Mockingjay Book Tour


Having finished reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins — the concluding volume to the Hunger Games trilogy — I was sadly unable to secure an interview with her for BookBanter. However, she is currently on an extensive book tour across the United States; the dates and locations are below from the Scholastic site.

While my review for Mockingjay is forthcoming, my quick one liner for the concluding book is this: first two thirds should’ve been two separate books to make it a five-book series; the last third was as good as the first book.

Fall 2010 Suzanne Collins U.S. Tour Schedule

August 31, 2010


Wellesley Booksmith

Wellesley, MA

October 1, 2010


Wild Rumpus

Minneapolis, MN

November 4, 2010



San Jose, CA

September 20, 2010


Harleysville Books

Harleysville, PA

October 2, 2010


Red Balloon Bookshop

St Paul, MN

November 5, 2010


Barnes & Noble

Lynnwood, WA

September 21, 2010


Barnes & Noble

Fairless Hills, PA

October 3, 2010


Anderson’s Bookshop

Naperville, IL

November 6, 2010


Elliot Bay Book Company

Seattle, WA

September 22, 2010


Children’s Book World

Haverford, PA

October 3, 2010


The Book Stall

Winnetka, IL

November 6, 2010


Third Place Books

Lake Forest Park, WA

September 23, 2010


Politics & Prose

Washington, DC

October 4, 2010


The Magic Tree Bookstore

Oak Park, IL

*Please note: This schedule
is subject to change*
September 23, 2010



Hanover, MD

October 4, 2010



Schaumburg, IL

September 25, 2010

Time TBD

National Book Festival

Washington, DC

November 3, 2010


Kepler’s Books

Menlo Park, CA

Across the Pond Part 2: Aquae Sulis

Bath is a very old place, beginning with Celtic roots, then becoming a popular city during Roman times under the name of Aquae Sulis, which means “waters of Sulis.”  Sulis was a Celtic goddess.  Bath was renowned for its natural, healing springs, which the Romans turned into baths that were sought after by many.   These famed baths are still in usable condition today, though they are more for viewing than enjoying the healing waters.  [There are separate baths available for the public.]

Roman Baths of Bath

In the book, Wyrd, which I am currently working on, the city of Bath will play a relatively important role.  Wyrd is a work of historical fiction set in the fifth century, during the Anglo-Saxon invasions, approximately 450-500.  I received the inspiration and story idea for this book from the medieval poem called “The Ruin,” which is partly about a person discovering this old ruin and wondering what could’ve possibly created it; the person thinks it might’ve been giants.  It is believed that the ruin mentioned in the poem could very likely be that of Bath.  Below is the poem and translation from the Wiki page:

Because of technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this section.
Original Old English Modern English[1]
Wrætlic is þes wealstan, wyrde gebræcon;
burgstede burston, brosnað enta geweorc.
Hrofas sind gehrorene, hreorge torras,
hrungeat berofen, hrim on lime,
scearde scurbeorge scorene, gedrorene,
ældo undereotone. Eorðgrap hafað
waldend wyrhtan forweorone, geleorene,
heardgripe hrusan, oþ hund cnea
werþeoda gewitan. Oft þæs wag gebad
ræghar ond readfah rice æfter oþrum,
ofstonden under stormum; steap geap gedreas.
Wonað giet se …num geheapen,
fel on
grimme gegrunden
scan heo…
…g orþonc ærsceaft
…g lamrindum beag
mod mo… …yne swiftne gebrægd
hwætred in hringas, hygerof gebond
weallwalan wirum wundrum togædre.
Beorht wæron burgræced, burnsele monige,
heah horngestreon, heresweg micel,
meodoheall monig mondreama full,
oþþæt þæt onwende wyrd seo swiþe.
Crungon walo wide, cwoman woldagas,
swylt eall fornom secgrofra wera;
wurdon hyra wigsteal westen staþolas,
brosnade burgsteall. Betend crungon
hergas to hrusan. Forþon þas hofu dreorgiað,
ond þæs teaforgeapa tigelum sceadeð
hrostbeages hrof. Hryre wong gecrong
gebrocen to beorgum, þær iu beorn monig
glædmod ond goldbeorht gleoma gefrætwed,
wlonc ond wingal wighyrstum scan;
seah on sinc, on sylfor, on searogimmas,
on ead, on æht, on eorcanstan,
on þas beorhtan burg bradan rices.
Stanhofu stodan, stream hate wearp
widan wylme; weal eall befeng
beorhtan bosme, þær þa baþu wæron,
hat on hreþre. þæt wæs hyðelic.
Leton þonne geotan
ofer harne stan hate streamas
…þþæt hringmere hate
þær þa baþu wæron.
þonne is
…re; þæt is cynelic þing,
huse …… burg….
This masonry is wondrous; fates broke it
courtyard pavements were smashed; the work of giants is decaying.
Roofs are fallen, ruinous towers,
the frosty gate with frost on cement is ravaged,
chipped roofs are torn, fallen,
undermined by old age. The grasp of the earth possesses
the mighty builders, perished and fallen,
the hard grasp of earth, until a hundred generations
of people have departed. Often this wall,
lichen-grey and stained with red, experienced one reign after another,
remained standing under storms; the high wide gate has collapsed.
Still the masonry endures in winds cut down
persisted on__________________
fiercely sharpened________ _________
______________ she shone_________
_____________g skill ancient work_________
_____________g of crusts of mud turned away
spirit mo________yne put together keen-counselled
a quick design in rings, a most intelligent one bound
the wall with wire brace wondrously together.
Bright were the castle buildings, many the bathing-halls,
high the abundance of gables, great the noise of the multitude,
many a meadhall full of festivity,
until Fate the mighty changed that.
Far and wide the slain perished, days of pestilence came,
death took all the brave men away;
their places of war became deserted places,
the city decayed. The rebuilders perished,
the armies to earth. And so these buildings grow desolate,
and this red-curved roof parts from its tiles
of the ceiling-vault. The ruin has fallen to the ground
broken into mounds, where at one time many a warrior,
joyous and ornamented with gold-bright splendour,
proud and flushed with wine shone in war-trappings;
looked at treasure, at silver, at precious stones,
at wealth, at prosperity, at jewellery,
at this bright castle of a broad kingdom.
The stone buildings stood, a stream threw up heat
in wide surge; the wall enclosed all
in its bright bosom, where the baths were,
hot in the heart. That was convenient.
Then they let pour_______________
hot streams over grey stone.
un___________ _____________
until the ringed sea (circular pool?) hot
_____________where the baths were.
Then is_______________________
__________re, that is a noble thing,
to the house__________ castle_______

The poem hints at the theme of creation and destruction, and the significance of a person’s footprint in this world, and what remains after he or she is gone.  Essentially it all boils down to something to the effect of: what is the point of it all?

That’s what I’m hoping my character is going to find out.  It also delves into an issue I’m pretty much always addressing or exploring in some way in my own writing.  I intend to do a more exploratory post on this particular subject, but a year or two ago I discovered, much to my surprise, that I often had characters who either were complete strangers in a new world, or felt like they didn’t belong in their own particular world, or felt alienated in some way.  As someone who now lives very far from their original home, it’s certainly an interesting subject to talk about.  Even more so considering I was originally unaware that I was writing these characters in my short stories and novels.  Then I noticed it in one piece and proceeded to go through all my writings and was quite shocked at the result.  As I said, this will be discussed and explored further in a future post.

While at the famed baths of Bath, I was also able to try some of the warm waters, for a nominal fee of 50p.  I didn’t find it that horrid of a taste, warm and metallic, kind of like the water that comes out of a hose at first on a summer’s day.  I was also able to pick up a great guide/history book on Bath and the baths for a good price, which will help me in my research.

For anyone thinking of visiting Bath, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat.  I traveled from London and was able to reach it in a couple of hours; there is also a train service available.  Throughout the day there are a number of free tours offered that last about two hours and take you all over the town, and often to places you might not have discovered or thought to visit on your own.

Bath is filled with beautiful works of architecture in the form of churches and buildings:


Bath Building
Bath building

And then of course there’s the river and the view looking down upon it:

Bath river
Bath river

Across the Pond Part 1: Upon Arrival I Discovered That . . .


– The British Airways in flight entertainment for regular, “”World Class Traveler” has improved once again to a virtual library where you can select from new releases, older movies, TV series, kids’ TV, and even music with the ability to play entire CDs.  You can pause, fast forward and rewind your movies, while being able to create a playlist with your music, if you so desire.

– The British Airways food was good: a baked smoked salmon with pasta and a cheesy, creamy sauce.

– There is a new technology at customs known as “IRIS” . . . and it’s exactly what you guess.  You enter a pair of automatic, glass saloon-style doors, walk up to the scanner and look into it, have it scan your eyes, and then after approval exit out another pair of similar doors.  The future has apparently arrived, where you can skip providing your passport, and just have a computer scan your eyes.

BookBanter Episode 33 with Justin Cronin

Just Cronin


Justin Cronin

(L-R) Alex C. Telander of BookBanter, Justin Cronin and Kaye Cloutman of San Francisco and Sacramento Book Reviews (Photo by Kaye Cloutman)

This is the first of hopefully many co-interviews for BookBanter, with Kaye Cloutman of the San Francisco and Sacramento Book Reviews. Justin Cronin is the author of The Summer Guest and Mary and O’Neil, and the first book in a epic trilogy about vampires and a post-apocalyptic world called The Passage. In the interview, Justin talks about how he got started writing, where the ideas and storylines for The Passage came from (totally worth hearing), why he began writing The Passage, who some of his influences are, and how he feels readers should handle dealing with an almost 800 page book.

The Passage

For the first time, a BookBanter interview was recorded on video, which you can enjoy below, split into two parts:

For the next couple of weeks I’ll be on vacation, traveling to distant England and Sweden.  So with all things going according to plan, vis a vis Internet connection, the overdue written interview with Gardner Dozois should be up around August 15.

Gardner Dozois

Until then, keep reading!

Alex C. Telander

“The Passage” by Justin Cronin (Ballantine Books, 2010)

The Passagestarstarstarstar

Justin Cronin began work on The Passage when he realized two things: 1) he needed to make more money to support his family, and 2) his then 9-year-old daughter informed him that the two books he’d published so far – The Summer Guest and Mary and O’Neil – were boring.  So he challenged her to come up with an interesting story, and for three months in the afternoon, for an hour each day, while Cronin ran and his daughter learned to ride her bike, they came up with cool and interesting story ideas.  The result, for the most part, was the almost 800-page epic The Passage.

In the style of Stephen King’s The Stand, The Passage is the story of humanity’s attempt to triumph over nature and mortality, and failing miserably.  On an expedition into the deep jungles of Brazil, a group of scientists and mercenaries is attacked by some very unusual bats, killing some, infecting others with a hemorrhagic fever, but most importantly giving survivors a newly discovered virus that proves to be a useful “cure” for humanity.  Under Project Noah, death row inmates from around the country are rescued and brought to a secret government lab where they are injected with this virus and begin the planned transformation into super-soldiers for the US military, but these test subjects soon transform into something not human, with a strength and a hunger that cannot be controlled.  Soon the virus breaks out of the labs and begins to run rampant through the country, turning the population into these powerful, hungry, superhuman vampires.

Our main character and hero to be is a young girl named Amy whose mother, a prostitute trying her best to support her daughter, leaves the girl at a nunnery, where Sister Lacy Antoinette Kudoto looks after her the best she can.  She takes her to the zoo, but Amy begins to act strange, inciting the animals in the cages to rage and fear.  It soon becomes clear that there is something very special about Amy, but then she is captured and kidnapped, taken to the lab and injected with the virus; only it doesn’t affect her quite like it does the other test subjects.

As the country begins to fall apart, more and more people come in contact with the virus, as cities fall and states follow next.  Brad Wolgast is the man who works for Project Noah and first kidnapped Amy, capturing her once more, escaping from the lab and hiding out in the forests of the Oregon, as the country continues to fall to the vampires.  It is here that Cronin reveals an important tenant of the book: the importance of children, and the relationship between a parent and child.  Wolgast is still dealing with the loss of his own child, and seeks companionship with Amy.

And then the book moves ninety-two years into the future, where the United States of America no longer exists.  All that remain are pockets of humanity, eking out a sheltered life, fighting to survive from these vampires.  A particular group, known as the Lost Colony, lives in a well defended fortress in Southern California.  They refer to the vampires as virals.  At the heart of this regimented and protected colony is the Sanctuary, where the children are kept, looked after, fed and educated until the age of 9, when they are reintroduced to the horrible reality of this world.

This is a story of survival, an exploration of the human consciousness and the extent of its abilities in extreme situations.  Cronin has done thorough research, wanting to get all the details right with a study in weaponry, the science of viruses, and actually visiting each and every place mentioned in the book, as well as driving and plotting out the distances covered for accuracy.  His characters are great in number, but are all strong and individual, believable people.  And then there is little Amy, who is the key and crux to the whole story, as well as to the second and third books in the trilogy.

As to whether Justin Cronin has satisfied the two reasons for writing The Passage, after entering into a bidding war among publishers, he received a considerably large advance, and the book has gone on to be a national bestseller, with a movie in development by Ridley Scott’s company.  And because his daughter has played such an important part in developing the story, she no doubt considers this an “interesting book,” though it will be some years before she will be allowed to read it.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on July 29 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

If you liked The Passage, you might like:

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