The Reason Anya Is Called Annie
You might find this surprising, but the series that most inspired me when I was writing the Anya Balanchine books was Anne of Green Gables.
This article by Sarah Mesle captures so much of what the Anne books meant and mean to me.
I love the quote Mesle uses at the end:
“Dear old world,” Anne murmurs, in what is to me her most important moment, “You are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”
The third book is called In the Age of Love and Chocolate, and it publishes at the end of October. Every single one of these questions is answered. But the story is really about what happens when someone who has always been incredibly strong finds herself in a position where she has to ask for help. The story is about being mistaken, and how a person can be both super smart and super wrong. The story is about recognizing how much real beauty and sweetness there is in life. The story is about love in its right time, and about the women who want more than love out of life. The story is not a dystopia—my darlings, it never was.
It’s my favorite of the series, and I think even some of you who didn’t read or like the other two books might enjoy this one.
P.S. To answer one of your questions… Scarlet’s baby is a boy, and my editor named him. I wanted a name that wasn’t one I would choose myself. He’s called Felix, which means happiness.
“A Beautiful Mess,” a painted Elsewhere-themed entry by Rachel Wheeler for the Because It Is My Blood contest.
Seemed like a cheerful thing to post on this briefly rainy Thursday in Los Angeles.
Because It Is My Blood Favorite Blogger Roundup, Part One
I’ve had a rather nice couple of weeks. My just completed adult book, The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry, recently sold to Simon and Schuster in the US and has already closed ten foreign rights deals. I’m super proud of this book and I’ll tell you more about it as we get closer to the pub date, Spring 2014. Fikry will be my eighth published novel — hard to believe — and it will be published precisely ten years after I sold my first novel, Elsewhere.
Onto the bloggers! I am incredibly appreciative of all the bloggers who have written kind and intelligent words about Because It Is My Blood. If I could send you all a verrine from my favorite Los Angeles bakery, Bottega Louis, I would. (Verrines don’t do that well in the mail, unfortunately.)
Let us begin with Birth of a New Witch, who totally gets it:
…I love this world, these characters, and this series….“Because It Is My Blood” is not for the dystopian crowd that demands constant action and ridiculous love triangles, but instead, I’d say it’s a quieter, sneakier, and more thoughtful book than many of the YA dystopian books out there at the moment. This one will sneak up on you when you least expect it and hit you right in the feels. There was so much in this one I wasn’t expecting, and it was a pleasant surprise.
She also mentions “the sort-of metaphor for chocolate being equivalent to marijuana the way it is now with medical dispensaries” — it’s funny how few people have noted this, but yes, that indeed is what I was thinking.
In an incredibly smart review, The Book Rat writes a great many insightful things about Anya, Win and the series. I was most intrigued by this paragraph:
I REALLY loved where this went with Charles Delacroix. I don’t want to risk spoiling anything, but it actually went where I was hoping it would go, and even though I was expecting it, it was still really nice to see it happen (but also unsettling). A lot of YA authors wouldn’t have dared. And while we’re being cryptic – the same is true with Kipling/Yuji, etc. Zevin didn’t pull punches with the relationships, and they had me feeling all turmoily and anxious and FEELS. I’m curious to see where things stand in the future in with all of the characters/relations, as many are very open and very tenuous. But I loved the handling for now. It was very adult, very unforgiving, and yet another sign of Anya’s development that I both liked and bought.
The Insatiable Reader calls Because It Is My Blood “a fabulous follow up to all the greatness that was introduced in book one.” The part of her review that made me laugh out loud: “Honestly Win, the road was clear for you! Lighten up on the ‘leave it behind business’, get on the ‘yay chocolate’ bus, and step up to the plate already!” Oh, IR, I cannot wait to read what you make of Book Three!
High praise from Minion’s Review, who reports that “she may may now like [Anya] more than Katniss!”, and closes her review by writing, “I’ve always felt that The Godfather was the perfect film and it looks to me from the two books so far in the Birthright series that it may become the perfect Young Adult book…I CANNOT wait for the third book.” I cannot wait for you to read it either because book three is my absolute favorite in the series.
Ex Libris Kate gives the book 5 out of 5 birds and makes several salient points about Anya’s character:
Anya is almost selfish in her desire to keep bad news and situations from those she loves; not wanting to expose them to harm, she ends up shutting out the very people she needs. This extends to Win, as well, who is just as charming and appealing as ever. The irony of this situation, that Anya would alienate the very people she loves and wants to protect, is not lost on her and her funny, quirky and honest voice is, again, the perfect narrator for this story.
Amber at The Reading Addict writes more things I want people to write about Anya’s character: “Anya is an incredible character. I’d forgotten how utterly awesome this protagonist is. She’s headstrong, brave, self-sacrificing, everything I admire in a lead character. Her love for her family and friends is evident as she takes great lengths to protect them from her corrupt family and ruthless enemies….I pitied and respected her, even when I didn’t agree with her decisions.” Princess Bookie concurs: “Oh, Anya, how I love you as a character. You are so strong and smart.”
Over at Book Brats, Megan writes that “I read the last 200 pages in one sitting, hooked and desperate to know more. And now that book two is over, I am salivating for book three.” Megan also writes that she “hopes Theo is there.” He will be and he is important, I promise.
In a delightfully Yuji Ono centric review, Aeropapers is rooting for — what else? — more Yuji Ono in book three: “If they are fighting and forming teams with Theo’s and Win’s banner. I got my flag raised with Yuji’s name on it.” Aeropapers, there will be A LOT of Yuji Ono in book three. I don’t even know if you will be able to handle how much Yuji Ono is coming at you.
At Michelle and Lesley Book Picks, chelleyreads reports that she “LOVED” Because It Is My Blood. She also observes of Win and Anya’s romance, “But when the romance was brought up, it continued to be lovely and sweet. Although not the most heroic love interest, Win continued to be a great companion for Anya (companion, as in it’s Anya, and her alone, who is carrying the series—another thing I like about it)….He and Anya are one of my favorite YA couples.” Chelleyreads, this is so true. Win is a “companion”; Anya is the show. The series is not a book about a girl who falls in love with a boy.
Let’s hop over to Teenreads, where Norah Piehl, who is not really a blogger, remains as sympathetic a reader as ever:
“Anya’s flaws are what make her a complicated, thoroughly human character, one whom readers will enjoy continuing to try to understand. Anya, who often tries to do the right thing but fails, who genuinely wrestles with huge moral dilemmas, who wonders continually about the role of heredity and upbringing on her own character and on her future, is hardly perfect, but she is believable. Readers will love her, flawed as she is.”
Finally, we have the perceptive Miss Print, whose reviews I always enjoy: “Zevin keeps the story original with her surprising turns and Anya’s wry, eloquent narration. Readers will also notice Anya’s continued growth as she moves out from her dead father’s shadow (and advice) to begin making her own decisions.” You can also read Miss Print’s interview with me here.
Finally, finally, the novelist/blogger Presenting Lenore gives Because It Is My Blood her coveted Zombie Merit Chicken Badge for Writing and writes that Anya seems like an “old friend.”
Thanks again, everyone! I know it takes a long time to read these books and write these reviews and that most of you do it just for the money. I’m kidding! You do it for the love. Thank you for the love and the smarts.
P.S. I only got through about a third of the reviews I could have excerpted here before this post started to become unwieldy. Part two coming in a couple of weeks, I promise
P.P.S. Obligatory reminder that I have a contest up with a pathetically small number of entries and a ridiculously high number of prizes. Chances to win = very good. Come and enter.
(wednesday narcissism no. 12)
Forgive me, I wanted to say to him. I knew I would hurt you and I did it anyway. I don’t know why I am the way I am. I don’t know why I do the things I do. Please, don’t give up on me. Love me a little even though I’m flawed.
Anya Balanchine in Because It Is My Blood
LUCKY SEVEN GIVEAWAY OF BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD
BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD hits stores this week. The hardcover versions of the series are especially delicious because the books under the jackets look like bars of chocolate. All These Things I’ve Done was a bar of Balanchine Special Dark. Because It Is My Blood is Balanchine Bittersweet. I’m rooting for the third book to be Balanchine White. (White chocolate is not really chocolate, by the way… but it will make sense for the story.)
I’ve got 7 signed copies for my friends on the internet. I’m talking to You. I’ve just finished writing my seventh book. My last name rhymes with seven and um, seven’s lucky right? Anya’s such an unlucky girl… born under the wrong star and all… We both wouldn’t mind a little luck headed our way.
There are many ways to enter, and I’m guessing you know the drill. Post your favorite quote from one of my books on your blog or facebook or twitter. (You can find many of my book’s quotes here.) I love fan art like this or this, and I’d be seriously delighted if you made something. Take a picture of one of my books out in the wild. Or you can just tell people about Because It Is My Blood on the social network of your choice. But honestly, anything is fine with me. I just want to know that the books are going to good homes: ie., places where people who really like me will really like the books. NOTE: If you’ve already bought Because It Is My Blood, feel free to enter anyway. You can choose from any of my other books (Elsewhere, Margarettown, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, All These Things I’ve Done, The Hole We’re In), which I will happily sign and personalize for you.
If only seven of you enter, seven of you will win. If only five of you enter, two of my imaginary friends are getting copies.
Because many of the readers that write me are not from America and because the series takes place in many different countries, it only seems right that this giveaway be open internationally.
Contest ends October 17, 2012.
One of my very favorite book people says nice things about BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD in the Atlantic Wire
Northington sums it up: “Future New York mafia! Anya is the bad-assest heroine I’ve met in a while—on her way to being a psychopath, but a really compelling psychopath.” Godfather fans, this is your Y.A
I asked my publisher if we could put “bad-assest” on the cover.
tuesday hijinks no. 10: Printers Row Book Festival in Chicago, suitcase postmortem
1. I packed my red shoes but did not wear them. They make the photo because they go well with the ARC of Because It Is My Blood.
2. I bought the print at the festival. The verse reads:
Lady Tulip, stately dame,
From across the ocean came;
Liked this country very much,
Although she only spoke in Dutch.
This puts me in mind of a few lyrics I like from a Bright Eyes song called “Road to Joy.”
I could have been a famous singer
If I had someone else’s voice
But failure always sounded better
Let’s f*** it up, boys, make some noise.