Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lena Coakley

Lena Coakley is a young adult author living in Toronto. She is the author of the YA fantasies Witchlanders and Worlds of Ink and Shadow: A novel of the Brontës.

Recently I asked Coakley about what she was reading. Her reply:
I often have more than one book on the go at a time, and since I’m a writer for children and teens, it’s not unusual for me to be reading an adult novel, a middle grade and a YA. Generally these books will all have a fantasy or science fiction element, and this is true of the three I have on my bedside table this week.

Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville (short stories)

I love China Miéville. His novels Embassytown and Perdido Street Station are two of my favorites. This collection of short stories has a bit of horror, a bit of magical realism, and a lot of the inventiveness I’ve come to expect from this author. (One story is told in storyboards for a movie trailer.)

While I don’t love every story, some, like "The Dowager of Bees" and “In the Slopes,” are superb and make reading the entire collection more than worthwhile.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (middle grade)

The book is right up my alley as it touches on many themes and ideas that interest me: feminism, paleontology, the 18th-century craze for phrenology, the effects of Darwin’s ideas on Victorian society, and the ramifications of telling a lie. The plot centers on the murder of a Victorian fossil hunter who may or may not have faked an important find.

I’m enjoying The Lie Tree so far. However, I think my favorite Hardinge novel will always be A Face Like Glass, one of the strangest most imaginative books I’ve ever read for any age.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (YA)

If you read YA you have probably heard about this book as it just won the prestigious Michael L. Printz Award. It centers on the mysterious disappearance of a young woman and the guilt—warranted and unwarranted—of the people she left behind in the town of Bone Gap.

I think the Printz committee made the right choice. Ruby’s prose is dazzling and the fantasy elements are unique, surprising and dream-like. If you are a reader who thinks YA is only for teens, you are missing out. Authors like Ruby, MT Anderson and Martine Leavitt are giving us some of this decade’s best writing.
Visit Lena Coakley's website, and follow her at Facebook and Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Worlds of Ink and Shadow.

--Marshal Zeringue