Above by Leah Bobet
Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, her bee’s wings falling away. They live in Safe, an underground refuge for those fleeing the city Above—like Whisper, who speaks to ghosts, and Jack Flash, who can shoot lightning from his fingers.
But one terrifying night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of shadows, and only Matthew, Ariel, and a few friends escape Above. As Matthew unravels the mystery of Safe’s history and the shadows’ attack, he realizes he must find a way to remake his home—not just for himself, but for Ariel, who needs him more than ever before.
|photo: leah bobet|
About the AuthorShe's a Canadian writer of literary science fiction and fantasy with a love for mythic prose and an obsession with the secret hearts of cities.
1. When writing Above, did you derive inspiration from any source of media, like books, music, television, films?
Pretty much all of the above! The idea came together from a combination of an essay about disability and identity in Eli Clare's Exile and Pride, a pet peeve with the way a genre trope is handled in a couple of TV shows (Futurama and Beauty and the Beast), and a whole bunch of song lyrics. I tend to drag things in from everywhere and mash them together. It's sort of like Idea Smoothie!
2. You’ve contributed to writing other books in your career: how does it feel to have a novel written just by you?
It's definitely a different feeling than having a story in an anthology, or something shared-world and co-written, like Shadow Unit. It's much more a feeling of I made this: possibly because novels are so much wider and take so much more time than short fiction. There's that much more emotional investment in a novel, for me.
3. How easy/difficult was the road to publishing?
I'm not entirely sure what to compare it to: easier than some, harder than others? Really easy in some aspects, like finding an agent who believed in the book quite quickly, and harder in others, like it taking four times as long to find an editor who felt the same.
It mostly just was what it was, and I wasn't too concerned throughout whether things were easy or not, because I was still walking the road to the thing I wanted, and I'd have kept walking that road no matter how hard it got.
4. If you could hang out with a character from the book for a day, which character would you choose?
Hah. This assumes any of them would have me, after the things I put them through!
Probably none of them, honestly. The thing with one's own characters is that they live inside your head. You don't need to hang out with them; they're already there, and you 'd have not one thing to talk about.
5. Did you have a strange habit while writing? Like biting erasers or chewing carrots furiously?
Okay, for one? I kind of love those examples. Those are much toothier habits than I could ever come up with!
I don't do anything really odd while I'm writing. I do drink massive amounts of tea, though, and I can't work very well if I don't have a mug of something nearby on my desk. I think it's because going for a drink is one of those easy distraction things, and when there's tea or water or juice right there, well. I have to keep on working.
6. How have you handled praise and criticism for Above? What would you say to your fans? :D
I'm not really in the habit of discussing reviews and whether I read them, for a couple reasons. For one, I feel like readers need to be able to have discussions about books without the authors looking over their shoulders, and without having to worry about what the author might think, good or bad. But on the other hand, I know reviewers will work really hard on crafting a review that gets across their reaction to a given book, and to say I just ignore them all is a bit disrespectful to that work. So if you don't mind, I prefer to leave that one a bit ambiguous!
As to fans: Well, I'm glad that the book speaks to you, and thank you very much!
1. Hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, cashews or none?
Walnuts! Especially in salad.
2. Sunshine or rain?
Sunshine, definitely. I'm solar powered. I wilt without enough sun.
3. Long socks or ankle socks?
Long socks! The longer, the better – my spring and fall are pretty much this months-long party of knee socks.
4. Favourite subject you took in school?
Music. Or history. They're tied.
5. Celebrity crush and why?
I don't really do celebrity crushes. I'm much too aware of celebrities as people, and that what we see of them is a public persona, not the actual person. Which makes the whole, "Hey, person I don't know! I want to kiss you just 'cause of your job!" thing suddenly creepy and unfun, alas.
6. What’s on your desk right now?
A big mess! My desktop computer's been sidelined for about three months – I have to reformat the whole thing, and just keep not getting around to it because it's kind of a long, grinding, hateful job. So I've been working off my laptop all spring and summer, going to coffeeshops and just writing on the couch and stuff, which means my desk has just turned into the pile of papers I should probably do something with for...three months.
This is a very sad story.
So, yes. A giant mess.
I absolutely loved these responses!
Thanks to Ms Bobet and her partners at Scholastic, I have one copy of Above for one lucky US resident :)