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Wednesday, April 04, 2007


It’s been a rough few weeks here in YA land. It seems like everyone has been on crazy deadlines, or getting sick, or otherwise falling to pieces. I think I should bring you all up to speed.

The other day, I had lunch with Justine Larbalestier and Libba Bray. Libba has been working 25 hours a day on the final book in the A Great and Rebel Terrible Angel trilogy and was looking a little green around the gills. The final days of revision are trying at best. Libba is one of those people who gives off an air of total composure—but it did seem like, with only a slight provocation, she might have flipped the table over and challenge the first comer to a knife fight. Or something like that.

We were talking about the fact that our compatriot, J. Green, was in the hospital with a horribly infected eye. (He’s out now.)

I was saying that I felt bad, because J. Green had been complaining about that eye for a while, and I kept saying, “Blah, blah, blah. Your eye is fine, Green.” Of course, it wasn’t.

And then Libba hit me with a surprise.

“I have a glass eye,” she said.

I was impressed, and I said so. I envy anyone who has a removable body part.

“You know what I was going to do?” she asked. “I was going to go to the hospital to see him, and I was going to say, ‘Hey! Bet you can’t do this!’ And I was going to smack the back of my head and . . .”

She mimicked popping out her eye into her palm and shoving it in Justine’s face.

“If you did that,” I said solemnly, “I would give you ONE MILLION DOLLARS.”

Libba was going to pay John a visit.

“You know,” Justine said. “When I first met Libba, I knew she was missing something, but I couldn’t remember what. I thought it was hearing in one of her ears. So I kept screaming at her.”

“I thought she was insane,” Libba said, nodding.

John is recovering, and by recovering, I mean that he is at home playing with his Wii. At least, that is what I assume he is doing. You don’t need two good eyes to play Wii, you only need the will. And he has the will.

Meanwhile, Scott Westerfeld (who sits next to me as I type this), has something like fifteen minutes to finish EXTRAS, the next book in the Uglies/Prettie/Specials series. He keeps staring off into space, as if he sees a hoverboard floating somewhere in the middle distance.

It is best not to provoke Scott, but it still seems like a good moment to interview him. Let’s do that now. This as in-process as you can possibly get.

ME: How’s that revising going?

SCOTT: What revision?

ME: The one you are doing right now, as we sit here.

SCOTT: (twitching a little) I’m not revising, I’m first drafting.

SCOTT starts typing again. I watch.

ME: Are there hoverboards in Extras?

SCOTT: There are hoverboards and there’s a whole new species of hover equipment.

ME: Are you having fun right now?

SCOTT: I’m having less fun that usual.

ME: Is this a bad time to be asking you questions?

SCOTT: (gritting teeth) No. It’s the perfect time.

ME: Oh, good!

I watch Scott’s fingers closely as he types. He looks at me.

ME: What are you typing right now?

SCOTT: (reading) “Flakes were falling from the sky, like a light snow.”

ME: That’s an official sneak preview of Extras?

SCOTT nods and scoots his computer over a little.

ME: Did you know that Libba Bray has a glass eye?


ME: If you could have any body part made of glass, what would you get?

SCOTT: A tooth.

ME: I would get a foot.

There you go. That’s an mj exclusive.

I’m glad to see that some of you have been writing in with questions for me and for “Ask An Agent” with Daphne. I have to keep Daphne’s brain on track, because she is getting married and is using her considerable organizational skills making notebooks of dresses, cakes, and flowers, instead of figuring out how to get me a stun gun.

Did I not tell you this?

Yes, Daphne Unfeasible just got engaged. I knew it was coming. Her beau, Rexroth Implausible, told me—and I had to be quiet about it. Which I was. Quiet as the grave. It helped that this was when I had the flu and was asleep for about two days.

Rexroth and I get along very well. Like the other day, when Daphne was showing me their wedding registry, talking me through the coordinated china patterns and throw pillows or whatever.

“Know what you need?” I said. “A trampoline.”

Daphne paid no attention to this, but Rexroth perked up at once. I could tell from the look in his eye that he wanted to know more.

“boingboingboingboingboingboing,” I explained.

He nodded, and I could see that he knew exactly where I was coming from.

“boingboingboingboing,” he replied.

Daphne turned and narrowed her eyes.

“boingboingboing,” we both said.

And you know what? There’s a trampoline on the registry now. See, it’s good to have me around.

Let me help you with your registry. Get better stuff.

So, please keep sending me the requests and questions. I have examined them all. In fact, I pose a task for YOU.


I will be leaving for the London office over the weekend. (Hopefully not in a snowstorm this time.) I am now accepting UK CHALLENGES. What should I do in the UK? I need to make up for the fact that I was flat on my back the last time I was there, and you guys seem to be full of good ideas. I have all of London at my disposal. And for a few days, I’ll even have Daphne! (Her participation in any hijinx cannot be guaranteed, unless I kidnap her, which I am not above doing.)

UK readers—I look forward to your weighing in!

I will examine all of the suggestions, both those in the comments and on e-mail, on Sunday night—and I will complete one of them.

Let’s see what you got.

(This will scare Daphne all week.)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as said UK challenges include seeing Harry Potter naked, and with ponies, I am all for it!

Also, I do not have separate notebooks for dresses, cakes, and flowers. I have one notebook. It's not even a new notebook. It's an old black & white composition notebook with random weird pieces of writing, magazine clippings (of shoes), quotes from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and character sheets from am RPG I was playing with some friends. And wedding stuff.

I have many facets. I am not 100% about weddings!

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. It's and old notebook because Daph's been accumulating wedding thoughts since Reagan (if not Carter) was president.

2. I love her dearly for this and many other reasons.

3. MJ should be a wedding coodinator. Or write about one. Or harrass one. I think I can arrange for the latter.

1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew about Libba's glass eye, I've read her bio on her site. I think its pretty cool, and I think it would have either scared John into thinking that he was going to have to get a glass eye or it would have made him think about the pain a little less. I can't wait for Libba's new book, and I couldn't be more appreciative of all of her hard work. I'm also VERY excited about Scott's newest addition to the Uglies series and thanks for the exclusive interview! I'm not sure how many times I've mentioned this...or how many more times I will say this but I'm so incredibly insanely jealous that you get to talk to, write alongside, and eat with all of my favorite authors. This really isn't fair.

2:22 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Ooooooh!!!! Make a video blog while you're in London!!!! Then we can travel vicariously through you. And, um, listen to the accents. :D :D

7:22 AM  
Blogger Bibliovore said...

When you said Justine had a glass eye, I automatically wondered if she actually had one in her head or just owned one and, like, used it as a centerpiece. Tawk amongst yehselves: how would you use a glass eye in your home decorating? Discuss.

And as for the UK, I know this isn't strictly in London, but you gotta visit the Cadbury's plant. Because. It's chocolate. It's lots of chocolate. It's lots of GOOD chocolate. Did I mention about the chocolate?

The one who's not MJ

7:38 AM  
Blogger Bibliovore said...

Oh wait, it's the ever-cool Libba Bray who has a glass eye, not Justine! Although Justine might, and we just don't know. The rest of my comment still stands.

The not-paying-attention-one who is not MJ

7:40 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Lynn Barnes said...

Hmmmm... I'll have to think about this one, because I somehow doubt that "come to Cambridge to participate in a psych experiment that still really needs participants, because for some strange reason, people with autism are easier to recruit than people without" will fly. I'll brainstorm at work today and see if I can come up with something else UK-specific. :)

11:40 AM  
Blogger Luisa at Chicklish said...

Take your free monkey to listen to some free music:
e.g. Fridays at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank from 5.15pm, Mondays at the Royal Opera House, lunchtimes at St Martin-in-the-Fields, various times at the Barbican. (The free monkey would love the Barbican.)

Or watch a trial at the Old Bailey.
(Public galleries open 10am on weekdays.)

Or just have a great time and tell us all about it.

Luisa the ex-Londoner
(from http://www.chicklish.co.uk)

3:53 PM  
Blogger Luisa at Chicklish said...

Oh, or go to a live recording of a TV show - you can get a ticket free online in advance.


Maybe they'll have a last-minute emergency need for someone to play a dead body? You never know...


4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you been to Madame Tussauds? if you haven't-GO! it is so hilarious:D ooh and go to Southall! they have the best gellebis(this indian sweet thing)! yumyumyum! O and visit Wembley High Technology College! dress up like snoop dog and walk down the corridors sayin schizzle ma nizzle! c wat hapens:D

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back with real challenges...

1. Go on a scavenger hunt in Harrod's.

2. Do a podcast with a British accent(or your best approximation thereof).

3. Ask where the bathroom is five times during the course of one day, and use a different word or phrase for bathroom each time.

That's all I've got- I've only been to London twice in the past six months, despite the fact that I only live an hour away.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually love those after dark walking tours- not ghost ones because I am scaredy cat. I love getting the exercise and hearing stories and seeing things I otherwise would know nothing about.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Appoint either yourself or Daphne as Sherlock Holmes, appoint the other one Watson, and don a deerstalker cap and find a doctor's bag (respectively). Then go to the Sherlock Holmes museum at 221B Baker Street (which really exists, unfortunately for the sole purpose of museuming) and act out your roles. This can include making obnoxiously detailed observations, shouting "The game's afoot!" and smoking a pipe, or anything else you might come up with.

2:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I've never been to London, I have no suggestions for you. Sadly.

But as for using a glass eye in home decorating? Well, you could fill your dead rubber plant pot with glass eyes... People often use glass pebbles, you know. And... Oh! If I had a glass eye, I'd hang it from the ceiling, so that it would swing back and forth in a hypnotizing manner.

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you please ask Daphne, during the "Ask an Agent" podcast, if this company is reliable? Their website can be found at http://www.wlwritersagency.com/index.html.

3:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooh, Abby's suggestion is great! Do that! Do that!

I would get a glass ear.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Anonymous--about Writers' Literary Agency . . . I don't even need Daphne for that one, though she would tell you the same. It is a scam, not a real agency, and I would advise you to have nothing whatsoever to do with it. They are NOT a literary agency that any publisher would deal with, they do not have standard practices, and they will not get you published.

I don't want any of my readers being messed with by con artists, which is what they are. And Free Monkey really won't stand for it.

This may merit a post.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I have a question for Ask an Agent:

Um, so. Let's say I (hypothetically) have a finished manuscript that is completely unmarketable, but I want to send it out to agents anyway, just in case. In the future, I intend to finish other manuscripts that are marketable, and which would also be sent to the same agents as before. If I had previously sent a manuscript that got rejected repeatedly, for whatever reason, would that be bad for my later mss?

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two touristy things I love enough to revisit:

The Sherlock Holmes Museum (221b Baker St, of course)
The London Dungeon

Pure theater
I have Holmes' autograph on a business card

have fun

2:48 PM  
Blogger Tobias said...

I liked your appearance on Brotherhood 2.0!!! and I'm sorry to say this; but you indeed look like a corpse on that photo in "about maureen" (at least compared to you on video)

I've been to London twice (in 1 week). I liked the science museum (but I'm a geek. can't really think of something else you should go to. you could always buy a ticket to the netherlands and bring some life in this dead town!!!!

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

umh i'm not a resident of london or the UK or like anywhere, i've lived in the same house my entire life and in the same city-but that is totally besides the point because i am totally bored, and hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm thinking of something you should do for your challenge.............i kinda like the one about having a scavenger hunt in harrods, how about trying to find a secret hiding place like where peg's paintings were??? is that any good-idk-just have fun :)

4:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MADAME TUSSAUDS!!!! it's the best!!! oh, and you have to see the changing of guards at the Buckingham Palace... but go EARLY, because people crowd up to the gates and will sacrifice their position FOR NO ONE. and then get some tour guide to take you to all the bridges, etc. etc. and go to a good indian restaurant. :)

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...I get to be the person to say "Go do the London Eye"! Seriously-go and do it. The views are amazing and you can get a flight around sunset, it makes for absolutely spectacular photos (just be sure to use a faster shutter speed and turn off your flash).

Restaurants we loved--Christophers and Rules (I tried venison there and it was fantastic) Rules is at http://www.rules.co.uk/

Harrods is easily 3-5 hours (and I still didn't see everything there).

I also caught the London Cast of Evita last summer, and I think the show isn't coming to the US for another 6-12 months, so now's the time to go and see it.

Buying a copy of "Harry Potter and the Philsopher's Stone" (as opposed to HP and the Sorcerers Stone) was intensely satisfying. You get to read it without the Americanized bastardization of language. Ok, fine...yes I bought all the ones that are currently out!

Finally, I also loved the Tower of London tour. The beefeaters can spin a good yarn, and who doesn't love Ravens?

Ok...I'm going to stop before I get up from desk and grab the nearest flight to the UK

3:52 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

I highly suggest going to Trafalgar Square, finding the densest patch of pigeons you can, and pay the guy or girl that always hangs around there (just look for the fowl-covered human) for some bird seed and become one with The Birds - London Style... for pics of said event as experienced by me, this link has pics to prove how fun it is... all this hilarity for only a pound or two... http://annaink.blogspot.com/2007_03_18_archive.html

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! i had noooooooo idea u had a blog! and btw, that is an extremely and incredibly hilarious lunch. libba has not mentioned she has a glass eye. i will have to tell her. :D

4:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Portobello Road Market (the road that Hugh Grant lives on in "Notting Hill," and a great market besides). There's a great pizza place on the way...it's called Aracina, and has an orange car in the window. Other than that I'd suggest Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens (stroll through, try to find the Peter Pan statue, and quote lines from Ezra Pound). Find the fishmongers-turned-SnappySnaps (a photo shop)that Virginia Woolf frequented in Bloomsbury (she frequented the fishmongers, not the photo shop). Walk around Temple, where Pip lived in Great Expectations. Go to Primrose Hill in St. James's Park, where Pongo and Perdita barked the Twilight Bark, and near where Sylvia Plath killed herself. Visit Westminster Abbey, a few blocks away from where Ben Jonson was born. Visit the Globe. See a show at the Royal National Theatre. Visit Hampstead Heath, and read Zadie Smith's book "On Beauty" while you're there. Walk through Covent Garden. And along Embankment.

5:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John is recovering, and by recovering, I mean that he is at home playing with his Wii. At least, that is what I assume he is doing. You don’t need two good eyes to play Wii, you only need the will. And he has the will.

i have to admit..the whole time i was reading that, i thought it said willie. haha..replace every wii with willie and you shall laugh. Haha.

1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maureen said... "...how would you use a glass eye in your home decorating?"

I'd bore a hole in wall just above the baseboard and slightly to the left of the toilet in the guest bathroom. Then insert the eye so that it would appear to be peaking up at you from behind the magizine rack.

3:14 AM  
Blogger Meftihe said...

I know this is late, but I can't stop giggling at your conversation with rexroth. My ideal communication right there: boingboingboingboing! hehehe I love it.

2:20 AM  
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