. . . watching that trailer, I thought it was a TV show or a movie!
Lol. Got you.
These are books. Four novels. We still like novels, right?
Sure. But will there be a movie?
Today’s news is about FOUR NEW NOVELS.
Okay. Are you writing them?
I know, I’ve been doing collaborations to stretch myself lately—the Spill Zone graphic novels with Alex (read them online!) and the Zeroes series with Margo and Deb—but this is a solo project.
Where are these books set? Same world? Same time frame?
They take place in the Uglies future, after Tally’s revolution has changed everything. As she once said, “Freedom has a way of destroying things.” The Imposters series is about dealing with the consequences of ending the Pretty Regime. The story starts in a city where things did not work out well. Bad people are in charge.
Correct. But we also will travel to other cities where things aren’t all bad. This new series is about all the expressions of human nature that’ve popped up after more than ten years of social upheaval.
More than ten years! Is Tally in these books? (Wouldn’t she be, like, super old?)
Lol. She’s, like, THIRTY.
Yes, she is a character in the world. But she’s not a point-of-view character (in the first book, anyway). She’s more like a famous person in the background.
What’s Impostors about then?
A girl named Frey, who’s been raised from birth to pretend to be someone else. She’s a body double. A bodyguard. An impostor!
It’s about the roles that our parents and society force upon us, and how we fight to create our own identities, to invent selves that really belongs to us.
Is that Frey in the trailer?
Not really. This was more of a “Remember Uglies? There’s more!” reveal. There will be another trailer this summer that goes into the plot and characters of Impostors.
Where’s the cover?
Coming soon. It’s lovely.
FORGET COVERS ARE THEIR HOVERBOARDS IN THIS BOOK?
WHAT A QUESTION OF COURSE THERE ARE HOVERBOARDS
Also lots of other cool new tech, never seen before in the Uglies universe.
Spy dust, suborbitals, lupine surgery, cyranos.
What do those words mean???
Read the book.
Why did you go back to the Uglies world after all this time?
The real world was, like, “Dude. Even stable-seeming democracies are built on seriously rickety underpinnings. Do you really think a bunch of recently awoken bubbleheads are going to make good choices?”
And I was, like, “Dude . . . ”
Yeah. Also I had a bunch of science fictional ideas kicking around in my head, and once I came up with Frey’s story, they all started to click.
But you said four books. What are the other three about?
This series mostly follow the adventures of Frey. But later on in the series, Tally (and some other familiar characters) will play a bigger role. The new Uglies world will get bigger and bigger.
There will be one book a year. A book every September till 2021!
Important question here: Is there any romance in Impostors?
There is! But the Love Interest doesn’t know who Frey really is, of course, because she’s an impostor—like in the title! So everything is very tricky, and also our pair are from different sides politically.
Hang on. A guy doesn’t really know who the heroine really is, and they’re on opposite sides? Isn’t that kind of like Leviathan?
Um, Frey isn’t pretending to be a boy. But yes, I do like to play with hidden identities and complicated politics and secrets. Romeo and Juliet is a Thing for a Reason!
Also, unlike with Alek and Deryn, this guy won’t take three frickin’ books to figure it out.
Wait. You’re writing both sides of this dialog. So this is just you laughing at your own joke.
I slay me.
Any other questions about Impostors?
Why isn’t it call Cakes?
It’s true. “Pretty” is the last word in Uglies, “special” is the last word in Pretties, “ugly” is the last word in Specials, and “cake” is the last word in Extras. So it should be called Cakes.
But the cake is a lie.
Why do you keep spelling it “Impostors” instead of “Imposters”?
Because an “imposter” is someone who works in an impost office. DO YOU WANT TO READ YA BOOKS ABOUT CUSTOMS OFFICIALS? (If you do, there’s probably fan fic.)
Okay. One last question . . . um, IS there ever going to an Uglies movie or TV show?
I mean, who knows with Hollywood? But maybe if Impostors is a HUGE bestseller . . .
If you have any more questions, put them in the comments below.
Readers of the Uglies series may remember Aya’s pal Moggle in Extras, a semi-intelligent hovercam that tracks her around, providing footage of her exploits for her feed.
It seems that someone has invented something similar, but called it Lily.
Lily, of course, uses rotors instead of magnetic lifters, and only has 20 minutes battery life. It costs $500 if preordered now before anyone has reviewed a real one, and will be twice that when it ships next February. (Buyer beware.)
Here’s the camera’s official site, and you can find tons of other articles around the web.
It’s not quite Moggle, but it’s proof of concept. And why wouldn’t we all want our own hovercam following us around?
Greetings from Sydney. I’ve been here for a month now, recovering from the Afterworlds tour and putting the finishing touches on my next novel. (The title, etc. of this book is secret now, but much will be revealed early next year.)
In the meantime, and with due deference to the season, here are a couple of cool items to compliment your Hanukwanzamas haul:
Barnes & Noble has a signed and bonus content edition of Afterworlds on its shelves now. The extra material is one of the chapters that Darcy discarded after receiving her editorial letter. (So it’s part of Darcy’s book, pre-rewrites!)
This edition has two stickers on it, one for the extra content and one because it’s signed by me:
Alas, you can’t order the signed version online. But you can order the bonus content edition (without signature) right here.
For Uglies fans, I earlier this year wrote a short story called “How David Got His Scar.” The story is set in the time before David has met Tally, but after Shay’s runaway friends, Croy and Astrix, have reached the Smoke. It tells the secret story of David’s eyebrow scar.
To find this B&N hardback exclusive edition of Uglies, look for this black sticker in B&N stores:
You can also order this edition online right here.
Okay, there are some other holiday deals out there, but I can’t remember them. Will update this post when I do.
Below is my Gen Con schedule, but first some interesting news:
Early this year I returned to the Uglies universe to write a short story called “How David Got His Scar.”
David, of course, has a scar through one eyebrow, the origin of which is the subject of much discussion. In the novels, Tally asks him about it, and he says, “I’ll tell you how I got it one day.” But he never does. Because he and I are perverse that way.
In the Shay’s Story graphic novels, he STARTS to talk about it once, but only says something about being chased by a bear. Still perversely uninformative.
But now, dear readers, you can discover the unvarnished truth in this Barnes and Noble Exclusive edition of Uglies! Just look for this black sticker at B&N stores:
That’s right, you can pay money for a book you already own for the sole purpose of reading 4,000 new words! (Not even 4,000. Like, 3914 words.) You could also go into a store and just stand there and read it. (But you would never do that. You are a TRUE fan. Have I mentioned how great your hair looks today?)
You can also order this exclusive edition online right here.
The story is set in the time before David has met Tally, but after Shay’s runaway friends, Croy and Astrix, have reached the Smoke. It was fun writing in that world again, particularly from a new viewpoint, and it was weirdly easy too. (Read NOTHING into this statement. Unless you want to.)
Also, because someone is bound to ask, I hereby declare this story CANONICAL.
Anyway, here’s my Gen Con schedule. See some of you in Indianapolis!
Thursday, August 14
Writer’s Craft: Creating Story Arcs
The Art of Leviathan
Friday, August 15
Q&A with me
Business of Writing: Selling Your Stories
Saturday, August 16
Pushing the YA Envelope
Impact of Reader Gender on Your Writing
Back in the sepia-toned days of early 2005—before Twitter, T-Pain, or even Twilight—I published a book called Uglies. Of course, back in those days, we didn’t call them books. We called them codexes, but it was much the same object: a quantity of papyrus that told a story.
Anyway, back then, book trailers weren’t really a thing. Trailers were for movies (which we called flicker-shows) or sometimes for videogames (which were collectively known as Pong). So Uglies was unleashed into the world with only the whispers of a few score Simon & Schuster sales reps (or bookmongers, as we knew them) to guide its passage.
By the time my next big series, Leviathan, hit bookstores in 2009, trailers were all the rage. So this beautiful example was created, and has since been viewed over half a million times. And yet Uglies remained untrailered.
Many of you sought to correct this imbalance by creating your own Uglies trailers, like this one, this one, this one, or this one. All of which are pretty (heh) cool.
But the time has come for Uglies to have its own official trailer!
So here it is at last: Uglies, the trailer!
If you know any other unofficial Uglies trailers, please link to them in the comments!
As the guy who wrote Uglies, there are certain kinds of news stories that are forwarded to me by everyone. Hi-tech tattoos, bizarre plastic surgery, stuff that hovers, and of course anything having to do with beauty. So it was no surprise that a recent story about the Miss Korea contest flooded my inbox.
The basic story went like this: Plastic surgery is so prevalent in South Korea that all the contestants in their national beauty contest look freakishly alike. Look, we haz proof!
And yes, I will admit that this is a somewhat chilling image. With a few exceptions, it looks like twenty photos of the same woman dressed and styled a bit differently. And yes, the South Korean appetite for plastic surgery is large. According to this NY Times article, about 20% of women there have had some sort of cosmetic procedure. These are true facts.
But whenever you run into a story like this one, that depends so heavily on a telling photographic image, please remember one simple rule: photographs aren’t real.
Photographs are artifacts of technology, records of specific combinations of light, lens, and angle. Photographs are easily manipulated. Photographs are two-dimensional representations of a 3-D world. Photographs can be more or less accurate, but they are never the whole story.
Take the worst photo ever taken of you and compare it to the best ever taken. Do they look even remotely like the same person?
For that matter, pick up your phone and take a photo of yourself right now. Then walk to a different part of your room and take another. Same place, same hair, same clothes, but often these two photos will look completely different. Not because you photoshopped them or cheated in some other way, but simply because the living, breathing, moving reality of you got sliced into two different tiny moments of time.
The forces of light, shadow, and expression morphed you into two different versions of yourself. Neither of which was real, because photographs aren’t real! Using a single image to reflect a real human being is like describing a lush, complex novel in a sentence. Sometimes you can tell which which book someone’s talking about, but a whole lot goes missing.
Back to our Korean beauty queens. Here are two of them before and after hair, make-up, and photoshopping got involved:
I say again: photographs aren’t real.
Korea doesn’t have some mass convergence of facial phenotypes caused by cosmetic surgery. Maybe they will one day, and maybe in certain social circles there one can spot noticeable similarities. But all we have proof of here is a particular aesthetic of hair, make-up, and photoshoppery associated with a particular beauty contest.
There is no emergency. Return to your homes, Crims.
(The before-and-after images first appeared on Ilbe, and as far as I can tell, reached the English-speaking infosphere on koreaBANG. Thanks to both for this valuable service.)
So whenever you read about a scientific study on beauty that relied on people rating photographs (as I did while writing Uglies), or see a story about how bloated or haggard some poor celebrity has become, or come across at photos that make you feel bad about yourself, just remember . . .
Photographs aren’t real. But you are.
On a COMPLETELY UNRELATED NOTE, here is my new author photo! I haven’t done one in ten years, and given that I just turned fifty, I figured it was time.
In the interest of full disclosure, I offer you the image before and after it was slightly retouched by my sister-in-law, noted visual effects artist Niki Bern, and include my notes to her.
Please do not actually USE that one as my author’s photo.
Instead, go with this version:
photo by Niki Bern, 2013
Everyone has permission to use this in all media forever. A bigger one can be found here.
When I was at Adelaide Writers Week last month, I did an extended interview with Sean Williams, who writes the Trouble Twisters series with Garth Nix. The ABC was kind enough to film the talk and put it online.
I talk about Uglies, Leviathan and the history of illustrations, living with another writer, from whence inspiration comes, my other books, and pretty much everything else writerly. It’s a whole hour long!
Hope you enjoy it. Thanks to Adelaide Writers Week for having me, to everyone who asked questions, to the ABC, and to Sean for being a great interviewer.