In May, 2008, I wrote to three dozen literary agents to see if any of them would be interested in taking on Birthmarked, then called The Baby Quota. Here’s my initial email correspondence with Kirby Kim, who now represents me.
Dear Mr. Kim:
In a dystopian future, the world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to turn over her quota of infants to the authorities within the wall, until… Continue reading
In the spirit of Frankfurt and the Book Fair this week, here’s a curious tale of translation for covers. When the German translation of Birthmarked popped up on Goodreads, I was delighted to see the cover was a striking and mysterious image of two vivid profiles over a dark background. I went right to an online translator to find that the new title “die stadt der verschwundenen kinder” meant roughly “The City of the Missing/Vanished Children,” and I was like “Oooh, that’s cool.” It all fit my… Continue reading
An English teacher from my old school, SPA, invited me back to talk to seventh graders last Friday. In theory, I was providing a segue into their unit on The Giver, and we did indeed discuss dystopias and do a bit of writing, but also, the visit exposed me to one of those odd time-travel trips. What’s the difference, really, between me talking as an adult guest and me sitting in one of the chairs at age twelve, happy to have a visitor… Continue reading
A summer ago, in Minnesota, I sat in my Aunt Rosemary’s lodge overlooking Island Lake and prepared to draw the map of Wharfton and the Enclave. My son Michael and niece Maura offered to help. I had the places all in my head, visually, but it was harder to set them down than I expected. Logistics intruded. It was important, for instance, that Gaia would be unlikely to stumble upon Mace’s bakery on her first trip to the prison, but… Continue reading
In the Reina Sofia Museum of Madrid, in the white-walled gallery that showcases Picasso’s Guernica, across from the masterpiece is a series of six photos Dora Maar took of the painting while it was in progress. If you have the stubborn tenacity to thwart the crowd, you can stand in front of each photo and examine it closely, then go on to the next to see what Picasso changed and what he kept the same. The horse rises. The eyeball light emerges from… Continue reading
(This is the continuation of the story that began September 17th, one post below.)
The cook was frowning at him now. “How’d you get that?”
“It was an accident,” Leon said. “Come on, Fiona. We should go.”
“No, have a seat,” said the cook. “I could use some help, actually.”
“What with?” Fiona asked.
The cook held up a strange tool with a handle and a curved, dull blade that circled around on itself in a wheel. He passed it to Fiona. “See… Continue reading