I’ve wanted to get a tattoo for years. (Yeah. I know. Who hasn’t at this point?) I am not an early adopter of anything cultural or technological. I wait and ponder and wait and ponder some more. This means I am always years behind the “cool curve”. It also means that when I finally do something new, I love it.

(No, I don’t think a tattoo is something I am going to regret when I’m older. Nor do I think it is going to prevent me from getting a good job.)

When I told Daughter #1 what I finally decided on for my ink, she thought it was such a good idea, she wanted to get a matching one. We went to Phoenix Rising in North Syracuse together on Saturday, where Kim (whom I adore) did the honors.

Sorry the picture is a little unclear. Remember, this is only a couple of days old so it is still raw looking. It is done in shades of brown. I’ll post another photo in a month when it is healed.

And now you are asking yourself, what the hell does that mean? Why would someone tattoo Hwæt into their right wrist?

It is a word from Old English, aka Anglo-Saxon, which was spoken from roughly the mid 400s- 1200s. (Although scholars disagree about this a little. Scholars never seem to agree on anything, do they?) The first letter is an H. The second letter is not a P. It is a Wynn. That is a letter in Anglo-Saxon that we don’t have in modern English. It makes a sound like a W. The next letter looks like an A and an E smushed together. And the last letter is T.

It is pronounced “hwet”. And I think it is a very, very important word.

Hwæt is the first word of the oldest piece of Anglo-Saxon poetry we have, Beowulf. Scholars argue about this too, but most would say the story was probably first told around the year 600 and written down around the year 1000. Hwaet is the bard calling to the audience to listen to him/her. The storyteller, with this word, is basically saying “Yo. Have a seat. Lend me your ears. ” Here is the rest of the poem.

To me, it means everything. It connects me to the roots of my language and to my calling as a storyteller. Hi, my name is Laurie and I’ll be your bard this evening. Would you like to look at our mead list?

The daughter attached to the wrist on the left, Stef, is a word geek, too. This is her fifth tattoo…. they are all composed of words. The first one was the alphabet. Yes, i was very proud.

So that is the story of my ink. It has nothing to do with any of my books and everything to do with all of my writing.

Do you tattoo too?

Stomach twisting monday

It’s two weeks until TWISTED is released. Let the nausea begin.

I expect to get back my editor’s comments on my WIP today. I want to try and turn it around before I leave. More tummy-twisting.

Oh, and yeah, the book tour is in two weeks and I am obsessing about packing and I need to remember to buy Sleepytime Tea for the trip and to pack my vitamins and I better get to the gym because exercise time will be short and it is snowing again and they closed Rt. 81 because nobody could see anything. But, really, I’m fine. Really. I just need a nap.

Theo has given the homepage of my website a new feel. He also posted the Tour Online, and started putting up the dedicated TWISTED pages.

I am going to eat Tums now.

Oh, and I got a tattoo this weekend. What did you do?

TWISTED live, in Penguin Land

Thank you, Book Page, for the excellent review! (Be sure to check out all the featured YA titles, including Cynthia Leitich Smith’s excellent Tantalize.)

My totally excellent publisher, Penguin Books, has posted a bunch of TWISTED stuff on their site.

You can read the first chapter online!

Check out the discussion guide questions.

Examine the playlist.

The good penguins also asked decent interview questions. I thought they might amuse you.

Grew up in?
Several tiny villages in Northern & Central NY and Syracuse, NY: the big city.

Childhood ambition?
To read all the books in the library and climb to the top of the rope in gym class.

Desert island book?
Ulysses, by James Joyce.

Favorite city?
Tough question! San Francisco, with Paris running a close second.

Favorite movie?
It’s A Wonderful Life, Van Helsing, Rocky, Last of the Mohicans.

Where do you write?
My office is the third floor loft of our house, with windows that look over our woods and meadows. If it’s really cold, I take my computer down to the living room and work in front of the fire. Sometimes I work in coffee shops and libraries and book stores, just to see other human beings. But mostly, I like my loft.

What made you decide to write Twisted?
Many of the teenage guys I met in the last ten years had fascinating things to tell me. While the book is not based on anyone’s story, the themes of a guy’s alienation from his dad, a broken family pretending to be happy, and the despair that leads kids to kill themselves came from what they told me. And I like a challenge. I’d written a bunch of books from a girl’s point-of-view, and I wanted to see if I could get in the head of a boy.

What would you like readers to learn from Tyler?
That they are not alone with their darkest thoughts, that most people go through hell, and that it is possible to survive having parents who are clueless jerks. Oh, and that friends are gold.

What adjectives would you use to describe Twisted?
Aaahhh…twisted? No, that’s too obvious. Dark, funny, dangerous, and honest.

Favorite food?
Popcorn with butter, bran muffins (not too sweet) and strong coffee, bacon and eggs cooked over an open fire while camping, pickled herring.

Favorite song?
Hotel California (live version) by The Eagles and Clocks, by Coldplay.

Favorite item of clothing?
Hoodie sweatshirt just out of the dryer.

Greatest achievement?
Raising my kids to be good people (though they did most of the work).

Most embarrassing moment?
There are countless!! The worst was when my little sister and I got into a knock-down, drag-out fight at a family reunion and all of the older second cousins I had been hoping to impress dismissed me as being one of the stupid little kids because of it. (I was 11 years old.)

Smartest thing you ever did?
Went overseas, took some time off after high school, then went to community college before transferring to a four-year school. Marched to the beat of my drummer.

Life motto?
It’s not a mistake if you learn from it.

Two Letters

My mail makes me smile. This came in last week, from A.M.

so i dont even know if this will ever get to the author of “speak,”
but i just thought it was VERY neccesary to thank her for creating such an amazing book.
i was completely in awe of how much i learned from and connected to this book.
So Laurie Halse Anderson, thank you for understanding and helping others to understand the thoughts of someone going through anything difficult in their life.
i know a lot about going through hard times, as i’m sure you do, and this was very much an encouraging story about the life of a teenage girl.
“Speak” spoke to me in a way no other book has in my life (and i read a lot!)
i jut wanted to send this e-mail as a bit of encouragment, so PLEASE keep on writing and inspiring people with this talent of yours.

Is it surprising that I woke up at 5 this morning, thought about characters, then watched the sun rise and set to work eagerly? No, not at all.

And then there are letters like this, which tend to come to my MySpace account:

first of all Hello Laurie! Let me introduce myself.. my name is XXX and I am 13 years old. Thank you so much for having time to read and pay attention to my letter. I am writing to you because I need help from an expert..YOU! OK.ok. I’ll tell you! I need major HELP!!! My 8th grade English teacher assigned me a major task!
Which is to read your WONDERFUL PERFECT book Speak which i know is an excellent book because she told me..and to write a Summary. I have barely read half of your book and guess what!!!! I LOST THE BOOK!!! And the worst part is that it’s my teacher’s. Please HELP ME DO MY Summary! Please I beg you with all my heart. Can you please write me a short summary of the other half of the book?

Please! Laurie.. thank you sooooo much for being able to help me!

thanks.. PS. your book is really interesting!

No, I did not write her a summary. The biggest part of growing up is learning to deal with your own problems and to own your mistakes. She’ll figure it out.

Crazy day today…. the Creature With Fangs is going to have a hysterectomy because she has dysplasia. We’re going to be running around trying to fit a million things into 12 hours.

It really was an amazing sunrise.

Happy World Book Day!
Get ready for Read Across America Day tomorrow!