What’s On Your Nightstand? with Ameriie!

September 29, 2014 2014, guest post, Wendy, what's on your nightstand 36

AmeriieEver wondered if celebrities read YA? I’ve always suspected there are fans lurking everywhere, but I was still tickled when I suddenly realized that the Ameriie I’d been chatting with on GoodReads for months was the Ameriie–you know, superstar recording artist and actress. No big deal. I enjoy peeking in to see what she’s reading from time to time–she’s got eclectic taste, ladies and gents–and I love that she actively uses it as a reader and as a fan.

I also discovered that she’s got some very exciting bookish projects in the works, so I thought it’d be fun to invite her to tell us a little more about what she’s planning, as well as to give us a peek at her bookshelves and favorite reading spots in her house. Ready to peer over her shoulder? I know I am!

vine-divider-finalWhere the Magic Happens
by Ameriie

The Reading Chair

I read here most of the time. At the corner or beneath the chair, I like to keep books I’m dipping in and out of. I’m currently making my way through Clive Barker’s Books of Blood: Volumes 1-3. I rarely read a short story unless I feel I’m in the hands of a master, and Mr. Barker is definitely masterful, accomplishing so much in so few pages. I don’t usually have my ipad sitting there “open” to a book, but I figured it was a great way to illustrate 1) how much I rely on ebooks and 2) how much I love Michio Kaku.

Hyperspace by Michio Kaku

The Writing Desk

This is where the magic happens, the sacred place. ;) I usually wake at 4:30-5:30am, but if I’m recording (studio is 12pm-12am for me), it’s more like 7am. Rising early is a good way to get my workout in and have a satisfactory writing session. This is as bright as it ever gets in here, as I like to keep the curtains (black-out!) drawn. I record in the dark, too. The world exploded from the void so it makes sense that darkness is perfect for creating art. My tbr pile lies on the floor. My mom gave me the lamp on my desk because she knew I’d love it—we’re chandelier addicts and I love having this at my fingertips (“There’s a chan-duh-leeah. Here’s a chan-duh-leeah.” Haven’t seen Scarlett Johansson’s chandelier SNL skit? OK, moving on.)

Ameriie's desk

Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Future is always here, a perpetual re-read. My plan for GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire books was to overtake the HBO series, but that’s just not happening; currently I’m only on book two. So, yeah. I have Christina (who is my friend and critique partner besides being my partner in LitLush) to thank for the ARCs of King’s fantastic Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future and Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest, among others. Christina is so generous, both as a critique partner and as a friend.

Somewhere online, Lev Grossman recommended Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer. I often add books to my tbr if authors I admire rave about them or find them important. I’ve heard so many great things about Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts, I’m almost afraid to start. Half a King is Joe Abercrombie’s first YA novel, and I’ve seen some say it may be his best, which is why I figured it’d be a great place to start my Abercrombie experience.

girl with all the gifts

I keep my writing space uncluttered. It’s just me and the story.

desk top

The books that always remain on my desk are: Stephen King’s On Writing – it’s Stephen King; Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet – great for feeding your creative spirit; C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia – arranged in original order of publication; L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables – my sister, Angela, picked this up for me at Liberty department store in London. We loved this story growing up. “Kindred spirits” and “depths of despair” were among our favorite phrases back then; The Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales – My Precious. My parents bought me this leather-bound edition for Christmas when I was seven years old and we still have footage of me holding my sister hostage as I read from this book that morning. I never went through the shock of learning what fairy tales were really about, thanks to this book; I was a kid who knew how deliciously dark and bloody magic could be. Thanks Mommy and Daddy!

The books at the end rotate and are ones that, at the moment, inspire me with their greatness. Those little flash drives are Mimi Magic and CiaoCiao, and that’s Piggy, their pet. A sweet fan made that little clay pig for me. In a way, the three have come to represent me and my sister and our late Yorkie, Jean Pierre. They keep me company when I’m writing.

dream thieves

Favorite reads I keep nearby, to the left of my desk. NOS4A2 made a Joe Hill fan of me. Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall is magical; I couldn’t put it down. And Vicious? V.E. Schwab killed it.

vicious v.e. schwab

I still love my well-worn U.S. versions with artwork by Mary GrandPré, but I had to have the new HP box set illustrated by Kazu Kabuishi. So soft, too.

harry potter box set

The Library

A top shelf in my library. All things religious and spiritual. Below are childhood favorites, classics, and Korean-English translations my mother gave me of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Shel Silverstein works, among others. Confession: I saw the movie, but never read William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.

spiritual books

More Michio Kaku. The books on shelves below are science and history non-fictions by Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Leonard Mlodinow, Jonathan Black, and others. Also below are what I call “rabbit-hole” books, books I don’t mention unless I’m having a conversation with someone who is into the same. These books run the gamut from hidden history and “forgotten” knowledge to anti-gravity lines and sacred geometry. The rabbit hole runs deep.

Michio Kaku

A bookcase just outside my library.

Ameriie's bookcase

I keep paperbacks on the topmost shelf, both adult and YA. I was obsessed with mermaids as a kid, and I’ve heard terrific things about Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama. Other books I’m especially looking forward to are Perfume by Patrick Süskind, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan.

noggin

Growing up, I loved drawing maps and making up stories about fantastical lands and people, so Mapping the World was a nice find. Speaking of fantastical worlds, two more books and my UK Harry Potter set will be complete. I’m anticipating a creepy read in The Circle by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren. A.G. Howard’s Splintered was wonderful, a “Let me tell you what really happened” kind of retelling I enjoy so much.

mapping the world

The Nightstand

I get sleepy if I read in bed, so I prefer to read non-fiction here since I’m able to complete a section or two by the time I doze off (a chapter of HP is great for winding down, too). On the floor are back issues of W and V, which I was flipping through for inspiration for an upcoming video shoot.

hogwarts

Thank you so much for having me, Wendy Darling! It’s been a lot of fun sharing with The Midnight Garden my passion for reading and writing and all things books.

^_^ Ameriie

vine-divider-final

5 Questions with Ameriie (Okay, 8)

1. When do you do most of your reading? How do you find the time with your busy schedule?

I always have a book with me. At the very least, I have ebooks on my iPhone (I have the ibooks, Kindle, nook, and Overdrive library apps on both my phone and ipad), so I can read any place, any time. I do most of my reading in the afternoon or early evening, and I try to get in one or two hours of reading daily.

2. Do you prefer an e-reader or physical books?

I adore physical books—their weight, their ink-and-paper scent, the rustling of their pages—but I’ve come to appreciate ebooks for their convenience. Still, I don’t feel like I have a book when it’s in ebook form; it doesn’t feel part of my collection. Although I get a little rush when my ebook tells me how far I’ve gone into the story, I miss the tactile satisfaction of dog-eared pages and watching my bookmark make its way toward the book’s back cover.

3. Tell us some of your favorite YA or MG books, ever and from this year.

Let’s begin with The Chronicles of Narnia. I read the series when I was seven; my best friend’s mother was from Wales, so I was put on to all things British at an early age. Day in and day out, Georgiana and I wrote, critiqued, watched something British, went back to writing. Repeat. So that series has always been special to me. There’s Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. More recent loves would be The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (actually, Wendy, it was your review that led me to this book so thank you for that), Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, Feed by M.T. Anderson, Planesrunner by Ian McDonald, and the amazing Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King. Half my reading includes adult fiction, and although this series isn’t technically YA, The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman is one of my all-time favorites and does contain eighteen-year-old characters. Dark Eden by Chris Beckett is another great adult novel, and probably could have been marketed as YA.

4. One of the things I really like about you is that you actually use GoodReads to interact with other readers. Why do you find it useful/enjoyable? Are people surprised when they realize it’s really you? (I know I was!) 

Discovering the online book community has changed my reading life. Sites like Goodreads enable me to see what my bookish friends are delving into, what they’re excited about. If my interest is sparked enough, I’ll download an ibooks excerpt. But I don’t like knowing too much going into a story; I’m an extreme No Spoilers type, so I skim the beginnings of a review and barely read flap copy. Even “Wow! The twist!” or “Sheesh! The ending!” are spoilerific. But if I’m so interested I can’t help myself, I’ll scan most the review and a bit of the comments. After finishing a book, though, it’s fun to revisit reviews and share thoughts. As to whether or not people are surprised to know that it’s me me, I don’t know because it rarely comes up. Usually I assume they don’t, but even in person, I’m surprised to know people are able to recognize me under a hat or behind a pair of shades, so what do I know lol.

5. What are your favorite books that you’ve discovered through GoodReads? I know I rely on friends for my book recommendations much more than I do professional reviews, so I’m curious if you feel the same way.

I enjoy professional reviews in addition to reviews on Goodreads, but I skim them as well because I don’t want to know in advance plot points, themes, metaphors, etc. One of the books I discovered on Goodreads was The Magicians by Lev Grossman. The interesting thing to me concerning how I found this book is that its reviews on the site are so polarizing. People either love or despise it, and I was so intrigued, I broke my own rule and read several reviews in full (although I watched for any mention of spoilers). Some readers who disliked the book were quite detailed about what didn’t work for them, and those specific elements were the draw for me. I thought, OK, you didn’t like it, but this sounds like something I need to read. And so I read The Magicians and it is one of my favorite books ever; I’ve read it four times in the last two years. What didn’t work for others worked wonders for me. That is the power of a great review, whether the reviewer liked or disliked the book. That is the power of the reading community.

6. Do you get teased for reading YA? Or are you lucky enough to have people in your life who understand your love for it? 

I don’t get teased for reading YA, but I’m surrounded by people who read strictly non-fiction; they have this perception that they aren’t nourishing themselves with a fiction diet. Until the last few years, I’d spent the previous seven reading almost exclusively non-fiction science/history/spiritual books, so I understand the appreciation, but my challenge is getting my friends to understand how important fiction is, to see how we’re able to address things in fiction people are afraid to touch in real life. Some think YA isn’t serious, that it’s fluff. But there’s plenty of fluff in adult fiction. What I love about great YA is what I love about any great book: layered characterization, well-crafted world-building, thought-provoking insights, etc. But what I think is particular to YA is that nine times out of ten, the story moves; it goes somewhere. Also, the story tends to end with at least an inkling of hope. Again, I could say that about great adult fiction, though the writer is allowed to meander and explore more (sometimes too much) in say, literary adult.

7. From what I understand, you have a couple of fun book-related projects in the works. Tell us about this new website you’re working on.

Christina (of Christina Reads YA) and I have been working on a new social media site for readers called LitLush. There were some elements we really wanted out of a reader-based social media site, some small and some overarching; I, for one, was jumping between websites to get exactly what I was looking for. We’ve been creating something clean and modern yet extensive, a site that works hard for the reader. It’s taken a bit longer than expected but it has been more intensive, programming-wise, than we initially anticipated. But the longer wait should pay off. I’m incredibly excited about LitLush, but don’t want to say too much about it just yet (I apologize for being vague but I usually am about anything I’m working on until it’s “time.”).

8. And perhaps most exciting of all…you’re also working on a YA novel of your own?

Yes, I am a writer. I write YA and adult, and I’m pretty compulsive about it, so generally, I write every day. People who don’t know me are often surprised, since they know me exclusively for my music, but my friends and family know I’ve written all my life. I earned my BA in English at Georgetown University, and in that time I wrote stories and pursued my music career (I traveled to New York City on the weekends; I matriculated at Georgetown partly due to its proximity to NYC aka Big City of Dreams). Right now, I’m in various stages with four manuscripts; I won’t say more because it’s early days and I’m currently in revisions with my agent (Joanna Volpe of New Leaf Literary—she’s amazing!). But I will say the stories allow me to explore things I think of most: what makes us human; where we’re going with technology and what that means for how we view spirituality and ethics and morality; the What Ifs and What Happens Whens.

vine-divider-finalAbout Ameriie

Ameriie is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter (“Why Don’t We Fall in Love,” “1 Thing,” “Gotta Work,” “What I Want”) and writer of YA and adult fiction. She graduated with a BA in English from Georgetown University and is currently creating two new albums (BILI and Cymatika). You can find her online at www.Ameriie.com, Twitter: @itsAmeriie, Instagram: @itsAmeriie, Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/Ameriie, Tumblr: www.itsAmeriie.tumblr.com, and LitLush twitter: @LitLush.

vine-divider-finalAre you surprised to hear that Ameriie is on GoodReads? Are you curious about the book she’s working on, and any theories on what it could be about? Since she’s a lover of science and fantasy, I would bet some good money that it might fall into one of those categories. Pure speculation on my part, though!

Let’s face it, we hear about a lot of people who want to be authors, but I’m firmly convinced that the very best authors are the ones who actually read–and especially those who read across a variety of genres. After hearing Ameriie talk about what’s on her shelves, I don’t think there’s any doubt that she’s a true lover of the written word. I am personally very much looking forward to reading this book she’s working on when she’s ready to show it.

If you’ve enjoyed this mini tour of Ameriie’s bookshelves, be sure to check out her profile on GoodReads! Our thanks to our lovely guest for visiting us on the blog.

Wendy signature teal

 

 

 

 

36 Responses to “What’s On Your Nightstand? with Ameriie!”

  1. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    What a great interview, Wendy! Always great to read about people who promote reading in general, and YA in particular :)
    I had never heard of Ameriie before, so if I had been following her on GR, it wouldn’t really have made a difference to me :)
    I hope you’re doing well, Wendy.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Review: Crushed – Eliza Crewe

  2. Ameriie

    Just wanted to pop in and say thank you again to everyone at The Midnight Garden, as well as to those who read and commented on the feature. Thank you all for the love! May we all drown in books! ^_^

  3. Kim

    Oh man this post is perfection and I am in love with her now. Can she please stay with us forever? Pretty please? She is clearly such a thoughtful, fascinating person. And she has the Bookshelves of My Dreams. I have…barely any physical copies of books. I’m so ashamed. I used to move pretty much every year after I graduated college and it became too much for me to drag my books from place to place. Also, my mother is essentially an anti-hoarder who would have me cull my book collection every year growing up. I have maybe 3 or 4 books leftover from childhood :( One day when I have a house (IT WILL HAPPEN ONE DAY)it’s going to have a glorious library full of all the books! All of them! But anyway Im just going on and on now. Those are some seriously droolworthy shelves. Super intrigued to see how LitLush will go as well…

    I’d also just like to note that “Gotta Work” has been a motivational anthem for a long time and has seen me through trying times.
    Kim recently posted…Halloween Thrills & Chills: box of horror giveaway + Jonathan Stroud interview

  4. Jasprit

    This is such a great post Wendy! My sister (the non-reader) was actually really surprised when I showed her this post, she’s a big Ameriie fan, and so whenever I talk about reading, or something Goodreads related she sort of switches off, but now at least I can always refer back to this post when she has a comment to say about reading not being cool. I loved how passionate you are about reading Ameriie and I loved looking at your shelves. I spotted To All the Boys I Loved Before on there, that was one of my favourite reads, so I hope you get time to read it soon, if you haven’t already done so! :)
    Jasprit recently posted…Giveaway: Books That Need More Attention Hop

    • Wendy Darling

      Joanna! You represent some of my favorite authors (Leigh Bardugo and Sandy Williams among them), so knowing that you have great taste, I was pleased to hear that you and Ameriie will be working together.

      Her answers to my questions were just perfect, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having her as our guest. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Tracey Neithercott

    This was such a great interview! I loved the look into her office—and envy her writing space. I’ve never read a book by a celebrity author and really have zero desire to, but I’d definitely pick up Ameriie’s novel. It’s refreshing to hear about a celebrity who’s pursuing writing because she loves it and loves reading—not because she’s looking to expand her brand.

    • Wendy Darling

      It would be impossible for me to ever keep a writing space (okay, any space) that uncluttered, hah.

      I never read celebrity books for the sake of their celebrity, and I admit to being extra suspicious of celebrities writing books for children or young adults. (So suspicious, sorry!) As you said, sometimes there’s a business side to YA, or people who are just dabbling rather than being truly gifted or interested in honing the craft. But Ameriie’s perspective and approach definitely feel different and genuine, and I think she’ll actually have something to say. I’m looking forward to her book, too.

    • Wendy Darling

      Definitely can’t pigeonhole her! ;) I see a lot of GoodReads profiles, authors and potential authors included, and it’s rare that I’m interested enough in what the authors are reading to want to go out of my way to follow their profiles. So much of it is, understandably, establishing a presence or reading to stay current with industry trends, etc., but if I see eclectic tastes and someone who’s a true lover of books? Love it!

    • Wendy Darling

      I am fascinated by LitLush, too. There have been a lot of GoodReads alternatives that have popped up over the past year or so, and I’m curious to see how this one differs. Christina, the blogger she’s working with, is someone I respect, so any project these two ladies take on should be interesting to see.

    • Wendy Darling

      My nose is waaaay bigger than yours, Mary. :D I love seeing everyone’s weirdo secret habits and oohing and ahhing over shelves.

  6. J. Oh

    I’m personally somewhat caveman-like when it comes to my knowledge of celebrities, so I didn’t know who Ameriie was, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, and I admire how much she’s been able to do! It looks like she really loves reading and writing, and makes a lot of time for both. I’ll keep an eye out for her book! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, we’re bringing new bookish fans to the singing sensation! Hee. That’s honestly what I care about most, too. Having worked with a lot of celebrities (I used to be a film publicist), I can tell you that in my experience, this dedication to reading and willingness to share it are rare. It’s awesome she’s open to conversation about this side of her.

      And yes, given her busy schedule, she definitely has to make reading a priority to get it done, too!

  7. Morgan

    I have to admit, I don’t know who Ameriie is but she has an EXTENSIVE library and I love it! I love tours of other people’s books and writing spaces, and her answers are all so intelligent and thoughtful. I also love seeing how many similar books we have :) And four manuscripts, wow. Seriously impressive. What a great piece, I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on her!

    • Wendy Darling

      I mean, c’mon–the library is what we readers care most about! ;)

      I knew from chatting with her here and there that she was an interesting person and thoughtful conversationalist, but after seeing her reading selections (in a more all-encompassing way) and hearing her talk about her love of books, I’m even more delighted. It’ll be interesting to see what she’s like as an author!

    • Wendy Darling

      I had no idea, but I love hearing that celebrities/people in the public eye enjoy reading YA. It’s become a more generally accepted thing, but I think high profile fans can only help YA’s street cred. ;)

      I am so curious about her book, too!

  8. Pili

    Wow, this is fantastic and quite surprising as well! Finding yourself interacting with someone famous without ever realizing that they were and simply appreciating their taste in books and discussing opinions with them!

    This was a fantastic post, I love seeing how ecclectic her shelves are with plenty of fiction and non-fiction all over the place! I agree with her, eBooks don’t feel the same than real books but my are they mighty convenient to read anywhere and everywhere!
    Pili recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan!!

    • Wendy Darling

      Well, I bet there are a lot of lurkers online in general and I know there are authors/publishing people in disguise who follow my reviews. Ameriie is so open about who she is without making a big deal of it that I was kind of tickled by this. :) She’s a very thoughtful conversationalist/reader, as you can see!

      I was so surprised and pleased to see the wide genres and styles on her bookshelves, too. I read a lot of different kinds of books, and I really do believe the YA authors who don’t just read YA are better writers.

  9. Nikki

    This post was awesome! Honestly the first thing I did was look up Michio Kaku as the books on Ameriie’s shelf are right up my ally :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I know, her YA shelves are so similar to mine, too! And funnily enough, her science and “rabbit hole” type books have a lot of overlap with my husband’s–turns out we have some Michio Kaku books as well. I had no idea, hah.

    • Wendy Darling

      Such a lovely desk for that lamp to be on, too! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, I love getting a peek at other people’s bookshelves and learning about their reading habits as well.