Tag Archives: Michael Grant

Diversest of them all?

OK, I’ll stick my head out again. Not as much as some, but at least a token.

I was surprised two weeks ago by the reaction to my blog post about the storm surrounding Meg Rosoff and her feeling that she preferred to write the books she wants to write and not the ones that others feel must be written. But then that is the whole point of a – relatively – free society. We are allowed to think differently.

Before that I had read Michael Grant’s piece on how he feels he’s the most diverse YA author around. It was a bold statement, which I admire him for. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’d say from what I know that he’s at least partially right. I am very fond of Edilio in Gone. Lots of us are. He’s an immigrant. He’s not white. And he’s gay. And that all seems perfectly normal. He is hopefully not in there to be a token character, but simply to be himself.

Michael Grant

Now it seems Michael is being accused by ‘fans of diversity… [who] are enraged that I’ve done what they claim they want everyone to do.’ While that sounds a little outrageous, it also has the ring of truth to it. Many people with an agenda will get annoyed by almost anything, even when it doesn’t make sense. Because it’s being annoyed that is so satisfying.

Michael is no scaredy-cat who will hide behind bland words. On the contrary, he goes right out there and says what he thinks and feels. He looks like a tough guy, but I’m sure he’s like the rest of us on the inside. We can all feel hurt and baffled, but many of us retreat and say nothing when things go wrong. Not so Michael.

I’m glad he says it out loud. Someone needs to say it. Some mornings the emperor really does forget to dress.

Another Michael Grant interview

Michael Grant

And by that I mean another interview. Not another Michael Grant. But you knew that.

Michael is always very American, and very professional, about being interviewed. And as I enquired about his wealth – again – he enthused about John Lewis and what a good value wallet he’d bought there!

If you’re a fan of Michael’s books, rest assured there are more in the pipeline than you can shake a broomstick at.

Read about blue hair and lovely fans and all the rest here.

The Tattooed Heart

The Tattooed Heart is the second Messenger of Fear novel by Michael Grant. I hadn’t read the first one, except for the first chapter, which came as part of the press release, I think. So I sort of had an inkling what it was about.

Michael Grant, The Tattooed Heart

I wasn’t inkled enough, though, I’d say. It didn’t go in the direction I’d imagined, and from the second novel I could almost deduce what must have happened, so I didn’t feel left out. (It seems that Mara, who is the main character, did something bad, and she is being punished for this by acting as the Messenger’s assistant, when he goes round the world finding more people who have done bad stuff, and sort of help even out the score a bit.)

It’s not so much horror, as political/social, with a supernatural twist. Mara and Messenger can move back and forth in time and place, witnessing what happens, or has happened to people, like the half dead drug user they encounter one night.

I was both pleased (I suppose as seen from the victim of unfairness point of view) and horrified (the Play or Pay deal is rather off-putting) in equal measures over what Mara and Messenger do. It’s thought-provoking, and it deals well with looking at cause and effect in a way we don’t often get in fiction. I liked that. The tit for tat is more disturbing, but then so were the underground worm creatures in Gone.

Very different from Michael’s other books, but it’s good to go outside the norm. And in a way I do wish I knew exactly how Mara did the bad she did in book one. Although I might not like her if I did.

2 x Michael Grant

The place I had to be on Saturday afternoon was a nearby author hotel, where I was going to interview Michael Grant. Again. (He interviews so well! How can a witch not go for him over and over again?)

Michael had just arrived in Edinburgh, but had skipped immediate jetlag by doing research in England first. Some nautical research, and a wide-eyed new discovery in the shape of the London Oxford Street branch of the shop that is never knowingly undersold. Michael loved it, and had had no idea such a place could exist.

He looked better than ever, tanned and thin, and pretty unstoppable. This time I made sure he had coffee that didn’t politely go cold, although it might have been dreadful coffee for all I know. I had the tea.

I’d been reading his new book, out later this week, the second and last in his Messenger of Fear series. I wanted to ask why he’d gone in such a new direction, and what will happen next, and then what comes after that. Lots of books, is the answer. We got to admire his daughter’s new hair, which cost a fortune, and my photographer learned some financial tips from Michael’s son (who wasn’t there, and nor was his sister).

We got longer than planned, as Michael was hungry and wanted a sandwich as well. He can eat and talk at the same time.

Afterwards we walked over to Charlotte Square for his event, and I can tell you that was one long queue he had, waiting patiently. It’s always good when there are lots of teenagers at teenage events.

It was fortunate that Michael had already shown us the disgusting images on his laptop, so they didn’t come as a complete surprise when he started off with them. (His wife doesn’t like them, either.) And he set us a problem to solve, making the tent into a sealed brick building, with monsters coming out of the floor, wanting to eat three humans. He wanted to know what our monsters looked like. (Blue, in my case. A bit blobby.)

This time Michael had decided to preempt the perennial question about where he gets his ideas from, not wanting to get annoyed, or claim that they come from Tesco, next to the yoghurt. That’s partly the reason he’d found himself this software that produces such creepy and disturbing pictures.

At one point I thought Michael claimed not to have been on a riding course (and I could just visualise him on this horse), when I worked out he’d not been on a writing course.

One of his book ideas he described to his editor as The Seventh Seal, but with fewer Swedes and more teenagers. (You can never have too many Swedes.) As for sex, that is more fun to do, than to write about. Although we learned that he has a past writing Sweet Valley Twins books, which is actually a bit disturbing.

Michael has completely ruined his editor, who has gone from someone who recoiled from his suggestions, to actively embracing them. With Messenger of Fear he put in everything he could from his own fears, which have mostly to do with his children, and if he got rid of them, his wife. (He has tried.) Then it’s fire, and small closed in places.

Michael Grant

He’d never put himself in the books, but when asked who in Gone is most like him, it’s Quinn, ‘the unreliable friend, the backstabbing little shit.’

And on that note we stampeded to the bookshop next door, where he signed books until he eventually got rid of his fans.

As for me, I can’t now unthink some of the ideas Michael has put into my head; from bricked up book festival tents, to being the one fed to the monsters.

BZRK Apocalypse

When you approach Michael Grant’s third BZRK novel, Apocalypse, it’s worth remembering what happened at the start of the first one. People died. They seemed nice, but they still died before you really got to know them. To think that the third book is likely to be sweeter and less violent than the first is plain ridiculous.

It won’t be. Can’t be. But how many deaths is Michael prepared to ’cause?’

Quite a few. You know what Apocalypse means, don’t you? That.

Michael Grant, BZRK Apocalypse

At the beginning there were the evil Armstrong Twins, and the slightly better BZRK, fighting them. The twins might be weakening, but not so BZRK. Although, that’s not as good a thing as you’d want it to be.

‘Excuse me. I believe I’m about to go mad. You may want to move away.’ That’s about as polite and collected as it gets, in this book where very many people go mad. It’s not a pretty sight, and it will not end well. Michael has a go at many people we ‘know’ and it would be wrong if he let characters miraculously survive, because they were on the same side as us.

After the first book I could see that someone like Bug Man would change and do things differently. Well, it wasn’t this kind of different I had in mind!

We learn who the main players behind our diminishing group of fighters are; the ones we’ve come to rely on, who will lead wisely, and make sure the world is all right. Hah!

This might be based on games, but there is still a strong feeling that it wouldn’t take much to make this reality. And while I believe that, I’m not so sure that the knowledge and bravery displayed by the ‘good guys’ is terribly likely to be there to help us.

A thrill all the way to the end.

BZRK Reloaded

As I got to the end of Michael Grant’s BZRK Reloaded, I read the quotes from reviews of the first BZRK, and found that some Bookwitch reckoned she’d ‘never feel safe again.’

I can say that again! It’s scary stuff, this, and you don’t really want to stop and think too hard about what it really means, or what might happen in real life. Because I am sure something like this will and can happen, sooner or later. (I’d prefer later, if ‘not at all’ isn’t an option.)

Michael Grant, BZRK Reloaded

Reloaded continues where we left the BZRK team. Or what’s left of the team, anyway. Keats and Plath are safe, and as Vincent is still a raving maniac after what was done to him, Nijinsky is leader of the group.

There is much for the team to do. The evil Armstrong twins are still at it, angrier than ever. Burnofsky has crazy ideas, and the ability to make them happen. Bug Man controls the POTUS (President of the United States).

Meanwhile in northern Finland, a Swedish spy enters the story, and the Royal Navy are not far behind. Send in the marines, that kind of thing. There is a whole world wide web (no, not that one) of evil doings and attempts at undoing them.

A new type of more advanced biots joins the war, and there are developments in the nanobots department as well. You don’t – or at least I don’t – want to read the ‘down in the meat’ bits in too much detail. Wimpy oldies can peer sideways to see what goes on, which is more than enough. The goings-on are gruesome to say the least.

It takes skill to write this sort of thing, making it look simple and effortless. I am full of admiration for Michael’s writing and plotting. I don’t want to look inside his mind, but I love reading his books. This is top notch entertainment for teens, building as it does on the kind of computer games us oldies know very little about. I get a migraine thinking of Bug Man marching his nanobots round people’s heads, and that’s without him being inside mine.

At least I think he’s not.

Some old bald dude

I never thought to scream when I met Michael Grant. Realise now that I was remiss in not giving him the superstar treatment. (I sort of thought of him as just an author. Almost normal. You know.)

Michael Grant

Having had to give Michael a miss this tour because he didn’t come my way (!) I obviously don’t know if he’s changed since we last met. And now I suppose those lovely Irish girls who screamed in Dublin will have ruined him for us sedate types.

It’s been very educational following Michael on facebook for the duration of his two weeks in the UK and Ireland. To start with; he himself is excited. While pretending not to be. He is polite to his fans. He answers their questions, even when he’s heard them all before.

Michael Grant

On the last day of his tour Michael wrote a long comment on facebook about how wonderful it had been with all the attention and the long snaking queues and the sold out empty bookshops he left behind, and all the events. He felt like some kind of rock star, and not just a curmudgeonly, maladjusted loner.

I suspect one reason for that would be that he treats his fans as though he really is. He is self-deprecating. The ‘old bald’ quote are his own words. He thinks we are cool. He almost doesn’t want to go home, seeing how cool we are. But I reckon he loves his wife too much to stay. And he’s always been very open about their romantic first meeting.

But we are cool. So please come back soon, old man. (I’ll even practise some screaming if it will help.)

The rest of you can read Gone, Hunger, Lies, Plague, Fear and Light. In that order if you please. Then you can come along and assist with the screaming.