Wednesday, 5 March 2014

World Book Day! Interview with Maureen Johnson and Writes of Passage results

I was thrilled to be approached to interview the massively entertaining Maureen Johnson to celebrate World Book Day! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, Maureen.



1.  When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?



This


Or this


Maybe this.







2.  One of the most exciting things about World Book Day – apart from the release of The Boy in the Smoke, of course! – will be finding out which books are the nation’s top 50 for Young Adults, thanks to the brilliant Writes of Passage initiative. What books would you vote for?



I REFUSE TO COMMIT TO ONLY A FEW BOOKS.





3.  How did you get involved in writing a novella for World Book Day?



My publisher, Hot Key Books, put it all together. I was totally and utterly thrilled.





4.  Your books are really varied, with the contemporary standalones and series, the Shades of London paranormal series, and the Bane Chronicles fantasy short stories. Is there anything different in the way you approach writing them?



They require different types of plotting, different kinds of research. The Shades of London is very research-heavy and requires knowing how everything works and how everything ends. And the Bane Chronicles was completely different. To work in the Mortal Instrument world, first I had to reread all the books and mark them up and make a set of master documents—I had to know everything about Magnus that was written down, and get more info from Cassie to make sure my understanding matched her plans for the characters. (The Codex was hugely helpful.) Luckily, Cassie is very good at making logical rule sets, and they’re always consistent. Fantasy is all about making the rules and keeping to them, and subverting them only for the most critical reasons.





5.  The Bane Chronicles are co-written with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan, while Let It Snow was written with Lauren Myracle and John Green. How did you get involved in these collaborations, and what’s the best thing about working with other authors?



Writing is something you have to do on your own, almost all of the time, so it’s nice to have someone else to build the story with. And someone to run off with when you get stuck.





6.  As well as being a much-loved author, you’re well-known for having a huge presence on social media – I think that yourself and John Green are the two most active YA authors I know on the internet. How important do you think it is for a YA author today to be confident in using social media?



I think it helps, but I don’t think it’s necessary. You just have to do what feels natural and right. I make it all up as I go along. I’m not into “branding” and “platform building” and all that jargon. No one needs that.





7.  You are the currently reigning Queen of Teen in the UK! If asked to put together a Royal Court of six YA authors, who would you pick?



I can’t do this. I know WAY more than six. My court would be huge.





8.  I was lucky enough to see you with James Dawson last year at Waterstones Piccadilly. You’re an amazing public speaker – do you get nervous?



OH THANK YOU. And . . . not really? Because, as with social media, I just make it up as I go along. I just assume the audience is not going to attack me. I just talk and answer questions and sometimes do impressions of seagulls.





9.  You wrote the “genre-defining John Green/Hank Green/Katherine Green/Sherlock fanfic” A Study In Sink for the Harry Potter Alliance. How did you get involved with the Alliance? And could you give those of us yet to read it (I will soon!) a tiny clue as to why Benedict Cumberbatch loves Doritos?



I’m the chair of Lit Track with LeakyCon, which is tied in very strongly with the HPA. I’m in the family. As for Benedict Cumberbatch and the Doritos—it is an understood tenant of medicine that when an actor believes they have taken on the persona of the character they are playing, you just need to feed them Doritos and get them into a submarine. I thought everyone knew this?




10.  What’s next for Maureen Johnson?



Lunch!



Wait, did you mean book-wise? Book-wise, I am now finishing the third book in the Shades of London series, The Shadow Cabinet. And then I write the fourth book. And then there is SOMETHING ELSE that hasn’t been announced yet, but EXCITING! Also, I am writing the third book in the Suite Scarlett series. So, lots of writing!



But first, lunch.





WRITES OF PASSAGE – LIFE-CHANGING BOOKS FOR TEENS REVEALED
  • Top Teen Tome list announced for World Book Day

The nation has voted for the books that help shape and inspire teenage lives the most, with the results announced to mark World Book Day today (6th March).

The results of the Writes of Passage initiative, run by the organisers of World Book Day, create the ultimate list of 50 recommended reads for teens.  It includes a plethora of genres from the critically acclaimed to unworldly fantasy.

Thousands of adults and teenagers in the UK voted for different categories.  From the awkwardness of the first time (Judy Blume’s Forever) to the brutality of war (Joseph Heller’s Catch 22), the tender (Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper), the terrifying (Stephen King’s The Shining) and fantastical (J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series) the list shows how books can inspire and entertain young adults at a time of transition and, more importantly, keep them reading.

The Top 10, led by Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, includes nine recommendations that have also been adapted for the big screen:
  1. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  2. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green  
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee  
  4. Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
  5. 1984, George Orwell  
  6. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
  7. A Streetcat Named Bob, James Bowen
  8. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
  10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

Malorie Blackman, the award-winning author of bestselling teenage series Noughts and Crosses, which also makes the top 50, helped launch the initiative back in November.  Speaking of the results, Blackman says, “This is a brilliant and varied list proving there is no one genre or definition which exactly describes an ultimate story which may inspire and fire the imagination of teenagers - we have everything, from established classics to modern blockbusters to genuine surprises.  This exciting list provides inspiration for great reads.”

The full list of 50 is split into the following categories:
  • Books that will change the way you think
  • Books that will help you understand you
  • Books that will make you cry
  • Books that will make you laugh
  • Books that will scare you
  • Books that will teach you about love
  • Books that will thrill you
  • Books that will transport you

World Book Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries worldwide with a main aim in UK and Ireland to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading.

All children in full-time education are entitled to receive a £1 World Book Day Book Token (or equivalent €1.50 Book Token in Ireland) which can be exchanged for one of eleven specially published £1 World Book Day books. In 2014 these include two young adult titles: Rock War: The Audition by author of number one smash CHERUB, Robert Muchamore, and The Boy in the Smoke, by New York Times bestselling ‘Queen of Teen’ Maureen Johnson.

Visit www.worldbookday.com for more information, the latest news and to subscribe to the free monthly World Book Day e-newsletter.

 
Notes to Editors
The £1 World Book Day 2014 books for Young Adult readers are:
·         Rock War: The Audition, Robert Muchamore (Hodder)
·         The Boy in the Smoke, Maureen Johnson (Hot Key Books)

The Full List
Title
Author
Category
Publisher
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Change the Way You Think
Random House
A Streetcat Named Bob
James Bowen
Change the Way You Think
Hodder
The Book Thief
Markus Zusak
Change the Way You Think
Random House
Noughts and Crosses
Malorie Blackman
Change the Way You Think
Random House
Wonder
R. J. Palacio
Change the Way You Think
Random House
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Time
Mark Haddon
Change the Way You Think
Vintage
The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
Change the Way You Think
Simon & Schuster
The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Help You Understand You
Penguin
The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger
Help You Understand You
Penguin
The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness
Help You Understand You
Walker
I Capture the Castle
Dodie Smith
Help You Understand You
Vintage
The Outsiders
S.E. Hinton
Help You Understand You
Puffin
The Color Purple
Alice Walker
Make You Cry
Phoenix
Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck
Make You Cry
Penguin
The Time Traveller's Wife
Audrey Niffeneger
Make You Cry
Random House
The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini
Make You Cry
Bloomsbury
War Horse
Michael Morpurgo
Make You Cry
Egmont
Before I Die
Jenny Downham
Make You Cry
Random House
My Sister's Keeper
Jodi Picoult
Make You Cry
Hodder
Catch 22
Joseph Heller
Make You Laugh
Vintage
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
Make You Laugh
Picador
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4
Sue Townsend
Make You Laugh
Puffin
Geek Girl
Holly Smale
Make You Laugh
Harper Collins
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Jeff Kinney
Make You Laugh
Puffin
Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging
Louise Rennison
Make You Laugh
Harper Collins
1984
George Orwell
Scare you
Penguin
Lord Loss
Darren Shan
Scare you
Harper Collins
The Rats
James Herbert
Scare you
Pan Macmillan
The Shining
Stephen King
Scare you
Hodder
The Wasp Factory
Iain Banks
Scare You
Abacus
The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank
Teach You About Love
Puffin
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
Teach You About Love
Penguin
Forever
Judy Blume
Teach You About Love
Macmillan
Twilight
Stephenie Meyer
Teach You About Love
Atom
How I Live Now
Meg Rosoff
Teach You About Love
Penguin
Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte
Teach You About Love
Penguin
Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte
Teach You About Love
Puffin
The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
Thrill You
Scholastic
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Cassandra Clare
Thrill You
Walker
Divergent
Veronica Roth
Thrill You
Harper Collins
Gone
Michael Grant
Thrill You
Electric Monkey
Rebecca
Daphne du Maurier
Thrill You
Virago
Skulduggery Pleasant
Derek Landy
Thrill You
Harper Collins
A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess
Thrill You
Penguin
Harry Potter series
J. K. Rowling
Transport You
Bloomsbury
The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien
Transport You
Harper Collins
Percy Jackson series
Rick Riordan
Transport You
Puffin
Life of Pi
Yann Martel
Transport You
Canongate
Northern Lights
Philip Pullman
Transport You
Scholastic
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Transport You
Penguin


About World Book Day
World Book Day was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.

World Book Day is a partnership of publishers, booksellers and interested parties who work together to promote books and reading for the personal enrichment and enjoyment of all.  A main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.

To mark the day, school children are entitled to receive a £1 World Book Day Book Token (or equivalent €1.50 Book Token in Ireland) supplied by National Book Tokens Ltd. The £1 Book Token can be exchanged for one of eleven specially published £1 World Book Day Books, or is redeemable against any book or audio book of their choice costing £2.99 or more at a participating bookshop or book club. The World Book Day £1 Book Token will be valid from 3 to 30 March 2014.

National Book Tokens are the perfect gift for book lovers everywhere and are the only gift cards sold and accepted in bookshops across the UK and Ireland, including all the major chains and local independents. As proud sponsors of World Book Day, National Book Tokens supports lifelong learning and improving literacy and access to reading for everyone. Visit www.nationalbooktokens.com for more information.



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