Archive for Uncategorized

Fun in Santee

Got to be part of a really fun event yesterday at the Santee branch of the San Diego County Library.

(And now, since I typed the word “library,” I have to take a moment and burble the following: LIBRARIES RULE JEEZ BY GOSH WE SHOULD FUND THE HELL OUT OF THEM!)

(It’s true. We should.)

(Also, they should remain public and not fall to privatization.)

Anyway. The event was billed as “Lunch With Teen Authors,” and my co-panelists were Kirsten Hubbard, Cindy Pon, and Barrie Summy. They were smart and funny and engaged, and part of me wishes I could have just sat in the audience and tossed questions at them instead of listening to myself blab (which I have kind of a tendency to do).

After a couple of, shall we say, lightly attended events, it was both a relief and a pleasure to see the audience fill up the available space. Seemed like a good mix of teens and maybe some pre-teens, moms, and a guy filling plates with Chinese food, who may have been my favorite person there on account of he was filling plates with Chinese food. Cindy taught me the correct way to say “chow mien,” and before the panel I ate my chow mien at a table with two girls, and they were both cool and one of them had even read Kid vs. Squid, so that was a treat for me. I also met a guy named Shane who quite rightly pointed out that one of my ideas for a Kid vs. Squid sequel violated one of the key genre concepts of KvS, and he even suggested an alternative. Shane, if you happen to be reading this, I mispoke. I didn’t literally mean Hell. Nonetheless, you are quite correct, sir.

Librarian Marisa and the audience asked a lot of good questions, and I particularly liked answering the ones from the young writers in the audience. I hope we didn’t crush their dreams by talking about the hard parts of being a writer. But, durn it, they deserved the truth.

Mysterious Galaxy was there selling books afterward, and I signed a few, plus some bookmarks and postcards, but even better than signing the books was seeing library copies being snatched up. As much as I love finding my books on bookstore shelves, knowing they’re in library circulation is an incomparable feeling. Libraries. They are good.

Later, I met local YA writers, Lisa Ritter Cannon, Nikki Katz, and Andrea Ortega, who keep a group blog, YA Know, and I joined them and Barrie, Cindy, and Kirsten for some coffee and chat, which was, as you might expect from the overall tenor of this entry, very fun and pleasant.

All in all, just a really great event. Thanks to Marisa and Santee Library and the Friends of Santee Library (who sprang for the event) and everyone in attendance.

Here’s a photo ganked from Andrea Ortega’s Twitter feed:

San Diego Comic-Con schedule

My San Diego Comic-Con schedule is now all official-like:

SUNDAY July 24
1:45 – 2:45
Writing For the Middle Grade Audience – engaging the reader at an important age. Writers discuss how to craft books that engage and delight readers who are too mature for early readers, but not yet ready to read young adult books. Authors include: Rebecca Moesta (the Crystal Doors series), Brandon Mull (Beyonders: A World Without Heroes), Matt Myklusch (A Jack Blank Adventure Series), John Stephens (The Books of Beginning), Nathan Bransford (Jacob Wonderbar series). Stephen McCranie (Mal and Chad), D.J. MacHale (the Pendragon series), EJ Altbacker (Shark Wars series), and Greg van Eekhout (The Boy at the End of the World). Moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy.

SUNDAY July 24
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m
Autographing in the Comic-Con Autograph Area


Lunch with Teen Authors – Santee Library

Are you a teen? Are you anywhere near Santee, California? Do you like lunch? If these conditions = true, then an event that has been planned with precisely you in mind:

Event Type: Author Visit
Date: 7/5/2011
Start Time: 12:00 PM
End Time: 1:00 PM
Place: Santee Library
9225 Carlton Hills Blvd #17
Santee, CA 92071
(619) 448-1863

Have lunch with teen authors Kirsten Hubbard, Greg Van Eekhout, Cindy Pon and Barrie Summy as they talk about their books. Copies of their books will be available for purchase and checkout.
Hear about their newest novels: “Like Mandarin” by Kirsten Hubbard; “The Boy at the End of the World” by Greg Van Eekhout; “Fury of the Phoenix” by Cindy Pon; and “I So Don’t Do Famous” by Barrie Summy.


Discount! Limited-Time Offer! Bargain! AAAAGH! – The Boy at the End of the World for Nook and Kobo

Peddle Powers: Activate!

The Boy at the End of the World — which is a book I wrote about a boy at the end of the world with a broken robot friend and a cloned pygmy mammoth who poops a lot, plus giant killer death parrots and philosophy and ruminations on loneliness — is currently discounted for Nook ($5.00 at Barnes and Noble) and for Kobo ($4.99 at Offer ends July 5.

Don’t know if there’ll be a discount for Kindle or any other formats, but if there are, why wouldn’t I tell you? I mean, of course I’ll tell you. I’m the teller.

Peddle Powers: Deactivate!


Books & Sea

From San diego 2011

Ideas and walking go together much better than ideas and metabolizing Ho Hos. By which I mean that I often get good ideas when I’m in motion and my cardiovascular system is doing more than trying to keep me alive on a diet of sweet cream-like filling.

Beach walks are particularly good for generating creative thoughts and unraveling knotty story problems. Beach walks with the dog, however, aren’t so much meditative as they are OH MY GOD DO NOT TRY TO EAT THAT DEAD SEA GULL WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??!!??

But yesterday, despite the dog (who turned one-year old yesterday if the shelter’s date-of-birth estimate is anything like accurate and he got a new chew toy and a cookie), I found some moments to stand in the surf and look out over the vast Pacific and figure out some cool things to do with cannibalism in my book.

On Saturday Mysterious Galaxy Books hosted a signing with me and Cynthia Hand and Timothy Power. We each read a bit from our books and took questions about writing YA and middle grade and signed some books, and I had a great time and I hope Cynthia and Tim and the attendees enjoyed it as well.

Here’s photo evidence. I don’t know why I’m listing.

Launch day: The Boy at the End of the World

Hello, there! I have a new book out today, don’tcha know? It’s called The Boy at the End of the World. Here’s what it’s about, from the publisher’s marketing copy:

This is the story of the last boy on Earth, born from a survival pod long after humankind has ceased to exist. With only a broken robot named Click for a friend, Fisher sets out to discover if he is truly alone. But first, he must learn to survive.

If only surviving weren’t so hard! Finding food and staying out of the way of ravenous beasts hasn’t gotten any easier since people disappeared from the Earth − especially since some of the animals have evolved in alarming ways. And if electric eels and giant parrot attacks don’t get Fisher, there’s something much more sinister that will − something the human race has left behind …

With lively humor and a thrilling sense of adventure, Greg van Eekhout takes readers along on Fisher’s wild ride − a journey that might just save the world.

Luckily, Fisher is not totally alone. He meets a broken robot he names Click, whose programmed purpose-to help Fisher “continue existing”-makes it act an awful lot like an overprotective parent. Together, Fisher and Click uncover evidence that there may be a second survival bunker far to the west. In prose that skips from hilarious to touching and back in a heartbeat, Greg van Eekhout brings us a thrilling story of survival that becomes a journey to a new hope-if Fisher can continue existing long enough to get there.

Here’s a preview of the first two chapters, if you’re the sort of person who likes to pinch the bread loaf before you buy it. You loaf pincher, you. READ chapters 1 & 2.

Where can you buy the book? Well, maybe your local shop has it on the shelves. But what if they don’t??!!!? Times are tough in the book trade, and the big chains are ordering fewer titles and keeping fewer copies in stock. So, if your local bookstore, either chain or indie, doesn’t have it, you could ask your bookseller to order it for you. And you can order it online from the places where people buy books online. Right now it’s available in hardcover and for Kindle and Nook. C’mon, you know how to shop.

Here’s what’s been said about The Boy at the End of the World by people who are not paid to be nice to me:

“Fisher’s survivalist journey through the ruins of our future is both funny and affecting, full of transformed creatures, broken cities, and mad robots. Amid desperate escapes, explosive battles and piles of mammoth dung, The Boy at the End of the World, also manages to ask interesting questions about our place in the world, and where we’re headed as a species.” —Paolo Bacigalupi, Printz Award winning author of Ship Breaker

“Greg van Eekhout’s The Boy at the End of the World is both moving and full of adventure. This remarkable survival story will change the way readers think about themselves and the world they live in.” —Sarah Prineas, author of The Magic Thief

“Greg van Eekhout’s The Boy at the End of the World is wholly engaging and action packed. It is a compelling journey story filled with unusual friendships and a vision of the future that doesn’t shy away from eco-heavy messages and themes as it plunges the reader ever forward toward a riveting, cinematic end.” —Ingrid Law, Newbery Honor author of Savvy

“The characters are well developed and the moral dilemmas are sound. This is an excellent beginning for science fiction readers and the study of dystopian society. Recommended.” — Library Media Connection

“The author of Kid vs. Squid (2010) repeats with another quirky, high-stakes adventure hung about with oddball ideas and life-threatening hazards… Van Eekhout moves his tale along briskly to a violent, suspenseful climax… A pleaser for readers who prefer their sf livened up with unpredictable elements and emotional complexity.” —Booklist

“Part speculative fiction, part cinematic survival adventure, the novel features a brisk pace and clever and snappy dialogue. The real, scary possibility of human destruction of our own environment is tempered by this diverting tale of the possibilities of continued existence and the meaning of hope, friendship and community.” —Kirkus Reviews

I hope you’ll consider buying my book, and if you do, I hope you enjoy it.








The color of The Boy at the End of the World

[Minor edits for style and clarity made on 2/23/12.]

In The Boy at the End of the World, I describe Fisher, the protagonist,  as darkly pigmented.

Here are the passages:

From pages 17 and 18, when Click is telling Fisher about the concept of clothing:

Your skin is darkly pigmented to give you some protection from sun exposure.

And on page 106, when Fisher is looking at his reflection in water.

His own reflection stared back him, dark and lean and scratched.

I wrote Fisher as a boy who is artificially bred in a pod from a broad mix of genetic material. He’s a far-future analog to a person of mixed race.

Maybe now’s a good time to say a few words about myself. My parents are both Dutch-Indonesian, or Indo. That means something else than just the offspring of one Dutch parent and one Indonesian parent. Indos came about from the Dutch colonization of Indonesia, and from those colonists having children with Indonesians, giving rise to a distinct culture, neither Dutch nor Indonesian.

I am multiracial. My skin is light brown. My features are a mix of, well, Dutch and Indonesian. People often don’t know what to make of me. When people see me, sometimes they see a person of color. Sometimes they see an Asian person. (Indonesia is in Asia, so that makes sense.) Sometimes they see a Latino person. Sometimes they see a white guy with a tan. When people don’t know what you are, they will sometimes project their own expectations on you. It’s totally fine. I don’t get offended when they mistake me for something I’m not. If they’re interested, I’m always more than happy to talk about my racial and ethnic background.

As I said, Fisher’s a mix of things. Growing up, I didn’t see many brown-skinned heroes on book covers, and I wanted to look at Fisher on the cover and be able to see someone whom I could imagine being me.

When it came time to develop the cover, my publisher asked for my input. Often, authors have no participation in the development of their covers, so I was really pleased that Bloomsbury asked for my thoughts. I found a graphic from an anthropology website showing the range of human skin tones across the world (there’re a lot more than just white, brown, and black), and I indicated the range of skin tones I thought would be right for Fisher.

In the first version of the cover, Fisher’s skin tone was well within the range I’d indicated. The problem was that he was standing in shadow, and what looked brown in a color swatch looked like white skin in shadow on the cover. The hair was too light, too, I thought.

My editor sent the art back to the artist. After another couple of attempts, I thought they got it right. I look at Fisher, and you know what I see? I see a brown kid. He could be multiracial. He could be Indo. Maybe people will see a Latino kid. Maybe they’ll see a kid from somewhere in Asia. If people see a white kid with a tan, that’s okay, too. I like that people don’t know quite what to make of him. It feels cozily familiar.

When I look at Fisher on the cover, I see someone who could have been me when I was twelve. As a brown, ethnically ambiguous, multiracial person, I’m really happy about that.

(By the way, comments are welcome, but I screen them. Not because I fear controversy, but because spammers are EATING MY SOUL. If you post a comment — and you’re not a SOUL-EATING SPAMBOT — it’ll appear as soon as I get a chance to unscreen it.)