Friday, December 9, 2011

Meeting Authors: Cassandra Clare, Michelle Hodkin, and a surprise

I went down to Bethesda Maryland last night to meet Cassandra Clare and Michelle Hodkin at an event at the library. When I got there, the room was packed, and I got in line to buy my books. Then this conversation happened. 

Me: I'd like The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.
Bookstore Lady: There are no more. 
Me: What do you mean there are no more? 
BL: We didn't think many people would want this one. 
Me: Every time I come to a signing here with a stack of books you all are unhappy that I'm not buying books from you. Then I come here to buy from you, to support your indie store, and you run out. Next time I'll make sure I buy my books in advance. 

So then I walked out. It was a bit more dramatic then intended. And I was aware people were watching the conversation. I don't do dramatic, but I was annoyed. Because these people always lecture on supporting the indie, which I'm happy to do. And I had Cassie's signature in a couple of books already, so I was mostly there for Michelle Hodkin. Anyway, we're a few blocks from a B&N, so I was going to call and see if they had a copy. Then run over and get it. The bookstore lady followed me out to the doors of the library and said there was one copy they had pulled for the raffle, but they'd sell it to me instead. I was happy to get the book, but felt a bit guilty until I found out they had only brought 20 copies. And that this had been an issue before. 

Sending a well-known, successful author with a debut author is a marketing strategy. People will go for the author they know and love and hopefully pick up the other book. This isn't a trick. It's actually a good strategy. Though I was interested in Mara Dyer before this event. According to another event attendee, this same indie did something similar at another event. They stocked about 20 of the lesser known author's newest book, which was second in a series, and had ZERO of book one. That's not good business sense nor does it support the author and make attendees happy.  Now, while I'm all for supporting the indie book stores, I'm definitely going to be more careful. I'll be calling ahead to make sure they have the book(s) I want, and if I'm concerned about them having it, I'll be bringing a copy I've previously purchased. And if you're reading this, and you are an indie store, set polls or rsvps on your site to get an idea of how many books to order. I wouldn't be opposed to ordering ahead of time and pre-paying to ensure I get my copy. 

Now... enough of my ranting and on to the good stuff!

Cassie Clare talked a bit about her inspiration for her Shadowhunters. She said a tattoo artist friend of hers had a lot of runes in her sample book which made Cassie think about how warriors may decorate themselves with runes. And after a while the Shadowhunters were born. 

Most of the audience's questions were directed at her. Who's her favorite character? Which book is her favorite? Questions that are always hard for authors because it's "like choosing a favorite child." There were also a lot of "OMG! I just love this character!" followed by squeals. When asked which book guy she'd like to date, she responded, with no hesitation, Darcy. Someone asked her why The Infernal Devices was a darker series than The Mortal Instruments. Her reason is because of the time period. Victorian London was a darker place than our world. 

Michelle Hodkin also spoke about her inspiration for her book. She was a lawyer, doing civil anti-terrorism litigation. And while she was in New York, she met a woman whose daughter had survived a building collapse. Several of her friends died in that same accident. Michelle also met her daughter. She took their info to pass along to a lawyer who could help them. A year later, she tried to contact the woman and her daughter. Their number had been disconnected, and when researched, she could find no record of them. That night, she started writing the story. When Michelle was asked which book guy she'd like to date, she said she had no idea. However, she said she did like Simon from The Mortal Instruments. 

There were so many people at the signing, and I was on the far side of the room, I ended up at the back of the line, where I waited for an hour and 45 minutes. But when I got to the front of the line, Michelle recognized me. She said I was the first person she recognized from my Twitter avatar. This has happened once before, and I was really excited. I feel special! Haha! She was very sweet, and I glad to get to meet her.

And there was a surprise author at the event. While I was waiting in line I looked up and recognized Diana Peterfreund. I know she lives in the area, so it wasn't much of a shock to see her there. I'm not very good at recognizing people from their pictures online, but I've met her twice before. I tweeted that I saw her. And she found me in line, holding up her phone and asked me if I had tweeted her. She ended up standing in line with me while we chatted for about thirty minutes. She was very sweet as well.

All-in-all it was a really great event. I wanted to get pictures to post here, but i was seated in a bad place for taking them. I hope everyone else who attended had a great time as well.


Jessi E. said...

That would be sooo annoying for the book not to be there. I'm actually pretty amazed that they think 20 books would be enough. Just the sheer foot traffic that Cassandra Clare would generate would be enough for a lot of people to buy the other book to get it signed just out of sheer curiosity. And that is even without all the buzz that has been generated over The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer that should also be taken into account.

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