Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer Blog Blast Tour: Justine Larbalestier

The Summer Blog Blast Tour starts at Tea Cozy with Justine Larbalestier!

Justine is the author of the Magic Or Madness Trilogy, Magic Or Madness, Magic's Child, and Magic Lessons. Magic Or Madness begins with Reason, 15, on the way to her grandmother's house... plotting how to escape, reminding herself not to eat the food lest she be poisoned. Reason's mother, Sarafina, has taught her well: stay away from Esmeralda. The two have spent their whole lives running from the woman. But now Sarafina is hospitalized, Reason is in Esmeralda's home, and Reason is about to find out: magic is real.

Magic or Madness recently won the Andre Norton Award. Justine blogs, where, among other things, she addresses the age old question: zombies or unicorns?

On to the interview!

Liz B: I love how the magic in "Magic or Madness" is treated as something real. It's not an instant cure for things; and it has real consequences. How much of the rules and science of magic as it exists in your trilogy did you plot out before writing "Magic or Madness"?

Justine: I knew the central conundrum from the beginning: use your magic and die early; don't use it and go mad. The rest fell into place (*cough*) as I wrote.

Liz B: Once you established your rules and 'verse in Book One, did that impact your writing of "Magic Lessons" (book two) and "Magic's Child" (book three)?

Justine: Yes! I had an outline for the three books. Magic or Madness more or less followed it, but Magic Lessons went right off the rails, and then Magic's Child bears no resemblance at all to the original outline. I'm very impressed by writers who are able to stay faithful to outlines. My books are much more recalcitrant than that. They keep twisting and changing as I write. I work a great deal out on paper which means loads and loads and loads of rewriting.

Liz B: Did you have any moments in the later books when you thought, "oh, I wish I could revise "Magic or Madness" in order to do x or y in this book"? (As a total aside, I think I freaked out a YA writer when I said something similar to her...she's writing a series and the first one is published, and I wondered, what if you get to book 3 and realize the main character should have had an older brother?)

Justine: I was able to go back and make changes to Magic or Madness while I wrote the first draft of Magic Lessons. It was fabulous! Unfortunately, I was so late with Magic's Child that it wasn't possible to change Magic Lessons to fit. Instead I had to make Magic's Child fit the first two books. Which, yes, was maddening. If I ever write another trilogy (which I have taken a sacred vow---along with Libba Bray---not to do) I will write all three books first and then sell them.

Liz B: You travel so much that I get jet lag from reading your blog. How does having multiple homes, and traveling, impact your stories?

Justine: I thought you were going to say "impact my life" and then I was going to start crying. :-) It might look glamorous from the outside but it is chaotic and insane from the inside. It would be so lovely never to get on another plane again. I do love seeing other parts of the world though. I'd go back to Buenos Aires in a heart beat. I just wish I could teleport there.

One obvious impact of travel is that I get to write about places other than Sydney. I'm one of those writers who needs to have visited a place in order to write about it. The more places I spend time in the broader my range of settings. Of course, there's no where on Earth I can write about as easily as I can about Sydney.

Travelling also forces a writer (or anyone else) to see that there are many more ways of being in the world than just what you've grown up with. I truly believe travelling broadens the mind. Think of how much more amazing Emily Dickinson's work would have been if she'd gotten out some. Of course, there are some people who manage to travel without learning a thing about themselves or anyone else. Don't know how they do it.

Liz B: You won the Andre Norton Award for "Magic or Madness", and Printz Honors have gone to books by Australians Marcus Zusak, Sonya Hartnett and Margo Lanagan. Are Australian writers plotting to take over the world? Seriously, though, how are the markets and audience for YA books different between Australia and the United States?

Justine: Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi! I yelled that out at Markus when he was giving a speech at BEA but I don't think he heard me. Le sigh. I am absolutely astonished by the quality of writing at home. Ursula Dubosarsky is astonishingly good as is Jaclyn Moriarty, Simmone Howell, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Melina Marchetta and Garth Nix. And then there's writers like Scot Gardner who haven't been discovered in the US yet. Wait till he and all the other geniuses back home start publishing in the USA. Then you'll see a total takeover.

Liz B: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and we can pretend that most of Season 7 never happened.) Favorite character?

Justine: Oz and Faith.

Liz B: Favorite episode?

Justine: "Once More with Feeling" (the musical episode)

Liz B: Favorite quote?

Justine: Xander: "I'm a 17 year old boy: looking at linoleum makes me want to have sex."

Justine, thank you very much!

Want more? Justine will be at Big A, little a on Thursday and HipWriterMama on Friday.

On a final note, let me add that I've had the pleasure of meeting Justine twice. During the past New Jersey Library Association Conference, and at ALA in New Orleans.

Please visit the other Monday stops on the SBBT (Summer Blog Blast Tour):

Tom & Dorothy Hoobler at Chasing Ray
Mitali Perkins at Big A, Little a
Sara Zarr at Interactive Reader
Justina Chen Headley at Hip Writer Mama
Dana Reinhardt at lectitans
Brent Hartinger at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Laura Ruby at Writing and Ruminating
Jordan Sonnenblick by Bildungsroman
Ysabeau Wilce at Finding Wonderland


Anonymous said...

Good one, Liz! I've really enjoyed the Magic trilogy, and Justine's blog. Great to hear more about this talented author.

Robin Brande said...

Great interview, Liz and Justine! Thanks for the inside scoop and for adding to my TBR pile.

Brian Mandabach said...

I liked this interview, too!

The bit on changing the earlier books made me think of JRR Tolkien, whose famous "trilogy" is really one novel published in three books. Tolkien was constantly revising the "history" of Middle Earth and his son Christopher has spent a life's work editing his notes and unfinished manuscripts. It is fascinating to read Unfinished Tales and to see the numerous versions of events thant never quite reconcile. Tolkien treated his work as actual history, and though it doesn't read as carefully crafted fiction, I love seeing his mind at work as he presents the tales as if it were discovery.

Kelly said...

Wonderful interview, Liz and Justine!

I think Justine's Magic trilogy rocks and your questions were fab, Liz.

Little Willow said...

Magic has consequences, family, multiple cultures, slang, fashion, butterflies, and, most importantly, MATH.

"Think of how much more amazing Emily Dickinson's work would have been if she'd gotten out some."

I think Poetry Friday participants need banners, bumper stickers, and T-shirts proclaiming this. Oh, she cracks me up!

LW, fan of Justine (and the cricket fairies), Faith (firecracker!) & Emily D.

tanita✿davis said...

At the TOP OF MY LIST is the third book in this trilogy. Summer is meant for beach trips and schlepping around icy drinks and reading... apparently summer hasn't started around here, yet! Thanks for whetting my appetite for more of Justine's books (and making me groan in despair at every finishing ANYTHING long enough to read them!)! Fun interview!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview!

And, yes, Australian writers are plotting to take over the world. Seriously, there's some serious talent comin' outta that country. (We'll have fellow Australian Sonya Hartnett's interview tomorrow, by the way).

Cheers, and thanks again for the interview....

Sarah Stevenson said...

Excellent--I didn't know she was an Aussie writer! More books for my ever-growing list...