Last Friday, February 24, 2012, I drove 5 freeways to see 4 amazing YA authors.
And it was worth it!
Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose was the 2nd to the last stop for the Breathless Reads Tour. Though the bookstore was small one, the staff made sure we all managed to somehow fit in there and find a comfortable enough spot.
Everyone who bought a book by one of the authors, got one of these beautiful lanyards:
And one of these fabulous posters:
After the bookstore manager welcomed us all, she introduced author and award winning journalist Denise Hamilton, who would moderate the interview session with the 4 YA authors on the Breathless Reads Tour.
Denise began by telling us a little bit about each author on the panel, and inviting them to tell the audience how they got started writing.
Andrea Cremer is an international bestseller best known for her Nightshade Series, which includes the books Nightshade, Wolfsbane and Bloodrose. Andrea explained that she got her break in writing with a literal “break”—as in she broke her leg. As a girl growing up in Minnesota, she’s lived near, and worked with horses all her life and simply loved the creatures. So when she was on a summer break from teaching History, she vowed to do something totally unrelated to teaching, and something that she really loved to do. So she rented a horse for the summer. The day she went out to go on her first ride, the horse she was on got spooked, and landed on her leg. She was in a cast for 12 weeks and couldn’t walk around, let around ride a horse. But since she had vowed to do something she loved that summer, that was not related to teaching, she got out her laptop and decided to write a novel—something she’d always wanted to do. Once she started writing, she couldn’t stop and she knew this was what she wanted to do forever. She did some research, joined some conferences, read books, and a year after she broke her leg, she found an agent—and the rest is history.
Beth Revis, bestselling author of Across the Universe, has just recently released A Million Suns, the second book in the planned trilogy.
“Every time Andrea tells that story, I just feel like punching someone in the neck.” Beth Revis said, when the mic was passed on to her. She looked at Andrea, laughing. “It’s a good thing you’re so darn cute, otherwise…” And Beth mimed wringing Andrea’s neck.
Beth explained the reason behind this banter. Whereas Andrea had gotten an agent a year after she broke a horse, it had taken Beth 10 years before she got published. She had written a book a year for 10 years—all fantasy novels—and when she decided to write Across the Universe, it was her first foray into Science Fiction. “If this doesn’t get published, I quit.” Beth told herself, once she started writing her 11th book. Good thing she didn’t quit!
Jessica Spotswood is the author of Born Wicked: Book 1 of the Cahill Witch Chronicles, a trilogy that’s already sold rights to 8 foreign countries.
Jessica started writing after she fell in love with Gone with The Wind. When she was in High School, she wrote 3 historical romance novels, that were all apparently, bad versions of Gone with the Wind. She got an MA in Theater History & Criticism, but soon realized that she didn’t love theatre enough to make a career out of it. She began re-reading her favorite classics such as Anne of Green Gables, and soon enough she was writing again. Her first attempt at a YA Fantasy got her an agent, though the book didn’t’ sell. But the next book, the first in a trilogy, did sell to Penguin.
Marie Lu, wrote Legend, a Dystopian YA novel that takes place in a dark future, where the United States has split into two warring nations. Like Beth, Marie agreed that she could’ve used a horse to start her writing career sooner. She began writing when she was in High School, typing away in her room at two in the morning. She wrote four manuscripts over the course of 10 years. She got an agent in college, whom she eventually parted ways with. Her 4th manuscript got her Kristin Nelson, her current agent. While they were shopping her 4th book around, she wrote Legend, which sold fast.
Denise asked the authors how they did kissing scenes, and how they felt about writing the more romantic parts of their books.
Andrea said she absolutely loves doing kissing scenes. She wishes she could do more of it in her stories, but of course she has to maintain that balance between knowing what to put in her books and knowing what not to.
Like Andrea, Jessica loves writing the romantic scenes—especially since she grew up devouring classics like Gone with the Wind and Anne of Green Gables.
Beth doesn’t enjoy writing kissing scenes. Although the good thing, is that she had her husband to help her out for research. If she had a choice she would simply write “they kissed” and do away with all the descriptions. Of course her editor wouldn’t have any of that, so she ended up writing a whole 3 pages describing the way her main characters kissed, from the point of view of Elder, the male lead. When she had her husband read it, however, he looked bored. She asked him what was wrong with it and he said, “Well, if I was kissing a girl, I wouldn’t be thinking about the raindrops on her lashes or whatever. I’d just be thinking about boobs.” Of course, Beth followed his advice.
Marie said, that like Beth, she has trouble writing kissing scenes. Apparently when she sent off her first draft, her editor didn’t like the kissing scene she wrote and sent it back to her, telling her to “do it again.” It took her two months to come up with a scene that satisfied her editor.
At one point during the whole discussion on kissing scenes, a toy firetruck got tangled in Beth’s hair. Andrea came to her rescue, and Beth, always the witty one, quipped, “Sorry y’all, it was getting hot in here with all this talk.”
It was the funniest way to end the segment on kissing scenes!
After the laughter had died down, Denise asked the panel if they could describe a typical day in their writing life.
Here’s what they said– as near as I can remember: **This isn’t what they said word for word, but you get the gist**
Beth: “If I wake up before 10am, then something’s wrong. I get up, and get myself a cup of coffee and eat breakfast. And while I’m eating breakfast I might as well watch some TV. Before I know it, it’s 11, and I swear to myself I won’t eat lunch until I’ve finished worked. So I end up eating lunch at around 2 or 3. And then by 3:30, I have to sit by the couch and watch the school bus drive by. I used to be a teacher so I like watching that bus go by. Then I look at the clock and its 4, and I’m thinking my husband will be home in 2 hours. So I work some more. By the time he comes home at 6, and asks me how my day was, I tell him ‘Oh honey, I’ve been so busy today. Do you mind getting dinner and maybe washing the dishes after?””
Andrea: “My day begins when I’ve had at least two cups of coffee in my system.”
Jesicca: “I’m not a morning person so I usually don’t start my day until after 10. I work best in the afternoons and evenings.”
Marie: “I’m the opposite of everyone here, because I’m a morning person. I’m usually up by 7am, all cheerful and stuff. I take my dogs out for a walk, sit down to write and by lunch time, I feel my energy draining. So in the afternoon is when I work on responding to emails and other non-writing related things.”
One audience member asked, “What books are you currently reading?”
Andrea answered Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
And she and Marie both mentioned Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline.
Beth said she loved Cinder by Marissa Meyer,who happened to be in the bookstore to support the Breathless Reads Tour. Also in attendance was debut author Lissa Price, who dropped by from her busy schedule to show support for her fellow YA authors.
Moderator Denise Hamilton, with the help of the audience, threw many more questions at the authors, all of which they answered happily enough.
Being on tour for two weeks certainly brought these YA authors together. They had great chemistry and bantered with one another easily. The audience barely noticed the hour go by as the authors kept us greatly entertained with their smart, witty, and often hilarious answers.
The panel session ended to a round of wild applause. After which, the bookstore attendants herded all of the audience members outside so they could set up the bookstore for the signing.
The authors eagerly chatted with their fans, and even received surprises and letters from some of them.
Once Upon A Time Bookstore really knows how to throw a party. They handed out yummy cupcakes to people on their way out, after getting their books signed.
I had a great time playing unofficial photographer for the authors and the bookstore.
I took a picture of the authors signing stock because I loved how the authors signed their books with smiles on their faces the whole time.
I had such great fun chatting with the authors and listening to them answer all the questions.
The night ended with more pictures–of the entire bookstore staff and all the Breathless Reads Tour Authors.
3,434 total views, 2 views today