May 4th, 2008


Interview: April Lurie

April Lurie has three published novels to date, each of which take place in a different time period. Her characters have danced in Brooklyn in the forties, flirted with the mob in the seventies, and accidentally shoplifted underwear in the present day, which is, of course, when our interview took place.

When crafting a story, do you first think of the plot and setting or of the characters? If you create the characters first, do they set the time and the pacing?

It's been a little different with each book, but generally I begin with a character. To date, my protagonists have been loosely based on real people, so the time period and the setting naturally follow. When I first started writing, plotting was difficult, but I think (at least I hope!) I've gotten better at it. Once I find my main character's voice and what he/she wants to say, that's when I can begin the story.

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Visit April Lurie's website and blog.

wings, believe

Savvy by Ingrid Law

The Beaumonts are a unique family made up truly talented individuals. As each kid hits the age of thirteen, his or her inherent power comes to light. They call this talent "savvy," and it can be anything. When a Beaumont celebrates that fateful, lucky thirteen, everyone waits with baited breath to see what happens. No matter what, a savvy is one birthday gift you can't return.

They don't know exactly where it comes from, but they do know that it runs down Momma's side of the family. Daddy's a regular guy, happy with his family and content with his job. Meanwhile, Momma's relatives can do all sorts of wacky things. Great-Aunt Jules would step back twenty minutes in time every time she sneezed. Olive, a second cousin, has the ability to melt ice with her glare. Grandpa Bomba creates new places "whenever and wherever" he pleases, such as the stretch of land stuck between Kansas and Nebraska where he lives with his daughter and their family. (They call it Kansaska or Nebransas.) His wife caught radio waves in old glass jars, saving snippets of songs and stories that she could tune into anytime. Now that she's passed away, the family is extremely careful with these containers and treasures the sounds they emit upon a gentle loosening of their lids.

Then there's the immediately family. Momma's perfect, always - that's her savvy. Oldest child Rocket, aged seventeen, is the body electric, able to illuminate rooms during a blackout or teasingly zap a sibling whenever he feels like it. Weather shakes the next oldest boy, fourteen-year-old Fish, whose emotional hurricane can manifest into a real storm. The youngest kids, somber seven-year-old Samson and imaginative three-year-old Gypsy, are years away from getting their savvies, but when the story opens, middle child Mississippi is about to turn thirteen.

Affectionately called Mibs by her family, a nickname created by Gypsy in an attempt to pronounce her sister's name, our beloved narrator is appropriately awkward for her age and anxious for her birthday. She knows something's coming, something good.

Then something bad happens. The night before her birthday, Mibs' father is in a car accident and taken to a hospital. Momma and Rocket rush off to tend to him, leaving the other children in the care of Grandpa Bomba. Instead of having a happy birthday at home, Mibs finds herself at a gathering planned by the pastor's wife, Miss Rosemary. Mibs and her siblings, already worried about their father, now worry that Mibs' savvy will make itself known in public.

When the birthday girl discovers that a Bible salesman's bus came from the direction of the hospital where her father is resting, she impulsively sneaks on board. The stowaway count increases when Fish and Samson decide to get on the bus, as do the pastor's offspring, defiant Bobbi (who has a crush on Rocket) and gentle Will Junior (who has a crush on Mibs).

The salesman starts down the road, oblivious to his new cargo, and Mibs goes from excited to scared in the blink of an eye. They're heading in the opposite direction, away from the hospital rather than towards it! Her savvy, which had presented itself only a short while before, starts playing with her mind, but she tries to keep it a secret.

Mibs looks around and realizes that she's on an unplanned road trip to who-knows-where with two of her brothers, one of whom barely speaks, a meek salesman named Lester that she doesn't know, and the pastor's kids. As unpredictable and unprecedented as the trip may be, one thing's for certain: Mibs will never forget her thirteenth birthday.

Ingrid Law infuses her sweet family-oriented story with mischief, creating a special effect. Whether or not they have special powers, each character is easily distinguishable from the others, including the grown-ups. It's almost as if the kids from the Maggie Valley books by Kerry Madden (Gentle's Holler, etc) were given the powers of the X-Men. The fact that the Beaumonts gain their powers at the age of thirteen is a perfect nod to their coming-of-age, and this book is a treat for all ages.

Savvy is, from start to finish, a delightful journey. This rite of passage is highly recommended. Target audience: Ages 8 and up. I've included Savvy on my Best Books of 2008 (So Far) list.

Read my interview with the author, Ingrid Law.

Read an excerpt of Savvy.

Read the eBook of Savvy for free online between July 14th and July 20th.

Visit the related websites: Ingrid Law, Penguin Books and Walden Media.
  • Current Music
    Daytripper as sung by David Cook
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British Invasion edited by Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon, and James A. Moore

British Invasion
Edited by Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon, and James A. Moore
Published by Cemetery Dance

They've invaded before, sending their best and brightest to transform popular music for all time. This time, they're leaving the music behind and focusing on words. The British Invasion has begun again, in a collection of twenty-one unforgettable stories of horror and the dark fantastic.

From the birthplace of horror fiction, the land where writers first dreamed up the icons that shaped the field we know today -- Frankenstein's monster, Count Dracula, the vile Mr. Hyde and more. You think you know desperation? Discover a literary tradition born from centuries of violence, pain, and suffering, distilled through the veneer of civility, and twisted by the reign of tyrants and kings.

You think you know fear?

From creeping dread to hideous humor, from quiet terror to brutal horror, from mad speculation to unspeakable truth, the twenty-one tales here represent the best that the U.K. has to offer. The rising stars and the masters of British horror have joined together.

The British Invasion has begun.

Table of Contents
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British Invasion is available at Cemetery Dance in two formats:
- Limited Edition of 1,000 copies signed by Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon, and James A. Moore
- Traycased Lettered Edition of 52 signed (by all of the contributors) and lettered copies bound in leather with additional artwork and a satin ribbon page marker
ISBN: 978-1-58767-175-3