Ally Condie's Blog
November 24, 2014
I listened to these songs to get me into the right mood for writing Rio’s story, and they were an essential part of the creative process. I hope you enjoy them too! I’ve tried not to be too spoiler-y in my explanations for each selection, but suffice it to say that after you’ve read ATLANTIA, you’ll understand even more why I picked the music I did for this list. Also, I arrange my playlists in chronological order, so that the songs/their meaning follow the story arc of the book.
1. Half Light II (No Celebration) by Arcade Fire.
I have so many memories of driving the country road at night on my way home, after book events or kid events or running errands, and listening to this song. Almost every time, I’d come right inside and go to my desk to write something because I felt inspired. It’s the general feel of the song that’s so perfect, plus these lines have so much to do with Rio and the sirens: “Some people say, we’ve already lost/But they’re afraid to pay the cost for what we’ve lost.”
2. Runaway by The National.
Everything about the imagery of this beautiful song is right for an underwater city, and for a character who feels that she is in the wrong place. The lyrics say “we swallow the sun” and address “being led to the flood.” The melody is also beautiful and haunting, and I associate with both Bay and Rio when they make certain choices.
3. Radioactive by Imagine Dragons.
I am a sucker for a good arena song when the feel is right, and this one is great. It has the right amount of anger for Rio as she realizes what has happened to her and deals with betrayals both real and perceived. And radioactivity is, quite literally, one of the reasons the city of Atlantia had to be built in the first place. Also, the parts about waking up, the apocalypse, and a revolution are perfect for Rio’s story.
4. Your Bones by Of Monsters and Men.
This song is like reading a piece of epic poetry—so much to it, so much I don’t quite understand, perhaps, but the beauty comes through so strong it makes me weep. I also love the words—stripped bare of everything, as Rio is over the course of the book, all that’s left is the heart.
5. City with No Children by Arcade Fire.
Another late-night listening, perfect inspiration song. The melody feels like a wave you can’t help but ride along. The line about the city being “a garden left for ruin” and people being unable to “trust a millionaire quoting the sermon on the mount” have a lot to do with Rio’s city, with Nevio the Minister, and with the feeling of Atlantia, a place that has lost the ability to change and grow.
6. Midnight City by M83.
This song led me to the score to the movie OBLIVION, which was also done by M83, and I listened to that score constantly while I wrote this book. The line “The city is my church” is especially relevant to ATLANTIA, and I love the sound of this song—every beat, every part of the melody.
7. Ghosts that We Knew by Mumford and Sons.
Every year, I pick a song that describes my experience of that year. This was the song for 2013. It made me weep, it made me smile. It helped me get through my own rough times, and I also could picture Rio (and Maire) listening to the ghosts of Atlantia and finding their own catharsis.
8. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire.
Yes, this playlist is a bit heavy on Arcade Fire. I make no apologies. So many lines in this song–“They heard me singing and they told me to stop”–and “On the surface the city lights shine/They’re calling at me, come and find your kind” fit Rio’s story, especially her journey to power and the way she claims her voice at last.
9. How Can I Keep from Singing by Bruce Springsteen.
There is a very particular scene near the final act of the book where this song fits perfectly. The scene involves many voices, Rio, and Maire, and you’ll know it when you read it. I love Bruce Springsteen, and I love the power of folk music. There is something in it that you cannot get anywhere else.
10. Gravity, by Steven Price. (From the motion picture of the same name.)
I picture this song playing during the final scene of ATLANTIA. It’s gorgeous, empowering, and you can just feel the character emerging from where she’s been to where she will go next.
September 11, 2014
With my lovely publicist Shanta at BEA this June. I like the way her hand looks like it’s reaching RIGHT OUT of the picture…
We’re getting closer and closer! I’ve posted the official tour dates for my ATLANTIA tour here on the Events page. I’m coming to Utah, Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Colorado, and Washington, DC. And I cannot wait to see any and all of you who come.
If you can’t make it to any of the tour stops, you can preorder ATLANTIA from my local independent bookstore, The King’s English. They will have me sign them on October 28th (the day the book releases) and ship them off to you.
Also, I have an Instagram account (realallycondie) and a Pinterest account (http://www.pinterest.com/allycondie/) now. Actually, I’ve had the Pinterest one for a while, I’ve just now made it public.
I think that’s all the news for now. But more info on ATLANTIA coming shortly. I can’t wait for you all to read this book.
April 30, 2014
I have news! BIG NEWS. Earlier this week, Publisher’s Weekly had the exclusive reveal on the cover, release date, and title for my new book. You can find the full article here.
ATLANTIA is coming out on November 4, 2014. It’s the story of Rio Conwy, who has been an absolutely fascinating character to write. She is very strong and very different. It’s a story about sisters, and a little bit of a mystery, and there is also a very wonderful boy, and an underwater city, and a world that is beautiful and crumbling around the edges.
Here are some fun facts about the book (and some answers to questions that I know I’ll be asked):
-The cover designer (Theresa Evangelista) is the same person who designed the covers of the Matched Trilogy. She does beautiful work and I’m so pleased with this image. It’s sumptuous and gorgeous and dark and light and wonderful. I love that the shell looks like the earth does from space, as Theresa mentioned in the PW article. I love the reflected letter “A”s at the ends of the word ATLANTIA. I love the shell itself (and it does have significance in the book).
-I also love the tagline–”HUMAN VOICES WAKE US, AND WE DROWN.” It is a line from a T.S. Eliot poem called The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I love that poem and I’ve always found that line extremely haunting.
-ATLANTIA is NOT ABOUT MERMAIDS. The story does take place underwater, but in a city where humans have gone to live when the air above became too polluted.
-ATLANTIA is a standalone title, which means that it is NOT part of a series. It’s also not related to the Matched series at all.
-This is the same book that we used to call the RIO book, but we couldn’t name it RIO for obvious reasons (the movie, etc.). So we decided on ATLANTIA, which is the name of the city where Rio lives.
And, to tie it all up, this is what my lovely editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel at Dutton/Penguin Young Readers, had to say about ATLANTIA:
“Along with the rest of the world, I’d been anxiously waiting to see how Ally Condie would follow up her blockbuster Matched trilogy … and she has delivered. An underwater world as complex and surprising as the one Cassia must unravel in Matched, and a heroine who must, literally, gain strength and confidence to find her true voice. Ally’s work is poetry, and I am thrilled to have a stand-alone book to share with the world this fall.”
I appreciate each and every one of you lovely readers for your support. Without it, I wouldn’t get to do this job that I love and I wouldn’t have been able to share Rio’s story with you. I am grateful every day for you and for the time you spend reading the books and caring about the characters. I love meeting you when I travel and do book events, and even though I can’t respond due to time constraints, I read and cherish every letter and email. THANK YOU!
December 5, 2013
On Saturday, December 14th, I’ll be part of the Orem Library’s Holiday Author Extravaganza. This is one of my favorite events of the year and I love the Orem Library. Books will be available for sale or you can bring them (but please but something on-site to support the library if you can). Lots of other authors and illustrators will be there. We’ll have an author panel from 10:00-11:00 a.m. and then a signing from 11:00 a.m.-noon. This is my last scheduled signing until the spring, so I’d love to see you there.
And now, my annual holiday book-buying post! This one is fun to write. I’m actually going to keep adding to it for the next week or so, so please come back and see the updates. I love buying books for the holidays. It is my favorite thing. Happy holidays to all of you, and happy reading!
HOLIDAY BOOK-BUYING 2013
First of all, buy yourself a gift and pre-order this book–THE END OR SOMETHING LIKE IT–by Ann Dee Ellis. It won’t be out until spring, but you will be very glad you did. I don’t want to ruin anything for you or say too much, but no one writes like Ann Dee Ellis. Her characters are real and have heart and she has a spare, lovely, true style that is nothing else you will read.
Do you know anyone who loves beautiful art, nature, our National Parks, America? Then ART OF THE NATIONAL PARKS is a perfect gift. “With more than 450 artworks, this glorious, large-format book is a must for anyone who has hiked the trails, watched a sunset, marveled at buffalo herds, or yearned to experience our nation’s mythic and transformative vistas.” Amen. And my mom, a professional studio artist, has pictures in the Zion National Park section.
This one is for history buffs, world travelers, or anyone who wants to know more about cultures and history around the world: A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 100 OBJECTS. I picked it up at the British Museum this spring and loved reading it (and was humbled by how little I knew of the world outside of Western culture). A disclaimer: gory, graphic, difficult things happened in history, so you may not want to hand it to your kids (as I originally thought I would do once I finished it).
October 7, 2013
The view from our weekend drive. How lucky am I to live where I do?
So this post is a bit later than promised–oops! I’ve been getting some of the same questions in my email inbox (although I can no longer respond to email, I do try to read all of it). So I thought I would answer a few of those questions here:
What are you working on now that the MATCHED trilogy is finished?
I posted about this back in April, so click here to read the full account. The short answer is that I signed a two-book contract with Penguin (how I love Penguin and my editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel), and the first book on that contract will be out in Fall 2014. It doesn’t have a title yet but it is written and we are in the revision process. I am SO excited about this book. It is set in the future, in an underwater city. The main character is named Rio. It’s a story about sisters, and has a bit of a murder mystery. And also, a very nice and cute boy, who I imagine looking something like a teenage version of Nathan Adrian (doesn’t he have the kindest eyes)?
There’s also an additional project in the works that I can’t say anything about yet.
And, of course, I have four kids and so that keeps me pretty busy too.
Do you have any movie news/can you help me get a part in the movie?
I don’t have any movie news, but I promise I will post about it if/when I do. As far as getting you a part in the movie, I’m sorry, but I have absolutely no control over that. I likely won’t even know who they’ve cast in the movie until they make the formal announcement.
Will you please write a fourth book in the Matched series? I want to know more about (insert character name here).
I feel like Cassia’s story is complete–I want to leave some of it up to the readers to interpret and imagine. I also feel like Ky and Xander were both where they needed to be at the end of REACHED. Right now, I have no plans to write any more novels in the MATCHED world. But, I would never say never. If a story in that world came to me and I felt compelled to write it, there are directions I could see it going. There are a few people/plotlines that I can imagine exploring someday. But again–there are no plans to do this right now.
September 29, 2013
One of the great things about being an author is that sometimes you have a chance to read books early…and then, if you are super lucky, you get to blurb books that you love. In October (which is TOMORROW, people! how did this happen?) there are two books coming out that I was privileged to blurb and that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone and everyone. I don’t want to say too much about either of them because I am a huge spoiler-phobe, but here are the gorgeous covers and links to more info.
First, on October 1, BLACKOUT by Robison Wells.
BLACKOUT received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and it is fast-paced, full of great tension, and set in a small town in Utah. Is it any surprise I loved this book?
And then, on October 15, ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA by Diana Peterfreund.
A dystopian retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, with a female Percy. This book dazzled me. Such a great idea, such excellent execution.
So if you are looking for something wonderful to read, look no further. Here are two something wonderfuls. Happy reading!
September 16, 2013
Sometimes I can’t think of one big thing to say–like a theme for a post–but I can often think of lots of little things. Like this. So here they are:
1. I haven’t traveled at all in September and October will be nice and quiet as well on the travel front (the home front is, of course, always noisy and crazy). Then, in November, I get to go to Kalamazoo, Michigan to present at their 2013 Youth Literature Seminar, and to Charleston, SC for Yallfest (there may be more travel added later, but that’s it for November for now). If you’re anywhere near Kalamazoo or Charleston, I’d love to see you.
2. I think this idea for a 5K is the best ever. The Orem Library (one of the best in the country) is hosting it. They are giving away books for prizes and there is a one mile kids’ run and you can dress like your favorite character.
3. Comic-Con SLC was amazing. So many people! Such enthusiasm! Salt Lake City did itself proud and I can’t wait to see what Comic Con is like next year.
4. I am writing something new. Newer even than this project, which will be my next, out in Fall 2014. I love writing something new in every season but I think maybe especially in the fall.
5. I found these tiny bowls and they changed my life. You can store things in them, microwave things in them, serve things in them, and they are such a nice little size and you can see right through them. Is this a very writerly thing to post about? Probably not. But anything that makes my life easier as a mom gives me more time to write so maybe that can be the connection.
And that is all for now. I’ll be trying to post more regularly. Next Monday, a few of the FAQ filling my inbox lately…
August 26, 2013
photo taken last week in Boise, ID–Cassia Street!
I had a wonderful time speaking, signing, and meeting with readers in Boise. And I was so pleased to get this picture of Cassia Street (don’t worry, I wasn’t the one driving when I took this). It was an awesome trip.
Since I don’t have a new book coming out this fall, I have less travel/events than I have had the past three years (which is good, since I need to work on the new books). BUT, I am very excited to announce that I’ll be at Comic Con Salt Lake City! Here’s the info:
Here’s the info:
Saturday, September 7th
Salt Lake Comic Con
Salt Lake City, Utah
Deseret Book Booth
I’ll be signing copies of the Matched Trilogy and would love to see you there!
Women in Writing, A Discussion between Young Adult & Middle Grade Writers
Ally Condie, Laura Hickman, Heather Ostler, Lisa Mangum, Rhiannon Paille, Mettie Ivie Harrison, Jenni James
Summer is winding down (kids back in school, days getting cooler) and I’m in denial. I love fall, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t love winter. Winter has my number, especially since I’ve always lived in places with brutal winters (Utah, upstate NY). I hope you are all having lovely ends-of-summer. And I promise, as always, to post any time I have news about the books, etc. Thanks so much for reading!
August 12, 2013
photo taken by me at the Angel Oak this summer
This past week, I haven’t written a word (as far as book-writing goes). This is unusual for me, because I may be slow, but I am steady. I’ve been at a family reunion and getting kids ready for back to school (HOW did that happen so soon?) and tending to their health care needs and clearing out my office and going through paperwork and waiting to hear feedback on projects on submission.
Yes. I said projects, plural. Hopefully I will have news for you soon.
As this week has happened, with no writing and lots of reading and thinking and being with my family, I have felt myself branching. It is the strangest and most interesting thing, that when you are NOT looking for stories or working on stories and just living, you often end up feeling more creative.
It wasn’t a relaxing week, so to speak. I was driving hundreds of miles in a car with four small children, and turning closets inside out, and making dinners and breaking up arguments and feeling scared and anxious about things (not work-related) that are out of my control but not out of my sphere of influence/responsibility, and, and…
But still I have had new ideas, and I’ve felt fresh, new things, and deep, old emotions too. And this is very good for me as a person, and as a creative individual, and those things are not separate, no matter how much easier I sometimes think that would be. But I am very grateful for all of this, the opportunity to be alive and the enormous role that creation plays in my life.
I hope you are all having wonderful last-months-of summer, and that you are able to be with the ones you love and make new things.
August 5, 2013
My five-year-old took this picture last night as we were driving home from visiting family in Park City. “I think it’s a good one,” he said, holding the phone out so I could see the picture.
I told him that it was.
There are fingerprints and tinted glass in between the sunset outside, and the picture is blurry because we’re driving home, and somehow this picture sums up exactly our summer so far. There have been good moments, hard moments. There have been bottles of sunscreen, dinner on the back porch, six weeks of swimming lessons, home run derby played with wiffle balls, peach cobbler, trips to see family, birthday parties, books read on blankets, flip-flops and learning to ride a two-wheeler. Last night, the neighbor girl invited my son over to sit on the grass and draw chalk pictures as the sun set and the crickets began to sing.
I just turned in a draft to my editor, which means that I am taking a couple of weeks’ vacation from writing. I’ll still have kids’ appointments and getting ready for school and all of that real life stuff that being a mom of four involves. But the timing is nice, the way it’s arrived right at the end of summer.
And it feels wonderful to have a version of this story on paper. I think it’s a good one. But even if it’s not, it was a good one for me to write.