Saturday, February 26, 2011
I had such an amazing time at the Breathless Reads Tour where I got to meet:
Kirsten Miller author of The Eternal Ones, Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City, and Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb
My friend, Melissa of Surviving Writing a Book, and I drove the five hours down to North Carolina. Well, I drove. She played on my iPad. And after the 2.5 hours spent at the signing, I drove back.
A couple of interesting things to note. We left at noon and got there just a few minutes before 7:00. We did stop for dinner, but somewhere… we lost time. Beth Revis agreed with Melissa’s theory that we were kidnapped by aliens for a short time. And on the return, I stopped to get gas and a caffeinated beverage (yumm, coca-cola!). It was a sketchy area, where there were bars on all the windows. And I received the strangest compliment… “You smell clean.” I had no idea what to say to that. Haha!
Melissa and I walked into the bookstore pretty much as they were announcing the authors, which means we arrived right on time. All five authors were set up on a panel with two women asking the questions. I’m going to go through the questions and answers that I was able to take notes on.
Why do you write young adult?
All five of them had similar answers which included: loving Coming-of-age stories, that time in life is fascinating, and they can’t imagine writing anything else.
Beth added that adult books are boring. I have some recs for her. Haha!
How is your main character similar to yourself as a teen?
Andrea said that Calla is very different than her, however Calla’s brother has a lot of similarities with Andrea’s brother.
Kirsten said small things slipped in. Small events, details, but nothing major. However, the bad guy in her Kiki Strike series is based on a kid she went to school with and disliked.
Beth’s answer was the funniest. She said that many of the people who died in her book were based on ex students of hers.
Ally said that in Matched, the relationship between Cassia and her grandfather is very similar to her relationship with her own grandfather and also the falling off the treadmill incident came from her.
What is the easiest and hardest part of writing a book with romance?
Beth said that the hardest part was writing the kidding scenes, but the best part is when things blow up!
Ally agreed that the kissing scenes were hard. There are so many first kiss scenes in YA books, and they worry about making theirs the same as all the others. Ally said she loves falling in love with the characters relationship, when she realizes that they’re perfect for each other.
Andrea, on the other hand, loves the kissing scenes. Everyone then said that’s why her scenes are better than most. She said the key is tension. That they need electricity; there needs to be banter, and the characters must be equals.
Kirsten said she her books are equal thriller and romance. She likes that the romance is dangerous, and it’s intriguing to think about women wondering if they’re falling in love with someone who’s trying to kill her.
What is your writing process like?
Andrea said she writes her books completely out of order and then pulls all the scenes together at the end. She said she fails at outlining, and that she needs coffee and music and had a playlist for each book.
Kirsten likes her expresso soda, Manhattan Special and that she writes mostly from beginning to end. But every book of hers has sprung from a scene that just pops into her head. However, that scene may be the beginning, middle, or end.
Brenna said that she, too, jumps around, but it’s a bit more chaotic. She said she’ll skip the middle of a scene, or even leave words out of sentences if she can’t find the right word.
Beth said she has to write everything in order. First sentence first, second sentence second, etc…
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Beth says that you need to do new things. Experiences are needed in order to write. Also, don’t take too much advice from one single person.
Brenna says not to be too much of a perfectionist on the first time through. You’ll never get anything done. Note: This is my problem.
Kirsten says to exercise your butt power… the ability to sit on your butt for hours and hours until you write something you like. Sometimes it’s about waiting to find the right words, but you have to sit there and do it. She also says not to let anyone tell you that you can’t do it and to take criticism for what it’s worth.
Andrea says that many authors will tell you to write what you love and write what you know. She says that while she agrees that you have to write the story you need to tell, not something just because you think it’ll be published. She also says to write what you’re passionate about and write about what you’d like to know. She said it’s important to find your own process; to try different ones and see what works best. There’s no one correct way.
Ally says to cut yourself some slack. And keep working at it.
How many books did you write before the one that you got published?
Ally was there for her book, Matched, but that wasn’t her first. She had five published with a small publisher beforehand.
Andrea said she wrote two practice novels that no one besides her family will ever see. But when she was writing Nightshade, she knew it was different and would be published.
Kirsten said she was really lucky. She wrote the first Kiki Strike book for herself. Someone asked her about it, and she gave him what had been written so far. He happened to get sick, so he read it since it was the only reading material around. She said she didn’t think he was actually going to read it. But it got passed on and published.
Brenna said she queried one novel before The Replacement. And there are many other novels she had started but never finished.
Beth said she used to write books while she was in school. She said “I wrote a book, and it sucked. I wrote another book, and it sucked. Then I wrote eight more. They sucked, too. A lot. And then I got Across the Universe published.” (paraphrased)
What genre would you like to write in?
Brenna said she’d like to write an edgy contemporary, but fantasy elements always sneak in.
Andrea would like to write a noire, but thinks it would be very difficult as it’s different than what she writes.
Kirsten said she’d like to write horror. She grew up reading horror, and her first adult book, as a kid, was Amityville. She is also interested in writing a dystopian/noire.
Ally would like to write a “happy book for boys age 7-9” per her son’s request.
What are you currently reading?
Brenna is reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Beth is reading Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
Andrea is reading The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.
Ally is reading something (I didn’t catch the title) by Kate Morton.
Kirsten is reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson and books for research on code breakers in WWII and royal scandals.
What advice would you give to your main character?
Ally says “Trust yourself.”
Brenna says “Stop being self-conscious.”
Beth says “Don’t trust anyone.”
Andrea says “Be more careful.”
Kirsten says “Things are rarely what they seem.”
What are you working on now?
Beth is re-writing her entire second book, A Million Suns, the sequel to Across the Universe. She’s at 30,000 words and needs three times that by Tuesday. *sends good writing thoughts her way*
Brenna is working on The Space Between, a second stand-alone.
Kirsten recently finished All You Desire, the sequel to The Eternal Ones. She is also working on the third Kiki Strike novel.
Andrea said Wolfsbane will be available in July and the third book, Bloodrose, March 2012. She is also working on a fourth for the series, however, it is a prequel set in Scotland, 14th century, I believe. She is also working on a steampunk series.
Ally is working on Crossed, the sequel to Matched.
At this point, the questions are turned over to the audience…
Would you like to have your book turned into movie?
All five of them said yes.
Who would you cast as main character?
Andrea said she has no one for Calla, but she sees Ben Barnes as Ren and Chase Crawford as Shay.
Kirsten likes Emma Stone.
An audience member as Ally “Did The Giver influence you?”
Ally said probably, but that 1984 was a much bigger influence..
How do you not pull too much from one book?
Inspiration from a lot of different places. But different writers write differently and do different things with ideas.
Brenna said she has a junk shop in head where things are pulled from all over.But she combines things differently.
Nothing new under the sun. The ideas are all very old. Things borrowed and evolved. Don't read in the genre you're writing in. Things that are new are exciting to write.
How do you name your characters?
Andrea said she can't write a character if the name is wrong. She will spend more time on names than writing a chapter. She has a name book that she played with when she was little and loved Majesta when she was a little girl. She said the pack names came from the origins of where they're from.
Kirsten needs a name first. She steals names. She will watch movie credits just to see interesting names. Sometimes hearing a name will cause an entire character to spring to life.
Ally writes first person so names come later and they often change until she gets it right.
Beth just picks names.
Brenna says sometimes a name will come to her, and she uses it even if she doesn’t like it. So she has to adjust to names she doesn't like because if she changes a name it changes who the character is.
How much say did you have in your cover art?
Everyone said none… The most they’d get is a suggestion.
In case you didn’t know, Across the Universe has a reversible cover with the ships blueprints on the inside. Beth said that she was asked about blueprints, and she responded that she had already drew a little diagram. She said she made a circle to make a ship… because that should be aerodynamic. Haha! When asked about the outside of the ship, she said “I don’t know; they're on the inside of the ship.”
The event was a lot of fun, and there were a lot of laughs. These ladies are smart, funny, and just absolutely fantastic. I wish we had had more time to spend with them. This is one of the best author events I have ever been to.
After the panel, I got to get each book signed. So I got my place and line, and was chatting with the girls standing in line around me. As with most YA author events I’ve been to recently, there have been few teens. Mostly it’s women in their 20’s and 30’s. There was a raffle, and everyone had a chance to put their names in. There were five winners, and five prizes. They called the first two names. The third name was a girl who was a few people ahead of me in line. The fourth name was the girl behind her. I found out later that they had come together, so it was really funny they had both won. And I commented that the area we had in line was good luck. So I bent down to put my booksmarks in my rolling bookbag, and they called the fifth name. They said “Andrea”. My ears perked up because that’s my name. But… I hadn’t put my name in. Then… they called my last name. I said “Oh, hey… that’s me.” The guy behind me said “Are you serious?” So, apparently, the space in line was good luck. So… how did my name get in there? Thanks to Melissa! I got the last book as I was the last name called. It was The Eternal Ones. But I already have it so I’m giving it to you! Well... to one of you who managed to read all the way to the end. ;)
Contest Closed! How do you enter?
1. You must be at least 13.
2. You must have a US mailing address. If you don’t, but you know someone who does, see if they’ll send it to you. ;)
3. You must follow this blog and Melissa’s.
4. Fill out this form. Ends 2/28/11.