So last Saturday, before Mother Nature unleashed her icy fingers on the South, I went to a book signing with myself. Yeah, couldn't find anyone to go with me. So I drove three hours to a very cute little town which I neglected to take pictures of (shame). I was a little shaky. I was in college the last time I drove that far by myself and I was driving in the flat land of Florida, not the incredibly twisty turny mountains of NC. I did get to see why they are called The Great Smoky Mountains. They were definitely smoky looking. But it was one of those gray days where the clouds hang out on the mountains anyway and the tops of the mountains peek through. But I did make it by myself. Thank you Siri for your directions.
City Lights bookstore is at the top of a hill and is the kind of bookstore you want to spend a lot of time wandering around in. They have a cat! No, I did not take a picture of him/her either. It was a great looking cat, too. Black and white, very sleek, it seemed to know it was in a great bookstore and that it was allowing us to be in his store. I got there just in time to get a front row seat, up close and personal with Jessica Khoury, Stephanie Perkins and Megan Shepherd.
Anyway, this was a panel and there were so many great questions and nerdy me was in the front writing fast and furiously. Here is what I found interesting-
From Jessica Khoury- Her novels Origin and Vitro, both set in jungle type settings, were inspired by the show Lost. Origin is set in an Amazonian jungle type setting. And no, Jessica has never visited the Amazon. Instead, she researched everything about the setting on line, in books, even listened to sounds of the rain forest as she wrote. She wrote it in one month! (I know...) She always wrote it to be a standalone. But she still wanted to explore the same world. That evil corporation. So she set Vitro on an island in the South Pacific. She wanted it to have a claustrophobic feel to it- island, your stuck on it, no escape.( Made me start rethinking my happy place in my mind. I had to put a fast motor boat and a helicopter in there after the signing!) For Vitro she did visit and island, just in the Caribbean instead of the South Pacific. She highly recommends traveling to your setting if at all possible.
I confess, I started Origin when it first came out and I am completely fascinated with it. But I have never gotten back to it. Still I remember what I read and I am itching to get back to it. I say this to say, I don't know who this character is, but the question was asked about secondary characters, who was their favorite?
Jessica said she had to do a complete rewrite because of a character called Nicholas. He just wouldn't stay out of the scenes. She said it was the first time she'd had that happen to her.
How is being an author versus her expectations of what it would be like?
She set the bar very low she said so it's exceeded it a lot. But she says there are a lot of highs and lows. Long periods of boredom and then chaos, travel and speaking.
Her favorite part of writing- First draft where you can make mistakes. She likes just writing and putting ideas down. She calls the writing part the honeymoon phase because you can dream and write anything and not worry if it works.
What is she reading right now? Of Triton by Anna Banks. She is loving it.
What's next for it? She couldn't say. I think next week or next month she could reveal it. You know when you're waiting, it all seems like a year.
Jessica Khoury was really interested in everyone and was surprised I came from so far to see her. But it was the only place close by she was going to be and I really wanted my books signed by her. Is anyone else that anal about getting their books signed in person? I barely said anything to her but of the three, she was the only one I talked to. Yes, I hang my head in shame. I totally clammed up. What a dork!
Next was Stephanie Perkins-
I don't know if you've heard her or met her before but she is so "nice". I put that word in quote marks because I know that word doesn't really describe anything. She is quiet, but in a way that makes you want to listen to her. She says things you want to hear, she talks carefully, like each word is chosen precisely. She is a bit like her writing. She leaves you feeling good and happy, a little smile on your face. And because this tour was about second books, she talked a lot more about Lola and the Boy Next Door which I am currently reading.
Lola and The Boy Next Door took 10 years to write. She lived in San Francisco at the time that she started it and put it aside because she got talked out of writing for "children." But after Anna and the French Kiss which was written during NaNoWriMo (not much of it was kept, but still) the publishers wanted something like it. So Lola and The Boy Next Door was dusted off and finished. As I've just gotten a few chapters in I don't know too much, but I realized as she said this, "I wanted to write Lola with two Dads and have it not be a big deal. Just be a part of the story and accepted. Not an issue in the book. I think I nailed that. I'm proud of that." So far it seems to me she did nail it. And who knows, ten years prior, it may have never been received as not being an issue. And this is what I mean about Stephanie, she seemed almost shy about saying she was proud of herself for that. I understand it's hard to toot your own horn, but I don't think there are many of us in YAdom that don't know Stephanie Perkins series. I think she can be proud.
She seems to have forgotten she's a Rockstar!
So as far as setting/place goes she lived in the setting of Lola so she knew it intimately. It was where she and her husband were finally together on the same side of the country and were in love and young and carefree, you know that first kind of really real love. So San Francisco holds a very special place in her heart and memory. But Anna and the French Kiss totally researched the places in Paris. On line, books, listened to French music. Watched French movies not for the movie, but for the setting, the way they moved, the background. Even took a semester of the language. Ate French food. (no not french fries, go away!) Now, she's been to Paris and said it felt like she'd created it her self because it matched up to what she'd imagined.
Says when they go on vacation she takes pictures of the sidewalk, the walls, a streetlight. Her husband sounds like the best kind of guy- a friend, a guy, and supportive of anything she asks. I've even seen him perform the retelling of the dream she had about Etienne St. Clair and Anna and it's really funny. He got up in front of an audience and did it at Malaprops in Asheville in the summer.
So, was being an author what she expected? Yes and No. She's learned about networking, education, making mistakes, persistence, the end game isn't a published book but to accept what happens and go on.
Isla and The Happily Ever After comes out in August. And then guess what she's writing....A SLASHER NOVEL! I can't imagine it, but she's been reading up on Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. I am sure it will be exceptional.
As far as writing goes...she HATES, HATES, HATES, (she was very forceful about this) first drafts. She loves to edit it, "make it sing" she said. She probably would edit it forever if she could.
I already had all my books signed by her, but I wished I had gotten paperback copies of the new covers to match the Isla book coming out. I'm sure I will see her at a signing at Malaprops some time. By the way, if you're having trouble with pronouncing Isla it is like aisle like a grocery store aisle and a as in a dog. Sorry I've forgotten all of my grammar lessons. But there was great debate about this at another signing so once I learned how to pronounce it I have kept that in my mind. Aisle- a or Isle- a or I'll - a. More than you ever wanted to know, right?
Okay the two bottom pictures are from a signing at Malaprops in Asheville. The guy with the bowtie is Stephanie's husband reciting how Stephanie dreamily explains the idea for a new book. It always starts with a guy and a girl in some romantic setting. That signing was in June of last year.
What is she reading right now? Books about serial killers. She wouldn't share. Said she didn't want us to have nightmares, but she did recommend Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I recommend that. I reviewed it earlier in the year. It is outstanding! Lots of people agree with me.
Okay so now Megan Shepherd. Her books are The Madman's Daughter and Her Dark Curiosity.
Megan's books explore Dark Science Themes. (just felt like that needed to be capitalized). Believe it or not she was also inspired by the T.V. show Lost. She also read books by H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein. None of them had a girl in them and she wondered what if there was a girl....and the trilogy was born.
Place/setting- For The Madman's Daughter she just imagined an island. It's a tropical island so she imagined it. But she did have trails she used to go running on when she was younger and there was an abandoned creepy cabin and a creek and she drew on those and the feelings to use in her setting. She was able to visit London for the second book and like Stephanie Perkins she would take pictures of unusual things and they tried to visit the parts of London that hadn't been changed in a 100 years to lend authenticity to the novel. For the 3rd novel, she studied in the Scottish Highlands where the novel is set.
As far as being an author, she had a job and never thought about being an author. Then she had the idea and she worked on it in spare time with the goal to be published. Didn't think about it after that. She says it's hard to find your way -there is no real manual to tell you what the next step is and there are a lot of emotional highs and lows. A message from her agent could be great or depressing. You have to learn to live with uncertainty.
Her favorite part of writing is the brainstorming and research. Not the editing so much.
What is she reading right now? Salvage by Alexandra Duncan.
What is her next project? A human zoo set in space - sci-fi with aliens again, inspired by Lost!
So, for some strange reason, I was shy. I couldn't say much more than my name to these authors and I got my books signed and left. But I'll tell you this, you all know, if you read my blog much, that I have Bipolar Disorder. Yep, well medicated, stable, usually everything is fine. But it's a social/emotional disorder. I mean yes it's a chemical imbalance, but it affects the social and emotional parts of our brains. For me, I have been a bit homebound for a long time. This was a big test for me. And I passed. I went alone. School won't be that much scarier. Not after I go to a couple more of these. And, if the snow melts in time, I have another one here in town to go to this weekend! Beth Revis, Jodi Meadows those are the two names that keep ringing in my head. I'm just not sure if it's going to happen. And another one next one in Greenville, SC.
Lots of Rockstars to meet. Hopefully I'll open my mouth Saturday. I'm not sure other than this one, if I have been to a book signing that Beth Revis hasn't been to, and yet she doesn't remember me. Because I don't say anything!!! Give me some hints guys. What do I say? How do you break the ice? Especially for an introvert?
So you made it to the end. Well thank you for reading this. I am going to give away one copy of any of the books by the authors I go to see in the next few weeks and if you put your name in the rafflecopter form, I might just pick your name. Open internationally, of course! I'm sorry it won't be signed, but I'm picking it after I get my books signed. Again I am giving away your choice of one book from any of the authors I see at these events. And thanks for reading all the way through.
a Rafflecopter giveaway