The Indubitable Dweeb
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April 1, 2014

Upcoming Appearances (March to May, 2014)

Updated often, so check back from time-to-time why don’t you?

  • AaronStarmerAuthorPhotoSaturday, March 22, 2014: Books of Wonder (New York, NY) from 1-3PM, with Laura Marx Fitzgerald and Rebecca Behrens
  • Sunday, March 23, 2014: Oblong Books (Rhinebeck, NY) at 4PM, with Kari Sutherland
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014: Foxborough Regional Charter School (Foxborough, MA) from 5:30pm-8pm
  • Saturday, April 19, 2014: Easton YA Festival (Easton, PA) from 10:30am-3pm, with Josh Berk, Michael Northrop and a metric ton of YA authors
  • Thursday, May 1, 2014: The All Ages Show, Rutgers University YA Conference (New Brunswick, NJ) from 10am-1pm, with Lev Grossman, Claire Legrand, Catherynne Valente and Clay McLeod Chapman
  • Saturday, May 3, 2014: SCBWI New England Conference (Springfield, MA), with Laurel Snyder and Kate Milford
  • Wednesday, May 7, 2014: Teen Author Reading Night (New York, NY) from 6-7:30pm at Jefferson Market Branch of NYPL (corner of 6th Ave and 10th St) with Corey Haydu, Barry Lyga, Andy Marino, Kieran Scott and Yvonne Vintresca
  • Wednesday, May 14, 2014: WORD Bookstore (Jersey City, NJ) from 7:30pm-8:30pm with Jorge Aguirre and Michelle Knudsen
  • Saturday, May 17, 2014: Rochester Teen Book Festival (Rochester, NY) from 9am-5pm, with Jonathan Auxier and assorted YA royalty
  • Tuesday, May 27, 2014: McNally Jackson (New York, NY) at 7pm, with Tony Abbott, Christopher Healy and J.A. White.
  • Saturday, May 31, 2014: Jefferson Market Library (New York, NY) from 5pm-8pm for the Kids Author Carnival, with dozens of other middle grade authors
March 15, 2014

Reviews and Accolades for The Riverman

riverman_reading_img

The Riverman arrives in just a few days but a few people have already read it. They’ve got some things to say, so hear them out, okay?

PRESS REVIEWS

  • Wall Street Journal:  “…an ominous awareness of loss flows all the way through Aaron Starmer’s riveting and sophisticated novel for younger adolescents…There is plenty of surprise, though, and it resides in almost everything else that happens in this emotionally complex tale…The story of what follows…unfolds with disarming naturalness, yet every page feels so carefully written that, although we can’t predict what will take place, we feel certain that the author knows exactly where he is taking us.”

TRADE REVIEWS

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review): “Lines between reality and fantasy blur in this powerful, disquieting tale of lost children, twisted friendship and the power of storytelling.”
  • Booklist: “In this dark, twisting tale, readers are never sure if Fiona’s story is true or not, and they won’t want to stop reading until they find out…this magical tale is sure to please readers of urban fantasy, and with its theme of missing children and changing friendships, it will be perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint, too.”
  • School Library Journal: “This novel built of stories yields nightmares…This writerly, chiaroscuro book is replete with the portent of violence, and thick with ideas about the psychological need for stories, all while questioning the ability of stories to redeem the tellers. Readers will find themselves confronted with deep, unanswered questions regarding the relationship of collective imaginary worlds to reality, the evolving nature of memories and friendships, and the unknowability of people. Those ready to explore darker realities will devour this book.”
  • The Bulletin of the Center For Children’s Books (recommended): “Somewhere between Holly Black’s Doll Bones and Nova Ren Suma’s 17 & Gone in audience and tone, this blend of magical realism and mystery blurs the line between reality and fantasy, setting up a creepy unease that both disturbs and propels the reader forward…the deliciously tangled web of a plot defies categorization.”
  • Publisher’s Weekly (pick of the week): “Starmer explores the relationship between creation and theft, reality and fantasy in this haunting novel…the novel’s strength is in the pervasive aura of unknowing that Starmer creates and sustains.”
  • VOYA Magazine: “The Riverman contains plenty of boisterous action—mischief nights with “eggings”—and dialogue peppered with enough “greasy farts” talk to entertain middle schoolers. Alistair, Fiona, and Charlie are memorable characters. The amazing Fiona-controlled Aquavania where chocolate-chip-mint ice cream covers the ground will also delight fantasy readers. But this story also incorporates deeper story threads ripe for exploration…There is a lot to ponder and recommend in this unusual tale.”

BLOG REVIEWS

  • Betsy Bird’s Fuse #8 Blog (at School Library Journal): “As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the best of 2014…Once everyone’s read it, I’m going to have SO much more to say. A good book does that. It gives your tongue wings. The Riverman may creep you out and make you want to hide under the covers for a good long while, but just TRY to set it down. Can’t be done. And that is what I look for in a book.”
  • The Off-Topic Blog of Kurtis Scaletta: “Like When You Reach Me and BreadcrumbsThe Riverman is about real people with real problems who find a twist in their reality. And like those books, I would find it deeply engaging even without the fantastic angle. It is the nuanced, believable children dealing with mundane crises that make it a great book.”
  • Smell of Wine and Cheap Perfume: “I not only burned through this one, but wanted to start reading again immediately as soon as I was finished.”
  • Great Imaginations: “The Riverman is at once an entertaining fantasy, a coming of age tale, and scary glimpse of what can happen when one is stuck in one’s own head for too long.  With dark, dry humor, and a smart protagonist, The Riverman is a book that will be stuck in my head for a long time to come.”
  • A Reader of Fictions: “Do you have a vast imagination and love to think about the worlds it could create? Do you like middle grade novels that will creep you out and make you think? If yes, then you need The Riverman in your life, I promise.”
  • Reed Reads Book Reviews: “The story unfolds slowly and beautifully, the reader never sure of where it is going. When I reviewed Aaron Starmer’s The Only Ones, I said it was “weird, in the most literary way.” After reading his second book, I can say that Aaron is one of the most creative children’s writers out there. There is nothing formula about either books.”
  • Hidden in Pages: “This is an incredibly engaging read and very hard to put down…This is a truly unique book and I really enjoyed it.”
  • Bibliomantics: “Sure on the outside the novel seems like a book about a boogie man that children need to fear, but it goes so much deeper than that, exploring the flawed nature of memories…and even more so about how the unbelievable stories people tell themselves in their own imaginations are merely coping mechanisms to deal with the world at large.”
  • Three Storey Books:  “Aaron Starmer brings us on a dark, atmospheric fantasy adventure that deals with friendship, belief, love and all of the challenges these bring to a 12 year old boy. Not your typical coming of age story, The Riverman is infused with a sense of foreboding and more questions than answers as Starmer’s exceedingly well crafted characters lead us on Alistair’s well meaning, insightful journey into what could be either a menacing alternate reality or the mind of girl trying to make sense of fear and abuse.”
  • Cougars Book Blog: “The Riverman is odd and intriguing, suspenseful and absorbing. Middle school readers, as well as juvenile and YA fiction readers of any age, will not be able to put this down.”
  • Lust and Coffee: “This book is a page turner. Every chapter is so tense that I really wanted to finish it in one night, but my eyes wouldn’t compromise.”

SELECTIONS

November 8, 2013

Win an Advance Reading Copy (ARC) of The Riverman

RivermanBanner

I have a confession.

I want you to read my books. Shocking, but true. For years, I’ve told people that I write these things for the sole purpose of creating such a big demand for paper that we have to deforest Saskatchewan. And while we all hold our grudges against Saskatchewan, I haven’t been completely honest. Because, yes, I also want you to read these things.

Before you curse me under your breath and plan your revenge, please put it all in perspective. I’m not asking much. 5-15 hours of your time, maybe? If you live to 100 (and I know you will, because you eat yogurt and take spin classes and look stunning for your age), then at most you’ll have spent .0017 % of your life with my silly little stories. Considering that a recent study showed that, on average, we spend 8% of our lives flossing, then I think you can spare a tiny fraction of a percentage, right?

And once you read my book, you know what will happen? You will tell five friends about it, who will tell five friends, and so on and so forth, until the book is sitting on the desk of the director of the FBI and I’ll be up on charges for running a pyramid scheme. But it will all be worth it.

So, in an effort to get this chain of events started, I’m offering a signed advance reading copy (ARC) of The Riverman to one person (or sentient being). What is The Riverman, you ask? Here’s a teaser:

riverman coverTo sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here’s mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger.

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here’s the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair’s doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there’s a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there’s a creature called the Riverman and he’s stealing the souls of children. Fiona’s soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else…something even more terrifying.

Every culture has a magical river story. Some rivers promise the pleasures of eternal youth, while others promise the paradise of eternal salvation. The Riverman promises a more exhilarating alternative. Dive into this book and you may never resurface.” – Jack Gantos, Newbery Award-winning author of Dead End in Norvelt

Like When You Reach Me and Breadcrumbs, The Riverman is about real people with real problems who find a twist in their reality. And like those books, I would find it deeply engaging even without the fantastic angle. It is the nuanced, believable children dealing with mundane crises that make it a great book.” – Kurtis Scaletta, author of Mudville, Mamba Point and The Winter of the Robots.

Intrigued? I wish I had enough copies to shower them from a building Henry Sugar-style, but alas, I have but one to spare. For now, at least. And what do you have to do to get it? Here are the rules.

To enter to win a copy of The Riverman, you must:

  1. Write a comment, any comment, on this blog post.
  2. Live in the USA and possess the ability to receive US mail.

That’s it. I’ll pick a commenter at random, assuming there’s more than one commenter. And I’ll mail that moderately lucky person the book. Contest closes on Thanksgiving (November 28), because…why the hell not?

If you’d prefer an e-copy, try your luck at NetGalley. And if you’re a good reader, then go on and add the book to your Goodreads shelf. It will all help the cause, which is sharing a story. Beats deforestation.

Thanks!

 

UPDATE: A WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN! (using Random.org)

Commenter #14 (aka Mark) will receive a signed ARC! Well done, Mark. Your commenting skills have served you well.

July 23, 2013

The Riverman, a Novel

It’s been almost two years in the making, but I can finally reveal more about my latest book, The Riverman. It won’t officially bust out into the world until March 2014, but a few advance reader copies have escaped their cage and if you find one, hogtie it and read it, then shout your opinions about it from the mountaintops (or from a blog or social media platform of your choice).

For the rest of you, here’s a teaser:

“To sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here’s mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger.”

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here’s the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair’s doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there’s a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there’s a creature called the Riverman and he’s stealing the souls of children. Fiona’s soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else…something even more terrifying.

And here’s a blurb from the inimitable, incredible, award-hoarding author of Dead End in Norvelt, Hole in My Life and the Joey Pigza series:

“Every culture has a magical river story. Some rivers promise the pleasures of eternal youth, while others promise the paradise of eternal salvation. The Riverman promises a more exhilarating alternative. Dive into this book and you may never resurface.”Jack Gantos

And here are the cold hard facts:

The Riverman was edited by Joy Peskin. It is represented by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. It will be published on March 18, 2014 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, a division of Macmillan. Without these dedicated and talented people, it would not be the book that it is. In fact, it would not be a book at all.

Finally, here’s the cover, designed by Beth Clark and illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova:

riverman cover

June 15, 2013

School Visit: Learning Community Charter School of Jersey City, NJ

DWEEB

Do you see that picture? Seriously, folks, do you understand the ridiculously awesome thing you’re looking at there? Click on it for closer inspection. That, my friends, is the blood, sweat and tears of three classes of 5th Graders at LCCS in Jersey City, NJ. These kids were kind enough to not only read DWEEB, but also create some amazing artwork based on the book. You are looking at movie posters! Cereal boxes! Comic strips! Character profiles! And hamburgers of all shapes, sizes and dimensions! Amazing? You better believe it.

I had the distinct honor of visiting these young readers and artists last Thursday. They welcomed me into their school with kindness, questions and pizza. A special thank you goes out to the teachers and staff who invited me, especially Ms. Litman, a friend from the days of yore. LCCS is a wonderful school with kids so smart and audacious that they are demanding a sequel to DWEEB (Random House, are you listening?) and a 150-million-dollar movie based on the book…starring them:

LCCS kids

P.S. One of these kids was wearing a Keith Richards T-shirt. He should probably be cast in the role of Elijah.