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Review of FIRECRACKER by David Iserson

David Iserson, a writer for “SNL,” “The New Girl” and “Up All Night,” made his YA debut with “Firecracker” this May. He was interviewed in the Los Angeles Times, reviewed at Reading Rants and featured in Entertainment Weekly’s Shelf Life and on ForeverYoungAdult.com. And you should love his star-studded book trailer for “Firecracker,” which you can watch below. This will be his first visit to Crossroads and we’re geeked. Meet him at Crossroads when you register by clicking here

Meaghan Walsh Gerard reviews FIRECRACKER by David Iserson

firecracker david iserson

“Firecracker” by David Iserson

Only once before have a read a YA book most of the way through before realizing it was categorized as such. I haven’t got anything against YA per se, but having been 29 for a couple of years now, I am generally uninterested in the adolescent themes they explore. But occasionally (though rarely) a YA novel manages to defy its genre conventions and just be a darn good story.

Our tempestuous heroine, and narrator, is Astrid Krieger and she lives in a rocket ship. Yes, you read that right. Astrid is the teenaged daughter of very wealthy if aloof parents. In short, Astrid is bored. Her only amusements are pulling the strings of those less perceptive than herself. She’s been recently expelled from her very exclusive high school for cheating – something she never denies doing but only determines to find out who turned her in.

Her therapist (and former dean) instead challenges Astrid to do at least three things that she doesn’t want to do. As an embittered, independent teen, the list of potential tasks is quite lengthy. But as Astrid embarks on her emotional scavenger hunt, she realizes that she doesn’t hate everyone/thing quite as much as she thought.

FIRECRACKER is a smart and funny novel, with a freshly modern voice. Angsty without being desperate, it also has a dash of classic 1980s high school movie mixed in. Astrid breaks the fourth wall quite often and speaks directly to her readers – and it works.

I probably don’t need to tell you what it’s like in a public school cafeteria. I mean, it’s very likely that you’ve been to one (or are sitting in one right now). And it you’ve seen one, I’m sure you’ve seen them all. But I’ll describe it anyway in case you are home-schooled (in which case, your mom is probably really upset that you’re reading this book because of the cursing. Loc 619 of 3004

And her descriptions of others are hysterical and spot-on.

Talia was feebly drunk. Drunk-Talia was like one of those inflatable people with swinging arms outside car dealerships. Loc. 808 of 3004.

And:

Mason was an aspiring bully, and that’s why I figured he would be outside smoking with Melty. They must’ve thought smoking cigarettes ft the part. But they should have known that if they really wanted to effectively inflict pain on a victim, it would help if they didn’t get winded while chasing someone up the staircase. Don’t smoke because it makes it a lot harder to beat someone up. That’s my public service message. Loc. 1974 of 3004.

Despite her flippant manner, Astrid is a complex and sympathetic character. When it comes time to implement her plan that is so-crazy-it-just-might-work, we are firmly in her camp.

Even if you are out of your teenage years (like me, by a good amount), this fast-paced book is highly enjoyable. I can only imagine if I had had Astrid to look up to when I was in 6th or 7th grade.

Watch the book trailer for FIRECRACKER below.

FIRECRACKER by David Iserson

ISBN 9781595143709 | 336 pages | 16 May 2013 | Razorbill | 9.25 x 6.25in | 12 – AND UP years

http://davidiserson.tumblr.com/

https://twitter.com/davidiserson

 
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Guest Blog: “Do You Still Love It?”

Do You Still Love It?
a guest blog by novelist Lauren Morrill

 

While gearing up for roller derby practice and complaining about a mountain of deadlines recently, one of my teammates says to me, “You became an author because you always loved to write. Now that it’s your job, does that take any of the love out of it?”

Since most roller derby conversations consist of how to care for those oozing blisters on your feet and which compression shorts are least likely to creep up your butt during a game, I was a little surprised. So I thought about it for a few seconds, and then gave her my answer.

“Nope. Not at all.”

But why? How? Aren’t deadlines and reviews and expectations crushing my spirit?

Nope. Not at all.

Ok, a little bit about me: Part of the answer lies in the fact that I am both a hopeless procrastinator and a very fast writer. Depending on your perspective, those characters combine to be either a very very good, or very very bad thing. As a procrastinator, I’m always trying to find the next book to read or show to Netflix binge (Dance Academy, anyone?). But as a fast writer, I can do all those things and still get my words down at the 11th hour.*

But the deadlines! The humanity!

Turns out? Deadlines are great, because they’re a reason to finish (and, just a little tip from me to you … finishing, is the first step towards being a successful writer). I find that I do so much better now than I did when I was wandering in the wilderness with my writing, when publishing a novel seemed like a far off fantasy. Having expectations and people who depend on me means that after I’m done watching the sixth season of Law and Order, I’m going to sit down and crank out a few thousand words.

But the expectations! They’re crushing!

The expectations? They’re motivating. I love thinking about the teen reader who finds my book at her local library or better yet, pulls it off the shelf at her local bookstore. I remember how much I loved to curl up with a good book, and knowing that there are folks out there doing that with something I wrote? Yeah, that’s a major incentive.

But still, don’t read the Goodreads reviews.

Sure, there are times when it feels like work, when the words aren’t flowing, when I’d rather just close my laptop and walk away. And when there are contracts and checks and professional relationships on the line, there are moments when it can definitely feel overwhelming. But ultimately, I remind myself of the best parts of my job: the readers, and the fact that I get to do my job in my pajamas on the couch while getting the most our of my Netflix subscription and eating ALL THE CHEETOS.

So has becoming an Author with a capital “A” spoiled the writing life for me? Not a bit. Despite the hardships and the stress, it really is as good as I imagined it would be.

*Yes, I recognize that this sounds braggy, but I believe in turning your weaknesses into a strength like you’re supposed to do in job interview (you know, “I work too hard” or “I care too much”).

 

LAUREN MORRILL grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, where she was a short-term Girl Scout, a (not so) proud member of the marching band, and a trouble-making editor for the school newspaper. She graduated from Indiana University with a major in history and a minor in rock & roll, and now lives in Macon, GA with her husband and their dog, Lucy. When she’s not writing, she spends a lot of hours getting knocked around playing roller derby. Publisher’s Weekly called her debut YA novel, Meant to Be (Random House) “entertaining and quick-witted.” Her second YA novel, Being Sloane Jacobs (Random House), releases January 7, 2014.

Rachel Helie, writer of things

Why I tried NaNoWriMo

Rachel Helie, writer of things

Some time last year before my first Crossroads Writers Conference, I happened upon National Novel Writing Month quite unexpectedly. I’m not sure exactly but I believe a west coast writer friend “liked” the Office of Letters and Lights on a social networking site, and sounding quite lovely, I endeavored to find out what exactly that was.

Part of it was restlessness; a restlessness that I am sure many writers feel when they are struggling to find their way with the written word. (I had my work as an alt-weekly journalist, although I was still somewhat intimidated by the process of interviewing others.) But first and foremost, I felt born to tell big stories using my own voice.

It’s a birds-eye view of a labyrinth, sitting down at one’s desk and sifting through the ball of string that will ultimately lead you out, safe from the monsters that haunt blind alleys and dead ends. Needless to say, that sensation is not a little daunting. Recharged by the creative inspiration from the conference, inspired and driven by a sense of competition, I dived into the NaNoWriMo experience with a hunger that kept me pushing forward.

Watching the little blue progress plotter was like running a marathon against myself. Knowing that others were staring down the same struggle with varying degrees of success and failure made me realize that though I was in my own world, we were part of a system of worlds. We saw each other from telescopic distances, in awe and comforted by possibility. Every day I wanted to be at twice the necessary word count, because if I could do that, I could literally finish a book in one month. A novel. Maybe not the magnum opus but still…something.

I didn’t finish but the strange thing is that, though I would have liked to, I glimpsed in myself that raw passion that can’t be taught in a class and that only comes with the hunt. Because telling a story is a solitary, predatory endeavor at times. You smell it on the wind, hear it rustle the branches, and your mouth waters in anticipation, the hair on your neck stands on end. You realize that though there is a goal, to make the kill and to satiate the hunger, when it comes down to it writing is thrilling and the chase is part of the fun.

Rachel Helie is a freelance writer and journalist, aspiring novelist, sometimes ghostwriter, and regular contributor to The 11th Hour. At eight years of age she stepped into the wardrobe and never quite made it back out.