It's time for He Said, She Said, a newish feature for GuysLitWire in which Book Chic, a recent college graduate (male), and Little Willow, a bookseller (female), discuss books that will appeal to both genders.
In August, we talked about Play Me by Laura Ruby, a YA book written by a woman with a teenage boy as the protagonist.
This month, we're talking about Poison Ink by Christopher Golden, a terrific horror novel. Here we have a story written by a man with a teenage girl as the protagonist. Her four best friends, all female, round out the cast. Christopher Golden always does such a good job of getting into the mindset of a teen girl.
Do you prefer third person narration or first person narration in general? Does that preference depend on whether or not the gender of the narrator matches that of the author?
Book Chic: I generally prefer first person because it’s easier for me to get hooked into a story, though I have read and enjoyed third person narration before. But that could have been another reason why I wasn’t as into the book as I normally would be. When I read Lisa McMann’s “Wake” and E. Lockhart’s “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks” (both AMAZING books), I was a bit jarred because of the third person and I had been reading lots of first person books before starting those. I don’t think it matters who’s writing it and whether they match, it’s more of a question of what kind I’ve been reading more of lately, and YA books do tend to lean more towards the first person than third.
Little Willow: I also loved Disreputable History. I like both first person and third person narratives, but I suppose I prefer first person. When I write stories with a female protagonist, I tend to use first person, but when I write with a male protagonist, I’m more likely to write in third person. In Poison Ink, Christopher Golden uses third person to relate Sammi’s story. He tends to use third person in his novels, no matter what the age or gender of the leading character. Whenever it calls for it, he always does a great job getting into the mindset of a teen girl. I don’t know exactly how he does it, but it’s really impressive. Have you read his mystery series called Body of Evidence? The main character there was also female – Jenna Blake, a college student, and one of my favorite characters created by Golden.
Who was your favorite character in the book?
BC: My favorite character would probably have to be Cute Adam, as I'm very much a sucker for male romantic leads, ha ha. I do hope that he and Sammi work things out eventually. I also really enjoyed Sammi since she was pretty much the main character of the novel. I really liked her for her perseverance, and for doing everything possible to help and save her friends.
LW: I liked Sammi as well. I feel as though I got to know her the best, since she was the main character, the filter through which readers saw the story unfold. However, since the narrative was in third-person, that allowed her some space as well.
Do you share personality traits with any of the five main characters?
BC: Like TQ, I'm quite shy, at least around new people, but once you get to know me, I am more outgoing. And while this isn't really a personality trait, I share the homosexuality aspect with Letty. I don't think I really shared any other traits with the five friends.
LW: The girls come together because they were floaters who didn't fit in any other groups at school. I really appreciated how different the girls were, and that they bonded despite those differences. When I was in high school, I knew people in various cliques and social circles. I didn't have a close-knit group of friends, though, like these girls do. As far as physical commonalities, let's see . . . Oh! I'm short, and so are Sammi and Caryn. Described as 5'3", they are three inches taller than I am.
Would you ever get a tattoo?
LW: No, never. I have no desire to ever get a tattoo. It's not about the pain or the health risks that may or may not be involved. Instead, it's that I value different forms of expression and art. I create things with my voice, my words, and my movement - speaking and singing, dancing and acting, writing and directing - rather than drawing anything on my skin. My ears are not pierced, and I never wear makeup unless I'm on stage or in front of a camera. I have never even dyed my hair, and don't plan on doing so unless a part calls for it; even then, if that ever happens, it will be temporary, and I will restore my hair to its natural color and state after completing the project. I understand that others have tattoos and piercings as expressions of art and of themselves, and that's fine— those methods simply aren't for me.
BC: I pretty much agree with you. I wouldn't get one for the reasons you described, but it is also about the pain for me. I'm very fragile, and do not like any sort of pain. I'm also worried about the long-term when it comes to tattoos and what happens when you get older. Not really a good thing. But I do quite enjoy looking at tattoos though; they are very beautiful, and usually there's a fascinating story behind it. Also, while it's not a requirement, it would be cool (and ok, kinda hot) if my future boyfriend had a tattoo on his arm or chest. But, for myself, tattoos are just not my thing.
Do you have any favorite scenes or quotes from the book?
BC: Other than the climax, not really, though I did also enjoy any scene between Sammi and Adam. Surprisingly, I don’t really pay much attention to specific lines or anything while reading, so I usually never think of favorite lines once I’m done.
LW: I LOVE the line, "Everything had been poisoned, and the poison was spreading." I used it at the book's website as well as my blog posts about the book because I thought it was such a great quote. It sums up the premise and it's just lovely. I picture the poison ink actually spreading, as if the jar had been tipped over.
Do you enjoy horror stories as a general rule?
BC: I’m not sure if I’ve read very many horror stories, or at least ones that were specifically horror. I do enjoy them, but I also tend to avoid them, as I am WAY easily scared and don’t need stories to help my imagination, lol.
LW: I like horror stories that are thought-provoking and plot-driven. When they are based on something psychological, they are even better. I love the original run of The Twilight Zone. It was smart and derived its horror from real things rather than relying on blood and guts. I don’t like a lot of modern horror films, especially not slasher flicks that are gory for gore’s sake, and I’m not a fan of cheesy special effects. Reading a book is different than watching a television show or film, because the reader has control over his or her mental theatre and imagination.
If this book were made into a movie, who would you cast in the main roles?
BC: Eep! I hate this question, as I’m sure authors probably do too. I’m never good at picking out people who look like the characters— that’s the casting person’s job and they’re good at it. I am not. For Sammi though, the person that I had in my head while reading the book was my friend Sammi since they had the same name, though I don’t think they look anything alike. Other than that, I can’t really remember if I pictured any of the characters as actual people. For Adam, maybe Michael Cera? I don’t know.
LW: If and when the book gets optioned for film, I’ll share my casting ideas with the powers-that-be. Until then, I’ll simply say that I’d hope the actors cast matched the character descriptions that Golden provided. I had a really clear picture of each character in my head.
Without giving too much away, what did you think of the villain, the climax, and the conclusion?
BC: I really liked the villain (well, how he was portrayed, not what he did). It was kind of a surprise how he turned, though you could see it even from the beginning. I enjoyed the twist in the book when Sammi went to see what was in his back room. As I said in my review, the climax was AMAZING. I loved it, and I seriously could not put the book down. The ending was really good too, though it wasn’t exactly what I expected. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to ruin anything for the blog readers!
LW: You gave away the villain’s gender! *grin* I don’t want to spoil anything for potential readers either, so I’ll simply say that it was a killer ending.
This concludes Part 1 of our Christopher Golden He Said, She Said posts. Part 2 will be up hopefully later this month or in early November where we will discuss his October release with MTV Books, Soulless.
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