I’m a big fan of Ender’s Game (and all the books in the series that I’ve read so far). I’m such a huge fan that when I received a Signed Collector’s Edition of Ender’s Game for Christmas, I started jumping up and down with such joy, you’d think I’d won the lottery.
So, when I heard (another term for finding about stuff on online) that Orson Scott Card was going to do a book signing for his latest novel Shadows in Flight at Mysterious Galaxy, I was over the moon with excitement.
Naturally, I dragged my loyal minions friends and fellow booksigning enthusiasts Maiko and Lena with me.
The book signing was scheduled for 7:30pm, but when I got there an hour before, Orson Scott Card was already there, signing books and chatting up a storm with a gaggle of his young fans—giggling High School girls who were obviously very excited to be talking with the author of their favorite books.
Orson Scott Card or OSC, as I shall now call him, continued signing books and chatting with his fans up until one of Mysterious Galaxy’s owners introduced him.
OSC began his talk by telling us a little something about his latest book. Shadows in Flight is the 11th book in the Ender series, and a direct sequel to Shadow of the Giant, with Bean as its main character.
Apparently, Shadows in Flight began as a short story, but it later on evolved into a whole novel. He and his publishers agreed that the hard cover book was fast becoming a luxury for most people, so they decided to experiment and come up with a novel that was shorter, and whose price was cheaper for a hard cover book.
OSC said that a lot of his fans were sending him angry emails and berating him for not putting up an ebook version of Shadows in Flight. He explained that Amazon had wanted to sell an ebook version of his book for almost the same price as the hardcover, and he and his publishers didn’t want that. Amazon went on to boycott Macmillan, but it turned out that the readers didn’t “give a rat’s patoot” where they got the books they wanted to read, including OSC’s book, so Barnes & Noble sales shot up, and Amazon eventually dropped the boycott.
OSC says he loves his kindle, and reading his ebooks, but he warns readers to be more discerning about the ebooks that are sold on Amazon. He says that with the new program, anyone can put up their manuscript on Amazon and some of them might not have the benefit of having gone through the editorial process. He said editorial services cost money, and this is what we get when we pay for a book that has been published traditionally.
He gave Robinson Crusoe as an example of what happens when a book doesn’t have an editor. In one scene, Robinson Crusoe took off all his clothes, dove into the ocean and filled his pockets with whatever he found there!
OSC went on to encourage us to support our local bookstores, especially independent ones like Mysterious Galaxy. He talked about how he happened to be there signing that night. He knew he was going to be in town anyway, and he loved Mysterious Galaxy, so he contacted them and they arranged for a one night only signing session. OSC talked about how he always bought books so he could give them away to friends and family. Someone asked why he doesn’t just lend books, and OSC said, “I don’t lend books. I give books so I don’t lose a book and a friend at the same time.”
He opened the floor to questions, and the first question he got was “Did you know in Speaker for the Dead, that Ender was going to have kids?” OSC replied, “I only report what my characters say. I go with what feels right at the time.”
OSC reported that he was talking with his publishers about doing a revised version of Ender’s Game because he wanted to put in a reason for the randomness in the last battle.
He also talked a little about Earth Unaware, which is another book coming out this year. He co-wrote it with Aaron Johnston, who he felt, had a similar style to his own writing. Earth Unaware is the prequel to Ender’s Game, and takes place before Ender was born at the time of the first Formic war.
OSC mentioned that audibooks were the most important medium for him, because he writes in the oral style. He writes to be heard. He told us a little about how his audiobooks came about, and how his daughter auditioned to be one of the readers in one of his books, and how that eventually became the stepping stone for her career.
When asked about what he likes to listen to, OSC said, “It makes me a better writer to listen to famous actors imitate Shakespeare. It may be a little weird for modern readers, but Shakespeare had the rhythm, the flow, and the smooth language.” OSC admitted that he couldn’t stand rap. “You can’t change the stress of the word and still have the English language.” Although, he said, that the best rap he’d ever heard was from an Irish Reporter, who rapped about life in Dublin.
The final question was about how hard it was for him to delete his “babies” or scenes and passages that don’t work in his manuscript.
“It’s not my baby until it’s good.” Orson Scott Card said, smiling. He said that writers shouldn’t be afraid to delete what they wrote, because they can create more words. “I write fiction, I’m often lying–so none of it is precious.” He says the pros do it all the time because they know that their books can only get better.
Orson Scott Card ended his talk by thanking everyone for coming, and asking everyone to follow some respectful rules when falling in line for the autograph session.
Orson made it a point to talk to all his fans while he was signing books. I told him how I actually read his book “Enchantment” before I discovered Ender’s Game. That made him smile. He said he was really proud of “Enchantment” and he thought it was one of his best works.
I had a great time listening to Orson Scott Card. I hope he visits Mysterious Galaxy (Redondo Beach) again in the near future.
***Special Thanks to Maiko and Lena for taking some of the pictures
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