Showing posts from July, 2016


In the midst of working on a new manuscript, I suddenly found myself asking a question that SHOULD have had an obvious answer—especially because the story I am telling involves manipulation, crime, even murder: WHO IS THE BAD GUY IN THIS STORY? MY MC’s FOE? THE ANTAGONIST? While I could easily write down the name of the killer, he wasn’t really the foe of the MC. I could name the characters who manipulated others or kept guilty secrets, but none of them were cut-and-dried baddies out to destroy my narrators.  This question got me to thinking about the question of literary antagonists. In genre fiction, where the term “villain” can frequently be substituted for the word “antagonist” (and correspondingly, the protagonist can be seen as a “hero,” naming the main character’s foe can be fairly simple. Here are a few examples: HARRY POTTER series by J. K. Rowling. ANTAGONIST: Voldemort (shhhh!) CINDER (Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer: ANTAGONISTS: Cinder’s stepmother;

Grief and Imaginary Worlds

There is a curious correlation between loss and tricks of the mind. Do we use our imaginations to battle grief? To deny it? To make it make some kind of horrible sense? Here are three gorgeous titles which explore this connection and may just break your heart. A WORL D WITHOUT YOU by Beth Revis " A World Without You tackles grief, mental illness, and family dynamics with both grace and generosity...Readers will emerge from this book a little stronger than when they entered.” —Emily Henry I particularly appreciated Beth Revis' portrayal of "well" sister, Phoebe, whose viewpoint is depicted in contrast with her mentally ill brother, Bo. About her relationship with her parents, Phoebe observes: “ I don’t have the luxury of allowing myself to break...Because if I break, they’ll break too. ” A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness There's no denying it: this is one profoundly sad story. But it's also wise, darkly funny and brave, told in spare sentences, p

Two Chilling Covers for Sunny Days...

Some people like to beat the heat with swimming pools and frosty beach drinks. For me, summer's scorching temperatures are best cooled by shivering through the pages of scary, suspense-filled books! My copy of THE FIXER by Jennifer Lynn Barnes  is packed and ready for my Thursday cross-country flight. Having gone to college and worked in Washington, DC, I have a soft spot for that setting--also the scene (well, thereabouts) of my favorite television show, THE AMERICANS! Plus, Jennifer Lynn Barnes is an honest-to-goodness PhD scientist and all that brainiac-ness (?!) shines through her sharp prose. The enthusiasm of my Viking editor, Kendra Levin, for this star-review-laden project made me race to the bookstore for Janet Fox's THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE . I started it as my plane took off from JFK and finished, breathless and sleepless, as I touched down in Amsterdam a last week. Set in a Scottish castle during WWII, this creepy and compelling tour de
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