t October 2012 | sh C. K. Kelly Martin o

The day after the big storm and it seems the rain hasn't stopped them from continuing industrious work on the parking garage beneath my building. They started fixing the expansion joints early in October and the construction is scheduled to be completed near to Christmas. I'm on day two of a headache but it seems churlish to complain about drilling noise when the power is on, the streets outside aren't flooded and here in Southern Ontario we're not having to deal with anything remotely like the damage some states have seen.

The images from New York City are particularly sobering— and what a job ahead to clean up and put all the pieces back together again. The scope of this is to difficult to fathom.

Earlier today I read a New Yorker article, "Watching Sandy, Ignoring Climate Change" which discusses the harsh realities bearing in on us, whether we're ready to deal with them or not. Between the memory of summer drought barely behind us, the destruction Hurricane Sandy's wrought as well as the results of a new Munich Re study, it's difficult to understand how nations that like to consider themselves enlightened (I'm looking at you Canada) continue to be in denial re. global warming and their part in it. "Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America. The study shows a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America."

We're not like Middle-earth elves, we have no Undying Lands to retreat to once we've junked up this planet. Yet we're still not giving the global warming issue the focus it should demand. What does it take, I wonder?

We need sea change and we need it now. Or better yet, yesterday.

Speaking of which, if you'd like to talk to me about my latest book (or anything else), I'll be spending next week (November 5 - 9) at Random Buzzers. If you want to read more about the book, two fantastic recent reviews are available at Midnight Bloom Reads and the School Library Journal blog. My local paper also did a nice write-up on Yesterday and me.

More importantly, I hope everyone's safe and remains that way and that you all impart to businesses and politicians at all levels how important protecting the environment is to you. Because unless we can strike up a deal with those Middle-earth elves, this planet is all we've got.

Frodo and Sam watch elves depart Middle-Earth
Frodo and Sam watch the elves leave Middle-earth for the Undying lands.
When I started writing YA, contemporary books were king. I fell in love with and was inspired by honest, emotionally complex novels like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Life is Funny, Breathing Underwater, Borrowed Light, and Every Time a Rainbow Dies. Although I love to write various types of books and intend to continue to stretch myself, I will always, always have a soft spot the size of Asia for contemporary books.

If you happened to read my last blog entry you know how much I enjoyed the movie adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It made me think of all the other contemporary books I'd be thrilled to see adapted for the silver screen. I'm very happy to note that Before I Die, a wonderful YA book that broke my heart, has also been made into a film, renamed as Now is Good. But that still leaves plenty of excellent YA material to adapt and here's my top ten wish list:

*  Stolen: There's such an odd beauty about this story of a girl abducted at an airport and whisked away to the Australian outback and the right director (Jane Campion?) could turn it into an equally magical film.

*  Boy Toy: My favourite Barry Lyga book deals with the difficult subject matter of a seventeen-year-old boy molested by a teacher five years earlier. As far as I'm concerned there's not a single false note in what could also be a fantastic film by someone who knows how to handle nuanced dramas. Someone like Peter Berg (writer-director of Friday Night Lights) perhaps!

*  Some Girls Are: I don't know how Courtney Summers manages to make mean girl Regina such a sympathetic character, but this is both a fascinating and chilling story of the cruel power dynamics that play out in high school. Sadly, that's a topic that's only grow more relevant in the last few years. Since I've started watching the first season of American Horror Story I've been thinking that Taissa Farmiga (Violet) would be riveting as the steely mean girl turned target character of Regina.

*  Let's Get Lost: Sarra Manning really knows how to write chemistry and, although this isn't strictly a romance, with the right young actors cast as Isabel and Smith the sparks would FLY.

*  Broken Soup: There's a mystery at the centre of this drama that makes this story of a brother's death even more compelling. Lone Scherfig's An Education convinces me she'd be the ideal director for this.

*  48 Shades of Brown: I jotted down this list before finding out this way already made into a movie back in 2006 (which I'll obviously have to check out!). But here's what I was going to write about it: Lighter material than most of the other books I've named here, Nick Earl's novel is the charming, funny and realistic tale of a teenage boy who moves in with his young aunt while his parents are in Geneva for work and promptly develops a crush on her roommate. Director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) or Greg Mottola (Adventureland) are both equally perfect for this jaunty material.

*  Tyrell: I can't imagine anyone, of any age, not being captivated by Coe Booth's story of an inner city teenager in a homeless shelter trying to hold things together for his younger brother while fielding numerous other issues (including relationships with girls) in his own life. Gritty without being overwhelming bleak, Tyrell isn't the type to feel sorry for himself so we don't either. But you root for him all the way in what, in my opinion, is already a very cinematic story.

*  Recovery Road: Like alot of folks, I first fell in love with Blake Nelson's work with Girl. But I just might even like this book about the love and friendship between two recovering young drug addicts even better. Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (writers & director of Half Nelson, It's Kind of a Funny Story and Sugar), you two need to read this!

*  Teach Me: There's zero melodrama in this story of a romantic relationship between a female teenager and her male teacher. Instead it's admirably forthright with not a cliche in sight and I think Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) could be the one to accomplish the same with the film.

*  Gentlemen: This YA has one of the most arresting covers I've seen in recent years and the story inside is just as arresting. Mike's friend Tommy is missing and meanwhile their hate English teacher is acting very strange indeed. Coincidence? I was on edge for the entire story and think Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank) would be ideal for this edgy material that feels liable to erupt at any second.

Covers from my books to movies wishlist
I'm writing this after more than two weeks away from the blog because I've just finished assembling everything I need for the writing grant I'm applying for. Hurrah! Loads of writers apply for this particular work in progress grant so I have no idea what the odds of success are but I've read my novel sample pages as many times as I can stand and the application due date is mid-October so it's time to let it go. Because I won't know whether I'll receive the grant money for several months I won't be returning to work on this particular novel until I hear how my application fared in the middle of winter. I won't lie—it's tough to walk away when the characters and their very dramatic situation are on my mind but this is what it's like being a writer, your head gets very crowded with fictional people and their concerns and you can't tend to them all at the same time!

In the meantime I'm moving on to rewrites for my agent (on a middle grade novel), returning to another YA project and generally enjoying fall. Yesterday Paddy and I had a delightful day in Niagara-on-the-Lake, stocking up on things like gourmet coffee from Victoria Teas (for him—I prefer my caffeine via Coca-Cola), Greaves jam and British snacks from the Scottish Loft. But mainly it was just a lovely day to stroll around town and look at the changing colours of the season.

On Saturday I caught The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the film adaptation of one of my all-time favourite young adult books. I was both excited and a little worried about how the change in medium might alter the material, but I needn't have been because Perks is one of the best movies about young people that I've seen in the last decade. The soundtrack alone would be enough reason to see it. I mean, here's a movie featuring the songs Come On Eileen (Dexy's Midnight Runners), Asleep (The Smiths) AND Dear God (XTC): my inner sixteen-year-old self was in heaven. At the same time, music is just a small part of what makes this movie great. Logan Lerman is luminous as Charlie, really just perfect. Perks wears its heart on its sleeve without being the slightest bit cheesy and Stephen Chbosky (screenwriter, director, author) makes the feat look effortless. So, yeah, the movie is infinite and if you enjoy intelligently rendered, sensitive characters, you'll love Perks. And if you still haven't read the book yet, what are you waiting for?

Recently I also had the chance to visit the Toronto Zoo again (my first visit in many years). For me the highlight was being able to get up and close and personal with polar bear cub, Hudson, whose first birthday is tomorrow. Having spotted a blue glass bottle on the ledge of the viewing area that someone seemed to have left behind, Hudson wandered over to take a look. Seeing him approach, I neared the glass myself and we had a cool moment, just the two of us while Paddy and the friends I'd come with hung back. Aren't they sweet? And Isn't he gorgeous?

Hudson, Toronto Zoo, September 30


Hudson, Toronto Zoo, September 30
Hudson, Toronto Zoo, September 30

Not to mention, playful!

Hudson, Toronto Zoo, September 30

And now it's time for me to nip out and do a bunch of errands, while the sun is shining.
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