IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: You want to go here today. Creepy Query Girl has an awesome interview with Harry Bingham on her blog.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming:
When my BF and I started this whole 100 Books in 2010 challenge, we laid down a few ground rules.
For one, picture books didn't count. Short story collections were fair game, and YA definitely qualified.
We vowed to genre hop. We promised to peek outside our comfort zones, even if just a little. Fair rules, don't you think?
But since I'm also a writer - and thus read a considerable amount of first draft material from my amazing writerly friends - I made one more rule for myself: I couldn't count any of their unfinished, unpublished material.
I first broke that rule with Margaret Macpherson's truly awe-inspiring literary novel Body Trade. Although unpublished, I have little doubt it will be: this isn't her first book and she has many pub credits to her name. Plus, Body Trade was, essentially, complete, so really, I was only breaking the "unpublished" part of my rule.
Not even halfway into the challenge, I'm bending the rule again, this time after finishing a thorough read of Thirsty (tentative title), a (pretty much complete) young adult novel by Edmonton author-extraordinnaire Rita Feutl.
Set in a dystopian future where water usage is tightly-controlled (and limited), Thirsty is the story of four quirky children who use MacGyver -like thinking to protect Earth from completely losing it's most precious resource. The underlying message is subtle, but clear; the theme of "what if water disappeared forever?" flows through the text with utter brilliance - and without preaching. Rita has some serious writing chops.
In Thirsty, Rita has created four amazing kids, each with their own talent (like Fern's ability to "speak" to birds and Xiphoid's ability to crack any lock). Their personalities are distinct, and each character is sympathetic, interesting and smart. One of them reminds me so much of my youngest nephew I couldn't stop picturing his cute little face the entire read.
The story takes place on Earth, but also on Gork, a technologically-advanced planet and the essential control centre for the world Rita has created. Maybe it's the geek in me, but I loved all of the great inventions - like PedGones for travel, and Viewphones for communication, and interesting foods that would likely NOT pass your country's safety protocols but would rank high on your teenager's want list.
Rita is a crisp, clean writer with a strong handle on craft. There isn't room for fluff, but I admit, there are some paragraphs of description that take my breath away. I'm not a fan of overwriting - and have seen the bloodbath that can sometimes happen after the ruthless slice of an editor's red pen - but Rita gives just enough descriptive flow to remind you of her incredible talent. She's a tough chick to critique :-)
Together, we worked through a couple of kinks she'd discovered, small fixes that shouldn't take long to iron out. And then it's off to her editor, who I'm certain will drink it up with enthusiasm. I know I did - I started it in early evening and stayed up almost all night to quench my thirst.
I'm looking forward to spending time with Rita this weekend as we tackle our works in progress in the comfort of her basement. I think our muses will get along just fine.
The Book In My Bag Today: Imitation in Death, J.D. Robb