Monday, March 26, 2012

11/22/63 by Stephen King ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Now the King of Time Travel



Having just emerged from 1963, courtesy of Stephen King’s latest novel 11/22/63, I am thrilled to report it was a fabulous trip and well worth the ticket price.  King slips us very convincingly through the ‘rabbit hole’, a time slip doorway at the back of the local burger diner owned by Al Templeton.
This portal always lands the traveller back in Lisbon Falls, September 9, 1958, at 11:58 am.  No matter how long the traveller stays in the past, only two minutes elapses in the present.  Any changes made during the visit, affect the future.  All the changes of the altered future are reset, the next time someone re-enters the past. 
Al has travelled back to 1958 hundreds of times and, on the last visit, he decides he will stay until 1963 in order to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  During this attempt, he develops terminal cancer and returns to the future to enlist the help of the local English teacher, Jake Epping, whom he figures is young enough to survive the five years he will have to wait for the fateful day.
After a short and fascinating reconnaissance into 1958, Jake agrees to Al’s scheme to save Kennedy, not only because he believes the world will be a better place should Kennedy live but, also, to avert the murder of a student’s family.  Jake enters the past, armed with Al’s research notes, sporting statistics in order to win living expenses, and a naive plan.
But the past is “obdurate”—it doesn’t want to be changed—and is a character in itself as it seemingly sets out to thwart him at every turn.  Over almost 850 pages, Jake battles the power of the past, betting thugs, murderers, and a nosy education administrator, as he corrects wrongs and surveils Lee Harvey Oswald and his family.
King and his long time researcher, Russ Dorr, read enormous quantities of historical documents and visited Dallas several times in order to accurately recreate the historical era leading up to the Kennedy assassination.  The details, embodied in minutia that extend from the 1958 price of a pint of root beer (10 cents) or a haircut (40 cents) down to the local vernacular and music bring to life this time.  King has said that he loves this era and you feel that in his finely imagined world.
  The idea for the book came to King in 1971 just before the release of ‘Carrie’ but he said, at the time, it was too soon after the assassination with the wounds too deep, plus he didn’t feel he possessed the talent to make it work.  Even now, after some fifty books, he said, "I've never tried to write anything like this before.  It was really strange at first, like breaking in a new pair of shoes."  
In describing 11/22/63 as an historical novel with a sci-fi twist, King commented, "This might be a book where we really have a chance to get an audience who's not my ordinary audience.”  But there is more to this book than time travelling and history.  Alongside the dramatic scenery there is an element not often found in a King novel.  There is romance. 
In his ‘past world’ life, Jake meets Sadie Dunhill, a school librarian, with whom he begins a love affair.  It’s this relationship, and all the cross time difficulties it endures as the Assassination day draws closer, that gives the story its true depth.  In the last few pages as King ties up the story threads, it is this love affair that delivers the book’s poignant and satisfying end.
Such a large book becomes a small part of your life whilst reading, and as I closed the coverfor the last time, I wished fervently that we could go down that time ‘rabbit hole’ just one more time.  Stephen King waited thirty years until, in his own words, his talent caught up with his vision of time travel.  It was worth the wait, Mr King.  11/22/63 is a masterpiece of storytelling and imagination and will be read and enjoyed into the distant future, and that includes all multiple time line threads.
            To learn more about this book and how to purchase it Click here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Interview with Julianna Baggott

When it comes to writing, there doesn’t seem to be anything Julianna Baggott hasn’t done.  There are over fifty foreign published editions of her books and over one hundred publications have carried her work.  Along with works under her real name, J.C. Baggott, she has penned multiple best sellers under Bridgette Asher and N.E. Bode.
So when she turns her eye to the post-apocalyptic Young Adult genre, with her first book of a trilogy, PURE, you know she is not going to just hit the mark, she is going to demolish the entire scoreboard.  Fox2000 thought so too and have purchased the rights to her trilogy even before the release of PURE.
In her own words on writing Baggott says: “I’m here because I’ve learned that writing – this twitch of my fingers – is really rooted deep inside of me. It’s a way of running your hands through the reeds, the silt – the kind of silt still clouding the day, the kind settled (like memory) waiting to be stirred.
It is with tremendous pleasure that An Adventure in Reading delves into the silt of J.C. Baggott’s mind. We recover answers on why the research for PURE was so difficult, with whom she would co-author a book if given the chance, and many more answers from a writer whose reviewers have worn out their superlatives in describing her talent.

Susan May (SM):     What were you doing when the idea for ‘Pure’ came to you?
Julianna Baggott (JB):        Maybe it came from desire, first. I was feeling restless. I wanted to do something really ambitious, cinematic, and large-scale. And, from that point on, there wasn’t any one glimmering resolute idea. There were 17 million tiny ideas. The notion of the doll-head fused to someone’s fist was something I played with in a failed short story. I suppose the realization that the girl with the doll-head fist belonged in THIS other world I desired to create was critical. Did it come in a flash? I don’t know. I wrote a riff from her perspective – hiding in an ash-choked cabinet – and read it to my daughter (now sixteen) and she told me it was the best thing I’d ever written. That was the start. I remember that moment – where I was sitting, where she was sitting. Yes. I won’t forget it.

(SM):   PURE contains dark scenes involving children, including their physical fusion with objects and people, during the blasts.  As a parent, how did you feel writing these scenes and characters?
(JB):    I have a hard time processing the real brutal world all around us. I had a hard time doing the research for this book that took me to the history of atomic bombs – Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Those bombs didn’t spare children. War and famine don’t spare children. And so children were part of the novel. They survived, and there they were, whether I’m a mother or not. But the characters in PURE called The Mothers – a band of violent warrior types — would not exist if I didn’t have children. I am the writer I am in large part because my kids mined my soul.
(SM):   At what point in the story did you realise it would become a trilogy?
(JB):    I always knew that it was a possibility. But the first draft was very hard and in later drafts the novel changed drastically. (There was another narrative point of view – a character who no longer exists at all in the book.) So, as much as I knew that there would be more, the bullying through of book one didn’t allow me to look too far beyond it. Once finished, the rest rushed in.
(SM):   PURE has been heralded as the next ‘Hunger Games’ and with film rights purchased it must be very exciting.  As you were writing the book, did you realise its potential to become the next big trilogy?
(JB):No. Not at all. My daughter loved the book. I mentioned the premise to my next door neighbours and they told me it was really compelling. My father was reading as I went, as was my husband. Everyone told me to keep at it. But it all felt very personal – as all of my books do before they become public, which is always a great shock.
(SM):   Your writing versatility is obvious in that your seventeen books range across many genres.  If you could co-author a book with any other author—alive or dead, who would they be?
Ha. Well, I do have one co-authored novel – WHICH BRINGS ME TO YOU – with Steve Almond. But, yes, in choosing to work with him, I had to stick to the “living” category. It’s hard, right? Because I’m drawn to some drinkers and depressives. Collaboration is much about the relationship, the sum not its parts. I’m going to choose someone living, though, and someone who’s done collaborative work before – a good bet. Neil Gaiman. I love his mind. I’ve heard him speak and he seems pretty down to earth. My husband met him and told him that my son wanted to punch him in the face, and he was lovely about that. (The link to that story is here: ) I’d choose Gaiman. I’m sure of it.
(SM):   As an author, how have you adapted to the Digital age and what are your thoughts on it?
(JB):    I love the access to research. Things that would have taken days, weeks, years to track down, can pop up in .39 seconds.

(SM):   Is there an interview question you have not been asked?
(JB):    I assume the answer is infinite.

Thank you to J.C. Baggott for visiting us during her tour to promote "PURE".  We will be hearing much more from Julianna in the future and reviewing "FUSE", the second book of the trilogy which is due out in 2012.  We cannot wait to get our hands on an advance copy.


Visit the "Pure" website for the first chapter of "Pure", loads of cool stuff and to learn more. Information on purchasing “Pure” is also there. I highly recommend you buy yourself a copy. You will want to read it more than once.
Visit author Julianna Baggott’s website and blog, with fabulously informative information for writers there.

Click here to purchase Pure


PURE by JC BAGGOTT ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Read our interview with Julianna Baggott. Click here.

Imagination & author's talent makes for a PURE thrill ride

As the last pages of Pure loomed, the thought uppermost in my mind was, thank you Julianna Baggott for planning a trilogy.  Even then, two more books of this wonderful story will still leave us wanting more.  It is a window into an apocalyptic world, never before imagined in literature or film.
“We know you are here, our brothers and sisters.  We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join you in peace.  For now, we watch from afar benevolently.” 
The premise of the book is in those words, delivered from the sky, via thousands of slips of paper, days after catastrophic explosions destroy America.  Survivors, outside of ‘The Dome’, like sixteen-year-old, Pressia, exist by bartering for food and living in the ruins of buildings.  Thanks to the nanotechnology bombs, these poor ‘wretches’ now face life fused with whatever they were nearest when the explosions occurred.  In Pressia’s case, along with horrific scars, a doll’s head is now embarrassingly her hand. 
The macabre fusions afflict all survivors.  Her Grandfather’s throat sports an embedded fan.  Bradwell, an ally, has bird wings fluttering in his back and the interesting El Capitan, sadly, carries the remnants of his brother on his back.
Inside ‘The Dome’, the inhabitants live a life of luxury with no scars or fusions marring their lives.  Partridge, a ‘Pure’—the name the outside inhabitants give Dome dwellers—decides to escape the Dome in search of his Mother.  Despite being wife to Ellery Willux, the Dome creator and its current dictator-like ruler, she didn’t make it inside before the blasts.
Convinced that after many years, his Mother is still alive, Partridge embarks on an odyssey in which he and Pressia cross paths.  Along the way, they gather surprising allies, including the most vicious school Mums you will meet.   
“Pure” burns along at a savage pace and the few passages where Baggott allows us to pause become voyeuristic windows into her extraordinarily imagined world.  Baggott not only paints a vivid world but also populates it with real characters that will haunt you long after the lines “The End of Book One".


Visit the "Pure" website for the first chapter of "Pure", loads of cool stuff and to learn more. Information on purchasing “Pure” is also there. I highly recommend you buy yourself a copy. You will want to read it more than once.
Visit author Julianna Baggott’s website and blog, with fabulously informative information for writers there.

Click here to purchase Pure