Friday, May 25, 2012

In which I get nostalgic about Star Wars

Thirty-five years ago today, "Star Wars: Episode IV" opened in theaters.

I don’t remember the first time I saw "Episode IV," though my parents did take me to see it in the theater. I was only two or three so the memory didn’t stick. But one of my clearest childhood memories was seeing "Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back." Dad said we were going into Boston to see it. That was exciting in and of itself. Most movies, we saw at the theater at the mall. We only went into Boston for the important ones. The theater had long, red velvet drapes, and I remember thinking it was so fancy. And when the movie started and the drapes opened, I was awed. The music, the characters, the world—all of it—was so epic. I didn’t know how to read yet, so as the backstory scrolled on the screen my dad whispered the words into my ear. I barely understood them. Rebel forces? Imperial Starfleet? All I knew was that this was AWESOME. And to this day I can point to the original Star Wars trilogy as a huge influence on my creative life.

Character:
Let’s talk Princess Leia. Here was a princess…a PRINCESS…who was also a rebel. She was tough and smart. She took charge when she needed to. She was sarcastic and always ready with a funny comeback. She had long brown hair like me. I WANTED TO BE HER SO BAD.

Villains:
Darth Vader, man. DARTH VADER. My favorite villain of all time. He was fascinating. Why the suit? Why the breathing? Why is he so angry? And, people can say what they want about the new trilogy, but—Jar Jar aside—I enjoy those movies, too. They’re necessary because they show Anakin’s full story. His ultimate redemption in "Episode VI" is more meaningful after watching his descent into the dark side.

Fandom:
"Star Wars" was also my first experience with fandom. I collected all the figurines and played "Star Wars" constantly—by myself, with kids in the neighborhood, etc. My dad bought "Episode IV" on 8mm, and I watched it over and over on a cheap pull-down screen in my musty basement. I dressed as Princess Leia for Halloween. Many years later, all grown up, buzz about "Episode I" started to hit. I went to the theater to see a movie I didn’t care about just so I could watch "Episode I's" preview on the big screen. When the music cued up, the theater exploded with cheers. And when I saw that line "Every saga has a beginning...," tears filled my eyes. TEARS. I saw all three movies on opening night. Even "Attack of the Clones," when I was about to give birth in two weeks. Uncomfortable and enormous, I sat on the ground waiting in line and needed two people to help me up. I theorized with friends over who is the true Chosen One: Anakin or Luke. (My answer: Anakin. I will argue to the death over this.)

Generations & Family:
Though family, secrets, identity are all big themes in the films, here I’m talking about real families. One of my happiest moments in life was introducing "Star Wars" to my son at age five. (Original trilogy first, of course.) And all of a sudden I found myself playing with "Star Wars" figurines, having light saber battles in the yard, all these same things I did at that age. I didn't grow up with the cool things his generation has—Xbox, Internet, cell phones, etc. But here—"Star Wars"—this was something that hadn’t changed. It was something our childhoods actually had in common. A passed down, shared experience.

I only hope my grandchild in 2040 is a fan, too.

Happy Birthday, Star Wars.
May the force be with you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reveal: THE DEAD AND BURIED

It's time! It's time! *dances* I can finally share all the details about my next YA release. It's a standalone. It's coming out in January 2013 from Scholastic/Point. And I love the cover so much that I screamed and clapped when I saw it.

Presenting...

...

...

THE DEAD AND BURIED

(clicky clicky to make bigger)

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school -- until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

"Deliciously spooky and ridiculously fun, THE DEAD AND BURIED reminded me why Kim Harrington is one of my favorite authors." – Rachel Hawkins, NYT Bestselling Author of Hex Hall

"A perfect blend of mystery, horror and romance. THE DEAD AND BURIED both terrifies and seduces. I gasped at the scary parts and cried buckets at the end - I loved it!" – Sophie Jordan, NYT Bestselling Author of Firelight

"Look out Mary Downing Hahn. I've not been this spooked since Wait Till Helen Comes. Kim Harrington skillfully blends the uncertainty of moving to a new town and figuring out how to fit in with dead on humor, sweet romance, and spooky spectres. THE DEAD AND BURIED is a perfect, classical ghost story with a decidedly modern feel. I adored it." – Myra McEntire, Hourglass and Timepiece

"THE DEAD AND BURIED is a clever, fast-paced thriller that grips from first page to last. Jade Kelley is a formidable heroine who attacks problems with intelligence and sheer force of will. The tangible paranormal menace, tangle of clues and suspects, and delicious undercurrent of romantic tension all work to make this novel impossible to put down." – Sonia Gensler, The Revenant

“Kim Harrington has crafted a deliciously eerie mystery that kept me guessing from the first line to the last.” – Leigh Fallon, Carrier of the Mark



I AM SO EXCITED! I had a lot of fun writing this book. And I love the cover LIKE WHOA. It's spooky and mysterious. It says, THIS IS A HAUNTED HOUSE BOOK, YO. No confusion. And it's also one of those covers that ties in very well with the book. When you read it, you'll understand why.
 
So what do you think? Let me know in the comments!
 
You can add The Dead And Buried to your Goodreads shelf here.

Contest is closed. Winners: Lena, bookittyblog, Jennifer @ Bawdy

And to celebrate, I'm doing a giveaway! Spread the cover far and wide and you could win a signed book from me–Clarity, Perception, Sleuth or Dare #1, Sleuth or Dare #2, or the French Clarity. Whichever one you want! Three winners! Anywhere in the world.

All you have to do to enter is post a comment below. However, you can get additional entries for:

+1 tweeting this: RT @Kim_Harrington THE DEAD AND BURIED Reveal & Giveaway! http://bit.ly/LqirTJ Please RT!
+1 adding The Dead And Buried to your Goodreads shelf.
+1 sharing a link to this blog post on Facebook (or you can just hit the share button at the bottom of this post).
+1 sharing the cover on Tumblr
+8 featuring The Dead And Buried on your blog (Waiting on Wednesday or something like that)

Please let me know everything you did in your comment so I’ll know how many points to assign to you!

The last day to enter is Tuesday, 6/5/12. I’ll go through all the entries, use Random.org, and announce the winners here on Wednesday, 6/6/12. Thanks!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Why I Wrote Sleuth or Dare

Well, it’s not why I wrote the series. I write because when I don’t my brain gets itchy, but that’s a whole other post. I’m specifically talking about why I created the characters of Norah and Darcy. And that’s kind of personal.

When I set out to write Sleuth or Dare, my middle grade mystery series, I thought about myself at age 10 and what kind of book I would’ve wanted to read. Growing up, I was a voracious reader and loved anything suspenseful or spooky. But I was also very interested in math and science. To be blunt, I was a nerd. And, despite the many books I read, it was hard for me to find characters that reminded me of myself.

Let's get to know ten-year-old Kim, using my old copy of My Book About Me by Dr. Seuss that my parents kept all these years.
My penmanship wasn't spectacular, but I practiced!

Ah, irony. It's not that I didn't like writing. I didn't like writing in school. They wanted me to write a theme about how I spent my summer vacation, and I wanted to make up stories about monsters and psycho killers. But, yes, I loved math.

I was also, apparently, a liar. I had not traveled 100,000,000,000 miles by plane. But lying came in handy with the whole writing thing. 

So that's who I was. Now that I’m a grown-up and a parent, I’m very sensitive to gender stereotypes. I think everyone has a few THINGS that make their heads EXPLODE. For me, it’s the message that math and science are for boys. Like the “I’m too pretty to do homework” T-shirt debacle or the doll who complained “Math class is tough” when her string was pulled. This is my head when I see these things:
Photo credit: Mr. Masterson

So when creating the heroines of my Sleuth or Dare books, I knew right away who they would be.

My main characters, Norah and Darcy, are nerds and proud of it. They excel in math and science. They have their own interests and hobbies that they unapologetically geek out over. Norah’s biggest aspiration isn’t to become one of the popular girls. It’s to be an astronomer. In her spare time, she stargazes through her telescope and checks her favorite astronomy blog. And Darcy is a tech guru and spy gadget lover. They work together to solve mysteries for their detective agency, Partners in Crime.

When people ask me what message I want kids to get from my books, I like to say that I write only to entertain. But, if I’m honest, I’m also writing for myself. For that ten-year-old nerd who had trouble finding herself in a book. If kids, especially girls, take anything away from Sleuth or Dare, I want it to be that they are awesome. They can accomplish anything they set their minds to. And that nerds…are heroes.
Ten-year-old Kim with her glittery purple sweater, purple corduroys, and purple glasses says HI!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Sleuth or Dare #1: Partners in Crime Releases Today!

Sleuth or Dare #1: Partners in Crime is officially out in bookstores today! *throws confetti*
IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Whodunit?

When best friends Darcy and Norah have to create a fake business for a school assignment, they come up with a great idea: a detective agency! Darcy loves mysteries, and Norah likes helping people, so it's a perfect fit.

But then their pretend agency gets a real case. Someone is missing, and it's up to Darcy and Norah to take on the search. Unfortunately, there's someone else out there who doesn't want the two detectives stirring up any trouble....

With the help of hidden clues, spy gadgets, and trusted friends, can Darcy and Norah crack the case in time?

This book is the first in a series of three. Sleuth or Dare #2: Sleepover Stakeout comes out 6/1/12 and Sleuth or Dare #3: Framed & Dangerous releases on 7/1/12. These are middle grade books for ages 8-12. They have mystery, suspense, humor, and friendship drama, and I love them LIKE WHOA. More details on why they're so close to my heart to come in a separate post.

But right now, to celebrate #1 being released into the wild, I'm giving away TWO signed finished copies. Enter below and thanks so much for passing on the word about my new series!