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Kids and Teen Blog

Tag: Interview

The Winner’s Crime: An Interview with Marie Rutkoski

by Melissa
Author Q & A + YA Fiction / March 03, 2015

Today’s the day! To celebrate the release of The Winner’s Crime—the second book in Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Trilogy—the fabulous Jenn from Lost in a Great Book has shared her interview with the lovely Marie Rutkoski. Read on for fun secrets behind The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime. (Caution! There are spoilers for The Winner's Curse, and possible vague spoilers for The Winner's Crime. You've been warned!)

In January I had the distinct pleasure of chatting via Skype with the ever-charming Marie Rutkoski, author of The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime books. After we had both settled in with our respective cups of tea (Marie’s was an intriguing blue tea from Mariage Frères that I have since attempted to order online), we focused our discussion on all things Kestrel and Arin. Be warned: there are definitely spoilers for book one in this discussion, although I’ve tried to edit out the spoilers for book two.

J: So, I’ve finished book two, and I just have to ask … Are you trying to kill us with this book? I’ll bet you wrote that last chapter with an evil laugh!

M: Ha! I mean… Okay, is this going to be public?

J: It will, but I will edit for book two spoilers, don’t you worry!

M: Oh good, that makes things easier. Well, after I wrote the first book, and I ended it the way that I did, which felt like a true ending to me, it felt like the characters were true to who they are and how I had made them into, and this is what would happen to them. After I wrote that, however, I wondered what might happen to them and how the story would continue. One of the things I felt pretty strongly about was that the tension between Kestrel and her father, for example, could break things eventually, just because they are both so similar, but their goals are so extremely different. I knew that they loved each other but …

J: They really don’t know how to love each other, really.

M: Yes, that’s it. It’s very true.

J: There are events in this book that broke my heart, especially between Kestrel and her father.

M: He would definitely see her actions as a personal betrayal. Part of the reason he has been at war for so long is because he felt that he was building this great world, this empire for her, and in his mind, he knew she was capable of making it all hers. In book one, she tells him that she doesn’t want his life, and all of her actions, even if she doesn’t mean them to be against him, he could take it that way.

J:  She is very much her father’s daughter in her analytical thought processes.

M:  She is, that’s true. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t set out to break reader’s hearts with the endings of the books, but rather that I see each book as an inevitable conclusion. I did think that it would be interesting to write a book where readers feel that the books is about a certain romantic relationship, but that they also realize that there are so many other relationships that happen that are just as crucial, and end up having as much, if not more, of an emotional impact.

J: Your characters are not one-dimensional; Kestrel is genuinely hurt and abandoned in this book because she has lost everyone close to her in book one. Jess, Ronan, her father … there is so much more to her than just her relationship with Arin, and I found she really came into her own in book two. Book one was so much about figuring out the world, and I found book two was very much a character book. There is still lots of action, but so much of what happens is internal.

I also found it interesting to see how Kestrel and Arin developed and have almost changed roles. In book one, Arin is the enigma as we don’t have much from his point of view because he is hiding his role in the rebellion, while Kestrel is the more open of the pair.

M: That’s a really interesting comment. I was definitely aware that Arin was not a very outgoing character; even in his point of view, we don’t get a lot from him in the first book and that’s very deliberate. I thought of him as a character that does not want to share, so anything he does share is done so grudgingly, but in the second book he does open up more. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that Kestrel would have to keep things much more close to her chest with everyone around her, but I guess she is much more secretive than she was before.

J: In book two, there are some interesting scenes involving a particular moth. Do those chameleon moths exist?

M: Oh, thanks! Well the book is technically fantasy, because of the different world, but I didn’t want it to be fantastical. I love fantasy, but for this book I really wanted to focus on the human – relationship, scenery, etc. I did want to lend little touches to remind the reader that this was not our world. The moths were convenient to me, for various reasons – plot-wise, events…

J: For ….. reasons that will become apparent after release!

M: Yes, exactly! So those, and the dragonflies that appear in the East … when I tend to try to remind the reader that this is a new and different world, it usually comes out in nature somehow. There may be something different, like green storms in the first book, and the crops in the second book.

J: Let’s talk a little about some of the non-story aspects of the book.The Winner’s Curse is so named because the economic theory of, essentially, paying more for something than it’s actually worth at auction. Is there a similar meaning for The Winner’s Crime?

M: The Winner’s Crime doesn’t have as serious a meaning; when you write a trilogy you want the names to go together and have some fluidity to them (example: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Dreams of Gods and Monsters). I wanted to have some kind of cohesion with the first book, and I knew what the second book would be about.

J: What are you hoping people will get from book two?

M: Well, I have had to make a lot of apologies to people on Twitter – “You broke my heart!” “I’m sorry!”

In book one, Kestrel seems kind of unassailable, she’s the girl with all the answers, so I’m hoping in book two you see her much more vulnerable than before. I also think, as a writer, it was really satisfying to write more from Arin’s point of view. That happens a lot in book three as well.

They both grow a lot in these books.

If you’re interested in reading the rest of Jenn’s interview with Marie (or if you want more information on torture and book 3) click here!

I want to extend a huge thank you to Jenn for sharing her interview with us, and to the wonderful Marie Rutkoski for an intriguing behind-the-scenes look into The Winner’s Crime. Be sure to purchase your copy of The Winner’s Crime, in stores today!


The Storyteller’s Son: Sebastian Robertson

by Alisha
Kids + Music / October 21, 2014

 

As the bus pulled off the dirt road of the reservation to the pavement of the highway back to Toronto, Robbie would stare out the window, waving good-bye. "Hey, Ma, I wanna be the storyteller one day."

Sebastian Robertson, a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, lives in Los Angeles where he works as a composer. He has written music for major television series and is the head writer for a music library, We the People, which he owns and operates. More recently, he has become an author with the publication of Legends, Icons & Rebels in 2013 and more recently, Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story. His new title, released today, is a heartwarming tribute to his father, Robbie Robertson, the famed songwriter and guitarist who discovered his love of music and storytelling on a First Nations reservation in southern Ontario. Dedicated, talented and driven to succeed, Robertson rose quickly through the ranks to perform alongside rock-and-roll legends as a teenager. Written for children ages 6 to 11, Rock and Roll Highway is a story that will inspire young and old alike. In an e-mail interview yesterday, Sebastian shared his thoughts on music, reading, and his relationship with a Canadian legend.

Your close relationship with your father is evident in the telling of his life story. How much were you influenced, if at all, by your father’s reputation, when you were young? As a successful composer and musician in your own right, how have you been able to carve out your own identity, separate yet complementary to his own?

As a kid I didn’t really understand my father’s fame or profession all that well. By the time I was born he had ceased touring and he really kept his work life and home life separate. I just thought it was really cool when people would ask for his autograph. That gave me a sense of pride. As far as my own work is concerned I forged a new path in an area of music that is separate from my dad. Not on purpose, but because I was pulled in another direction and found it to be the most fulfilling for me. However, he’s an amazing guy to be able to bounce ideas off of and we’ve collaborated on a number of projects.

One of the most powerful moments depicted in Rock and Roll Highway is your father’s decision, as a teen, to sell his beloved guitar and amplifier in order to buy a bus ticket and join Ronnie Hawkins in the American south. His sense of mission, and at such a young age, is unusual but I am intrigued by the amount of synchronicity, almost destiny, that plays out in the book. It’s as if Robbie was always at the right place at the right time and that fate was always one step ahead of him. But when did Robbie first know, really know, that music would be his life’s work?

My dad spent a lot of time with his mother’s relatives and they were terrific storytellers and quite musical too. He was bitten by the music bug and immediately knew he was going to completely give himself to the process. At the age of nine, he got his first guitar and after a few lessons, he taught himself the rest. This clearly is an unusual amount of commitment and discipline for a young boy but it speaks to his talent and success.

Your previous book, Legends, Icons & Rebels, profiles the musical legacies of popular music's most influential voices, and is accompanied by two CDs that include recordings by Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Joni Mitchell, and many others. The book, aimed at pre-teens, was recently nominated for a 2015 Red Maple Non-Fiction award. (Congratulations!) With the publication of Rock and Roll Legend, you appear to be carving a path for yourself as a writer of music history books for young people. Where does your desire to preserve—and celebratemusical history originate from? And why young people (as opposed to an adult audience)?

First off I’m honored by the nomination and also that I have the opportunity to share an art form with those I believe to be the most open minded, honest and interesting peoples of our world, children. When I play music for my son, Donovan who is nine, he approaches it with no judgment or baggage, just curiosity. This allows him to appreciate everything from Curtis Mayfield, Billie Holiday to Iggy Azalea and M83. This is what I consider a perfect audience.

In the book, you describe the incredible support and love Robbie received from his relatives. At a young age, he and his mother would often visit the Six Nations Indian Reservation located two hours north of Toronto, his hometown. “It was here where it all began; it was here where the rhythm, melodies, and storytelling of Robbie’s First Nation relatives captured his imagination.” It’s apparent that his ancestral legacy played a part in developing his intense connection to music. What do you consider to be your father’s most important legacy? And as a musician and writer, and most importantly, as a father, what do you hope your legacy will be to your own son?

For me, his most important legacy will always be as a loving, kind, generous and devoted father. I’ll never forget his handcrafted, early morning western omelettes before a big 8:30 am little league game. I’ll never forget the compassion when I miss-stepped as boy and into my teens. My goal and my legacy are simple: To be the best friend, son, father and husband I can be.

In your own Q & A section at the back of Rock and Roll Highway, your father mentions a love of reading and particularly enjoyed the classics by Steinbeck and Faulkner when he was on the road. He also reveals he was inspired by these books, saying “…some of the songs I wrote were about historical times and events, and the reading I was doing really helped me paint pictures with the lyrics and expand my vocabulary.” How much of your own work as a television music composer is inspired by the books you read—and who are some of your favourite writers?

When I started out playing in bands, reading was an integral part of the writing process. I have always felt that you needed to read in order to write. I was greatly impacted by Steinbeck but also loved authors of “darker” literature, like Camus, and specifically enjoyed Hunger by Knut Hamsun, The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy and some of Aleister Crowley’s works. I suppose these books stay with you forever and impact any creative endeavor you give yourself to.