Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fierce Reads Pensacola Signing Recap

The Fierce Reads signing (Saturday, June 16th--I know it took me a while to get this up!) was just amazing, y'all. It was actually my first signing ever, so I was absurdly excited and bouncing up and down a little. Macmillan asked me to blog for the event, so I was invited to come early to interview the authors, who all are crazy nice and so willing. You'll hear all about that in a later post, though!

The signing started a teensy bit late, but the authors introduced themselves and we quickly got going. Emmy Laybourne (author of Monument 14) started. She told us that in writing her book, she had to ask herself multiple times, "What is wrong with me?" In a book filled with such pain, despair, and death, writing it could get difficult, but she said that writing scenes of goodness helped her get through. She also said that Monument 14 is really about "how to be human when times are scary".

Jennifer Bosworth (author of Struck) told us about the book, and how she got into the idea of a "lightning addict". She told us about the man who holds the record for the most lightning strikes (SEVEN) and how he was a park ranger. In her research she learned that he took to keeping a bucket of water in the back of his truck when he was out, just in case. She told us she wondered why he never got a different job, one that was inside, and this got her to thinking that he could have been an actual lightning addict, that it made him feel alive.

Anna Banks (author of Of Poseidon) gave us a quick synopsis of her book, telling us that Emma is just an average girl (pointing to a rather hairy man, "like you, sir".)

Leigh Bardugo (author of Shadow and Bone) told us about how she wanted to explore darkness not being metaphorical, but real. She also told us how she got the idea for the Shadow Fold, and how she woke up in the middle of the night to complete darkness, and as she was walking around the house, heard breathing around her. She decided to explore it as a reality, and what kinds of things would be living in there.

After the authors had their introductions and small spiels, they were asked what kinds of preparations they made to begin writing their books. Emmy Laybourne told us that she would "stalk Targets" to get a sense of their layouts, what kinds of resources they had, how long people could live in the store, and what kinds of safety issues could arise. Jennifer Bosworth told us that she watched just about every earthquake documentary she could find, and how she learned that the Puente Hills fault is real, eight miles below the streets of Los Angeles. She also studied what kind of destruction an earthquake would do in LA and did research on cults, including the cults involved in the incidents in Waco, Texas and the Manson murders. Anna Banks told us that she began her research after seeing a documentary on a colossal squid. She thought that if that is real, what else could be down in the deep of the ocean. She also researched other cultures depictions of mermaids and looked at how they could be hiding now. Leigh Bardugo told us about how after she'd written her first draft of the book she felt that it needed a sense of place, so she went to a bookstore, where she found a Russian imperial atlas. She said the country just "clicked" and played into things and events she'd already written, but also that the location changed her story as well. 

At the end of the questions, the authors were asked how long it took for their books to get out into the world, from beginning writing to release date. Emmy told us that in total it took her three years, beginning to end, but the first two years were her drafts. Jennifer said it took about two years, from her first draft to her release date, but that getting published had been an eight year journey, from the first book she wrote to now. Anna told us about how she'd actually sent out queries before her first draft was due, and one of the agents asked for the full manuscript, so she'd had to rush to finish it. In total, her first draft took four months, but she edited for another two. Leigh said from her first idea to querying it took her one year.

The authors were extremely nice and so eloquent. It was a joy to meet them and listen to them speak (as well as read their books, of course!) As I read this back, I don't think my recapping skills are the greatest, and for that I am sorry. I will be getting some practice, and practice makes perfect, right? :)

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