The Magickal Agency Contest

Today is a glorious, big-news day. First, I’m so pleased to feature a double interview and contest with the delightful Stephanie Burgis. It’s a double contest because we’re each giving away a fantastic prize pack of each other’s books (details below). And it’s a double interview because I asked her 10 questions, which she twisted up and turned back on me. Plus, I can now share with you the details of my THREE launch parties: Kingston, North America online, and the UK/Europe online.

First of all, though, here are Steph and I in conversation:

Ying: What book do you wish you’d written, and why?
Steph: Any of Jane Austen’s novels. SO smart, so funny, and so full of layers!
Steph: Literary death-match among your favorite novels: Middlemarch, Emily of New Moon, or A Wrinkle in Time? WHO WILL WIN?
Ying: Middlemarch in a heartbeat, because I’m not 9 years old anymore. It would also win a literal death-match, as it’s physically the biggest book.

Ying: Black olives or green?
Steph: Green, stuffed with feta cheese!
Steph: Cornish pasty or Yorkshire pudding?
Ying: Cornish pasty FTW! Did you know that traditionally, Cornish pasties had a blob of jam in one corner for a dessert-like finish? This has always troubled me. I mean, what if you started at the wrong end?

Ying:  What are 3 things that make you laugh?
Steph: My crazy-sweet dog, my son, and Joan Bauer’s novel Squashed.
Steph: Which 3 literary heroines do you wish you could hang out with in real life?
Ying: Elizabeth Bennet, Harriet Vane (from Dorothy L. Sayers’s Peter Wimsey mysteries) and, like you, Amelia Peabody (from Elizabeth Peters’s Victorians-in-Egypt adventures). It would be a lively but dangerous gathering.

Ying: And are you a giggler or a cackler?
Steph: A giggler when reading, a cackler when writing. 😉
Steph: Are you a careful bookmark-er or a ruthless page-folder when you read?
Ying: Ack! Would you fold down the corner of your baby or puppy? I THOUGHT NOT.

Ying: What trait do you most admire in others?
Steph: Kindness.
Steph: What trait do you wish you had more of in yourself?
Ying: I’d like to be more disciplined – about writing, chores, time-management…

Ying: What’s the strangest place you’ve ever found your camera or keys?
Steph: In the refrigerator!
Steph: Confession time: which children’s TV show theme-songs have you memorized since having your son? (I know EVERY “In the Night Garden” song.)
Ying: This is going to sound so horribly smug, but we unplugged our TV 3 years ago and haven’t got round to setting it up again. (But it’s not because we think we’re better than everybody else! Promise!) But I’ve seen many, many more videos of tractors and fire engines on Youtube than I’d ever dreamed existed.

Steph: I am inherently great at _remembering historical trivia_. I am inherently terrible at _remembering to re-charge my mobile phone_.
Ying: I am inherently great at _remembering phone numbers_. I am inherently terrible at _remembering poems_.

Ying: What’s your favourite intersection?
Steph: The spot where the Kaerntnerstrasse runs into the Stefansplatz in the center of Vienna. Gorgeous!
Steph: What’s your favorite building in London?
Ying: The British Library. Yes, it looks like a giant primary school circa 1988, but it’s my spiritual home in London.

Ying: Do you have any reading rituals?
Steph: Curled up under the covers, drinking hot chocolate while reading is ideal!
Steph: Do you have any writing rituals?
Ying: Coffee. Glass of water. Email-check. Blog-check. Wander away. Herd myself back. Snack. Bathroom break. Really get started. Oops – reply to urgent email. Answer door. Back to desk. This is why I need more discipline.

Ying: If your mother had to describe you in 3 adjectives, they’d be:
Steph: Eek. Tempted to turn this over to Mom to answer, but at a hopeful guess: stubborn, smart, creative
Steph: If your husband had to describe you in 3 adjectives, they’d be:
Ying: Smart, funny, opinionated. Or maybe just opinionated, opinionated, opinionated.

(Seriously. My husband jokes that I should have a radio show called, “Strong Opinions”. I counter that there isn’t enough air-time in the world…)

And speaking of strong opinions, I thought that for the launch of Body, I should do more to reach readers who aren’t near the vast metropolis of Kingston, Ontario. To that end, I’m holding 3 different events.

UK/Europe online party: Tuesday, September 28 @ 16:00 BST

US/Canadian online party: Tuesday, September 28 @ 16:00 EST

Both online parties will take place on Twitter and the hashtag will be #body. Walker Books UK and Candlewick Press will be there! We’ll be giving away swag! If you’re not already using Twitter, it’s easy to register. And if any of this is confusing but intriguing, leave a comment or email me – I’m happy to answer your questions.

The Real Live launch party: Wednesday, September 29 at 7.00pm at Novel Idea Books. Click here for a map.

I hope you can make it to one of these events!

And now, the contest details

Here’s the deal: Steph and I are both offering a prize pack featuring each other’s books. I’ll be giving away the UK edition of Steph’s debut novel, A Most Improper Magick, along with an AMIM bookmark and postcard set! And over at her blog, Steph’s giving away a copy of The Agency 2: The Body at the Tower, plus an Agency sticker and bookmark.

Here are my contest rules. (You can, of course, enter both contests.)

– To enter, leave a comment answering any one of the interview questions above.

– You may have extra entries by sharing the contest on Twitter and/or Facebook (1 extra entry per site).

– The winner will be randomly selected.

– My contest closes on Wednesday, September 22, 2010.

Good luck, dear readers, and don’t forget to click over to Steph’s blog to enter her contest, too.

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29 Responses to “The Magickal Agency Contest”

  1. Tim Jinkerson says:

    What trait do you most admire in others?
    Consistency – I agree, kindness is an inner beauty and is totally admirable. If someone is consistently kind, that’s perfect, but I’d rather know how someone is going to react when I approach them. If someone is going to be kind one day and selfish the next, you don’t know where you stand.

  2. Lisa Schroeder says:

    Ying, I am about to read your book, and I’m SO excited. I’m thinking about placing my next book in Victorian London. Would you mind sharing titles of books you found helpful for research? I would so appreciate it. If not, I understand, you’re busy. My e-mail is alwayslisa(at)gmail(dot)com.

    While I’m here, I would love to enter the contest. :) My writing ritual sounds almost exactly LIKE YOURS, with the exception of tea instead of coffee.

  3. Ying says:

    Hi Lisa, I’m always happy to share research sources. I’ve been asked this before, so it’s probably time to work up a blog post. Will keep you posted!

  4. Margaret says:

    No olives ever! Yuck!

  5. Danya says:

    Thanks for the giveaway and answering these fun questions!

    I am inherently great at _remembering people’s names and faces_. I am inherently terrible at _remembering events from my childhood_.

  6. Erin says:

    This giveaway is so fun! And the interview too! I love it!

    I feel very strongly that pages should never, ever be creased in a book. Ever. Heaven help the person who returns a borrowed book to me with the corners folded!

  7. jpetroroy says:

    Reading ritual: corner of the couch, under my favorite afghan, with a mug of tea.

  8. tallcapp says:

    What do I admire most in others?

    Truthfulness. It is the thing I always appreciate the most.

  9. Kathleen says:

    What book do you wish you’d written, and why?

    I desperately wish I’d written The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Despite some problematic aspects, that book has such gorgeous use of language, and such insightful observations on writing and how it works. I actually found myself nodding along to a couple of paragraphs in Chapter 13.

  10. Sarah says:

    Do you have any reading rituals?

    Well, I like to picture my self idyllically perched on a window seat in a cozy, quiet room. However, if something scary is happening or a battle/chase scene gets to be too much, I will actually find myself pacing while reading or hanging upside down on my couch. I don’t consciously do this, it just happens…

  11. Philipp of Upper Canada says:

    Question: Are you a careful bookmark-er or a ruthless page-folder when you read?

    I’m a page folder. To hell with bookmarks they always fall off leaving me angry and shouting: “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU” every time it happens which is every time I read a book. I blame my clumsiness. Oh and I may have folded some pages of Body…but I promise I straightened them afterward….plz don’t hurt me…*Hides*

  12. Margaret says:

    Reading through this conversation just really makes me want to be friends with both of you. You’re so charming! And ask such great questions! I tried to come up with an answer to the three fictional characters question, but my head exploded at the idea of having JUST three– and Ying’s were so good, there’s almost no topping them. So, instead, which book do I wish I had written?

    It’s a dead heat between I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.

    I hope to god I win this competition– A Most Improper Magick sounds outlandishly good, and if I have to wait until April (APRIL!!!) to read it, I will probably lose my mind with impatience.

  13. Julia Girvin says:

    Oh, I would SO love to win this book! I’ve heard so many good things about it!

    What’s your writing ritual?

    I also need a glass of water beside me and music playing! I can’t write in quiet! I love music by Dead can dance, Delerium, Muse and Sarah Brightman. Plus soundtracks! BIG music!

    Thanks for this!!


  14. Lisa Schroeder says:

    Hi – I’m back and just wanted to say, I read your bio after I posted my comment and see that for you, research was years in the making!! I’m so impressed! But yes, a blog post is a great idea if you have specific sources that you found especially helpful. Thank you!

  15. Vicki Wurgler says:

    if your husband had to describe you in 3 adjectives, they’d be: honest. thoughtful & independent

  16. Shel says:

    Bookmarker! Just say no to dogearring, people.


    Thanks for the contest :)

  17. late comment is late, but I wanted to reply to this post, lol.

    Very interesting interview! I like the double author interview style questioning.

    Not entering for a contest because I’m avoiding book giveaways while I’m abroad, lol.

    But anyhow, seeing this post reminded me of how I actually haven’t gotten around to reviewing Body yet! Along with many many other reviews I have yet to catch up to! *sobs* But I just wanted to tell you that I absolutely loved Body! I liked it even more than Spy! Reading your sequel just reminded me of how awesome you are at the whole evoking settings thing. Seriously, I felt like I was actually back in 19th century London, and I love how it’s all very subtle and in the background and never feels like an info-dump. It’s really pleasing to see good setting in YA novels because I normally find that setting is a weak point in most YA novels I read so yeah~ <3 Also I love all the new characters and Mary will always be my favourite. Does Winnie ever come back?! I liked her a lot.

    Will do my best to participate in the Europe twitter party. =D

  18. jen7waters says:

    What are 3 things that make you laugh?

    1. Jokes that no one else think are funny – really, they don’t have a sense of humor.
    2. Roger from “American Dad” – come on! he’s a drunken alien!
    3. Historical Romance lovers’ quarrels – everytime…

    (I could add a #4 and say: James Easton. He makes me laugh.)

    I’ll try to participate in the European Twitter party too!;)

  19. Meg says:

    OOOH, I’d love an early copy of AMIM!

    Answering the reading rituals question:
    At night, in bed, curled up with my book, and my cat lying on my feet. With two housemates, nighttime is the only time I’m uninterrupted.

  20. Great interview and contest! The prizes are so tempting… :-))

    -Which book do you wish you’d written?
    -ETHAN FROME by Edith Wharton was a novella of pure awesomeness. I think it has the best final line I’ve ever read!

  21. Ying says:

    @Shel – sing it, sister! @AhYuan – it’s great to hear from you, and thank you so very much. About Winnie – no plans yet, but you never know. And I’d luuuuurve to see you and @Jen7waters at the launch party, if poss! And @Angie Frazier – hello, you! I’ve never read ETHAN FROME but now can’t wait to do so.

  22. MannaB says:

    Black olives or green?

    Neither! EEEwwww! Hahaha!

  23. 1. You gals are adorable.

    2. I want to enter! (And I would enter Stephanie’s contest, but I already bought BODY, read it, and LOVED it! Esp. the smooching — is that too spoilery?)

    What book do you wish you’d written, and why?

    For YA I would say Meg Rosoff’s HOW I LIVE NOW because it is so achingly beautiful and I wish I could make readers cry like I did while reading it. For adult books, I would say A.S. Byatt’s POSSESSION because it is so brainy, romantic, mysterious, and generally chock full of all the things that make me squee, and I could die happy knowing I’d authored such a story. (If only.)

  24. jenn says:

    you know, i have been avoiding my entrance into this contest because i am agonizing so very much over the literary heroines question. which probably means i am just thinking about it too much.

    thus, i will opt for another question and take my chances, since i am ever so keen to read “a most improper magick” and waiting is the antithesis of fun.

    so, here is where i lose so many of my librarian-cred by admitting to and even advocating for the folding of book pages. for ages i was decidedly anti-dogearing and, because i’m terrible at finding things when i need them, would just shut books and spend the first few moments of the next reading fumbling about for where i left off.

    but then i remembered that nothing is sadder than a an unread book and folded pages and marginalia and the like are signs that someone has been paying attention. so. there you go.

  25. Ying says:

    @Sonia, those are amazing picks! I agree, I agree. (And no, smooching isn’t spoilery – as long you meant between that Helga and Titus, right? 😉 ) And @Jenn, that’s the most persuasive argument for dog-earing I’ve heard but… nope. Not converted. I do, however, like finding other people’s bookmarks – old receipts, movie tickets, etc.

  26. Violet says:

    Love this double interview! I thoroughly enjoyed A Spy in the House & The Body at the Tower, and I look forward to reading The Traitor and the Tunnel and Stephanie Burgis’s Kat Stephenson series. I am so jealous that UK readers can already pick up copies of A Most Improper Magick Hopefully the Book Depository will get it back in stock soon. :)

    Are you a giggler or a cackler? I am definitely a giggler!


  27. Michele says:

    Giggler or cackler? Neither–snorter

    I just received A Spy in the House for my birthday and instead of grading papers or re-reading The Scarlet Letter (I’m an English teacher) I stayed up late rushing towards the end of the book. Thanks so much for an enjoyable read with engaging characters and compelling plot !(Side note–I’m Chinese American and also happen to teach Asian American lit so it’s nice to see this book hit the bookshelves out there…)

  28. Michele says:

    Black olive tapinade!

  29. Joanne Willey says:

    Loved reading the interview!! I am going to have to try stuffed green olives with feta!!
    I cannot read enough! I love to read anywhere anytime. Thank you for the contest!

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