Daily Archives: May 13, 2013

Dear Los Angeles: My Tour Officially Starts in You Tomorrow, 7:30, Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach!

Yes, Los Angeles, the major metropolitan area of my youth, where I was raised on In-N-Out Double-Doubles and Thrifty ice cream scoops, listened to KROQ and yearned for checkerboard Vans. You are the perfect place to begin my tour. And so I shall, at the Redondo Beach branch of Mysterious Galaxy, tomorrow, May 14. The festivities kick of at 7:30 (which will give you enough time to trek from wherever it is you are to the store, because LA traffic remains an enduring joy, does it not) and of course I will be reading, doing a Q&A and signing the books you care to bring (although if you buy The Human Division at Mysterious Galaxy, that would be best. Support the stores that support me, and all that). Once again, the rumor is that there will be cake! There was cake at the last event, so I think this is a positive trend.

One thing to be aware of is that this is a “numbered event,” which as I understand it means that you’ll be given numbers to signal where you are in the signing queue. Or something. The details will be on at that link above. Don’t worry about the numbers. You can totally show up. I totally want you to show up. Please please please please please show up. Yes, I still have that anxiety that I will do a signing and nobody will come, and I will just sit at a table, increasingly fake smile on my face, while the customers who are in the store do everything they can to avoid eye contact with me. It’s the author equivalent of the that dream where you come in late to that final test in high school, have no pencils and somehow skipped wearing your pants.

I assure you I will be wearing pants tomorrow. Promise.

So: The Human Division Tour kickoff, tomorrow, May 14, 7:30 Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, Redondo Beach. See you there!

 

The Big Idea: Chelsea Pitcher

A bad thing happens, and we want justice for it. How far would we go for that justice? And what happens if in the pursuit of justice, we are tempted to act injudiciously? It’s the question that confronts author Chelsea Pitcher in her novel The S-Word.

CHELSEA PITCHER:

I’m a pretty pacifistic person. I don’t shoot guns or get turned on by knives. I’ve never even been in a physical fight (outside of sibling roughhousing). But once in a while, I dream of being a vigilante.

Vigilante-me sits atop a darkened high-rise and looks down at the city below. She scours the alleys for murderers and rapists, fingers twitching at the thought of revenge. She doesn’t wear skin-tight leather or a cape, but she does have a penchant for black, and there are probably boots involved. She makes the world a better place, picking up the justice system’s slack.

She’s a heroine.

It’s a nice thought, isn’t it? Deep down, I think we all have vigilante versions of ourselves hovering just beneath the surface of our skin. We see injustice in the world, we feel horrified, and we don’t know what to do to make things right. But the hero-inside knows, and she is ever vigilant, waiting for the right moment to break free and save the day.

I started writing “The S-Word” with this real-world vigilante in mind. Seventeen-year-old Angie is strong, determined, and wicked smart, but she isn’t a masked avenger bringing villains to justice in the dark. She’s a high school student living in a world where bullying is commonplace and suicide is seen as a viable escape. When her best friend, Lizzie, is bullied by the entire school and takes her own life, Angie stops playing the bystander and starts taking action.

That inner vigilante comes out.

After that, everything should be simple, right? The villains are caught, and the hero lives, if not happily, at least contentedly ever after. But trying to pinpoint villains in a society where everyone contributed, through action and passivity, to a teenage girl’s undoing, was harder than I anticipated. Where, even, to begin?

What followed were a series of interrogations, where both Angie and I attempted to uncover the events leading up to Lizzie’s demise. Who participated in the bullying, and why? Who tried to intervene? Who did nothing? Slowly a tapestry revealed itself, made up of dozens of interwoven threads. Angie was able to see, through careful sleuthing, not only who contributed directly to Lizzie’s torment, but also whose silence allowed the bullying to flourish. Now, all she had to do was take that information to the school administrators, and justice could be served…

Except, she didn’t.

Angie, in fact, had very different plans. That’s the problem with vigilantism: you can only work around the law for so long before you feel like you’re above the law. And Angie had done such a good job interrogating her suspects…Why shouldn’t she be the one to punish them? Why shouldn’t she take an eye for an eye, and make them sorry for Lizzie’s suffering—

Wait. What was happening to Angie?

Suddenly, my big idea shifted to something much darker than I’d expected. I was no longer dealing with a heroine’s noble attempt to bring justice to a broken world. I was dealing with the very real possibility of Angie losing her humanity and becoming a villain. After all, how many times can we exact vengeance before our sense of right and wrong becomes blurred? How many times can we be cruel, even to cruel people, before we forget how it feels to be kind?

So my big idea morphed, and mutated, and had little idea babies of its own. “The S-Word” stopped being a story about vigilantes, and became a study in that oh-so-flimsy line between good and evil in us all. And, by the end of it, I couldn’t help envisioning a vigilante and a villain crouching inside of me, each holding the other’s hand, two sides to the same coin, whispering: Let us out, just for a moment… 

What could go wrong?

—-

The S-Word: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read the excerpt. Visit the author’s blog. Follow her on Twitter.