Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Thanks for posting everyone. The winner of the Penguin prize pack is Megan! I emailed her, so please get in touch ASAP so I can pass your info along. If not, I'll have to find a new winner.
I hope you all are planning on buying Willow. You still have time to enter the HUGE giveaway. You know you want too!!
Monday, April 6, 2009
Writing WILLOW was difficult, but truly expressing my thanks to everyone who contributed to this site is impossible! I wish I could say just how much all of this has meant to me, but honestly, words fail me.
It is nothing less than incredible that a group of people, none of whom have ever met me, have come together, and put such thought, effort, and energy into celebrating my book.
Some readers have said to me that my character Guy is a little too caring, a little too compassionate. It's not a comment without merit, but my reply has always been that I based him on my husband.
Now however, when someone asks me if there are people who are really that good, I will point them here. Because, the best answer to the question "Is it really possible for someone to be that kind, that generous to a complete stranger?" is simply "Have you seen GettingtoknowWillow.blogspot.com?"
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I said this in a past post, but in case some people didn't see it...you have this week to finish reading all the posts and leaving a comment to enter the Penguin Prize Pack (details for that in the first post!) End date: April 10
Sharonanne has a guest post, and I forgot to put an end time to that...so I'll just make it April 10 as well!
Thank you to all the bloggers and authors who donated a review, guest post, prize, etc. to make this a fun party for Julia and everyone else. I really do hope you will go out and buy a copy of Willow. I did, and I'm so stoked to have a finalized version, even though I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy (Thanks, Julia!)
Remember, you have until April 30 to buy a copy and send in proof to enter for TWO romance/paranormal books of your choose from the list and also to be entered for the HUGE giveaway of gift cards and other books.
Spread the word about Willow and this blog, as it's not going anywhere after the party is over. To keep the love living on, I'm willing to post any or your thoughts and reviews once you read Willow.
If you are a book reviewer, I'll re-post it if you send it to me and if you aren't, then consider this your shot to share your thoughts about the book! If you ever have any questions about Willow, leave them in a post and I'll try and find the answer for you, or maybe we can even do a future Q&A with Julia...just depends! So get out there and get the book. And follow this blog!
The Debut Novel
Let's pause for a moment and contemplate the immense accomplishment of the first novel. Writing is a largely solitary act, and while clicking away on your little keyboard in a dark and secluded chamber it's difficult to imagine that your words will one day be released to the larger world. Publication is, in my experience, by turns joyful and terrifying--sometimes both of those feelings at the very same time.
I've heard it said that it takes a person's entire life to write their first book. That said, let's raise our coffee mugs in cheers to Julia, for having accomplished this feat with Willow. Not only has Julia written her first novel, but she chose to tackle huge, dark, terrifying subjects in doing so. May we all be so brave as we click click click out our dreams, in the shadows.
Cheers to Julia, from Alisa M. Libby
Author of The King's Rose, a novel about King Henry VIII's fifth wife, and The Blood Confession.
The loss of a parent during childhood is something only those who have fully experienced it can understand. Losing a parent at such a young age leaves you with this feeling of emptiness than is difficult to describe. It is like you are normal one moment and the next a part of you is gone forever. Willow loses not one but two parents in an accident that she thinks is entirely her fault. Author Julia Hoban does a brilliant job In Willow of making Willow’s grief real. Willow and her emotions leap out of the pages.
I probably found Willow so easy to relate to because of my own past. I was 11 when my father died suddenly from a heart attack. At the time I was so young and I thought that I did something to make him leave. Willow especially feels this way because she was driving the car when both of her parents were killed. Willow handles her feelings of guilt by cutting herself. For a while, in my early teens I handled my grief in much the same way.
This is not something that I usually to reveal to people for obvious reasons. However, I don’t think I can write this post about my own experiences with loss without mentioning it. I went through a very dark period in my early teens very much like Willow. I didn’t know how to release my emotions so instead of crying I would cut myself. Now years later I can look back on my past and see that my dad’s death was not my fault and that it is okay for me to express my emotions.
Willow really was a special book for me because of my past and I really cannot thank Julia enough for writing it! I only wish that it had come out 15 years ago.
Thank you so much Sharonanne for sharing your story with us all!
If people comment on this guest blog, they will be entered to win a $10 gift certificate to Amazon.com
This is open to whoever Amazon ships too!
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Willow by Julia Hoban (book review)
I started reading this book and found I could not put it down. It took me six hours to read the 342 pages, and I came away from the experience smiling but feeling vaguely haunted by some of the images the book conjured for me.
This book is as complex as it is simple. It is a character driven story, and the characters are all really robust - you will not find any two-dimentional characters in this book. Even the supporting characters have a depth to them that I have found uncommon in the current genre of teen fiction.
It is no secret from the back cover of the book that the main character is a cutter. If you don’t know what a cutter is you can get more information at this handy-dandy Wikipedia entry on self-injury (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-injury) If you do know what a cutter is, either from personal experience or from someone in your family, be warned - some of the scenes in the book are graphic, but in a very authentic, respectful way. Nothing over the top or silly, which makes it even more disturbing in some instances but keeps the book grounded. It makes the fiction feel less like fiction and more like it could be based on a true story, which makes the story more compelling.
There is a love story here, as well as a story about family bonds and growth. It is a snapshot into a time period in a girl’s life - a time right after her parents have died and she feels responsible for the accident that took their lives.
It is a powerful, gripping, emotional story of loss and pain and growth and healing.
While this book is aimed squarely at the teen market, I think that the quality of writing and power of the storyline make it a great read for adults as well.
If you plan to give this book to your teen, talk about it with them when they’re finished. Willow is a book that can open the door between you and your teen to talk about the difference between perception and reality. How a teen can feel the world is perceiving them one way and how that can be vastly different from the reality that acutally surrounds them.
It’s a talk no teen wants to have but every teen could benefit from. Willow is the perfect way to have that talk, to keep the lines of communication open. To maybe use Willow’s story to help your teen through a time of healing he or she may be going through right now - to help them understand pain isn’t forever.
Cyn Balog Talks Willow
Her book, Fairy Tale, due out in June!
Lyrics in photo from: Saosin "You're Not Alone"
I was excited to find out that Julia Hoban’s new book, Willow, is about mental illness, specifically a girl who cuts herself. I think a lot of people on the outside of this topic might look at it and go, “Why would anyone do that to themselves?” and personally, I get that. I get that from the outside, deliberately hurting yourself because you hurt so bad inside might seem counterproductive. But I also understand the other side, because I was there.
I know the feeling of release that comes with opening up a wound, the feeling of letting out all the pain you have inside. I know of the switch that turns on in your mind, making the feeling of holding a blade in your hand like a drug you’re addicted to. I know that sometimes the pain is so great that there seems like there is no other alternative. I know that nothing, nothing, makes you feel worse than when people see your scars and look at you like you’re an idiot.
On the brighter side, I also know there can be a recovery. There can be healing. I am a young adult author too, and though I have been able to put all that behind me, though the publishing world tells us to “write what we know”, I can’t bring myself to touch this topic. I still can not find a way to write coherently about it. It’s too hard. But it’s a most comforting feeling to know we’re not alone, and I think that this book is important because of that. So thank you, Julia, and best of luck with the release of Willow!
Friday, April 3, 2009
That's right! I bought Willow today at the bookstore, and I'm so excited to have my very own finalized version.
Again...I bought it, did you? And if not, what are you waiting for? It's an amazing book and you could enter to win a ton of other prizes if you buy it in April. I don't think there is a downside to this really...I mean, yeah, the book might not be for you in the end...but if that's true then you can pass it along to someone else or simply know that you helped a super awesome author! :)
See that? No downside. Buy the book. ASAP
Review by: Kelsey
Willow was yet another 'dark' novel that, thank god, did not dissapoint me, even with the super high expectations that I had. Julia has written an amazing tale filled with loss, love, and self-journeys. I really hope that I can find words to explain just how much I loved Willow.
Despite all of Willow's faults she's one of those characters that you can look up to, and even if you haven't been through what she has she still comes across as relateable. You really get to see her grow up in this book, she learms to accept and forgive, and also that hurting herself isn't the way to deal with pain. She really becomes her own person and it's so enjoyable to read that transition. The only fault that she had that really bothered me was her paranoia, it seemed as if someone was always out to do mean or hurtful things to her.
One of the things that I really focused on while reading Willow was the relationship between her and her brother, David; it was only of the subjects spotlighted in it. I was never annoyed at the way he acted around or to Willow; it seemd only too natural for his character that he would react in such a way. Though, I must say, when she blew up at him I was surpirsed by how he semi-admitted to feeling about her because I never felt that it was how he did feel about her; I was ecstatic when it turned out that it wasn't like that at all.
Of course, I couldn't write this without gushing about Guy (I couldn't stand his name though). He was the perfect love interest for Willow, but he was also much more than that, he was the perfect everything for her. Those moments that they had together always left me craving for another one between them. Though it wasn't always about steamy scenes between them, they could actually talk to each other about things--like what they were interested in, or their feelings and emotions.
When Willow lost her virginity to Guy it almost took my breath away how romantic it was and how right it felt for the two of them.. It was...perfect (again, I'm using that word so much).
I hope that everybody has the common sense to read Willow when it's released.
Review by: Chelsea
Today, April 2nd, Willow by Julia Hoban is released. It's one of the best books of 2009. And, okay, there have only been 4 months so far. But it's going to be very, very (almost impossibly!) hard to top this one.We have Willow as our MC - a girl who is grieving terribly hard after a car accident involving the death of her parents. And Willow was driving. The guilt proves to be too much for her, and she releases her pain in self-mutilating cuts all over her body.
Things continue as they are for a while, until Guy comes along and discovers her secret, cropping up an outpouring of emotions.That summary doesn't do Willow any kind of justice. Or Willow, the character, either. Both are so intensely deep and multifaceted that it's difficult to put into words (unless you're Julia Hoban, of course.)
Willow was such an incredible character; her emotions and actions were so natural and true in a completely painstaking way. How she dealt with her grief, family, Guy, life - everything - made her not just a character but a real, live person. She comes out of the pages, grabs you, and lets you peek in on her life story.
This book is packed with meaning and depth, but it's also written in an enjoyable way. I had fun reading it, despite the depressing context (is that morbid?) Hoban mixes dark with light, spinning it into something Rumpelstiltskin would be very proud of. You've made gold, Julia Hoban.
Readers, go out and buy this one. Fast.
Kudos to Julia
As a lover of YA literature, I am often amazed and in awe of the authors. These authors create such inspiring and entertaining stories, and are not afraid to tackle tough issues. I am so glad that Julia Hoban is one of the newest additions to this wonderful group of writers!
Now, I must admit that I have not yet read Willow, though I've heard it's brilliant. I am more so offering praise to the person behind the book and her courage to bring such a heavy topic to surface.
When I was younger, very few authors stepped outside the norm to create a riveting book with an important message behind it. Those who did, like Judy Blume, Robert Cormier, and Nancy Garden, were often challenged and frowned upon by adults due to the content of their novels.
Today, it seems that more authors are fearlessly coming out and addressing the real issues that teens face. Julia Hoban is one of those brave individuals.
What I love most about Julia is that in her interview with Lenore (http://presentinglenore.blogspot.com/2009/03/book-review-and-author-interview-willow.html ) she expressed that Willow is not just a story about cutting, that it is a story about healing.
So today, I am giving kudos to Julia Hoban for daring to bring to light such a heavy topic that many readers can relate to. May her words help lead others through the process of healing and loving oneself.
Much success to Julia in the release of Willow!
Thanks for partying with us, Shalonda!
The person who plays Craig is who I always think of these days when I see or hear the name Guy. Why? Well, it’s not hard to guess…his real name is Guy Burnet. When I was younger, I wasn’t really a fond of the name, but once I started watching Hollyoaks and learned Craig’s real name, I started getting used too it and became a fan. So, you can imagine, when I first started reading Willow, I’d always think of Guy Burnet in regards to Guy. No, I didn’t picture him in place of my own imagination, but it was something that definitely made me fonder of Guy, just because I was a fan of Guy Burnet’s before.
I thought I’d share this, as I thought it was an amusing story. For those of you who don’t live in the UK or who might not know Guy Burnet, here is a photo:
Thursday, April 2, 2009
The Story Siren: Kristi
I’m not even sure where to start this review. I’ve honestly written this review almost five times and haven’t been happy with what I’ve spit out. I’m not sure I can do this book justice. To say that it was spectacular would be an understatement. To say that I had a hard time putting it down, widely understated! Yet, why? Because in all seriousness, reading a story about a ‘cutter’ didn’t really appeal to me. I mean sure it sounded interesting, and I’ve read books about eating disorders, drugs, so why not try cutting. So I did. I totally agree with Hoban’s choice to write this novel in third person.
Had it not been written from Willow’s POV, I know I wouldn’t have found it as impressive as I did. I needed that insight, I needed to know why someone would do that to their self. And I hate to admit it but I understood, I empathized, I accepted it. Hoban doesn’t dance around the fact, there are some shockingly graphic scenes, but instead of grotesque they are honest and revealing.And it’s not only the characterization of Willow that’s impressive.
It’s the disheartening portrayal of Willow’s brother David, and her warped sense of his withdrawal. It’s the eccentric relationship between Willow and Guy. It’s the secondary characters that have some of the smallest parts but remain prominent in your mind. For me I, couldn’t stop thinking about the girl at the restaurant.Willow is about so much more than cutting. It’s about love. Not only first love, but the power of redemption that only love can posses.
Still haven’t done the book justice, but I’ll leave you with this. Yes, cutting is a painful subject to read about. But Willow was skillfully and uniquely told. Essentially the message is uplifting, even the worst of situations can improve.
Glad I did.
Alea-Pop Culture Junkie
Willow is a real, honest, and emotional book. From the moment you pick the book up, you are invested in Willow and her well-being. Not only is this story about grief and guilt, it is about love and never giving up. It's beautiful.
The characters in Willow are real people with complex emotions and personalities. So many books are just full of stereotypes but Willow is full of character's so lifelike it's hard to believe they aren't actual people. I also really love the world that the author has created for these characters. I couldn't help wishing that I was one of the people hanging out in the library that Willow worked at or enjoying the park or a walk through the city. I wanted to be there in that world.
My only initial concern about reading the book was that it would be sad for me to handle or that the cutting would scare me away. None of those things happened, I think having the deep emotional factor that it has only enhanced the reading experience and made it that much more meaningful.
The author's skill is so great that for the first time in my life I feel like I understand the reason that people can do such horrible things to their own body. It's always shocked and saddened me but I had never fully understood it until I heard it through Willow's voice.
I don't want to talk too much about the plot itself because I think this is one that's best discovered as you read, as you let it reveal itself to you. Reading Willow was definitely one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I've had in a long time. Every time I had to put the book down I daydreamed of picking it back up and re-joining Willow's world.
Wow, Lauren! This blog is amazing and so thoughtful! Thanks so much for asking me to join the party. J I’m psyched to read WILLOW. I’ve heard nothing but fabulous things about the book. Congrats and kudos to Julia!
Although, I haven’t read WILLOW yet, from reading reviews and raves, I’ve heard Julia does an amazing job of writing about death.
Death. This particular five-letter word can wreck havoc on my life, my psyche, and my soul, like nothing else. I consider myself pretty upbeat, but death cuts deep every time and although I don’t discuss it publicly, death has visited my family a little too often lately.
Another time in my life death wrecked havoc was my first brush with the dreaded subject about twenty-two years ago. My dad sat hunched on his brown Lazy boy chair after a trip to the hospital. His eyes were bloodshot and blank and he held my small hand as I sat on the armrest. Then, he broke the news that my beloved Aunt Suzanne died of a heart attack earlier that morning.
Everyone has one. A favorite relative. Whether it’s an aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, or even a distant cousin. Aunt Suzanne was mine. I absolutely and positively adored her.
At first, it didn’t register. Dead? Like my mom’s distant relative who died last month and was sick for years? But, I hung out with her two days ago and she was joking and smiling and young and laughing like always. Not sick.
Then, I stiffened when I realized I never said goodbye. The last time I saw her, I left her house like a typical Saturday, climbed into the backseat of my dad’s 1987 black Cougar while she lovingly smacked my back and I laughed, but one thing was different. I never kissed her goodbye. With this revelation, my body instantly filled with remorse, guilt, and dread. I always kissed her goodbye. And the last time, the most important time, I didn’t.
Like Amanda, death fueled my writing. A few weeks later, my mom suggested I write down every single Aunt Suzanne memory I could remember. I did. I wrote and wrote and wrote and kept writing until my hand throbbed. And I’m still writing today. In fact, I recently sent a WIP entitled PINKED to my agent. There’s a spunky, fun, joking, laughing, goofy aunt character in PINKED. Guess who? I might not be able to bring Aunt Suzanne back, but she’ll always live on in my writing.
On a brighter note, Julia emailed me recently to share her handbag obsession. As a self confessed handbagaholic, I can’t wait to check out her designs.
Happy Release Day, Julia!
Thank you so much, Keri Mikulski (Screwball)!!
An aspect of Willow that many people might not realize right away is the romance, the love. Willow and Guy, though both dealing with a lot, do start a relationship and it's an important part of the story and really helps lighten things for us and Willow.
Because of that, I decided to do another contest that goes along with this theme.
If you buy the book by April 30, you get entered to win two books (this is seperate from the huge giveaway, so you could win both or one or the other...just depends on your luck!).
If you don't buy the book and simply comment on this post, you will be entered to win one book.
Winners: One winner (who bought Willow) will get two books of their choice.
One winner (who may or may not have bought the book, but commented here!) will get one book of their choice.
Ends: April 30 (last shot to enter either giveaway)
Open too: Since the big giveaway is International, this one will be too! Take advantage, there might not be one again for a little while as it's expensive.
Prize Choices (Adult titles, all Romance in some way):
Night's Rose by Annaliese Evans
Salt and Silver by Anna Katherine
Stolen Magic by Esri Rose
The Magic Knot by Helen Scott Taylor
Dangerous Prey by Lindsay McKenna
Undying by V.K. Forrest
Kiss & Hell by Dakota Cassidy
NOTE: These are all ARC (advanced reader copy) versions, not the final published copy. Some of these have already been released, while a few are due out from April to June. I think the newest is Kiss & Hell by Dakota Cassidy.
Why do I have these? I review books for Romance Times Magazine. Two a month actually, and I decided to give some of my copies away in a contest.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Review by: Lauren
Out: Tomorrow, pick it up!
Willow by Julia Hoban is an intense read, but it’s not suffocating. Willow has her ups and downs, her problems, her fears. She’s like every other person in the world, except her pain threatens to consume her whole if she doesn’t get help. This book is more then Willow’s past though. It’s about her future and what will come of her newfound friendship with Guy.
Two lives have been interconnected. Willow needs Guy, but Guy needs Willow as well. They help each other, they open up to each other, they begin to trust and complete each other. Willow deals with painful topics, and can be hard to read at times, but it’s also a very powerful story that is sure to resonate with most that pick it up.
I would definitely recommend.
When Lauren asked if I’d be willing to blog in honour of Willow’s release I was completely jazzed. I jumped in with two feet (despite not having read the book) and then thought to ask, what do you want me to write about? She kindly suggested two ideas: cutting and Shakespeare. Is it weird that writing about both filled me with an overwhelming sense of dread?
So I went with Shakespeare...
Shakespeare....The Bard...Will...Shakey-Baby...Whatever you like to call him, he’s a part of our education. We cannot escape him. He’s the universal truth within the school structure of every English country. We all recognise the line ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’ at an early age, not realising the importance or reverence that line possesses. However my favourite, over-used quote is ‘The lady doth protest too much’ – a line that perfectly summarises my mother. Kidding...kinda.
The truth is, despite reading Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth in high school, I learnt everything I know about Shakespeare from the celluloid. That’s right, I learnt about Shakespeare from film. Cringe in horror at my complete lack of sophistication but I did learn.
Here are the lessons I learned from Shakespeare in film –
Ten Things I Hate About You (Taming of the Shrew)
This movie taught me to embrace my inner shrew. She’s been an outie ever since. Shakespeare liked his women a little cold and with a sharp tongue, I think he would have liked me!
She’s the Man (Twelfth Night)
While most of you would remember this movie for Channing Tatum’s abs (and really who wouldn’t), I learned a very important lesson here. No female, whether Amanda Bynes or Gwyneth Paltrow, can pull off the transgender look with any success. Pretty isn’t pretty when it involves a bound chest, crotch stuffing or an affected voice. But if the reward is Channing or Joseph Fiennes, I might overlook their plan’s obvious flaws and give it a go.
Julia Stiles – yay I love thee. Yeah, this one really didn’t work for me so I am going to move on...
Romeo & Juliet
Before this Baz Luhrman visual explosion came onto the scene, everyone thought Titanic and Growing Pains was all Leo was capable of and that Butthole Surfers and Shakespeare would never be uttered in the same breath. This movie saved many high school students from sitting through the 1968 version where Olivia Hussey’s boobs were edited out for the good of the children. I know many boys that argue this censure was in no way intended to protect their interests. At last we got a pretty (if a little gawky) Romeo and a Juliet that we all wanted to adopt. Shakespeare also gave us one of the best movie soundtracks ever!
You might scoff; I don’t really have all that much in common with Willow and Guy’s Shakespeare loving. To be honest, I relate to Cher from Clueless (inspired by another literary great) when she corrected the heinous Heather’s incorrect Hamlet quote:
“Well, I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn't say that. That Polonius guy did.”
If movie inspired Shakespeare learning works for her (and will get me Paul Rudd) then it can’t be all bad for me. Can it?
Thank you so much Adele for writing this guest blog and celebrating Willow with us!