Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The New Newbridge Academy/Among The Ghosts

So, I've been getting a lot of queries about the middle grade book I've been working on - lots of people wanting to know if I'm working on two books becuase they keep seeing interviews mentioning The New Newbridge Academy and then they see articles taking about Among The Ghosts, all of which is very confusing.

I am here now to set the record straight.

Yes, I am working on two middle grade books at once.

Uhm, I'm a liar.

The book was originally called 'The New Newbridge Academy' because that's the name of the boarding school my protagonist, Noh, attends. After I turned the book in to my awesome editor Liesa Abrams,over at Aladdin/Simon and Schuster, we decided that the book needed a catchier title. There was a lot of bandying new titles around - I think we went through pages ad pages of the damn things - but it was actually the Aladdin team who came up with the winner, 'Among The Ghosts'.

I loved it immediately. It had all the nuance of a Philip Pullman title ('His Dark Materials' anyone?), plus it gave you a just the tiniest of tastes as to what the plot had in store for you.

Basically, the book is a spooky Boarding School/cool girl heroine/ghost story and the title and book cover let you know it!

There are some coolio illustrationsan too, that my friend, Sina Grace, did especially for the book. He and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what Noh and her friends would look like, how spooky the school should be, whether or not ghosts should look normal or if they should be shadowy and creepy (we went for a combo of both)!

I have to say that Diana Wynne Jones is a HUGE inspiration, as are John Bellairs and Lemony Snicket. I get lost in those books, totally engrossed in their worlds - which are totally like my own, yet utterly different in so many ways.

(By the way, this is my first mobile blogpost and I have to say it's hard to be coherent when you can only read a few chunks of what you're writing as you work and you're sweating like a pig out in the desert getting harrassed by flies...)

Anywho, this post is to clear things up - which I hope I have done. As we get closer to the 'Among The Ghosts' publising date (Late August - two months away!) I will put up some of the first chapter -and maybe some illustrations, too - here for you all to peruse!

Sayanora for now from the Post-Apocalyptic desert that is my home for the next month!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


The movie Ghoulies came out in the summer of 1985. I was eight years old at the time and I couldn't get over the poster for the film - a round-headed ghoul popping out of a toilet. The ad was everywhere: at the movie theater, on TV...I was obsessed. I was definitely not the films demographic, nor was my four year old sister, who I'd also turned into a Ghoulies freak. We petitioned our mom, begged and pleaded with her to take us to see this Ghoulie movie - to the point where she actually gave in and said she would take us.

I remember the day we went. We'd spent the morning at the pool and the asphalt was like tar. It was hot, hot enough that when you opened the car door the overpowering heat attacked you and made it hard to breathe. The seat belts were scorching, opening the windows did nothing to alleviate the heat. Only time and the air conditioning could do that. We drove away from the pool, down the winding Alabama roads, the lush greenery overflowing around us. We got to the theater mid-day and there was hardly anyone there for the afternoon movies even though it was the heart of Summer. Outside, the poster for Ghoulies was up on the wall along with all the other 'playing now' and 'coming soon' films. We parked, clamoring back into the heated, humid air and crossed the lot. We followed our mom over to the ticket window and waited while she asked for three tickets to see Ghoulies. To her happiness - and our misery - the kid behind the window said that Ghoulies wasn't playing anymore, but there WAS another film called The Goonies playing. She bought three tickets for the The Goonies movie and we went into the air-conditioned theater, the cool air blasting our faces and causing gooshflesh to break out on our arms.

Of course, we loved The Goonies. It was great - an instant classic. And for the longest time, I thought it was so fortuitous that we missed Ghoulies and ended up with The Goonies. It's only as I get older that I think back to that time and realize there was nothing 'fortuitous' about it.

Our mom had to have known that Ghoulies was gone when she took us to that theater.