Thursday, December 15, 2011
#BIR2011: Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
I admit it. More often than not, description in books can make me crazy. It's really easy to go too far, at least for me... too easy for me to skip a paragraph that is purely description. The real trick is writing it in a way that I don't notice, in any one moment, that it's there. Definitely something that is hard to do. But when it's done right, it blows me away, every time.
And one of the single best people who can do this, who has such amazing talent as a writer on top of her ability for this, is Kirsten Hubbard.
Everything about Like Mandarin is done so stunningly, and it's the perfect example of why I find contemporary YA so amazing. And while my gushing over this book has never stopped, and my gushing of Kirsten's talent has progressed into 2012 with Wanderlust (which is also amazing, might I add), I'm going to reign myself in here to let you guys get to know Kirsten a little better with this interview!
I have so much fun writing setting -- the balance of evocative details, including just the right amount so it doesn't bore my readers. I think the hardest part, especially when I'm writing about places like the Guatemalan rainforest, is NOT being there. In more ways than one. First, because the travel bug fills me with longing. Second, because the very best details from my settings are jotted down during my travels. There's this scene in Wanderlove where Bria stands outside in the rainforest and describes every sound she hears. I actually did that -- they're the exact sounds I heard. I was in the forests of Pico Bonito, Honduras.
Without spoilers, which scene in Like Mandarin is your favorite?
I love the sweeping, epic scenes like the trophy liberation and the cottonwood dance, but there's this tiny scene between Grace and Taffeta I think I love the most, when Taffeta (Grace's little sister, who rocks the pageant world by singing in Italian) brings Grace an old tape deck to listen to. Somebody quoted it on Goodreads, if you'd like to take a look. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/363605
Did you have someone as a teenager who was your equivalent of Mandarin, or someone who was your Grace?
There were a few girls I looked up to throughout high school, though I didn't have one specific Mandarin. As for Grace, I might have -- I wouldn't necessarily know. Though there was one girl, a seventh grader when I was an eighth grader, who looked up to me quite a bit. She emulated how I dressed and the music I liked (Smashing Pumpkins ftw) and I took her in. We didn't speak the year I left for high school; when she started high school a year later, we'd totally grown apart. No real reason, though I know now I should have reached out. Not long after that, she passed away very suddenly from a brain tumor. It shocked the school. I almost felt like I couldn't grieve, like it wasn't allowed for me, since I hadn't been the best friend.
If you could pair Grace and Mandarin with any character from any book, who would you pick for each?
You know, that's a very good question, and not one I think I can answer. This post might explain my reasons: http://kirstenhubbard.blogspot.com/2011/10/are-grace-and-mandarin-gay.html
But I would love to know what YOU think.
If you were a demigod, what god/goddess would be your nemesis?
I'd probably take on Zeus, that arrogant misogynistic swanrapist son of a rhea.
So there you guys have it! A little glimpse at Kirsten, the setting, and the characters (I love her characters!).
And because I think this cover is awesome, I have signed Like Mandarin bookmarks for two lucky winners!
To enter, just leave a comment and a way to contact you. This contest is US only, and ends December 22.
And now head over to the BIR2011 Blog, where another one of my absolutely favorites of the year is being feature, this one with two very, very hot boys: Vanish by Sophie Jordan!
Posted by Kari Olson at 8:17 AM