work. “What is a book if not the thing that you get out of it?” she asked. “It’s not a math problem. The answer isn’t 4 or cosine x—I don’t even know if cosine x can be the answer to anything! If you can substantiate it, then it’s a theme. It’s that simple. That’s all scholarship is at a certain level: knowing what previous scholars have said about symbols and themes and then you come along and say, ‘I

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found a new one. Here’s my case.’” Take The Great Gatsby as an example. “If you pick that book apart, you can see there’s a lot of colorwork. [Ftizgerald] may or may not have been doing it on purpose. But you have a sense in your head, a swirling sense of color, shape, or sound. With writers who write to music, you’ll see that wave running through. You’re taking in a lot of different sensory information and varied life experiences and processing it down into words, like little bricks that you’re putting one against the other.” The meaning people glean from books is unique to them, an interplay between the story and the reader as a person. That’s why Johnson shies away from recommending specific novels to add to a TBR list. “Reading is so personal that it feels inappropriate to tell anybody else what to read until I know them because I have to sit down and talk to them. I feel weird about questions like, ‘What’s your favorite book?’ ‘What should I read?’ I’m always like, ‘Well, who are you? What would make you happy?’” “How I read right now, I’m trying to get it a little more focused. The world is so broken and seems to just crash and reset every hour. It hurts our attention span. While I give my full attention to a world with 800 pages over here, crazy shit’s beeping off my phone. How we consume words, media, and information is changing. It’s becoming more and more important to take care of ourselves and take care of what we consume.” When trying to decide what to read, librarians can be a great resource. “When I was in high school, we didn’t really have a library,” Johnson said. “There was a room called the library. We were generally not allowed to go in it. The librarian was 95-years old—there’s nothing wrong with being 95-years-old—I also am not sure she was a librarian. She was just the nun assigned to the library, who seemed to think that most of the job was to keep us out of it. She was obsessed that we were going to break her copier with a bent dime, and she would say, ‘No bent dimes,’ like a haunted message. We had a local library where I went and checked out loads of books. I thought it was magical.” For grad school, Johnson attended Columbia. “[It] has like 26 libraries—they

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took us on a tour of the main one with a research librarian, and that was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. I was like, ‘This is nothing short of wizardry.’ When you were doing your thesis, you could make an appointment and say, ‘I’m looking into the following subject or specific question.’ And they would say, ‘Okay, your appointment’s at 10 o’clock in a week,’ and you’d show up at the library and they’d have a giant table where they pulled all of this information for you.” Even with school growing smaller in the rearview mirror, librarians continue to impress Johnson. “In Philadelphia right now, where I’m from, there’s a huge heroin and opioid problem. Apparently, the place that people gather is the green outside the Kensington library. So, all of the librarians got trained on naloxone, [a drug intended to reverse overdoses]. One day, while a librarian was being interviewed by the big Phili newspaper, somebody OD’d and the librarian busted out in the middle of the interview, administered a dose, and saved somebody’s life.” “In doing this job as a YA author, I travel the country and other countries, and I meet a lot of librarians. Libraries are our last refuge. They’re being eroded left and right, but librarians are truly the keepers at the gate. If a book is banned in some part of the community or in a school, frequently the library will go and get 10 more copies. I’ve got to see how librarians fight to defend keeping books on shelves. Also, especially in Texas, they like to party! There is no conference like a librarian conference. Never underestimate a librarian.” Whether you cruise over to your local library or to a bookstore, be sure to check out The Hand on the Wall, the latest addition to the Truly, Devious series. The Hand on the Wall was released on 01/21/20.

www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/books/


Share Your Shelf

1. One decent pen. Seriously. One decent pen. Don’t take other pens. And when you find the pen that you love, you get that pen. The pen does not have to be expensive. Mine is a Uni-Ball Air. My husband got it from work and I practically wrestled him to the ground to get it away from him. He absconded with it, so I bought my own. Do not give anyone your pen. 2. A giant pile of notebooks you don’t use. Would you like to visit my haunted drawer of nice notebooks that have nothing in them except one page of notes about something I have long forgotten? Come this way! (I use one notebook. I’d burn the others, but they are haunted.) 3. Customized clipboards! I got crafty one time and bought a few cheap, plain clipboards, some nice wrapping paper from a fancy store (the kind that comes on a rack and has no folds), and some Mod Podge, which is craft sealant. I made matching project clipboards and hung them with… 4. Command hooks. If they all stop working at once, my life will come apart. 5. A label printer. My husband bought me one for my birthday because he gets me. I will make a nice label for anything, even you. nd of minimalist in design with room for my legs and two shelves built in so that I can have whatever I need—research materials, random novels, bags of candy—easily at hand. 6. Plants. My plan is to fill my office with them slowly until I disappear into the leaves. 7. A small altar of things I like. Above my desk, there is a shelf of photos and plants and assorted objects to bless my day. Elton John and Kate Bush smile out from the plants. 8. A yearly calendar. I buy one every year from Paper Source. 9. Kickflip. This little piece of plastic is genius. You stick it to your laptop and it props it up at a perfect angle. You flip it back when you are done. WORTH EVERY PENNY. 10. The No No Jar. Look, sometimes, you’re going to have to get down to it, and you’re going to have to make it physically impossible for yourself to do anything but work. For these times, I suggest what I call the No No Jar. The real name is the kitchen safe. You stick your phone in there, you set the timer, and it locks. You’re not getting back in.

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FABULOUSLY FANTASTICAL WITH RYAN LA SALA Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Juliet White

“It’s a book about a young, queer kid battling a drag queen sorceress in suburban Connecticut,” Ryan La Sala says of his debut novel Reverie. When it comes to suspending disbelief, the biggest stumbling block in that summary is the idea of something interesting happening in suburban Connecticut. Then again, if any place could benefit from a dose of bedazzling, it’s the pastel-hued land of country clubs. And who better to bring the sparkle than La Sala? Twitter followers know the author as a Sailor Moon-loving, wit-wielding, unofficial arm model. But don’t expect that light tone to carry over into Reverie. Author and novel are two decidedly different—although equally fabulous—creations. Kane Montgomery was half-dead when he was fished out of a river. What he knows of the circumstances surrounding this incident could fit into a Tweet—no abbreviations necessary. Kane can’t trust the people who claim to be his friends or even “reality.” After all, when your school gym turns into an underground temple, you may get out of wearing a heinous uniform, but it leaves you with some well-earned trust issues. Reverie is a story about the outsider experience and being othered. That begins with La Sala’s choice of main character. “There’s the subtext that the hero is not always the hero,” the author explained. “Within Kane’s group of friends, there is that classic, strapping young boy who is given the sword, who is told, ‘You’re going to win, so long as you fight.’ While I love that character, I’ve also been drawn to the character archetype that’s quiet, reserved, but incredibly powerful—the Mathildas of the world. I actually love using that character as the vector for heroism.” “I wanted Kane to be this gloomy, imaginative, empathetic person. Ultimately his power comes from his ability to perceive stories, to get in touch with other people’s imaginations, and help them unwrap

themselves. I don’t see a ton of that in YA in general. We’ve got a lot of people that are fighting, that are bold, that are super smart, but I really wanted to take empathy and interiority and turn that into a strength.” La Sala embraces undervalued traits in both his protagonist and antagonist—a drag queen sorceress named Poesy. “I see flamboyance and eccentricity as empowering. [With] a lot of drag queens, what you don’t realize is that they’re able to change an entire room just by entering it. Poesy is that, taken to the nth degree. Drag queens are exceptionally powerful artists because they’re so commanding. I wanted her to have that, but turned into an ability similar to Kane’s, to influence and reflect the reality around her. So Kane and Poesy are two sides of the same power. I hoped to highlight their commonalities when I’m pitting them against one another. [They] start out diametrically opposed. The closer they get to understanding each other, the harder they’re fighting. You do see the ways in which they’re very similar and it’s hard to tell by the time someone wins, what’s really won.” That kind of mirroring makes for compelling hero/villain dynamics, as we’ve

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witnessed with Harry Potter who literally contains a bit of Voldemort, and Luke and Darth Vader, when the latter’s identity is exposed. “My favorite stories are the ones that have villains I could see the hero turning into if they had different influences,” La Sala commented. “Villains make a story most of the time, especially if they’re interesting and fascinating and sympathetic to the reader.” Young kids don’t typically critique the images and stereotypes presented in media of good guys and bad guys. So, recalling the antagonists of our childhood from an adult perspective can be jarring. “If you look at villains across the board, the ones that are the favorites are usually smart, pretty righteous, and they’re almost always queer-coded,” La Sala observed. Take The Powerpuff Girls, who face a nemesis dubbed HIM. “He is quite literally a drag queen, super-effeminate gay man. He is also the Devil and he wears a tutu. As a kid I was like, ‘That’s scary.’ Not because that’s a gay man; you were scared because he doesn’t have weapons, he doesn’t have a giant laser gun, he doesn’t have cronies. He’s just a super self-possessed queer person who doesn’t give a fuck about these three little girls and is going to take over Townsville, no matter what.” “Look at Ursula, the sea witch, [in The Little Mermaid]. She’s based off of Divine, a very famous drag queen, [right] down to the eyeshadow. Ursula’s vilified as being this manipulative bitch, but she’s a woman in STEM who’s been ostracized, and she tricks the only noble dumb enough to swim out to her. I love that about her.” “When I was thinking about what makes me feel powerful as a queer person, I was taking all of my cues from the villains,” La Sala said. “I was learning how to navigate a world that was going to villainize me, that was going to see me as somebody that was automatically an outcast. So, knowing how to get people onto my side, how to recruit, how to indulge and fascinate, those were all tricks that I learned from drag queens, from villains, from people that have to be necessarily manipulative in order to survive.” If La Sala were a contouring brush, he’d be highlighting a heck of a lot more than stellar cheekbones. Reverie emphasizes both the isolation of being othered but also the strength that can emerge as a result. “I wanted to do a classic take on

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giving the outcast power but couch it in terms of literal power that comes from the act of being othered,” La Sala revealed. “My hope in including a range of diversities is that people don’t think, ‘Oh this is a book just for sad, gay kids.’ While it is a book for sad gay kids, I ultimately want it to encompass a range of experiences that create dissociations from what we refer to as reality. I loved including characters who would be good emotional siblings to Kane—people that were dealing with their own othering.”

The gloom of escapism comes from my own tendencies to withdraw inwards.

Many of us who can relate to feeling like outsiders value reading precisely because it offers a mental vacation to limitless destinations—bibliotherapy’s a thing. But La Sala’s novel explores the darker side of overusing fiction as a coping mechanism. “The gloom of escapism comes from my own tendencies to withdraw inwards,” he said. “I have a rich interior world, but it warps my idea of what the real world should be like. There’s a certain amount of neglect that’s always paired with escapism. If you’re escaping inwards, you’re actively taking yourself out of a situation, maybe because you need to, maybe because you want to, but as a result that situation’s not changing. It’s stagnating and it might be getting worse.” “As a kid I proactively withdrew and created worlds within myself. From the outside, that’s a person sitting alone on a swing or under a book, just zoned out. There’s a gloom to that because someone might be very lonely and not have the wherewithal to form bonds with people because they’re so busy looking inwards.” Just as Dr. Poesy and Kane mirror each other, La Sala’s protagonist serves as a cautionary tale for his past self. “Kane was outed at a really early age and not by


his own volition—just by being himself. That’s the same for me. Growing up, that created a big chasm between me and my peers I didn’t understand what about me was different, but I could tell that there was this dynamic that was created when people saw me walk into a room. I wanted to capture that within Kane because, for me, it created a lot of isolation and loneliness that I really fought through. I eventually came out on the other side a much stronger person because I learned how to make friends, how to use humor to join people together.” “Kane is what would have happened to me if I never figured that out, or if I didn’t have that kind of bravado naturally. Kane Montgomery, he’s not me; he’s the polar opposite. He has a rich imagination and uses that to keep himself afloat in a world that tolerates him, but does not love him—and there’s a big difference between those two things. Whereas I am a caricature of a real person. I’ve always been that way and I’m totally fine remaining that way, but I don’t necessarily want that to inform how people take my work.” “When the options for the audio rights sold, Sourcebooks asked if I potentially wanted to do the narration, which is a great honor. Someone must have told them, ‘We have to appease Ryan’s ego, so we’ll let him audition!’ But I shied away from that because I don’t want people thinking about me when they’re reading Kane’s story. I don’t want to detract from that rendering.” Reverie has been in the works since La Sala’s own teen years. “I started it in response to the fact that I wasn’t reading about a lot of queer characters. That didn’t make sense to me because I’ve always been very flamboyant, very out, very alone, and it always made me wonder, ‘Where are those characters?’ So, if you can’t find something to read, sometimes you just have to write it. That’s literally the impetus that sparked Reverie.” By the time he was in college, La Sala knew the type of big questions that appealed to him. Although his area of interest stayed constant, it underwent some dramatic outfit changes along the way. “I’ve always been interested in thought, in the brain, and how this small thing creates our entire world for us.” At first that led him to neuroscience. “It’s the combination of looking at why we think the way that we do and how that impacts our world. Ultimately, a

lot of careers in neuroscience involve killing mice, and I got to a point where I was like, ‘I don’t want to do that.’ I then panned out and, with the same goal, switched to anthropology, which is the study of the ways groups of people behave and why they do what they do. For me, it wasn’t that dissimilar.” La Sala found anthropology useful in his writing, too. “Anybody who wants to go into worldbuilding and fantasy should definitely read through some Anthropology 101 books because it gives you a model for looking at the way in which cultures are studied. There are seven fully realized worlds in Reverie—and even more that I didn’t get to include—but I loved taking my characters and bringing them through different worlds. That was the fun of writing the book for me.” La Sala’s path to publication was no quick runway strut. It all started with DVPit, a Twitter event aimed at showcasing work by traditionally marginalized writers. “I found out about it a few days before, and I didn’t know anything about Twitter pitching contests. I did notice though that were people offering to mentor. I thought, ‘Bare minimum, these are people I can reach out to and they’ll know my name, and maybe I can become friends with them.’” The feedback on his first chapter proved invaluable. “I ended up participating in DVPit three times in total. I wasn’t this instant success. I got maybe a request or two per round and, by the time I was participating for the third time with the same book,

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I had a lot of irons in the fire that all eventuated as opportunities at the same time. I went from having a lot of inertia with this big, cumbersome book that I’d been working on for way too long, to suddenly having an editor saying, ‘I’m going to take you to acquisitions. You’d better find representation.’” La Sala did just that, contacting agents and saying “‘Hey, I don’t know how to handle a contract. Would you consider representing me in this book deal that’s going to happen in the next week?’ It was nice to have people I could talk to through this, that I had made friends with during the actual DVPit events,” he said, “because I could run to [them] as this stuff was happening. Those small communities, they’re like little batteries of resilience, and I rely on them all the time.” As a mentor for DVPit, La Sala embraces the chance to contribute. “While I don’t think of myself as a perfect role model, there are things in my journey that I wouldn’t want someone to have to learn on their own. When it comes to queer creators and marginalized creators, there’s a ton to figure out, besides how to put together a game plan for the revision.” La Sala’s good at dishing out suggestions to fellow writers, but he also has some book recommendations for readers, once they’ve emerged from his novel. “If you’re

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reading Reverie for the bizarro fantasy side of it and you’re ready for something that has a similar vibe, The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins is a really weird book and I loved reading it, If you’re reading Reverie because of the glitz and the magic, the stimulation and the overload, I would actually say [the video game] Kingdom Hearts is the next best step for you. If you’re into super gay stuff, The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta is a beautifully-written high fantasy, set in a version of Italy. It focuses on witches and, instead of it being your typical dystopian tale, it’s all about the mob in Italy. It’s so good.” As for La Sala, he’s already immersed in a new novel. “My next book is about cosplay, so I’ve been poring over competitions and craft tutorials. I love talking to people about what they’ve made and how they’ve made it. Ironically, I haven’t had time to put [one] together, because I’m too busy writing about cosplay!” Thankfully, La Sala still makes time to rock a leopard print shirt and select all-white ensembles dazzling enough to make the soccer moms of Connecticut lunge for their Tide laundry pens. Follow the shenanigans of @Ryality for yourself on Twitter. Reverie was released on 12/03/19.

www.ryanlasala.com


Share Your Shelf 1. Luna P Timer - I use a timer to force myself to focus when I write. I’m not sure just any timer would work though. There is something about being watched by this particular timer, inspired by Luna P from Sailor Moon, that compels me utterly. 2. Citrine Crystal - It will surprise absolutely no one that upon my desk there is a porcelain teacup, and within it lives a citrine crystal (gifted to me by my friend and agent-sibling Shannon). It’s suppose to have inspiring properties. I think it’s nice to hold and talk to when I’m frustrated. 3. iPad and Apple Pencil - It love drawing my monsters and characters. It’s just another way to excavate them from my head. I do so on an iPad in a program called Procreate. This is also how I ended up creating some exclusive art for Barnes & Noble! 4. Notebook - I would be ejected from publishing if I didn’t mention the notebook I use. It’s a white bind notebook from MUJI. Unruled, with all those dots, which I guess is called a bullet journal? I learned that recently. 5. Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pen - they come in all sorts of pretty colors. I mostly use lilacs, pinks, and gunmetal grays. I like to buy them from Porter Square Books. 6. Ulysses -- Ulysses is a superb writing program that I have faithfully drafted in for years. I adore it’s lightweight simplicity, and the logo is a butterfly made out of a pen. So hardcore. 7.Arts and Crafts Supplies -- Sometimes I’m too tired to imagine with my mind, so I make stuff with my hands. I’m very crafty. When I first move into a new place, I always unpack my craft supplies first. 8. Phone -- Social media has been a huge theme in my publishing journey, and so has the ability to form small pockets of confidence I can text when I’m freaking out. I’d be a millenial-shaped-mess without my phone. 9. Camera -- A year ago, I wouldn’t have included my camera on my list of bookish items, but recently I’ve taken a liking to recording videos to promote the books I’m into, and converse with readers. 10. Jellicle Cup -- I’m a coffee person, mostly. Sometimes I’ll pretend to like tea. Whatever I’m drinking, I try to drink from this ridiculous mug my friend Jess got for me, which reads: JELLICLES CAN AND JELLICLES DO. If you get it, you get it.

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THE LURE OF BONES:

WITH KATHRYN PURDIE Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Juliet White

If you’ve ever crouched around a campfire with charred marshmallow adhered to the roof of your mouth, odds are good you’ve heard ghost stories about a woman dressed in white. Why white? Perhaps to better showcase bloodstains. Possibly this woman’s #lotd was bridal inspired, and now she’s stuck with it. Or maybe it’s because, if ghosts have already defied death, they’re not going to shy away from wearing white after Labor Day—haters be damned. Urban legend springs to life—or death—in Kathryn Purdie’s new series, Bone Crier’s Moon. In this version, the woman in white is in possession of a pulse, but her job involves ferrying the dead to their final destination. P.S. Before she can fulfill that destiny, she must murder her one true love. Purdie tempts us into a delectably dark world that marks a departure from the setting of previous novels. Her Burning Glass trilogy centered on Sonya, a magical empath, while Bone Crier’s Moon features a more elaborate magical system that revolves around bones. Despite the differences, Purdie dreamed up this new project while still working on her trilogy. “When I was writing Burning Glass, I needed a myth Sonya referred to that would help her feel empowered,” Purdie explained. “I was researching Russian mythology and, on the same page, I came across these supernatural beings that you see in French folklore. They were called Les Dames Blanches—the white women. But it really means the women in white clothing. You see a version of this myth across almost all cultures.” “With Les Dames Blanches, if a man is coming across a bridge at night and there’s a woman in white and he asks her to cross, she will ask him to dance. If he says yes, they will dance, and she lets him cross the bridge. If he says no to the dance, then

the bridge. If he says no to the dance, then she kills him. And that’s the folktale! I read that and all my writer nerves were on fire. I kept thinking about it over months. That’s when you know you’ve got to write something, when it doesn’t leave you alone.” That premise provided the jumping off point for Purdie’s latest YA novel. “I kept thinking I’d want a teenage girl who feels justified in doing this—because I don’t want her to be evil,” the author said. “How can she justify killing a man? Why would she need to? Because the folktale doesn’t go into specifics on that. I finally decided that it would be a sacrifice she made in order to achieve a greater good: she needs to kill her one true love in order to protect the world.” But protect the world from what? One question spawned another. “In most cultures’ mythologies, bridges represent the connection between the mortal world and the world beyond. Why is she on a bridge like that?” Purdie mused. “Because she’s a ferrier of the dead. These women transport people to one of two places: a hell and a heaven. There’s one god that requires bone magic and then the goddess has a magic that’s more ambiguous. It’s light. The women are descendants from these gods. They’re

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not immortal—if they get killed, they die— but that’s how they get their power.” Outsiders call them bone criers, but the women refer to themselves as Leurress. They live in groups called familles and two of Purdie’s three main characters, Ailesse and Sabine, belong to the same small famille. The third protagonist, Bastien, has the misfortune of being Ailesse’s one true love, a.k.a. the boy she must murder. “I’ve written stories that never got published and this is the third time I’ve written a matriarchal society,” Purdie said. “Burning Glass even has one to a certain extent, because Auraseers are all women and are enslaved for that ability. I love Mists of Avalon and, in old mythology, you see really powerful goddesses. I want modern-day teenage girls to see themselves in those characters, to know that they’re innately powerful. They can create their own core values, embrace the power in them, and strike their own path.” Purdie presents two disparate views of life as a Leurress by showing it through the lenses of both Ailesse and Sabine. “Ailesse starts out in the stronger position in the story. She’s like, ‘I am going to be the next leader of my famille. I’m ready for this. I believe in my own power.’ Sabine is questioning everything. She also feels pretty powerless.” Both girls agree on the importance of their role because the stakes are high. “If souls aren’t ferried, the ones that were meant to go to the underworld will eventually suck the life energy from the mortals. If they suck enough, it’ll kill a mortal’s soul. That’s why the Leurress need to ferry souls on the new moon,” Purdie revealed. Ailesse and Sabine disagree on the morality of how they obtain their powers, which requires animal sacrifice. When the girls keep the bones from the animals they kill, they take on some of the traits of those creatures, which helps them to become better ferriers. “They can only get three bones,” Purdie explained. “Ailesse has a peregrine falcon wing bone for speed because they’re the fastest bird. She can’t fly, but she can jump high and she’s incredibly fast. Sometimes [the Leurress] travel for a great bone like that of the Alpine ibex, a mountain goat—they’re excellent climbers. Ailesse has

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carved a pendant from the pelvic bone of the Alpine ibex. The Leurress have to ferry the dead on a land bridge that submerges into the sea. There are rocks, and it’s slippery, so that agility would really help her. The book opens when she’s trying to obtain a tooth from a tiger shark for her third bone.” “I wanted some sea creatures but it’s tricky because most don’t have bones. A shark’s skeleton is made of cartilage. But there’s a mineral in teeth called apatite that’s the same mineral in bone, so I made that the fundamental requirement in my book. Basically an animal’s tooth can count as a bone,” Purdie said. “That way I could incorporate some sea creatures with cool abilities. Sharks have a sixth sense, and that’s the main thing Ailesse wants, but sharks can see well in the dark as well. You can get anything that that animal has, but it doesn’t change your anatomy—Ailesse is not going to be able to breathe underwater.” On the other hand, Sabine feels very conflicted about what it means to live as a Leurress. “She was pressured by the matriarch of the famille to start acquiring bones and she has a strong aversion for killing, so she finally made herself kill something that she thought wouldn’t make her cry—a salamander. But she still was devastated. She wears a tiny salamander skull and feels ashamed of it, not only because she killed the creature, but because everyone has formidable bones like wolf bones, the matriarch has bear bones, and Ailesse does get that shark tooth. They have these really impressive hunts and all she has is this salamander skull. But we have Ailesse’s point of view in the story too, and she admires Sabine for that bone because a salamander can regenerate limbs, so it has the power to heal. That skill comes in handy.” Purdie’s portrayal of a magic system based on animal sacrifice doesn’t mean she endorses it. “I don’t think it’s okay and I want readers to not think it’s okay, too. As an author, you’ll see that I address that. Ailesse changes a lot over the course of book one, and you’ve got characters that question along the way, so hopefully that’ll help the reader feel comfortable that they’re in good storytelling hands.” “As the book progresses, the girls switch roles a tiny bit. Sabine has to become more violent to try and save Ailesse. Ailesse


is the heir to the famille and what she wants most is her mother’s love and approval, but her mother is cold and distant with her. So she’s driven to be the best Leurress there ever was. She doesn’t question the cost of it.” Ailesse’s attitude shifts after Bastien enters the picture. “Bastien saw his father die at the hands of a Leurress. He’s been trying to get revenge all of his life and find one of these Bone Criers. Ailesse comes to appreciate how this affected him and changed the trajectory of his life.” “It’s definitely an enemies-to-lovers type of relationship evolvement for them,” Purdie admitted. “After they get past despising each other, Bastien understands the Leurress are not arbitrarily killing people. Ailesse believes she’s a good person. And she is doing something good by ferrying. Her people just shouldn’t be participating in blood sacrifice in order to do it. She starts to wonder, ‘Is there another way?’ That definitely comes to full fruition in book two.” While you’re waiting for the sequel to Bone Crier’s Moon, Purdie recommends immersing yourself in Leigh Bardugo’s work. “She’s my favorite author. I haven’t read Ninth House yet and it’s probably super different than Bone Crier’s Moon, but I feel a kinship with Leigh in that we write dark, moody, fantastical things. I’ve read all of her Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows books. I

know she wrote Ninth House based off her experiences when she was attending Yale, but she’s put a whole fantastical twist on everything. I love Sabaa Tahir and Ember in the Ashes—I’ve read all of those as well. I’m reading the sequels to Stephanie Garber’s Caraval right now.” However, the enduring literary love of Purdie’s life has always been mythology. “I remember going to my elementary school library and there was a shelf of the mythology of all these different cultures. I’d check them out, and that’s what I’d read over and over again. When people are like, ‘What was your favorite book growing up?’ I’m like ‘book’? I just read lots of mythology.” Purdie grew up in a family that was supportive of the arts, in all their forms. “My dad was a publisher for a regional press for about 20 years. After doing that, he decided to write his own fiction. So I was raised by a very creative father. I’m from a big family and I’m the oldest daughter. I was born in the ‘70s so we had TV, but if you wanted to watch a movie you had to rent a VCR from the video rental store and rent a movie. In my very early years, we had to do other things for entertainment.” “One of my most formative memories is that my dad would play records of beautiful music for us. He’d play the score to To Kill A Mockingbird by Elmer Bernstein.

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He would tell us the story while we played the record, and my sister and I would act it out. It was this primitive family theater and it was very important for me in learning the power of story and how it can make you feel. Then I got a little older and I’d write plays and have the neighborhood girls come be in them. We eventually got a video camera and it was a bulky thing to record with—the camera would have to be connected to the VCR when you actually filmed—and we would make movies all the time.” “In junior high, I started writing poetry for fun. It was dark poetry—imagine that! I was really shy,” Purdie recalled. “I got brave in high school and started acting. That’s when I developed a deep love for Shakespeare. Our school had an extensive drama program and that’s what I also ended up studying in college. My husband and I got to study at the Oxford School of Drama. We studied Shakespeare extensively. Shakespeare’s awesome because it’s poetry. Anytime you study poetry, it’s going to enhance your writing—not that I was even thinking of myself as a writer then. As an actor, you’re also studying character: their motivations, their objectives, their backstory.” “I did write some short stories as a teenager and I was an extensive journal writer. I’d write 10 to 50 pages in my journal every night. It was mostly dictations of conversations I had with the boy I had a crush on. Nonetheless, I was developing the practice of regular writing. Journal writing helps you establish your voice, it helps you learn how to communicate feelings, so there’s a lot I took from that, even though it wasn’t creative fiction.” It was only in her early 30s that Purdie set herself the goal of being published. “I hadn’t been able to act in a few years because, at this point, I’d had three children. My oldest, who had been our only child for six years, was a really easygoing child. We could always take her to rehearsal with us; she just adapted to everything. Then our next two were like, ‘I don’t think so. I’m going to fuss the whole rehearsal!’ I could have done more plays, but I choose to be with my children.” Purdie’s perspective and needs shifted in 2009, after she donated a kidney

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to her brother. “I went through a depression for the first time in my life. I found my short stories in the months following that, when I was still recovering emotionally. It wasn’t just a creative void. I had gone through this really massive thing and I was so happy to help my brother, but I was suffering at that time and I didn’t know how to express myself because I wasn’t acting onstage, and I didn’t write in journals anymore. For me, journals aren’t a private place. I’m like, ‘My grandchildren are going to read this one day.’ When I write fiction, especially fantasy, my emotion gets out there. I think all art is an expression of something that’s so beautiful, profound, deep, vivid or painful that it’s difficult to express in any other way.”

All art is an expression of something that’s so beautiful, profound, deep, vivid or painful that it’s difficult to express in any other way.

Purdie actively cultivates a creative lifestyle and encourages others to do the same. “Embrace everything you can artistically. If you live near a college, they usually have art shows and theater. Surround yourself with art and step outside your comfort zone. Try listening to some classical music. Try watching a different kind of movie—a more artsy film. It’s going to help you have more empathy, broaden your worldview, and give you a richer life. For me, it’s just the way I live.” You can find more information about Purdie’s books, including Bone Crier’s Moon, on her website at kathrynpurdie.com/ books. Bone Crier’s Moon was released on 03/03/20.


Share Your Shelf

1. An inspiring view: The main reason I write in bed most of the time is because my window has a gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains. I’m a mountain girl through and through. 2. A cozy blanket: A good friend gave me a blue plaid blanket after my dad passed away three years ago. To me, it represents my dad giving me a big hug. He was a writer, like me, so I feel him cheering me on when I’m wrapped up in this blanket. 3. Beautiful books and art: I love to be surrounded by lovely and inspiring art. I turn beautiful picture books and novels face out on my bookshelf, like this edition of Little Women, and I’ve hung up embroidery from my daughter and a framed map of my world from Burning Glass that an international fan tea-stained for me. 4. Notebooks: for when inspiration strikes. I have a dedicated notebook for every book I write, but I also have lots of other notebooks handy for when sparks of new book ideas strike, and for lists of great words, character names, and books I want to read. I can never have enough notebooks! 5. My growing collection of Funko Pop! dolls: Edward Scissorhands and Wonder Woman are my favorites. Edward tells me to write tight or he’ll start cutting, and Diana tells me I can do hard things. 6. Vanilla Coke Zero, the best reading beverage I’m sensitive to caffeine, but I still need a kick to keep me going every day. 1-2 cans of Vanilla Coke Zero hit just the right spot. (Advertised by my puppy here, my loyal writing companion.) 7. Bookmarks: I keep them in every book, even after I finish reading. I’m especially thrilled when I get a bookmark designed specifically for that book. They’re happy pairs that should never be separated! 8. My bulletin board: I change it up every few months to keep me working hard and inspired. Right now it has my hand-drawn map of the world in Bone Crier’s Moon; a couple art cards with motivating quotes; a picture of me and my dad; and note from my editor with her own artsy lettering of the word, GREAT; a ribbon from an awards ceremony where I was a finalist; and an encouraging letter from my daughter. 9. My guitar: This vintage three-quarter size guitar is my favorite of the guitars in my house, and I use it to write songs for each of my books. Music is super important in helping me connect with the mood and tone of a story. 10. My kidney pillow: When I donated a kidney to my brother in 2009, the hospital gave me this kidney pillow. Now I use it to prop up my head when I write in bed, and I sleep with it beside me every night. Recovering from donating a kidney was very difficult for me, so this pillow also reminds me I can do hard things.

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Author Talk with Catherine Linka

REDEFINING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HOMELESS

“It’s so easy to judge…to assume a hundred things about people that are untrue.”

In my new novel, What I Want You to See, my main character, Sabine is determined to hold onto her image as a talented painter and deserving recipient of a prestigious scholarship to the art institute she attends. But controlling her image means hiding the truth about her situation: before she started the semester, she spent months living in her car. Like a lot of writers, my stories come out of what fascinates me. I’ve always been drawn to art, the art world, and art crime, so it was only natural that I embarked on writing a novel about an art student who becomes an unwitting pawn in a masterful crime. As I got deeper into the story, I realized that the other force shaping this story was my growing awareness of the changing face of homelessness. To craft a character so desperate to keep her scholarship she makes risky choices that put her future in danger, I stripped Sabine of her mom and their home. When the story begins, she’s renting a cozy room in a house near school and hiding her past from her new friends so she won’t be labeled as that “homeless girl.” I’d read a few articles about college students who were homeless, but as I dug into the research, I was shocked. It turns out that Sabine is like tens of thousands of actual college students who hide their homelessness or housing insecurity from the people around them. They’re among the “hidden homeless,” holding jobs, attending classes and working towards degrees while couch surfing, sleeping in cars or catching naps on a bus or in a library. Homelessness and housing insecurity, the inability to pay your rent, is the new normal in my home state of California where unaffordable housing and limited financial 34 K CURIOSITALES

aid mean that even students at prestigious institutions like UCLA can be affected. Homelessness can hit anyone, but is more common among marginalized groups such as trans youth, foster kids or racial minorities. Students experiencing homelessness rarely self-identify as homeless. Negative stereotypes about poverty, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse are so strong that most reject the label. One high-achieving student told an interviewer, “I wasn’t homeless. I lived in my car.” As I wrote Sabine’s character, I resisted making her ashamed of her experience. I feel I owe it to my characters to do what I can to make them real and multi-faceted and to not render them as stereotypes. Sabine has a strong self-image which stems from her artistic ability, and she holds on to her vision of herself, seeing her talent as her ticket out of her situation. She is, however, conscious that revealing her past will cause people to see her differently and attach a label to her that will be almost impossible to shed. The labeling Sabine is so eager to avoid affects many students experiencing homelessness in real life. One reason they hide their living situation is that school staff and fellow students often focus on their living situation as a “point of trauma.” Like most of us, they want to be seen as multi-dimensional human beings, not stereotypes. Instead of educators and peers assuming they are damaged, breakable or emotionally unstable because of what they’re dealing with, they want to be treated as normal human beings addressing their challenges. It’s not surprising that a major theme of the novel turned out to be how we see others and how we want to be seen ourselves. We all want people to see us as our best selves, but we don’t always recognize the assumptions and prejudices we bring to interactions. I think Sabine explains it well when she says, “It’s so easy to judge…to assume a


hundred things about people that are untrue, or to blame them for their problems. It’s the opposite of seeing them…The edge between a normal life and being homeless is razor thin. One accident can push you from one into the other, from being seen to being judged.” One outcome of writing this novel is that I’ve changed how I talk about homelessness. I make a conscious effort to avoid referring to someone as a “homeless person,” and you may have noticed

how in this article I substituted the words a “person experiencing homelessness.” Homeless shouldn’t be used as an adjective, because it isn’t who a person is, it’s what they’re going through.

To learn about housing and food insecurity among college students, and ways you can help create change, check out #RealCollege on Twitter. Facebook: @catherinelinkaauthor Twitter: @cblinka Instagram: catherine_linka

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It Matters

CHANGEMAKERS: AUTHORS CHANGING THE YOUNG ADULT LITERARY INDUSTRY by Séline DuMane

audience based, yet The Hate U Give instantly proliferated global discussion about its cultivating, positive impact in young adult literature. Thomas brought these subject matters into the light— to accentuate readers, authors as well as the publishing industry the importance of one’s voice. And indeed, the community has since vocalize their desire to see more narratives that authentically represent their identities, adolescent transitions, and diversity needs. During her book tour, author Becky Albertalli asked Thomas what she hoped the teen audience sees in this novel, “I really do hope The Hate U Give provides mirrors for readers who don’t often get them in books. I’ve had so many young black girls tell me just how thrilled they are to see someone who looks like them on the cover. I hope that they see themselves in the pages as well.” In 2019, she released her second title, On the Come Up that received equal Here are three authors who have guided our praise for diversity inclusion. latest quest for YA over the past decade: The young adult genre began in the 1800s, but authors such as Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Alexandre Dumas were referred as “writers who published literature that appealed to adolescents, but not necessarily written for them.”(1) Fast forward a century, the novels: The Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies became primary examples of young adult literature, yet they only “influenced the transformation of what the genre should embody, but were not initially marketed for the adolescent.”(2) In modern times, the industry continues in its quest to find a concrete definition of young adult literature, especially one that is inclusive to the target audience. Thanks to social media platforms and book communities such as Bookstagram, readers, authors, and publishers can collaborate on creating what young adult means today.

Angie Thomas

Rick Riordan

In 2017, Angie Thomas published her debut novel, The Hate U Give which rocketed to number one on “The New York Times Young Adult Hardcover Best Sellers List” during the first week of release and continues to hold its rank at 157 weeks (as of publication of this article). How did this contemporary fiction earn a successful platform? Angie Thomas wanted to represent a transparent, substantive narrative concerning cultural, societal, and racial conflicts directly inspired by current events arising in the United States. This literary genre has constant discussions about whether controversial topics should be highlighted to their

Many readers recognize Rick Riordan as the author of the Percy Jackson series, a young adult contemporary-fantasy phenomenon that explores the ancient wonders of Greek mythology, but set in modern society to implement societal concepts. Over this current decade, the young-adult fantasy fanbase asked the repeated question of whether Riordan could write about mythologies originating from other various cultures. Last year, readers received an answer through his establishment of a new subdivision in Disney-Hyperion Publishing called “Rick Riordan Presents!” Since the announcement, there have been optimistic reactions throughout the book community about

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(1) and (2) Quotes from Mary Owen (“Developing a Love of Reading”) (3) Quote by Rick Riordan (@rickriordan) (4) Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Choskani


more authors having the chance to bring awareness to desired, diverse representation within the literary industry. Riordan stated the goals of his imprint as followed: “Our goal is to publish great books by middle grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage. Over the years, I’ve gotten so many questions from my fans: “Will you ever write about Hindu mythology? What about Native American? What about Chinese?” I saw that there was a lot of interest in reading fantasy adventures based on different world mythologies, but I also knew I wasn’t the best person to write them. Much better, I thought, to use my experience and my platform at Disney to put the spotlight on other great writers who are actually from those cultures and know the mythologies better than I do. Let them tell their own stories, and I would do whatever I could to help those books find a wide audience.”(3) Some of the first publications under this imprint are with young adult authors Roshani Choksani(4) and Yoon La Hee(5) who created stories underpinning Hindu Mythology and Korean Mythology that tremendously satisfied the ever-loving fantasy audience.

Malinda Lo When Malinda Lo published her novel, Ash—a sapphic Cinderella retelling— in 2009, her sincere desire to release a narrative highlighting the LGBTQ+ community did not go unnoticed. Her novel became a finalist for several literary awards, but her determination to promote other titles significant to this specific diverse representation outshined the rest. In 2011, Malinda co-founded the digital platform, Diversity in YA, a website to promote and celebrate diverse representations in young adult literature. “We celebrate young adult books about all kinds of diversity, from race to sexual orientation to gender identity and disability. Our goal is to bring attention to books and authors that might fall outside the mainstream, and to bring the margin to the center. We encourage an attitude of openness and curiosity, and we welcome questions and discussion.”(6) She not only includes characters of color, LGBTQ+ characters, and disabled characters, but annually collects data on the number of books that diverse authors publish. With her prior knowledge from multiple organizations that specialized in emerging LGBTQ+ and minority voices in literature, she brought her exceeding expertise to the young adult genre and aims to develop it as a majority.

Here is a list of some of the diverse YA Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels Lo mentioned.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh (Putnam Juvenile) Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (Little, Brown) The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (Arthur A. Levine Books) Changers Book Two: Oryon by T Cooper, Allison Glock-Cooper (Akashic Books) Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee (Flux) Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (Arthur A. Levine Books) Feral Pride by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (Penguin) *Diverse = Set in a non-Western world or inspired by a non-Western world; or with a main character who is non-white, LGBTQ+, and/or disabled.

Although changes continue to be made into the new decade, it is evident that the growing success of diverse stories are being taken into consideration within the literary industry. This list does not do justice to the hundreds of authors and stories published in this world, so I turn it to you readers: use your voices in demanding what stories you want in your local bookstores. Share your favorite diverse characters, authors, and non-western world settings. Change begins with us and continues with us. (4) Dragon Pearl by Yoon La Hee (5) Quote from Malinda Lo (“Diversity in YA”) (6) Disclaimer Quote and List by Malinda Lo (“Diversity in YA”)

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Fiction Food Recipes created by Elle Jauffret Inspired by THE HAND ON THE WALL by Maureen Johnson and BONE CRIER’S MOON by Kathryn Purdie

Manelli’s Spaghetti and Clams

“Manelli’s was like many joints in the area—spaghetti and clams, veal, decent red wine, rapid-fire Italian spoken all around.” Manelli’s Spaghetti and Clams (serves 4) In a large skillet, sautée 6 garlic cloves (thinly sliced) + 1 small onion (chopped) + ½ tsp crushed red pepper in 2 tbsp olive oil for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat. Add 1 cup white wine (dry best) + 2 cups fish broth + 16 oz. clam juice + 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil. Add 12 oz. pasta (spaghetti or linguini) and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed (between 10-14 minutes, check cooking time on the pasta’s package). Stir often to make sure the pasta cooks evenly and doesn’t stick to the bottom. When pasta is cooked, add 20 oz. canned whole baby clams (drained) + 1 cup fresh parsley (chopped small) + 2 tbsp lemon juice. Cook for 1-2 more minutes. Serve warm.

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Ailesse Shark Stew (left), Sweet Bread-Cheese-and-Pear (right)

“Now, take that shark meat to the kitchen and tell Maïa to prepare it for supper.” […] He sets his satchel on a small table and starts unloading the food—two loaves of rye bread, a wedge of hard cheese and four pears.” Ailesse Shark Stew (serves 4) Heat 5 tbsp olive oil in large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté 1 medium onion (chopped) for 4 minutes. Add 6 cloves of garlic (minced) and cook for 2 more minutes. Add 2 medium tomatoes (chopped) + 1 cup of fresh parsley (chopped). Cook for about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup white wine + 1 cup seafood stock + 1 ½ lb fish fillets (cubed small) (cod best, but any fish will do) +½ tsp dried oregano + ½ tsp dried thyme. Bring to a soft boil and simmer until the fish is fully cooked (it should flake apart easily). Add ½ tsp salt + ¼ tsp black pepper and serve. (For a spicier stew, add a few drops of chili sauce).

Sweet Bread-Cheese-and-Pear (Serves 4) Slice 2 biscuits in half. On each half (the soft part up), place a thin slice of gorgonzola cheese (or your preferred blue cheese). Top with roasted pear (2 pears, peeled, cubed small, and sautéed in 1 tbsp butter until golden). Top it all with honey (clover honey best). 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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TUTORIAL BOOKSTAGRAM TRICKS: HOW TO TAKE PHOTOS OF EBOOKS by Lyn

(Nomadic Worlds Book Blog)

In this world of rapid technology, an eBook Reader is handy for all the books you want to read or carry around with you, without dragging a weighty suitcase behind you everywhere you go. But taking Bookstagram photos of eBooks can be tricky. If you are a book dragon like me who’s also an avid Bookstagrammer, this a major source of frustration for you. Here’s how you can take pretty awesome photos of eBooks. 1. Photo arrangement First of all, set up your photoshoot with the props and the tablet/eBook Reader/ phone you want to use for your eBook. I love using origami—they add such bright colors to your photos. You can either already have the book cover on your tablet/eBook Reader/phone or leave the screen blank. Save your photo on your computer. As you can see in the photo below, I used my tablet and left the screen blank. 2. Book Cover If you don’t have the book cover for the eBook you want, you can google it. You can find a copy on Goodreads, which is a great site for all the books you want to find. Save a copy of the book cover on your computer.

3.Pixlr Editor Next up, we will use an online photo editor (https://pixlr.com/ editor/) to add the book cover to your photo. Don’t worry, it’s a free site. You just need the know-how and you will need to make sure flash player is on/allowed on your computer to run Pixlr Editor. 3.1 Click “Open Image from Computer”

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3.2 Choose the photo you took earlier in step 1 from your computer and click open.

3.3 You will see the image appear as such:

3.4 Go to Layer and choose “Open Image as Layer”.

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3.5 Select the book cover you previously saved in Step 2. For this photo, I will use the cover of Serpent & Dove.

3.6 Adding the book cover Here, you will distort the layer to fit the blank screen of the tablet. It might look overwhelming, but trust me, you got this. Go to Edit and select “Free Distort”.

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3.7 Distort Image. Now, all you have to do is drag the corners of the image of the book cover and make them fit the corners of the blank screen of your tablet.

3.8 – Voilà! After you drag and fit, here’s how it will look like:

3.9 Apply the changes and save the photo to your computer. Then you can send the photo to your mobile and from there, upload it to Instagram. As you can see, the finished photo has the cover perfectly fitted and it looks as if you took the photo of your tablet itself with the book cover already on it.

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Lighting One of the best tips anyone can give you about Bookstagramming is “Lighting”. Play with the light– white, yellow, sunlight. You never know what kind of shots you might turn up with. I once took a photo of an eBook without using an editor on play of light alone for the book A Curse So Dark & Lonely:

It took some experimentation but the reflection of real thorns to the ones on the cover was an added bonus that made the photo better. I hope you find this article helpful and remember to have fun with your Bookstagram! Connect with Lyn: Instagram: @lyn_nomadicworlds Twitter: @ Nomadic_Worlds Website: https://nomadicworlds.wordpress.com Read her review of The Starless Sea (and check out the photo!) on page 74.

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The Calico Queen photos presented by:

Aelin Galathynius from Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas Model and Costume by: Calico Queen Cosplay Photographer: Calico Jackson Photography 46 K CURIOSITALES


Anita Blake from Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurel K. Hamilton Model and Costume by: Calico Queen Cosplay Photographer: Calico Jackson Photography

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Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell from Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco Audrey Rose Wadsworth Model and All Costumes by: Calico Queen Cosplay Thomas Cresswell Model: Calico Jackson Photographer: Laura Rose Photography Photo Editing: Lady Jane Fabrications

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Claire Fraiser Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon Cowl and Arm Gauntlets Crocheted by: The Calico Queen Mother Model and Remaining Costume by: Calico Queen Cosplay Photographer: Laura Rose Photography Photo Editing: Lady Jane Fabrications

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Feyre Archeron A Court of Thorn and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas Custom Corset by: Mayfaire Moon Corsets and Costumes Model and Remaining Costume by: Calico Queen Cosplay Photographer: Calico Jackson Photography

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Inej Ghafa Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo Model and Costume by: Calico Queen Cosplay Photographer: The Nerdy Monkey


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Jude Duarte The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black Model and Costume by: Calico Queen Cosplay Photographer: Calico Jackson Photography


Lucien Vanserra A Court of Thorn and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas Model and Costume by: Calico Queen Cosplay Photographer: Calico Jackson Photography

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Idyia Cosplay photos presented by:

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(Previous Page) Ariel Astrid The Little Mermaid How to Train Your Dragon 3


Fiona and Donkey Shrek Photographed by Chloe Napierala Photographie @ chloe_napierala_photographie

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Fiona Shrek

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Fleur Delacour Harry Potter

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Katara Avatar the Last Air Bender Photographed by by Adrien Nothias @ adriennothias

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Meet the Bookstagrammer:

p thisbookishadventure

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY YOU BOOKSTAGRAM I am 24 and live with my husband and two boys in South Carolina. I have mostly kept to myself and dont have many friends that I spend time with. I found my love of reading when I was in High School (a little later than most). I grew up Connecticut and moved when I was 13, so to fill that void I just read. I couldn’t stop. I didnt find bookstagram until an ad popped up for the Owlcrate subscription box and I bought it in March of 2017. They have these monthly challanges that I was so excited to participate in. I officially started my bookstagram in October of that year. No one that I know and talk to are interested in books. I do it to be a part of a community that love and support each other and their love of books. I have talked to people all over the world. I have supported many small businesses that I never knew existed before bookstagram. I do it because I love books and sharing my love of them.

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#1 TIP FOR BOOKSTAGRAM NEWBIES? Always be yourself and post pictures that you feel proud of! WHAT IS YOUR TOP BOOK REC? I will always recommend Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, but by now it has already been well heard of. A book (really a series) I would recommend that is not wildly know is Blood Jack. This is a nautical based book series with strong gender issues with a female lead and will give even the most timid women courage. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOKISH QUOTE? We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves there too. -Anonymous WHAT STANDALONE WISH WAS A SEQUEL?

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YOU

Definitely To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. I enjoyed the characters and their relationships so much that I wished I could see how they continued after the book ended. It left me wanting more. The writing was done very well also. WHAT IS YOUR FICTIONAL DREAM DESTINATION? Hogwarts of course! Do you even have to ask? Magic, amazing scenery and mystical creatures! I would really like to be a teacher and not a student so I could go to all restricted areas without getting in trouble.

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CHARACTER YOU’D LOVE TO TRADE LIVES WITH FOR A DAY? Clarissa Fairchild from City of Bones, but in the later books. I would love to become a bad a** warrior woman who slaughters demons. Being around Jace would be a plus too. CHARACTER YOU’D LOVE TO THROW A DINNER PARTY WITH? Hmmm? I would probably want to throw a dinner party with Audrey Rose Wadsworth. I know she would be a great conversationalist. We would have someone to make all of the food (that would prevent me from burning anything) and it would be most beautiful. CHARACTER YOU LOVE BUT WOULD NEVER WANT TO MEET IN REAL LIFE? I love Will Herondale to death. He will always be my book boyfriend. However, if I met him in real life my poor husband would be all alone because I would not be able to help myself. Plus, he is a lover of books so we would definitely have some things to talk about. FIVE BOOKSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS SHOULD WE BE FOLLOWING? @bibliophilebelle Super sweet with a beautiful vintage feed. @talesfortay Gorgeous minimalistic feed. @thehookandtale Gives great advice and wonderful plant mom. @began_in_march Great conversationalist with a beautiful feed. @chacha_reads Sweetest mom with bright and simple feed.

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Meet the Bookstagrammer:

p beingabookwyrm

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY YOU BOOKSTAGRAM I’m a graduate student finishing my second degree in English literature. I love epic fantasy, and for most of undergrad I focused on medieval literature because I knew that a lot of mainstream epic fantasy is based on medieval romance. But when I began to realize I wanted to see my own identity as a black girl represented in fiction, I found that few, if any, sci-fi and fantasy stories in the mainstream offered black girl protagonists. So I decided to change my academic concentration to black girl SFF, looking at the ways race shapes the limits of our imagination. This became the focus of my bookstagram as well. I want to promote and celebrate BIPOC authors, particularly BIPOC fantasy authors, who are creating incredibly rich, culturally and racially specific stories. I also want to get a job in publishing, so bookstagram is a way for me to learn about publishers’ book identities and to keep up with the latest frontlist books.

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#1 TIP FOR BOOKSTAGRAM NEWBIES? Make connections! Reach out to bookstagrammers you admire and tell them you admire them! Finding friends on bookstagram and learning from them is really how I grew my platform. Also you don’t need a fancy camera, just an eye for color coordination and a good phone camera. WHAT IS YOUR TOP BOOK REC? WHY SHOULD WE READ IT? Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison. This book literally changed my life. It now informs how I read books and my understanding of how books shape the imagination of both personal and national identity. The book is a foundational rewriting of the entire literary canon, but of course Morrison is such an amazing and accessible writer that she does it in less than 100 pages. It should absolutely be required reading in every English class that teaches a “canonical” author. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOKISH QUOTE? “The vitality of language lies in its ability to limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, writers. Although its poise is sometimes in displacing experience it is not a substitute for it. It arcs toward the place where meaning may lie. … Be it grand or slender, burrowing, blasting, or refusing to sanctify; whether it laughs out loud or is a cry without an alphabet, the choice word, the chosen silence, unmolested language surges toward knowledge, not its destruction.” -- Toni Morrison, from her 1993 Nobel Laureate lecture

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FIVE BOOKSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS SHOULD WE BE FOLLOWING? Oh man, I really can’t choose. I follow so many amazing bookstagrammers of color, such as @bowtiesandbooks @lupita.reads @blackgirlthatreads @never_withouta_ book @introvertinterrupted @ifthisisparadise @theartisangeek and @thunderbirdwomanreads. Their posts always inspire and challenge me, and they all deserve all the recognition for the work they’re doing! WHAT STANDALONE WISH WAS A SEQUEL?

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It’s not technically a whole novel, but I want to read five novels about the world of N.K. Jemisin’s “Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death” short story in The People’s Future of the United States speculative fiction anthology. A society of black women dragon riders? Tell me everything!!!! WHAT IS YOUR FICTIONAL DREAM DESTINATION? No matter how old I get, the answer to that will always be Narnia. The Chronicles of Narnia series was the series that made me realize how much I loved reading, and fantasy specifically. My seven year old self was enthralled by the possibility that a whole other world was waiting just beyond the back of a wardrobe, and I will still check my closets for portals to Narnia. (You never know!) CHARACTER YOU’D LOVE TO TRADE LIVES WITH FOR A DAY? I don’t know if I’d trade lives with any of the characters I read; they’re all going through some pretty heavy duty, life or death stuff that I don’t think I could handle. Maybe Alice from L.L. McKinney’s A Blade So Black; I do love the idea of being able to literally fight nightmares. Even so, I think I’m pretty happy with an ordinary life, reading about characters’ extraordinary adventures from the comfort of a cozy armchair.

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CHARACTER YOU’D LOVE TO THROW A DINNER PARTY WITH? Definitely Yeine from N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms! She’s ambitious, always thinking five steps ahead, and is great at navigating tense situations even though she’s passionate and stubborn herself. If she can navigate both the coldly brutal tribe who raised her and the back-stabbing elite who offered her power, she can easily handle dinner party dynamics. CHARACTER YOU LOVE BUT WOULD NEVER WANT TO MEET IN REAL LIFE? Wow, this is really hard! I’m going to have to dig deep for this one and say Kahlan Amnell from Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series. She’s a Confessor, which means she can control a person’s will and desires for the rest of their life just by touching them. She’s a good person, but it’s an easy power to abuse, as we learn in the stories of several of her fellow Confessors. I do kind of want to meet her because she’s such a strong and confident character, but I’d also be a bit nervous around being near that kind of power.

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Meet the Bookstagrammer:

p thehookandtale

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY YOU BOOKSTAGRAM Bookstagram means a couple of things for me. When I first started, it was supposed to be a portfolio for me as I dove deeper into the publishing career. But it’s changed since then. It’s a creative outlet, something that gets me inspired every day. It’s also a way for me to have that community with people who like what I like and feel closeness with others.

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#1 TIP FOR BOOKSTAGRAM NEWBIES? Don’t sweat the followers and likes. Prioritize creating relationships and being authentic. And good lighting What is your top book rec? Why should we read it? Name of the Wind! Although the series is not finished, it’s one of the more adult fantasy books that just pulls you in and fills you with an impossible possibility that magic could be real. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOKISH QUOTE? “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”Tolkien FIVE BOOKSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS SHOULD WE BE FOLLOWING? Oh there is so many but some of my favorites are: @Literaryhistory @expelliendsey @Theblackveiledone @holdthepage @theladysparks

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WHAT STANDALONE WISH WAS A SEQUEL?

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YOU

Naomi Novik’s Uprooted! It’s such a wonderful tale and the characters deliciously wicked- I wish I could get to know them more! WHAT IS YOUR FICTIONAL DREAM DESTINATION? Hogsmeade FOREVER! As a Hufflepuff, I crave snowy and historic buildings, a place to sit and drink butterbeer, but most of all, I’d love to meet the kooky wizards and witches of the Wizarding World. CHARACTER YOU’D LOVE TO TRADE LIVES WITH FOR A DAY? I would love to trade lives with Lila Bard- I mean who doesn’t want to be a badass female pirate?! CHARACTER YOU’D LOVE TO THROW A DINNER PARTY WITH? Oh great question! Either Bilbo Baggins (and naturally everyone from Hobbiton) because he (they) love to party or Fred and George Weasley because then you know there wouldn’t be a single boring moment. CHARACTER YOU LOVE BUT WOULD NEVER WANT TO MEET IN REAL LIFE? The Darkling! I love his brooding and mysterious past. His character building was fleshed out so well, but I would never want to be in the same room with him.

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Book Reviews The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

Once upon a time, a young boy found a painted door, which led to a hidden world called The Starless Sea, with rooms and rooms of stories. (Of course, the boy was not aware of this then.) To open it or not? Years later, that boy, grown-up, finds a book telling his story and so, embarks on a journey of endless wonder.

When Kiersten White announced her new novel, The Guinevere Deception, I was super excited to read it. I love stories that put a new spin on the classic King Arthur tale, and this one was no exception. Guinevere has come to Camelot, a place where magic has been banned and Merlin banished, to wed king Arthur. She must protect him from a new magical threat, but she must also keep her true identity a secret or risk everything she’s worked for.

The Starless Sea was like a shrewdly crafted quilt with each piece adding something to the whole picture or like puzzle pieces thrown here and there and you had no idea where they fit in until you brought all of them together. This story with its countless smaller ones, interlocked together, dazzled me. That very first story at the beginning of the book broke my heart a little, even with that clever dash of humor. Each story that followed stoked my curiosity further and kept me focused on the marvelous trail with its winding corners. The main and side characters delighted, infuriated and saddened me with their choices and reactions. The author did a fantastic job with the vivid writing that brought them to life in my mind. The world-building was excellent and added a lot of depth to the whole. The Starless Sea was a tale in a tale in a tale, of missed opportunities and lost love, with a heartbreaking and apt ending, leaving you with the undeniable conclusion that every ending is also a beginning, the start of something new. Photo and Review by Lyn @lyn_nomadicworlds

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White’s writing was once again phenomenal. The book quickly sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. The writing was smooth and flowed well, making this an easy read. The characters stood out for me the most in this book. I loved reading the story from Guinevere’s point of view, it painted familiar characters such as Arthur and Lancelot in a whole new light. Reading about familiar characters in a new setting is what makes me so fond of retellings. The biggest complaint I have about this book is the plot and pacing. It felt slightly disjointed and I struggled to piece things together in the beginning. Guinevere is very unsure of herself and there are large gaps in her memory, making her narration a bit unreliable. The plot moved slowly and was convoluted at times, making it hard to keep up with everything. Overall this was an enjoyable read and I definitely recommend The Guinevere Deception if you’re a fan of retellings! Photo and Review by Bianca Visagie @yourwordsmyink


Book Reviews Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Christina Lauren’s Twice in a Blue Moon is a unique, fun, and easy rom-com read! I read this in one day and would have read it in one sitting if life allowed me to.

Shadow Frost was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 by debut author Coco Ma. Set in a unique fantasy world, Shadow Frost follows Asterin as she is faced with a terrible threat. The story is told from multiple perspectives which provide a well-rounded view.

A story about a young Tate falling in love while on her short vacation to London and then finding him again 14 years later and having to overcome what pulled them apart. Twice in a Blue Moon is about self-growth, friendship, family and betrayal. Throughout Tate’s journey, I realized how much I saw myself in Tate and although I did not see myself in her romantic situation, as the story was told with a 14-year difference, I learned a lot about my own life. I was worried Twice in a Blue Moon would not live up to the amazing The Unhoneymooners, but it did! This book is very different from The Unhoneymooners, but still has a funny tone and I could not help but smile throughout the whole read and maybe even tear up a bit as my heart melted and broke throughout the story. For those who enjoy anything Christina Lauren or Waiting on Tom Hanks, I recommend Twice in a Blue Moon! Pair this read with Halsey’s Love You for a Long Time and you will not want it to end.

The book had a strong beginning as it does a great job of introducing a unique world surrounding elemental magic and what seems like an intricate political system. The middle fell a little flat and needed more movement to match the pace of the beginning and end. The last couple of pages will have you itching for the next installment. The cast of characters are diverse and often provide humorous moments that will have you chuckling out loud. I loved the various relationships that were explored in this book but felt as if some of them were created for convenience. However, I also think that relationships played an interesting role in the progression of the plot. I liked Asterin as our main character but felt as if she lacked the depth needed to be the incredible heroine we want her to be. I enjoyed how she interacted with the other characters and the humor she brought to the book creating an accessible environment for all readers. Shadow Frost is an enjoyable YA Fantasy that will have you smiling at the friendships, swooning at the romances and creating endless ships between the characters.

Photo and Review by Shannon Grace @ bookishshan

Photo and Review by Melleny Smith @abooktropolis01

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