Girls shouldn’t fear for their lives when they’re just living them. Girls who are impassioned about their worlds, who want nothing more than to engage with their world, learn about that world, build empathy for this place and the people around them, who use their knowledge and their passion to give voice to their beliefs shouldn’t worry about their bodies—or their lives—being at stake for doing so.
And yet, because we’re asking for and raising our voices without waiting for permission to do so, it happens.
“she had been so blithely arrogant, so happily stupid. beloved people died every day. her love was not special, and her wishes would not order the universe.”—sarah rees brennan, unmade (via katesuttons)
In honour of the publication of Sarah Rees Brennan’s new book, Unmade, I wanted to do a trilogy of blogs about the Lynburn Legacy series! I just picked up my copy of Unmade at Waterstones today, and I am rereading from the beginning. The first book, Unspoken, is a really fantastic modern gothic…
Some lovely and brilliant meta on relationships, both romantic and platonic, and consent in Unspoken. It is tremendous to have readers who see what you were doing, and beautiful to read their clever thoughts!
My friend Christine Heppermann’s book POISONED APPLES: POEMS FOR YOU MY PRETTY released this week. This collection is an unabashedly feminist look at girls, body image, and eating disorders told through the lens of fairy tales, designed for young adults.
The book is arriving at an interesting…
Reaaaad the whoooole thing.
This needs a lot more notes. It’s a long read, but so good.
' So, what makes a work adult, then? Beha gives us a pretty good clue: “If we really are,” he writes, “living through the decline of the cultural authority of the straight white male, that seems like a rich and appropriate subject for a sophisticated work of narrative art.” '
So if… if! … the people who were always at the top of society, and who both controlled, made and starred in the majority of the art, if their reign is finally ending, it makes perfect sense that the only good real true art should be… ABOUT THEM! What a startling and original idea.
The fact that art isn’t considered real and good and true unless it has this particular subject matter proves we’re in no such decline, as does the fact a dude can say such things in the New Yorker.
Do not take my word for it: Anne Ursu has written a fabulous essay.
Me: So, I wanna make a fanmix to celebrate the completion of The Lynburn Legacy by sarahreesbrennan. Help me with some gothic-y, romance-y, murder-y type music?
Jay: *superhero pose* My time has come.
Jay: *flicks songs at me*
Jay: *overturns bucket of music on me*
Jay: *pushes me into a lake of melody*
Me: *drowning* (This is a good death.)
Yeah, so, saying that theflatfifth “helped” me with the mix would be a gross understatement. All I did was pick my favourites:
That Teenage Feeling by Neko Case // Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone by Lykke Li // Caring Is Creepy by The Shins // You’re Ex-Lover Is Dead by Stars // I Died So I Could Haunt You by Stars // Is There a Ghost by Band of Horses // Out in the Way by Beach Fossils (feat. Wild Nothing) // Broken Toy by Veronica Falls // Hold On, Hold On by Neko Case // You and Me by Penny & the Quarters
What a lovely melodic present! I love Neko Case and I love the celebration of ‘That Teenage Feeling’ because what’s not fascinating, what’s not to celebrate, about love and the first time you feel certain loves, the way you struggle through both finding love and finding yourself? I obviously think it’s hella interesting… I wrote a series about it. ;)
My streak of not spoilerering has come to a CLOSE. This is terrifically spoily for Unmade, and so best to have read Unmade or be the kind of person who cares not for spoilers. It’s about two supporting characters, seven years on.
I shouldn’t even be taking the time to do this, because books to finish. So instead of a proper response to this latest essay in this the summer of discontent about YA, a comment I dashed off in a Facebook discussion about it:
I’ll admit I read some of this more carefully than the rest… BUT it’s hard for me not to notice that of the works mentioned by women in this piece, we have Harry Potter and the Hunger Games (not that their authors are worth mentioning by name! but tellingly the author of TFiOS is) and The Goldfinch, none treated particularly well here. Oh, and a glancing namecheck of Edith Wharton.
Intended or not, it implies a certain type of work gets the literary stamp of approval and, oh well, it just happens to often be by men — and actually, while I thought AO Scott went a little crazy with his “the patriarchy is dead” point (really? tell that to Congress), at least he acknowledged that there is a gender component here. YA is still primarily written and read by women and girls. And so, it’s ruining the culture, making adults into babies, etc. It’s the under-symphony of all these pieces that I can’t mute. Perhaps, perhaps, it actually is providing something that is harder to find in other areas of the market and that’s one of the reasons it’s gotten so popular.
It’s also noteworthy to me that most of the spirited and more convincing essays I’ve seen on this topic this year are by female critics. It doesn’t hurt that most of them also seem to read the stuff.
I’ve been going through my physical reader letters slowly this week, trying to diminish the pile (guiltily: I am answering letters mailed to me back in November), and I noticed that a lot of them said “PLEASE never stop writing!” I always sort of smiled and thought, yay that’s nice but also why…
Maggie Stiefvater lays down some reality of publishing and writing truth. Publishing: terrifying and chancy!
I'm coming to your book signing event at McNally Jackson Books on October 28, do we have to pay to get it or anything?
No, no, we are just delighted to have you!
As ever with events, buying a book if people can is a lovely way to say ‘hey bookshop thanks for having us’ but if you can’t/already have the books/carrying a book home seems hassle/don’t wish to for whatever reason that is fine.
Y’all are welcome as flowers in May. I will sign anything. Faces, my fellow authors… love signing stuff.
Plus I am quite excited. I have not done a signing in New York in years. I love New York! Thank you for coming! I will see you there! I hope to see others there too but if not it’s cool, we’ll hang out. ;)
Kelly Link among many fabulous others will be there. Really we should just sit back and listen to Kelly but don’t worry because I will be talking because I ALWAYS DO and it is scandalous. I will talk about Monstrous Affections and Turn of the Story and the Lynburn Legacy and other people’s books and stories and maybe I will retell a book I read on the plane.
*flings doors of heart and bookshop open* COME TO ME.
*readers look apprehensive* That’s understandable. No, I get it…
Does Elliot and Luke have a ship name? This is really important to my well-being.
I think it’s Lelliot. I also recall Lerene and Serenalot (which squooshed Elliot’s name for beauty purposes I presume)! I also maybe remember Daluke?
But I leave this open to you all because I think the readers/watchers always come up with ship names and that is the way things should be. I mean, I don’t think Brad and Angelina or their parents came up with Brangelina. (*thinks about whether my mother would…* I don’t think I wanna think about what my mother would do if I was famous anymore!)
I think that said naming is for them, because it is their choice what to ship, and it is my place simply to be joyful if they care about the characters and their relationships enough to have a ship. ;)
After all, with ships you don’t know if I ship it too until the end. I shouldn’t get to pick. You don’t know if I’m responsible yet…
Please note that the song contains spoilers for both Turn of the Story and the short story “Wings in the Morning”, which can be found in the anthology Monstrous Affections.
Seriously you guys, these stories are the best. Thank you Sarah!!!
What a beautiful present, thank you so much!
I am so jealous of the talented: wonderful voices and artistry! And so honoured when such talent is gifted to my unworthy self. I’m so complimented and delighted to have inspired this beauty, which also celebrates Fair Gentleman Golden and the suffragelf movement. ;)
I feel like this question must have been asked before (apologies if so!) but I was curious how elf naming works. Do elves get married? Do male elves take the names of their wives? How are the children's names chosen? Thanks! PS, I adore all of your books and short stories and essays and everything else you write!
Elf naming in Turn of the Story!
Elves do get married, or close enough to it: they have commitment ceremonies that involve magic and ritual.
Male elves don’t take their wives’ names, because men don’t have surnames that work in the traditional/closer-to-human sense that female elves do.
Men would however on marriage be considered to leave their mother’s clan and become part of their wife’s clan. Our heroine Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle often refers to her mother’s house in that way: as a house, a clan, and a symbol, and one that can be shorthanded: ‘I am a daughter of Chaos.’ So men are part of the house, but do not get to bear the signifier/symbol of the name: instead they’re called after what their parents hope will be things signifying their attractiveness.
(Not super different from parents naming their daughters things like Grace, or after pretty flowers.)
Hence ‘Bright-Eyes-Gladden-the-Hearts-of-Women’ and ‘Golden-Hair-Scented-Like-Summer’, our two most significant male elves. (Edited to Add: I edited that! I typed female! I was watching the mothers/daughters and fathers/sons stuff like a hawk! You never know how hard this is until you invert it and your hands betray you writing the wrong pronouns when you describe someone as pretty…)
The parents choose the names together, much like human parents, but there’d be a little balance in favour of the mothers getting their own way with daughters’ names along the lines of ‘well, from my mother’s mother down to me the strong name of In-the-Face-Kill-Your-Enemies has been passed!’ and the fathers getting their way with sons’ names along the lines of ‘I just think it’s pretty/feel emotionally attached to it.’ (But daughters’ names would have to be chosen to go with the house name, hence Sure-Aim-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle and Swift-Arrows-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, while we never get two male elves with the same name-ender. So there’s more freedom in choosing a son’s name, but it’s also seen as a more emotional/whimsical thing, and of course you get—as with Bright Eyes—not traditionally attractive male elves with names that indicate attractiveness, which can be difficult for them.)
Illegitimacy isn’t really a thing, because you generally know who your mother is, and so daughters always take the mother’s name whether their parents were married or not. Also elves can only get up the duff on purpose after another ritual: marriages and partnerships still break up, of course.
Glad you asked and thank you for your kindly words! I think a lot about surnames and names in general, partly because names are words and I find them fascinating, partly because that pesky ‘Rees Brennan’ means I am always mis-shelved and hard to find in bookshops, but my mama would have murdered me if I’d dropped the Rees after thirty-four solid years of sending back letters addressed to ‘Mrs Brennan’ with ‘NO SUCH GODDAMN PERSON’ on them.
I wrote the start of this story when I was having a tough time writing anything, and it reminded me I love writing, and I continued because I love y’all. I never expected Elliot to be the hero of something that looks alarmingly booklike—I never expected him to be the hero at all—but suddenly like a cranky kraken (a cranken?) from the deeps emerged a cross nerd who had many comments on fantasy adventures: it is terrifying that they gave those Narnia kids swords! What up with the elves? Someone for the love of God bring out the mermaids! ARE WE SAFE IN MAGIC LANDS, AND WHY DO WE KEEP GOING WHEN THE ANSWER IS: NEVER?
I hope you like the ending to Elliot’s story. ;) If you want more, there is another story out in the anthology MONSTROUS AFFECTIONS, which went onsale today! (If you read that already, thank you for buying it. If you held out so’s not to be spoiled, thank you for your patience. THANK YOU ALL, MY DOVES. Basically.)
Ms. Bardugo, I loved your first books, but I was terribly disappointed to see you give in to political correctness in Ruin & Rising. You had a great story and then you ruined it with unnecessary lesbianism. Authors don't need to make statements, they just need to write good books. I hope you'll remember that in the future.
I was really tempted to ignore this because I don’t believe in giving anon wangs a platform, but the term “unnecessary lesbianism” made me laugh so hard that I caved.
Authors can write good books and make statements. I’m going to make some statements now. (Get ready.)
Queer people and queer relationships aren’t less necessary to narrative than cishet people or relationships. In fact, given the lovely emails and messages I’ve received about Tamar and Nadia (and given the existence of anon wangs like you), I’d say making queer relationships visible in young adult fiction is an excellent—and yes, necessary—idea.
I do agree that story trumps statement or we’d all just write angry pamphlets, but queer people exist both in my world and the world of the Grisha trilogy. I don’t see how including them in my work is making a statement unless that statement is “I won’t willfully ignore or exclude people in order to make a few anon wangs happy.” If that’s the statement I’m making, I’m totally down with it.
Also, I’m going to take this moment to shout out Malinda Lo, Laura Lam, Alex London, David Levithan, Emily Danforth, Emma Trevayne, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Clare, and to link to Malinda’s 2013 guide to LGBT in YA. Because why just give attention to bigots when you can talk about awesome books and authors instead?