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url 2017-06-09 13:25
Because You Love to Hate Me | Q&A with Ameriie

Hey everyone!

By now, you've probably heard me say a lot on Because You Love to Hate Me, a YA villain-themed anthology edited by Ameriie that pairs booktubers with authors (cc: pre-order promoback cover reveal & anthology pairingfront cover reveal, original book blog post announcing the anthologyoriginal EW cover reveal post (read Ameriie's introduction)).

So then you won't be surprised that today I have a Q&A with Ameriie, who is both the anthology editor and the author with whom I was paired. If you're curious at all about the anthology, check out what Ameriie has to say!


TB: All right, our Hangout on Air is live. I am here with Ameriie tonight to have a Q&A about, uh, Because You Love to Hate Me. Hey, everyone! I'm --

A: Hi, everyone!

TB: -- Tina Burke, and there's Ameriie. [laughs]

A: This is our first Hangout. Neither of us have ever done a Google Hangout (on Air) before.

TB: All right, so maybe for our starter question, let's get Ameriie talking about what inspired her story from that blurb. How did she go through her process?

A: Oh, so you know, of course I have the sampler, woohoo! It's so crazy 'cause it --

TB: [holds up sampler to the camera]

A: -- aaahh, yeah! It's so beautiful. It's going to be so great. Just in case, just in case anyone is wondering, this is going to be velvet touch, so it's like soft touch - I believe that's the technical term for it. And the black blood is going to be shiny and also 3D. And this [points to the flower] is going to be foiled, it's going to be very shimmery. It's going to be very --

TB: Beautiful.

A: -- pretty.

TB: Right?

A: I'm really excited. It's going to be a lot thicker than this obviously, because this is just the samples, so make sure you guys all pre-order that baby. So yeah, so it was kind of cool, you gave me a lot of great prompts, 'cause you know a lot of people don't know that. But um, a lot of people don't know that uh, you know each, each contributor was giving each author a set of - I think it was four - four, was it? A set of four, four, at least four. Could've been more, but at least four. And you were prepared--

TB: --I broke the rules. [laughs]

A: It was awesome. It was like a list. That was awesome, though. Um, and so I chose, you know, "Jack and the Beanstalk" as well as a certain Evil Tyrant That Shall Remain Unnamed, because we don't want to let the cat out of the bag. We don't want people to google him yet. You'll know that it's a he. So I'm really excited about that. But there was another one, too, that was like I was very tempted to do, and it was really neck in neck, and that was, I forgot her name, but she's the, like the vampire. The uh--

TB: --Countess, but I can't remember her name right now either, [laughs], oh! [Note: this is who we were discussing].

A: --on her too. I just love villainous-- see, I always rooted for the villain. We've had so many conversations about this, it's always about the villain. Seeing the other side, and trying to understand what's going on with that person, and I think it's just, that's kind of, I've been obsessed with that. Like forever. Just 'cause I always, I have a lot of empathy for the villain, I think I always do. Ever since I was a kid. So a lot of those things that people would think are funny, like a lot of the Roald Dahl books in which the child is playing all these pranks on the teacher, I was just thinking, maybe the teacher is sad and lonely when they go home, there's no one there. There's so many reasons why they're this way. How about you? How easy was it, or how difficult was it to come up (not only) with so many prompts, but just getting into that head space in the first place?

TB: Oh, I love ideas. It's just like looking up research and then I'm not the one who actually has to write them. [laughs]

A: [laughs]

TB: You know, I mean anyone can daydream.

A: But you write, too. You do write, so you know, you know all about that side of things as well.

TB: I don't know. I think the, the stage of writing that's literally the easiest to do is coming up with the ideas. The ideas, right? 'Cause you can think of so many different things, you're like this would be so cool if I got read about it, but then like, actually exploring the details and making them come to life is what's really key and what's really fascinating whenever you're reading. Right? And that's what you do so well with, like, the little details in your story are excellent.

A: Oh, thank you! For those of you guys who don't know, Christina's also my critique partner. And she's awesome. She's really helped me a lot, um, she's, I think you've read everything. You've read everything. You've read everything, I believe.

TB: Not what's-its-name, Chloe, right? I don't think I've--

A: --Oh, no one's read The Chloes yet. It's now called The Chloes. No one has read that yet. Just me. I'm the only person who's read it, and yeah, it's got some freshening up to do. For those of you guys who don't know, Christina and I met on Maggie Stiefvater's critique partner find--

TB: Yeah.

A: --which is, if you're a writer, definitely check out Maggie Stiefvater's critique partner find. It's kind of a love match thing. It's really hilarious the way she sets that up. But we met that way, and we kind of exchanged some papers, and then we kind of just you know, it really just worked for us, we really trust each other's opinion. So then of course when we did this project, I was definitely like, I must have Christina give me my prompts. [laughs]

TB: [laughs]

A: I just, I knew that I would love any prompt that you would give me, so I was less, I wasn't as nervous. 'Cause the idea of getting a prompt from someone is really nerve-wracking--

TB: It is, but I have no doubt that you would've been able to succeed with any prompt that you were given.

A: Thank you. I actually broke into a little mini sweat when I just said it 'cause just thinking about it was like, what if you can't deliver? What if you don't know what to do? What if you don't know how to write the right short story? And then you're getting a prompt. It was really, really cool. I'm really happy that the two combined, because I was able to throw in my love for "Jack and the," well, it's not even a love for "Jack and the Beanstalk" 'cause I always really liked that story, but because I was always indignant about that story. About the giant--

TB: Really?

A: --Dying in the end, and how he was just like after his gold that Jack was stealing. I was like, well, hold up--

TB: Hold on, Jack--

A: --Jack is horrible! He's a thief.

TB: [laughs]

A: Why is the giant the bad guy? I didn't understand why the giant was the bad guy. I, I, for the life of me, could not understand that.

TB: Giants are always the bad person or the bad creature, and when they're not, it's just like the exception to the rule.

A: You wrote a great breakdown on giants and what they've always meant to people and how what they symbolize. Do you want to go into a little bit of that as far as what you wrote in there?

TB: Aw, I only have like two pages, you can't tease that. [laughs]

A: [laughs]

TB: Um, oh, there's something you said that, oh, I mean you're also the person who came up with the entire idea for the book. Do you want to walk us through that? 'Cause you're the one--

A: Yeah!

TB: --who gathered everyone, gathered the idea of Because You Love to Hate Me.

A: Oh, just combining the two worlds, 'cause you know we both have been very involved in the bookish side of things as far as bookish internet things, you know, definitely been through so many iterations of that. When, if we ever meet you guys in person, we will have stories. It's, people are so passionate about it on the internet and then I felt like it'd be a really good way to combine the two. My agent also really, really helped. You know, it's definitely like both of our brainchild. Brainchild? Our brainchild. It was our brainchild. And I've always loved villains, so it just made sense to combine you know, villains, and then bringing in youtube, doing something that hadn't been done before, not that there are always anthologies, but to have an anthology, a YA anthology with villains and adding in booktube was just such a cool element. And then you know, it was just trying to bring everything together. And that was kind of hard, because you know, I was trying to reach other people I didn't know, most of the people I didn't know, and I just kinda had to go out there and then ask. Asking the authors was really hard as well 'cause booktube, we kinda, you know, there's like one degree of separation really, and with authors, it can be like that, kinda sorta maybe. But it's just different because you don't want to be the crazy person on twitter like, hello, I've got this --

TB: [laughs]

A: --project, and I would love for you, you know what I mean? People ask them things like that all the time. I just did not want to add myself to that list. So, but, I was really happy, because I made some new friends, and I was able to pull together the project, and I did not do it by myself, because I mean, like, without everyone involved, every single contributor, without my agency, there's no way that it would've happened. There's just so many moving parts, 'cause I think there's like twenty-six of us, right? Yeah, I mean, usually I think an anthology, my agent was saying, is like thirteen 'cause you know you're dealing with the contributors. And you might have a little more if you have someone writing a foreword and that kind of thing, but to have like twenty-six, it's just, that's a lot. But actually it's gone pretty smoothly.

TB: Do you think that you would do something similar like this in the future?

A: Oh, yeah! Absolutely. Absolutely. It did kinda take over my life a little bit more than I thought it would--

TB: [laughs]

A: --'cause there was a lot of emailing, and like logistical things, and I was like hold on, what is going on? [laughs] But it was really cool. It was, it was a different, a different kind of exercise I guess, you know. But I definitely would do it again. I have some ideas. I've got some ideas. There are some cool pre-order options, pre-order swag by the way. We have notepad, an exclusive notepad and pencil, like a matching set, which is really cute, and a bookplate, which is going to be signed by me. I would love it if everyone could sign it, but logistically that would be really--

TB: --it'd be impossible. [laughs] Also, you're responsible--

A: [laughs]

TB: --you're the responsible one.

A: Yes, that would definitely be a little crazy.

TB: So I was thinking that maybe we could wrap it up with uh, just like if there was one thing that you wanted to tell everyone about the anthology, what would it be?

A: Oh, that's a really good question. Um, if there was one thing that I would say I would want everyone to know, it's that a lot of people put a lot of work into it. Like everyone really, really brought out their creative guns. The essays, the booktuber contributions, they're so different, um, people chose different formats, they, they each offer something, something different to say about villains. You could obviously say we love morally grey characters, and we love when things aren't so black and white, however, everyone has more. Everyone expands on that in a different way, in a different angle. And that, that was really difficult, because when you have thirteen people who are talking about villains, you are going to get, obviously everyone -- well, actually we did have one person who didn't really love villains, but you're going to hear things--

TB: what--

A: --the, yeah, one person usually does not root for the villain. And was like nope, the villain is never my favorite, that was one person. [laughs] So that was interesting. But for the most part, people were like, I like the morally ambiguous grey character, but then you went deeper, and from a different angle, and each essay, each writing contribution is so specific, which was amazing, and on the author side, we got to see some really, really, it's, there's a big diverse list of villains there. It goes from the really atrocious to some of the more empathetic, um, villains. There are different styles of the story as well. Um, we have some straightforward tales as well as there's a really cool texting story that's told all in text, so I think we really got to have fun, and I think just having the prompt parameters made everyone start thinking, what's a different way I can structure the story? Or my writing piece, which I thought that was really cool. My story's not like any text or writing backwards or anything like that, it's pretty much straight up story. [laughs]

TB: But don't be underselling your story. I love it and everyone else is going to love it, too, girl.

A: Thank you. I do really like my story as well. I do really like my story as well. I love it.

TB: Woohoo! All right, so Because You Love to Hate Me is being released on July 11th, and we hope that you all can pre-order between now and then. If you want to join us on twitter, from June 5th through July 24th, we're going to be talking about villains then, again, and you'll probably hear more from us in the future, soon, too, [laughs] about the anthology.

A: We're all on the internet. Make sure you guys pre-order! Support the anthology 'cause we want to also do this again.

TB: Woohoo! All right.

A: Bye!


If you want to pre-order, here are some links--

After all, there is a pre-order promotion!
Also feel free to add on Goodreads :D.

On Mondays, from June 5 - July 24, check out the Bloomsbury twitter feed, as we'll be discussing villains more generally. You'll also hear more about the anthology pretty soon from all of us!

The anthology releases July 11, 2017 from Bloomsbury. I hope you all are as excited about it as I am!
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review 2013-10-07 19:25
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
The Secret History - Donna Tartt

You can find more of my reviews plus discussions and giveaways at Christina Reads YA.


On occasion I'm in the mood to read something a bit darker, more mature than most of the YA fare stocked on my shelves. I don't usually review adult titles, but this one is set on a college campus and may have some crossover potential, though it is quite bloody and brutal for those who are accustomed to YA. Anyway...

Why did I want to read this?
1. I went to a liberal arts college and I'm always looking for more books with college settings (and not of the now typical NA fare).
2. Last fall I took a class on Greek tragedy and philosophy, so needless to say, this topic and subculture are fascinating to me. This book is full of references to ancient, classical culture (Plato, Greek tragedies, Greek mysteries, the old gods, Latin, dead languages, etc.), and one of the plays constantly referred to was one that I'd studied and that enchanted me.
3. Anything that says "modern classic" is bound to catch my eye. True or false?
4. This book must have been on some list from an author or reviewer who I trust. I bought it last summer so I no longer remember where I'd seen it, but I'm sure that contributed to my excitement at the time. That, and one of my closest friends has consistently mentioned to me that her brother loved this one, and from what I know, he's generally a picky reader.
5. Unreliable narration.

Why am I telling you this? Because I went into the book with those expectations and found myself rather satisfied with what I'd gotten.

Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Richard, the protagonist - Here's the thing you should know about the characters, including the protagonist. They do shitty things. Are they likable? That's something to debate, but Richard was probably the most likable of the bunch, especially as we see things from his perspective. Richard is a poor kid who was often depressed before he fell into this group of Greek-addicted misfits. He wasn't happy with where he came from, so he'd learned to lie quite well, and it's quite obvious that he's desperate for these people to like him. It's easy to slip into his perspective because you can sense some of that earnestness in how he looks at these other characters, but also because of his determination (he transferred from his first college; the way he approaches everyone and work and school) and the fact that he's a sort of outsider in the group - the only one on a scholarship and not with swathes of money at his disposal, not with great connections nearby. He's not the one who holds the group together, but he's probably the one you'd find it easiest to talk to of the bunch.


2. (+) World-Building - Do you like Greek culture? How about Vermont? How about dead languages and philosophy? How about liberal arts education? There's a lot to be said about the world that's built upon this Greek foundation. There are aspects of ancient Greek life that you don't think will necessarily apply until they do, and then you're just shocked. Even those familiar with ancient Greek culture, I imagine, will find themselves shocked and pleased with the level of detail - it's clear that the author, if not well versed in the classics already, did her research well. The liberal arts setting was also fairly well done except for a couple of things: one, even though the characters also comment on how unusual a situation Julian has (their adviser, most of their classes?), I doubt that could ever exist; two, this book has some of the typical stereotypes of college such as heavy drinking and drug habits. I don't remember meeting a single college-aged character who did not partake in these activities. It's true that these characters may not meet anyone like that, but drinking in the middle of day, constantly being hung over... It was only a tad disappointing that we just didn't get as much on the details of the collegiate setting and a more rounded picture of what it actually meant to go to a liberal arts college (though I understand that that was a part of the point). Everything is extreme.


3. (+) Characters - You want a book full of memorable, flawed characters? Check this one out. The characters sometimes act morally reprehensible and are not always likable, but they are so real, so easy to imagine. You've got this trying-too-hard Gatsby-esque all-American guy who's too proud and a tad slower than the manic others; you've got this cold, calculating scholar who alternates between sociopathic tendencies, academic ambition, and the loving charm of a leader; and more, many others who are just as developed as the original five (Richard, Henry, Bunny, Charles, and Camilla) such as their teacher, Julian. It is the ever changing character dynamics that propels a good deal of the plot.


4. (+) Plot - Once this story gets going, it's out there. It's remarkably detailed and complex and focused on character interactions changing, morphing as the characters constantly react in different ways to the complications thrown into their paths. And my god, this was unpredictable. Usually I pride myself on being able to tell where a story is headed, but for some reason -- maybe all the details and how well founded they and the characters were -- I just didn't see any of that coming.


5. (+) Themes/Moral Ambiguity - Sometimes I need to take a break from YA because there seem to be very few that manage to portray morally ambiguous situations well or at all. Not so here, though it's less about moral ambiguity (we all know what they should not have done), and more about the dawning horror of how easily one could fall into... as the summary puts it, evil. How much would you do to belong? How much influence can someone exert over you? Is it possible to escape the self? Is there such a thing as redemption? This is the kind of book I imagine would go well in a class that also featured Greek literature or philosophy; great to compare the two, and great for stimulating discussion.


6. (+/-) Privilege/Class Discussion - For all the discussion of how Henry and Francis and the lot are privileged, untroubled kids who can do as they please with money, wasting it on cars and alcohol and drugs and trips to country houses, this book does not seem to have a certain... self-awareness so to speak. Yes, it's set on a liberal arts college campus, and yes it's pointed out how it's not entirely pragmatic to keep switching majors and how a literature major might not be ideal for Richard. But what about these kids who are studying classics? Who are all so effortlessly slick and cool and noticed by everyone else on campus? Who can carry out conversations in dead languages and who have their classics teacher monopolize their class schedule but who are probably not learning stuff that will apply in their immediate future? In a sense, the poorer members show as outsiders in this group, but there's also a certain, oh-woe-is-me in regards to some of their affairs that makes sense for their situation but also highlights some missing aspects to this discussion on class and privilege. There's also the fact that unless you are somewhat privileged, you will likely not understand all the references and some of the conversations these characters have. I know I didn't, and sometimes had to skim.


7. (+/-) Believable? Empathetic? - Here are the two things that I think would drive away most readers: whether they think the story *could* actually happen, and whether they (need to) relate to the characters. I myself was questioning how believable some of the story elements were (I believe in the characters, but would they all be congregated in this Vermont liberal arts college? Would the circumstances line so perfectly?), and sometimes, as stated above, I found it hard to relate to their situation (privileged, sometimes unlikable white kids who do stupid things), but ultimately the story was too engrossing for me for either of those two issues to matter.


8. (+) Writing - The writing is magnificent. There's this dreamy, unreal feel to quite a few of the scenes that fits in with one of the themes: the beauty of terror. Indeed there's a disturbing poetic aspect to some of the more bloody and brutal scenes that I'd bookmarked because the writing--the writing was so wonderful. The author also did a great job mixing in a future POV looking in on the past well with the generally formal tone of the entire story.


9. (+/-) Pacing - The key word is "once" the story gets going. There was a beautifully terrifying prologue, and then I found myself somewhat bored/restless for about a hundred pages. Not right after the prologue, but maybe around pages 50 - 150? It was really slow in the beginning in that way that means you'll learn about the characters. For me this didn't always work because there was an abundance of narration, long info-dumpy/summary-like paragraphs on things that had happened that I couldn't keep track of and that didn't feel as immediate as normal scenes. But after *event* happens, the pacing was perfect, with rising tension and conflict that had me flipping the pages as fast as I could.

10. (+/-) The Cover - Eh. Not all that inspiring. I wonder if that's Dionysus?

Full of memorable if not entirely likable characters and burning philosophical questions on human nature, The Secret History is not to be missed if you're a fan of ancient Greek culture or unpredictable contemporary thrillers.

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