People put a lot of stake in promises. Swear an oath, make a pledge, take a vow — you’d better be good to your word. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a broken promise, you don’t enter into them lightly.
Only promises can be tricky. Situations change, making a pledge impossible to keep. Or a promise gets lost in the maze of memory. Or loses its purity and becomes a responsibility — a “should.” In my perfect world, there’s no such thing as “should.”
Especially when it comes to love.
Which is what SWEAR is all about.
Okay, maybe not all. The novel revels in ghosts and gods, friends and fiends, abduction and seduction, music and madness and a twisted, tangled mystery. But at its core, SWEAR ponders why we swear our love.
No doubt, it’s an instinctive urge. Love is so huge, so vital, and in a way so scary, it’s natural to say: “Promise you won’t break my heart. Promise you’ll never leave me. Promise to love me forever.” Yet as the characters in SWEAR ultimately discover, love is a gift, not an obligation. Love is a risk, not a duty. Love is to be cherished and respected and fought for, but in no way beholden to our will. Love is more powerful than our intention and beyond our control.
Love is magic, and there’s only one crucial ingredient for magic:
Believe that you’re worthy of this magic and it will come to you. Believe that you’re capable of giving this magic, and do so—an equal bliss. Feel it. Share it. Believe, and enjoy!
IT'S ABOUT A MONTH TILL SWEAR, the sequel to SWOON, arrives in hard cover glory and I’m starting to get seriously excited. One big reason is the whole lot of advance love coming this way. DARK FAERIE TALES (http://darkfaerietales.com/) and PARAJUNKEE’S VIEW (http://www.parajunkee.com/), for instance, are giving SWEAR anticipatory action, so indulge your desires and check them out. If you haven’t yet delved these blogs, know that they place the paranormal in ultra high regard, and their coverage is ingenious —events, contests, et cetera that are the products of some beautifully twisted minds! Sinclair Youngblood Powers is about to compete in the “Supernatural Smackdown” — and has been busy exercising (not to be confused with exorcising) his seduction skills in preparation.
What’s more, starting 9/19, the incredible NOVEL NOVICE kicks off a month-long “Countdown to SWEAR” event. Every day, the site that brings you the best of YA in a smart, stylish, unique way will offer tidbits of appetite-whetting SWEAR news, reviews, trivia and (of course) contests. An author interview is also in the works—and who better to ask the questions than SWOONIES themselves? If you reveled in SWOON, can’t wait for SWEAR and have been wondering what the #$^@*&(! is up with Sin, Dice, Pen, Ruby, et al post your questions here:
If not for readers like you, SWOON wouldn’t be where it is today—in it’s 10th printing and enticing SWOONIES in translation all over the planet. Your support means so much—and in effort to keep you amused and alarmed (as if the twists and turns of SWEAR won’t be enough), there are big changes coming to ninamalkin.com. Design diva Denise Biondo is helping upgrade the site with new stuff. It’s all set to premier soon— and while I’ll save details for a later blargh, I will say that the most fantastic addition can be summed up in one name: Rony Corcos. Who’s she? Google her now or wait till I turn you on officially. Either way, your ears, heart and soul will thank you — I SWEAR!
Gorgeous! Breathtaking! Freaking amazing! And my personal favorite: OOOOHHH!!! Just some of the reactions sent by Swoonies on my mailing list when I shared a sneak peek at the cover of SWEAR, the sequel to SWOON. I gotta agree—and can without coming off conceited since I had absolutely nothing to do with the design. (That would be the enormously talented Cara Petrus at Simon & Schuster. Hail, Cara!)
Since SWOON arrived in the spring of 2009, I’ve been bombarded by reader questions, the most insistent being: Will there be a sequel? Now, with the cover of SWEAR on my hot little computer, I actually believe there will be. Which leads me to the subject of this blargh: To address a number of pressing issues about SWOON, SWEAR and the novels’ sorta-kinda hero, SINCLAIR YOUNGBLOOD POWERS. You asked, so here I go…
When will SWEAR be out? The exact date? Dunno. But S&S say late August, early September.
What? Waaaahhh! Why so %$^@! long? Actually, there’s a good reason. SWOON was a risky venture. It’s not your typical by-the-numbers paranormal novel, it deals frankly with sexual matters, and there might even be a word or two requiring a dictionary consult. So before committing to a sequel, the publisher wisely wanted to see how SWOON did. Well, it did okay. It’s currently in something like its tenth printing, popping up all over the world from Turkey to Brazil. And whom do I have to thank for that? YOU!!! Readers who longed to be challenged as well as entertained, who could fall for a torn and twisted guy like Sin and champion a heroine like Dice. You who love SWOON made SWEAR possible.
Yeah. Great. Then I had to write it… What happened to Sin at the end of SWOON? I get this question a lot. Too bad I still can’t answer it. Neither can he…exactly. The subject of Sin’s disappearance is certainly addressed in SWEAR, but the universe is a mysterious place. Sometimes we mere mortals go through stuff we can’t fully explain, so imagine the experiences of a ghost-turned-golem. Trippy. And as you’ll discover in SWEAR, Sin’s not the only one to vanish into thin air.
But he will be back?! Yes. Of course. Absolutely. Although he’s…changed. So has Dice. And Pen? Let me just tell the Swoonie who wondered if that's meant to be Pen on the cover of SWEAR, unequivocally, no. What Sinclair Youngblood Powers did in the town of Swoon that fateful autumn left virtually no one unscathed.
Still, that has very little bearing on what goes down this time around. Which begs the question: What’s SWEAR about? It’s not polite to tease, but I can’t give away too much. I will say that the story opens with Dice doing a decent job dealing with Sin’s abandonment—except for the deep and abiding sense that he’s not really gone. Then she gets distracted by a different presence, a spirit driven by dark, destructive motives she cannot fathom. But she’s got to figure it out. Fast. Since as the cover hints: Some love bonds. Some love destroys.
How about a sample of SWEAR? Soon, I swear! In the coming months, there’ll be an excerpt on ninamalkin.com. Plus, advanced reader copies as well as e-galleys will be made available by S&S for qualifying reviewers. And of course I’ll do contests and giveaways and such, so if you’re a book blogger who’d like to do an event with SWEAR around its pub date, please hit me with your ideas. Like I mentioned, if not for readers like you, SWEAR wouldn’t exist. For a wordy woman, I’m stymied to express just how much your support means…
Swoonie shout-outs to everyone who entered the SWOON & SHADOW HILLS contest last month. You guys rocked me and author Anastasia Hopcus with your tales summer and back-to-school moments. But we had to choose, and so we (painfully) did. Below, read the stories that won signed copies of SWOON & SHADOW HILLS...
THESE SUMMER STORIES WON SWOON!
When you school year-round, summers tend to bleed into the rest of the year. But this year was special. This year, I went on my first family vacation ever. I had been on vacation before, but it had always been with other people, friends, extended family, what have you. This summer though, in fact, only a few weeks ago, not only did I get to go on a vacation with my immediate family, I got to actually leave the country (something I've only done once before). The second week of September, I went on a Caribbean cruise with my mom, dad, and sister. Since we booked the cruise in mid 2009, we had been counting down to that week for quite a while. When it finally came around, we were all beyond ready for a break. When we boarded the boat on Sunday, I was ready for my week off, and then, before we had even left the harbor, a waiter spilled a tray of pink drinks on my white shorts. I thought, it's okay, he'll give us our drinks for free and then I'll go to the room and change. So, that's what I did, or tried to do. When I got to my room, my luggage wasn't there yet. It didn't show up until 8 o'clock that night! The only thing I could think was that this was an omen. The rest of the trip would be awful. I'm so glad I was wrong. By the second day I had forgotten all about the sticky shorts. We went on to spend two days at see before docking in Montego Bay, Jamaica. In Jamaica we took a shuttle to Ocho Rios and climbed Dunns River Falls, this amazing waterfall in the jungle. It was one of the most exhilarating days of my life. The next day we were in Grand Cayman where we went snorkeling at the coral gardens and Barrier Reef and watched my dad and sister kiss sting rays at Sting Ray City Sand Bar. Our final day on land was spent in Cozumel, Mexico where we decided to just do the touristy thing and shop for souvenirs and go to a kitschy restaurant where everyone wore sombreros. We had one more day at sea and then we were back in Texas and none of us were ready to get off the boat. Over the course of the trip we had become fast friends with three waiters working in the dining room where we had dinner every night. Not only did I get to experience the different cultures of some of the islands in the Caribbean, I also got to learn about our new friends cultures, those of Peru, Latvia, and Indonesia. We all cried when we had to say goodbye, but I still get to talk to them every once in a while when they can access email. So this summer will bleed into fall, but I'll drag it out as long as possible.
This summer, I was going to spend my summer at Duke University doing their Creative Writing Workshop, but then I found out that they don't take teenagers with only one year of college. So, I didn't get to spend my summer to do that, I have to wait a whole year. Then, I went with my family to Myrtle Beach, and got yelled at the whole time by my sister and my friend who was suppose to be there for me ended up spending most of her time with my sister and ignoring me, so that was ruined. And then, I come home to my find my schedule for 10 grade has been posted for me to see. Earlier that year I had tried out for chorus and had gotten in Women's Chamber, which is the second highest choir and not many tenth graders get in it's mostly the upperclassmen, but that wasn't on my schedule, instead they had given me Physical Conditioning, which is weight lifting, and I am not a gym person. So, I spent the rest of my summer frustrated, scared that it wouldn't be fixed, annoyed at the idiots who can't seem to make a correct schedule, abd stressed that I had to email my couneslor a hundred times only to find out she can't do anything about it which makes no sense, and that I had to fill out a schedule change request form that may or may not happen. And to top it off, my schedule still wasn't right after that, I had to have 3 schedule changes before it was correct. No summer, is good if you find out you can't do something you were so excited about, that two people who are suppose to be close to you turn their backs on you, and that you can't enjoy you time off of school because your stressing over next year. I spent a whole summer bored and in tears.
THESE BACK-TO-SCHOOL STORIES WON SHADOW HILLS!
When I Was 13 I Went To School In Puerto Rico. The Kids There Were Jealous That I Spoke English And There Was One Girl Who Wanted To Copy My Paper In English Class. I Said No. It Was The First Day Of Ninth Grade And She Put A Giant Wad Of Gum In My Hair!! My Mom Took Me To The Salon To Get It Out. There Was Sooooo Much Gum They Cut My Hair Like Dorothy Hamilton!! And I Have Curly Hair.. So It Looked Even Shorter!! I Wanted To Crawl Under My Bed And Never Go Back!
My worst back to school memory happened last year. At our school, we have a program called Warrior Pride in which juniors and seniors lead the first day of school for the freshman after all other people go home. Last year, I was assigned to lead the freshmen through the ropes course outside. The ropes course was a series of obstacles the students needed to complete, walking across giant skis as a group, lifting classmates through an intricate web, team building things like that. A. The first day of school was HOT. B. Our Warrior Pride shirts were black. C. I had the group of the most unenthusiastic freshmen. D. I heard the phrase "that's what she said" every couple of minutes. Yes, it was a group of "those kids". No amount of my scolding could get them to be appropriate and no amount of cheering could get them to be excited about doing this. One of the activities involves a trust fall and, being the leader, I needed to give the example, trusting them to catch me. They dropped me. Twice. So on top of dripping sweat and being annoyed, my bum was now thoroughly bruised and I was ready to go home, and it wasn't even lunchtime yet. By the time lunch came, we were allowed to go inside, but had to sit and watch the freshmen eat and only after they were finished were we allowed to eat. So add hunger to my list of downfalls. Not a pleasant day, to say the least. Then I come to find out this group of unruly freshmen are the freshmen I will be teaching every month on Warrior Pride days. YAY ME! *note sarcasm*
ANASTASIA HOPCUS SPEAKS! AND GIVES AWAY SHADOW HILLS!
Surely you’re up on SHADOW HILLS by Anastasia Hopcus, a paranormal romance/mystery that takes place at a v. creepy boarding school. Surely you’d love to win one of two copies signed by the brilliant author herself. Your chance is nigh. First, read Anastasia’s fascinating interview here, then click on the link at the bottom of this blargh for contest rules and regs (you’ll have to share your best or worst back-to-school story, and I know you have one).
You can also read a fascinating interview with me at http://devenish.squarespace.com/news-and-events/—and enter to win one of two signed copies of SWOON.
Anastasia, you rock for taking the time to do this interview. Especially since you must be slammed, the response to Shadow Hills being rather amazing. What’s life been like for you since releasing your debut novel?
Busy! It's been great and exciting, and I've really enjoyed it, but I've just been amazed at how much I've been doing. I thought that when my book came out, the major part of my work had been done. The writing, the revisions, the BEA, the contests, etc.---I figured, what else was there to do? Well, I found out. I've had two autographings, one of which included a reading and an interview, as well a 28-day blog tour, not to mention meeting bloggers and readers and trying to keep up with all my emails. It's been such fun, and I've had lots of new experiences, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. But I have to admit, I'm a little tired.
Not getting much sleep, huh? But when you do, what’s your dream life like? I ask since dreams are crucial to the plot of Shadow Hills.
I dream a great deal, and they're often very vivid and have plots (albeit really strange ones). That's one of the reasons I wanted Phe to have these almost visionary dreams. I often feel like my dreams hold some significant revelation…if only I could figure out what it is!
Any parallels between your high school experience and Devenish Prep?
No, not really. Looking back on it, I think I probably would have enjoyed going to a boarding school. I went to a private school, but it was more like the one that Phe attended in LA---laid back teachers who you called by their first names, that sort of thing.
In keeping with the theme of our contest, can you cite your own best or worst BTS memory?
My best back to school memory was when I began the fifth grade. I won a back to school contest that a local department store was holding. The prize was that on the first day of school, a limousine came to my house and picked up me and three of my friends and drove us to school. The four of us thought we were the coolest thing ever, getting out of a long white limo in front of our elementary school!
I was recently asked this question at a reading, and I think it should be posed to anyone who writes paranormal fiction: Do you believe in magic? Expound!
I'd like to believe in magic. I've always been fascinated by the possibility of it, and I enjoy imagining a world where magical things happen. Insofar as actually believing in it, I do and I don't. I don't feel like I can really believe in something until I can see some evidence of it, but I do think that if I saw something truly magical happen, I wouldn't spend a lot of time trying to explain it away. I would probably pretty readily accept it.
Shadow Hills is a mystery at its core. What mystery writers do you like?
Anne George is my favorite. I also like Janet Evanovich and Nancy Atherton.
Here comes the inevitable sequel question: Will fans be treated to the further adventures of Phe and her friends/enemies in Shadow Hills?
I would really love to write a sequel. What I really had in mind when I began was a series of several books, and I have a lot more things I'd really like to explore regarding Shadow Hills and its inhabitants. Plus, I'd really like to develop Phe's and Zach's relationship. But I just have to wait and see on that at the moment. So I'm working on a YA paranormal that's set in London in the 1800's.
An interesting period—it sure worked for Sherlock Holmes. Can we get off track and obsess about hair for a minute? Yours is so expletive gorgeous. Does it take a lot of work, or do you bounce out of bed looking like that every morning?
It doesn't take a lot of extra time on a daily basis. I just use a shampoo that's color-enhancing. But red is a difficult color to keep looking bright, so I have to color it frequently. And it's a little more complicated because I use a store dye first to bring my natural color up to a light auburn. Then I mix Napalm Orange and High Octane Orange Special Effects together to get exactly the shade I want.
Beautiful! Congrats on Shadow Hills and thanks again for the interview. I know people are excited about winning a signed copy of the book—so got to this link and start impressing us with your best/worst back-to-school stories. Go to this link now (sorry, you gotta cut 'n' paste — blogger not co-operating)!
HOW AMAZING to see so many people enter the Novel Novice contest to become a character in SWEAR, the sequel to SWOON. Enormous thanks again to Sara of Novel Novice for hosting this special event as the culmination of SWOON week, and for her help in narrowing the field to a handful of semi-finalists.
All the entrants were awesome, so I knew it would be tough choosing a winner. In fact, it proved impossible. Two entrants offered well-written and thought-provoking answers with attitudes, ideas and attributes that were eerily similar. They favor the same historical era, hold comparable theories on the existence of magic—even the way they describe their physical characteristics is similar. Since picking between them would have been unfair, I have no option but to declare that the SWEAR Character Contest has co-winners—Erin Hampton and Lexie Wohlfort.
Reading their entries truly allowed the character to bloom. So when SWEAR comes out, just about a year from now, you’ll get to know a 1920s vixen named Earline Burnside, called Early because she’s way ahead of her time. She embodies what Erin sees as someone “living impulsively and dangerously on the edge,” in a period Lexie loves because “all the dancing, parties, and jazz music make me feel like I would be welcome there.” Physically, Early’s got Erin’s unique grin and Lexie’s petite stature—as to the unusual, ever-changing brown-to-gold-to-green eyes, sorry, but another new character in SWEAR already happens to have those!
Like all the characters you first came to know in SWOON, as well as the new ones you’ll encounter in SWEAR, Early is neither 100 percent good or evil, but complex: smart, funny, sexy, sparkling, opinionated, vain, insightful and self-destructive. I hope you’ll enjoy reading her as much as I’m enjoying writing her, and I thank Lexie and Erin for their inspiration.
I also want to thank the other semi-finalists Lesley Jones, Courtney Rae, Aseal Tineh and Jaclyn Colello, as well as the seventy-or-so entrants who took the time to think about SWOON and SWEAR and enter the contest. It’s readers like all of you who make writers like me. Your support means so much, especially when deadlines loom and distractions beckon. I hope you’ll be captivated by Sin, Dice, Pen, Ruby and Marsh—as well as Tosh, Antonia, Bone and of course Early—when SWEAR hits shelves in August 2011.
Till then, SWOON on!
FYI: Other SWOON contest winners from this summer include Heather McClung, Stefanie Rizzi, Jessica Parker, Livia Delgado, Jenni Hicks, Makayla Skubel, Alicia Guerrero, Amy Fiumara, Ashley Kearns, Raquel Vega-Grieder, and Nicole Kevren. Please be sure to check my BLARGH for upcoming contests this fall—including a back-to-school event with Anastasia Hopcus, author of SHADOW HILLS. Remember to sign up at the INK page of ninamalkin.com to join the mailing list—you’ll get advance notice of contests, giveaways and special events and be kept in the loop on all things SWOON and SWEAR…
HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE! HERE’S TO ANOTHER SEASON OF SIN! To ensure your weeks ahead are filled with books, I’m giving away to my entire YA oeuvre. One winner at semi-random will receive a copy of my current novel SWOON, as well as 6X: The Uncensored Confessions, 6X: Loud, Fast, and Out of Control, Orange Is the New Pink and, just to put a little chill in your heat, Mistletoe, the novella collection that boasts Melissa de la Cruz, Hailey Abbott and Aimee Friedman as well as yours truly. One runner-up will win a signed copy of SWOON.
How to win? Details:
* Tell the world. To enter, please promote this contest by posting about it on FaceBook, Twitter, and/or MySpace, or if you don’t “social network,” tell your friends. Yes, technically this reduces your chances of winning because it tips more people off to the contest. But karmically it hugely enhances your chances of winning because it shows how much you like my stuff and want everyone else to like it too.
* Correctly answer the Very Simple Contest Questions below. (You needn’t have read my stuff to get the right answers, as they’re easily found on my website.) Then email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. All correct answers received by midnight on Sunday, June 27, 2010, will go into a box along with one of my utterly unbiased pussycats, and the pussycat will select the winning entries at random. (No pussycats will be harmed in this contest; pussycats love boxes and little scraps of paper!)
Very Simple Contest Questions: 1. What does Dice smell before she ever lays eyes on Sin? 2. What are the names of the four members of 6X? 3. Where does Babylon of Orange Is the New Pink get to spend her summer? 4. Who drew my portrait?