Category Archives: Author Interviews

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu – Activism Tips and Book Review 


I was hugely lucky to pick up an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) of Moxie at YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention) this year. I am really loving the proliferation of books that feature feminist characters. If you are a fan of Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series you are going to love Moxie. 

Synopsis 

Vivian Carter is fed up. 

Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. 

Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. 

But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. 

Viv’s Mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrl in the 90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates Moxie, a feminist zone that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. 

She’s just blowing off steam, but then other girls respond and begin to spread the Moxie message…

I loved the book so much I reached out to the PR to see if Jennifer would share some Activism tips with us. And huge thanks to Jennifer and Sarah for these tips from Vivian Carter herself. 

Viv’s Tips for Activism



Hey, Moxie Girls! I’m so excited to share with you some tips that me and the other Moxie Girls hold dear to our hearts.

1) Support other girls! It sounds so obvious, but so much of being a feminist is supporting other women in a world that pits us against each other all the time. Being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t criticize other girls for justifiable reasons, but catch yourself when you feel the urge to make fun of another girl’s hair, clothes, weight, hobbies, or interests. Making fun of other girls because of their appearance or what they like to do is so not Moxie.

2) Be inclusive! Before Moxie, girls at East Rockport High didn’t really mix outside of their cliques. But feminism has to be intersectional and, thanks to Moxie, the girls of ERH are getting to know each other better. It’s so awesome! Being a feminist means voices of girls of color, girls with disabilities, queer girls and trans girls should be recognized and amplified! Make sure all girls feel welcome at your meet ups and, if you’re an activist, look to the voices of girls from other communities and listen to what they have to say. You’ll learn so much.

3) Educate yourself! The women’s movement didn’t start yesterday – it stretches back decades and centuries. Read your women’s history and learn about the movement’s successes, challenges, and missteps. If you’re in university, take a women’s studies class. I can’t wait to take one when I get to college! An educated feminist is a powerful feminist.

4) Reach out into your community! It’s great to start local, but take your activism outside the walls of your school if you can. In America, we have a real issue with shelters not having enough feminine hygiene products for female clients, so the Moxie Girls want to start collecting supplies for our local shelters. Is there a progressive female candidate running for office that needs your help or younger girls who need tutors or mentors? Is there a women’s organization in your area that you can learn more about? Go for it!

5) Have fun! Activism has to be fun! The first big Moxie meet up that Kiera organized at the VFW Hall helped solidify Moxie into a real movement at our school. Get together and dance, watch a feminist-friendly film, do each other’s makeup, and eat chocolate! Part of being a feminist activist is just enjoying the company of other girls and reminding yourself of what you’re fighting for!

 

Bonus Tip for male allies from Seth!

Hey, it’s me, Viv’s boyfriend, Seth. I wanted to chime in and say that feminists need male allies, and I’m proud to be one. What does it mean to be a male ally? It means listening to the feminists in your life and not taking the limelight. It means believing girls when they tell you what they’re going through and what they’re feeling. And it really means speaking up when your fellow guys start saying and doing stuff that objectifies and degrades women and girls. It’s hard to stand up and speak out – I get it – but it takes guts and it’s the brave thing to do. Forget the crap in the culture that tells you that “real men” are only out to get laid, get drunk, and be violent. Real men are protectors and defenders and stand up for what’s right. You’ve got this.

What I Thought 

This was such a good book. It was a fun and quick read with some serious messages. Viv is such a great protagonist, she’s perhaps not your typical activist. On the surface she’s very quiet and perhaps the last person people would expect to stand up and shout. It’s the small drop in the water that creates the large ripples  

There are so many parallels with what is happening in the news on a daily basis. Over the last week the #metoo campaign in response to insidious sexism in Hollywood has shown the power of women raising their voices. 

The book includes the issues of Moxie that Viv produces and that adds an extra special touch that draws the reader into the story. Each issue encourages an action. A quiet protest such as writing hearts and stars on your hands to identify others like you (or you know bending the knee peacefully??!!). 


I’d love have to been more of an activist when I was a teen and it’s so good that teens of today have books like these to inspire them. 

Point 3 above is illustrated in the book through the inclusion of Viv’s Mum previous activism. Hopefully we can start to share these ideas with our children and encourage them to respectfully question. 

I particularly love the inclusion of the character of Seth, the male feminist, the ally. As well as following women’s metoo stories do check out the few men who are examining their own past behaviour too. 

Tying in to Viv’s tip no 5 about having fun I just want to do a shout out to the concept of Craftivism: the art of gentle protest. If you want to find out more check out this link

Also check out the hashtag #feministfriday on Instagram today. 

Thanks so much to Hachette Childrens for having ARCs of Moxie availabile at YALC. 

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The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James – Book Review and Author Interview 

This year at YALC we were once again lucky ducks with the opportunity to purchase an early copy of Lauren James’ new science fiction story The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. The book is finally out for everyone else to enjoy this week and I was cheeky and asked Lauren answer a few questions which I’ll share here with my thoughts on the Loneliest Girl. 

Synopsis 

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?
Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.
Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.
But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?
Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . . 

Author 

Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics.

She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. 

The Next Together was described by The Bookseller as ‘funny, romantic and compulsively readable’ and Kirkus as ‘An ambitious, promising premise . . . James is one to watch’. It was longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, a prize given to recognise an outstanding novel by a first-time writer. 

Her other novels include The Last Beginning, the epic conclusion to The Next Together which was named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for kids and young adults by the Independent. Two short stories set in the world of The Next Together series, Another Together and Another Beginning, are also available.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature scientists in prominent roles. 

Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books, in the US by HarperCollins and in translation in five other countries around the world. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for the Guardian, Buzzfeed and The Toast. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her new releases and receive bonus content.

 

 What I Thought 

This was such a quick, intense and thrilling read. The formatting of e-mails between the two characters – modern day epistolary style – helps you zip through and you build a relationship with the characters, Romy and J, as they do with each other. 

I like that Romy’s anxiety at her situation is explored and that NASA have got her a therapist to discuss things with. As well as prompting her to keep up with schoolwork. I also loved the addition of the Fandom elements with Romy being a big fan and fan fiction writer for a TV series about supernatural detectives ‘Loch and Ness’. As well as adding authenticity to her teen status this is a much bigger plot point than you might think. 

The Loneliest Girl reminded me a little of one of my favourite sci-fi reads Illuminae and if you loved that definitely pick this up too. 

Gradually the incident that left Romy alone is revealed along with a growing concern about what is happening back on the Earth she has never known. 

Interview 

Having written your last two books and a couple of shorts in one world how did you prepare yourself to move on to a new one? 

I was very ready to write something different – I started The Loneliest Girl while I was working on edits for The Last Beginning, so I couldn’t make any progress on that project, and it felt incredible to write something fresh and new that wasn’t tangled up in plot holes. I did enjoy leaving easter eggs in the books for each of my others, though! 

Was the writing process different or similar to with your first books? 

I always think the last book I wrote was the easiest and best to write, and then start another and remember how hard it is. The one I’m always writing always feels like a terrible disaster while I’m in the process of getting it down on paper. When I’ve done all the hard work and can look at a complete, perfect finished book, I like it – but during the writing process it’s torment. That’s true of all my books! 

How did you develop the character of Romy? Knowing that she would be alone for much of the book did that affect this? 

I’ve always loved stories of isolation – it’s a great way to really get to know a character. I knew that if I was writing a whole book where there was only really one person, I would need to create a character who would keep the reader’s attention and loyalty. It was a big challenge, but I fell totally in love with Romy while I was writing about her, and I hope everyone reading The Loneliest Girl in the Universe does too.

How much did the idea of online dating influence the plot? 

A lot – I think online dating is something that teenagers today experience more and more, whether that’s apps like Tinder or just chatting on Facebook Messenger. I wanted to explore that in a way that wasn’t a UK contemporary novel, and setting it in space was a nice twist. 

How did it feel seeing everyone glanced up in Galactic Glitter make overs to celebrate the launch of your book at YALC?

It was so cool! The whole YALC weekend was kind of a surreal dream, it was brilliant. I feel so lucky to have so many people excited to read my books. 

My Galactic Glitter Make-Over at YALC 

Sorcerer to the Crown – Interview with Author Zen Cho

Back on the 22nd July I was lucky enough to interview Zen Cho at Waterstones CastlePoint. Freakily enough what book turned up from The Willoughby Book Club at the beginning of July? This gorgeous Black and Gold Edition of the Book. 


This is a beautifully written and fun Regency Fantasy. From balls to sorcery with issues of sexism and racism and a battle with The Fairy Court – who will come out on top? 


Find out more by watching our 15 minute interview on YouTube. Click on pictures below to link. I’m looking forward to reading more about the wider world Zen has created. 

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