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I am delighted

June 3, 2010

Karen Healey at Books of Wonder

Karen Healey’s reading and book signing at Books of Wonder made me every bit as happy as I was hoping. And then some. It is so wonderful to read and love a book, and then meet the author, and have her be gracious and funny and kind, both to the audience as a whole, and then in a one-on-one chat. And tremendously fun, I admit, to have written a review that the author liked reading too!

So far I’ve been really really lucky and had this happen twice. Lauren Willig, and now Karen Healey. I went to the reading at Books of Wonder, joking with myself about how I wasn’t going to turn into a complete squealing fangirl over Guardian of the Dead. Which I read, reviewed, and utterly loved. And I got to chat with Karen Healey in person. We talked about Tam Lin, and comics, and Joss Whedon, and race and women in fiction, and cupcakes. Grinning yes, but I managed to keep my voice to a reasonably not shrieking-with-glee pitch. Hurrah! And the best part? Author interview coming soon!

Highlights from the reading itself: Karen Healey has one of the best answers to “where do you get your ideas?” Instead of saying “from my own head” she concocts fabulous and goofy tall tales about zombies, cupcakes, near-death-experiences while scuba diving. I love it.
Karen Healey is doing her dissertation about superhero comics, the way superhero stories evolve over time, and the way fans react and extract meaning from the narrative.

Interesting to think about: Healey talked about engaging the conversation about body image and race in YA fiction- about wanting her novel to engage with New Zealand’s cultural diversity, to specify race in a way YA fiction doesn’t do that often. Didn’t think about how whitewashed it can get… And the conversation about Ellie, the protagonist of Guardian of the Dead, who is an overweight girl who does martial arts. Healey’s discussion at the signing made cogent, excellent points- letting Ellie be reasonably comfortable in her own skin, in owning her own sexuality and her own capable (sometimes completely kickass) physicality… in a way YA novels don’t usually handle girls’ body image.
Also- something I love, talking about the role of ordinary-people in a fantasy novel’s magical reality. (I was always the one wondering about the other crew members on Star Trek or Babylon 5. One of the things I loved about Guardian of the Dead is that there was Iris, a very grounded and practical character, whose solutions for plot problems were logistical but not magical.

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