Firebug Blog Tour Q & A and Giveaway!

I absolutely love everything Lish McBride has put out there. I love her twitter feed, too! 

This is an author with just the right level of snark. 
     Just the right level of swagger. 

Her books and her characters make me chuckle, cheer, and captivate me all along the way. 

Firebug (Firebug #1)

by Lish McBride
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 23rd 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
ISBN 0805098623 (ISBN13: 9780805098624)
Source: I received an advanced copy from the publisher for my honest thoughts. 
Ava can start fires with her mind . . . but is it a blessing or a curse?
Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren't caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She's one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn't like it one bit. Not least because her mother's death was ordered by Venus—who is now her boss.

When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can't say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.

My Thoughts:
I love Ava! I love her friends. I love how McBride manages to upend many "gender norms" by giving Ava the fire power and giving her male friend, Lock, the earth style dryad magic. Ava's guardian, Cade, loves to garden and cans his own food. Yes, this is a world where people can do what they do best, no matter what body they were born into.

I also love the "book love" throughout the story. Cade owns a used book store called Broken Spines. Sprinkled across the whole story are references to classic tales. That wins my heart.

My favorite part, though, is the interactions between the characters. McBride has a knack for crafting witty banter. I lost track of the number of times I stopped and made a little note about a particularly amusing bit of dialogue. There's plenty of fast paced action to keep the story moving, but it's these little nuggets that keep me coming back to her books.

Okay - enough of my thoughts.... time for the Q&A! There is also a chance to win a hardcover copy of the book for readers in the US or Canada. (Thank you to MacMillan Publishing!) Be sure to check out the giveaway all the way at the bottom of the page! 

1) I love reading about the special powers you give your characters. While I’d be very nervous to discover I could create fire, power over trees would be pretty amazing. What special power would you wish to have? 

     This kind of question always makes me want to answer with, “The power…to move you.” And then I have Tenacious D stuck in my head all day, because it’s from their song Wonderboy.
     I wouldn’t want Ava’s power, either. I’d accidentally burn down the house and also my trousers, and everything would go wrong. I’m not sure I can be trusted with power, really. I think it would corrupt me (more that I am now) and I would use it selfishly for evil. That being said, I think being a were creature would be pretty neat. If only so I could heal, like Wolverine.

2) One of my favorite “little touches” in your books are your chapter titles. I especially enjoyed “The Winds of Change Kind of Blow” and “If I’m Going to Go Through Hell, There Should at Least Be Some Bacon”. How do you create these titles? Does the plot in each chapter come first, do the titles help guide the events, or is it something else?

     Ha-my editor also loves the Winds of Change one. Sometimes the title comes first, if I have a firm idea what the chapter is going to be about. Sometimes, as editing happens, the chapter titles change. Most of the time, I go back and title the chapter right after I’ve finished the first draft of that particular chapter. Sometimes I leave it for a bit if I can’t think of anything good. So basically, it varies from chapter to chapter.

3) In your biography, you mention volunteering at the 826 Seattle Writing and Tutoring Center. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do there?

     Yes! I’ve volunteered at 826 Seattle for…5 years? 6? I love it. The thing that I do regularly is help on the Thursday field trips. Teachers sign up for field trips through 826 Seattle (anything there for kids is free) and the spots go pretty quick. The classes our group gets are usually 4th and 5th graders. We do a Choose Your Own Adventure fieldtrip. The class comes in at ten AM. We go over what makes a CYOA story different from a regular story—we explain Second Person narrative, Choices, etc. Then we all brainstorm the starting point for our story—where is the character? What is the character doing? (Answer: usually the character is in Candyland eating a lot of candy.) Then we write a page together. After that we break into two groups and write the pages that spawn from the choices. Then we split again. We write lots of pages like this and the volunteers do their best to get all the kids to share their ideas. The last few pages the kids handwrite on their own. Those will be the endings to their copy of the book. By the time they leave at noon, they have a 15 page book with an illustrated cover, and their picture and bio on the back, bound and in their hands. It’s pretty cool. Once a month we do a graphic novel field trip instead. 

     Sometimes I teach writing workshops there as well, usually in the summer. 826 programs range from first graders all the way through high school, and like I said, anything for a kid is free. It’s a pretty amazing program. There are several around the US. You can find links to them at The first year I volunteered I also did a little tutoring, but I’m not very good at that stuff. I do better with the fieldtrips and writing workshops. 

4) Broken Spines sounds like a used book store I could hole up in for days. Since your “day job” is also working in a bookstore, I bet you have a lot of ideas about what makes an ideal shop. If you were going to open a store of your own, and money was no concern, what would your bookstore be like?

     Honesty, my tastes are surprisingly simple. There must be a café. Tea and coffee are life essentials. (As are cookies.) Gleaming hardwood floors would be nice—my current workspace is in need of new floors, and it’s something I think about any time I have to vacuum. Good, sturdy bookshelves. We don’t have a shop cat at my store, either. I would like that. And a nice event space. So stuff you’d find at most of the bigger indie bookstores. Lots of squishy chairs to sit in. Perhaps a fireplace? Yes. And a throne on a raised dais for me to sit on so I could lord over it all, watching as my minions scurried about to do my bidding…

See? All power goes straight to my head.

5) Okay, just one more “bookish” question! You mention several literary classics in Firebug, like Lord of the Flies and Count of Monte Cristo. If you could only recommend five classics for your readers to be sure they have read, what would they be? Feel free to define “classics” in any way that works for you! 

     I’m actually quite picky with my classics. I hated a lot of the ones I had to read in high school. Hated. And if that had been my only exposure to reading? Well, let’s just say that I understand sometimes why kids come out of our schools hating books. I don’t condone it, but I can see their point. I hated Lord of the Flies. My poor English teacher, Mrs. Lackman. She kept trying to discuss the book and I kept saying, “But they’re on an island! I get the symbolism of the pig and all, but why can’t someone go fishing? Claming? Eat some seaweed. SOMETHING.” I know they are sheltered school boys, but c’mon. I liked Count of Monte Cristo right up until the end. Then I threw it at a wall, but I didn’t read that until college. I actually have huge blanks in my classics because I left high school so early. (I dropped out at the beginning of 11th grade.) I’m still trying to catch up on the classics, and I’m slowly figuring out which ones I like. So, in no particular order, here are a few (but not all) that I enjoy:

Frankenstein—seriously the first time I sat down and really burned through a classic. Love this book. Never could make it through Dracula, though. Every time I got to the bits written by the girl, I got bored.

Pride & Prejudice—cliché, I know. I didn’t actually read Jane Austen until about a year ago. I just assumed I wouldn’t like her books. Then I read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters, and I enjoyed those, so I thought, “Hey, I should check out the source material.” And I honestly loved Pride & Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet is smart and fierce and witty. She’s just a pleasure to read. And the book reads like gossip. I listened to it on audio, and it was almost like watching a soap opera. I kept wanting to gasp and say, “That cad!”

Beowulf—there are various translations of Beowulf, though I find that Seamus Heaney’s is pretty accessible. This story is as classic as you can get as it is (I believe) the oldest written story in English. Lots of people get beaten to death with various limbs. There are sword fights and monsters. A lot of fun. When you get to classics like these, stories that were originally oral tales, I like to listen to them on audio. Like The Odyssey or the Illiad. Those were meant to be heard, not read.

The Canterbury Tales—my first year at Seattle University, my advisor picked my classes for some reason. He placed me in Chaucer and it was a really hard class. The professor was fantastic, though. She truly loved the work, and her love was infectious. And I was surprised at how bawdy the stories were. Chaucer was really funny, and a lot of his stuff read like high-brow fart jokes, basically. And that continues to amuse me.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—my mom read the whole series to me and my brothers several times when we were kids, and it really stayed with me. It was a story that really caught in my imagination. The books were beautiful and a little bit sad, and courageous. CS Lewis never backed down from showing something horrible. I mean, the book starts with kids being whisked off into the countryside because of the bombings. Real, scary history for the reader to contend with. But I also loved how he showed unexpected things in characters—like when Lucy is trying to tell everyone about Narnia and her siblings are calling her a liar, and they go to the professor and you expect the professor to dismiss her story out of hand. Instead, based on Lucy’s character, he believes her. As a kid, I thought that was a pretty cool idea.

I know you said five, but I’m also a Shakespeare fan. I saw some of his plays as a kid at the Ashland Shakespeare festival and they made in impression. Something about outdoor theatres and people walking around in costume appeals to me.

See? I told you Lish McBride rocks! Grab a copy of Firebug now, and don't forget to enter to win a copy from the publisher below... 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

-Read an excerpt of Firebug now!
-Download the first five chapters of Firebug for free!
-Follow Lish McBride on Twitter!
-Become a fan on Facebook!
-Check out her website!

Tour Stops:

Monday September 15
Adventures of a Book Junkie

Tuesday September 16

Thursday September 18
Teen Librarian Toolbox

Friday September 19
Maria’s Mélange

Monday September 22
Tales of a Ravenous Reader

Tuesday September 23
Novel Novice

Wednesday September 24
MacTeenBooks Blog

Thursday September 25
Good Books and Good Wine

Friday September 26
Carina’s Books


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