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Gennifer Albin talks Crewel world, which is sometimes a cruel world – especially if you’re a girl

Crewel by Gennifer Albin is a unique look at a world where women should have more power than they do, but men still rule supreme.  In this world Adelice has the power to spin the web of life.  If you’ve ever read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, you’ll recognize the power in reading about an alternate science fiction world to help us contemplate and discuss the issues that face us here in our real world.  Sometimes the best way to come at an issue is sideways, hence the function of parables and stories in education.  Crewel is one of my favorites of this year because it really examines close to my heart: what it means to be a woman in a world where women don’t get the respect that they deserve.  Today, author Gennifer Albin shares the her insight into writing the world of Crewel (it’s a Crewel world, get it – ha!).


What a tangled world Gennifer Albin weaves . . . 

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be on TLT today, showing you some exclusive notes that I’ve only shared with my editor and agent before. Sometimes when you are editing a book, you can choose not to change something, but my editor asks, very nicely, to know why. So last year when I was working on edits for Crewel I wrote a 5 page paper, detailing how certain elements functioned and why I made specific decisions. Lucky for you, I’m only going to show you highlights.
Suffice it to say, I was an academic in a past life.
Regarding cosmetics:
“Beauty as a means of control has been achieved by making cosmetics and beauty treatments only available to girls past the age of testing. Sold as a right of passage, girls look forward to being assigned and being allowed to use cosmetics and begin courtship appointments. Since these things are taboo before that age, naturally young girls idealize these experiences and eagerly anticipate them, ensuring they fall into the role of woman as an object of the male gaze easily after testing has ended. Beauty is thus esoteric.”
The idea of woman and beauty comes up a lot lately in ya fantasy.  It is a big part of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardguo.  And in the world of Crewel, beauty standards are used to entice and control women.  Not that today’s modern woman would no anything about that.  We are bombarded with images and messages 365 days a that let us know we need to be young, thin and beautiful to have worth – genetics and life circumstance be damned. But what if we broke free from this message and learned to embrace who we are and seek out fulfillment?  What is we broke free of societal conventions and pursued our own path?  That is part of the discussion that comes up in Crewel.
Regarding Adelice and beauty:
“Adelice’s background growing up with parents who did not wish her to become a powerful Spinster, a mother who disliked the obvious chauvinism in her workplace, and a father who clearly loved and respected his wife, allow her to have a more balanced approach to her own life. She is not dissuaded by cosmetics, clothing, and parties, because she has more self-respect than most girls her age. Her parents showing that they valued each other as well as her and her sister, helped to create this anomalous attitude, which filters into her personality. Whereas someone like Pryana has been groomed to be an ideal Eligible to the point of fostering ruthless ambition in her, Adelice sees herself as an equal to those around her. This causes her problems in interactions with people like Maela and Cormac, who don’t share this belief, but it also enables her easy interactions with boys, whom she doesn’t fear or idolize.”
Regarding Men at the Coventry:
“…It simply comes down to one thing: the Guild could never leave a group of women to their own devices.”
On Adelice’s family:
“Likewise we will continue to see more information regarding her family and the strange circumstances of their failed escape. Where were they running to? Why were her parents so anti-Guild but seemingly pacifist until the end? What were her parents really up to? Adelice’s need to ensure her own safety takes precedence over the need to figure out these questions, although she is clearly concerned with them, and until she is out of the Guild’s clutches, she can’t seek these answers.”
I think my editor just wanted to make sure I had a reason to do these things and that I had thought ahead through plot issues. Instead she got a dissertation. Once an academic, always an academic.
Karen says: I think that Crewel is a well-written, fascinating look at a society that is like ours, but different.  This book will be great for book discussion groups, classes, and for all of us who are striving day by day to make the world just a little bit more accepting of girls today.  Remember, for all the strides we have made over the last few hundred years, even our legislators recently vetoed bills stating that woman should be paid the same amount for the same positions as men claiming it would be too much of a hardship on businesses.  In many ways we live in a world that is still not friendly to people with lady bits and we must continue to be in dialogue about it so that we can change the messages we send to our little girls. Read my review of Crewel here.
Other resources I recommend you check out:
Libba Bray
YA Lit and Body Image: A Discussion

· Gennifer Albin is part of the Fall 2012 Fierce Reads campaign:https://www.facebook.com/FierceReads
· Gennifer Albin is going on tour October 15th through October 21stwith Marie Rutkoski, Caragh M. O’Brien, and Leigh Bardugo
o Details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/CrewelWorld/events
· Watch the Crewel Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQT1k69a_io
· Become a fan of Crewel and the series on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/CrewelWorld
· Read the short story prequel, entitled “The Department of Alterations”:http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/09/the-department-of-alterations
· Follow Gennifer Albin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GenniferAlbin
· Check out Gennifer Albin’s Website: http://genniferalbin.com/

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