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Friday, May 16, 2008


This last week, I got caught. Trapped like a trap in a trap.

Those of you who have read this blog for some time will know that I attended a Catholic girls’ academy—a school I later turned into St. Teresa’s in the book Devilish. I have told several stories about this school, but never named it. In fact, I thought I was being extremely, extremely clever and that no one would ever figure out where I went to school.

Again, if you have been reading this blog for a while . . . you’ll also know by now that I’m not clever. So I really should have been more prepared for the day in which I got note after note after note from current students at my former high school, correctly identifying it and asking me to come.

Now, if you’re me, and you have been talking your face off about your old school on your blog, and then you wrote a book in which you infest that school with demons . . . you might feel a certain sense of je ne sais panic when asked to return. I was pretty much convinced that I would walk in the front door, the student counsel president would hit me over the head with a shovel, and I would be thrown into an open pit specially dug in the basement. And then they would sic the hamsters on me.

But what ACTUALLY happened was that I had an amazing time, and a ton of people stayed for a voluntary after-school event with me, and then presented me with a HUGE PILE OF GIFTS. These included 13 little blue envelopes! In which messages and items relating to my books and my school had been placed! They got me Ginny’s credit card from 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Lola’s pink stud earrings and Scarlett’s Empire Suite key from Suite Scarlett, a stack of demerits (actually signed by the principal) for things like “parking principal's car on balcony,” “being tardy,” and “forgetting to be awesome.” I even got a puppy-sized elephant with an engraved collar named Queen Ranavalona!

I made a short video to commemorate this visit, in which you can see at least part of my high school uniform. You can also meet my lawyer, C. Catso Fangola.

I received a question in the comments that Justine Larbalestier told me I had to answer. “It’s time,” she said. “They need to know the truth.”

nicole said...
I'm looking forward to reading sweet scarlett as soon as I get my hands on a copy.
Maureen, how did you meet all of you author friends in New York? Isn't it kind of like being friends with your competition?
(I would love a sleep mask!)

It’s extremely easy to meet other YA authors. Because once you become a YA author, you have to move into the YA author mansion. We all live there. I live there. Justine lives there. Scott Westerfeld, Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, Holly Black, John Green, Cassie Clare . . . everyone. We all live there. They make you. It’s kind of big, so you sometimes don’t see everyone. (I know Stephanie Meyer lives there, for instance, but I’ve never seen her room. I think it’s over in the Judy Blume wing.)

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “But Meg Cabot lives in Florida! And John Green in Indianapolis! And Stephanie Meyer in Arizona! And, and, and . . .”

Lies. We live in the mansion.

In the past, we have gone to some trouble to cover up the fact that we all live in the YA author mansion. We didn’t want people to go looking for it. Some people didn’t want to move to the mansion, but you aren’t given a choice. On the day your first book comes out, they come in a car under the cover of darkness. If you fight, they knock you out, and you wake up in the mansion with all of your things around you.

Now, to get to the point about being friends with your competition . . .

There is no competition in YA writing. It’s not that people will only read one book and not another. Reading breeds more reading. When you finish one good book, you IMMEDIATELY NEED ANOTHER . . . and so the circle of life continues!

I’ll tell you what the problem is. The problem is when some people leave their nasty dishes in the sink of the YA Author Mansion kitchen, or blast the High School Musical soundtrack at all hours, or keep throwing cricket balls against the wall, or put sheets over their heads and try to scare you by pretending to be ghosts . . . I’m not naming names, but I am getting a little sick of it. We are all trying to write, people.

This is part of the reason I’ve gone public. I have decided that it’s time we talked about the Mansion, and I will answer questions about it, rules be damned.


I am still doing my series of influences, in tribute to the upcoming Olsen Twins book. Today’s influence is very, very special, indeed.

When I was a tiny mj, Murdock from the A-Team was my hero. Sure, The A-Team is PROBABLY the crappiest show ever made. SURE it was predictable and formulaic and violent and insane . . . but my devotion to it was total. Which just goes to show that when we are small, we are not always gifted with the best taste. But I will still WRESTLE ANYONE TO THE GROUND who has a bad word to say about my guys. (Except Frankie “Dishpan” Santana, who doesn’t count. Say what you like about him.)

Murdock, the team pilot and professional pretend-crazy person was my true love and inspiration, and I wanted to be like him. Murdock had STYLE. When I need things for my room in the YA Author Mansion, I use this technique I learned from him. If YOU need things, why not adapt this to your purposes?


I’m getting ready for the Suite Scarlett release party, which will be this week. I was going to throw it at home, since we’re all there, but they do let us out from time to time to see non-YA-author types. We love it when they let us out. Anyway, I am most excited about that.

Today’s five sleep masks are going to:


And today there are TWO WAYS TO WIN THINGS!

First, I will be giving away five sleep masks to random commenters! Second, I will be giving away A SIGNED SUITE SCARLETT! In the FORUM!

See, Scarlett’s Eleven made a forum for me a few weeks ago. In support of their efforts, I’ll be lurking on the forum all week. Join. Chat. Talk amongst yourselves. And at some point I will swoop in and grab someone and that person will get a book. You will feel like I did when I was taken to this mansion, except less like someone in the trunk of a car and more just like someone getting a signed book.

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Anonymous Bridget said...

MJ, I have a pressing question about the YA mansion...does JK live there also? Is she constantly barging in your room looking for snacks (is she the one with the dirty dishes)? More pressing, does that mean poor Alan Rickman is imprisoned somewhere in the vast awesomeness of the mansion? The horror. ;)

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MJ: i have to say, as random as it is: i like your hair longer, than when it was short. looks good!

ps-love the forum. it is so ...funky looking. 2 thumbs up!


11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the forum!!! It's sooo fun!!

11:46 PM  
Blogger Crypt said...

This is all very well.
But who are THEY?

12:10 AM  
Anonymous Suvi said...

Wow, I think I've never heard of this Murdock guy, but after seeing that I'm loving him already. :D

About this YA mansion: What do you all hard-working authors do when you are not working hard, besides eating and sleeping? With so many people there, you must have some sort of freetime activity going on. :)

(Btw... Did you just double-misspell Stephenie Meyer?)

12:35 AM  
Blogger Hillary said...

Ohhhhhhhh...sleep masks! I want one! That way if my stalker (Voldemort) comes to get kidnap me, I'll have no idea b/c I won't be able to see him and I'll think I'm dreaming. Though when I am getting a privet tuba concert at his church, I think I'll be able to figure it out.

12:45 AM  
Anonymous Hillary! said...

Is he wearing converse in that video?

Sleep mask please?;(

12:58 AM  
Anonymous Erin w. said...

OHHHH!! yay sleep masks!!! and yeah, you totally did double misspell Stephenie Meyer...I think that Stephenie won't want to meet you in the Mansion ever, now. She'll stay in the Judy Blume wing and never, ever leave, and what will you do then? You will never personally know the wonder that is Stephenie Meyer.

1:14 AM  
Anonymous Bobina said...

Are visitors allowed in the mansion? Or they just allowed to talk and see you though those tiny windows like Murdock from the A-Team? Where does JK Rowling fit into this?

P.S. I would greatly appreciate a sleep mask :)

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Erika said...

Can I move into the mansion? If one of the authors doesn't like being locked in there, I'd be happy to switch places with them when they let you all out and pretend to be them for however long I can. lol

Isn't it good to just let the entire truth out and not have that huge secret bottled up inside anymore? You've probably been wanting to tell us all this for a while. :P


1:34 AM  
Anonymous Meghan said...

I think my favorite NA story of yours is How To Run From a Nun. I could definitely see that happening.
The nuns are getting even stricter about the rules lately. I just heard (it might not be true) that next year we will have to wear stockings all year long because girls are letting their socks fall down. No knee socks! :O

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maureen, could you please stop taking my Spongebob Squarepants toothbrush? I forgave you for sticking my hand in a glass of water last week and making me pee my pants, but this is really too far. We have standards at the YA Mansion. That's all I'm saying.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Shooting Stars Mag said...

That's so awesome about your old school. I'm glad it was a ton of fun.

And yay for spilling the beans on the YA mansion..I hope to live there some day. :-P

As for a question about it...What happens when people are trying to write and someone is disrupting? Do you have any rules about that or anything else?

Do the boys and girls sleep in separate parts of the house? LOL


2:31 AM  
Anonymous Haddy-la said...

who runs the ya manssion are there YA gods (simaler to greek gods) that have their lackies ( simaler to Aphrodite and cupid) go and pick you guys up or do the lackies brain wash innocent adult writers to do the job. and are the YA gods like the different genras. AND is there one supper god that throwes flaming bookmarks at people that say all ya sucks. and do you have a ya a cemetary in the back full of all dead ya authors. and do you have a massive library of books. and is the back yard full of ruthless brain monkeys. and is the empire state build really the ya mansion... dont lie

and by the way grats lizzy-wa

2:43 AM  
Anonymous  said...

Wow! So if i publish a YA book do I get to be in the YA mansion? Awesome! Is there room-service? Your trip to your old school sounds awesome, i hope you had a ton of fun!

2:44 AM  
Blogger Shrieky said...

Mmm, sleep masks. Okay, so are there wars in the YA Mansion? Like the Judy Blume wing against the Lloyd ALexander wing? Are things thrown? Like pie for instance? Do you have JK clean up afterwards by eating all the pie?

2:59 AM  
Blogger katesutton90 said...

Oh my lord thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Anyway does bribery work in getting into the YA mansion? Because I am totally good at bribery! Also do they allow pets?
Again thank you for the sleep mask!

3:09 AM  
Anonymous supernerd said...

So, I was walking home from school today and looking at the ground because i was weighed down by near 15 pounds of school work and someone had written ALAN RICKMAN on the sidewalk. Weird, maybe he escaped from J.K. Rowling and decided to hide out in some random suburbian neighborhood.

3:16 AM  
Blogger ari :o) said...

Guess what?!?! I love masks of the sleeping variety, with a burning passion in my soul. If I had one, I could fool people because they would look at me and assume I was sleeping, when really I'd be AWAKE! (hem hem planing world domination hem hem) So a I would absolutely love a Suite Scarlett sleep mask. In fact, if I had one, I would never. take. it. off. ever.
please and thank you (with nuttela on top)
ari :o)

4:44 AM  
Anonymous E. Lockhart said...

It wasn't me who borrowed your Wonder Woman costume. It was John Green.

E. Lockhart

4:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

awww, you look adorable in your video! and so does c. catso fangola :)

5:03 AM  
Anonymous Danica/Diamond D said...

Oh, you poor mj!! Locked away in a big, scary mansion!

Hmm, now I'm curious. Who are "they"? The ones that operate the YA Mansion? Could "they" be adult fiction writers??

5:16 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

Cool. I've always wondered what being stashed in the trunk of a car under the cover of darkness and taken to a super-secret YA author mansion in an undisclosed location is like. Could you breathe? Well, I guess you could because you're obviously still breathing now...

Anyways, I would like a sleep mask because having a sleep mask makes sleeping so mcuh more glamorous. What color are they anyway?

Does the mansion have a pool? Because that would be sooo awesome. The YA author mansion sounds like a happy place. Besides the whole being kidnapped and stuffed in a trunk thing. But who wouldn't want to live there, with all those famous writers running around?

5:31 AM  
Blogger Renata said...

Ooh I would please like a sleep mask! I loved your video and your cat, and talk to my cats almost just as much (only in a normal voice usually). They are definitely my best friends, those cats of mine. One is named Mouse. Yay.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Heather♥ said...

you had to change your outfit because of car hair? when were you in a car? I saw a CAT, more specifically your lawyer but...

Okay, enough ragging on your grammar/typing skills (gosh Maureen, you're supposed to be an AUTHOR! How do you write books if you can't even type?).

You got a PUPPY-SIZED ELEPHANT?!?!? NOT. FAIR. It really is no. fair. at. all. AT ALL!

I want a puppy-sized elephant...=(

(btw, thanks for sending a SURPRISE sleep mask with the t-shirt--the one I put on the second I got it and me (the vespator) and sparkles wore to school today)

5:45 AM  
Anonymous AJ said...

I signed up at the forum. Looks like fun!

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Summer said...

yaaay I just finished Suite Scarlett and I loved it. and now I'm reading Looking for Alaska (again) and there is a character named CHIP MARTIN. like Lola's boyfriend and the Martin family!


6:45 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

You are so totally right; we all talk to animals like that. I am not ashamed to admit that I talk to my horse - whilst getting "is-she-alright?" looks from passerby. And about that mansion....daaang. I think you should build a Guest Wing, or at least have some guided tours. Also, thank you for such a pleasantly distracting blog entry. I have recently become informed that I am running the 200m dash at my next track meet, and as my limit it strictly 100m, I know I am so very screwed. And, to be frank, a sleep mask would numb the pain of losing. :)

P.S - I'm not even kidding about the losing part. Even my coach admitted it.

P.P.S - Good luck with those dirty dishes.

Megan :)

6:49 AM  
Anonymous sara45 said...

I just watched the movie Blades of Glory, have you seen it? If you haven't seen it you have to check out the final skating scene because the music that goes along with it is none other than... FLASH (ooh)GORDON! by Queen, your favorite! Not a great movie, but the song rocks!

sleep mask? please?

7:16 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

so, my fascist parental units are moving me to utah at the end of june. and i think i need something to comfort me. like a sleep mask? but, the bright side is, stephenie meyer is there ALL THE TIME and i will get to go to ALL HER EVENTS. which will be nice. i will tell her that the YA mansion needs some stephenie-maureen tete-a-tete. stephenie may move into your wing (which is it? is it madeline l'engle? e.l. konigsburg?) or maybe move you into the judy blume wing.

i am in desperate need of comfort.

if i win, I am erin h. not just erin.

8:04 AM  
Blogger ambeen said...

This is my third try at a sleep mask...please let this be it. :P

8:23 AM  
Anonymous hurlax said...

Hello MJ,

Some people my age put up posters of rock-stars on their bed-room walls. I would put up posters of you and your fellow authors a la mansion, except I've never seen one.
So in other words, I aspire to be a YA-author in this margical mansion more than I aspire to be a rock-star (All the best rock-stars died with the seventies anyways)
Also, may I have a sleeping-mask?

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Wonder_Sauerkraut said...

WOW... Becoming a writer isn't just a dream anymore... it's NECESSITY.
So is a sleeping mask, by the way!

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Nicole S. said...

how are the authors placed in the different wings? why was it decided that Stephenie would be in Judy Blume's wing?
thanks for answering my question! Justine - thanks for telling Maureen to tell us the truth. :)

9:42 AM  
Anonymous chanel-wa said...

ooohhh...what do you think'll come up if i insert 'writer Mansion' onto my google toolbar? I wonder...
and i'd love a mask! congrats to my fellow westerfeldian lizzy-wa for winning!

9:51 AM  
Blogger Breanna said...

Oh man, I really want to become a YA writer so I too can live in the YA author mansion. That would be incredible being around all those lovely authors all the time =).

Loved your video and of course your lawyer as well, such a cute cat.

That so exciting you had such a warm welcome from your old high school, I bet that was amazing.

Oh and I'd like a sleep mask.


10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So THAT'S why you all use Mac's. Clearly, whoever is keeping you all there issued you Mac's, like high school's do with teachers.

I knew John Green lied to me.

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Miranda K said...

okay mj, so i'm a young adult and i'm an author, does that mean i get to move into the mansion??

also, please tell us more about this elephant....

i'd love a sleep mask ;)

7:26 PM  
Blogger Gia said...

I have three questions:
1) Have you read Twilight– Stephenie Meyer?
2) How often do you clip your toenails?
3) What color is Japan on the world map. AHA! No peaking!

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In computers class we got to make a wish list and buy whatever we want so I bought a privit island named zombainia from JK isn't it amazing i also got 3 mansions in New Zealiand and 1 in Fiji i'm really happy. I have a few questions
1) have you heard of Josh Groban if so have you met him
2)whats your favorite country
3)whats your favorite color

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok so im bad at spelling i ment New Zealand and sorry for any other spelling errors

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Ooooh, a YA mansion.
Hard to believe that the Squirrel and Penguins army have not yet found out about this house. Unless they have all along but are waiting for the perfrect time to enter and take over the world.
Because we all know that you can take over the world by giving hints in YAnovels. It's been done before.

Would a sleep mask! Penguin might be jealous, so yo better send one that can survive a few hours in the freezer.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Christina Hicks said...

I'm totally intrigued by your revelation about the YA mansion. In my head it's a combination of all the most awesome places ever including the Addam's Family's House, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Don't tell me if I'm wrong though, I want to keep living the dream. :)

2:31 AM  
Anonymous Katie said...

like everyone else i am intrigued by the mysterious "they". Are they benevolent (if so, they might want to change their method of transporation) or evvvvvvvil?

i love your catholic school girl stories, partially because i'm also a girl at a catholic school whose not catholic. i understand the ins and outs of that sort of school :)

about the mansion: who is the best cook? do any of the other authors steal your clothes?

3:11 AM  
Blogger Trish Doller said...

I received my notice from the YA Mansion, but there was no postmark and there's no address on the letterhead. Apparently, I have to wait until Fall 2009 or Spring 2010 to officially move in, and then, not until after I've been blindfolded, whisked off in a limo with tinted windows, and then spun around three times until I don't know which direction I'm facing. By the way, did you ever fully recover from that initiation ritual involving the live turkey and the peanut butte--oops. I think I've said too much.

3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I <3 you're blog, you're so hilarious!

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops... I meant 'your' blog, not 'you're' blog! sorry. (from above comment)

4:35 AM  
Anonymous shaylaluna said...

Trash bags. cats. awesomeness.

Yay MJ.

I have a quesion. (Actually I have many questions)

1: are you entering John Green's Cat yoedeling thingie?

2: If so, i am sure c. catso would love to be in it?

3. can i have a sleepmask?

4: how do you spell yodeling?

5: is there a correct way to eat an oreo?

oh and i have been calling the YA author group thingie you're in Scott's groupies.

5:21 AM  
Anonymous willie said...

I just saw the cover of the Girl at Sea paperback on the harper teen website and she's wearing jeans, not a bathing suit! why the change? was it the argument about the "faceless girl in bathing suit" on cover again?

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Haddy-la said...

why do all authors use macs they make my skin melt when i touch them you should get dell with vista...so pretty
oh and in that stupid rap song that sounds like all other rp songs they say "i b in my crid tonight" it sounds like "i b in my Kryptonite" it makes them sound more stupid then they sound allready

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Omg...It's a comment that I'm leaving.

Ok,a bunch of things
1. You rock,yes...you do.
2. You are currently number 2 on my list of fav authors,Libba Bray is number 1,sorry but,hey,you beat JK. Rowling,just for writing about something to do with acting/the theater world of awesomeness.
3. What's the thing with dear Alan Rickman? Mind linking me to the post about him..I'm a big fan (He's my favorite actor...) and I feel lost in the midst of the joke.Pwease stop the confusion?
4. My orange juice has the pulp still in it..eckk.
5.Sleep Mask=Me running around with my mini shnauzer Heidi going "I got it! I got it!" and possibly shaking my behind,there will be a video of this.

This is A LOOOOOOOONNGGG comment..and it's possibly filled with typos,cuase I'm lazy.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Kimberly said...

Question: Do YA authors from other countries (like Singapore for example) live in the mansion?

5:30 PM  
Blogger Tiff said...

MJ, will you ever leave the YA author mansion to come to Canada? Specifically, Toronto? Because I think you have lots of fans here. There's one in particular (I'm not naming names) who might even present you with a bunch of red foods, or who would run with you onto the pitcher's mound at Skydome to help you bury some ashes.

I'm just saying. You should come. =p

9:31 PM  
Anonymous allykat said...

oh dear...you gave away the mansion secret. i hope you know what the consequences of such an act are.

1:37 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

So in this YA mansion ...
Who is the messiest resident?
Who is the one who sneaks into the kitchen in the middle of the night and eats other people's food?
Who is the one who sings too loudly in the shower?
Who is the one who does random acts of kindness for the other residents?

And I have to echo the person somewhere above me who said that you should come to Ontario ... I'm not from anywhere near Toronto, but even that would be better than nothing!

6:47 PM  
Blogger Molly 18 said...

What are some of the pranks that you all have pulled on each other? I have a good idea for a prank first u fill the bath tub with Ice cold water then you mix blue jello with the water and goldfish! or have you tried putting a bunch of empty soda cans outside some ones bedroom door so that when they wake up in the middle of the night there is a loud crash that scares them?

3:45 AM  
Blogger Molly 18 said...

p.s. Sleeping mask please! and I loved suite scarlett!

3:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been trying to read your blog archives, as the early ones could hardly be less awesome than the current ones, but I am failing!

I can only see one post per month (in 2005, anyway), but they refer to other posts! Other posts that I cannot find! Is there a secret hidden next button? Or a full list somewhere that I am not awesome enough to find? Help!

6:19 AM  
Anonymous Allyb said...

I had A.B.B.A. on my history test again! Maybe I'll get an A. Lol. Speaking of ABBA my grandma so said "Mama Mia" today and I had to finish the song. ;)
Do you have sleep overs at the Mansion? With popcorn and scary movies?
*sleep mask*

8:54 AM  
Blogger Little Willow said...

C. Catso Fangola, it's a pleasure to meet you, albeit it theatrically. If I ever need a feline lawyer, I'm so hiring you.

Maureen, the word verification for this comment was dangerously close to a swear word. Or, you know, an eating utensil. Actually, since it started with an m, it was kind of like the sound someone would make when eating something delicious and using that utensil but simultaneously swearing.

9:56 AM  
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