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. I have been reading 2 or 3 books a week for the past, umm, 3 years? I would read differant books, becasue I am the most picky reader ever. But then I get Midnighters and I havn’t read anything but Scott’s book for like, 2 months (and reading a book every 2 days, I have read the Uglies and Midnighters Trilogies at least 13 ((mwahaha)) times each).

    So, yeah. I can see why Scott thinks teens read more than adults.

  2. I understand that you have no plans to do so but I wish you would do some adult books as well. I quite liked your last pair and was looking forward to more of the same. I have your YA books but, as a 35 year old guy, it isn’t quite the same. 🙂

  3. Yes! Another point for Seattle! I could be living in the spot where Smoke will someday exist! Lol! If we just knocked out a few houses and roads, maybe a few stores, I think it could be possible…! 😀

  4. omg!!!! i can’t beleive that extras takes place in JAPAN!!!!! that’s like, totally far away!!! then again maybe not with all of the technology. anyway, that’s so cool! i can’t wait for extras to come out. if only it was sooner. and if only you would write another midnighters book. -sigh- jk.

  5. JAPAN…! Does this mean that they’re going to be even more high-tech than the other societies? Or less so because they had so much technology in the past, it kind of entirely blew up on them once the bateria hit, and made it harder for them to recover? Stats say Japan is the #3 consumer of oil in the world… Which is a big deal since only the U.S. and China are ahead of them, and both countries are considerably larger. So that means when the bacteria came, the destruction was HUGE! Or so I think. Uhhhh. I think I am reading too much into this.
    Are you researching Japanese culture?
    Can you tell my excitement over this?
    😀 Ohmygod.

  6. Weird..I just said you hadn’t blogged in a while yesterday, and then today you blogged! Well that sucks that you’re working really hard..I hate working hard! So more power to you!

  7. Hey, how do you send fan mail to Scott? Does he answer all of it. Oh, and yeah, I’ve been one of those freaks who reads 4 or 5 books at a time for as long as I could read. Go Geeks! We should start a club or something…

  8. Seattle will now be even more tourist ridden than ever! (With Uglies fans!)Yay! But really… the ruins of Seattle? Now I feel sad… luckily, I don’t live on the westside. Bwah ha ha!

  9. Muahaha!!! I was BORN in Seattle!!! I beast you all. Born in Uglyville. How cool can it get???
    I mean really. Just shame I didn’t stay there until my sixteenth bday.
    So, Scott, would you be willing to do another one school, one book project??? And come???
    Email me at, thanks.

  10. And the tidbit about Japan is very bubbly-making. I have a friend who was born THERE, and I was born in Seattle…huh.

  11. Scott-la, you need to change the tagline on new copies of Specials. Because Specials is no longer the final volume.

  12. Finally, Specials can have a better tagline than “The final volume of the Uglies trilogy”. Never did like that.

  13. Way to post a bajillion times, whoaz.
    But I agree, coming down to Philly would be most excellent. But I also know you must be invited :/. I don’t live in Philly, but I’m only 20 minutes away by speedline!

  14. i have been emailing him practicly every day to come to philly 🙂 but i dont know if hes going to 🙁 *tear* he better though or i will be sad. PLEASE COME!!!!!!! and philidelphia has 12 letters and so does pennsylvania (wow its sad when you cant even spell where you live) AHHHHHHHHHHHH talk about darkling yo must come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please? *begs*

  15. o and thanks for finally blogging. i missed you. i thought you disappeared or gotten attacked by zombies or something. i would have been like nooooooooooooooooooooo *gasps for breath* ooooooooooo…oooooooooooooooooooo. wow no more scott?!?!?! how sad-making.

  16. Hey guys long time no see ive been sick with the stomack flue it so bad and its going around like you wouldnt beleive there were fifty kids gone when I was sick and i was sick for a week now i think there are about 69 kids gone we barly had any people in class today well TTYL see ya.

  17. Finally another post! I have been checking the blog everyday for the past forever awaiting you write another post. Though, I do forgive you for the past THREE weeks of not posting because you are writing a 4th to my favorite series that I thought I would never see agian. Japan sounds super awesome too. Also, I was totally almost right about the location of uglyville. But, why would you want your book to come out in october. I mean october is right at the begining of the boring, long school year. Why not December or even November. I guess the sooner the better. Oh, well that gives me a jump start to my AR goal, anyway. Answer more questions online. I thought it was pretty cool.

  18. Mod of Previous post:

    It’s not that I’m not phsyced about Extras, I am. It’s just that Midnighters is my favorite of the two series.

    So please give a little hint of an answer before I break my legs in anticipation.

    (It could happen.)

  19. Loej, for there to be another Midnighters book Scott would have to buy the rights to the series from the publisher. So… yeah.
    Seattle… I just can’t get over it. My friends thought it was cool, though. Our city turning to rusty ruins. With rust. And a rollercoaster? I must search for one around here…
    Scott, you should have told this to us Seattleites when you came to visit us! It would have given us major bragging rights! We would have beaten out all other Scott Westerfeld Loving towns everywhere! Oh well. Too late.

  20. i thought it was NYC because of the rollercoaster but i was wrong (how sad makeing but not surpriseing) midnighters was my favorit of his books.but i realy liked peeps and how every other chapter is about parisites. does anyone live in vancouver (portland) WA (OR) that would be cool

  21. IminlovewithJonathan!, Let me put this in a form you’ll understand.


    Authors are insulted when their fans can’t spell while complimenting them. It’s like a blind person saying he loves your shoes.

    Happy Spelling!
    The Spelling Bee

  22. Um, okay. Hey, scott, could you come to my school also? I live in NorCal, and I go to a school called Monte Vista. I know that a ton of the people I know would be psyched if you came, although I’ve read more of your books than any of them. Peeps, Uglies, Pretties, Specials, So yesterday, Midnighters 1,2,3, and I just bought Risen Empire and the Killing of worlds. I TOTALLY PONE! Anyway, you have my email on your archive, so if you don’t think I’m a total loser freak, send me some mail.

  23. Laine-wa, way to post like … 50 times :p
    But YAY I live close to what someday will be the Rusty Ruins :]

    So how exactly does Tally get over to Japan? That sounds like a long trip by hovercar.

    Speaking of taglines, Extras better have a -good- one, unlike Specials. Ooh, and the paperback version of Specials should definetly get a new one since it’s not longer the last in the series!
    I can’t wait to get Extras.

  24. What’s it mean that he has to be “invited.” People are inviting him to come, right? Hey, Scott, I invite you to come to the great town of Albion, Nebraska with only 2,000 people even though only about five people that I know of have read your books. I mean, Steven L. Layne is coming on the 22nd! So you should just join him! I’m inviting you to! There, it’s all settled!

  25. yeah, i always tried to figure out where tally’s city was…is…will one day be. and i agree with lauren-la, you really need a good tag for extras. the one for specials made me sad. i was re-reading (well re-skimming) uglies and pretties, and it made me kinda sad that tally, shay and zane we always drunk or had a hang over. so sad.

  26. I almost wish the books were real they were actual people..maybe it’ll be true someday! That’d be sweet! I wish I could stick around for it!

  27. No, to invite him you have to talk to a bookstore or library and tell them he’s fantastic and it’s not out of the question to do it… but there’s also author’s honorarium (I don’t really know how that rolls with Scott) and whatnot, so I don’t know if fundraising would be had or if they pay it all or what. Philly’s only like an hour and forty minutes or so from New York, so it’s not like there’ll be huge fees (rather than if he was flying to Texas) in order for him to get there. Hmm. There’s a Barnes and Noble right near Broad Street, isn’t there?

  28. Us Seattleites lucked out with Scott already being there. And then having a nice little signing for us. Because we asked him. You just have to watch the little “Appearances” page and wait until he’s somewhere close by. Then you spring!
    I mean…no! I’m not giving away top secret information on how to get Scott to sign your books. In your town. Noooo way.

  29. Ha, sweet! But I don’t think Scott will ever be comin’ anywhere near I don’t ever have much of a chance of him signin’ my books! NO SCHOOL today!..and the sad thing is I’m stuck with only ONE book at home!..and I’m halfway through it and it’s not very long either! This is so depressing.

  30. And there’s no way to get out of my house to get another book since all the snow is piling up. Man, Nebraska really sucks! But we have Runza’s and no one else does! HA!

  31. i totally thought tally’s city was in southern california. and i thought diego was in central america! i was so wrong.

  32. Well its just me again and its hard for me to right because i dont have a fone right now cause we are in the prosses of moveing so if anyone wants to talk to me im on line weekdays around 7:00 or eight computor time see ya!!

  33. I always thought that the Rusty Ruins New York since it had tall buildings and all that and how the city was packed. But then I thought that it was quite aways for Tally to travel from New York to San I was just totally lost there, but now it’s all cleared up.

  34. ok first off i would like to say in my defence that i warned you all that i could not spell. second of all i have said that about every post i have written. i really cant spell to save my life. my spelling skills do not compare with my fawsome vocabulary. if you dont like my spelling then you should definitly(again with the spelling!)not ask me to spell the dreaded word(see midnighters spoilers)… probably, probobly, something like that.

  35. I so thought that the rusty ruins near Tally’s city were todays New York City, but yet again I was wrong. I did catch on to were it was in the Specails though when they say they passed death valley.*sigh* I still really really really hope that you will answer my question about the system of Tally’s city. Here it goes(by the way this is the second time I have asked you this!) Ok so what would happed if say to uglies conoodled ( I think you know what I mean ) anyway what would happen if the Ugly became pregnant because this could happen I mean the are 15 years of age, so what would happen to the unborn child? would specail cirrcumstances wait until the baby was born to do the operation and then make them skip new pretty town and go strait to crumbly vll. or would the hav an abortion and kill the unborn child and go on like nothing happened, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, answer my question!!!
    I have wondered this scinse the day I read page 1 of uglies so please answer me!!! I am just dieing to know the answer, I’m weird that way once I think of something that I don’t know about I need to know the answer. so please don’t let me down because you are the most awsomest (yes I know asomest isn’t a word but it sounds cool) like I said you are the most awsomest young adult writer, this is coming from a want to be author. I write all the time and love doing it as well as reading ( most of the time i’m reading your books)so plaese don’t leave my question unanswered!

  36. Alright i was laughing so hard at the part when you said give me my check and color me gone! Well anyway Japan huh interesting very very interesting.I’ve been talking about uglies and basically pimping your books out all over my high I own the whole trilogy…if extras was out then i could own the fourlogy? No not fourlogy you pick a better word cause i’m spent But yeah i was in Barnes and Nobles the other day and i was getting some new books and all i could think was ” I wish extras was out *tear*.” Oh and me and everyone of my nerdy friends threw a hissy fit at the end of Specials, killing Zane off was sooooo not bubbly-making. I was still thinking at the end of the book he’d come back and say “gotcha Tally-wa i thought it would be totally bubbly-making if i tricked everyone.” But i’ll get over it you know wipe away the tears and be a big girl. But at least we have David, right? Heck yeah we do! So how are Tally and David gonna play a role in Extras?

  37. Wow. Only 57% of adults? Thats…really really sad. In 2002 I wasn’t an adult yet, but I think I’m the closest I’ve been yet! 😉 I’m 20 now, and still an avid reader. Reading is such escape, I couldn’t dare to think of leaving it. I can’t wait to read more of your works!

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