Posts tagged ‘alex’

September 5th, 2011

Business in a Personal World

by Madeleine Rex

There will be debates over what is or isn’t professional till the end of time, no matter what industry you’re dealing with. The book industry just happens to deal very closely with people’s heart-strings.

I can’t blame an author for feeling upset if they read a negative or critical review of their book. It’s not easy to take criticism, particularly when it comes from a stranger or – even worse – a kid reviewer. I can easily imagine the stream of thoughts that might run through their head: What right does she have to criticize me? She doesn’t know what I was trying to do with that scene. How could she?! She’s a kid! (She is not me. There was a 50/50 option.)

Though it’s reasonable to feel upset, it’s totally inappropriate to voice your opinion or complain to the interwebz while upset. People have ended up in loads of trouble and up to their eyeballs in humiliation. Alex at Electrifying Reviews just posted a letter an author sent him after he wrote a less-than-bubbly review of their book. It’s so terrible it’s almost amusing.

There’s a shady balance between being yourself and exposing yourself. So much of the book industry functions online. This is where readers, writers, authors, publishers, agents, etc. chat and voice opinions. Sure, it’s fun, but let’s never forget that this is an industry – a business – and businesses only run smoothly when people are courteous and mature.

I’ve been lucky enough to avoid this sort of drama. I haven’t had any angry authors emailing me, threatening retribution. However, it’s only a matter of time. We bookish folk are an emotional and loud people, after all.

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of an awkward situation like this? How did you deal with it? More importantly: How do you deal with your own feelings online?

November 9th, 2010

Lauren Oliver Saves the Day – And Alex Tags Along! (Author and Character Interview)

by Madeleine Rex

First, let me just say that Lauren Oliver is my hero. She earned this title by swooping in (red cape and all, you really should have seen it. Kodak moment.) and saving my English grade. Things had gotten… jumbled, and Lauren had to receive and answer my interview questions within five days. And she turned her homework in early, the little overachiever!

Lauren is the author of Before I Fall (Review) and Delirium (Review coming soon!), and the latter is to be released in February of 2011. Lauren also has a snazzy little blog that I really must start reading. Want to join me?

Without further ado, Lauren and her fabulous character, Alex:

Questions for Lauren:

ME: Were you surprised by the hype surrounding Before I Fall? Did you ever in your wildest dreams (even beyond the dreams of dancing the Macarena in cowboy boots) imagine your first published novel would land you on the NYT Bestsellers List?

Lauren: How did you know I often dream about doing the Macarena in random footwear?? Honestly, no. It has been an unbelievable debut.

ME: What’s, in your opinion, is the value of an MFA program? It’s part of my plan for the future, and I’m sure that many other writers would be interested in your take on it.

Lauren: I think there are several really valuable things about attending an MFA program. The first is simply the time it gives you to immerse yourself in your work, to speak with like-minded people, and to read wonderful books (I really think the reading list was one of my favorite parts of the NYU MFA program). Also, it teaches you how to accept critiques; but just as importantly, it teaches you that sometimes it is necessary to ignore critiques. Both are equally important.

ME: It’s not common that a writer will jump genres between their first book and their second. In fact, we’re told time and time again not to do that. What made you decide to make that leap to dystopian, and how did your critique partners/agent/editor react?

Lauren: I didn’t actually think of either of my books in terms of genre, so maybe that made it easier. I’ve always wanted to write a range of books, and I’m typically attracted to story and character as opposed to a “type” of book. It’s true that some authors are encouraged to stay within a genre, of course, but I’ve been blessed to find editors and an agent who have really encouraged me to expand my voice and my range. I’m so grateful for that.

ME: Were there vast differences between being published for the second time and being published for the first? Was it less or more stressful? We so often hear about a writer’s “road to publication,” but it’s hard to believe that road ends when the debut novel hits shelves.

Lauren: That’s a great point, and of course, the road doesn’t end. I think the stresses are different for a second-time publication: you worry about disappointing your fans, or you worry about falling under the “curse of the second book.” At the same time, you do have some kind of readership to depend on, which is so nice. I think every book brings its own stresses, and its own rewards, honestly. But maybe I’m just a stress ball!

More Delirium-Related Questions

ME: The idea of love being a disease definitely isn’t one I’ve heard before. What thought lead to the premise of Delirium?

Lauren: It was funny. I had just read a great quote about the fact that great books are usually about death or love, and then I was watching a news channel about a rampant flu panic, and I think the ideas—love, and the panic surrounding diseases—just kind of combined in my head.

ME: Characters, characters, characters! Goodness knows that the characters in Delirium are fabulous. Goodness is also aware of the fact that character development/creation is a common topic in the writing community. What’s your particular process when it comes to creating and developing characters? Or isn’t there one? Do they simply “germinate” on their own?

Lauren: I’m not sure I have a process, other than to spend a lot of time thinking about people, and why they are how they are—why they say the things they do, and become who they become, etc. I think that attentiveness to other people ends up floating through into your work.

ME: World-building must have taken a huge chunk of the time spent writing Delirium! Had you ever tackled creating another world before? Did much of the systems and lifestyles of the folks in the book came along with the original idea, or did they tag along later?

Lauren: World-building was definitely much of the fun of Delirium. To a certain extent, of course, every book requires world-building; every fictional landscape, however closely it may approximate real life, requires detail and fleshing out. But in this case that work was more comprehensive and expansive, and I did much of it before I started writing. I had to, in order for it to logically hold together.

Questions for Alex:

ME: Who’s your favorite author? What is it about his/her books that strikes you?

Alex: Probably Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His work is forbidden, obviously, and I think it’s because he writes so truthfully about everything human—loss, love, hope, mourning, death—it’s all there in his work.

ME: If you could pick a single person in the world that you “love to hate,” who would it be? I can imagine you’d have quite a list of possibilities.

Alex: I love to hate anyone who would rather have his eyes closed than confront pain or difficulty.

ME: What is your favorite word?

Alex: Yes.

ME:  When you met Lena, or when you saw her for the first time, what was the first sentence that ran through your mind? Did it run in circles, refusing to give up and disappear, or did you forget it after a moment?

Alex: I don’t think it was really a sentence so much as a feeling. When I first saw Lena, it was like coming up for air after a long period of being underwater.


And that, my friends, is a fabulous interview. Thanks again to Lauren!

If you have not yet read a book of Lauren’s, please, please do! She truly is a fantastic author, and her books have a way of entrancing you.

August 27th, 2010

Re-Post: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins; Review

by Madeleine Rex

You know how I love words and love talking and writing with said words? Well, sometimes they fail me, too. Occasionally, I find myself so overwhelmed that I simply cannot string together enough sensible sentences to make my point. So is the case with Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy.

I got the book at midnight and finished it at nine-ish in the morning (my aunt read out loud a majority of the time). Afterward, I was so insanely tired and shocked/depressed (it’s over!). The bafflement has yet to wear off. Luckily for me, Alex at Tales of a Teenage Book Lover (he’s fourteen, too! Go fourteen-year-olds!) posted a review that astounded me. He said precisely what I wanted to say in the words I couldn’t find. What follows is his review. Comments are closed to this post because they’re due to him. His post is here, so comment there if you’d like.

Without further ado, my thoughts in Alex’s words:

Mockingjay Review:

Perhaps my hopes were too high. Perhaps I had become so attached to the characters that I couldn’t stand to see them change so rapidly. Perhaps I didn’t like being in such a dark atmosphere, not that these books were ever light. I don’t know what the problem was for me, but whatever it was, it made Mockingjay a let down.

Don’t get me wrong, I still loved it to pieces. But I was just expecting so much from this book and, frankly, I didn’t get it. Katniss, who was once so strong was so depressing and unstable in this book that it was hard to read a book from her perspective since it put you in such a dark place. Peeta, one of my favorite characters I have ever read, upset me also. So did Gale, who I’m still not sure if I like or not.

Though Suzanne Collins is probably one of the most talented writers the world has ever seen, her writing in this book disappointed me. It still had the incredible cliffhangers, and the fantastic society, but there was something missing this time around. Whenever something exciting happened, you never got to see it firsthand. It was always a blackout and you were told what happened later on. I wanted to be right in the action, but instead it was as though I slept through it.

You are invited into a whole new world in Mockingjay. It is both similar to the one we got to experience in the previous novels, and so very different. War is all around you, and it is definitely not something that is fun to read. But when is war ever really fun?

Another problem I had with this stunning novel was the pacing. It was perfectly paced until the end. Then it was like this: BAM! What just happened? Again, you are in the dark when most of the action is taking place and are told what happened later on. And the changes the characters go through at the end are sort of unbelievable.

I really don’t know how to say it. This is still one of the best book ever written, but my- and the rest of the world’s expectations were so high that when what I wanted wasn’t delivered, it upset me. I know this is how it should have played out, however, which is another reason I am so conflicted.

I guess all I can say now is please, please read this incredible trilogy, because these books are some of the best on the planet. You are in a startling new world in which you want to live in every second, while wanting to escape at the same time. It saddens me that this will be the last sentence of commentary I get to write on these books, but I will say that they are perfect in every possible way.

And there you are! My thoughts exactly.

If you’re wondering, I rated Mockingjay a 5/5 because although I was disappointed, it still seemed to deserve the adjective “amazing.” I will not be reviewing the book, but I will post a an extremely spoiler-y post in a month or so. Read it only if you’ve read the book or care nothing about it (in which case you wouldn’t read anyway).

And Monday I promise a post from me!