Hello 2014! What’s to come . . .

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2014 by Matt

Hello 2014! What's to come . . .

WILL IN SCARLET named one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2013!

Posted in Awards, Best Children's Books, Middle Grade Books, Plugs, Robin Hood, Shameless, Will in Scarlet, YA Books on December 2, 2013 by Matt

BOTYchildrens2013_75._SL75_V352881300_

 

I’m late posting this (though I did do a ridiculous victory dance on Twitter when it was first announced. But I’m happy to say that Will in Scarlet is in very good company. Just in time for the holidays, too . . . .

It’s time for YallFest Y’all!

Posted in Appearances, Life, Middle Grade Books, Shameless, Tour, Writing, YA Books on November 5, 2013 by Matt

The schedule has been posted, the streets of Charleston cordoned off, and locals are hiding their cookie jars because the authors are coming to town!

 

Here’s the schedule for this weekend’s festivities, but I’ll point out a few things I’ll be involved in below (The Storyball will be particularly nuts):

SATURDAY NOV. 9TH PANELS

1PM

CMH: THE MIDDLE GRADE STORYBALL Pseudonymous Bosch, Adam Gidwitz, Lisi Harrison, Alexander London, Lisa McMann, Barnabas Miller, Lauren Oliver, Carrie Ryan, Natalie Standiford, JE Thompson, Sean Williams (All Middle Grade Authors will be on stage!) Moderator: Matthew Cody

4PM

BALLROOM: WRITING FOR KIDS Matthew Cody, Adam Gidwitz, Lisa McMann, Carrie Ryan,, C. Alexander London Moderator: Pseudonymous Bosch

6PM

CMH: YA Smackdown SOLD OUT

Starred Review for WILL IN SCARLET!

Posted in Appearances, Middle Grade Books, Reviews, Robin Hood, Shameless, Tour, Will in Scarlet, YA Books on November 3, 2013 by Matt

I’m currently in lovely Saratoga Springs visiting the equally lovely Northshire Bookstore, but I wanted to take a moment from the road and share this very nice review from The Bulletin. They say so many nice things I’m going all blushy.

«Cody, MatthewWill in Scarlet.Knopf, 2013[272p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-375-86895-5$16.99
Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-96895-2$19.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-375-89980-5$10.99
Reviewed from galleys    R*Gr. 5-7
With his father off crusading for King Richard, thirteen-year-old Will Shackley must leave childhood mischief behind him as he takes on the responsibility of governing the Shackley estate. He makes a fine start, slaughtering two wolves during a hunt with his father’s men, but when Prince John’s thugs later attack Will’s home in an attempt to force fealty, the boy flees the battle to survive. Finding refuge among a merry band of thieves (including a drunken archer named Rob) in Sherwood Forest, Will sets out to plan his revenge but is soon confronted with the possibility that injustice is not simply the fault of one bad man. The punches packed in this historical action tale are both physical and emotional, as Will discovers that the sheltered world he grew up in is a privilege for very few and a distant dream for most. Cody’s pacing is a clever construction of frenzied but focused fight sequences balanced with quiet, subtle moments of self-reflection on Will’s part. Rich characterization does justice to each of the main players here, especially the villains: their motivations are made clear and understandable so that readers, like Will, come to realize the world is a complicated place with room for good and evil and much in between. Early scenes of wolf hunting and thrilling ambushes will likely draw even the most reluctant reader in, while the careful prose and likable hero will see them through to the satisfying conclusion.  KQG

A Scurrilous National Book Tour (with updates!)

Posted in Appearances, Middle Grade Books, New Book, Plugs, Robin Hood, Tour, Will in Scarlet, Writing, YA Books on September 17, 2013 by Matt

I’ll be traveling the country this fall talking about Will in Scarlet to any vagabonds and scallywags that will listen! Below is the schedule of where you can find me and when. Be sure to check back for updates as we get closer to the actual dates!

Huzzah!

Friday, October 4th

Voracious Reader (Larchmont, NY)

Sunday, October 13th

New York Comic-Con : The Magic of Storytelling Panel – 10:45 am in hall 1A17

Tuesday, October 15th 

Lemuria Books (Jackson, MS) Signing 5:00 pm

Thursday, October 17th

The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC) Signing 4:00 pm

Friday, October 18th

McIntyre’s Books (Chapel Hill, NC) School visits. Not open to the public.

Saturday, October 19th

Barnes & Noble (Cary, NC) Signing 4:00 pm

Sunday, October 20th

Barnes & Noble (Skokie, IL) This event has been canceled

Monday, October 21st

Anderson’s Bookshop (Downer’s Grove, IL) Signing 7:00 pm

Tuesday, October 22nd

The Book Stall (Winnetka, IL) Signing 4:30 pm

Saturday, October 26th

Books of Wonder (New York City, NY) Fantastic Middle Grade Reads Panel 1:00 pm

Friday, November 1st

The Center for Fiction (New York – not open to the public)

Sunday, November 3rd

Northshire Bookstore (Saratoga, NY) Time TBD

Saturday, November 9th

YALLFest (Charleston, SC) Schedule TBD

 

Nice Early Review for WILL IN SCARLET

Posted in Middle Grade Books, Robin Hood, Will in Scarlet, YA Books on August 21, 2013 by Matt

This early review for Will just came in from Kirkus Reviews. Since you can’t see the whole thing until September without a subscription, I’ll post it here. Huzzah!

The origin story of one of the Merry Men is rousingly told.
It’s 1192. Thirteen-year-old Will Shackley, son of a lord returning from the Holy Land with King Richard I, becomes caught up in deadly political machinations when he runs afoul of the evil Sir Guy of Gisborne, loyal to the king’s usurping brother, Prince John. Wounded after fleeing his ancestral home and his beloved uncle’s murder, Will is grudgingly given haven in Sherwood Forest by a band of outlaws headed by a brute (no—not what you’re thinking). Determined to return to his father’s castle to exact revenge upon Sir Guy, now installed there, Will leads the band on a raid with treasure as its ostensible object. As the tale proceeds, Will, a deft swordsman wearing a red coat that gives him his name, finds friendship among the outlaws and begins to feel loyalty to them; he also grows in maturity as he learns that villainy isn’t as easily recognizable as he once believed. Readers familiar with the Robin Hood legend will find an unusual, perhaps unsettling, interpretation of their hero: First appearing as a drunken, irresponsible lout, Rob, too, develops self-discipline and eventually hits his stride; the story of how he comes to lead the Merry Men is plausibly told. There’s action, adventure and humor here, not to mention a fiercely proud female disguised as a boy. Characters are likable, and some modern turns of phrase don’t interrupt the narrative’s flow.
A nice addition to the Robin Hood canon. (map, cast of characters) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Craft vs. Conscience: Thoughts on the Movie MAN OF STEEL

Posted in Comics, Life, Miscellany, Movies, Superheroes, Writing on June 23, 2013 by Matt

This is not a review of the movie Man of Steel. Mainly because I’m not a good critic, and my review would read something like this – “I saw Man of Steel and l liked parts of it. Other parts, not so much.”

See? Useless review. But I have had some people, readers mainly, ask me what I thought of it. It’s probably because I write a series of books about superheroes and, let’s be honest, the Superman myth hangs over my books like a big . . . thing that hangs over books.

So no review here (unless you count the above, in which case you are awfully easy to please.) What I do want to write about is the story that they told, why I think several of the more controversial choices were interesting from a storytelling perpective, and whether in the end I would have made those same choices.

So if you are interested in reading that, put on your Spoiler Boots and read on! (seriously though, I’m going to spoil the dickens of it. Be warned.)

 

First of all: the controversy. What most folks seem to want to know is how I feel about Superman’s final act, in which he kills General Zod. I’d actually had this bit spoiled for me before seeing the movie (thanks Twitter) so I don’t know how shocked I would have been if I hadn’t seen it coming, or how that would have affected my reaction. That being said . . . I wasn’t all that shocked. As a matter of fact, I thought it was one of the more honest resolutions I’ve seen in a superhero story in quite a while.

“What?” I hear you screaming. “You think it’s okay for Superman to murder? What about when you wrote this!

Relax, put down that plate. No, I don’t think it’s okay for Superman to murder, and I don’t think Superman as portrayed in the film thinks it’s okay either. He’s forced into an impossible situation, and is immediately filled with remorse and shame because of his action.

But let’s consider the alternative typical Hollywood solution: in most films Superman would not have killed Zod himself, but Zod would have conveniently brought about his own death in some kind of last ditch attack. (See Spiderman, see Batman Begins, see Superman II for goodness sake! That’s three Kryptonians who fall to their doom in that one.)

That’s the Hollywood cop-out. Give the audience their catharsis by killing the bad guy, but excuse the hero from any culpability because he didn’t pull the trigger. And that’s lazy storytelling. The makers of this story went a different direction, one fraught with moral implications and repercussions. It served to deepen what is basically “Superman Begins.”

Same thing with Pa Kent. Far from the true moral compass that we’ve seen in other versions, this Pa was a source of doubt in Clark. He instilled in his son fear – the fear of being discovered as different. Sure he was loving and full of pithy sayings, but he was also a therapist’s dream (and here I thought Batman was the hero with daddy issues.) But this decision wasn’t made lightly, I’m sure. Again, it gave Clark depth, inner conflict and a character arc to follow.

So craft-wise, I get both those decisions. They yield story potential, they serve what I am sure was the corporate mandate of “shake this franchise up!”

Now, back to Zod. Would I have ended it like that? That’s the question that I am getting asked, so here is the answer at long last:

No.

Even though I understand and, in some ways, respect the decision of those storytellers, I would not have made the same decision they did. Because I think that with Superman, heck with superheroes in general, there is always another way. They are aspirational, they are inspirational. Even with all their faults and foibles, at the end of the day they inspire wonder because they can do the things we cannot. They think of possible solutions to impossible problems, like how to stop Zod from killing others, without killing him yourself (if only there were a Phantom Zone to toss him into . . .)

Folks might say, “but that’s not realistic.” Nope. Neither is a guy flying around in a cape. We’re telling a myth here, and mythology deals in wonders. Go find another genre if that doesn’t suit you. The body count is high out there in fiction these days, so you won’t have to look far.

Which brings me again to did I like the movie? Parts of it I did, and parts I didn’t. I think it’s obvious which ones.

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