I haven’t been to a lot of book events, and I’m starting to regret it. As a pretty deep introvert, I much prefer the part of book blogging where I’m sitting quietly in bed or in a comfy chair with a book and possibly a snack, or, even better, a cat in my lap. But as I start to read multiple books by authors or hear about new authors with great new books, I’ve started wanting to get out there and meet authors and listen to what inspired them or how they write such amazing characters and stories. So… my first foray into the wild was a last-minute trip to Read Up! in Greenville, SC on August 6, 2016. I got some great books and had an awesome time listening to authors speak about writing and what inspired the stories they’ve written. Here are some of the things I learned.
1. Jay Asher is pretty hilarious.
He’s one of those guys where you might not realize he’s funny if you aren’t paying attention. He has that cool sort of dry delivery. I listened to his keynote speech in the morning, and it was absolutely awesome. He breezed by some info about the Thirteen Reasons Why Netflix series that’s coming out and his new book What Light which will be out late this fall. (Can’t wait!)
2. Also– did you catch how Thirteen Reasons Why is written like a suspense novel?
Am I the last person to figure this out? I don’t read much suspense, so maybe that’s why it didn’t immediately jump out at me? As soon as he said it, I was like, ohhhhhh…. YES. And wow, what a difference that made. (My Thirteen Reasons Why review is here.)
3. Prepare before meeting an author.
You know how people react to shocking news in really different ways? Apparently my fangirling is more like my mind going completely and utterly blank and then me standing as still as possible and saying almost nothing besides a few profoundly stupid words. So. *facepalm.*
Okay. So I had a massive headache the morning of the event, but I decided to tough it out and go anyway. Then I was almost late arriving, so I went to the keynote and book signing without that magic elixir some of us call coffee. Let me say that I LOVED Thirteen Reasons Why. I’ve read it more than once, even! But do I tell Jay Asher this? No. I mean, honestly, I figure it’s one of those things that stops really meaning so much if you just say, hey, I loved your book. Like, he’s heard that a million times, right? What I wish I’d done: thought of something specific from the book that REALLY mattered to me. Because I think that would have been more meaningful. Instead, I had him sign a generic autograph because I figured I might give it away on my blog. But…. I’m afraid it may have sounded like all I cared about was capitalizing on how much other people like the book or like I couldn’t have cared less. Which is so untrue. Jay Asher, you are awesome! Forgive my zombie introvertedness. I’ll make cue cards for myself next time.
4. Author Panels = AWESOME!
The next thing I did was go to a panel with Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Ryan Graudin, Carrie Ryan, and Tiffany Schmidt called Bad Blood. This was a great idea. If you have a chance to go to panels like this, DO IT. I loved getting the chance to hear different authors talking about a single topic. Super fun!
5. Jennifer Lynn Barnes only likes music to which she knows all the words. Also, she listens to one song while she writes a particular novel.
All the panelists had a chance to talk about how they use music in their writing process. This stuck out to me, though. I think it’s cool and also funny. I don’t typically listen to music while I write (I find the words distracting) but I wondered if listening to one song again and again would work for me. I might try it.
6. Ryan Graudin had me at Social Justice.
Listening to her talk about living overseas in Cambodia and how that inspired her to write The Walled City made me want to ask her so many more questions. I have an ebook copy of Wolf Road and bought and asked her to sign a paperback copy of The Walled City, but I haven’t had a chance to read either of those yet. Also, dude. I probably owe her an apology, too, because I zombie-gawked at her, too, instead of having anything coherent or useful to say. Worse, still, I finally found my feet when I talked to Carrie Ryan, who was sitting right next to her, so it probably looked like it was sort of personal. Nooooo. I felt horrible.
7. Carrie Ryan wrote Forest of Hands and Teeth as a NaNoWriMo novel. How cool is that? (Actually, Marissa Meyer wrote Cinder in NaNo, too.)
My coffee must have kicked in as I stood in line to talk to Carrie Ryan. I thought of a specific thing I wanted to tell her, and that made things much easier. What did I say? I told her two things. One, I asked her to sign a copy of The Map to Everywhere for my daughter and explained that I recently realized I’d given copies to her friends as birthday gifts but never gotten her one of her own! Also, I told her (and this is true) that after I read Forest of Hands and Teeth, I lent my copy to a guy at work that I liked. We are married now. She was like, WIN! So that was cool.
8. Tiffany Schmidt writes fairy tales set in crime families.
Before the panel, I hadn’t even heard of her or her books. When she explained what she writes, I was like wait, what?! How cool is that? I bought a copy of Hold Me Like a Breath which is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea in a family that deals in illegal organ transplants. I must read this!
9. Writer’s Block Technique a la Tiffany Schmidt: take a notebook with you on a run and leave it on a table or place you’ll pass. Make a loop. Write down anything you think of re: your problem. Still stuck? Make another loop.
Let me say that I will absolutely be trying this!
10. Look for common themes or structure across the big bestselling books, says Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Twilight: forbidden love with the threat of death. Take that idea and look at Hunger Games. Pretty similar when you pare it down that far, right? Makes me want to break down other stories and think about them this way. I like how you think, Jennifer Lynn Barnes!