i was wondering what is going to be the name of the third book out of the birthright series? and when is that book coming out?

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to reveal the third title yet. But I can tell you that it will continue the sentence begun by the other two titles: All these things I’ve done/because it is my blood… The book should be out fall 2013.

I love you. Any advice for someone writing three books at the same time in their head, one half-typed up on a computer, the other just beginning in a notebook, and the last one a plan ages ago with half the details forgotten? And again, I love you.

Saturday Wisdom, No. 4: Have you ever noticed that debut novelists seem to have the most advice about novel writing? I was like that once. The more books I’ve written, the less advice I have to give. Each time out has been a unique — and usually, uniquely painful — experience for me. After six books, what I know — what I know for certain — is how little I know about writing, about readers, about the vagaries of the publishing process. So, that is to say, you probably ought to ignore my advice and keep your own counsel. And yet, my deeply flawed opinion is that it is beyond difficult to write more than one book at a time, to be the servant of two masters. You at some point have to choose one idea and pour all of yourself into it. You have to be all in. The question of how to choose is an entirely different matter of course.

P.S. I thank you for the love.

Hi, I like your books — esp. Elsewhere. A nosy question… A while ago I remember reading on your webpage that you don’t exactly dislike “annoyingly-social” YA writers, but it’s the Web presence/marketing-ness that made you uncomfortable, as if it obliged you to go out and hustle. (or something like that). It’s been a while since you wrote it, and I was wondering, after more years in the biz, did this change? Only asking, as that little comment quite comforted the loner in me…

This is going to be a multi-part answer.

1) In the last year or so, I have made peace with being online. I want people to read my books; being online seems to be an aspect of the job of author these days.

2) On the other hand, I think it’s sad that people can’t experience books separate from writers anymore. It’s worth noting that “liking an author” is not at all the same thing as “liking a novel” – and yet I’m not sure many young readers bother to note the difference. And when we make our book-buying decisions based on an author being, say, “funny on twitter,” we are not necessarily buying the best books. Books should not be tribute gifts because authors are amusing. There are several deeply amusing people on Twitter who write boring, pedestrian novels.

3) The flip side again: Just because an author is antisocial doesn’t mean his/her books aren’t beautiful/wonderful/life-changing/amazing. Authors are not always their books. (And books are sometimes more interesting than tweets.)

4) I am still a loner and I still struggle with all of this. I sometimes wish I weren’t online at all. I think, for instance, I am adding nothing to twitter except “sound and fury signifying nothing.” (emphasis on nothing)… I still believe in deliberation and reflection before airing an opinion for the world to see. (The reason I like tumblr, by the way, is because I am impressed by  the variety of interests and curatorial* skill you see on it.)

5) On the other hand — that’s my third hand — I like communicating with readers. I like being able to say thank you to those who have enjoyed my books and chosen to tell me so in a thoughtful manner.

6)  And so I’m trying to stop fighting everything. I take a deep breath and remind myself of the E.M. Forster quote: “only connect.”


*I know people are sensitive about using the word curatorial outside of a museum context, but I am using it anyway.

Do you have a playlist for Memoirs?

Yes, but doesn’t it seem so tired to do that? What book doesn’t have a playlist? Oh, all right, if you insist…

Here’s one I made in 2007 for an interview. The idea behind this mix is that it’s one Naomi created on a college road trip when she was in the mood to reflect about that wacky year in high school where she dated three boys and had amnesia.

Part the First: Songs for Will
“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) – Arcade Fire
“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” – The Flaming Lips
“A Certain Romance” – Arctic Monkeys

Part the Second: Songs for James
“First Day of My Life” – Bright Eyes
“Vindicated” – Dashboard Confessional
“Angeles” – Elliot Smith
“World Spins Madly On” – The Weepies

Part the Third: Songs for Ace
“Wigwam” – Bob Dylan
“Ripchord” – Rilo Kiley
“Better Man” – Pearl Jam

Part the Fourth: Songs for Myself
“Foux du Fa Fa” – Flight of the Conchords (in honor of Naomi’s French class)
“Life on Mars?” – David Bowie (“Changes” can be substituted here.)
“1979” – Smashing Pumpkins
“The Heart of the Matter” – India.Arie
“That’s the Story of My Life” – The Velvet Underground
“Your Ex-Lover is Dead” – Stars

And here’s a semi-complete list of songs referenced in the book:

Will’s 1st Mix
“Fight Test” The Flaming Lips
“To Whom It May Concern” by John Wesley Harding
“Song I Wrote Myself in the Future” by John Wesley Harding

In Naomi’s Biology Class
“Vertigo” by the Philip Glass Ensemble (Or something like)

At the Planetarium
“Learning to Fly” by Pink Floyd

Will’s Movie for Naomi
“Story of My Life” by the Velvet Underground

Songs for Visiting Naomi’s Crazy Boyfriend in Albany
“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
“Fly” by Nick Drake
“Angeles” by Elliot Smith

Opera on the Beach in Los Angeles
Maybe something from Tosca?

The Yearbook Song
“I Will” by The Beatles and the entire White Album

Will’s Mix for Naomi’s Art Show
“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part I” The Flaming Lips

(Alternative) Songs for a High School Graduation
“Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder or the Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve
“My Back Pages” by Bob Dylan
“Friends Forever” by Vitamin C
“Ghost World” by Aimee Mann
“At Last” by Etta James
“Teenage Spaceship” by Smog
“Baba O’Riley” by the Who
“Race for the Prize” by the Flaming Lips
“Praise You” by Fatboy Slim
“Road to Joy” by Bright Eyes
“I’m So Tired” by The Beatles
“Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and “The Only Living Boy in New York City” by Simon and Garfunkle

The song that has the erratic tempo for marching
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

The song by Bob Marley
“Three Little Birds” or “Redemption Song”

The song that may have been used in a Special Olympics commercial
“The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston or “One Moment in Time” also by Whitney Houston