Saturday, May 8, 2010

Catherine Jinks

Catherine Jinks is an author. As far as I know, the majority of her books are for young adults. I love young adult literature.

The first Jinks book I read was Evil Genius. I hesitated reading the book, at first, because I thought it was about an evil child. Reading about an evil protagonist didn't really appeal to me. I like characters who have flaws, but I want them to be primarily decent. Anyway, it turns out Evil Genius is not about an evil child. It's about a smart yet vulnerable child who is manipulated by the various people in his life. I liked it a lot, and I also liked the sequel. There's a third book out, or coming out. I look forward to reading it.

I read The Reformed Vampire Support Group, which shows the unglamorous side of being a vampire. It's pretty funny.

I really liked Eglantine, which is a ghost story book. I wrote a post about that a few months ago.

The two Jinks books I didn't much like are Pagan's Crusade, and one of her adult novels; Spinning Around.

Anyway, there's my Catherine Jinks reading history. I hope to add to it in the near future.

Let me see what I can find out about the writer herself.

Oh cool. Lord Wiki is showing me that I have a lot more Jinks books to read. I'll probably skip the kids' books, but there's some young adult ones I've yet to read, and also more adult ones. I might like the other adult books better than I liked Spinning Around. And I didn't hate Spinning Around. It's actually the kind of book I usually like. I might have been in an off mood when I tried to read it.

Lord Wiki doesn't have much information about Jinks. She was born in Brisbane, and moved to Papua New Guinea. It sounds like she spent a chunk of her childhood there.

She went to high school in Sydney, at Ku-ring-gai High School. Now the school is called Ku-ring-gai Creative Arts High School. I wonder if it had the creative arts emphasis when Jinks was there. Or maybe the school name always stayed the same, and Lord Wiki messed up on the name. Hey, that rhymes!

The library at the high school is named after Jinks.

Jinks did her university studies in the 1980's. So I guess that probably means she was born in the 1960's.

She studied medieval history. I guess that explains the Pagan book series. From what I remember, it's about Medieval stuff.

When she was finished with school, Jinks worked for the Westpac Banking Corporation. She did work on the staff magazine for about seven years. I wonder if she did any fiction writing in her spare time.

In 1992, Jinks married a Canadian journalist, and they moved to Canada. At this time, she started writing full time.

In 1994, the couple moved back to Australia. A few years later they had a daughter. Then they moved to Leura, New South Wales, and have been living there ever since. Well, at least that's what Lord Wiki says.

I just went to look up Leura on Google Maps, and Google reminded me that we've been there before. It's in the Blue Mountains, and we stopped there on our Blue Mountains tour. It's the place that has the candy store.

I'm now looking at Jinks' bibliography. She was published before she got married. Her first book was a young adult novel that came out in 1991; This Way Out. Then the first Pagan book came out about a year later.

I think I'm going to head on over to the Catherine Jinks website to get more information about her books, and other stuff.

Here's a brief biography page. Jinks was born in 1963. She's been writing books since the age of eight. She has no plans to stop. That's good.

She has two brothers, no pets, and she likes to garden.

This page has a list of her kid's books. I thought they were going to be picture books, but some are novels/chapter books. Eglantine is included in that mix.

I should get this book for Jack and my nieces; You'll Wake the Baby. At the lake house, we all are frequently asked to be super quiet because baby Javier is sleeping. We try, but sometimes we forget. Javier went on an eight hour flight a few days ago, and slept for only thirty minutes. I wonder if it's now hard for him to sleep when there's any amount of noise. Well, hopefully not. Hopefully, he'll sleep on the flight home!

These books look fun. They're about disastrous holidays. I wonder if Jack would like them.

Here's more biographical stuff. It's a Q and A type thing.

Jinks said she wanted to be a writer because she loves reading so much. She likes escaping into another world. I can totally relate to that. I love fiction. Jinks says with writing you can escape into your own world. I used to love doing that. Well, I still love making up my own stories, but I no longer like to share them. Now they're just kind of fantasies inside my head.

Jinks says she has a soft spot in her heart for her pagan books. I feel kind of weird liking her books, but not her favorite ones. Oh well.

Jinks' hobbies are reading, watching DVD's, and singing. She say she doesn't get to sing much. How hard is it to find time to do that? She could sing in the shower, while she gardens, in the car...... Maybe she means professional singing kind of stuff.

She likes chocolate and roast potatoes.

One of her favorite animals is the wombat.

Here's a list of Jinks' young adult books. The third Genius book is out in Australia, but won't be in America until October. I hope they're not planning to overly Americanize it. I hate that.

Besides the Genius book, the only other book that really appeals to me is Jink's first published book; This Way Out. It's out of print, unfortunately. But maybe I'll find it someday in a used bookstore.

Here's more Q and A stuff; this one is geared towards teens.

Jinks talks about the Pagan books, and how she learned about medieval times when she was doing her university studies. I think it's great that she has continued to love what she learned in college, and has actually managed to put it to some use. How many people study things like medieval history, French Literature, philosophy, etc. and actually end up using it?

Regarding Evil Genius, Jinks says, Then, a few months later, I saw Elijah Wood in Lord of the Rings, and I wondered what would happen if someone who looked so incredibly innocent was really a nasty little dude.

I don't get that. The kid in Evil Genius isn't a nasty little dude. Maybe originally he was supposed to be? Or maybe all this time, I've misunderstood the book. I don't know......

Jinks' all-time favorite author is Jane Austen. I haven't been able to get into her books. I should probably try again sometime. I think the first time I tried was after seeing Sense and Sensibility. I loved the movie, so I tried an Austin book. For some reason, I didn't like it.

Jinks says she's not really worried about the perceived future death of the novel. She doesn't think technology is going to make novels disappear. I agree. There are those of us who love books, and won't replace them with other stuff.

Here's a list of Jinks' adult books.

The Road sounds good to me. It's a supernatural story involving the outback. I think I'd like that. Maybe.

Bella Vista sounds interesting. It's about a woman whose husband wants to run for mayor. She doesn't want him to be mayor for some reason, so she tries to undermine his campaign. That would be a huge dilemma for me. I would HATE to live the life of a politician's spouse. I wouldn't want that for my family. Yet, if Tim decided he wanted to take that route, I'd feel obligated to support him. How could I not? I wouldn't want to shatter someone else's dream. Maybe I'd be okay with it. Yeah, I think I'd be fine....as long as we didn't have to hide stuff, or pretend we're something we're not. For example, I wouldn't be okay with sending Jack to school, because that might buy us more votes. And I wouldn't be happy if Tim told me I'd have to take down my blog because it might scare voters away. Other than that, I think I'd be fairly cooperative.

The Notary involves demonic visitation. That sounds fun. I'll have to look out for it.

Oh! Awesome. According to this page, there's going to be a sequel to the vampire book.

Here's an Evil Genius blog. I think I've been here before. I watched the book trailer.

Here's a Sydney Morning Herald article about Jinks. Or maybe it's an interview.

At one point in her child/teen years, Jinks had a poster of Henry VII on her wall. I love that. I love odd people.

The article says Jinks was A late developer with odd interests. That was TOTALLY me as a child...unless they mean physical development. I was pretty on time with that. Emotionally and socially, I was behind. I still am. I don't feel like I'm thirty-seven. I'm still like a child. The other night, Tim and I babysat my nieces and Jack. We went to a toy store, ate dinner, and then went out for ice-cream. I got cotton candy (fairy floss) flavored ice-cream....bright pink and purple stuff. To me, that's an awesome evening. It's like my perfect Saturday night. I'd much rather do that then go to a club, drink, and talk about....whatever grown-ups talk about.

Jinks says she's not a risk-taker in real life. So she can do it in her head....in her books. That way she avoids being bored. Cool.

The article talks about how Jinks jumps from genre to genre. This can cause problems; I guess because it's harder to find a fan base. I think it's great though. As they say, variety is the spice of life.

The writer of the article says that Jinks is animated and self-deprecating. I like those types of people.

She was alienated in high school; not a total reject, but an outsider. That was totally me as well.

Jinks wrote her first novel when she was twelve. Wow! She beat me. I did my first when I was fifteen. I hope Jack writes a novel when he's young. I think he's definitely capable of doing it. He's a great writer. His challenge though is sticking through a project. He dreams big, starts something, and then moves onto the next big idea.

Here's a video interview with Jinks regarding The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Jinks says the book is an antidote to all the powerful and sexy vampires out there. I think that's very close to how I've described the book before (in previous posts). I actually read the book in the middle of reading the Twilight Series. I think I took a break, because the library didn't have the next book. I was trying to distract myself from the Bella and Edward universe....which is HARD. It was kind of refreshing to read Jink's book, but at the same time, while reading it, I wished I was reading Stephanie Meyer's books instead. What can I say? I like the powerful and sexy vampires....with that little sweet touch of vulnerability. Jinks though does a good job of bringing us back down to earth.

Jinks says she got the idea for the book before she had ever heard of Stephanie Meyer.

Jinks talks about how her vampires are more like ill people than fanciful monsters. Her characters, like the Cullens try to avoid hurting humans. But while the Cullens go on adventurous hunting excursions in the woods, and kill stuff like bears; the vampires in Jinks' book drink the blood of guinea pigs. The latter is much less glamorous.

This is interesting. Jinks says she doesn't like stories where a person has a special power. The reason is that we (the reader) don't have special powers, and it makes us feel inadequate. I wonder if that's true. I mean I guess it's different for everyone. I'm trying to think whether reading stuff like Harry Potter and Twilight makes me feel inadequate. I don't think so. I think I relate to the aspects of the character that feels alienated and unappreciated. I think it plays with the fantasies of us losers....maybe we'll one day find a place where we fit in. We'll find a life in which we can feel special. It is kind of depressing when you realize this is highly unlikely to happen. And other times, I think about how if I was in that universe, I might not be a Bella, Harry, or Sookie. I might be a Muggle or a Jessica Stanley. Instead of Sookie, I might be an Arlene.

As for having powers, I DO feel like I have them. They may not be supernatural or ones that will save the world. But they make my life more pleasant. For example, I read really fast. I think that's great power to have. And I have awesome dreams. I love them, and definitely consider them a power.

What about you guys? What are your powers?

Jinks says people with powers are less interesting than those who are struggling. Well, the characters I know who are powerful, DO struggle. If they didn't struggle, that would be a very boring book, probably.

Jinks believes most evil in the world comes from commerce, the desire to make money. I could probably agree with that. I've come to the conclusion that probably about 75% of humans are very self-centered. They're eager to demand and take....but much less eager to give back. And I'm not just talking about money and material gifts.

Fortunately, most of these people are fairly powerless. They can't cause much damage in the world, outside of hurting the feelings of those around them. But then you have some people who DO have the means and power to really hurt and/or exploit others....on a larger scale. It's sad.

But maybe I disagree with Jinks. I don't know if it's the quest for money that causes evil in the world. I think it's the simple fact that often people don't take the time to care about others outside themselves. This can involve a horrific thing like raping and murdering a woman because it sounds like a fun way to pass the afternoon. Or it can be a simple thing like dropping a friend because whatever you were using him for no longer applies.

People do bad things because they don't CARE enough.

Greed is plentiful among us humans. Compassion is not.

Jinks says she doesn't like stories where there is a straight line fight against good and evil. She says this is because the hard thing in life is distinguishing between good and evil. I think that's very true.

I think we're all a little evil. And the point of it all, is to suppress this evil, and play up the good part more.

I was feeling very evil this morning. I got news that someone was having a fabulous time. I didn't like the news because I didn't want them having a fabulous time. When I was in their same situation, I had much less fun. Knowing they were having a great time in a situation I sometimes struggled with, made me feel like a failure. So, I felt somewhat bitchy and resentful towards them. Then I sat there and thought, Holy shit. How evil am I being! This is AWFUL.

But then I decided, even though I may FEEL the wrong thing, I can still DO the right thing. So I wrote them an email, saying I was glad things were going well for them. Maybe I wasn't 100% honestly glad.....but I was TRYING to be glad.

I'm feeling doubtful about writing the above, because I'd like you guys to think I'm like a Bella 99.5% caring and selfless. The truth is I have a little bit of Jessica inside of me. I'm not all good. I get jealous and resentful. As Tim says, I can be a bit petty at times.

But I think I'm a step above some, because I recognize these aspects of myself, and try to change for the better. I'm not like those people who brag about scoring high on personality tests. They see themselves as selfless, open-minded, and meek. Yet their words and actions say otherwise.

I wish I could be as good as Bella; sweet and self-sacrificing.

Maybe that IS something I don't like about the Stephanie Meyer books. It's not the lack of powers that make me feel inadequate. It's the not-being-perfect that makes me feel that way. Bella is so GOOD. It's hard to live up to that. I think other stories are better in that they give their characters more moral ambiguity. Lost is excellent in that area...LOTS of moral ambiguity.

Although maybe characters like Bella are good because they give us something to aspire to.

In the interview, they talk about how one of the Evil Genius characters (Sonja) has cerebral palsy. Jinks says she'd rather write about someone who has to deal with a disability, than someone who has a huge power to to help them out. But, my argument is that Sonja DOES have a power. She's a math prodigy. The kid might have to wear diapers, and she can't easily move about on her own. But she's amazing with math.

Maybe that's the best type of character....one that has a disability and a power.

Jinks says she's the type of writer who starts with an idea. She's more focused on that initially, than the characters. Jinks says a lot of writers start from within. They use their own experiences and feelings. She starts from outside herself, and them moves within. I'm not sure if I fully understand that. I mean I might understand it. I just don't know if I see her different from other writers. She seems to think she is. I think all writers combine their own experiences with outside ideas.

I'm trying to think what I used to do....besides the novels that were strongly autobiographical. Well, maybe Jinks is right. I did usually start with an idea, a what if? But I think the what if was usually about me. What if this happened to me in MY life? Then I'd create a character that was a little bit like me, but not too much so. And I'd add other ingredients to the mix.

The ending part of the interview really has a lot of spoilers, so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail. But one thing they talk about is how people rejected by society are often not sympathetic towards others rejected by society. We often want sympathy for ourselves, but yet are unwilling to give sympathy and help to others. I feel I end up spending so much time giving love and attention to popular folks who already have their buckets overfilling. Instead I want to give more to the people who seem even more rejected than I often feel.