Mailbag 1

Okay, lately I’ve been the worst blogger ever. This is partly excusable because I’m working hard on Extras, but it’s been almost three weeks since my last post, and that’s a bit ridiculous. I’m also very behind on fan mail, for which I apologize to you all.

So in the interest of killing two birds with one blog (blogging two birds with one stone? killing two blogs with one bird?) I am going make like Meg Cabot and blog my mailbag.

That’s right, questions asked in fan mail will now be answered here, eventually providing a comprehensive list of answers so that I never have to think again!

Of course, I will still try to get back to you all personally. It may take a while, however. Not because I don’t love you all, but simply because you outnumber me.

And now for my first questions. Some classics mixed up with some new and unfamiliar ones.

Where does Uglies series take place?

This question has been asked and answered many places, but here’s the official word:

The unnamed city where Tally lives is roughly where Seattle is now. (So the Rusty Ruins are the ruins of Seattle.) The ocean that Tally travels along is thus the Pacific, and the Smoke is somewhere up in the Canadian Rockies. As many of you have realized, Diego is descended from modern-day San Diego.

Here’s a news flash: Extras will take place in what we now call Japan!

What started your career in writing?

In the early 90s I worked for MacMillan/McGraw-Hill, which I’m sure many of you know as school textbook publishers. I was in charge of their NYC technology office, designing educational software and other cool stuff.

One lucky day in 1995, they decided to move their technology departments up to Connecticut, and offered me the choice of severance (that is, money) or moving out of NYC. I thought about this for about ten seconds and then said, “Give me my check and color me gone. I’m off to be a writer.”

Five adult books later, I got the idea for Midnighters. With its teenage heroes and gothic high school setting, this was clearly a teen book. So I became a teen writer.

Some people ask why I decided to become a teen writer. But it didn’t happen in the abstract. I simply got an idea that was YA-ish, and then had so much fun writing for teens that I haven’t (yet) gone back.

What with Wii, Tivo, and those internets I keep hearing about, do you ever worry that teens will stop reading?

Despite all the competition for their time—TV, movies, social networking sites—teens still read a lot more than older age groups. I think that’s because when you’re young, you read more intensely; a book can completely change your way of looking at the world. Once you’ve discovered that magic, it’s hard to give up.

It’s adults I worry about.*

*According to this NEA study, only about 57% of adults in the US read any book at all in 2002. Children’s book sales, on the other hand, have been screaming upward for the last ten years. So nyah.

Random Update: Those of you who get the NY Times should check out page 18, the children’s paperback list. w00t.

122 thoughts on “Mailbag 1

  1. Freaky, i live in Tacoma!! (30 min. away from Seattle. Yes, in WA)

    Could it be possible new pretty town was in Seattle? lol, i highly doubt it.

  2. Tally has been my favorite character. but now, hearing the new girls name is aya, thats different. i wondered if she was a normal united states girl. But then i found out she lives in china. thats amazing. mostly because its really spearing the story board from just united states to other places in the world. i dont have to wait long, but still the wait is too much. i highly doubt that any of the teens will stop reading. i have re-read the last few pages in specials so many times. “manifesto” i could almost recite every word. its amazing how it changed my veiw point. i thought it would be over – but you threw in, next time we meet it might get ugly. truely remarkable. Mostly your writting is what keeps me reading. but there arent many action books, and im an action junkie. so i love reading your books! keep up the amazing work!

  3. Hi. I think midnighters is awesome,and If Brad Kerns makes the midnighters tv show, I will cry and never stop. Who wants to see their favorite book ruined? NOT ME!!! Anyway…. SCOTT YOU MUST REBEL AGAINST BRAD KERNS,JOIN THE FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT!!!

  4. Scott- You are the best writter EVER I love your books and I understand that thease are teen books and I am only 12 but I guess I DON’T CARE….. I love you and I hope you will e-mail me that would be the COOLEST thing in the whole world! I really wish that I could meet you! YOU ROCK!!!!!! I like BOOK 1 the best the uglies it inspires me so much. I have a couple of questions to ask you though 1. Is the book the Extras part of the triology I didn’t think that there was any more books after the specials. 2. Is the extras really taking place in Japan? I am page 161 of the pretties and so far so GREAT!!! I hope Tally and zane can excaop (with out breaking there thumbs of!!!!)

  5. wow no one seems to be commenting a lot here
    i finished Extras and now i want to read So Yesterday but its on hold right now, so now im rlly bored
    i wonder what going to happen when i run out of scott’s books
    i cant bare to think about it


  6. i think youre completely right about reading changing the way we look at our world. Especially for me now. things have been crazy, and changing so that its an opportune time for me to step back and look at how things are in a different light, or how they could be.

    your books inspire me to question my culture…its a curiosity my parents installed in me at birth, but the uglies “trilogy” (roughly speaking, since i just finished reading extras) has reactivated that sort of curiosity.

    ive always thought about being a writer, specifically a ya writer, but im not so sure that will ever happen. thats alright. im currently pondering the theory that everybody should have one unfulfilled ambition.

    on a different note, i really liked the way Extras fit into the uglies series. i wasnt so sure it would when i read the…i dunno what it is, that little book review thingy on the inside of the front cover. but i bought it nonetheless, because you had me at hello. 🙂 it was inspiring though, because although it took a different turn then the other books did, you incorporated tally very well, not to mention showed what had become of the world that, essentially, the smoke conspiracy created…im not really into those happy endings that just wrap themselves up. did you read the harry potter books? they just suck one in, dont they? but that ending just…well thats not the way it works. not life. its not one individual story, and then the rest of your life is bubbly parties and happy families.

    tally seems so real to me. she reminds me of myself, not necessarily because of her adventures, but because of her constant search for herself. even in this most recent book, as a general hero of the future earth, she still wasnt sure about herself. she couldnt easily describe her relationship with shay, come to terms with the loss of zane, or her feelings for david…its all so real.

    which is good.
    real speaks to me in sort of an avant garde way.

  7. I’m about halfway through Extras, and I already feel the need to praise you.

    Extensive thanks for the incorporation of so many Japanese elements. It was so wonderful to see Japanese honorifics used outside of manga fan-fic…

    I appreciate books that speak about the world and make a statement about what culture has become. You have my gratitude.

    I’ve been thinking fairly radically lately. Even read Walden. If you look at the world with the eyes of a practical outsider… it’s not someplace you want to be. The media… everything.
    Fortunately, I’m among the (possibly naive) who believe there’s something we can do about it. Maybe I’ll pull a Walden II sort of thing and start my own perfect society. We’ll see.

    It seems you have quite a following, Mr. Westerfeld. Hopefully your books urge more of us to Question what we take so easily to be truth.

    Watch the news from a foreign country, any and all of you. See what the US media doesn’t want you to see.

    Again, many thanks for such a stimulating series.

  8. HA! I TOLD my friend that Extras was in Japan and she was all like “No the city is just weird and being all Japanese-ish” and I’m all like “What?!”
    But anyways I was wondering where do you come up with all those names in Extras (specifically manga-heads, kickers and things like that- my friend and I call our other friend a manga-head since she is OBSESSED-my mom won’t let me touch manga books, she says that I’d read them too fast). Also what ARE pings, is it like phones in your head or more instant message like? And finally: Are the feeds supposed to remind me of Well thanks for the great books…

  9. i think Scott Westerfeld should write more books to the Uglies trilogy… i’m new here…
    luv, Shay-la

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