Locus Award/Appearance/Fan Art Friday

Just wanted to announce that Leviathan has won the Locus Award for Best YA Novel of 2009. w00t!

Congrats to the other winners, which include the wonderful Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, which won Best Novel. It was blurbed by me as follows:

A steampunk-zombie-airship adventure of rollicking pace and sweeping proportions, full of wonderfully gnarly details. This book is made of irresistible . . . it totally pushed all my buttons!


Read more about it here.

Also winning for Best First Novel was Paulo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl. Paulo just came out with an awesome YA novel, Ship Breaker, which, by happenstance, I also blurbed:

A riveting tale of adventure in a broken world. Gritty and real, yet full of wonders, Ship Breaker is the best debut novel I’ve read in ages.


Click here for more about Windup Girl and here for more about Ship Breaker.

By the way, you should have all realized by now that I only blurb books whose titles rhyme with “Zombie Staker.” It’s just a thing I do.

As a special surprise, those of you in the NYC area will get to see both me and Paulo this week! Joining us will be Jon Armstrong, author of another wonderful first sf novel, Grey.

Here are the details:

Thursday, July 1
Place: McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince St.
(b/t Lafayette & Mulberry)
New York, NY 10012

Event details here, and here’s a map.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Locus Awards. It’s great to see people from the adult science fiction world reading and thinking about YA. And if you don’t know Locus Magazine, you should check it out. It’s a the best source for news about sf and fantasy publishing.

And now, because I missed Fan Art Friday last week, here are some Intentionally Enplasticized Reproductions, otherwise known as Lego Midnighters!


These are by Ean, who can be found here on Flickr. Cool, huh?

From Russia with Covers

A Russian fan recently directed me to this site, which gives a full accounting of books by my Russian alter-ego, Скотт Вестерфельд. (Technically, Скотт is not an alter-ego, given that he is, in fact, me. But I prefer to imagine him as an actual other person, reading this post and chuckling as he consumes champagne and caviar, surrounded by all the author’s copies that my Russian publishers never bother to send me.)

I’ve always enjoyed Скотт’s covers, which have a pulpish fabulosity that makes my own covers seem restrained, almost priggish, in comparison. So I thought a series of posts examining his work would be fun.

Let’s look first at Скотт’s Midnighters series. These books have had no fewer than three separate sets of covers. Whether this is because Скотт is astonishingly popular or simply because this series has never gained traction, I have no idea. (Someone would have to send me some royalty statements in order for me to take a guess. Hint, hint.)

Anyway, here are the first two Midnighters covers, published in 2006:

These covers are fairly true to the books in their details (13-pointed stars, small-town buildings, all sort of metal weaponry) but the central figures are somewhat bizarre. First note that Jonathan Martinez (um, Hispanic) and Jessica Day (textually a red head) are both blond and blue-eyed here. That’s whitewashing in its most aggressive form—Aryanization.

Also odd is the subway train looming up behind Dess in Book 2. Note to Russian artist: there are no subways in Bixby, Oklahoma. The stimulus bill wasn’t that big.

But it turns out that these covers have been replaced, so let’s move on. This is what they looked like in 2008:

Holy guacamole, that’s a different look. The whitewashing is pretty much over with Jonathan, and Jess has arguably reddish hair. Of course, everyone is suddenly in bondage leather, which might not be strictly canonical (or even purchasable in small-town Oklahoma). But the energy in these covers is lovely.

I also like that Dess is on Book 1, while Jessica and Jonathan have been moved to Book 2. Because everyone likes Dess better. Plus, this Dess is much more awesome than wimpy oop-I-fell-over Dess from the first set of covers.

But this take on the series didn’t last either. A little book called Сумерки came out, which was about some dude who sparkled, and there was a sudden call for everything to look a bit more . . . vampire-y.

So these are the books in their current form:


A little more urban fantasy, and apparently a bit more successful, given that we finally have a cover for Book 3 in this style:


So . . . Buffy. And yes, Jonathan has been white-washed again, but without blond hair at least.

It’s worth noting that these three covers have the least to do with the books. The 2006 and 2008 covers could be stared at after reading the books, and you’d find lots of little easter eggy details from the text. These are more generic.

Which brings me to a broader point: Everyone in marketing says that the most important thing a cover can do is sell the book to someone who knows nothing about the novel. In other words, a cover is merely advertising space, and doesn’t need to be true to the text, just eye-catching. But this notion misses what happens over the longer term.

If we readers can return to the cover after we’ve bought and consumed the novel and find new connections between word and image, it strengthens our bond with the book and the series as a whole. And the most important advertising for any novel is, after all, a satisfied reader. I wish publishers would get over the whole first-impression thing and think harder about long-term relationships. (Indeed, it would probably be nice if everyone would do this about almost everything. But that’s a bigger issue.)

In other words, I like the second set of covers best, pulp-tastic and yet mostly true to the story, and full of details from the text. Midnighters is, after all, more about kicking darkling ass than sparkly romance.

One day, my Russian publishers may send me royalty statements, and I can tell you whether or not this theory is full of bosh.

And for those of you who don’t know the Midnighters series, here are the current US covers:


I’ll be blogging the Russian Peeps, Uglies, and other covers soon. There are also a new set of UK covers for Midnighters in the works, and I’ll be touching on those as well.

Till then, enjoy.

Ada Lovelace Day!

I sort of missed it, but yesterday was Ada Lovelace Day!


Ada Lovelace, of course, is the patron saint of Dess, the hypernumerate character from my Midnighters series. She’s also one of the towering figures in the history of computing, given that she wrote the world’s first computer program . . . back in 1843. This achievement is as amazing as it sounds, given that the computer didn’t exist back then, except in theory. But that didn’t stop Ada.

It’s stories like this that make me realize that history itself can be quite steampunk. That is, ideas and technologies don’t all appear in a neat, predictable order. Sometimes theory gets ahead of practice in ways that are profound and mysterious, and imagination is never limited by the engineering capabilities of the present.

That’s a good thing to remember, so happy belated Ada Lovelace Day.

Also thanks to everyone at Marrickville High School, where I had a great visit yesterday. About 40 students (mostly Year 9s, or what us USians call freshmen) were stuck with me for about two hours. That’s a long stretch, but they all stayed focused and smart and full of brilliant questions.

Thanks for a great day, Marrickvillians, and good luck with your NAPLANs.

Another Forum Meet-Up

Here I am posting without any cool ideas in my head. Just news:

Team Toshi Banana tells me that there will be another Forum Meet-Up soon! The last one was awesome, with about a hundred people showing up. (Seventy-eight at one time was the record.)

Meet-Up Number 2 will be this Saturday, February 13th, at 5:00 pm EST (US time). That’s 9AM Sunday morning here in Sydney, so I may be a little late.

The Forum is reached by clicking the word “Forum” on the menu bar above. I KNOW YOU CAN FIND IT. (Argh, okay, here’s a link.)

This will be sad news for some of you: It appears as though the Midnighters TV show will not be going to pilot. In other words, NBC doesn’t like the scripts they’ve come up with, so they aren’t going ahead with the show.

My guess is that this is because TV-land is obsessed with making everyone 20-something, and Midnighters doesn’t actually make sense with 20-somethings. Because staying up till midnight when you’re 27 is PURE DEAD MAGICAL! I discuss this sad phenomenon in hilarious detail here.

To be fair, this is just a guess. I only bring it up because the marvelous Ally Carter’s Heist Society has just been optioned by Hollywood, and they’re making everyone older—in their 20’s.

Note that Ally doesn’t seem to mind, and that I haven’t read HS yet, because it only arrived in in stores, like, THIS WEEK, so maybe aging it up is okay. But I just want to know from you teens out there . . .


And I’m sure it’s your fault.

Okay, that’s it for today, except . . .

Walker Wednesday!

Back at Last

Hey, sorry for not blogging for a while there. There was travel, research, and lots of writing (on Behemoth) to do.

But now I am back in the blog-saddle, so it’s time for some fan art!

First, for you Midnighters fans, I present the Midnighters Fingerpuppet Five!


What’s cool is that you can tell who’s who. I could have totally used these while writing the book for, like, acting out scenes.

These were made by Chloe Wiccith, who also created this awesome mindcaster symbol pumpkin:


That’s some mighty fine carving.

And for you Uglies fans, check out this remix of Extras with a self portrait by Zheng Xiao, doing his best emo-manga-head impersonation.


Any more fan art out there that needs to see the light of day? Sent it over.

Teen Author Festival

It begins.

This afternoon Justine and I join Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Alaya Johnson, David Levithan, and Diana Peterfreund at the Juvenilia Smackdown. We’ll be reading from our childhood and teenage writings. (OMG I spent the day looking at them and they are worse than I thought.) The immoderate Libba Bray will be moderating.

Monday, 3/16, 4-6pm, Tompkins Square Park branch of the NYPL, 331 E. 10th Street

We’re also participating in a tribute to Joe Monti on Wedneday, where I’ll be reading from Leviathan for the first time in public. And revealing art!

Wednesday, 3/18, 6pm, Mulberry Street Branch of the NYPL, 10 Jersey Street (Between Lafayette & Mulberry Streets)

And we’ll be at the giant Books of Wonder mass signing on Sunday.

But there’s much more stuff than that.

Here’s the mighty schedule.


Update: For all you Italiano-phones, here’s an interview with me on the Italian Marie Claire website, about Midnighters.

Manga Head Explosive Goo

Yes, you read that right, and I’m typing it again, because it’s that much fun:

Manga. Head. Explosive. Goo.

It’s a brand of hair gel made by Garnier, to create those delicious mohawk-tastic heads of hair just like your fave manga characters. Don’t believe me? Here’s the website.

And here’s a classic example of some manga heads:

Ganked from Crystal Tip’s flickr stream. And thank you to Kerri for the heads up on Manga Head Explosive Goo.

Can anybody find a photo of actual Manga Head Explosive Goo in a store? I need to see it.

Okay, now that that’s dealt with, a few more cool images, starting with a SCARY DOLL ALERT!


This is the Italian version of Peeps, published by Fazi. Although Justine can’t look at it, due to her scarydollaphobia, I love it and can’t wait for a matching treatment for The Last Days.

Hey, I just noticed the secret color-coded message in the title, which works in English as well as in Italian. See what I mean? Kewl.

And in Скотт Вестерфельд news, we have Jonathan and Jessica looking very fantastical on the cover of the Russian Midnighters 2: Touching Darkness . . .

I could just look at foreign edition covers all day sometimes. So much easier than, um, writing.

Speaking of which, it’s back to the Leviathan mines for me!

Toxoplasma Heaven

Those of you who’ve read Peeps will no doubt remember toxoplasma gondii, the cat-borne parasite that can infect humans and change their personality. An old pal of mine, science journalist and blogger Rebecca Skloot, is a bit of an expert on toxoplasma, having written this article on whether the parasite causes “crazy cat-lady syndrome.” Fascinating stuff.

She’s just posted this charming video of a possibly toxoplasma-positive rat who LOVES its little cat friend.

For those of you who haven’t read Peeps, toxoplasma controls its rat host’s brain, making the poor creature seek out cats in hopes of getting eaten. This is because toxoplasma can only reproduce itself in the stomach of a cat. But as Rebecca points out, if the cat takes the pacifist route and simply refuses to eat the rat, it can stay uninfected.

Your move, Mr. Parasite.

In Other News

Justine is blogging writing advice for all of January. Many great posts and lots of good discussion about point-of-view, generating ideas, and how to get unstuck.

Stephenie Meyer fansite Twilight Moms has declared my Midnighters series its Book of the Month. Join the Twilight Moms discussion here. (Well, you have to be a mom, or at least 25, or married to be a Twilight Mom, but you can always read the discussion.)

New Midnighters Covers

Almost forgot to say that the new Midnighters covers are IN STORES NOW!


And for you online shoppers, here are multi-store links for The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, and Blue Noon. (Check to make sure the store you choose is showing the new cover!)

Thanks to everyone at HarperCollins for re-launching this trilogy in such beautiful form.

I also forgot to mention that I’m appearing at the Park Slope Barnes and Noble next week. Details:

Monday, January 7
6:30 PM
Barnes and Noble
267 7th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Here’s a map.

Hope to see you there!

Midnighters Widgets

In honor of the Jan 2 release of the brand new Midnighters paperbacks, here are a trio of countdown widgets for your websites and desk tops!

And because I never posted it, click on the thumbnail below for a full-size version of the new Touching Darkness cover.


To complete this purely self-promotional post, here are multi-store links for The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, and Blue Noon.

That is all I have the brain for right now.

As of 6PM US Eastern Standard Time, Leviathan is 18,569 words long!