The NYT Book Review is kind to Graceling. I ♥ Finland. A shout-out to a baby. More things. Plus, the longest post title ever!

News: The New York Times book review of Graceling is here (major spoiler alert!). Thank you, NYTBR, for a lovely piece. I am overwhelmed.

More news: Graceling has managed to finagle a place among Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year and's Best Books of 2008. Again, thanks!

So. My sisters (secret code names: Cordelia and Apocalyptica) and I occasionally play a game called Sufficient Number of Questions. SNoQ is something like 20 Questions, in which Person A thinks of a physical entity and Person B guesses what the entity is by asking no more than 20 yes/no questions. Here's the difference: With SNoQ, there are no limits to what the entity can be. It can be an abstract concept, a nonentity. It can be a made-up invention. It can be an existing thing that you might not in ordinary circumstances consider to be an existing thing.

Here are some actual examples I have been challenged to guess:
[1] The spaces between the medicine in an I.V. drip.
[2] What if Cordelia's neighbor Marcus were one of the Backstreet Boys?
[3, and the hardest one I ever had to guess (yeah, I killed that Backstreet Boys one)] Life before the intercom.

You understand why it might take more than 20 questions. This game can go on for hours and is the sort of game you invent when the only tool available to you is a lot of empty time. Which is what we had when my sister Apocalyptica spent several weeks hospitalized in the beautiful town of Turku, Finland. She was studying abroad; she got very sick; Cordelia and I came (me first, then Cordelia -- we tag-teamed) to help her by torturing her with abstract mental challenges.

Did you know that Finnish words are all accented on the first syllable? HEL-sinki. Also, all vowels are pronounced: Banaani (banana) is more or less pronounced BAH-nah-ah-nee. And Finnish words are beautiful, and utterly recognizable; once you've spent some time reading Finnish names, you know them when you see them. Tarja Halonen (she's the President). Tomi Putaansuu, Sampsa Astala, and Leena Peisa (all members of the heavy metal band Lordi). Ever read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials? Remember the witch Serafina Pekkala? Finnish.

Here are some other things I learned while I was in Finland: Finns tend to be very sweet, welcoming, and sometimes shy; Finnish saunas are awesome; Fazer chocolate is divine; those yummy rice cakes are stupendous; Turku and Tampere are both beautiful historic towns; Finland has a TV soap opera that is so intriguing that by the time I left, I'd developed favorite characters even though I didn't know their names and couldn't understand a word they were saying (unless they said "banana" or "thank you"); and, Finns are utterly delighted whenever you make the slightest attempt to speak their language. (They thank you profusely, then switch into flawless English so that actual communication can commence.)

Here is the best thing of all about Finland: They have stupendous hospitals, stupendous doctors, and stupendous nurses. In the unfortunate event that your little sister is ever to come down with a scary illness while in Turku, Finland: Take heart. At least you can know that she's in the best possible hands. If anyone can cure her, Finland can! Finland's got the moves! Finland's got the plans! Finland's got the strange berry soup and the doctors who wear pajama-like outfits beneath their big brains!

(Please note that a punctured lung due to a misplaced subclavian I.V. can happen in any country. Finland, where I love, I also forgive.)

Ahem. Anyway. Months ago, I promised that if I ever got a Finnish deal, I would blog about why I love Finland. Why do I? Duh. I spent 10 days beside a hospital bed in Finland once, and they were ten of the most worrying, horrible, wonderful, and important days of my life. Finland, it was surreal. Kiitos for taking care of my sister. I saw what you did and I will always love you. 'Nuff said.

Okay, longest post ever, but there's one more thing: a very special shout-out to a tiny person named Hugh. Baby Hugh, whose name begins auspiciously with hug: Welcome to the world!


NoGrandmother said…
You are my Fancy Writer Friend.
cindy said…
omg, CONGRATULATIONS! the wonderful news keep piling on. so thrilled for you kristen! many congratulations over. and how RAD is it to be published in finland?? WOW!!!!
Anonymous said…
You weren't kidding about the major spoiler alert! This is the most spoilery review I've read on Graceling.
Anyway, this is all fantastic! I may try out SNoQ sometime.

- dudeandlulugirl (It wouldn't let me comment with OpenID!)
Heidi R. Kling said…
Hi Kristin! I just commented below you on the Longstockings and wanted to congratulate you on your NYT Book Review! I read it yesterday--GRACELING looks fantastic and I can't wait to read it.
jenny han said…
Hi Kristin! This is Jenny, I am a YA writer and also one of the Longstockings girls. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed Graceling. Alvina Ling recommended it to me and told me it was one of the best of the year, and I stayed up all night reading it last week and loved it. I can't wait to read part 2! I am hoping for a love triangle...
Nabbed said…
Wow. There were several instances during this post where I laughed out loud and startled my cat.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK; GRACELING IS SELLING LIKE FRIGGIN HOTCAKES (at least at the Barnes and Noble store where I live).

And I'm convinced that it's better and twice as original (and in turn twice as difficult to rip off) as Twilight.

MORE PO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I'm going to leave now....
Kristin Cashore said…
jms -- :o)

Owlet -- HA HA HA! Thanks for the laugh. And enjoy the blorping. :o)

Cindy, thank you! It is a great feeling. And today I got exciting news: I think there's going to be a Chinese deal!!!!!

Charly/dudeandlulu -- I know, right? I don't know why she didn't just blurt out the big ending spoiler, too!! Also, I've had problems with OpenID sometimes, too -- sometimes there's a bug or something. Aarghh! And definitely try SNoQ, it's perfect for when you're bored or you're at an event you don't want to be at or something. :o)

Heidi, thanks so much! And sounds like you've got great kindergarten-aged company in your home... :o)

Jenny, I'm thrilled to see your comment -- I'm a totally longstockings geek! Thanks so much. And as far as a love triangle goes, in Book 3, which I'm currently writing, it's starting to feel like a love square or even a love pentagon... maybe even a trapezoid or a rhombus? But don't get too excited, because really all I mean by that is that the whole thing is an utter mess..... !!
Kristin Cashore said…
Nabbed -- HA HA HA HA!

Thanks so much, and hope the cat recovers. :o)
Nabbed said…
Whoa, that was a quick response! (though I'm sure you'd be mildly horrified by the fangirl-esque squeal I just let out)

And in all of my excitement, I forgot to congratulate you! I don't know you, but you still deserve a HEAP of congratulations! Your book is awesome; even my extremely picky Beta-reader/Best Friend enjoyed it.

- Katie (I forgot to sign with a name last time, sorry!)
Heather Jewell said…
Hi, I am huge young adult literature geek and just came across your book radomly at the library last week. I feel like there has been a super long drought of good books the "new" young adult section lately, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to find yours. I loved it! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for something I couldn't put down again when I should be doing things like going to bed at a decent time or making dinner for my family. :) I am recommending this to everyone I know. Keep up the great writing; the young adult world needs more great writers like you!
cindy said…
kristin, LOTS OF LUCK on a chinese deal. how awesome would that be? as awesome as finland, for sure!!!!
Kristin Cashore said…
Hey there, Nabbed -- "Nabbed" counts as a name, so no worries at all! :o) My rule is more for people who comment completely anonymously. And thanks to you, and your picky Beta-reader/Best Friend!

Hi Heather! Thank you so, so much! And I don't know if you read my library post the other day, but it makes me so, so happy to hear about people finding my book in the library :o)

Cindy -- thanks! :o)
Annie said…
My friend is Finnish and yes, she does have an awesome sauna in her basement =)

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