Tuesday, June 01, 2010

How I Became a Character in a Sookie Stackhouse Novel: A Guest Post by Author Helen Ellis (& Review of The Turning: What Curiosity Kills)

I am thrilled to have author Helen Ellis here at Musings of a Bookish Kitty today. She is the author of Eating the Cheshire Cat and The Turning: What Curiosity Kills, the first in a new Young Adult series. I had the honor of reviewing her book What Curiosity Kills (see review below). But first, I wanted to give you a chance to get to know the author. I admit I'm a little envious--her own character in one of my favorite series!

Please join me in welcoming Helen Ellis!

How I Became a Character in a Sookie Stackhouse Novel

Looking at Musings of a Bookish Kitty, I noticed you’re participating in the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge. I’ve been reading the series for years. Once I saw the glittery vampire on a shelf at Greenwich Village indie bookstore, Partners & Crime, and read the first page I was hooked. In fact, I love Charlaine Harris’s novels so much that I’m in one!

For fun, my mother and sister and I went to the annual cozy mystery convention, Malice Domestic (see photo). Charlaine Harris was guest of honor. There was a charity auction, and one of the items up for bid was to have a character named after you in the next Sookie Stackhouse book. Well, let’s just say my paddle did not go back into my lap until I was the last one standing (see photo)! A year later, my fictional self was born:
“Her name was Helen Ellis, and she’d worked at Merlotte’s about four years before. Though Helen was competent and so pretty she’d drawn the men like flies, Sam had to fire her for her repeated lateness. Helen had been volcanically upset…She was wearing a leopard print top over brown stretch pants.” – p.194 Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
I love the idea of including devoted readers’ names or ideas in serialized fiction. For my next book in THE TURNING series, I am thinking of inviting readers to nominate a breed of cat to appear. In Book One: What Curiosity Kills, there’s a sphynx, a Russian blue, and two Siamese brothers. If you were a cat, what kind of cat would you be?

Think about it, and in the meantime, join my cyberspace book tour! Send me a photo of The Turning: What Curiosity Kills with your cat and I will post it on helenelliswrites.com!

* * *
You can learn more about the author, Helen Ellis, and her books on the author's website. You can also find her on Twitter.

I knew something was wrong with me when I fell asleep in school. I never fall asleep in public because it is way too embarrassing. Your face goes slack. If you're sitting up straight, your mouth hangs open. You could say something stupid or say someone's name or make some weird inappropriate noise. You could snore. Twitch. Drool! In the movies, people watch other people sleep and say that it's beautiful. Those people are crazy . . . [pg 1]

The Turning: What Curiosity Kills by Helen Ellis
Sourcebooks, 2010
Fantasy (YA); 224 pgs

It's funny really. I had every reason to say no when I was approached to read The Turning: What Curiosity Kills. I nearly did. I am not even sure why I said yes exactly. Unlike so many bloggers out there, I am not smitten with young adult novels in general. Take Peanut Buster Parfaits. I like them, but only now and then. It's the same with Young Adult fiction. Then there is the little fact that people assume that because I go by the name Literary Feline that I love to read about cats. Sometimes I do. I tend to be picky in that regard though. Animal books and I don't always get along. I have a thing for shape shifters though and it isn't too often I come across a book about shape shifting cats. So, I was more than curious.

I set aside an afternoon to read this book as part of my recent Reading Day adventure, and it made for the perfect light reading, especially after a heavier book that left me feeling a little sad. Helen Ellis has a great sense of humor that shines through in her writing. I really liked the characters, Mary and her sister Octavia in particular.

Both Mary and Octavia were once foster children and have been adopted by a loving and well-to-do family. They attend an elite private school where there is the requisite bully (Ling Ling) and the handsome crush (Nick Martin). Life couldn't get any better for Mary. She has everything she could ever hope for. That is until she begins to notice little changes: a patch of orange fur here and a sudden and undeniable craving for milk, among them. Mary is scared and embarrassed at the changes coming over her. The turning throws her into an entirely new sub-world, one of a feud between cats, the Strays and the Domestics. Not only is Mary told she must choose sides, but she also faces the threat of losing the life she's come to love.

Events unfold quickly in The Turning: What Curiosity Kills. And while I think that the author could have developed certain aspects of the story more fully, I never felt it suffered because she did not. Besides, she has to save something for future books, right? Overall, this was a fun and entertaining read. Mary is a likable character, thoughtful and kindhearted. She has the usual insecurities of a girl her age, and is a character most readers will be able to relate to. Her adopted sister Octavia is probably my favorite character. She doesn't think twice about standing up to the biggest bully in the school, but she is deathly afraid of cats, which makes things even more interesting and tests the sisters' bond. Okay, and so my affection for Octavia might have a little something to do with her love for books too, the hours she spends at the library book sale. Just saying.

I do not often complain about an ending of a book, but I had a problem with the ending of this one. It had more to do with my own personal bias, however, than quality or fit. The ending made total sense in the scheme of things. It's just, well . . . I don't want to say. Spoilers, you know. While sometimes an ending can ruin a book for me, it did not in this case. Far from it. The book has so much going for it, and I really did enjoy reading it. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long for the second book in the series!

Now, to snap a photo of one of my cats with What Curiosity Kills and try to decide what kind of cat I would want to be . . .

Source: Book provided by publisher for review.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. How very cool that she got to be featured in a Sookie Stachouse novel! I can't imagine how cool that would be! I will have to check out her book! Great post!

  2. It would be fun to see your name in a novel, especially with the stylish clothing Helen Ellis received!

    I might be interested in her novel since I, too, like shape-shifters! Oh, and cats.

  3. I loved your review! The book sounds good. I don't usually read YA books either, but once in a while I pick one up that really surprises me. This may go on my reading list.

  4. This sounds excellent, and is all the more appealing because of that beautiful cover! I've been all about YA lately, so I'll have to keep an eye out for this one. =)

  5. What an intriguing cover!
    And how neat is that to have your name in a book!
    This sounds really good and I will have to check it out.

  6. I love that she wanted to be in the book so badly that she kept bidding until she won! I love the cover of her book and the premise sounds good too...thanks for the post!

  7. I actually have Eating the Cheshire Cat! I picked it up used a long time ago because of the title but I never got around to reading it. How neat! I'd love to be in the Sookie series! I've been a fan for about 5 years now.

    I think I'd be a Himalayan or a Bengal cat. They're so pretty.

    The Turning is definitely going on my TBR list and I need to go read Eating the Cheshire Cat now.

  8. Oh my goodness, at first I thought you were going to say you were a character in a sookie book! How cool is that though?

    This book sounds really good. I loved that first paragraph. Made me smile. Another one for my list!

  9. I love the Sookie connection!!! I skipped the review, though, because I'm writing mine up now and I don't want to be influence.

  10. Your post was featured here:
    Have a great day!

  11. Heather - Isn't that awesome? I think it'd be great to be a character in a book.

    Jenclair - I remember that scene too! It would be fun to appear in a novel, especially one by a favorite author. :-)

    Sari - Thank you. This really was a fun book. I'm so glad I had the chance to read it.

    Megan - I do hope you get a chance to read this one, Megan. I'd love to know what you think.

    Carla - Helen's persistence paid off. :-)

  12. Serena - It's a good start to a new series. I look forward to the next one.

    Jen - Oh! I'm really curious about her other book now. I'd like to read that one too.

    A Himalayan or Bengal cat would be a great choice. Those are beautiful cats.

    Iliana - I wish I was. LOL I really like Helen's writing style. I look forward to reading more by her in the future.

    Beth - It's enough to make an instant fan. LOL I look forward to reading your thoughts on the book, Beth.

    Bobbie - Thanks so much for the link, Bobbie!


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