Monday, August 22, 2011

Into The Past With Gretchen McNeil


Gretchen McNeil is joining us today to talk about some of her favorite books at different stages of  her life.

Some information about Gretchen:
Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown.  Her YA horror/paranormal POSSESS debut with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins, August 23, 2011.  Her second novel, TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – is tentatively scheduled for a Fall 2012 release. Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk (http://www.cirqueberzerk.com ). Gretchen is also a founding member of the vlog group YARebels (http://www.youtube.com/yarebels) where she can be seen as "Monday."

Welcome Gretchen!

AGE FIVE – There’s a Monster at the End of This Book

How is this not the best book ever?  An interactive picture book starring Grover from Sesame Street, desperately and futilely trying to keep the reader – in this case, a precocious five year old – from turning the pages of the book.  Brilliant!  Golden!

I positively delighted in thwarting Grover’s attempts – breaking the ropes, toppling the brick wall, busting through a web of two-by-fours.  I must have read that book a hundred times and giggled like a loon every time.  Er, I may or may not still own a copy.  And I may or may not still giggle when I read it.


AGE TWELVE – Anne of Green Gables

Let’s face it, I was Anne Shirley.  I was too smart for my own good.  I was an only child with a penchant for huge flights of fancy.  I was constantly getting into trouble.  I talked too much (I think I still hold my junior high school’s record for being sent to the Principal’s office for talking out of turn…)  I couldn’t back down from a dare.  I was fiercely proud.

I remember watching the PBS adaptation of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, hanging on every scene.  It was like my life!  I ran to the library and zipped through the entire series in the course of a summer.  Anne spoke to me.  And gave me hope that a spastic little kid like myself could grow up to be someone…awesome.


AGE SIXTEEN – Wuthering Heights


Oh, this was the end of hope for any kind of normal teenage love life.  Heathcliff, the possibly psychotic, severely damaged anti-hero was like crack cocaine for teenaged me.  Brooding, obsessive, dark and complex.  He was everything I wanted in a boyfriend – yeah, I know – and thus started my love affair with “bad boys.”

Thankfully, I got over that.  Eventually.




AGE TWENTY – The Secret Adversary

I discovered Agatha Christie when I was in college.  Don’t know how I’d missed getting addicted to her books when I was in high school, but by my junior year at UCLA I was utterly hooked.  I used to wait for my boyfriend to get off work, sitting under a tree whipping through her novels.  The woman was truly a genius.  Her knack for characterization is astounding: you always knows exactly who her characters are in just a few lines.  Amazing.  Inspiring. 

THE SECRET ADVERSARY is one of my favorites.  Set just after WWI, it’s about two young people trying to make their way in an England that’s economically devastated.  On a whim, they create a young adventurers company, and place an ad in the paper for their services.  Immediately, they are thrust into a world of intrigue, spies, missing secret war plans, and mistaken identities.  I literally could not put this book down, and I think I’ve probably read it a dozen times since.  It’s like a comfort book for me, whenever I need a good, rollicking adventure.

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