Friday, June 24, 2011

Off to RWA

So this week got all cattywampus. I usually update my blog on Thursdays, but with my book announcement on Monday and work and packing and other life stuff, I kind of forgot, and now it's Friday and I'm heading to the East Coast to see some college friends and attend the RWA conference, wheee.

I'm meeting my agent for the first time (!!), as well as a bunch of agency mates, new writing friends, and my editor.

I'll be back here on July 7th with lots of scoop from the conference, but if you'd like the scoop from NYC in real time, follow me on Twitter (@Sarah_Skilton). See you in a few weeks!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Deal!

Guess what: My wonderful agent Sara Megibow sold my debut YA novel, Bruised, to the fabulous Maggie Lehrman at Amulet Books.

Now here's the same info in a different format, because Publishers Marketplace makes it look so pretty and official:

Young Adult 
Sarah Skilton's debut BRUISED, about a 16-year-old girl with a black belt in martial arts who freezes up at an armed robbery and is left wondering if martial arts failed her or if she failed it, to Maggie Lehrman at Amulet, in a nice deal, for publication in 2012, by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency (World).

Next week, I'll share the same info in Esperanto, and the week after that, I'll share it in an interpretive dance vlog.

(Just kidding; little bit giddy.)

Huge thanks to my friends for reading early drafts of the novel (sometimes multiple times...), and of course my family for their love and support. My husband Joe deserves special commendation for giving me so many pep talks the last couple years, through first drafts to querying to submissions.

I couldn't be more excited to work with Maggie, and I'm so grateful to Sara for her all her hard work.

Really looking forward to sharing Bruised with new readers next year. I hope you like it! :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recommend Read: "Chiggers" by Hope Larson

I'm a little embarrassed to admit I haven't read many graphic novels. I mean, I've read the ones everyone reads (Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, Art Spiegelman's Maus, and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home...) but otherwise my repertoire is sadly limited.

Which is strange, because I used to love comics. When I visited my grandma in England as a kid during the 1980s*, I'd devour Asterix and Obelix stories, and I had monthly subscriptions to Heathcliff and The Get-Along Gang comics (if anyone else remembers the bizarreness that was the Get-Along Gang, WE MUST TALK). I also read various Archie digests and went through an X-men phase in high school and early college.

So why didn't I transition to graphic novels? It's a mystery, and one I'd like to rectify.

Last week I read Hope Larson's fantastic summer camp-set YA graphic novel, Chiggers. There's not a single moment in the book that isn't authentic. Right from the first line of narration -- "Being the first one at camp is like waking up first at a slumber party" -- I knew it was for me.

Everything about the story feels real, from the friendships, to the crushes, to worrying about whether you're normal, to befriending the "weird, possibly lying" new bunkmate no one else likes, to playing capture the flag and navigating the mess hall. Plus there's bonus material like diagrams on how to make a friendship bracelet, and the artwork is expressive and innovative, whether depicting the passage of time or mocking a parent's opinion about the evils of breaded food.

Read any good graphic novels lately? I'd love some recommendations.

*a fact which means I can never donate blood. I know because I've tried. So what do British people do?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Recommended Viewing: "Somewhere" Written & Directed by Sofia Coppola

Lost in Translation is one of my favorite films. I think it perfectly captures not only the bewilderment and beauty of visiting a foreign country, but also the ennui that comes from mid-life crises and post-college crises, when you either regret how you've spent your life so far, or you can't figure out who you're supposed to be.

This line never ceases to make me laugh:

Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson): "I tried being a writer but I hate what I write. I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. I guess every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, horses... taking pictures of your feet."

Despite my love for the film, I was reluctant to watch Ms. Coppola's most recent project, Somewhere, because I feared it would be more of the same, yet less of what was so great about Lost in Translation.

There are a few obvious similarities. A movie star (this time played by Stephen Dorff instead of Bill Murray) lives in a hotel, drifting through his pampered, rather absurd life without purpose. And yes, once again he's jolted out of his stupor by a "younger woman" (his 11-year-old daughter Cleo, play by Elle Fanning).

The performances are terrific, and I especially appreciated the way the film was bookended. We begin with a static partial shot of a race track, and watch as Dorff, in his expensive and noisy Ferrari, speeds around it (briefly out of sight) four times. The symbolism is clear: he's going nowhere; he's going in circles.

The final shot (spoiler alert) is Dorff in the same car, alone again, but driving out of the city, out onto the open road, going somewhere at last. And when he exits the car this time, there's a hint of a smile on his face.

When I write novels or short stories, I aspire to make my endings relate directly to my beginnings -- either by referring back to the opening imagery, or using similar allusions so the story feels like it's come full circle.

Do you believe endings should directly reference beginnings, or do you think it should be up to readers to interpret any potential parallels for themselves?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Twists on Old Classics

Don't worry, I'm not randomly launching a screed against New Coke twenty-five years after the fact. I'm talking about the FX show Sons of Anarchy, aka "Hamlet on a Harley." Series creator Kurt Sutter took the basic premise of Hamlet and set it in a biker gang. How brilliant is that?

Current leader Clay (Ron Perlman) is Claudius; his wife Gemma (Katey Sagal) is a modern-day Gertrude; and her son Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is the "prince" and would-be heir who wavers in his committment to the club and senses something rotten his father's demise.

I think the reason the concept appeals to me so much is because A) it's unexpected and B) the roots of the story are so powerful that they really will work in any environment. Even though I know how Hamlet ends, it's fascinating to watch the tale unfold within the framework of a biker gang.

It's why I enjoyed Amy Heckerling's Clueless (which is basically Jane Austen's Emma for Valley Girls) and the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You (which is The Taming of the Shrew in high school).

Have you ever considered taking a classic or well-known story and placing it in a modern setting?

Is there any bizarre combo you'd like to see? (King Lear in the fashion industry?)