Profanity: the Gateway to Evil in YA Lit?

I’m all for profanity in books when it suits the characters and the situation.  Most of the teens I know employ a range of swear words and use them flexibly for humor, sarcasm, and rage in real life, so when I encounter teens in books who use obscenities, it doesn’t faze me much.  It seems real.

So why don’t I use obscenities in the Birthmarked trilogy, and isn’t it inconsistent to be prudish about language when I’m writing about edgy concepts, like childbirth, hanging pregnant women, torture, murder,… Continue reading

Sweet Deal

We are a Kindle family.

For a limited time, the e-book of Birthmarked is available for $2.99 on Amazon.  I don’t think I can take credit for this idea, but I am all for it.  It’s almost as good as going to the library to take it out for free!  
Do I have a Kindle?  I do.  
Do I prefer to read paper books?  I do. Except when I’m traveling, or when it’s the middle of the night and I need a book now.

Birthmarked Is Out in Paperback

(These remarks are cross-posted on the MacKids site.)

The moment of Birthmarked’s paperback release gives me a portal into a little time travel.  It invites me to leap forward because, for any readers who are about to discover Gaia’s story, the paperback is now the real thing.  This is the gritty version you’ll read at the beach or squish at the bottom of your backpack, while the hardcover will shortly become a quaint artifact from an earlier time, a sturdy tome you might find on your… Continue reading

The Missing, the Lost, and the Stolen

Now and then, when I’m taking a quick break from writing, I go to, the free website that catalogues books in libraries worldwide, to see if anybody’s reading my book.  Birthmarked is listed in 720 libraries.  That seems like a lot to me.  For a frame of reference, Harry Potter I (1998) is in 5,021 libraries, and Printz-winning Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker (2010) is in 1625. NY Public Library, Birthmarked

One amusing thing about the site is that it organizes the libraries by distance… Continue reading

Cover Reveal: Prized (Birthmarked #2)

Take a look!

Here’s the cover of Prized, the sequel to Birthmarked, which is due out November 8, 2011.  April Ward at Macmillan worked with Tim Green of faceout studio on the design, which I think is fantastic.  If it seems like a departure from the first book in the series, take a look at what has been done for the paperback of Birthmarked, due out in October.

Pretty sweet, huh?

Behind the Scenes: A Note on the French Translation

My daughter and I met Hélène Bury, the French translator of Birthmarked, in front of the Hôtel de Ville in Rennes at 10:00 Saturday morning and instantly bonded.  Hélène is funny, smiley, and genuinely nice, and what’s more, she and I have certain things in common that sealed our friendship: we both prefer hot chocolate to coffee and adore Colin Firth.

C. O'Brien and H. Bury, in Rennes

I’m particularly grateful that Hélène was chosen to translate my novel.  In the first place, she has lived in… Continue reading