Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Triumphant Return of Randi!

Hey everyone! I know it has been a ridculously long time since I have posted anything to here, but the good news is that updates are going to be coming more regularly to the blog now that I've finally got the time to update it. Stay tuned!
-Randi

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Interview with Aaron Galvin, author of Salted

Sorry this took so long to put up, I had to sort through finals and such this wee, but here is our interview with Aaron Galvin! And if you haven't read Salted yet, definitely go for it. But I've already talked about that. So without further adieu, go forth and read!

1. How did you get the idea to create a darker interpretation of undersea life, especially in contrast to the sunnier YA books that have recently become popular?



I’ve always been drawn to darker storylines. That’s probably due in part to being raised in the 80’s. There were so many cool, dark tales back then. I grew up watching The Dark Crystal, Legend, The Neverending Story, and Labyrinth almost daily.



Also, I don’t believe endings are always sunny and everyone lives happily ever after. That’s great for those who do, but what makes good fiction is struggle. Characters who we can identify with and watch some of them fail miserably while others do go on to achieve.



Harry Potter is one of my favorite series of all-time, but what’s the view from Ron’s angle? Why can’t we read The Hunger Games from Rue’s POV, or better, Cato’s? Those are the stories that intrigue me. The kind of story where you know the main character might not live at the end. It makes you fear for them even more and bonds you to them.




2. There's a pretty big ensemble cast of characters, are any of them inspired by real people?



Yes, and his name is me. All of them have some of me in them. Garrett is basically the guy I was in high school. I’ve become more like Lenny in recent years in that I don’t hold my tongue as much I should and I like to act tougher than I really am.



Chidi is more a collective spirit of the bravest and toughest individuals I’ve ever met. My wife’s passion is bringing awareness to sex trafficking in the hopes of slowing/stopping it. I had no idea that slavery still existed until I met her, yet it’s happening here and now throughout the world.



We went on a mission trip to Cambodia after I had already begun drafting Salted. Naturally, I was nervous these girls (and I do mean girls, some of them being only 3 years old), would be afraid of me. You have to remember these girls have seen the worst in men: beaten, raped, and sold into prostitution-sometimes by their own families. As a man, my natural instinct was to protect them, to find the perpetrators and beat them to death with my bare hands.



My error was thinking of the girls as victims instead of survivors.



Upon meeting them, I quickly learned my earlier fears couldn’t have been further from the truth. They were just kids who wanted to play games. Run around. Laugh. They’ve been through a hell that would break most grown men’s spirits, myself included. That kind of resiliency is awe-inspiring.



I couldn’t get Chidi out of my head after returning from that trip. I try my best to emulate their collective spirit through her.




3. If Salted were to be made into a movie (and one can only hope), who would you cast?



The great thing about Salted is I feel like it would be a great opportunity to find hidden talent for two of the main roles. I can’t think of a teenaged little person actor to play Lenny, no more than I can a teen actor with vitiligo to play Garrett. I love the idea of using virtually unknown actors because then the audience can’t picture them as anything but that character.



However, I understand the importance of bolstering a cast with recognizable faces as well. So for those cases, I would love to see Lupita Nyong’o play either Chidi or Marisa Bourgeois. She’s amazing. For Henry, I think Gustaf SkarsgĂ„rd, (Floki from the History Channel’s show Vikings) would be brilliant. Kellen I picture similar to Alexander Ludwig (also on Vikings, or more commonly known as Cato in The Hunger Games).




4. Was there any particular inspiration for setting so many of your scenes in aquariums (besides the proximity of water)?



It seemed fitting to use both the Indianapolis Zoo and Shedd Aquarium as backdrops because I grew up near Indianapolis and lived in Chicago for a few years. There’s also a key reason for the Midwest setting, but I can’t divulge that yet. It’s a spoiler. ;)




5. So in your little author's bio, it says you've done movies as well! What is the biggest difference between writing a script and writing a book, and did one help the other?



Huge differences. With screenplays, you have to account for budgeting. The Salt series as a whole would require a massive film budget moving forward due to all the required special effects. As an author, there’s no limitation in that regard.



Brevity is another example. With screenplays, you plan for about a minute of screen time per page, which means you’re often shooting for a final page count of less than 120 pages, (under 2 hours). Again, budgetary constraints are a big reason for that, as well as time one feasibly expects an audience to sit through the film.



I think writing screenplays first was highly beneficial. One of the things I’ve read in comments about Salted is the fast pacing of the story. That all goes back to screenwriting where you don’t have the time or money to waste. Every shot, every page, every word has to count.




6. While we're on the subject of movies, what do you think of Sofia Coppola's upcoming retelling of the Little Mermaid?



First, I think Disney’s recent interest in mermaids, (Pirates of the Caribbean, Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly, and now this adaptation), proves the view mermaids as trending.



That said, I find the choice of Coppola for the director chair a bit odd. To me, her films don’t reflect Disney’s most recent adaptations of classic animated films to live-action, (Maleficent, and Snow White & The Huntsman). Both films contain a lot of action sequences and special effects to cross-promote/intrigue male audiences. They did this with Rapunzel as well—changing the title to Tangled and adding more action sequences via Flynn Rider.



It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out. I’m a bit skeptical, but keeping my fingers crossed because it’s such a fantastic story.




7. Last question: What's next for these characters?



Things are about to become even darker. I don’t want to give away spoilers for those who haven’t read the book yet, but I will say fans should be nervous for these characters. Some are venturing into uncharted waters (forgive the pun) while others know what awaits them and will need to scramble if they hope to survive.



I can also promise you answers teased in the first book are coming and that the sequel occurs almost exclusively in the Salt. I’m about a third of the way through and hope to release the sequel before the end of this year. I can’t wait to continue this story with all of you! J

Monday, May 12, 2014

Salted by Aaron Galvin

Oh man, you guys, I've got a treat for you.


We've been in a bit of a rut in the merbook business lately. Waiting for sequels, reading some filler in the time between, trying to earn money/find job to acquire said sequels (My Yogurt Mountain application does not need to make me question my purpose in life).

And then Salted waltzes in, and it blew my mind.

A largely romance free thriller and drama, Salted creates a fresh new mythology with a great ensemble cast of characters. 

I don't want to give too much away of the story, but it starts off as a deceptively simple cat and mouse game. Lenny and co., selkies caught in a slave infrastructure are on a mission to find an elusive target. Garrett is a highschool student under fire from bullies, and after a near-drowning experience, his story and that of the selkies is irrevocably intertwined. 

Salted leaves off on somewhat of a cliffhanger, leaving a lot of questions un-answered, but it also feels pretty complete by itself, something that a lot of novels these days don't accomplish. Some storylines are resolved but there is PLENTY of material for a sequel, and it's well warranted. It feels like there's a lot of life in this story and these characters, and a lot of places left to explore in the world Galvin has created.Salted gives the perfect taste of what I certainly hope is to come. The writing itself is fast paced, descriptive, and compliments the story perfectly.

My favorite two storylines were Garrett and Chidi, but I enjoyed everyone's contributions. Having so many perspectives can usually get a little tricky, but everyone's personalities are so distinct that it's pretty easy to keep up.

If I can nitpick, the book can be a little overwhelming what with all the info-dumping. While the approach works with the breakneck intensity of the book, learning a whole new mythology just by osmosis can be pretty tough. 

As far as target audience, I'm gonna say older teens/adults, because Salted is a bit of a downer. It deals with a lot of pretty dark stuff like slavery, bullying, morality.and deals pretty deeply with choices we make and how they affect ourselves and others. 

Anyway, it's a totally fresh take on selkies and merpeople, and definitely one of the best of the newer crop of mer-novels released. Go read it!

-Randi 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Funny or Die's Parody of Sofia Coppola's Little Mermaid Project

As we probably didn't post here on the blog, acclaimed director Sofia Coppola's proposed next project is an adaptation of the only and only Little Mermaid.

Now, this is a dream come true for me. Coppola is one of my favorite directors, and Lost in Translation is one of my all time favorites. Although that will not keep me from saying that this seems like a pretty odd choice.

Anyway, Funny Or Die wasted no time in preparing this parody only a few months after the news broke out. Here's a link: http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/517f6607ea/sofia-coppola-s-little-mermaid

The fake-trailer copies some of the director's most famous shots and music, and I'd still go see it.

What do you guys think?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly (Waterfire Saga #1)

Thanks to the Bailey Cove Library for my ARC copy of the book! I'm gonna keep this review pretty vague because the book isn't out yet and I'm sworn to secrecy (by my own moral code), but I'll tell you what I reasonably can.

So apparently, Deep Blue has been under literary construction for a while. Disney's publishing company Hyperion, the people behind this book, included a small little note in my ARC discussing how they went over the details of their mermaid mythology until a well thought out universe came together.

And for the most part, they do a pretty wonderful job. There's a distinct world flavor to Deep Blue, the first in a proposed series. The cultures and societies and the whatnot are well thought. But there are some flaws in logic. Why do mermaids sleep in beds if gravity isn't under the sea? How would they have books if paper can't survive underwater? Boxes of candy underwater? For being well thought out, the details are awfully weird.

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the book though. Deep Blue shoots for Game of Thrones level world building, even though it doesn't always land there (and certainly doesn't contain the controversial elements), and is consistently entertaining. The word play might take some time to get used to (think the puns in Tera Lynn Child's Fins series), but once you get used to it, the blend of seriousness and humor works.

The characters are all well built. Sera is a princess of the modern world, willing to do what is right for the people, but also yearning to eschew the tradition that has plagued her all of her life. The story mainly revolves around her, however, the supporting characters are all awesome. The ensemble cast of characters are endearing, smart, and so much fun to spend time with. It's going to be a treat to see what will happen next if only to see them interact with each other more.

Deep Blue is an endearing, well-imagined, and sometimes thought provoking start to the series. It's good from middle grade upwards and I'm looking forward to future installments,

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cool Merbooks Coming Out In 2014!

Happy New Year readers! (And Valentines day. We're not gonna talk about how late this post is).

Since I'm feeling so bad about neglecting you lovely people, and not so sure how many posts I'm gonna be able to make in the coming months, let's do a nice little comprehensive, round-up thing, of some cool mer-books coming out this year. We've got a lot of great series that are finishing up this year, and maybe a surprise or two! Take a look!

The Vast and Brutal Sea by Zoraida Cordova
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17933160-the-vast-and-brutal-sea
I literally cannot tell you enough about how much I love love love this series. The Savage Blue is not just one of my favorite mer-books, it's one of my favorite books in general, along with it's predecessor, The Vicious Deep. There is no mer-series on shelves right now that is so funny, perfectly paced, full of mythology, or as flat out fun as these books. And with the last chapter of The Savage Blue promising more greatness to come, I can only expect this book will be pretty much the greatest thing ever.

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18601430-deep-blue
A lot of crazy stuff has been happening around this series. Hollywood records comissioned a song for the book trailer (which is very fancy by the way) and Disney's publisher, Hyperion, is the one distributing it. Could this mean a movie is on the way already? Who knows, but Donnelly wrote a wonderful book with Revolution, and although I have not read any of her other work, I'm excited to see what she can do with what looks to be a well developed and fresh mythology.

Promise Bound by Anne Greenwood Brown (It's out, by the way).
 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17693477-promise-bound?bf=1000&from_search=true
The concluding book in the Lies Beneath series looks to be full of revelations and twists. The dark atmosphere created in these books is unlike any other and it'll be exciting to see the Calder and Lily's romance finally reach a conclusion (I mean that in I hope they stay together for ever and ever).

Of Neptune by Anna Banks
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18525702-of-neptune
I have not yet read the sequel to Of Poseidon,  so I really  can't say much about this series, but I know a lot of our readers are pretty into it, so I thought it was worth a mention. Anna has been a lovely person on our Goodreads group and I'm pretty sure this is the penultimate book in her series (lots of endings this year!)

Captivate by Vanessa Garden (This one is already out as well!)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18683518-captivate
Here's the goodreads descrip for this one, since I literally just found out about it. The reviews on Goodreads right now are all excellent though!


For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko...the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets...
Side note: There's a new film adaptation of Peter Pan coming out this year, directed by Joe Wright of Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. This of course has caused speculation about mermaids, because, well, you know. Not to mention the next Pirates of the Carribean is expected to film this year, which brings questions as to whether the mermaid crew will be back. Just a small note.

Thanks so much for sticking around with us! Sticking with me updating around holidays, I'll try to get some of these books read so you can have some cool reviews by St. Patrick's Day!
Love you guys!

-Randi


Monday, February 3, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Donato Giancola

Hi everyone! Been a while, I know. But I went out to my local art museum today because the aforementioned Donato Giancola's works were on display. Anyway, along with some other pretty amazing stuff (which I'll post), there were three mermaid paintings that were completely beautiful. Just thought you should know, and check out this guy's work if you get a chance. There's sci-fi, superheroes, space, and (most excitingly) Middle Earth.

Check it out!

(Content Note: There are boobs.)







(The above three are the ones that were in the particular gallery I saw, but here's some other cool stuff by the artist!)











Anyway, just thought you guys would think  it was cool. I'll be posting some review and such in the forthcoming weeks.

-Randi