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. okay, so it takes place in japan. isn’t that pretty far away from seattle? how do tally and david get their? i always figured they stayed in the rusty ruins. now i’m confused. you should come to utah for a book signing scott!!!

  2. Okay, I’ve figured it out: my house is in the exact location of Tally’s house!:O
    Lol, well at least I can go around telling people that, it’s not like they can PROVE me wrong, so there! Hehehe…

  3. WoW!!!!! YAY!!!! So Kewl!!!! in JAPAN!!!! It must be a good book! I s the new character gunna be JAPANESE?!!! FREAKING OUT!!! AWSUM!!!! IV ALWAYS WANTED TO GO THERE!!! SWEET!!! NOW I CAN READ MY WAY BOUT IT MORR!!! PROPS 2 U!!!

  4. That’s so cool! JAPAN!!!!!!!!! My grandma, mom, aunt and uncle all stayed their for about three years . . .in the fifties. . .

    Lol. Love the 57% of adults that read fact….gotta love it when you have the chance of being smarter than your parents! Too bad my mom reads just as much as I do . . . a lot.

    I think I know why the children and teens are reading more!


  5. ive never read harry potter but right now im reading scotts’ wives book its good so far magic or maddness

  6. I read all the Harry Potter books in the number of days of the book..except for the 1st and 6th one..I read those in 2 days each. But I read the 3rd in 3 days, 4th in 4 days..and so on..and they’re are pretty good. But Scott is still better!

  7. well, scott ny the looks of these posts here, you better out tally and david in extras for at least a mili-secound. or people will start throwing eggs at you randomly on the street. when your readers are unhappy, you are unhappy. so sad.

  8. All you people thinking New York because of tall buildings! Psh, Seattle has tall buildings! Cities in general have tall buildings… And if the ruins are Seattle, then right near the famous rollercoaster is the Space Needle! Woo!

  9. SNOW DAY!!!!!!!!!! we have off today! whooooooooooo!!!!!!so here i am reading, blogging, and… erm… more blogging and reading? would you believe that there is absolutly nothing on tv?(not that i watch it much to begin with but im bored. my brootyer was on the computer) i cant wait till the fall. all the books i want to get are comming out(elipse-stephenie meyer, pendragon 8:the pilgrims of ryane(or something that sounds like rain but spelled with a y somewhere in it) and SPECIALS!!!!!!!!!! omg cant wait

  10. oops i meant extras!!!!!!!!!! not SPECIALS!!!!! im stuck on special mode because i finished it last night. still mourning the end of specials. 🙁

  11. Why does everyone hate the end of specials but me? Zane was annoying. But Tally still as a special was frickin awesome. Or fawesome, I guess, since I finished The Last Days.

  12. I liked the ending, too, Joy. Zane was just… Zane-y. He was much better in Pretties because it wasn’t all “Zane looks like a withered old man” and all. So he got to seem more lively. So in the end of Specials I was very happy. Or… content.

  13. I cannot believe that yall are saying that about Zane-la he was my favorite caractor besides Tally why did he have to die I never thought i would be so into a book that i would cry so much i think i have said this b-4 cause it sounds familiar any way im going to say it again i was in class and i was at that part where she was running through the hall and my teacher turns on some sad music and i just started crying well anyway i have to go ttyl

  14. Nice sentence.
    I liked Zane, as I said, but not enough to cry. Just because we like the end of the book does not mean we didn’t like Zane or anything. Not that you said that. Hunter beats him any day, though.

  15. Whoa! Japan! That’s crazy! And that’s so weird, I could have sworn the Smoke was in like Colorado or something. Odd. What’s the river, though? And Japan – I guess I could see that, because they’re really tech advanced and all. That’s cool. I wonder what kind of pretties they’d have there? Like, if they’d be Asian beauties? Or just the standard?

  16. well i didnt meen for it to sound like that but im a girl and a very emotional one at that and that music i just couldnt help but cry but ya i guess its ok that Zane died cause now David and Tally may get back together, and I thought they were a sweet couple so just maybe they were ment to be.

  17. im always upset when people die in books. it really made me sad because he died trying to make himself better for tally and now she has another thing on her conscience. wow shes going to be really messed up with all the stuff she caused and people she betrayed and all.

  18. Luckily, she is not the center of this new book. So we won’t have to hear all of her conscience-y goodness rolling around in her head. Thank the Lord of Novels! Or, you know, Scott…

  19. Well I dont know about that but he might come out with something like Routines or something, something different that fits with the story line.
    Well today I havnt realy had a great day one of my friends has been mad at me for along time and I dont know why and today I told my friend something another friend told me and she told the friend that dosnt like me any more and she told the friend that told me and now he is mad at me and told that friend that its not true she b-lieved him and starts cussing at me and im trying to tell her what happend andshe wont listen then later on she calls me a tity baby for crying cause I dont know why she has to be so meen to me I never did anything to her and Im just so upset and I dont understand why the world has to be such a bad place sometimes I dont even know why I should stay alive since the guy i like dosnt seem to notice me and my friends all tern against me and people make fun of me and there realy isnt anything wrong with me i meen nobodys perfect. And to tell you the truth i realy dont think i can live this life much longer anyway TTYL.

  20. I’m with Judy i loved Zane i mean i loved David too but he was cute in that dangerous guy sort of way you know the unattainable kinda way but Zane was funny,sarcastic,and the best part attainable. I cried… Judy i cried i was still hoping it was like a cruel joke and he was coming back. I’m getting use to the idea that David and Tally live happily together. OH yeah and Amy is right Scott i will so throw eggs if Tally and David don’t make an appearance in a major way in Extras i have horrible aim but i’ll still try…kidding…not really. I want more Tally and David.

  21. Oh wow Judy i just read your comment you left right above mine i’m kinda scared for you i know how you feel but things have to get better right?!? Heck yeah i’m right. The boy you like may not like you now but a lot of the time all boys need is someone else trying to take you then they are all over you. Or he might like you and be to shy to say anything well not shy all around but just scared i have a lot of guy friends and from what they tell me it is tramatizing when they are rejected after putting themselves out so they wait until they are positive you really like them back and they can’t read our smoke signals are those flirty laughs and stuff they can’t understand that sorry but true. So stay positive and keep hope alive! Seriously it WILL get better. You can e-mail me if you need to talk more.

  22. I thought that Uglies took place around where San Francisco now is! (Seattle I always ignored, since it was so far north….), and I also thought the Smoke was in washington or Oregon, but still in the Rockies….so my guess was somewhat close.

    Also, I have a couple questions:

    * How did you decide to have Uglies take place in where you did? was it form a trip to Seattle or something before you started writign it or something?

    * Where did the idea for pretty-mindednes and the lesions come from? I’m asking this because I have something called Asperger’s Syndrome that makes me get kind of bubbly over the tiniest vlittle compulsions and stuff, and normal people never seemed to have this bubbliness and always seemed to be overly sarcastic and not caring about stuff (most normal people my age, I mean). For some reason, the idea of normal people having litle scars inside their brains kind of appeals to me….!

    Those’re my questions.

  23. well today has just been one of those day im in the middle of reading the uglies trilogy for the 3rd time and we took the TAKS test today so im just a little tired bnicki my e-mail is

  24. SPACE NEEDLE!! *smacks self in forehead* How could I forget?! I knew that was there! Oh, well. I honestly thought the really tall building was the Empire State. Not that I’ve seen either of those in person-er-building…

  25. This adult is still reading and quite happy to see that her students are reading as well. Your trilogy spread like wildfire through my middle school so I decided to join in. I’m very glad I did and even happier to see that you are using your blog to change the world as well.

    Keep it up and I’ll do my best to get more people reading.

  26. I think I just died a little.
    That is so great beyond great.
    Yeah, I read through the tril. a few times, and it took me the third time to realize the name of the city in which Tally is from is never named.
    I can’t believe I didn’t notice that before. But I like that, that unnamed city. Something like that in a story I write is important to me, but I’m really glad you didn’t give it a name. I’m proud you were able to write a whole trilogy without saying it once. I would not be able to complete that task.
    Of course, I couldn’t do half the stuff you did. This trilogy is amazing.
    The New Smoke Lives.

  27. oh, and I was referring to Extras being set up in Japan.
    Though I’m really glad I finally found out where this was all taking place.
    It seems more real.
    I wish it was.
    Well, you know, without all the disaster and stuff.
    But that’s what makes it exciting!

  28. OH MY GOD! Extras us really gonna take place in Japan?!?!? Thats WAY FOOL!!!!!! I LOve You Scott!! Oh, hey, on the subject of loveing you, I love you books SO SO much that at our art competition a few weeks ago I enter like 10 scuptures all inspired from either The Uglies series or The Midnighters series and every single one is moving on to region competition! YAY!

  29. Japan???!!! and’ve been a pretty bad blogger l8ly no offense! I still cannot believe its gonna be in JAPAN! It’s kinda sad to me cause i’m learning how Japan destroyed China in WW2..thats sad! *sigh* I’m really excited tho besides the whole Japan thingy-ma-bobber..Well, i’m so happy *happy dance*. I cant wait for Oct 2 roll around..HOW BUBBLY!


    Is Uglies already being made into a movie, or is that bending of facts based on people’s (including me) saying we WISH it was a movie??

    Pretty please anybody?

  31. UGLIES is a great beginning of the series. I’d never heard of it before, but I was at a used book sale and I found your book UGLIES. It sounded interesting so I bought it. It took me two hours to read it, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the other two of the trilogy. My question, however, is about the helicopters that the rangers use. If all the oil had been infected and destroyed when it touched oxygen, then how was it they could fly the helicopters? I don’t know much about them, but I would guess they need oil for something. I mean, cars need oil, so why wouldn’t a helicopter need oil? Other than that, I loved the book. Thank you for sharing your mind with everyone who’s read your work.

  32. Haddy-wa, I live in Vancouver (WA)!

    I totally thought it took place in Southern California/Central America, too.

  33. wow. i wish scott could come to my school….. but that would probably be pretty hard seeing that i live in the big TEXAS!!!!

  34. tiara, the helicopters are using these lifting fans like the specials that come to the smoke the hovercars since their past the metal grid they need something else to run on. so I’m guessing that they run on solar power. or maybe a new energy source. I’m not sure though. it might have said something in the books but I’m really tired so
    i don’t know.

  35. Seattle?
    I thought the Rusty Ruins were what we now call The Big Apple…
    btw, lindsey-lay, totally agree with you.
    But I live in NuJ…

  36. I know that you’ve got to be busy and I don’t know how often you ckeck your website comments, still I have a question…

    Why do you write?

    Of course, you’re probably already annoyed with this question, as am I. I’m doing a report for school and no one in my class had ever heard of your books.
    Needless to say I had to introduce them.

    Please email me at

  37. I just re-read the Uglies series, and I can totally see what you mean about Seattle. Or maybe that’s just me.

  38. hey scott… mr. scott? um… mr. westerfeld…
    oh great one..? well i am dying to read “evolution’s darling”, but i cant get a copy anywhere, do you have any idea how i could get my hands on a copy??

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