Mary G. Thompson's Blog

August 3, 2014

Hello friends, relatives, and book lovers! I’m so excited that my new book Evil Fairies Love Hair will be out in the world tomorrow, Tuesday, August 5, 2014. Did you ever want to learn all about how to grow magical creatures and use the fantastic power of hair? Now’s your chance!


From the back flap:


What if you could get your fondest wish? You could be gorgeous, brilliant, a star athlete, or a great singer, or you could put a hex on your worst enemy. And all you have to do is raise a flock of two-inch-tall fairies. Easy, right?


Wrong.


Ali learns this the hard way when her flock starter fairies get to work. Raising them means feeding them, and what they eat is hair. Lots and lots of human hair.


Where to get the hair is Ali’s first challenge. What about the beauty salon? Easy, right? . . .


Before long, Ali’s friends, classmates, teachers, sister, and parents are entangled with the evil fairies, who have their own grandiose and sinister agenda. It’s up to Ali to overcome these magical troublemakers and set things right.


Now for the release week events! First of all, if you are in New York, please come to the Evil Fairies Love Hair release party!



When: Tuesday August 5, 2014, 6:00-8:00 pm.
Where: Books of Wonder, 18 W 18th St., New York, NY
Why: There will be wine, snacks, and even gummy bears! Also, readers’ theater and silliness!

Next, please come to this month’s Teen Author Reading Night!



When: Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 6:00-7:30 pm.
Where: New York Public Library, Jefferson Market Branch, corner of 10th St. and 6th Ave.
Why: It’s not just me! You’ll be able to hear these other amazing authors: Patty Blount, E. Lockhart, Elisa Ludwig, Dianna Renn, Lindsay Ribar, and Amy Spalding!

Finally, I’ll be virtually appearing all over the interwebs in the next couple weeks! Come visit these sites on the official Evil Fairies Love Hair blog tour!



Wednesday 8-6-14: The Enchanted Inkpot
Monday 8-11-14: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Tuesday 8-12-14: The Book Monsters
Wednesday 8-13-14: The Children’s Book Review
Thursday 8-14-14: Cracking the Cover
Friday 8-15-14: Read Now, Sleep Later
Saturday 8-16-14: Beauty and the Bookshelf
Monday 8-18-14: Word Spelunking
Tuesday 8-19-14: Flashlight Reader
Wednesday 8-20-14: The Compulsive Reader
Thursday 8-21-14: The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Friday 8-22-14: Small Review
Monday 8-25-14: The Hiding Spot

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at the release party or in the virtual world!

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Published on August 03, 2014 23:00 • 35 views

April 16, 2014

Have you ever wondered what’s so great about children’s fantasy? Have you ever asked, Why bother writing or reading about stuff that isn’t real? Have you ever had some strange imagination-less person ask you one of these questions? L. Frank Baum gave us the answer in his introduction to the 1903 edition of The Magical Monarch of Mo. No better words were ever said.


“This book has been written for children. I have no shame in acknowledging that I, who wrote it, am also a child; for since I can remember my eyes have always grown big at tales of the marvelous, and my heart is still accustomed to go pit-a-pat when I read of impossible adventures. It is the nature of children to scorn realities, which crowd into their lives all too quickly with advancing years. Childhood is the time for fables, for dreams, for joy.


“These stories are not true; they could not be true and be so marvelous. No one is expected to believe them; they were meant to excite laughter and to gladden the heart.


“Perhaps some of these big, grown-up people will poke fun at us—at you for reading these nonsense tales of the Magical Monarch, and at me for writing them. Never mind. Many of the big folk are still children—even as you and I. We can not measure a child by a standard of size or age. The big folk who are children will be our comrades; the others we need not consider at all, for they are self-exiled from our domain.”


L. Frank Baum. June 1903.

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Published on April 16, 2014 20:05 • 87 views

March 20, 2014

Today I got a chance to do one of my favorite author activities—a school visit! Today was the best because as part of the Teen Author Festival, I was paired with four other awesome authors. All of our books were very different from each other, and it was a great to have such a cool brew. The most awesome part, of course, was the kids of MS HS 223, The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, in Bronx, NY. They were a fantastic audience, and I enjoyed speaking with folks about everything from how the imagination works to what it’s like being in the Navy. There were some great writers in the group, too, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with!


I’d like to thank our host school, Literacy Coach Heather Burns, and my fellow authors Caela Carter, Brendan Kiely, Leanna Renee Hieber, and Coe Booth. It’s always an honor to be on a panel with any of these great folks.


The Teen Author Festival continues this week with a ton of fascinating readings and panels. Check out the events here!

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Published on March 20, 2014 15:31 • 22 views

March 1, 2014

The Drowned ForestWhat book could bring me out of my lunatic-busy-too-overwhelmed-to-blog hole and compel me to write something? That would be The Drowned Forest by Kristopher Reisz (Flux 2014). I became interested in the book because of its creepy supernatural description, but I was a little unsure if I would like it because I had read that there was a lot of religion in the book. It’s no secret that I’m not religious, and I’ve found other books with religious characters to be frustrating, to say the least. I often have trouble understanding these characters’ motivations. Why do they believe in their particular brand of the supernatural? Why don’t they question more? Why do they accept some parts of their religion and not others? Because I have these questions, I usually find myself jumping out of the story when a character expresses too much religious fervor.


The genius of The Drowned Forest is that it didn’t bring up these questions for me. Once I was plunked down in Jane’s head on the first page, I simply accepted her worldview. I think this happened because Reisz did such a good job with Jane’s voice that I was immediately drawn in, and there was no time to wonder if Jane’s viewpoint made any sense. In Jane’s mind, God was real and had the capability to intervene in our daily lives, and so I accepted it, just like I later accepted that the spirit of Jane’s dead friend, Holly, was still around and causing trouble. In Reisz’s world, magic and God were intertwined—God was the source of the spirit world and the answer to its problems. I loved the way this played out in the story, as Jane’s religion was integrated with the supernatural aspect that so often goes unconnected from any larger force. It really does make sense that if there is one supernatural entity, such as a ghost, that there are others, such as God.


Another wonderful thing about the character of Jane is that although she maintains her fervent belief in God, she is open to the possibility that she was wrong about people. What seems at first like a rigid belief system actually is a framework for her understanding of the world within which she can grow and change. Jane’s relationships with the nonreligious characters in the book are well drawn and lead her to the personal understanding she needs to help her friend, Holly.


Not only did The Drowned Forest portray a religious character that I found myself fully understanding, but it also presented a spirit story in a way that was so much more than the typical evil-ghost conceit. Throughout the book, Jane’s motivation is always to help Holly. Even though one might fear the ghost, one never forgets the person she used to be. I highly recommend this beautifully written book.

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Published on March 01, 2014 18:11 • 25 views

October 20, 2013

This Saturday I have the honor of being on a panel at Books of Wonder entitled “Fantastic Middle Grade Reads” with three fabulous authors! Here are the great books you’ll get to hear about in addition to my own Escape from the Pipe Men!


Lost in Babylon by Peter Lerangis


Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody


Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bagicalupi


I don’t know about the other authors, but you can bet that when I do my reading, there will be voices. Well, one voice for sure. Because aliens don’t talk like normal people. If they did, the universe would be kind of a boring an unhumorous place. Never fear! With not only aliens but also zombies, magic, and legend, this event is sure to be full of adventure, humor, and fantasy.


Saturday, October 26, 2013, from 1:00–3:00 at Books of Wonder, 18 W 18th St. in NYC. I hope to see you all there!

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Published on October 20, 2013 23:00 • 50 views

October 13, 2013

I meant to do this post as a cover reveal. I first saw the cover back in July, and I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone! But I also wanted to share some preorder links in case, you know, people wanted to actually buy it rather than just look at it. (Trust me, you want to!!) For some reason, Amazon kept showing the hardcover version as unavailable, so I kept waiting and waiting … well, you can finally preorder it from Amazon here! Or, if you prefer, you can order it from your local indie bookstore. Personally, I love Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. When I was in the Navy stationed in Japan, I got all of my books from either Amazon or Powells, and together, these two online stores literally saved my life. I mean, figuratively.


Anyway, Evil Fairies Love Hair is about a girl who gets a chance to grow a flock of fairies in exchange for a wish. Except, it’s not as easy to grow fairies as you might think … From the back cover:


You could be gorgeous, brilliant, a star athlete, or a great singer, or you could put a hex on your worst enemy. All you have to do is raise a flock of two-inch-tall fairies. Easy, Right?


Wrong.


Ali learns this the hard way when her flock-starter fairies get to work. Raising them means feeding them, and what they eat is hair. Lots and lots of human hair.


Where to get the hair is Ali’s first challenge. What about the beauty salon? Easy, right? …


Before long, Ali’s friends, classmates, teachers, sister, and parents are entangled with the evil fairies, who have their own grandiose and sinister agenda. It’s up to Ali to overcome these magical troublemakers and set things right.


Here ends my shameless plea: Preorder the book and tell all your friends! It’s kind of like a flock of fairies: pass them on and you never know exactly what kind of magic will happen :) .

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Published on October 13, 2013 23:00 • 55 views

September 3, 2013

Wow, I haven’t written anything on the blog for a long time! I even managed not to write anything here plugging the release of my new book, Escape from the Pipe Men! I don’t know what happened to me over the summer except that it seems like it rushed by in a blur. I did a lot of work on a new YA fantasy that I’m really excited about, looked over the proofs for 2014 book, Evil Fairies Love Hair, I went to ALA in Chicago, and I managed to get out of the city right when the big heat wave was going on. So far I’ve barely been bothered by the fact that I have no air conditioning, and in New York City, that’s some luck! So it was a pretty good summer.


Anyway, hey, I have a new book out! Escape from the Pipe Men! is a rip-roaring sci-fi adventure about two kids who grew up in an alien zoo and go on an adventure across the universe. There are aliens and portals and spaceships and double crosses and unexpected allies and everything else you could want in a sci-fi novel. Not that I’m biased. Okay, I may be a little biased. But if you don’t believe me, come to one of my upcoming readings and find out for yourself!



When: Saturday, September 28 at 4:00 p.m.
Where: Oblong Books and Music, 64 Montgomery St. Ste. 6, Rhinebeck, NY
What: I’ll be reading with Kate Messner, Valerie Martin, and Amy Herrick as part of the League of Extraordinary Readers Series!

When: Sunday, September 29 at 3:00 p.m.
Where: The Powerhouse Arena (DUMBO), 37 Main St., Brooklyn, NY
What: I’ll be reading AND we’ll be doing alien-related crafts! ALIEN-RELATED CRAFTS!

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for the big cover reveal of my next book, Evil Fairies Love Hair! The folks at Clarion have done it again and I can’t wait to share it with you!

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Published on September 03, 2013 21:35 • 56 views

January 28, 2013

Originally published on Teen Writers Bloc.


Hello Teen Writers Block readers! Today I want to share with you a couple of great middle grade books I read this month.


First, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Gustav Gloom and the People Taker by Adam-Troy Castro. It’s the first in a planned series, but never fear, it stands alone as a great read. Although Gustav Gloom is the title character, the real star of the book is Fernie, a plucky, scary-story loving ten-year-old who moves in across the street from Gustav Gloom’s weird, cloud-enshrouded house. She’s joined by her equally cool twelve-year-old sister and her hilariously cautious father. I couldn’t stop laughing at all the funny ways Dad had supposedly tried to keep the girls safe from imagined dangers. After noticing her cat’s shadow run off into the mysterious Gloom house, leaving the cat behind, Fernie is quickly moved to follow, and the adventure begins. The most amazing thing about this book is that it’s a fantastic adventure story all set inside a single house. This works perfectly because the house is much bigger inside than out and filled will all sorts of wonders and dangers. Gustav, the boy who lives among the weirdness, is an interesting, sympathetic character. Most importantly, there are plenty of laughs thrown in along the way. I’m so glad I came across this book and I highly recommend it!


Second, I finally got around to reading my copy of The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill. Wow, is this book right up my alley! It has a slow-building mystery, ominous and subtle magic, and a cast of unique but relatable characters. I recommend skipping the publisher’s book description, because it really does a terrible job of reflecting the book’s coolness. In the beginning, Jack’s mother drops him off at his aunt and uncle’s house to spend some time while his parents work out their divorce. But it quickly becomes apparent that everything is not right. Jack’s mother seems to have a hard time remembering him. He tries calling both parents, but his calls never go through. His letters mysteriously erase themselves. There are two weirdly sentient and protective cats and a book that talks about magic that couldn’t possibly be true, could it? Then there are the twins down the street, the silent and scarred Frankie with a mysterious past and his plucky sister Wendy, who will do anything to protect him. The writing is fantastic and the artfully layered story comes together in a unique way. This is for fantasy fans who are looking for something deeper than a wham-bang action extravaganza, and I loved it!


Well, it looks like I got lucky with my picks this month. How’d you do?


Cover Images: Gustav Gloom—Penguin, The Mostly True Story of Jack—Little, Brown

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Published on January 28, 2013 11:10 • 87 views

January 21, 2013

Originally published on Teen Writers Bloc.


I just got back from my second sci-fi/fantasy convention ever, and it was a total blast! For those of you who don’t know, there’s this whole circuit of conventions for science fiction and fantasy writers and fans. Some are mainly for writers and other industry people to network and some have a huge fan component with costumes and games and general geekdom. ConFusion, held in Detroit, MI, was a great mix of writing talk and fun. There were panels on all sorts of topics related to sci-fi and fantasy writing, a costume contest, and even some science lectures.


Friday night I mainly spent at the dessert reception because, hey, if there’s a free dessert reception, why would I do anything else? I also caught the end of a strangely hostile panel in which some lady was basically arguing that fans who aren’t “authentic” (read “old and bitter”) should go home, and then award winning fantasy author Mary Robinette Kowal satisfied the audience by handing the woman’s ass to her on a stick. Fortunately I never saw the crazy woman again and that panel wasn’t representative!


Saturday I got up at the insanely early hour of 8:15 a.m. so I could make my 10:00 a.m. panel. This was my first time sitting on panels, and I’m happy to report that I made it through four of them without falling all over myself or saying anything stupid. At least, if I said something stupid, no one felt compelled to call me on it. I even got to moderate a panel, which was a lot of fun. The con organizers called it “The Curse of the YA Heroine,” and the premise was supposed to be that female protagonists are too often defined by their relationships to men. Whoever wrote the program made the mistake of suggesting that not only was this true, but it was the result of “lazy storytelling.” Well, all the other panel members (Aimee CarterSarah ZettelSusan Dennard, and Courtney Moulton) had written strong female protagonists, and we had a great discussion about how strong YA women really are, among other interesting topics. During the day I also had time to hang out in the game room, where some cool people taught Wesley Chu and me how to play Munchkin. I was a little worried that I’d get thrown out for not being geeky enough (let’s face it, I’m just a nerd), but instead of throwing me out, they gave me twizzlers, so yay!


Add in a couple interesting science lectures on Sunday plus the bar-con aspect, where I met lots of great people, and the weekend was a success! Huge thanks to Wesley Chu for convincing me to go and Patrick Tomlinson for putting up with me as a roommate. Check out Wes’s forthcoming sci-fi novel The Lives of Tao (see, I plugged it, are you happy?) and Patrick’s forthcoming A Wererat’s Tale: The Collar of Perdition (pay no attention to the cover, ladies).

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Published on January 21, 2013 23:02 • 59 views

December 31, 2012

Originally published on Teen Writers Bloc.


Hello everyone, it’s that time again, the time when we take the arbitrary ending of the year on the calendar and make a big deal out of it. But hey, there’s no better excuse for a “best of” list! So today, I want to share with you my favorite 2012 YA books. I read lots of other books this year (more on that soon), but these are my favorite books that were published in 2012. Of course, this is in no way scientific, because I didn’t read anywhere near all the books published in 2012. I have to get work done sometime. But having said that, without further ado … let’s start with dragons! I read two fantastic books involving dragons this year! The first was Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey, the sequel/companion to the fantastic Dragon’s Keep (2007). In Dragon’s Keep, our heroine Princess Rosalind, a Pendragon, was born with a dragon’s claw, which she had to keep hidden on pain of death. Much action, romance (but not too much romance), and frolicking with dragons ensued. In Dragonswood, Carey returns to the same world two generations later. The heroine is a peasant who flees an accusation of witchcraft and finds romance and a connection to both dragons and fey. The historical world of Wilde Island is just as well realized as in the original, and the author has expanded on the world she created. Both books are must reads!


And then, later in the year, we got SeraphinaSeraphina is even more about dragons. I loved the way Rachel Hartman created a realistic historical, yet pleasingly modern world in which science plays as much a part as magic. Like the heroine in Dragon’s Keep, Seraphina has a secret connection to dragons. In this world, dragons can fold themselves into human shape and mate with humans. To be frank, I had a huge problem with that premise because … physics! Mass! Biology! But I took a deep breath and got over it and allowed myself to get lost in the story. The world Hartman created is extremely well imagined and intricate, but the story never gets bogged down. Even though I’ve seen dragons before, the world felt completely new and fresh. Also, it’s the first book in a trilogy, but it has a satisfying ending that completely wraps up the plot. I’ve become extremely annoyed with the current trend of ending books in mid story, and I was super happy to see that Seraphina did it’s job and finished. All in all, a fantastic book!


Leaving dragons for the time being, the next book on my list is Every Day, by our New School professor David Levithan. In Every Day, our hero “A” jumps from body to body every night at midnight. Why? I never stopped to wonder, which is a credit to the fantastic writing. Every day our hero takes over a new person’s life, always the same age as A, which is sixteen. A has no intrinsic gender or sexual orientation, but after a lifetime of experiencing people’s lives in day-long snippets, he/she/it suddenly falls in love with a girl. Yes, suddenly. It’s YA insta-love, and like with giant reptilian dragons suddenly turning into tiny mammals, I just had to get over it. Once you accept the love, you get to experience all the interesting complications. How do you develop a real relationship with someone if you’re a different person and in a different place every day? This book really got me thinking “what if?” Levithan, unsurprisingly considering his wild optimism in Boy Meets Boy, chooses to see A’s predicament as bringing out the best in A’s human nature. A’s experiences in the bodies of different people make him thoughtful and understanding. I’m not so sure I would behave as well as A if I jumped into other people’s bodies. I think I might party hard and screw the consequences. But not A! He takes good care of the people he borrows. Until he falls in love, and his careful system threatens to fall apart. Will A get the girl? You’ll want to read this and find out!


And finally, my absolute favorite book of the year is The Theory of Everything by J.J. Johnson. I already reviewed the book here, so I won’t go into great detail again. Let me just say that I tend to read more fantasy than realistic fiction, so it’s a big deal that a realistic book ended up on the top of my list. I haven’t read a book with a better mix of sadness and humor. On its surface it’s a book about a girl dealing with the death of her best friend, but Johnson tells the story in such a way that it becomes about what it means to be a person dealing with life’s stuff. The main character’s voice is absolutely perfect.


Well, that’s my list! What were your favorite 2012 books? Is there anything that I absolutely must read?

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Published on December 31, 2012 07:36 • 54 views