One more

School Library Journal has also included Seraphina on their Best Books 2012 list!

In other news: November is almost over, which is a relief. It is always my most challenging month, for some reason. The waning of daylight? The ceaseless rain? Maybe it’s the fact that the year is ending, and I’m not ready for it to. We can’t have 2013 yet; I haven’t done everything I wanted to do. It’s like, the midlife crisis of months. By December, I’m old and resigned to it and actually kind of looking forward to starting a new year.

No idea. But I think next year, instead of keeping my head down and trying to muscle through November, I’m going to do it differently. I haven’t quite decided how yet, but stay tuned. I’m sure you’ll all be holding your breaths.

Edited to add: Ooh! I also got mentioned on The Beat, which gives my old comic-loving heart a little thrill!

Another year-end list

Seraphina is one of Quill & Quire’s Books of the Year for Young People! That’s super nice news for a drizzly Thursday.

For some reason the first sentence of that article really tickles me: “Where did you come from, Rachel Hartman?”

I’m more mysterious than I ever knew!

No cure for November but time

Oh, November. You always do this to me. We get toward the end, and I’m like, “Oh good, only a week left!” and then that week lasts two or three weeks. Time dilates in November, I’m convinced of it. There’s way more than there needs to be.

This year’s Quest for the Cure (for November) brings us back, as is so often the case, to the sublime Iarla Ó Lionáird. Here he is when he was young, already the prince of singers:

I find sean nos – Irish “old style” a capella singing – particularly suited to gloomy days. It’s music to be sung in company, cup in hand, around a fire. It’s the musical equivalent of a fire burned down to the mournful embers, to my mind. The bitter winds may blow, but here is understanding, humanity, and warmth.

Here’s the somewhat earthier voice of Lillis O Laoire, who I also enjoy. I wish there were more songs of his to choose from on YouTube, but we take what we can get.

Blessed by the god of oboes

A while ago, someone expressed astonishment at my musical tastes, surprise that I didn’t listen exclusively to classical music while writing, since Seraphina is so evocative of classical music. This got me thinking: I was raised on classical music, almost exclusively, but I don’t really listen to it much anymore. I’m not sure why that is, if I just got tired of it, or if it’s simply that I’m drawn toward the new (to me) and that new (to me) classical music is a) harder to find, and b) requires more work to listen to, and I just don’t have the spare brains for it right now.

I imagine this is one of those questions one could delve into for a long time to little purpose. The upshot is, I have decided to go back in time a bit, to some of my favourite classical pieces I haven’t listened to in ages. A trip down memory lane, as it were.

Here’s some Ravel that one of my sisters reminded me of recently: Le Tombeau de Couperin. I own a recording of it, but I never listen to it, not because I don’t still love the piece but because in my recording they just play it too damn fast. Have a listen (and a look! And check out the awesome oboist!).

I had been baffled by my too-fast recording, but some of the comments below this video have brought something into focus for me: the oboist has to use circular breathing for some of the longer passages. Um, WOW. Playing it faster would mean you got to breathe sooner; maybe that’s why they take it so fast in my recording. Their oboist wasn’t as good as this Albrecht Mayer fellow.

What this really suggests, though, is that I need to look for a better recording for myself. Albrecht Mayer and the Berlin Philharmonic are a good place to start, it sounds like.

Ah, isn’t it gorgeous, though? Pastoral, lively, bright. I first listened to this piece when I was about 11 years old and was just reading Tolkien for the first time, so it’s still inextricably (and absurdly, perhaps) associated with hobbits and elves in my mind. But oh, that flute trill at the end is like audible sunlight. Good times, happy memories.

Happy (USA) Thanksgiving!

We already celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada, but I wanted to be sure to wish our southern neighbours a merry day of feasting as well. We need some kind of late November holiday up here, I think, because the stretch from October to Saturnalia is unrelentingly grey and grim. Of course, I say that every year, and the answer always seems to be, “Yes! Now organize something, Rachel!” And of course I don’t, due to being massively busy (and lazy, simultaneously).

However, in the spirit of the day, I would like to say how very thankful I am for you, my readers. I know that’s cheesy, but y’know what? I love cheese. What to do? There’s no getting around it.

I am thankful for all the people who’ve taken the time to read the odd products of my wee tiny brain, for all the people who enjoyed it and took the time to tell me so, for all the super interesting people I’ve met on this journey, for all the wonderful individuals in publishing and bookselling who helped Seraphina be the very best it could be.

Okay, whew! Gorgonzola!

I now return my nose to the grindstone. Someone was just asking me about the sequel: I am still writing it. My books are built in layers; the first layer of this one was structurally sound, but pretty dark. This second has a lot more texture and some glimmering glimpses of light. I’m loving it and finally (I think) understanding the book. (yes, I know, I’m a weirdo, but I don’t always know what I’m writing about until after I’ve done an awful lot of writing. I mean, I think I know. I go in with an idea. But the subconscious wants what it wants, and it doesn’t always like to tell me what it wants. It likes to make me work for it. I try to be easy-going about this, because there seems to be little I can do to change it.)

Happy German book birthday!

Hurrah! Serafina – Das Königreich der Drachen: Band 1 is out today! Here’s the beautiful cover:



I really think I should get come cake on these birthdays, don’t you? Hm… I should see about fixing that.

Don’t ask how I got here

Because I’m sure I don’t know. I think I was looking for spinet videos, as one does. I ended up at this, however: Handel and Scarlatti in a harpsichord duel to the death.

I assume the cheeky fellow with the moustache is supposed to be Handel, but I wouldn’t swear to it. I’ve never seen a picture of either of these gents with a moustache. The wigs, though. One wonders why those ever went out of fashion.

All right, one doesn’t wonder very hard.

The season of lists is upon us

And Seraphina has made Amazon’s Top 20 YA Novels of 2012! It’s #13, no less, which I find highly amusing.

That particular article also lets you know which ones were John Green’s favourites, in case you were burning with curiosity about that (follow the link to Omnivoracious to learn what they all are).

I have to admit, I tend to read older books. I mean, I feel guilty reading newer stuff when I haven’t even finished my TBR list from the 80s yet. How can I have any pudding if I haven’t eaten my meat?

I will say, though, that the few 2012 books I read IN 2012 were some of the best books I read all year. Code Name Verity tops the list, along with The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Nielsen and Bitterblue. It’s wonderful that there are so many good books being published, particularly in YA. We’re having a little YA Golden Age, here, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Updated to Add: And here’s another list, from Library Journal Reviews, Best Books 2012: YA Literature for Adults. I was about to claim Seraphina is #3 there, but it looks like it’s actually my surname that is #3 in alphabetical order. Still, another informative list, just in time for the holidays. I imagine that’s not a coincidence.

Congrats to Susin Nielsen, and others!

A big congratulations to all the winners of the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Awards!

As you probably already gleaned, this list does not include me, but y’know what? It’s fine. I read Susin Nielsen’s winning book, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, and I knew as I read it that here was a powerful contenda indeed. Here’s my review on Goodreads, and I really, really hope that the G.G. award leads a lot more people toward reading this worthy, painful, hilarious, wonderful book.

Goodreads Readers’ Choice nominee!

I was pleased and surprised this morning to see that Seraphina has made it to the semifinal round of the Goodreads Readers’ Choice awards! They put a lovely orange badge on the book page and everything.

“Pleased” is, I’m sure, self-evident. “Surprised” is because the book wasn’t on the main page in the opening round. If people wanted to vote for it, they had to write it in. Looks like a few people must have done just that. Thank you all so much!