Interview with Arlaina Tibensky

Arlaina Tibensky is the author of YA 2011 Summer debut, And Then Things Fall Apart. For my part of the blog tour, I've interviewed Mrs. Tibensky about herself and her amazing novel. Without further ado, on to the questions!


Describe your book in one sentence. Sylvia Plath and an old typewriter usher an angsty reluctant virgin
through the worst summer of her freaking life.  Luckily she has plenty of time... and plenty of paper.
OK, technically that’s two sentences, but what’s an extra sentence among friends?

What gave you the inspiration for And Then Things Fall Apart? When I was 15 years old I got the chicken pox the summer my parents were splitting up.  I always wanted to write about that time because it was as if everything was happening at once.  I also feel, as an adult looking back, that the month I stayed at my grandma’s house had a profound impact on how I see the world and me being a writer.  So one day I made a playlist, sat down, and started typing as if I were Keek.  What’s so insane is that Keek is totally me and entirely not me at all.  When I was writing it, I felt like I was channeling a ghost or something.  Even now, months after working with my editor, I’ll read a part of the book and it’s a total surprise to me because I don’t quite remember writing it. 

What was the publishing process like for this book? It was a PROCESS let me tell you! When my agent sold the book it was almost half as long as it is now.  I had to basically write another 125 pages in a few months.  The story was there already, but I had to really pull stuff out of my soul on a daily basis to meet my deadlines and make my amazing editor happy.  I was shocked at how much blood sweat and tears go into a book.  It was really intense fun though to push myself and let the characters tell me what they were going to do and how they felt.  Best time of my writing life! 

How did you come up with the characters? Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Because Keek and I have so much in common, it was really important to make everyone else the opposite or at least completely different from people in my life when I was 15.  Matt is a sweet jock, while my actual high school boyfriend was a sweet, skinny, gothy, passive aggressive fellow. The grandma is a kind of hybrid of both my grandmothers.  The parents are nothing like my real parents.  I see myself in all the characters because they are all, in a way, part of me. I often think of Keek as my Siamese twin, connected to me and almost identical in every way but a completely separate person with her own history, ideas, and sense of self.

If And Then Things Fall Apart became a movie, what would ideal cast be? 
So hard! 
Chloe Moretz from Let Me In is a little bit of a hero of mine.  She seems like she could make Keek work for her. “Sofa king” would roll off her tongue no problem.
Chace Crawford as Matt because he seems like a sweet jock to me… who might roast a chicken.
Alia Shawkat for Nic event though she might be a little mature for the part. I love her and her freckles.
Aziz Ansari for Earl the Squirrel.  I know for sure he is way too adult but I was actually thinking of him when I created Earl.
Zach Galifianakis for the dad for sure 
Kristen Wiig for the mom.  I loved her in Whip It.
Shirley effing MacLaine as the Grandma. 
And the beautiful and evil Megan Fox as Amanda…  Ok I just spent about an hour trying to figure this out, and now I so want to see THIS movie… (I wanna see this too!!)

What are the top 5 books you think EVERYONE should read?
1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
2. Geek Love by Katherine Dunne
3. The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
4. The Collected Works of Dorothy Parker
5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

What type of music do you like listening to? I like it all but I like stuff that is authentic, funny, a little angry and makes me feel like I want to go and kick garbage cans in the alley. What I’m trying to say is not one thing in particular…

This doesn't seem like Keek's idea of an ideal summer. What would your ideal summer be like? This seems so cliché but I love the beach and would love to spend an entire summer at a beach house, grilling food, swimming, reading, making crap out of seashells and like, crafts from popsicle sticks.  Yoga in the morning, cappuccinos at sunset. Reading reading reading.  One day…

Did you always want to be a writer? What made you become one? I am a big geek and yes, I have always wanted to be a writer.  For a while I wanted to be a psychiatrist so I would get a chance to crack people’s brains open like walnuts and really SEE them.  Writing allows me to do that too.  If you write, you are by definition a writer.  I got an MFA from Columbia University because I thought I needed the degree to validate my decision to write.  However, nothing says I AM A WRITER like (finally!) getting a book published… and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Are there any upcoming projects with YA readers should look out for? I wish I had a title and a marketing plan and was deep in revisions for my next book but I am not.  Yet. I have a deep and intense idea about a girl, her home, her slightly unhinged parents, and some ostriches.  And that is all I can really say right now… I know, how mysterious…

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers and authors out there? Write, write, write.  And then write some more.  Listen to your guts and don’t be scared of anything.  Easier said than done, I know but really, good fiction finds a way out into the world.

Find Arlaina Tibensky:

Thank you so much to Arlaina Tibensky for taking the time to answer the questions :) I absolutely LOVED And Then Things Fall Apart, so be sure to get your hands on it. It came out a few days what are you sitting there for? GO GET!

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

Keek’s life was totally perfect.
Keek and her boyfriend just had their Worst Fight Ever, her best friend heinously betrayed her, her parents are divorcing, and her mom’s across the country caring for her newborn cousin, who may or may not make it home from the hospital. To top it all off, Keek’s got the plague. (Well, the chicken pox.) Now she’s holed up at her grandmother’s technologically-barren house until further notice. Not quite the summer vacation Keek had in mind.
With only an old typewriter and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for solace and guidance, Keek’s alone with her swirling thoughts. But one thing’s clear through her feverish haze—she’s got to figure out why things went wrong so she can put them right.

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

Published: July 26th, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Sent for blog tour

Keek’s life was totally perfect.
Keek and her boyfriend just had their Worst Fight Ever, her best friend heinously betrayed her, her parents are divorcing, and her mom’s across the country caring for her newborn cousin, who may or may not make it home from the hospital. To top it all off, Keek’s got the plague. (Well, the chicken pox.) Now she’s holed up at her grandmother’s technologically-barren house until further notice. Not quite the summer vacation Keek had in mind.
With only an old typewriter and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for solace and guidance, Keek’s alone with her swirling thoughts. But one thing’s clear through her feverish haze—she’s got to figure out why things went wrong so she can put them right.
**This Review is based on an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy). The final text/cover may change.**

"You know the saying, "It's darkest before the dawn," right?
Well, for me it was as bright as the freaking sun before the meteor hit.
I was ablaze with happiness.
And then things fall apart."

And Then Things Fall Apart tells us Keek's story, how her normal, perfect life went down in a couple of days. Her account of her summer where everything fell apart tells us of her parent's divorce, why she and her boyfriend fought and how someone she trusted in betrayed her. Sofa-King hilarious and realistically painful, this book is a summer debut you don't want to miss.
Keek. Who'd ever heard of this name? True, her real name's Karina, but ever since she was young and couldn't pronounce her own name then, it was Keek which everyone caught on. Keek's a BRILLIANT narrator. Her account of everyday is so enjoyable to read and through her writing (on a typewriter no less) we can feel her love for The Bell Jar (I'll talk about that further down) and the itchiness of her chicken pox. Keek and the reader will have such a close personal connection throughout the story.
Even though Keek is like "hate-liking" Matt throughout the course of the novel, I found him really likeable. I mean, he's a 'jock' I guess, but he's still really sweet and he loves Keek for who she is. Even when she starts wearing those stockings which she writes on, he stays with her and actually walks her back and forth so that she doesn't get picked on by the older students. AANDDD...he cooks! I'm really impressed.
Amanda. BLECKKKKKK. Okay, I won't talk too much about her except for the fact that I really hate her. You're just gonna have to read the book to find out how she plays a part in all of this.
Nic and Earl the Squirrel (:P) are really good supporting characters, yet I wish they made more of an appearance during the novel. I love how things turn out with them and it's cool to see how it all works out.
I've never actually heard of The Bell Jar before I read this book, and the book does heavily refer to it A LOT. I mean, I'm pretty sure, every page had AT LEAST 2-4 sentences about the book. And Chicken Pox. Another thing I've never actually had. Hope it isn't as bad as Keek's was (I'm 15 it should be kinda deathly right? -_-) but I dunno, I'm curious about both.
I really liked the poems in between chapters, although it was somtimes replaced by letters or notes from people/Keek. I found one poem really nice, I copied it down here. It's called "Meat Aisle" (pg. 30):

Meat Aisle

My heart is sliced into pieces,
As red and glistening as marble steaks
Wrapped in cellophane
A sorrowing beast,
Its timid snout protrudes,
Sniffling and panting,
Hot breath and whiskers.
I am howling.
My teeth itch to snatch at skins.
My arms ache to embrace.
My essentials long for trust, securite,
A safe bed in front of the fire,
Where I can rest before tomorrow's hunt.

Overall, And Then Things Fall Apart is a novel about growing up, facing with difficulties through life, but making the best of it. Its a fabulous novel about self relization and finding out who you are. An AMAZING summer read, And Then Things Fall Apart is brilliant and hilariously true. Can't wait for more of Arlaina Tibensky's writing to come out. Absolutely Sofa-king LOVED IT!

**Thank you so much to Sarah Goldberg from FinePrint Literary Management for sending And Then Things Fall Apart for review and making me part of the blog tour!**
If you like this, try...

Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt

Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt

Published: July 12, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

On the last day of her junior year, Hannah's boyfriend Sebastian dumped her. Facing a summer of loneliness, Hannah turns to her best friend Ava for comfort. Ava does what BFFs do: she stays by Hannah's side...until it's time for Ava to head up to Maine for the summer. Also left behind is Ava's boyfriend, Noah, who's such a great guy he gets Hannah a job at the diner he waits tables at. Slowly, Hannah comes out of her funk thanks to Noah's good conversation and their fun times at the diner. But things get complicated when their friendship turns into attraction—and one night, into a passionate kiss. The novel opens on the first day of senior year; the day Hannah is going to see Ava, Sebastian, and Noah all in one place. Over the course of the day secrets and betrayals are revealed, and alliances are broken and reformed. In the end, everyone is paired up once again, but not the way you might think...

**This Review is based on an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy). The final text/cover might change.**
I’ve heard of Lauren Barnholdt’s books, but this one’s the first one that I picked up. I read this one in one sitting. It was so good! I loved it. It’s just so interesting to find out what happens– both in progression of the first day of senior year and what happened in the summer. I found the switch between the present and past views really interesting, as how the characters attitudes change during the course of the novel to one another. I found that the summer was interesting, as it shows the progression of Hannah and Noah's romance, yet it was quite suspenseful to see what happens on the first day of school when things start to unravel and fall apart.
I don’t really know what to say about Hannah. I mean, I think she wasn’t such a significant character. She didn’t leave much of an impact on me, but I do think that at times she was quite funny. Ava was a much more interesting character. She made a much better story, at how she's at summer camp, and yet, there's something about it she's not letting on. Lacey was hilarious– she added the humor in the story. She's obsessed with being perfect and always thinks that she has some sort of medical problem with her. I love how Hannah and her meet!
NOAH!! YAY! Love him. He goes all the way out to make Hannah comfortable, and takes "care" of Sebastian when he bothers her. I like the progress of his and Hannah's friendship which turns into something more. Sebastian? BLECK. I don't know why he even bothers to try. He's no Noah! and for some really strange reason, it says in the blurb that his name's Ryan (I changed it to Sebastian)...maybe it's in the final version? No idea.

What I didn't like was that most of what was going to happen was either given away from the blurb or the perspective in the present. There wasn't much room for suspense, although there was a bit for the present as what was going to happen next. As people break and make up during the day, it all ends up pretty differently.
I do like though, that it wasn't all serious and stuff. There were some fun parts, like the laundry place and the concert bit. It's like an icebreaker from what's going on, and I loved these bits the most. It also was really cute! :D

Overall, Sometimes It Happens is definitely one of the best YA contemps of the year. Its sweet, addictive and anticipating and readers will want to find out what happens during the development and course of Hannah and Noah's romance. I'm really looking forward to reading more of Lauren Barnholdt's books.
If you like this, try...

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Published: July 19th, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: Adult/YA 14+
Format: eGalley

She's writing about him. he's writing about her. And everybody is reading between the lines.. 
For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions--it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?
Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.
**This Review is based on an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy). The final text/cover may change.**

This was my first Jennifer Echols book and it surely isn’t going to be my last. I know it has an Adult tone to it, but I think it’s suitable for young adults as well. I found this one of those “fluffy” light books, yet has some interesting turn in it. I love the stories (I actually thought before this was some historical romance when it opened up with Erin’s story) and found it interesting to see Erin and Hunter’s past encoded into fiction and have some deeper meaning to it.
Erin was a good main character. Nothing too special about her, but I do like the fact that she chooses to write romance stories, no matter what judgements her peers and family give. She’s also very “money-conscious” which I find interesting given to her background and such. Overall, I find her to be funny, nice and easy to understand. No complications, no drama. LOVE Hunter. OMG, this is why I love contemporary books. They’re boys are so much more realistic, and therefore, have more chance of being actual living beings on this planet. I found Hunter quite sweet, yet frustrating at times, because he’s playing hard to get or whatever. Love the connection between Erin and him, and I find their history together quite intriguing.
Summer and Jørdis (with a slash :P) are really cool minor characters, especially Summer. I find her day dreaming about Erin and Hunter quite hilarious, and her tactics to find out stuff especially funny. Jørdis’ art projects sound really cool, but I wish she had made more of an appearance in the book.
I don’t know much about horses, but this book’s full of them! You can’t come away after reading this without knowing a couple of things about horses. I love how it mixes with the stories and that horses are a huge part of Erin’s history–for better or worse. As you learn more about Erin, you’ll find that horses reminds her of pain, and you’ll see why if you read it.
I love the turning point in this story, where we find out how Erin and Hunter drifted apart. It’s shocking, and it really changes perspective on how you feel towards the characters. There’s also another twist to the story which effects Erin, although I don’t like how she acts after this does happen. I think she could have reacted a bit more, like stood up for herself or done something. I dunno. I think she let it go to easily…
Love Story is a suitable title, not only for the budding romance (did I really just say budding?!) and whole falling-in-love gig, but the stories of the characters’ past mixing in with the present, which leads up to the conclusion. It’s cute, fascinating and fuzzy, definitely will make you feel warm and good inside, as well as empathetic and sad. This was my first Jennifer Echols book, and I’m looking forward to reading some of her others.
If you like this, try...

WWW Wednesdays - Week 21

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. To participate, just answer the following three questions:

1) What are you currently reading?
2) What did you recently finish reading?
3) What do you think you'll read next?
What are you currently reading?
I'm a quarter way through with Nightshade by Andrea Cremer and LOVING IT so far :). I'm on the second or third chapter of And The Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky, which I received for the blog tour.

What did you recently finish reading?
I just finished Ordeal By Innocence by Agatha Christie, which my aunt lent me. It was really interesting, and reminded me a lot of Christie's other mystery, Five Little Pigs.

What do you think you'll read next?
I borrowed Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder from the library and it looks very interesting, so I might read it next. However, I also have Sister Mischief by Laura Goode for review, and so I need to read that as well and get the review up, 'cause it got released a few days ago.
That's what I'm reading, read and probably going to read for this week! Leave a link to your WWW Wed in the comments, or tell me what you're currently reading!

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Published: July 4th, 2011
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Series: Lost Voices, Book 1
Rating: YA 13+
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley

What happens to the girls nobody sees—the ones who are ignored, mistreated, hidden away? The girls nobody hears when they cry for help?
Fourteen-year-old Luce is one of those lost girls. After her father vanishes in a storm at sea, she is stuck in a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village with her alcoholic uncle. When her uncle crosses an unspeakable line, Luce reaches the depths of despair. Abandoned on the cliffs near her home, she expects to die when she tumbles to the icy, churning waves below. Instead, she undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid.
A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. The mermaids are beautiful, free, and ageless, and Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: they feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks.
Luce’s own talent at singing captures the attention of the tribe’s queen, the fierce and elegant Catarina, and Luce soon finds herself pressured to join in committing mass murder. Luce’s struggle to retain her inner humanity puts her at odds with her friends; even worse, Catarina seems to regard Luce as a potential rival. But the appearance of a devious new mermaid brings a real threat to Catarina’s leadership and endangers the very existence of the tribe. Can Luce find the courage to challenge the newcomer, even at the risk of becoming rejected and alone once again?
Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive.

**This Review is based on an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy). The final text/cover may change.**

Lost Voices was a terrifying and beautiful novel about mermaids. It was quite a different portrayal of mermaids then of what I’m kind of used to, but it’s more accurate. Mermaids are like the Greek mythical creatures Sirens in this book. They use their singing voices to lure people into the sea and drown them, and crash boats to get the loot onboard.
This story follows Luce as she becomes a mermaid, and then realises that drowning people isn’t what it’s cutout to be, and in time learns the mystery of her father’s disappearance and some of the mermaid’s strange behaviors.
Luce was a main character which I didn’t really ever get to know that well. I found her frustration with the other mermaids understandable and the hurt from her past life realistic as well. The story does focus on a whole lot of other characters, but you never really get to know some of them. Catarina, I really did hate from the start. She kept on flipping sides, and has secrets and all, and yet she gets mad at everyone else for keeping stuff from her. I hated Anais, another mermaid, SO much. This girl is so spoilt and intent on having things done her way.  Miriam was one of the only mermaids other than Luce I actually liked. They're both so selfless and have better things to do rather than be infatuated with themselves.
I found the description in this book so beautiful! Honestly, there were fascinating details about everything: the cave, the movement of the waves, the mermaid's tails etc. This book felt like one of those timeless classics, where you really DO get transported into another world and feel apart of what's happening then. 

What I didn't like however, was the fact that nothing really happened. There were some parts, like secrets and plots being found out, Luce's past, talents discovered, but other than that, there was rarely any action. A lot of it was about the mermaid's daily lives, how they eat, sleep etc. A whole ton of singing was also described, but it somehow didn't create a very good picture to me. It just makes the novel slow-going and harder to read through when a lot doesn't happen during the course of the story.
The ending is one I didn't really get either. It seemed like a good drop-off spot, but there was quite a lot left out not mentioned or solved. There is going to be a sequel, but I have no idea of how it would continue on. 

Lost Voices is mesmerizing, captivating and dark, where the fairy-tales are proved wrong and these mythical creatures aren't what they seem to be. Sarah Porter's writing is beautiful and rich. I'm curious to see what happens next!
If you like this, try...

Other Covers: