Breathless Books!

September 29, 2010

I’ll start this post with a sad story from my youth. When I was just out of college, I went to work for a large advertising agency here in New York. One of my clients was Vagistat. (What’s Vagistat, you ask? Let’s just say that it’s EXACTLY what it sounds like.) At the time, they were looking for a new spokesperson. For some reason, one of the senior-level women at the agency decided that I would make the PERFECT spokesperson. For Vagistat. (Why? I have no idea. Perhaps she thought I’d be cheap labor. Or maybe I just looked like I itched.) She tried to make her case, but everyone else thought it was a ridiculous notion. (I’m sure everyone who’s ever met me agrees.) I thought it would be awesome. (Why did I want to sell feminine hygiene products? I have no idea. I was just as strange back then as I am now.) Of course there was no chance of me ever getting the job. And I always felt like I’d missed my one shot at television glory.

So imagine my glee when I learned that Penguin (my publisher) would be making a television ad featuring five of their books–including The Eternal Ones! It’s like a dream come true. The picture above is a still from the ad. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

I haven’t seen the full commercial yet, but I have seen images created for the other four “Breathless Books.” (I’ve read all of the Breathless Books, and they’re amazing.) You can check out more stills by clicking the links below . . .

The Replacement




The full ad will premier Friday, OCTOBER FIRST, on MTV’s Hollywood Crush Blog! Check back Friday for the direct link!

In the meantime, excerpts from all of the Breathless Books are available for download at!


You Were: The Belly Dancer

September 28, 2010

If the title has you imagining yourself in some distant land—eating dates by the camel-load and charming young men as handsome as Omar Sharif—then I must apologize for leading you astray. You worked in a Middle Eastern restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island, just off I-95. The food there was vile. (The hummus was not made from chickpeas. The chef, having once misread an old recipe, used chicken fat instead.) There was only one reason the restaurant stayed in business. The entertainment.

No one knew how a minister’s fair-haired daughter could have learned how to belly dance. You were four years old when you first stole your mother’s prettiest brassiere, decorated a belt with gold coins from your brother’s toy box, and put on a show for your family at Christmas. They were mortified. Back in those days, few people were familiar with the art of belly dancing. And four year olds were not encouraged to shake their booties. Everyone was convinced that you’d lost your mind.

Of course, this was hardly the first—or the last time—that people had accused you of being a bit loopy. You’ve always done things your own way—and that tends to disturb the small-minded folks who think everyone should toe the same line.

Despite your parents’ protests, you stuck with the belly dancing. By the time you graduated from high school, you were the best in the land. (Or at least the North East.) You could do things with your torso that seemed anatomically impossible. And there were plenty of people who enjoyed watching you do them.

You made an excellent living and could have retired quite young. Instead, you bought the restaurant, fired the chef, and started serving the most delicious hummus that ever graced a pita. And you kept dancing into your later years. Even when you were in your sixties you still drew crowds of gentlemen (and ladies), all eager for a glimpse of the most famous navel in New England.

Get Back to Work!

September 27, 2010

No, not you. ME. I’ve been on the road, hanging out with the great people of Illinois (not to mention 21 amazing authors) and having a blast. (A big, big thank you to Anderson’s–one of the most wonderful bookstores in the country–for inviting me to their annual YA Conference!) But now it’s time to get back to business! Starting with a few past life readings. So stay tuned . . .

You Were: The Angel

September 23, 2010

It all started the year your parents decided to pack you off to a boarding school nestled deep in the hills of Vermont. You screamed and fought and argued about it for months. (It was just this sort of behavior that had led to your banishment.) But once you arrived in the tiny town that surrounded the school, a strange calm settled over you. Somehow you knew that was where you needed to be.

Less than two months after classes began, your school threw its annual Halloween masquerade ball. Most of your fellow students saw the party as a chance to put their wealth on display. The mail room quickly filled with packages from the most famous costume shops in New York and Paris. Jewels and tiaras were delivered by armed guards.

In your opinion, renting a costume or borrowing jewels was no different than cheating. You resolved to make your own outfit. You “borrowed” a crisp white bed sheet from a girl down the hall and ripped open the down pillow you’d brought from California. Three bottles of glue, a closet’s worth of clothes hangers, and a jar of pancake makeup were all you needed to complete your creation.

When you stood in front of the mirror that night, you had no way of knowing how much you resembled the marble angel that watched over the town’s only graveyard. Your classmates were equally clueless. And they weren’t impressed by your artistry. You endured a full hour of snickering and snide comments before you stormed out of the school, determined never to return.

As you made it all the way to the small bus stop in town. A lone woman was waiting on the bench outside, her eyes closed and her face troubled. She jumped when you dropped down beside her. But then a smile spread across her face, and she reached out a hand. For some reason you took it, and the two of you sat together for over an hour without saying a word. When the bus finally came, the woman said, “Thank you.” You waved at her as she rode away.

Back at boarding school, you folded your white gown and hid your wings in the closet. For the next four years, the townsfolk talked about an angel that sprung to life. Even your roommates never guessed it was you.

My Q&A With Brenna Yovanoff!

September 22, 2010

1)  The Replacement is one of the most original stories that I’ve read in recent years. Sometimes it’s easy to identify an author’s influences, but I must admit, I’m drawing a blank here. What was it that sparked the idea for this book?

First, I need to put this out there: I am a huge pack-rat.  I try not to be messy about it (much), but I save everything, and everything seems interesting and fun and like it might come in handy someday.  I think my influences function in sort of the same way.  The Replacement owes a lot to Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery,” because I knew I wanted that same kind of creepy-town vibe, but it also draws a lot from punk music and Victorian culture and my abject terror of water I can’t see the bottom of.  (In light of this, it probably won’t surprise you that I like making collages.)

2)  Do you know (or have you known) any children that you secretly suspect might be changelings? (I have, but this is about YOU, not me. Haha.)

I have to say, as an inveterate babysitter, I have known some pretty weird kids.  No changelings however, although one of my cousins had me worried for a while.

3)  I love books and movies that scare the @$*& out of me. The Replacement certainly fits that bill. Do you enjoy having a good scream now and then? If so, which films or books would you recommend?

Oh, I am so obsessed with scary movies!  The last movie that really, really got to me, and I can’t even explain why, was the Spanish film The Orphanage.  Something about the  cinematography, plus the storyline, plus the setting just completely terrified me.  And I’d be remiss if I didn’t confess that to this day, Pet Sematary by Stephen King is, without a doubt, the scariest book I’ve ever read.

4)  In your novel, some very small children find themselves in terrible trouble. (I won’t say any more.) As the mother of a very small child, I found this ABSOLUTELY HORRIFYING. Do you have children?  If so, how could you imagine such things?

While I don’t have kids, I really like them and I come from a big extended family, so I’ve always spent a lot of time with them.  The idea of something bad happening to anyone defenseless, whether children or animals, scares me to no end.  Which, come to think of it, is the common thread between The Orphanage and Pet Sematary!

5)  There’s no way that a person who writes books like The Replacement can be just another average Jane. Are you as interesting in real life as I imagine you might be?

Well, that certainly depends on what you’re imagining!  I like to tell people that I have two different speeds.  One speed is leisurely.  When that’s my general setting, I like sewing, cooking, gardening, and drinking tea.  Also, babies, puppies, scrapbooks, and mittens.  The other speed is how I actually get stuff done.  It usually involves contact sports, too much eyeliner, pulling all-nighters, and climbing things I’m not supposed to be climbing.

6)  Let’s talk about The Lady. She’s one of the more unforgettable characters I’ve encountered. (Along with the Morrigan.) Out of which dark, desolate corner of your brain did you drag HER?

The Lady is interesting because when I think about her now, she seems very Dickensian, but while I was writing, I had no idea where she was coming from.  Looking back, she really owes a lot to Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, though.  Both those books have these very vengeful, self-righteous villains, and I can definitely see that at work with in her character.

7) I have a hunch we might see more of Mackie and Tate. Am I on to something? Will there be a sequel?

I actually don’t have anything special planned for them right now.  There’s definitely potential for a sequel, but right now, I’m working on another standalone.  We don’t have a title yet, but I can say that it will feature demons, monsters, kissing, and probably something on fire.

Thanks so much for having me, Kirsten!

Hi, everyone,

I’m really excited to be guest-posting here on Kirsten’s blog!

Last month, I was lucky enough to have Kirsten as a guest on my own blog, and I got to ask her a few questions.  In the Eternal Ones, main character Haven Moore and her good friend Beau run a very successful business making formal dresses for their classmates, so naturally I wanted to know if Kirsten was a whiz with the sewing machine. (I’m an incredibly nosy person and I always want to find out if authors really are skilled in the pursuits they write about.)

In my novel The Replacement, which just came out on Tuesday—holy surrealism, there is a lot of music-talk.  Mackie loves music.  He loves listening to music and going to shows, and he particularly loves playing the bass.  And lately, I’ve been discovering that there are other people out there who are just as curious/nosy as I am.  They read about Mackie, and then want to know if I play any instruments.

Now it’s time for a confession: I’m terrible at music.  And I don’t mean in that tone-deaf, when-I-sing-karaoke-your-ears-bleed kind of way.  Although, that too.  I mean, I’m really terrible at music—terrible on a fundamental level.  I simply Don’t Get It.

How bad, you might ask?  Well, I will tell you.  I’m so bad that I actually failed my introductory music class in high school.  Not just “didn’t do that well,” but failed it.  I didn’t even have the self-possession to be upset, because I was so confused.  It was the first time in my life that I had ever failed something where I tried really hard and showed up every day.  Also, if  high school had taught me anything, it was that if you try really, really hard, they will probably give you a pity grade.  Nope, no pity grade.  Just a big fat F.

So when people ask me if the scenes where Mackie talks about music are based on personal experience, the answer is no, no, and absolutely no flipping way.  Luckily for me, there’s fiction, and the great thing about fiction is, no matter how slim the odds are of you ever playing a really rocking solo, it lets you pretend.

Thanks for having me, Kirsten!

You Were: The Swashbuckler

September 20, 2010

Perhaps you’re surprised to discover that you were a pirate. But you weren’t the plundering and pillaging type of pirate. You were the sort whose image graced the covers of popular pamphlets and the labels of liquor bottles—a handsome buccaneer with a shining silver blade at his side.

Most pirates were an unwashed bunch. They might have been fierce fighters, but the only thing legendary about them was the odor that trailed in their wakes. You were the pirate the world had been waiting for.

For the first few years of your career, you specialized in bloodless heists. Brilliant, bold, and unfailingly polite, you could capture a Spanish treasure ship and pick it clean without inflicting any injuries worse than a paper cut.

Your wealth and your legend grew every year. Sea shanties were composed in your honor, and even your victims loved to sing them. Your long velvet coats and knee-high boots were all the rage in London. Finally, at the age of twenty-five, you retired from the business.  You purchased a mansion on the north coast of Jamaica and settled down to a quiet life of luxury. Your retirement lasted all of four months. That’s when the first pirate ship sailed into your harbor.

The captain of the ship hadn’t bathed in a year. You could smell him long before you met him at the door. You might have killed the man, if not for the humble expression half hidden beneath his scraggly beard. He wasn’t there to rob you. He was there for advice.

For the rest of your life, you greeted many such guests. You taught them the importance of personal hygiene. You schooled them in the sartorial arts. Even the dullest left your mansion a little bit wittier. You took smelly sailors and turned them into the swashbucklers people wanted to believe sailed the seas.

Your price was always the same. A barrel of rum. A fistful of doubloons. And the promise to use their wits more often than their swords.