Monday, June 23, 2014

Excerpt: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Today we have Plus One by Elizabeth Fama on a tour courtesy of PBT. Read the excerpt below and don't forget to add the book on Goodreads. Follow the tour here: Pinoy Book Tours


One night when I was still a freshman I came to class and there was a new drawing on the desk: an exquisitely rendered human heart. It was not the kind of heart that little kids draw and cut out to make valentines, with two plump cheeks at the top and a pointy V at the bottom. It was an anatomically perfect sketch, tipped slightly as real hearts are, showing the aorta, the pulmonary artery and veins,  and the vena cava—although I  wouldn't  have remembered the location of any of those if they hadn't been carefully labeled. My desk partner had drawn the heart as if it had been sliced almost all the way in two by a sharp knife, which was no small feat since the drawing was three-dimensional and looked like real muscle tissue. Below it was a poem.  But  it  wasn't  one  I  would  have  ridiculed,  or  forced  Poppu  to  dissect  to  expose  its pretentiousness. It was raw, an open wound, and it brought tears to my eyes

I am empty
I am released from a ship
In space
I am unmoored
Vast nothingness
Aching for what was lost
Wanting what will never be
And suddenly
The after-moment of now versus then
The paradigm shift
The world in too sharp relief
The past and future overlap
In front of my eyes
Death and life
Love and its mysterious absence
A knowledge
I am not a player
I am a spectator

I read it again and again until I had it by heart. I heard nothing my teacher said the entire period,not a word. I had no com-fort to offer my friend, even though it’s what I most wanted to do, and in that way I felt an impotence that matched the tone of the poem itself.

A worry forced its way into my mind. Was it a girl he was talking about? Wasn’t that a broken heart he had drawn? Had he fallen in love with someone? Wanting what was lost. Love and its mysterious absence.

I felt socked in the chest, and I didn't know why. He was the equivalent of a pen pal, after all; a confidant at most. Nothing had changed: if our paths crossed in the hall I still wouldn't recognize him. If he saw me, I would seem a stranger. He wouldn't wrap his arms around me, his beloved friend.

The bell rang, and every other student got up to leave, scraping chairs, laughing, stuffing books in backpacks, drop-ping papers. My time to help him was up, and I felt a rising panic that I would fail him.

I was no poet, I had no right to even try. But I hastily added these four lines, and I left the room without allowing myself to reconsider.

But for the stardust
I trail through her heart


Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux(BYR)
Release Date: April 8th 2014
It takes guts to deliberately mutilate your hand while operating a blister-pack sealing machine, but all I had going for me was guts.

Sol Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller in an America rigidly divided between people who wake, live, and work during the hours of darkness and those known as Rays who live and work during daylight. Impulsive, passionate, and brave, Sol deliberately injures herself in order to gain admission to a hospital, where she plans to kidnap her newborn niece—a Ray—in order to bring the baby to visit her dying grandfather. By violating the day-night curfew, Sol is committing a serious crime, and when the kidnap attempt goes awry it starts a chain of events that will put Sol in mortal danger, uncover a government conspiracy to manipulate the Smudge population, and throw her together with D'Arcy Benoît, the Ray medical apprentice who first treats her, then helps her outrun the authorities—and with whom she is fated to fall impossibly and irrevocably in love.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights—and a compelling, rapid-fire romantic adventure story.

Author Bio
Photo credit: Gene Fama Jr.

Elizabeth Fama is the author of Plus One (FSG, 2014), Monstrous Beauty (FSG, 2012), a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection and Odyssey Award honor winner, and Overboard (Cricket Books, 2002), an ALA Best Books for Young Adults. She is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

(You're absolutely welcome to follow me on Goodreads, but I won't seem very interesting as a reader here. While I'm an active lurker on GR, I keep all of my personal thoughts about what I'm reading on an anonymous Booklikes account.)
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Interview with Jennifer Mathieu, Author of THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE

Hi everyone! Today Jennifer Mathieu graciously answers some questions about her debut novel, The Truth About Alice, and her writing experience. Keep reading to know what inspired Jennifer to write TTAL, the characters she created, and the most moving feedback she's received since her book came out on June 3rd! 

The Truth About Alice
What influenced you to write such a sensitive story?

I wanted to write a story set in a small town, and I wanted to use multiple points of view. I also wanted to focus on being an outsider in a small town, and I know that one way our culture makes girls feel like they don't belong is by judging their bodies or sexual behavior. One of the biggest influences for the story came from a Seventeen magazine article I read back in the early 90s when I was in high school. It was about a high school girl who was the victim of horrible graffiti about her in one of the bathroom stalls of her high school. The school refused to clean the stall, and she eventually sued the school. I remember thinking how isolated and embarrassed she must have felt. It broke my heart and years later became a seed for The Truth About Alice.

Describe Alice, Brandon, Josh, Elaine, Kelsie, Kurt in one word each.

Great question! 
Alice - Survivor 
Brandon - Entitled 
Josh - Repressed 
Elaine - Queen 
Kelsie - Damaged 
Kurt - Compassionate

What’s more important: characters or plot?

I think both are critical to a good story, but I enjoy character-driven stories. I have a much easier time with characters than plot. I always dream up the people first and then start deciding what I want to do with them. I'm in awe of writers who have an easy time with plot ideas and can weave stories together so quickly. For me, characters come alive in my head and I start thinking of them as real people sometimes!

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? 

With the exception of the Seventeen article - which was inspiration more than anything - this was all purely out of my imagination. None of the characters are based on real people. However, my own memories of high school and my observations as a high school teacher have helped me (I hope!) create realistic teenage dialogue and characters who seem like they could be found in any high school.

Have you ever had a writer's block?

Oh my, YES! It happens all the time. Sometimes if it happens I just fool around with a sentence or two or try to write one small scene that will get me out of it. I don't worry too much about writer's block. I've been writing for so long now that I know it's not a permanent condition! My biggest advice to anyone experiencing writer's block is to write down SOMETHING, even if it's just a list of favorite words. Something to stimulate the mind and get the fingers moving on the keyboard. Eventually it will go away, I promise.

Eleanor & ParkLove Letters to the Dead

What is one book or series you wished you've written?

Well, I don't really wish I'd written them because I had such a wonderful experience reading them, but Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor&Park blew me away as did Ava Dellaira's Love Letters to the Dead. Both of those books inspired me as a writer for sure.

Hardest scene you have ever written.

Without giving too much away, there is a very critical scene at the end of The Truth About Alice involving Brandon and Josh that reveals some of the truth about what really happened. I think I rewrote that scene ten times or more. There was a lot I wanted to get across and a lot I wanted to get just right. There have been other scenes that have been very hard to write emotionally, but this scene was especially tricky - both in getting the tone right and describing the actions of the characters appropriately.

Jennifer Mathieu
So far, what is the most motivating and touching feedback you've received from readers since The Truth About Alice came out?

I have received a lot of touching feedback, but I received one email from a student I taught several years ago who read the book. It was quite a long email in which she analyzed each of the characters and gave me her thoughts as a reader. I was touched on two levels - one, that she would get so into my book that she would want to think about the characters and the plot so much and two, that she thanked me for being an English teacher who really motivated her to love books and reading. So that was a two in one! :-) I teared up reading it!

Thank you so much for visiting Teen Readers' Diary, Jennifer! 

Hexed (Hexed, #1)
Hardcover: 199 pages
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Release Date: June 3rd 2014
Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

You can purchase The Truth About Alice at the following Retailers:

Author Bio
I'm an English teacher, writer, wife, and mom who writes books for and about young adults. My debut novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, will be out in the spring of 2014.

My favorite things include chocolate, pepperoni pizza, and this super hilarious 1980's sitcom about four retired women called The Golden Girls. I can basically quote every episode.

I live with my husband, son, one rescue dog, one fat cat, and another cat that is even fatter than the fat cat.

When it comes to what I read, I love realistic young adult fiction (duh), creative nonfiction, super scandalous tell-all memoirs and unauthorized biographies, and basically anything that hooks me on the first page.
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