If I could retitle this blog post to something more fangirly, it would be
The best bookish night of my life (thus far)!
However, for the sake of respecting the wonderful folks at Macmillan who made the night in question possible, I will try not to fangirl too much.
About two weeks ago, on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, the Fierce Reads Book Tour rolled into Houston for a stop at my favorite indie book store, Blue Willow Bookshop.
I was already planning on going to the signing, but on a whim, I decided to email Macmillan and see if there was anything I could help with before, during, or after the signing. To my great surprise, they emailed me back right away, suggesting I be the Official Book Blogger for the event. I was floored! They quickly arranged for me to meet with the authors and their entourage for a private Q&A session at a small cafe right down the road from the bookshop, about 45 minutes before the event.
So, armed with cameras, video equipment, a list of questions, a handy boyfriend, and a bundle of nerves, I made my way to Hungry's Cafe... and then... I hit massive traffic! Knowing how important this interview was to me, my boyfriend broke a couple traffic laws, hopped on two interstates, and took numerous back-roads to get me to the authors. Thankfully, their group was running late, too, and I arrived only 5 minutes after they did.
We all introduced ourselves to each other, and since we were running short on time, settled right down for a quick Q&A.
Why (write) YA?
Ann Aguirre actually started off writing Adult novels, and when someone asked her when she would start writing books geared towards Young Adults, she said, "Now". And so, she did!
Jennifer also dabbled in Adult novels, but found that after months of forcing herself, her heart wasn't in it. She loves writing Young Adult because she can take a lot of risks.
What is your guilty pleasure or bad habit while writing?
Leigh Bardugo claims that Procrastination is her guilty pleasure and bad habit - specifcially America's Next Top Model ;-)
Ann loves to munch on chocolate while she writes.
Emmy Laybourne often gets sucked into playing online games at GameDuell.com. To make her bad habit into a reward, Emmy will bribe herself on particularly bad days to write for an hour and then play on GameDuell for 15 minutes. (Her favorite games are Spider and Dragon Click!)
Anna Banks' addiction is Twitter. No surprise there, Anna! ;-)
What is your writing process? Do you go with the flow or do you already know how the series – or your story – will end?
Jennifer said that she goes with the flow, and while she would love to how how the story will end beforehand, she also likes the process of discovery.
Leigh is an outliner to the extreme. She said it is much easier to watch America's Next Top Model if she knows where the story is supposed to go next. Gosh, she's smart and sneaky! I love her.
Emmy said that she embraces both methods. She does outline, but leaves a lot of room for the creativity to flow.
What is the very first thing you did when you wrote the final word and realized you had finished a book?
Emmy was thrilled to relive this moment. It was quite exceptional. She laid down on the floor... and took a nap!
When Jennifer finished her first book, she printed it out on her home printer (over 800 pages!) to give to her husband for Christmas.
Ann printed out her first book, too, and carefully went over each line with White-Out and a pen to correct all of her typos, and then - she sent it out in a query! This is also when she received her first rejection letter. She was fifteen years old. Wish we could dredge up a copy of that book! ;-)
I really enjoyed the answers that were given to my questions and the little off-topic conversations that sprung from them as well. I sat in between Leigh and Emmy, who were quick to make me feel at ease and comfortable. Anna was not feeling good at all, so she was pretty quiet, though when she did talk, her sarcastic wit shone through :-) Ann and Jennifer were rather quiet, although I think Jennifer was a bit more shy than Ann. They were all very gracious and kind, and I am still in awe to this day that I was able to sit and chat with so many amazing women.
Unfortunately, our time together was cut rather short, due to all of us running late for the meeting, so we gulped down the last of our drinks and skeedaddled over to Blue Willow, where several dozen fans were anxiously waiting.
Each of the authors spoke for a while about their books and regaled us with some funny stories and jokes. Anna Banks told us that she wrote a book on mermaids because she fears the world isn't ready for a Sasquatch romance novel. How fabulously nutty is she?! When asked whether anyone had recognized her in public, Anna told us how she was once approached by a fan while on an airplane, and asked to sign a barf bag. Of course she complied! Anna didn't give away any spoilers to Of Poseidon, but did say that she was handing out free puppies to anyone who is mad at the cliff-hanger! ;-)
Jennifer Bosworth told us the inspiration for Struck came from reading a story of a man who had been struck by lightning seven times, without serious injury, and she began to wonder what would happen if someone became addicted to lightning. Thus, Struck was born. Jenn intended for Struck to be a stand-alone, but stated that the folks at Macmillan think it may have sequel potential", so we'll see! She is a self-described "nerd" who likes to come up with supernatural stories based in science. (PS: There is an origin story of the villian, Prophet, on Tor.com.)
Emmy Laybourne is a gregarious firecracker! (It's no wonder, though, because she actually starred alongside Molly Shannon as Helen in Superstar!) She talked a bit more about her passion for the Young Adult community, and for darker stories in particular. To Emmy, the darker the setting and the more intense, dramatic, and scary the events are in the book, the greater the chance her characters have to be the hero, to show their humanity, and to covercome their obstacles.
Ann Aguirre first fell in love with dystopia upon watching Night of the Comet at age 11. She talked about not following traditional gender roles in her stories, because "sometimes the boys need rescuing, too!" She said she envisioned Keanu Reeves as Fade, the male lead, and hinted around about an eventual release of a live-action short film based on Enclave. Anyone have Hollywood connections to Keanu?!
Leigh Bardugo told us that, upon freaking herself out in a pitch dark cabin, she wondered what it would be like if darkness were real and not figurative; if it were a place, crawling with creatures from our nightmares. Thus, the Shadow Fold, a swath of impeneterable darkness, was born. She talked a a bit about the map of Ravka, illustrated by Keith Thompson, who also designed the maps of the Levithan series. Leigh said she was "blown away" and completely fangirled over Keith when she was told that he was hired to design the map. (PS: There is a short story on the witch of Duva on Tor.com.) It just so happened that on the day of the Houston tour, Shadow and Bone hit the New York Time's Best-seller List! Needless to say, Leigh was on the verge of happy tears all day :-)
After the authors talked a bit about their books, it was time to start signing books! The ladies also autographed the walls of Blue Willow Bookshop, as is tradition. (I'm not sure if there's any more room now!) I'm positive they were pooped by the end of the evening, but their smiles were there, for better or worse. I am so glad I was able to meet the Fierce Reads authors and to work with Macmillan. This night will go down as one of the very BEST in my book :-)
So now, without further ado, I present to you - A GIVEAWAY! Thanks to the generous folks at Macmillan, I have signed set of the Fierce Reads novels for one lucky winner (US only, please)! Check out the Rafflecopter form below!
Good luck & stay fierce!