FIRSTLY, Untold is out in the world! I am super excited to talk about it! So I designate this the Untold spoiler post, and if you guys would like to talk about in the comments I am here to talk about it with you. If you’d like.
I start off discussions by sharing some reviews with you all. I always knew that writing a series very firmly centred on one girl and analysing and interrogating romance was going to be tricky critically (because our world’s stance is: books about girls are Not Literature, and books about romance are trashy trash). I did it anyway because–I do what I want, and what I want is to do interesting stuff! I drive my career wildly about as if playing bumper cars off a cliff!
So I was super pleased to see this review from the Horn Book:
‘Horn Book (Sept/Oct)
In Unspoken (rev. 9/12), Kami Glass faced down malevolent magic-user Rob Lynburn and broke her lifelong telepathic bond with his nephew Jared. Kami’s investigative journalism skills again prove invaluable as she and her allies (including the few members of the magical Lynburn family Kami trusts, albeit reluctantly) race to identify the rest of Rob’s faction of corrupt sorcerers and stop them before they attempt to gain more power through horrifying means. Meanwhile, Jared is furious with Kami for breaking their psychic bond, and her confusing attraction to his less-troubled cousin Ash only widens the rift between them. Although the first installment’s witty banter is also present here, this sequel is darker, with higher stakes and more suspense. Brennan continues to explore the complexities of Kami and Jared’s turbulent relationship; even without the telepathic connection, the two struggle to reconcile their longing for closeness and the need for privacy and independence. Heroine Kami’s competence and outspokenness—she’s also not afraid to make difficult choices—and a whopping dose of girl detective–style sleuthing make this series a refreshing take on the paranormal romance genre.’
And also, since blog reviews are awesome:
I also did an interview with one of said lovely reviewers: http://solittletimeforbooks.blogspot.fr/2013/09/author-interview-sarah-rees-brennan.html
SECONDLY, I promised you guys an Untold music mix to go with the Unspoken music mix. http://sarahtales.livejournal.com/196692.html
I hope none of you were hoping that I would repent and abandon my country music loving ways, because I will never repent and abandon my country music loving ways. I decided it would be too spoilery to talk about which characters or couples fit which songs, though I have left CLUES so you may GUESS, but I talk a lot about moods and themes I was going for…
Echo, by Jason Walker
my echo, echo
Is the only voice coming back
Is the only friend that I have
I would take a whisper if that’s all you had to give
But it isn’t, is it?
–Untold is a lot about loneliness, about the fear of loss of friendship and love, about the sometimes unfair demands we place on other people, about codependence and not being able to be codependent anymore.
Kiss Me Slowly, by Parachute
She shows me everything she used to know,
Picture frames and country roads,
When the days were long and the world was small.
She stood by as it fell apart,
Separate rooms and broken hearts
–Broken homes in Untold! Also kissing, but there is a lot of lost innocence. There is a time when your home seems like your whole world, and so the whole world can be broken. (Also I can’t buy the Parachute song due, I suspect, to evil sorcery.)
Feel It In My Bones, Tiesto featuring Tegan and Sara
I feel you in my bones.
You’re knocking at my window.
You’re slow to letting me go.
–It’s interesting, the feeling that someone isn’t letting you go, when in fact it’s the thought of them, the memory of them, that you can’t let go.
Not Your Cinderella, by Payton Rae
Oh, I’m no Sleeping Beauty
One kiss alone won’t do it to me
I hate to be the one to tell ya
Oh, but I’m not your Cinderella
–These books are analysing romance and that means there is a lot of girls asserting themselves against false romantic ideals, that a kiss means anything but what both the people involved want it to mean, discovering that love is different for different people.
Just A Kiss, by Lady Antebellum
Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
No I don’t want to mess this thing up
I don’t want to push too far
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
Be the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life
–BOOK TWO, MAKE OUT! I like the song because it conveys both the desperate uncertainties and wild hopes of love–how impossibly intertwined they are.
Lost and Found, Katie Herzig
I know you left me standing there
Out of the calm of the coldest air
I don’t believe the words you said
But I can’t find the words I want
–Kami is a writer: the first writer protagonist I’ve ever written, and it is always fun and interesting to write about how she feels about writing, to find where I think we would agree and where diverge. Searching for the words in life and love and literature is so very difficult. This quote of Jeanette Winterson’s always deeply affected me: ‘Why is it that the most unoriginal thing we can say to one another is still the thing we long to hear? “I love you” is always a quotation.…It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. A precise emotion seeks a precise expression. If what I feel is not precise then would I call it love?’ Talking about writing and talking about love is the same thing.
Have You Ever, Brandi Carlisle
Have you ever been out walking in the snow
Tried to get back to where you were before
You always end up not knowing where to go
–Nature, and how it intersects with life. The outside of the world in Untold reflects the inside of the characters a lot. Which leads to…
Lake of Silver Bells, Carbon Leaf
Looking past the love you face, you miss the place you never had
What you need’s not just the dream, but something on the other end
Wake up, wake up, wake up, you’re much too fast asleep
And we dance across ’til we drop, the bells keep time and never stop
–Nature, and loneliness, and the mystery of the lost bells, and love, and loneliness, and danger, and the sense there is something to reach for: there is a home to be found.
Howl, Florence and the Machine
Now there’s no holding back, I’m making to attack
My blood is singing with your voice, I want to pour it out
The saints can’t help me now, the ropes have been unbound
I hunt for you with bloody feet across the hallow’d ground
–Another aspect of love I wanted to look at was the nature of love in Gothic novels and other novels like it: how love, or the desire to possess, can lead to pain and horror.
Rotten Town, Ludo
And all the streets burned with gold,
But all my bones were so cold
–The transformation of Sorry-in-the-Vale. I feel strongly that book two should CHANGE IT UP, so from subtly-sinister-secrets home to a nightmare cage in which all is known and everyone is trapped seemed… a change…
Sparks Fly, Taylor Swift
you stood there in front of me
Just close enough to touch
Close enough to hope you couldn’t
See what I was thinking of
–WE ALL KNEW WE WEREN’T DOING THIS WITHOUT TAYLOR.
No More Wishing, Hayley Taylor
you mean more than you should mean
but I’m willing to be
the one that you put on a pedestal
the one that you see in your dreams
the one that you hide your true self from
the one you want to please
–What compromises do we make for love that we should not make? Something every one of the main characters have to consider: whether they can pretend to be different than they are, feel differently from how they feel, and whether they can be loved if they cannot pretend. False ideals, and false idols.
How Far We’ve Come, Matchbox Twenty
I started running but there’s nowhere to run to
I sat down on the street and took a look at myself
said where you going man you know the world is headed for hell
say your goodbyes if you’ve got someone you can say goodbye to
I believe the world is burning to the ground
oh well i guess we’re gonna find out
–Overwhelming fear, and facing yourself. Nothing but good times ahead!
Eric’s Song, Vienna Teng
And of course I forgive
I’ve seen how you live
Like a phoenix you rise from the ashes
You pick up the pieces
And the ghosts in the attic
They never quite leave
…And how I am sure
Like never before
Of my reasons for defying reason
Embracing the seasons
We dance through the colors
Both followed and led
Strange how we fit each other
–I do see narratives where I think ‘yikes, these two should break up and move to different countries.’ But I also see a lot of, if a character does something wrong, that’s it for them: ‘if someone who loves hurts you, they are BAD’–that leads to a world without love. Whether you are better with someone, worse without them, is something you decide for yourself. Sometimes you love someone and they love you, and they’re still toxic. Sometimes you love someone and they hurt you, and you can forgive. It’s a scary decision to make: relationships are so complicated. To quote Jeanette Winterson again, it is so terrifying, love.
THIRDLY, cool news: there is a map of Sorry-in-the-Vale, drawn by fabulous artist Theo Black and supervised by me. It is EXCLUSIVE CONTENT: it is printed in both the first edition paperback Unspoken and the first edition hardback Untold. I don’t know if it will be printed in the second printings! (If there is a second printing I do not wish to assume!) My point is, FANCY MAPS, GET YOUR FANCY MAPS WHILE YOU CAN.
(Also, I remind you if you send me (firstname.lastname@example.org) a picture of yourself with Untold and tell me your address, I will send you a signed bookplate.)
FOURTHLY, there is another Untold surprise. But it is not yet… you must wait. But not long. Soon, my pretties. Soon.