25 March 2016

Fill Your Easter Baskets With Books!

What can I say? Some books just look really good in an Easter basket, with those glossy white covers and spring colors. (I may be biased.) 

Between the Notes with the gorgeous A Thousand Pieces of You
by Claudia Gray and Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon.

Hope the Easter Bunny brings you some yummy books (and chocolate and jelly beans) this year! 

22 March 2016

In which I channel Kwame Alexander for a YA retelling of Jane Eyre at #NYCTAF

I've attended the fabulous New York City Teen Author Festival twice before, but this year was the first time I was invited to participate on one of the author panels. I was just a teensy bit excited (understatement of the century), until I heard which panel I was on. Then I was terrified.

The topic of my panel was The Secret YA Lives of Adult Characters. Our assignment from organizer and author extraordinaire David Levithan? "Show a pivotal moment of a character from adult lit through the lens of a YA novel."

I wouldn't simply be answering questions on a panel. I was going to have to write something. And read it aloud. And it would have to be funny.

AAAHHHHhahhahahahahah. Hold me.
I read as David Levithan looks on. He isn't 
grimacing! Photo by author Ami Allen-Vath.

Then I got an idea. And it was insane. So I emailed David and said, "Is this insane?" And he said, "Yes, that's insane. Try it." 

So I did. I took my all-time favorite novel JANE EYRE and crossed it with THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander (the Newbery award-winning verse novel of basketball and growing up and family and vocabulary! and so much more. Go read it.) 

I stood in front of the crowd gathered in the Celeste Auditorium of the New York Public Library (the one with the big lions out front) and I read it. And they laughed. OUT LOUD. (Phew!)

Here it is. A YA retelling of JANE EYRE from the perspective of Mr. Rochester, with apologies to Kwame Alexander and Josh Bell (aka Filthy McNasty):


Jane Eyre
is her name.
But Homely McSmarty is her claim to fame.
Folks call her dull
'cause her countenance is plain,
so downright gloomy, every day she looks the same.
Her hair is drab, her height is small.
See, she’s a governess from Lowood,
LeBoring in a shawl.

Remember when we met
on the road to Thornfield Hall?
I rode with Pilot, and that witch
she made me fall.
Had to hobble, leaning on her,
limping grimly to my horse.  
She spoke of Mr. Rochester
knowing not that I am he, of course.
(I’m kind of a jerk,
so I didn’t say anything.
Not at first.)

Mrs. Fairfax tells her 
“the master’s old school.
Put on a brooch or you’ll look like a fool.”
Jane comes when I beckon,
serves me my tea. Only speaks when I’ve spoken,
a polite detainee.
Her mind, it is sweet, though,
a salve for my soul.
Until I ask, “Am I handsome?”
and she answers, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sir."

One night in her chamber,
Jane hears a strange sound.
At the moan of a demon, she’s up, looks around.
Finds me engulfed in a madwoman’s flame,
But hasn’t a clue who’s really to blame.
My wife she is cray, living up in the attic.
Tried to burn me alive,
but Jane wouldn’t have it.
She picked up a basin and put out the fire.
See, she stopped me from burning,
but not my desire.

I knew when I met her
she’d do me some good.
The pale little thing 
in her cloak and her hood.
Her wit, it delights me,
her eyes, they inspire.
If Jane’s love’s for sale
then I am the buyer.


Thanks to everyone who came out to the event, and to David Leviathan for including me!