ewein2412: (osprey hair)
Letter from a teen reader, received 25 August 2016, posted here unedited (with the writer's permission).

Dear Elizabeth,

I'm writing simply because I just want to say how much your book has affected me. This is the first book written by you that I've read and, since receiving it as a Christmas present last year, I've read it nine times! No matter how many times I read it, though, a new element hits me and surprises me. I don't think I can remember the last time I could connect to a character as well as I have with Rosie or have read such a hard-hitting book telling about life in a concentration camp in such detail. Your book inspired me to conduct more research into these "rabbits" and ravensbrück to the point where I plan to give a presentation in the coming school term for my English speaking exam. The poems and use of them are incredible, I have learnt all of them off by heart! I particularly loved "like taut wings fly" and "kite flying". I used to be an avid reader but was forced to stop due to having such a full timetable but Rose under fire has rekindled my love of books and reading. Really, I just want to thank you for writing such an incredible book and imprinting the memories of the 150,000 women into my, and so many others' minds. This is not a book I will be letting go of any time soon. So again, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

ewein2412: (osprey hair)
For the past 18 years, Scottish Friendly Assurance have sponsored a series of week-long book tours in cooperation with the Scottish Book Trust, bringing authors and illustrators directly into schools: four per year in Scotland and two each year throughout the rest of the UK. I was lucky enough to be asked to tour as a Scottish author in Norfolk, England, this year.

Old school selfie – camera on timer! Beth, E Wein & Tom in King’s Lynn

With a pair of phenomenal representatives from the Scottish Book Trust, Beth Goodyear and Thomas Jefferson, I visited nine schools throughout Norfolk and managed to squeeze in a presentation to three more at the University of East Anglia’s FLY Festival of Literature for Young People in Norwich in the middle of the tour.

To start with, though, I got to meet with and enjoy a relaxed meal with Calum Bennie, the communications manager with the tour’s sponsor, Scottish Friendly. He is a dedicated supporter of the tour himself and stayed on to attend my first event. Later in the week we shared another evening and much book talk with the vibrant Mandy Steel of the Norfolk School Library Services, who was responsible for organizing and coordinating the events. It is fantastic to see so much enthusiasm and effort made to encourage young readers in these VERY TRYING TIMES. I was hugely impressed with Norfolk’s libraries – the old one at King’s Lynn is grand. But the
Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library
, where the FLY Festival was held – WOW! So many events and services, including a Polish club for children and being home to the 2nd Air Division USAAF Memorial Library – a beautiful working space well used.

King’s Lynn Public Library

Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library

Our Monday visits included a virtual tour of Ethiopia for enthusiastic participants at Cottenham Village College and a workshop on structure for the eager and diligent writing students at Downham Market Academy; Tuesday’s visit to Iceni Academy’s keen readers in Thetford combined aspects of both. I was so pleased with the students’ interest, their intelligent questions, and their hunger for books! This enthusiasm couldn’t have manifested itself more appropriately than it did on Tuesday afternoon, when we were surprised to see a familiar cover featured in the promotional banner for St. Clement’s High School:

St. Clement’s High School banner

Close-up of that banner… presumably taken during the Carnegie Shadowing 2013!

Beth and Tom had researched venues for both lunch and the evening meal each day, and on the drive between schools I basically sat in the front passenger seat taking pictures of windmills, pointing out items of interest with the aid of 25-year-old Ordnance Survey maps, demanding side-trips to places like Oxburgh Hall and Norfolk Lavender, and being stuffed with an apparently limitless assortment of comfort food that Beth had stashed in the back of the Scottish Book Trust minivan.

Lunch in King’s Lynn

Alderman Peel High School in Wells-next-the-Sea was a large group – ninety strong - who were focusing on heroism and its ramifications, and clearly just as eager to get stuck into a story of spies and pilots as the more intimate gathering in the lovely bright library at Dereham Neatherd High School in East Dereham. We couldn’t believe how many copies of Code Name Verity got snapped up that day. They were all gone by the end of the trip.

This bucket was full of books before our visit to Sprowston!

It was at Sprowston Community High School on Thursday morning where I learned that Edith Cavell, one of the heroic women mentioned in Code Name Verity, is a Norfolk native. The ensuing discussion of “famous last words” turned about to be an unusual way to hook new readers.

After the FLY Festival Event at the fabulous Millennium Library on Thursday afternoon, we finished the week with a visit to Caister Academy in Great Yarmouth, and had an entertaining and animated discussion with the year 9 English students at Thorpe St. Andrew School (I made the mistake of telling them not to blow their noses in my silk escape map. A lot of fake sneezing ensued). The Caister year 7s had all done amazing research projects on the women of the Special Operations Executive and put together a fantastic display of the results. I was disappointed I didn’t have time to read them all.

Caister Academy SOE project

Caister Academy readers

I ended up the week by myself in Peterborough, overflowing with images, names, faces, scenery, libraries, and youthful enthusiasm as I waited for my train home the following morning. What a lot of preparation went into this tour by so many different people, and how lucky I am to have been able to participate in it! It was hard not to feel a bit blue now that it was all over. I spent the evening glued to the BBC and Twitter as the results of the EU referendum were discussed all around the world.

I had one last outing before catching my train: Peterborough Cathedral. It turns out to be the first burial place of Mary Queen of Scots, before her body was moved to Westminster Abbey by her son James I (James VI of Scotland). It made me feel curiously at home to see the Saltire hanging there so unexpectedly after a week in deepest England.

Former burial place of Mary Queen of Scots in Peterborough Cathedral

What we didn't indulge in:

ONLY because it was closed.

And this is probably the best of the 420 pictures of the moon I took early in the week. Unretouched!

Note to Americans: almost all British kids wear school uniforms.
ewein2412: (fiction writer not detective)
The YA Dash is now finished and the winner is Melissa P.!

I think my writing owes a lot to the mystery genre. A slow build in the beginning, introducing a lot of characters and setting the stage for later - sprinkling red herrings to lead the reader down the wrong path on purpose - then thundering breakneck action in the last third of the book - are all features of my own style. I think I construct my novels this way because I really love the pacing of mysteries. So here are two truths and a lie about my mystery history.

(If you participated in the YADash, you’d have had to find my hidden clue in the sentence that contains the lie. By linking back to my website author biography page, and the book page for Black Dove, White Raven - links provided below - you can discover what is truth and what isn’t! A full retrospective of the YADash is here.)

I lived in Jamaica from 1970-1973, and my mother used to buy me a Hardy Boys book each week at the grocery story. I’d read it, and she’d take it back the following week and say, “Elizabeth’s already got this one - can we exchange it for another?” (You can read more about my early life on my author biography page, here.) Inspired by the Hardy Boys, a friend and I devised a series called The Churcha Girls, and, amazingly, when we were 7 years old, we actually wrote a Churcha Girl book. The Hidden Treasure wasn’t novel-length, but it filled a notebook. It had red herrings and captures and rescues and closure.

Me at 7 in Jamaica with neighbors Madge Henriques and Patrick Taylor

I left Jamaica soon after, but I did not lose sight of my desire to be a writer. When I was 14, I completed an even longer mystery called The Green-Eyed Beauty, about the supposed kidnapping of a glamorous teen who was actually a spy (yup, even then). My own best friend described this as “the stupidest book I have ever read.” She was probably right. I have got better at titles since then, too.

Black Dove, White Raven, which is published novel Number 8 for me (and the one associated with the YADash prize – read about Black Dove, White Raven here), is not a mystery. And yet it follows that same structural pattern of the slow build with menace and tension which explodes into violence late in the book. It’s set in 1935, as Italy prepares for its invasion of Ethiopia, and focuses on an American teen brother and sister settled in Ethiopia as we did in Jamaica, who get caught in the storm as war erupts around them.

What am I working on next? It's a mystery.


A total of 10 suspense and mystery authors were involved in the YADash. You can check out their blogs and books here:

Susan Adrian
Lindsay Cummings
Lee Kelly
Y.S. Lee
T.A. Maclagan
Valynne Maetani
Diana Renn
Laurie Stolarz
Mary Elizabeth Summer

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ewein2412: (osprey hair)
25 June 2014 is the release date for Nome in Codice Verity!

There have been quite a few foreign language editions of Code Name Verity released in the last year or so, and often as not I know nothing about their distant existence after I sign the contract. Sometimes I sneakily buy myself copies through some continental bookseller in Euros. I haven’t figured out how to find a copy of the Chinese editions (the publisher will some day send me a few, I hope.)

However, sometimes there is a little more fanfare. As part of the Mare de Libri (Sea of Books) Festival of Young Readers held this year in Rimini 13-15 June 2014, there is an annual competition for students to create a book trailer for forthcoming books in Italian. The competition is organized by three major Italian publishers including Rizzoli, the publisher of Nome in Codice Verity, who invite participation from readers in all the schools of Italy.

By happy coincidence, the winning video for this year’s competition, by Sofia Rivolta, is for Nome in Codice Verity. It is beautiful and utterly haunting.

The 6th place video, by the Sagrado school group, is also a CNV trailer. It looks like this one is accompanied by original music – “Tango Verity”! I am so amazed at the creativity and ingenuity of these kids, though I probably shouldn’t be!

Another cool thing about the Italian edition of CNV is that the kind and conscientious translator, Giulia Bertoldo, got in touch with me regarding a number of subtle queries about the nuance of words used in the book. We talked a lot about the faint difference between “radio operator” (radiotelegrafista) and “wireless operator” (marconista), in addition to “radio” and “wireless set”. Giulia ended up consulting a blogger named Andrea Lawrendel on the site Radiopassioni (“Radio Passions”), who suggested the term “sanfilista” (from sans fils, without wire), and also recommended some relevant reading material for her. She finally went with “operatrice radio” for Verity, noting that “the term operatrice leads to the idea that she was in a way a sort of ‘puppet master,’” and “controllore di volo” (air traffic controller) for Maddie, which is a more modern term but an accurate description of her job.

Andrea Lawrendel has now published a kind review of Nome in Codice Verity on Radiopassioni, as well as wishing the best of luck to both translator and author.

What a great way to celebrate my debut in Italian!
ewein2412: (snowicon)
If I were going to make a new year's resolution, which I don't often do, it would be to update this journal once a month instead of never.

Part of the reason I have been so unproductive here is because I've written a LOT of guest posts on other blogs throughout the year. And now Chachic of Chachic's Book Nook is hosting a weeklong celebration of my books (!), beginning today - not that I have to do any blogging for it. I just get to sit back and enjoy the show! I love that 21 December is the opening day of "EWeinSpecialOps"!


This is all coinciding with my upgraded website going live at www.elizabethwein.com, courtesy of my friend Tina Stoecklin and YogaWebs - AND with Open Road Media reissuing ALL FIVE of my early books - The Winter Prince, A Coalition of Lions, The Sunbird, The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom, as e-books!

Here's the link to the e-books on Open Road.

So - after all that self-aggrandizing, best wishes for a warm and bright midwinter season (you know the words):

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

- Susan Cooper for the Revels
ewein2412: (osprey hair)
I get challenged again and again: “Why is Code Name Verity considered young adult fiction? The characters are too old. The writing is too literary. The situation is too harsh.” And that is all true. Sometimes these challenges are polite, and made directly; sometimes I encounter them, more hurtfully, online. “Nothing happens in the first 200 pages, it’s so boring.” “There are too many technical details.” “I can’t imagine a teen reader engaging with this book.” “My whole freshman class has to read this and we all hate it.” Oh, man. Author nightmare, your book turned into a school assignment that everybody hates!

I have very little idea how many teens actually read and enjoy Code Name Verity. When I speak to school groups, they usually haven’t read it yet. When I speak at bookstores, the audience is almost always overwhelmingly composed of grown-ups. But every now and then I get a hint that there are target audience fans out there too. In Politics & Prose in Washington, DC, I met a 12-year-old girl who had read Code Name Verity five times (when she was eleven). She said it was her favorite book. She had forced it on her best friend, who had read it twice. I remind myself about these kids whenever I feel down. And also of the occasional amazing school visit like Heart of England, which read CNV for the Carnegie Shadowing scheme. And also of the occasional evangelistic readers my daughter (now 16) meets online. These are the opposite of the nightmare scenario.

I knew that Code Name Verity was one of the 28 titles in the running for the YALSA Teens Top Ten list for 2013, but I totally, totally did not expect it to make the final cut. Last night I was flabbergasted to learn that it came in as Number One.

Here's a congratulatory tweet I received from Jenn Calder which really encompasses what this means to me:

Okay? Okay! People! It doesn’t prove anything about CNV so much as it proves that teens are intelligent, discerning readers. The whole fabulous list does. I’d have been proud to be anywhere on it. Heck, I was proud to be one of the 28 nominees.

Here it is in full.

1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Disney/Hyperion)
2. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic/Scholastic Press)
3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books)
4. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Harlequin Teen)
5. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole (Simon & Schuster)
6. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic/Scholastic Press)
7. Crewel by Gennifer Albin (Macmillan/Farrar Straus Giroux)
8. Every Day by David Levithan (Random House/Alfred A. Knopf)
9. Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (Egmont)
10. Butter by Erin Jade Lange (Bloomsbury)

Thank you, YALSA teens. I am going to stop doubting myself now.

ewein2412: (e Wein)
Check out all the authors I’ve tagged in The Next Big Thing!

Erin Bow

Jeanette Cheney

Tanita Davis

Sarah Hilary (who has just won the Cheshire Prize for Literature!)

Rosanne Rivers

In the meantime, since not all these authors have their posts up yet, here are a couple more to check out:

Erin Johnson, who hasn’t tagged anyone herself. She has a nice rec for my Next Big Thing post on her own entry, and is a fellow SCBWI British Isles member, so I thought I’d tag her back. Erin is working on a doctorate at Oxford, researching masculinity in the works of the Brontës, and is also working on a young adult historical fantasy called Belladonna.

James Bow, who is Erin Bow’s husband and tagged in her blog post too - he’s working on a book called Icarus Down, YA sci-fi, inspired by a dream about a boy who tries to fly around the world on a kite. This is one I’m going to be reading!

I’ve also got an interview up with Katja Weinert on her blog at YA’s the Word, here, and I’ll be making a guest appearance on Saturday on the Booksmugglers to join in their Smugglivus celebration.
ewein2412: (harriet writing (text))
I have always been pretty jealous of debut writers' groups who get together and sing each other's praises and find solidarity in a communal marketing plan for their first books - and then continue to support each other as their careers build. I made my publishing debut in 1993, not quite before the internet (remember Genie, anyone?) - but, yeah. Not the same.

But now! The internet is my friend. And at the moment there's a great meme going around among authors' blogs called 'The Next Big Thing,' where everybody promotes everybody else. You Reveal All (or a bit, anyway!) about your next book, and then you tag five other authors (whose work you like, and whom you think might be The Next Big Thing) to Reveal All about their own WIP the following week.

Teresa Flavin tagged me. We met at a reception given by Teen Titles during the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August. I was delighted to meet her because she'd designed the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators British Isles (SCBWI BI) logo:

uk logo small

We originally requested it for our masthead for Words & Pictures, the SCBWI BI newsletter which was my baby and brainchild in 1996. Teresa, like me, is an American ex-pat living in Scotland. She's the illustrator of a number of picture books, but now has headed into YA territory - her second novel, The Crimson Shard, is just out from Candlewick Press in the US. Here's her website; and here’s her 'Next Big Thing' post.

And now, my own 'Next Big Thing' question time!

• 1) What is the working title of your next book?

It didn't have a title for a long time and everybody just called it 'Rose's book.' But the real title will probably be Rose Under Fire.

• 2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

The book is about a young American Air Transport Auxiliary pilot, Rose Justice, who is delivering planes and taxiing pilots for the RAF in the UK just after D-Day (summer 1944). For one reason and another she ends up 'uncertain of position' over enemy lines and is forced to land at a German airfield - she's then sent to the women's concentration camp at Ravensbrück.

I give this background before answering the question because the answer is, a book about Ravensbrück has been simmering in me for most of my life. Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place was my first introduction to World War II, when I was about eight. I had a Ravensbrück plot line going when I was 12. When I read Mary Ann Shaffer's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the memory of what I knew about Ravensbrück rose to the surface and grabbed me by the throat.

Nabokov talks about how a short story can grow 'the wings and fangs of a novel.' I think it is fair to say that my early story (what might be called 'juvenilia') has 'grown wings.'

• 3) What genre does your book fall under?

'Historical Fiction.' Ptbbbb ptbbb ptbbbb :P

• 4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ohhhh…. Who could play Rose?

Katharine Hepburn, maybe? Rose is supposed to look a little like Katharine Hepburn, a cross between Hepburn and Amelia Earhart, tall and freckled and wholesome, well-heeled but from a small town in Pennsylvania.

• 5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

See question 2, above? 'Young American ATA pilot Rose Justice ends up in a concentration camp in Germany.' Hmm, I might have to work on that - it sounds dire. And Rose is very resilient and determined.

• 6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My awesome agent, Ginger Clark, has placed this book under contract with the same editors who published Code Name Verity, namely Stella Paskins at Egmont UK (with the Electric Monkey imprint), Catherine Onder at Disney Hyperion in the US, and Janice Weaver (filling in for Amy Black on maternity leave) at Doubleday in Canada.

• 7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Two years. One thing I haven't mentioned is that Rose is a budding poet - so the manuscript includes several of her poems. These actually stalled me quite a bit and were the hardest part of the book to write.

They were also wonderful to write, because they were such hard work. Rose is not as accomplished a poet as me, not as experienced a reader as me, and has a different writing style to mine anyway. So I had to make Rose's poems sound like Rose's poems, not E. Wein's, and this was a real challenge.

I actually wrote several of her Ravensbrück poems on site at Ravensbrück. I would go back in a minute just to be able to be that productive again.

• 8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Dudes. I am unique.

Haha. I am only half kidding. I don't know any other books about girl pilots in concentration camps. I don't know any other books, other than non-fiction, about a women's concentration camp. I confess that most of my concentration camp reading has been non-fiction, so I can't really compare Rose's book to other books within my 'genre.' It's probably more like Micheline Maurel's An Ordinary Camp than anything else ('An Ordinary Camp' is a title I really, really like - it means, 'not a death camp'), right down to the poetry she includes. I am pretty sure Rose's book is not like The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne or Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, but I have not read those, so I may be wrong. It is nothing like Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic, which I have read.

Remember I said the sort-of working title was 'Rose's book'? Not 'the Ravensbrück book,' but 'Rose's book.' Like everything I write, it is character driven. How this character, how Rose deals with the setting is what I'm interested in.

• 9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It was partly because while I was researching Code Name Verity I discovered that about 20 per cent of the female Special Operations Executive agents sent into occupied France ended up in Ravensbrück. It was partly that the Shaffer book reawakened my interest in Ravensbrück. But if I had to name one person, I think it would have to be Wanda Półtawska. Her book, And I Am Afraid of My Dreams, chronicles her own imprisonment in Ravensbrück. She was subjected to horrific experimentation and eventually, she, along with her fellow experimental 'Rabbits,' staged a quiet revolt against the camp administration which I've attempted to recreate in fictional form.

Wanda Półtawska's Wikipedia page, translated from Polish)

Wanda Półtawska speaking in a report about Pope John Paul II

• 10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

EXPLOSIONS. Because, seriously, what thriller doesn't have explosions?

There are a couple of themes that weave throughout the text of Rose's book, and one of these is the flying bomb - otherwise known as buzz bomb, doodlebug, pilotless plane, or V-1 retaliation weapon. These were essentially the first 'guided missiles' and were launched at London throughout the summer of 1944. They figure significantly in the plot - first because they are a threat to Rose on the ground in England, later as a threat to her in the air over France, and finally because as a prisoner she finds herself put to work making flying bomb fuses.

So, the book has a lot of flying in it, too (and seriously, the miracle of flight ought to rock your world a little).



And now, in alphabetical order, here are five other writers you should check out, who are going to answer the same questions NEXT week. Check back and see what they have to say about The Next Big Thing.

Erin Bow (blog here) is the lyrical author of the young adult novel Plain Kate, which won the Canadian Children's Literature Award in 2011. Her eagerly awaited second YA novel, Sorrow's Knot, is due out any moment now, and she's got a truly tantalizing list of works-in-progress. Erin has also published collections of poetry for adults.

Jeanette Cheney (who is exactly 17 days younger than me) has an impressive list of short fiction to her name in various science fiction and fantasy publications - her persistence is about to pay off, with novels Of Blood and Brandy and The Seat of Magic to be published by Penguin Books in Autumn 2013 and Spring 2014. We met at Worldcon in Glasgow in 2005 and clicked on a writerly and emotional level. She has Airedales.

Tanita Davis and I met through Finding Wonderland: The Writing YA Blog, which Tanita writes in conjuction with two other bloggers, aquafortis and citysmartgirl. I'm pretty sure [livejournal.com profile] sdn (Viking and Firebirds editor Sharyn November) introduced us. When Tanita and I discovered we were both ex-pats living in Scotland (do you sense a theme?), we became friends, and remain a Mutual Admiration Society in terms of books. My favorite of Tanita's is still her Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book Mare's War, about the only black women's regiment to be stationed in Europe during World War II. Her most recent young adult book is Happy Families.

Sarah Hilary and I met online because I commented on an achingly lovely Rebecca fanfic she'd written. It turned out that we both started school in Wilmslow, Cheshire, within a couple of years of each other, and were both lifetime Alan Garner fans. Sarah is a virtuoso flash fiction and short story writer, hugely versatile and prolific, with a singing prose style which is quirky and gritty and brilliant all at the same time. She won the Sense Creative Award in 2010 and was the Most Read Author at Every Day Fiction during their inaugural year. I am pretty well convinced she has a runaway hit crime novel waiting in the wings.

Rosanne Rivers is a fellow SCBWI BI member and the author of the Young Adult romance/thriller After the Fear, which debuts in December 2012. She's also got a blog focused on topics of interest to writers and readers. We met via the SCBWI BI online discussion group where 'The Next Big Thing' has been doing the rounds like a game of tag!

If you want to click around and read what other writers' 'Next Big Thing' entries are NOW, check back to Teresa's blog - or do a google search and see what turns up! The nice thing about this meme is that you don't need to be tagged to start your own chain, so get to work, kids!


And finally, I thot I'd stick these in for color. Um, pun intended. Taken yesterday about 3.30 pm. Can't possibly do this rainbow justice, as I couldn't fit the whole thing in the picture - two complete arches. Also, I am not good at adjusting the light on my camera. It was all MUCH MORE INTENSE in reality.

The first two pics were taken at the back of our house, and the last two in the front garden.

back of house rainbow 121120

back of house rainbow 2 121120

front garden rainbow 2 121120

front garden rainbow 121120

ewein2412: (looking the wrong way)
I have two weeks.

I would like to write something heroic and inspired before I go up in fireworks, but I am too stupid and sick with dread to think of anything. I can’t even think of anyone else’s memorable defiance to repeat. I wonder what William Wallace said when they were tying him to the horses that would rip him into quarters. All I can think of is Nelson saying ‘Kiss me, Hardy.’


OK, so I’m not really sick with dread. And nothing actually ever happens on a book’s ‘launch day’. You wait and wait and wait and wait, you waste years of your life waiting, and the publication date comes and goes and if you don’t mark it with a handful of confetti of your own, you find you’re actually just waiting again—for reviews or ratings or feedback of some kind—only now the waiting has no demarcated limit and eventually trickles off into waiting for the next book. I know, I know. Special Ops Exec. Write -

I’m not ‘sick with dread’, but I am apprehensive about Code Name Verity in a way that is new to me. It is new to me because it has real hope in it—hope that is gradually sloughing off its gild of cynicism. And that is because people are reading and enjoying this book. I sit here at my computer and I see what’s going on, in the blogosphere and the reviewing world, and I can’t quite believe it. I certainly can’t see where it’s going. I am almost as apprehensive of success as I am of disappointment.

CNV is, for example, an Amazon Editor’s Pick for Best Book of the Month in May. This may generate what a couple of reviewers are calling ‘hype,’ but it isn’t hype in and of itself. Hype didn’t put it there - the book put itself there. And that just makes my jaw drop.

Of course, it’s already out here in the UK. I’ve no idea how well it’s doing—the excitement of the first ‘Book Birthday’ has tapered off, and I don’t know if it’s selling according to plan. A team of guerrilla CNV Special Ops agents send me pictures of the book displayed in the windows of independent booksellers, or occasionally on a prominent shelf in the chains, bearing a handwritten staff recommendation card. I don’t quite know where to file these small triumphs in my brain. They astonish me. When the phenomenal review of CNV in Publisher’s Weekly turned up, and I found it online before my agent or even the publisher knew it was there, I didn’t tweet it for three days because I was sure it must be an error. But it wasn’t an error.

OK, you all know the location of the first aid kit and the fire extinguisher, right? And how to open the hatches in the event of a forced landing? Echo Echo Whiskey, ready for departure.


‘I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe, but at least I’m enjoying the ride.’ - The Grateful Dead


Comment, and we'll do one of our lame 'Sara picks a name out of a hat' giveaways - an autographed copy of the UK edition of CNV. Closes 8 a.m. BST Sat. 5 May 2012 (that's 8 a.m. British Summer Time, so Friday midnight in California, I think. That way I can mail it on saturday morning and you have a chance of getting it before the release date. Yes, I will ship internationally. I am wild that way.)
ewein2412: (verity text)
My personal encounters with wartime aircraft on I Want to Read That:


(I am such a nerd)

Also do check out Tanita's rants/riffs on "war stories" and the term "historical fiction" over on Finding Wonderland, using CNV as a case in point:


ewein2412: (verity text)
6 Feb 2012 Code Name Verity goes OPERATIONAL, so I'm posting a few pertinent Public Service Announcements.


"This bloody radio interview. All lies, lies and damned lies."

I'm going to be on speaking live on Bookcafe, hosted by Clare English, on BBC Radio Scotland on Monday, 6 Feb. 2012 at 13.15 GMT. I'm not planning to lie but I MIGHT make a fool of myself. The programme is repeated on Sunday, 12 Feb. 2012 at 15.00 and is also available on Listen Again throughout the week. You can't listen on iPlayer from outside the UK, but I am told by a reliable source that you can download the podcast.

Monday's programme information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01bmm32

Podcast downloads: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/bookcafe

Bookcafe home page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0079gb9


"I have told the truth. Isn't that ironic?"

It begins today at the Booktrust website, with me talking about the theme of 'friendship' in CNV. (Oh, how it tickles me to have the most mature and complex book of my 25 year career as a writer be called my "debut book". I only wish I'd made a debut like this. In a blue silk ball gown. Whatever it takes! It is my debut in the UK, at any rate.)


[livejournal.com profile] chachic's Book Nook over at Wordpress isn't officially part of the tour, but she's written a great review and has a fantastic blog. Check out the posts for her Queen's Thief Week celebration of the books of Megan Whalen Turner while you're over there!


"You ignorant quisling b******, I am Scottish."

Yep, it's official... Books for Scotland called me (in a tweet) "American-born Scottish writer Elizabeth Wein." Delightfully, they've chosen CNV as their Children's Choice book for February 2012:



"It is a BRILLIANT photograph - totally convincing."

My friend Helen, aka the Best Roommate Ever, spotted this in an independent bookseller's in Dulwich, South London:


And away we go! Watch this space, because I really really want to make a post about Mark's Year 7 class and their AMAZING BURNS SUPPER last week. At the moment I have rather too many balls in the air to do it justice.
ewein2412: (snowicon)
No doubt a bunch of you will remember that my friend Amanda had a double mastectomy last year - quite a few of you very generously made contributions to a 5k run, Race for Life, in which I participated on Amanda’s behalf to raise funds for cancer research. ACB’s operation was so successful she is considered completely cured - she’ll never even have to have another mammogram. But the battle itself won’t be over for some months yet, as she’s in the first stages of reconstructive surgery now. A bit like rebuilding your ruined cities after the bombing stops… or something like that.

Anyway, I’m dedicating Code Name Verity to her. Because more than anything else, it is a story about friendship. But I have to say, the friendship in the book isn’t just based on my friendship with Amanda - there’s a bit of everybody in there, and if you’ve ever bicycled twenty miles in the rain with me or asked me to read or sing or ring at your wedding or be your bridesmaid or hold your chuppah, or driven me to the airport (or asked me to drive you to the airport), or helped me move, or come along on a punting picnic, or taught me to ski, or played recorder duets with me, or come along with me for a ride in a small plane, or - dare I say it - Worn the Socks - well, you know who you are.

Happy new year, everybody - I hope from the bottom of my heart that it’s exciting and GOOD.


On a lighter note, here's me and Sara practicing for next Christmas, since we weren’t home for this one…

sand tarts and...

gingerbread whoopie pies.


Also, look what appeared in Perth while we were in the States over the Christmas holidays - the sign says ‘Curiositeaz… Vintage Tea Room - Bringing the Past to Life - Vintage Curiosity and Gift Shop’

I have not yet been inside. I MAY HAVE TO GO IN COSTUME.
ewein2412: (verity text)
Yes he was, and he didn't even know he was delivering THIS.


crikey. it is a THING.
ewein2412: (harriet writing (text))
I don’t usually write up an outline for a book, but I have a general idea of where I want to go and how I’m going to get there. What happens along the way becomes clear as I write. What amazes me, always, is how it crystallizes as I’m writing it.

I first noticed this effect while I was writing The Sunbird. The scene where Telemakos hides in the air flue above the toilet? I didn’t know any of the physical detail of that scene until I was writing it, and then it was like I was remembering the whole thing - the way it smelled, the way the walls felt, exactly the way it was constructed, how you’d climb up there.

I’m experiencing a similar effect in the book I’m writing now. I’ve taken 100 pages to get to a particular point on the map, but every time I’ve tried to imagine how that point would look when I got to it, it’s been veiled in lack of detail. Now that I’m there - now that the character is there, telling about it - it’s like memory. My character’s memory is inaccurate and she’s up front about that, but essentially she knows what happened and is telling it in a way that’s grittier and more palpable - and, indeed, more plausible - than any of the possibilities I imagined before I got there. And now, as a writer, I know that *I* am there in a deeper way than I was when I planned the plot. I am *in*.

I always worry that I won’t be able to pull off whatever it is - that it won’t work as effectively as I want it to - that the prose will be mediocre or the details too vague - or that I won’t be able to keep enough balls in the air to effect whatever grand scheme I have in mind. But once I am *in*, the balls keep themselves up almost effortlessly.

Apologies for being so vague about the book itself. Bear with me as someone new drags me along on her personal journey to hell and back. I might have to escape for a virtual coffee here from time to time.
ewein2412: (Lleu)
Although it's been in and out of print twice in the US, The Winter Prince has never been out of print in Germany since its publication there in 1995. Every January I am surprised by a very very small royalty amount for this edition:


Deutschland, das Land der Dichter und Denker. ♥
ewein2412: (verity text)
We have victory in Europe! (I did put "Fix Vichy France" on my to-do list earlier this year, didn't I?) Code Name Verity has got a British publisher.


On a related note, the New York Times obituary for the incredible Eileen Nearne is considerably more level-headed than most of what I've seen in the British press. Amazing no one knew who she was. I recognized her face and name immediately when they turned up on the front page of the [London] Times last week, but then, I had just finished reading A Life in Secrets and The Women Who Lived for Danger.

The Gestapo is so much scarier than the Undead. I'm just sayin'.
ewein2412: (Default)
You guys are all STARS. I don't know who was doing it, but someone out there sure did put a spike in my Amazon ratings last night (and not just for The Winter Prince). Plus, it is just nice to know that there are people out there who love what you write.

[livejournal.com profile] sdn, who is, as some of you may know, my editor, has TODAY managed to convince the Powers That Be to hold off on remaindering all copies of The Winter Prince. I got my remainder notice in the mail yesterday, which is what prompted my last post; I'd assumed it was a done deal. But it wasn't. THREE CHEERS FOR SDN!!!! Between her, and my agent, and the remarkable support I've been getting from friends known and unknown (and lost and found), I am a less bitter and twisted bunny than I was yesterday morning.

Thank you, again, from the bottom of my heart. Keep reading.
ewein2412: (Default)
Dear everybody,

The Winter Prince is about to go out of print FOR THE SECOND TIME. Chances of its being reprinted again are slender, and this is particularly heartbreaking to me because the "series" is only halfway completed, so anyone coming to it new won't be able to pick up the first book (The Sunbird comes out in paperback in January 2006; two new books are scheduled to come out in 2007).

If you don't own a copy of The Winter Prince, or your best friend or your mother or your brother or your niece or your teacher needs a copy, please go buy it NOW, while you can, and spread the word to anyone and everyone you think would enjoy it (link to this entry if you like). And while you're buying books: A Coalition of Lions will undoubtedly be next for the chop. I've already been given advances on all these books, and it won't make any difference to my income whether or not there's a sudden rising blip in their slender sales records, but I want to go down FIGHTING.

Thank you, all of you.

Love, E Wein

The Winter Prince

The Winter Prince
ewein2412: (Default)
Look at all the little Calcifers!

We are off to the States for a month. I have primed myself for Howl's Moving Castle by re-reading it. Sara (7) and Mark (5) have primed themselves for Howl's Moving Castle by watching Spirited Away with me last night. The DVD, a present from Tim, has been sitting (unwatched) on my filing cabinet for at least 6 months, maybe a year; the gift definitely predates my seduction down the anime/manga path by [livejournal.com profile] coffee_and_ink, [livejournal.com profile] telophase, and [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija. How does my husband know me so well?

Sara has amazingly well-developed Plot Sense. mild spoilers for Spirited Away ) It stuns me.

Mark's comment: "This reminds me of Fullmetal Alchemist."


This morning's conversation:

Mark: "What does 'rech' mean?"
Mummy: "Well; it could mean 'wretch,' someone who's very miserable, or it could mean 'retch,' when you make a sound like blaaaaaaa."
Mark: "I thought it meant when you have a whole lot of treasure and you get to play with it."
Mummy: "Oh, you mean 'RICH'!"


I probably won't be posting much over the next six weeks. But I WILL be at WorldCon!
And here is my schedule. )


ewein2412: (Default)

September 2017



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