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Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

The Big Fat Book Wrap-Up of the Year

December 30, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   

2013 has skidded to an end so fast that I know I’ll be writing the wrong year on checks (yes, I still use checks) for weeks — or, if I’m honest, months — to come.

It’s been a year of massive revisions and small beginnings.  I started a new play (yeah, I’m surprised too), wrote the first several chapters of a new MG trilogy, revised THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FIVE: STILL LIFE, edited some short stories, dug back into an old MG stand-alone, and rewrote the lumbering YA project for the eighth time, longhand, and am just now typing it in its nearly (I think…) finished form.

I appear to have written just four poems this year, which makes it the least poetic year of my life since 6th grade.  I wrote zero new short stories, which saddens and surprises me, but I should be back in the short story saddle soon.  I saw one novel published — THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME FOUR: THE STRANGERS — in July, and an anthology — STARRY-EYED: 16 STORIES THAT STEAL THE SPOTLIGHT — released in October, and I completed a novel — and series — with VOLUME FIVE: STILL LIFE.  I’m looking forward to some new adventures and some fresh starts in 2014. Lots more news on those fronts soon.

Between revisions, travel, and school visits, I plowed through about a third of the books that had been waiting in increasingly dusty piles all around my house.  Here’s 2013’s reading list.  As before, titles in bold are rereads, and asterisks denote books that Ryan and I read aloud together.

THE MARRIAGE OF STICKS – Jonathan Carroll
ARCADIA – Lauren Groff
*CINDER – Marissa Meyer
THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET – Brian Selznick
THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD – Charles Dickens
ROMMEL DRIVES ON DEEP INTO EGYPT – Richard Brautigan
STUPID FAST – Geoff Herbach
HOW TO BE A WOMAN – Caitlin Moran
AMERICAN ISIS: THE LIFE AND ART OF SYLVIA PLATH – Carl Rollyson
UNDERWORLD – Don DeLillo
TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN – Phillipa Pearce
A GATE AT THE STAIRS – Lorrie Moore
LAURA LAMONT’S LIFE IN PICTURES – Emma Straub
ODD GIRL OUT: THE HIDDEN CULTURE OF AGGRESSION IN GIRLS – Rachel Simmons
ALABASTER: WOLVES – Caitlin R. Kiernan
OUT OF THE EASY – Ruta Sepetys
TOUCHING FROM A DISTANCE: IAN CURTIS AND JOY DIVISION – Deborah Curtis
HOCUS POCUS – Kurt Vonnegut
THE BLOODY CHAMBER AND OTHER TALES – Angela Carter
NEW ORLEANS STORIES: GREAT WRITERS ON THE CITY – Andrei Codrescu, ed.
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY – Jay Asher
PRODIGAL SUMMER – Barbara Kingsolver
THE FLORABAMA LADIES’ AUXILIARY AND SEWING CIRCLE – Lois Battle
MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY – Winnifred Watson
A PROUD TASTE FOR SCARLET AND MINIVER – E.L. Konigsberg
STORYVILLE, NEW ORLEANS – Al Rose
NUTCRACKER OF NUREMBERG  – Donald E. Cooke
A GOOD HARD LOOK – Ann Napolitano
STIFF – Mary Roach
WHITE TEETH – Zadie Smith
THE PENDERWICKS – Jeanne Birdsall
A WRITER’S GUIDE TO EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE MIDDLE AGES – Sherrilyn Kenyon
*THE HOBBIT – J.R.R. Tolkien
AN EXALTATION OF LARKS – James Lipton
SHIPBREAKER – Paolo Bacigalupi
THE CLOISTER WALK – Kathleen Norris
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN – Simon Winchester
TRUMAN CAPOTE – George Plimpton
SLOUCHING TOWARDS BETHLEHEM – Joan Didion
*LET’S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS – David Sedaris
THE SHADOW OF THE WIND – Carlos Ruis Zafon
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY – Ruta Sepetys
MIDNIGHT MAGIC – Avi
DE PROFUNDIS AND OTHER WRITINGS – Oscar Wilde
FOUNDING MOTHERS: WOMEN OF AMERICA IN THE REVOLUTIONARY ERA – Linda Grant DePauw
STAG’S LEAP – Sharon Olds
SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT – Beth Hoffman
JOHNNY AND THE DEAD – Terry Pratchett
THE JEDERA ADVENTURE – Lloyd Alexander
BELLS IN WINTER – Czeslaw Milosz
THE RESURRECTIONIST – Jack O’Connell
ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE – William Goldman
*THE WITCHING HOUR – Anne Rice
THREATS – Amelia Gray
GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY, HOLLYWOOD, AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF – Lawrence Wright
DAUGHTER OF HOUNDS – Caitlin R. Kiernan
ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING – Ray Bradbury
THE FANTASY WORLDS OF PETER S. BEAGLE (LILA THE WEREWOLF, THE LAST UNICORN, COME LADY DEATH, A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE) – Peter S. Beagle
*A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES – John Kennedy Toole
NO CONTEST: THE CASE AGAINST COMPETITION – Alfie Kohn
*BLINK – Malcolm Gladwell
GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE PEOPLE TAKER  – Adam-Troy Castro
GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE NIGHTMARE VAULT – Adam-Troy Castro
GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE FOUR TERRORS – Adam-Troy Castro
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES – Ray Bradbury
*OUT OF THE EASY – Ruta Sepetys
*PRIME – Poppy Z. Brite
*THE DARK THIRTY: SOUTHERN TALES OF THE SUPERNATURAL – Patricia C. McKissack
THE BOOKLOVERS GUIDE TO NEW ORLEANS – Susan Larson
ETIQUETTE (1960 edition, orig. 1922) – Emily Post
THE 13 TREASURES – Michelle Harrison
TALES FROM THE HOUSE OF BUNNICULA: INVASION OF THE MIND SWAPPERS FROM ASTEROID 6 – James Howe
THREE TIMES LUCKY – Sheila Turnage
STARRY-EYED: 16 STORIES THAT STEAL THE SPOTLIGHT – Ted Michael/Josh Pultz, ed.
THE BRONTES: CHARLOTTE BRONTE AND HER FAMILY – Rebecca Fraser
ELEANOR & PARK – Rainbow Rowell
SMASHED: STORY OF A DRUNKEN GIRLHOOD – Koren Zailckas
MARCH – Geraldine Brooks
THE ILLUSTRATED MAN – Ray Bradbury
WRONG THINGS – Poppy Z. Brite and Caitlin R. Kiernan
*THE SEX LIVES OF CANNIBALS: ADRIFT IN THE EQUATORIAL PACIFIC – J. Maarten Troost

 

Not counting much-loved rereads (looking at you, Bradbury and Tolkien), the books that really stuck with me this year are the fascinating GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY, HOLLYWOOD, AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF, by Lawrence Wright, the un-put-down-able ELEANOR & PARK, by Rainbow Rowell, Peter S. Beagle’s heartbreaking A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE, Geraldine Brooks’s luminous MARCH, and Lauren Groff’s gorgeous ARCADIA, which is the sort of flawlessly constructed, richly layered, utterly and frighteningly believable book that pulls you into itself and sends you back out into the real world tinted and changed.

Wishing you a 2014 rich with stories, satisfying work, and good surprises.

snowy night in red wing

A snowy night in Red Wing.

 

 

Spectacles

STARRY-EYED giveaway (and other Halloweeny goodness)

October 14, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

October is my favorite month.  Sweaters.  Falling leaves.  Cider.  Pumpkin carving.  An excuse to read creepy books and watch creepy movies and scatter creepy things over every household surface.

Over at my Facebook page, I’m asking readers to share their own favorite things about October.  On Friday the 18th, I’ll pick a winning comment at random, and that winning comment-writer will receive a free signed copy of the new YA anthology STARRY-EYED (and I’m throwing in a signed ARC of THE STRANGERS too, just for fun).  Go forth and comment/share!

This is also the season of All Hallow’s Read

allhallowsread2(Supercool poster by Introverted Wife)

I’ll be in New Orleans over Halloween this year, thanks to the Louisiana Book Festival (which reminds me: Come see me talk at 1:30 on Saturday, November 2nd, at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge!), so I’m going to celebrate All Hallow’s Read a bit early by putting together a big box of Halloweeny books and passing them on to a nearby school, where I hope they’ll find their way into the hands of young readers who need or want them.  If I had enough money, I’d blanket the entire area with Ray Bradbury and Poe and James Howe books, all dropped from a Jack-O’-Lantern-shaped hot air balloon on spiderweb parachutes…

Maybe someday.

If you’re looking for some All Hallow’s Read books of your own to share, remember that you can catch me and THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE at the Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis at 1:00 on October 26th.

Here’s a lovely new review of THE STRANGERS at Charlotte’s Library.

And finally, here’s me, my mom, and our spiderweb cookies. October: I love you.

IMG_20131012_152005IMG_20131012_151844

Spectacles

A star for STARRY-EYED

October 8, 2013    Tags: , , , , , ,   

STARRY-EYED: 16 STORIES THAT STEAL THE SPOTLIGHT is out TODAY.  Order your copy here or here or here…or head to an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore to order or browse or drink coffee.  (Chances are they’ve got good coffee.)

STARRY EYED cover

Booklist gave it a star (yay!) and even mentioned my Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed story in their review (another yay!), which you can read right here:

For any teen who has dreamed of being a star, Starry-Eyed will serve as both encouragement and a reality check. YA authors like Alex Finn, Aimee Friedman, and Garret Freymann-Weye weave mesmerizing stories of talented kids whose lives revolve around music, drama, and the arts. They’ll meet videographers Stringbean and Goose; Becca First, Meghan’s rival for every solo, every role, but keeper of a sad secret; and the vanished Maia Crane, spotted during a bizarre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Juxtaposed with each short story is an anecdote from artists familiar and less-so: Clay Aiken, Andrea McArdle, Montego Glover, Anthony Fedorov. The amalgam of swoon-worthy and unfamiliar household names is a reminder that TV, Broadway, movies, and records provide myriad opportunities for happiness and career satisfaction, if not fame and fortune. The short stories themselves, each of which is memorable for unique characters and situations, spotlight the importance of the arts in the growth and development—and even the survival!—of a large portion of the teenage population. Complex and focused on far more than art as a high-school extracurricular, Starry-Eyed “breaks a leg” in the finest sense of the word.
–Booklist, starred review

I’ll be hosting a giveaway for a signed copy of STARRY-EYED very soon, so keep your eye on my Facebook page. (And why not keep an eye on Tumblr while you’re at it?)

Speaking of brick-and-mortar bookstores:

This is one more reminder that I’ll be at Wild Rumpus Bookstore in Minneapolis at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 26 for a special Halloween-themed book event.  THE STRANGERS, creative projects, unusual bookstore pets…You know you want to join in.

Also, my schedule for the Louisiana Book Festival (Saturday, November 2nd, in Baton Rouge) has been finalized.  I’ll be speaking from 1:00 – 1:30 on the 3rd floor of the Capitol Park Museum and signing from 1:45 – 2:30, either in the Barnes & Noble main tent or the B&N Junior tent.  If you are in the area, or if you know any readers who will be, please send them our way!

Lastly, for any aspiring or established fantasy authors out there: The Jim Henson company is searching for an author for a new novel set in the world of The Dark Crystal.  It’s an incredible opportunity, and if I wasn’t in the middle of four novels already, I’d be all over this myself.  Details are here.

Spectacles

Release date approaching…

October 1, 2013    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

Just one week until STARRY-EYED hits shelves!  Kirkus really liked it:

Sixteen stories of performing are each paired with anecdotes about life behind the scenes and in front of the footlights.
Even a teen with only a pang of stage or screen hunger will be fascinated by this book, with its various accomplished contributors, from the introduction by Clay Aiken to stars from television shows such as Modern Family and Glee. The stories run a rich and varied emotional gamut… Each story is followed by a first-person anecdote by a noted performer, which is itself followed by a brief biography. Teens needn’t be star-struck to enjoy this collection, as under the hubbub of the theater world are themes that deal with common teenage issues such as insecurity, jealousy, the fear of coming out and young love.
Definitely worthy of applause. (Anthology. 12 & up)

You can read the whole review here, at least for now.

The school visit season is kicking into high gear.  Events are lined up in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Louisiana, and Missouri, with Tennessee and Illinois as additional possibilities. To find out where I’ll be, keep an eye on http://jacquelinewest.com/appearance-calendar.php,and I’ll do my best to keep it up to date, I swear.

It’s October, my very favorite month of the year. It’s time to reread some of my very favorite books and rewatch some of my very favorite movies and listen to the fallen leaves whisper along the curbs. And later, there will be miniature Milky Ways and Twixes.  (Twixices? Twixi? Is Twix already plural?)  The only way this month could be better is if it lasted twice as long. And if Twixes were calorie-free.

Right now, I’m rereading this particular favorite book…
something-wicked new
…although it’s this cover, which was on the copy that I checked out from my middle school library twenty years ago, that left its mark on my mind for good.
something wicked hardcover

Now back to the copy-edits of STILL LIFE. Nearly done…

Spectacles

Announcing STARRY-EYED (and a goodbye of sorts)

August 23, 2013    Tags: , , , , , ,   

Now that it has its own website and Twitter feed (Books these days, she says, in grandmotherly wonder), I can officially spread the word here:

This is STARRY-EYED, a forthcoming anthology from Running Press Kids, and I’ve got a short story in it.

STARRY EYED coverThe book is all about the performing arts; essays from performers like Clay Aiken and Lea Salonga and Jesse Tyler Ferguson are intermixed with short stories by the likes of Alex Flinn (Beastly), Kiersten White (Paranormalcy), Claudia Hand (Unearthly)…and me.  Mine’s called “A Midwinter Night’s Dream,” and it’s a twisted little YA piece that I’m actually rather excited about–so if you know any young readers with a love of music and theatre, please point them in our direction.

STARRY-EYED will be released on October 8, but you can already pre-order it from IndieBound here or from Amazon here.  You can add it to your lists on Goodreads and read the first (glowing!) reviews too.

 

And now, on to the slightly less happy news.

My agent, the utterly fabulous Chris Richman, has decided to leave the agenting world.  He’s setting off on new adventures in PR and Philadelphia, and I’m sure he’ll be just as utterly fabulous at whatever he does next.  (You can read Upstart Crow’s announcement about Chris’s departure here.)  And I’m going to miss him.

Back in 2008, I had been sending out query letters one at a time (exactly what you’re not supposed to do) to literary agents, waiting for months for their it’s-just-not-quite-right-for-us responses, and growing ever more certain that no one was ever going to say yes anyway, when I got an email from Chris.  He was a junior agent at Firebrand Literary, and he had found my submission — the first few chapters of The Shadows — in the slush pile.  And he loved it.

I sent him the rest of the book.  He loved that, too.

I remember his very first phone call, when he offered to represent me and my book.  I paced around and around the kitchen of our old rented farmhouse, clutching the receiver, absolutely overwhelmed with disbelief and terror.  Of course, this was before I learned that Chris was a total Salinger/Vonnegut/Dahl nerd with an encyclopedic knowledge of The Simpsons, just like me.   But I could already tell that my book was in the right hands.

I was Chris’s very first client.  Within a few months, he had five major publishers interested in The Shadows… And that’s how my life changed completely.    I’ll never stop being grateful to him for being one of the very first people to believe in me.

Upstart Crow Literary, the agency where Chris (and I) eventually moved, has been extremely good to me.  This summer I signed on with another Upstart agent, the marvelous Danielle Chiotti.  I know that I’m in good hands once again.

Spectacles

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