This weekend...

I will be in Atlanta! At the Decatur Book Festival and Dragon*Con! And I am excited beyond reason. I've been to Decatur once before, before my book even came out, as a panting fangirl in a horde of panting fangirls just excited to be able to listen to authors I admired say smart things on panels. I expect this year to be no different, except for the fact that I am on a panel myself. I can't promise to say smart things, however. I am also on panels at Dragon*Con which, by the way, will be my first con ever. And as I believe I mentioned before several times, I will be cosplaying. If you're going to be in Atlanta this weekend, you should be there to see it. It wouldn't be the same without you.

This is where you can find me:

Friday, 8/30, 1:00PM (Marriott - A707): A Dragon*Con panel about Shadowhunters and Downworlders, discussing the first installment of one of my favorite YA series, City of Bones, with Diana Peterfreund and others. If The Mortal Instruments is your bag, then this is your panel. Expect me to discuss Simon Lewis at length.

Saturday, 8/31, 1:00PM (Decatur Book Festival, Teen Stage): A Decatur panel with Myra McEntire and Lauren Miller called, "Well, how did I get here?" The description says, "Three YA authors will explore the time dimension in a moderated panel discussion." Confession: I don't really know what that means, but I'll either figure it out before Saturday or I will impress you with my extensive knowledge of early '90s rap lyrics. Either way, it's going to be interesting, and you should totally come.

Saturday, 8/31, 10:00PM (Marriott-A707). Another Dragon*Con panel! A late one! If you want to hear me talk about "murder and mayhem and the end of the world" with Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jonathan Mayberry, Sonia Gensler, and Victoria Schwab--and why wouldn't you?--then you can listen to us do exactly that at the Dark Themes in YA panel. There's no way this isn't going to be a good time because murder and mayhem and the end of the world are pretty much my favorite subjects.

And finally, a public service announcement: If you want a signed copy of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer or The Evolution of Mara Dyer (or both!), then Little Shop of Stories is the place to get them. 


whales and sea lions and bears

Good God it's been a long time since my last real blog post. Let's just pretend it never happened.

Even though the blog has been quiet, and I've been pretty quiet, a lot has been happening--on the Mara Dyer front especially. But it's been happening behind the scenes, and I can't talk about any of it right now. I know that's annoying, and frustrating, and I'm sorry, and I very much hope that will change soon. Very soon. But for now, how about some whale pictures? Everybody loves whales!

That's Norman. He's a humpback who lives by himself in a small bay near Skagway, Alaska.

Why yes, I did in fact say Alaska. That's where I was last week. And before that, I was in Seattle. And before that, Portland, and before that D.C., and before that North Carolina, and before that, New York, etc etc. I've had the pleasure (?) of writing in a lot of airports during this busy summer, because there was a lot going on.

There was a birthday. (Grandfather, 90)

There was a wedding. (Cousins, gorgeous.)

There was Leakycon.

Portland is where I would live if my entire family didn't live on the East Coast. After a few trips there and to Seattle, I am convinced that anything worth buying is in those two cities. Evidence:

A vintage speculum, $80.00

A mummified bat, $63.00

A dead clockwork (?) frog, $118.00

A human spine, $1000.00

Portland also has incredible food. I took an embarrassing number of pictures of my food. Nobody wants to see them, but I will post two because I just can't help myself:

Deep fried anchovies with sriracha from Pok Pok, before:

And after.

And then it was off to Seattle, where I found a beautiful copy of the Decameron:

With very naughty pictures.

Then I boarded the ship that would take me and 16 members of my family to Alaska. This was the sign I made for the cabin I shared with my 14 yr-old cousin:

Yes, that is a bandaid. And this is my fabulous cousin:
michelle hodkin

It was actually not my first time visiting Alaska. I was there when I was nine, but because I was nine, my memories are sort of hazy. But I do remember that I never saw any whales on that trip. On this trip, though, I saw them everywhere. 

Like in Juneau:

Where my crappy iPhone 4 couldn't capture them doing the thing they were doing, called bubble net feeding. So just picture this. But we were farther away, and also not in the water. I would have liked to be, though.

I can't really explain what it was like to see actual whales in the actual ocean, just swimming around, and eating, and spouting, and doing all of the whalish things they do. The best part was that they were everywhere-- sometimes, in the ship's library, I'd be working and facing the window and suddenly there would be a spout, and a dorsal fin, and then a tail. I would stop working and just stare for several hours seconds, because I couldn't look away.

Even though I couldn't get any good pictures of the whales, I did get a good one of these sea lions.

One of them climbed (?) up to the top part of the buoy to nap, like a cat. That's the one I would've adopted, if one could adopt sea lions.

In Juneau, I also hiked to a glacial waterfall, by myself, kind of by accident.

I started here:

(That little white spot on the far right is the waterfall).

And ended up here:
michelle hodkin

michelle hodkin
That's me looking rather smug after I made it all the way, only to discover that the rest of my family totally bailed. I thought they were already there. They weren't. But I was happy I went anyway. I was close enough to touch it, and I did.

Speaking of the family, thirteen of us, ages seven through Let Us Not Speak Of It, hiked up (part) of the very steep Chilkoot trail and then rafted down a river in the freezing rain. On said hike, we saw a grizzly bear just walking around, and bald eagles just flying around, and also, of course, Norman. I don't have pictures of the bear, or the eagles, because animals are fast and my iPhone is slow. But I do have pictures of my brother.

Before the hike:

After the hike:

In addition to the bears and eagles and whales, Skagway also had some pretty rad headgear:

I very nearly bought the wolf hat for myself.

I kind of loved it there. It's a town of 568 people, according to one person I talked to, or 900, according to another, but in any case, it's small. And I don't really love small towns generally, but there was just something special about it. Aside from the fact that it was the only place we visited where I could find a reliable internet connection.

To give you an idea of the scale of it, this sign was posted in the window of a cafe:

At the end of the trip, we split up into two seaplanes to look at fjords in Ketchikan. I wanted to be on the plane with those least likely to vomit, which meant not my brother.

michelle hodkin

michelle hodkin
So I flew with the cousins. That's me and the nine-year-old one, also fabulous. And adorable.

This is was our view:

And this is me, standing on a pontoon when we made a water landing in a small cove:

michelle hodkin

michelle hodkin
Alaska seemed like a different planet—or an alternate version of what our actual planet would look like, if we weren't around to fuck it up. Being there made me wish we could unfuck most of it. I was so glad I went.

Now it's back to city living, sort of, and work. Lots of it. But I'm not quite done with the traveling—at the end of this month, I'll be at Dragon*Con and the Decatur Book Festival. I haven't been back to Decatur since 2010, before Unbecoming was even out, and I am looking forward to it and my first Dragon*Con experience in a way I can't even describe. For those of you going, please come and say hi! I don't have my Dragon*Con schedule yet, but at Decatur, I'll be on a panel with Myra McEntire and Lauren Miller at 1PM on Saturday, 8/31, on the Teen Stage. I don't really know what we'll be talking about, but with me and Myra, things could get a little weird. And if you'll be at Dragon*Con, expect to see me cosplay. I kind of can't wait.


Retribution sneak peek

Not the kind of sneak peek you're hoping for, I know. It's still too early for that. But in the past, I've posted screenshots of my Scrivener corkboard for Unbecoming and Evolution, so I couldn't very well not do the same for Retribution.

So here it is:

It's heavy on influences and light on text because I can't share much yet. (I don't know when I will be able to share more, but when I know, you'll know too.)

Also, I've got a Retribution pinboard on Pinterest that I actually do update, so if you're the type that likes to look out for clues, that would be the place.

What else? I did a Skype visit today with my Spanish publisher, Edicionas Maeva, and a number of awesome book bloggers from Madrid. The questions asked were so smart and Marta, the translator, was a total star. They asked me to share a picture for the Twitter component of the chat, and since my dog is in it, I can't really pass up the opportunity to post it here too.
michelle hodkin


The Retribution of Mara Dyer has a cover!

So today, Entertainment Weekly revealed the cover for the the third book in the trilogy, and it's here.

And I love it. I love it so much I can't even really talk about it here except to say--it fits. It fits this book.

There are Evolution spoilers in that article, so here's a quick wrap-up of the most relevant details should you glance at the cover and click away:

- The book will come out on October 22, 2013

- There will not be any ARCs. Many of you have been asking why. This was a decision made by my publisher, Simon & Schuster, to make sure that the ending to the trilogy isn't spoiled before everyone gets the chance to read the book on the same day, 10/22.

- You've also been asking when you'll get a synopsis/description/snippets, and the answer is that I'm not entirely sure, but I can say that it won't be until much closer to the release date. Right now, the only thing I've been allowed to release from the actual book is this.

- As for pre-orders, the links won't be up for a while yet, but that's a good thing. Simon & Schuster is working on something special on that front, as a thank you to readers who run out and buy the book right away.

- And last but definitely not least, there's a shiny quote on the cover from Lev Grossman about the series, and I am insanely proud of it so I am sharing it everywhere. In full, it reads: "Deep, dark, passionate and funny, Mara Dyer is one of the great characters in young adult fiction—and Michelle Hodkin is one of the great talents." 

As many (if not all of you) know, I have had a longstanding obsession with The Magicians and The Magician King, so this? This means more to me than I can say. 

Thank you all for the cover love--it makes me so happy to know that you think it's as gorgeous as I do.   

And now, back to my book. 


I Saw The Hobbit (Or, We Need To Talk About Radagast)

So I saw The Hobbit a week and a half ago. Yeah, be jealous. But for Reasons, I wasn't able to talk about it until today, and so I have kept all of my many Hobbit feels inside, which has been mad hard, you don't even know, because there are a lot of them. A LOT. I am going to try and keep spoilers to a minimum, but if you're nervous, you should skip this post. Also, before I share, a disclaimer (I am still technically a lawyer. Disclaiming is in my blood):

There is about to be some serious Tolkien geekery up in here.

Not, "I've read The Hobbit 17,234 times," geekery (though I have):

 (My copy of The Hobbit, with notes.)

 or "My senior thesis was on the Lord of the Rings" geekery (though it was).

We're talking LOTR RPG geekery. We are talking fanart levels of nerd, here. Proof:

That is Teen Me's rendering of Galadriel, circa 1999. I was sixteen, a junior. I wrote her name in the corner so I wouldn't forget, I guess?

I can't explain why she kind of looks like Cher.

Lest you think that this was just a one-time thing, think again, because I drew Shadowfax, too:

I know what you're thinking: "That's just a random horse!" BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG.

See? Shadowfax, motherfuckers.

(Guess how popular I was in high school. Guess.)

I am polishing up my nerd credentials here not to impress you (you are impressed, though, right?) but to impress upon you that the lens through which I viewed The Hobbit is bound to be quite different from your lens. From most people's lenses. Because most people don't have A Tolkien Bestiary sitting on their coffee table at this very moment, now, do they?

That's right. Also, I read The Silmarillion and I liked it. (We're going to come back to The Silmarillion. GET EXCITED).

So, now that that's out of the way, I saw The Hobbit and this is what I loved:

1) Martin Freeman. He is Bilbo Baggins. Admittedly, it has been awhile since I read The Hobbit for the 17,234th time, but no matter—now, when I think of Bilbo, it's Martin Freeman in my head. He was extraordinary. Not a hero but heroic, kind of a coward but still courageous. He more than held his own against Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis (who were superb, obvs). He anchored this movie in a way that the LOTR didn't demand of Elijah Wood. He was brilliant.

2) Speaking of Andy Serkis, Riddles in the Dark. I've been dying for this scene since I first heard that the Hobbit was greenlit, because Serkis was beyond perfection in the LOTR, and I can't. I cannot. I am unable to can, guys. It was everything I hoped it would be. Go back and reread my disclaimer. It was everything I, Michelle Hodkin, who logged more years hours than I am willing to publicly admit on a Tolkien-inspired text-based multi-user dungeon, hoped it would be. That is a lot of hope.

And it was rewarded. I might have been grinning like an idiot and clasping my hands together and stomping my feet a little and giggling, which alone is quite a picture, but add 3D glasses and it gets extra sexy.

3) The Silmarillion references. When it was first announced that The Hobbit was to be a trilogy, most people on my Twitter timeline freaked out in a bad way ("There's not enough material!") I, however, freaked out in a good way. You see, I did not think we were just going to be served the straight up Smaug questing situation in 3 parts. Oh my no. I assumed we were going to get deep into the Appendices and Histories via flashbacks. Melkor deep. And if there's one thing I love more than a supervillain, it's a supervillain origin story.* I had no real basis for this assumption, other than that I would (perhaps unwisely) trust Peter Jackson with my firstborn child, but I am happy to report that not only do we do get more than just hints of the Necromancer in the Hobbit (not enough for my taste, but more than in the book, so I'm happy)—there was an Ungoliant reference, too. I am aware that this means nothing to like, 99.9876% of you, and I may well have been the only person at the screening to notice, but I did notice and I loved it. 

4) Aiden Turner as Kili or, as I said to my friend, The Hot Dwarf. I had to Google to find out whether he was Fili or Kili. He was Kili. But no matter; it was apparent who I was talking about. Aside from Thorin he was the standout dwarf for me, and not just because he was hot.** I am super psyched to see more of him in City of Bones next August.

5) The ending. I knew what was going to happen given how Jackson framed the shot, and I was expecting it but I still jumped. So, so excellent. I am way pumped for Part II.

What I didn't love:

1) The 48fps. God, this was distracting. While watching the movie, I had no idea that the frame speed was double the normal frame speed or whatever, and I kept thinking that it was the 3D that was irritating me and pulling me out of the experience and couldn't figure out why that was. I have seen tons of movies in 3D, and I think it's pretty fun. But 48fps? It wasn't really fun. It made the beautiful stuff (Rivendell) distractingly beautiful, and the hideous stuff almost gratuitously hideous. Obviously, this being Middle-Earth, there are orcs and goblins and in 48fps, you can see every pustule. I have never seen so many pustules in my life. And I've got a seriously high tolerance for gross—I watched The Human Centipede for the lulz.

So, overall, the frame speed was not my bag.*** It made the Shire scenes in particular feel like I was watching a film set rather than a film. I think this very well may be an individual thing as my friend seemed to take no issue with this, so quite possibly we can chalk my reaction up to my personal weirdness (which by this point, should be well established). I, however, will be buying the film in 24fps if I can.

(***The one exception to this, by the way, is Gollum. Gollum looks impossibly more real in 48fps—you can read every thought in his eyes the second he has it. I can't tell you how extraordinary this is, or how extraordinary I think Andy Serkis is, or how blown away I was by this performance, because I'm not that great of a writer, but basically, Me + Andy Serkis = 5eva)

2) The tone was kind of bipolar. It felt like Jackson couldn't quite decide whether he wanted this to be a LOTR-style epic or a Pixar-y romp, and so scenes swung a bit wildly between serious dwarving business, like battle scenes backed by a full choir, and then their exaggerated physical comedy, particularly during the Unexpected Party scene (the burping and shit went on like 7 minutes too long). Then we'd switch again to sinister and/or serious stuff, and then cut to Radagast dashing through the woods in his bunny sleigh. Speaking of Radagast…

3) I feel badly about the things I'm about to say. Being the nerd that I am, I was psyched, PSYCHED, when it looked like we were going to get a look at this character who merits only one mention in the Hobbit and one in the LOTR; even in the Histories of Middle Earth (yep, I own 'em), he gets little more than a footnote. But Radagast was reduced to comic relief in a movie that really didn't need any more of it. What little we know of Radagast comes from like, one line spoken by Gandalf: Gandalf respects the dude, but Saruman thinks he's a fool. Well, the movie version has me siding with Saruman. Which is not really a great side, ever. Radagast was painfully ridiculous, which I guess would have been fine had the movie been more of a comedy? But—it wasn't. It was kind of epic, and moving, and then Radagast shows up and there are birds shitting in his hair and it's like, are we really doing this? Really?

4) The language. There were a few references to distinctly non-Tolkien-ish things, like Bilbo telling the trolls that the dwarves are infested with parasites, which is a word I am fairly certain appears in Tolkien's books never not once, because I am also weirdly obsessed with parasites and I feel like I would have noticed. There was also an obviously unintentional but nevertheless unfortunately timed "Make him squeal," line delivered by one of the trolls and being the utter deviant that I am, all I could think was Deliverance and it was all I could do not to choke.

That said, these are minor gripes, I think. The cinematography is outrageously beautiful, the casting is perfect, and the performances were pretty exceptional. My issues stem from my belief that the LOTR trilogy was flawless, and The Hobbit, for me, wasn't. But the movie really was excellent, and I am eagerly awaiting Part II which had better include Beorn and Tom Fucking Bombadil or there will be hell to pay. And by 'hell to pay,' I mean that this time next year, I'm going to whine about it on my blog.

So, bottom line? Go see it. And then come back here and geek out with me.

**Okay maybe a little because he was hot.


Tour, in pictures.

An enormous thank you to everyone who trekked out to see me--some of you braved wind and rain and others flew in from faraway states. I am grateful to every single one of you.

Writing about all of the events is less fun than posting the pictures I remembered to take, so it's pictures you'll get. ALSO, there are three more events left this year (HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!), and you can view them here. But if you can't make it to Charleston, Vegas, or Dallas, there are still a few signed copies of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Evolution of Mara Dyer left at:

Books and Books in Coral Gables, FL
Inkwood Books in Tampa, FL
Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, IL
Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, WI

Just call or email any of those stores and tell them you want to place an order for a signed copy.

And now--pictures!

Signing your preorders with the incredible Becky from Books & Books until close to midnight after the event.


In which Mara Dyer hits the list.

So yesterday, I announced on Twitter that The Evolution of Mara Dyer debuted on the New York Times bestseller list.

I heard the news on Twitter, actually, due to the S&S infrastructure being down thanks to Sandy, and proceeded to flail in 140 characters. But 140 characters isn't really enough to say what I need to say, and that is this:

You did this.

You read The Unbecoming and you told your friends to read it, too. You handsold it in bookstores and you recommended it to your patrons. You handed it to your students and you reviewed it on your blogs and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com and on Goodreads. You begged your parents to let you buy just one more book. An entire year passed between books, but you didn't forget about Mara and Noah--you rushed out to read The Evolution as soon as it was released.

This is especially astonishing to me because The Unbecoming was not a "big" book. There was no major deal. No fortune to fuel the hype machine. It sold to my first editor, Courtney Bongiolatti, who loved it so much and wanted it badly and because she is determined, she persuaded my amazing publisher, Justin Chanda, to take a chance on it too. A book that many people, if not most, still don't know how to categorize. I still have trouble describing what it's about. The odds of a book hitting the New York Times list is low to start, but the odds of books like mine hitting it? Even slimmer.

I wrote the books as well as I could, and my brilliant editors, Courtney and Alexandra Cooper, worked unbelievably hard to help me make them the best they could be. Lucy Ruth Cummins designed the most beautiful, evocative covers she could conceive of to help fit the books' mood and to try and catch your attention. My tireless publicist, Paul Crichton, and Siena Koncsol, along with the Marketing and Sales teams at S&S, worked to get Mara Dyer into readers' hands. But as hard as they worked, things like the New York Times list are out of their hands. They only have so much control, and as I discussed here, I have even less.

I controlled the words on the page--and that's really, seriously it. I couldn't control whether bookstores would buy my book at all, or whether they would unpack it on time or how many copies they would display or where they would shelve it in their stores. And I heard from several of you who told me that your bookstore didn't have Evolution last Tuesday, or that it wasn't out for days after its release, or that it was shelved in strange, hard-to-find places. But instead of walking away, you did something extraordinary. If you couldn't find it on shelves, you demanded that staff unpack it from the back rooms. If they didn't have it at all, you left that store and went to a different one. You not only preordered hundreds of books from Books & Books, helping to support an incredible independent bookstore, but while waiting for them to arrive, you bought the ebook, too. Many of you started reading it the second it was released at midnight, and you talked about Mara on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and to your friends and customers and students and patrons and you made fan art and posted reviews.

You have been relentless in your support of my strange, unbecoming* characters and Mara and Noah's twisted story since before the Unbecoming even came out, and there are not enough words in the English language to be able to adequately thank you for everything you have done and everything you do. I am humbled and most of all, beyond grateful. Mara Dyer was a dark horse if there ever was one, but not anymore, thanks to you.

*(couldn't help it)


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