Saturday, August 30, 2014

New Book ***Flying to the Fire*** released today + Author Elyse Salpeter Interview

Elyse Salpeter’s Flying to the Fire: Book #2 (Flying Series) is told through the perspective of a grown up, teenage Danny. Danny is Deaf and communicates through American Sign Language. In the first book in the series, Danny was just a kid who happened to have a special ability—knowing what happens to people when they die. This ability attracts the attention of a dangerous scientist and when Danny’s parents are kidnapped, it is up to his older brother Michael to seek help, and outwit and outrun a mad scientist and the FBI. Fortunately as readers learn in the first book, Danny also can communicate with birds and he’s going to need them again in Book 2. The beginning of the story has Danny looking forward to his older brother, Michael coming home for a visit from college. Danny’s scientist parents, The Andersons, are safely back home and they have even had a young daughter, Katie, who is an important character and I must say one of my favorites since the time of the first book.

Weird events have been happening and Danny needs his brother’s advice. Both a teenage Danny and little sister, Katie, are having terrible nightmares that aren’t staying confined to dreamland. There is an evil black mass that appears in their dreams but when they wake there is evidence that the injuries that occurred while they were dreaming really happened. But is this monster coming for Danny or is it trying to get him out of the way to get to another family member who can’t communicate with the birds but can communicate with bugs. There isn’t much time to figure out how to stop the black mass so the entire family is going to have to work together to find a solution which means that Michael may have to stop sucking face with his new girlfriend, Charity, whom he brought home from college. And geez, will Danny and Michael ever get any brother time??? I hate to admit that Charity is also one of my favorites. She’s smart; she’s in college studying Science; and, she’s taken ASL classes so she’s able to communicate with the family.  See Danny, girls are not all bad :p
Such a serious writer!
I first interviewed this author in 2012. Here’s my recent interview with Elyse Salpeter who has been crazy busy this week and especially this morning since it’s the Book Release Party Day!
Signing with a class
SP: While Flying to the Light has a great deal to do with our understanding of communication and the journey of adolescence, it is very much about the relationship of brothers. Flying to the Fire adds a younger sister, Katie, along with Michael’s new girlfriend, Charity. I love both of these characters by the way. Adding these female characters also adds a good amount of drama and tension between the brothers. What is your message to readers?

ES: This is a great question. I wanted to add a different dynamic to this novel. In Book #1, Danny was only six years old and solely relied on his older seventeen year old brother, Michael, to keep him safe. Throughout the book, Michael had to grow up and mature if he was going to be able to keep himself and his brother alive. In Book #2, I wanted it to be Danny who needed to mature and drive the story. I set it up so that Michael was no longer going to be his “out” to safety because he’s otherwise preoccupied with his new girlfriend. Bad things are once again happening to Danny and he needs Michael’s help, but now Michael is suddenly not there for him. It creates a lot of stress on their relationship.

SP:  I’m much more sympathetic to Evil Scientist Samuel Herrington (and his family) in this book than I was in the last. Is it just me? His wife Marta isn’t exactly a loving character but Samuel’s sadness over her dying really struck me.

ES: I believe Samuel Herrington is inherently selfish and evil, but there was one thing in his life that meant something to him, and that was his wife. This man wants to rule the world, but he always thought Marta would be there with him, right by his side. With his interest in the afterlife, he is searching for any way to reach her and bring her back to him.

SP: Danny has a special connection to birds in both books. Little sister’s Katie’s connection to bugs includes a much different tone. Would you discuss why or how this book is much darker than the first? It’s even frightening at times! But, I mean that in a good way... some of those descriptions of the forest were chilling.  

ES: I knew taking on “the opposite of heaven” was going to make this a darker story. How can you discuss the underworld without discussing the evil that inhabits it or why souls go there? When I think of the underworld, I think of “the earth” and what comes from the earth? Bugs, worms, dead things. When I created the younger sister, I wanted her to have another unique connection, one that would test Danny’s own powers and abilities beyond his limits.

SP: Flying to the Light had Michael and Danny running all over to escape Herrington. In a sense, Flying to the Fire seems more about staying put. I’m not sure if I really have a question here but I’m thinking about some themes of “grounding”. Michael is coming home but not quite himself. Danny has to bring him to in some ways…to actually ground him; the necklace from Charity has its own way of grounding; and, the family deciding to stay put during the storm.

ES: It’s true, in Book #1 I have the boys frenetically running everywhere. It was a constant “Go, go, go!” I wanted Book #2 to have the “action” actually come to them. The dark mass, the evil that lurks in their midst, can move through the air. No matter where they run, it can find them – even when they’re dreaming. I thought that would make the book scarier, as well. How do you fight something that can travel anywhere? With Danny now being thirteen and Michael twenty-four, I wanted to up the ante a bit and thought I could make the novel a bit darker.

SP: Because my focus is always on the portrayal of deaf characters, I’m curious about how Danny can hear when he’s in the other “lands”. While both of the books include issues of science, they each include religious aspects as well. What was your decision to have Danny hear when he’s in the other dimensions?

ES: This is going to be a tricky to answer because it may seem like me making Danny hearing in level fifteen means there was something wrong with him in the first place and now he’s “normal” which is completely not the case. Neither novel discusses Danny’s deafness as a disability. What I wanted to imply about him being able to hear in the other lands is that whoever you are, you go to this “land” one way, but once you’re there, “everyone is on the same playing field.” The fact is, if a character is blind, he’ll be able to see. If he’s maimed, he can walk. You are injured, shot, bleeding in our realm, you’re not hurt if you travel there.

SP:   Without giving anything away, have you set up another sequel, a book 3 with the mother, Maddy?

ES: I have a working outline of Book #3 that I’ve tentatively called FLYING HOME. And yes, Maddy is definitely going to play a part – a big one. In this book, Danny is going to have to test his abilities to his very limits and possibly make some decisions that some might find startling. I’m expecting Book #3 to be more emotionally scary, to be honest.

SP: Wow, I can’t wait! Anything you'd like to add :) 

ES: I’d love to say that it’s been so much fun living in Danny’s world and learning about the Deaf culture. I’ve been so fortunate to meet with students in the community to discuss these books. I met with kids from Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf and St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf and they allowed me to pepper them with questions so I could make Book #2 as relevant as possible. Having a room full of teens who “live” in Danny’s world really helped!  

SP: Awesome! Thanks so much for doing this interview.

Be sure to check out her book on Amazon and her Facebook Book Party that is going on now!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Elyse Salpeter's ~Flying~ Book Launch Party August 30th

Elyse Salpeter is coming out with a sequel to her 2011 novel, Flying to the Light. While I’m preparing another interview with her, I wanted to point out that she’s planning a book launch party. You can join her Facebook Launch event of Flying to the Fire.

If you’re just learning of Salpeter’s book. You can order a Kindle edition version for $2.99. 
Flying to the Light by Elyse Salpeter
Publisher: Cool Well Press, Inc. (November 10, 2011)

Elyse Salpeter’s Flying to the Light is told through the perspective of older brother Michael who until a few days before the story begins is an average high school student with parents who work as scientists and a little brother Danny who just happens to be deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. The entire family is fluent in ASL and the characters attempt to gain Danny’s attention through visual clues. Salpeter explains that Danny’s deafness wasn’t intended as a disability. “It is simply a part of who he is, but I do make him special…” In fact, Danny is quite special; he knows what happens after a person dies, and he’s able to communicate with these individuals for certain period of time. As one might imagine, this special gift attracts the attention of a dangerous scientist.  While older brother Michael is left confused and unsure whom to trust, especially after learning that his parents and little brother aren’t exactly the family members he always thought they were, he seeks help from friends of the family and his teachers-- individuals he hopes they can trust. In fear that Danny’s knowledge of the afterlife could lead to someone attempting to control the world, the boys are in mortal danger. Their parents are kidnapped and they’re left to outwit and outrun a mad scientist and the FBI. While the story is very much about the relationship of brothers, it also has a great deal to do with our understanding of communication and the journey of adolescence. Flying to the Light focuses on the two boys’ independent struggle but includes some winged friends who are able to assist them along the way.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sabbatical Officially Begins

This semester I am not going back to school. Rather, I am on sabbatical… my very first sabbatical.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, a sabbatical is a period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year. 

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this semester to no avail. This is my sabbatical year. People traditionally take a sabbaticals to fulfill a goal or do research. Part of the sabbatical is designed to reinvigorate and restore one's academic energies, and to provide a base for future intellectual development and achievement.

My doctoral research directly addressed the perceptions of the portrayals of deaf characters in adolescent literature.  Since 2006, I started developing this blog and have continued doing research on the topic.  I have enjoyed many accomplishments with my scholarship and am proud that it is still seen as relevant. 
One of the main things I intend to do during this sabbatical is to continue where I left off with my dissertation in 2006.  To start, I plan to address the ‘further recommendations’ section I addressed in my dissertation since it explicitly noted the benefits of asking authors who include Deaf Characters why they do so. Just a few months after my dissertation defense, I began this blog. Since February 2007, I have interviewed forty-eight authors inquiring about their inclusion of their characters. To me, this WHY is just as interesting as HOW the characters are portrayed. 
While I have a fairly substantial manuscript in place, it has been awhile since I’ve touched the manuscript. I would like to go through and polish the work that I already have produced as well as evaluate interviews and book reviews that I have completed since 2008 when I originally planned to complete and submit the manuscript for review. 
My intended time-frame includes:
First in August, I need to make sure that all of the unread books have been read, reviewed and posted on my blog. This includes interviews with the authors of these books. By the end of the month, I should have one more review to post (and hopefully an interview). After that, I plan to review all of my pertinent blog posts including the book reviews and the author interviews. I’ll look for trends in the publications (are there similar story lines; is the Deaf Character still the secondary character whose story is told from the hearing friend, etc.) and determine what correlations there are between the authors, both Deaf and Hearing, for their interest in including such characters.

By September, I plan to rework and polish my introduction chapter incorporating blog posts and interviews along with any findings from my review.
In October, I plan to focus on Book Categories & Summaries. In many ways this will be another attempt at reviewing the data (books, interviews, etc). Creating 200+ book summaries will be a huge endeavor; however, I have 276 blog posts that I will actually be able to use. As one can imagine, over the years I have not been consistent in my format for summarizing books. I plan to revise the blog posts that I have made and create standardized summaries of Deaf Character books. 
By November, I plan to review the chapters that I had written and begin revising and reworking the chapters. I honestly won’t know if my previous chapter titles will be what I follow until reviewing all of the data. 
By the end of December, I hope to submit at least several chapters of my manuscript to a publisher.

I’m hoping to document much of my journey here as well.  I’m nervous and excited. And even more than that, I think this topic is such an important contribution to the portrayals of diverse characters.  I have many ideas swirling around in my head. For now, I better jot down some notes and go read.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Maybe Someday (2014) by Colleen Hoover

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
March 2014
Publisher: Atria Books (March 18, 2014)
Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN-10: 1476753164
ISBN-13: 978-1476753164

Apparently one of the main characters is Deaf and this is a spoiler which I found easily online. I've just added this to my reading list for August.

At twenty-two years old, Sydney is enjoying a great life: She's in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her--and she's forced to decide what her next move should be.
Soon, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive neighbor, Ridge. She can't take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there's something about Sydney that Ridge can't ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one.

A passionate tale of friendship, betrayal, and romance, Maybe Someday will immerse readers in Sydney's tumultuous world from the very first page.