FORGE earns Star #3!

Things are shifting into high gear in the Forest as the book tour approacheth. The suitcase is semi-packed and the washing machine is busy. Hotel and airplane reservations have all been made. More chickens have decided to lay eggs.

Ok, that last bit it not exactly tour-related. But this is.

The Horn Book has given FORGE its third starred review!

“Chains (rev. 11/08) ended with slave girl Isabel escaping from 1776 New York with fellow slave Curzon, who takes over the narration in this sequel. Only fifteen, he enlists in the Continental Army in late 1777. His experiences as a young runaway slave during the American Revolution differ greatly from Isabel’s; though he lives in fear of discovery, he befriends a white soldier boy named Eben and even gains a sense of patriotism and camaraderie serving alongside other soldiers encamped for the winter at Valley Forge. Unfortunate circumstances bring Curzon and Isabel back together, and it is the struggle to mend their friendship and continue their quest for freedom that drives the latter half of the novel. Anderson seamlessly weaves her fictitious characters into history in a cohesive, well-researched narrative about the Revolutionary War that still focuses foremost on developing characters and their interpersonal relationships. Relevant historical quotes at the beginning of each chapter add authenticity, as does Curzon’s firsthand account of daily life at Valley Forge; his detailed narration of privations, inequalities, and hard work compellingly conveys the plight of the common soldier. As one man in Curzon’s regiment explains, Valley Forge “is a forge for the army; it’s testing our qualities. Instead of heat and hammer, our trials are cold and hunger. Question is, what are we made of?” With this riveting sequel, Anderson certainly passes the test. ” —(Oct.) Horn Book, starred review

Good Historical Fiction = Historical Thrillers

Went to sleep last night with stars in my eyes, because FORGE has been granted its THIRD starred review. (I will disclose the source and the review itself next week.)

Woke up with butterflies in my stomach. Why? I leave on the FORGE book tour in one week.

I am probably better known as an author of contemporary YA novels than as a writer of historical fiction. This bums me out a bit. I adore working in both genres and feel they are equally important.

What makes me sadder is the bad rap that historical fiction gets from readers.

The phrase itself makes kids bolt for the exit or writhe on the floor in agony because between Johnny Tremain and the excruciating boredom of history class, they think all things historical are worse than chewing on barbed wire.

Help me change that.

Don’t call FORGE, CHAINS, OR FEVER 1793 “historical fiction.” Call them “historical thrillers.” Why?

“The narrators in these books have to cope with epidemics, executions, natural disasters, political upheavals, and family tragedies that boggle the modern mind.”

That quote is from my guest blog about historical fiction over at Rasco from RIF.

Here’s another taste:

“I believe historical fiction can become just as popular as fantasy. Both genres provide intense coming-of-age experiences that are set in different worlds and layered with fascinating detail about how that world works. Both genres feature narrators who are often in life-or-death situations. Both fantasy and historical fiction allow readers to examine the human condition from a safe distance, apart and away from their daily lives.”

Read the whole thing, please, and come back here to tell me what you think. Historical fiction or historical thriller?



Two Weeks to FORGE! (sort of)

You know how when J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer or Suzanne Collins releases a new book there are VERY STRICT RULES about what day it is allowed to be sold to the public? And how bookstores hold parties the night before the on-sale date and start selling the book at the stroke of midnight?

Yeah, that won’t be happening with FORGE.

The “technical” release date is Tuesday, October 19th. I suspect you might be able to find it in your bookstore a day or so … or more… before that. I leave to start the book tour a week from tomorrow. First stop is the Texas Book Festival in Austin! Will you be there?

Old Week Ends, New Week Begins

Banned Books Week is over. I wish I could report on the status of Wes Scroggins’ challenge in Republic, MO, but I have not been able to get official notification of  what is going on. There is a school board meeting later this month. Perhaps they’ll post something in the minutes.

There are a few more links I’d like to share with you. Popmatters ran a long interview with me. And Random House posted the wisdom about censorship from four giants in children’s literature: Judy Blume, Robert Cormier, Zilpha Keatly Snyder, and Lois Lowry.

Now that Banned Books Week is over, many folks will be tempted to tuck the issue away in a small box and revisit it again next year. I understand. It’s hard to keep outrage boiling on high 24/7. I’ve spent the last two weeks responding to this challenge and my other work is sorely overdue for attention.

The books for the libraries in MO will be shipped tomorrow. I will continue to try to contact the superintendent of the district. I haven’t contacted any of the district’s teachers because I figured they were already busy enough with their students and the last thing they needed was me poking my nose into things. It seemed more appropriate to keep my communications with the district limited to the superintendent. Although that sure isn’t working because all my emails have returned as undeliverable (yes, I called the district office to double-check the address) and he hasn’t responded to my letters.

I think the best place for those of you who want to continue the discussion about censorship and First Amendment issues is over at I’ll continue to speak up both here and there.

At the same time, I need to turn some of my attention to FORGE. I leave on the book tour in 11 days!!! ARGH!! Must find new tour pants!!