When I was offered designated blogger for the Vegas Fierce Reads tour stop, I was floored. I had already planned on driving out to Vegas, but Macmillan’s offer made it so much sweeter.
We left San Diego around 9am. We had to stop for road snacks, so we were officially on the 15N at 9:30.
11:30 found us at our first stop: the Flying J truck stop in Barstow. It was already 90+ degrees. More snacks were bought,then we were back on the road and I was back to my book. Driving to Vegas could be the most boring drive ever. Well, it rivals driving through Utah and Texas.
Never done it? It’s a lot of this…
Seriously. Miles and miles and miles of it. And then, all of a sudden, BAM!!
Our first stop was Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill. I’ve been a fan of Gordon for as long as I can remember, yet I’ve never eaten at one of his restaurants.
We each ordered pub spots and they were worth every penny of the $17 they cost.
They served the water in glass bottles with the restaurant name and logo etched on it. I offered to buy one, but they’re not for sale. The awesome server I asked pointed to the empty bottles and told me he wouldn’t stop me if I walked out with one. Alas, I didn’t.
Hubs gambled for a little bit, but we pretty much left right after eating. Neither of us knew where the B&N was located [we lived on the other side of town], so we wanted to head over to find it. We found the store and the event area as it was in the process of being set up.
I introduced myself to the events manager, Crystal, and she told me that she was just about to go pick up the authors. She said they’d be back at the store around 6, [my meeting time was 6:15] so we could figure out the where then.
From there, we just had time to kill…
We got back to the store at 5:45, but the event area hadn’t changed too much. Chairs were not set up, so I waited off to the side with another woman who was attending the signing. Just after 6pm, one of the employees asked if we were waiting for the event and offered chairs. She said we may have to move when they actually started setting up, but at least we’d be able to sit down.
At 6:30, Crystal came over and told me that the ladies were in the cafe.
Now. My initial plan was to record the entire interview and then post it here, so you could decide if you wanted to listen or not. That didn’t happen. Below is the shortened and transcribed interview. I took out most of the fun stuff, just because there were a lot of tangents, a lot of snark, a lot of laughing and a lot of Jessica singing One Direction songs. Since I’m already making this a wall of text, I tried to narrow it down to just the answers.
Don’t want to read? Scroll until you see a picture of candy. Oh. And the audio on my phone didn’t pick up the very first question about desert islands…
What song best describes your writing process?
A: Tainted Love — Marilyn MansonJ: Up All Night — One Direction
E: #Beautiful, just to be silly. I don’t know the lyrics, but it’s for the title. I can’t think of a better song.
L: Has to be something by Queen. Not Bohemian Rhapsody, not We Are the Champions. I think we’ll go with Princes of the Universe from Highlander.
What’s the theme song for your book? [Thank you, Michelle for letting me take your questions!]
E: It’s the End of the World as We Know It — REM [Everyone: oooooh! Emmy wins!]
A: What is that song in Pretty in Pink? [cue conversation about different songs and Jessica singing] Ooh. The Promise by When in Rome.
J: Please Remember Me by Tim McGraw [more singing]. That’s my first serious answer all day and I’m done now. That’s all you get.
L: Every song I think of is a spoiler. Wide Awake by Katy Perry. [someone said: That’s a horrible song] Okay, I’m going with Tainted Love by Florence + the Machine.
What character other than your own do you want to hang out with?
E: Fire from the Graceling series. She would be so fun, just to go out and kick some ass.
L: Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle.
A: Scarlett O’Hara. I love her. That’s why my pen name is Anna Scarlett.
J: Park from Eleanor & Park.
Describe your book in 5 words.
Emmy just answered this question in my interview with her, so I said she didn’t have to answer. Everyone else wanted her to answer so they could have an idea.
E: Torque. Heart. Danger. Velocity. Family.
J: Some memories are better forgotten. [Everyone: Oooh, that’s good.] Well, it’s one of the tag lines.
A: I don’t know…
L: Adventure. Romance. Darkness never dies. [This started: sample choices such as “Adventure never dies. Buy me!” and “Buy this book right now” and “Who wants coffee? I brought cake!”]
A: Betrayal. Politics. That’s a horribly boring word. Intrigue. Did you just say those were boring? I’m not playing this game anymore.
L: Now flip the table, Anna.
J: How about New York Times Bestseller Debut?
What’s the weirdest thing you googled while researching?
A: How long do you stay unconscious when you chloroform someone?
E: How do you set a dislocated shoulder?
L: Maybe it’s not very interesting, but a fun one was ancient hair dyes.
J: I know I have a more interesting one, but one I know I used was is personality in your DNA?
What sort of Hangover type shennanigans have you been up to while in Vegas?
L: Anna kidnapped a monkey.
J: We just got here.
E: I think you should ask us what will we do, because we haven’t done anything yet.
L: I had blood pudding. Free blood pudding!
A: I almost knocked myself out in the shower. I dropped the soap, slipped on it and then hit my head.
At this point, Crystal came back over to the table and handed me chocolates with each of the book covers on a piece. She gave me a set of them so I wouldn’t have to dig through the bowls. We chatted for a few minutes longer, but the event was about to start, so I left them to have a few minutes to themselves.
Just after 7, Crystal introduced the authors and they started talking about their books. Then the Q&A started.
For Emmy: Are we going to find out more about Astrid situation?
Plot described as handcuffed and thrown down the stairs, just finished draft of 3. Odd to go on tour for book 2, when book 3 was just finished. As a mother, hard to keep putting kids in danger. Wants to have a medivac take them to Hawaii.
What author would you want to write with?
A: John green. Just learn by sitting next to him.
L: George RR martin. “Let’s not work on our project, tell me how the series ends.”
J: Meg Cabot and James Dashner. [L: I would read that!] Exactly.
E: Stephen King.
Have you ever fangirled over an author?
: Lish McBride. Acted like a 5 year old, wanted to hold hands and skip around.
J: Friends with a lot of authors and still does it. At Leigh’s launch party with Marie Lu and started to make bad puns about her book titles. The next day tweeted that she was sorry.
L: Libba bray on a panel and didn’t hear the first 10 minutes because she was next to Libba. The first time met George RR Martin, cried. Then met him again and he didn’t remember, so acted really cool.
A: No, I don’t fangirl. Very shy. Can’t approach authors because will take things too far. Maybe actually drool.
How much did you know about your series when you started?
L: S&B was first book, goal was just to finish. Halfway through, knew it wasn’t the ending. Could potentially end, took notes for books 2 and 3 in case. Some things changed, planned on killing off a character in book 2 and they wouldn’t let it happen. Does outline.
J: Save the cat method. 15 beats to break down any great story. Doesn’t start until the 15 beats are done. Outlines to have something to deviate from.
E: Serious outliner. Can communicate with editor or publisher as to what the book will be. Every night when in the trenches, reads the scene that will be worked on tomorrow and will think about it. By the time computer is up and ready the next day, it’s right there and is ready to write.
A: Despise outline. Can’t do it. Stops progress. Have you ever gotten in the shower with your bra on? Don’t like to be told what to do, even if it’s from herself.
What was inspiration for book?
J: With Unremembered, an article about a girl who was the only survivor on a plane crash. Started brainstorming all sorts of crazy sci-fi things and it turned into the trilogy.
E: Has a stew pot in the back of imagination. Adds stuff until it’s ready. Male dynamics and power. Loves survival stuff. On dates, would say, “we have 6 hours to get out of Manhattan, what are we going to do and get?” One date said: “drugs [meaning penicillin] and musical instruments.” Ended up marrying him.
L: Everything came from shadow fold. Fear of the dark never goes away. That second you can’t find the light switch or a dark parking lot. What would happen if the darkness was real? What would it take to beat it?
Takes daily inspiration. There’s an idea that you’ll get this BIG IDEA for a book and all of this inspiration and it’s easy to write.
A: Giant squid documentary and too much candy.
Who were your writing inspirations? Is there a crazy weird thing that you saw that made it into your book?
L: George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman, Frank Herbert. Stephen King. She named a lot.
Snatches of dialogue will make it in, but will change. Relationship between David and Genya is based on friends.
J: Suzanne Collins. Meg Cabot. JK Rowling.
Choice of 2 boys. One was completely done. For the other, stole one from past, gave him the same name and car and aspirations. Hadn’t talked to him since high school. Turned in manuscript and the next day, he messaged on Facebook asking “do you remember me?” Couldn’t tell him that he was in the book.
E: Remember the stew pot? Uses everything. Probably stuff from Anna tonight. Husband used to wake up and shimmy up neighbor’s trees and would drink the hummingbird nectar. Wants to write that with 2 old women watching out the window for him.
Tends to remember the last 5 books she reads. Kristen Cashore. Loved Eleanor & Park.
A: The reason started writing was Stephenie Meyer. Said if this girl can write a book, I can do it. One day I’m going to meet her and she’s going to give me a black eye that make up won’t hide.
A lot of pranks that were in the books were things she did.
Do you have any advice for people who want to publish YA?
A: Get people to read it and critique. Can’t be your mom. Scariest thing was sending to a stranger and who wasn’t afraid to hurt feelings. Find a group who will critique and not afraid to red pen.
L: Choose readers wisely. Believing in a dream that is a crowded market place, etc. doesn’t mean you won’t do it. Need to be able to trust the person who reads. Keep your voice, but be open. Research agents. You don’t take a shotgun approach, it’s like a marriage. They’re your champion and a fan of your work.
J: Learn how to pitch your book. Write a summary in one page, then one paragraph then one sentence. If you can do that, you’re ready. Need a 30 second pitch and you need to capture all of it. When you write a query letter, you’ll have it.
E: Started as an actor, worked at an unknown improv company that no one ever saw because they did school shows. Then started auditioning for movies and everyone thought she was a huge breakout star, but had been working on it for years. It’s all practice.
L: People always ask about self publishing. Your book that you turn in to publisher will be revised. And then with the editor will be revised. And that learning process is important.
E: You can hear different models and see what works for people.
J: There’s not one true path.
For Jessica: what’s the biggest difference between writing other books and Unremembered?
Unremembered set in this time, but different world. Playing in this world can be boring. Wanted to make up own rules and own weapons. Can’t say which is better to write because contemporary girl comedy comes natural.
You have 30 minutes of free time. Do you write or read?
L: Watching reality tv isn’t a option? If working, will only read non fiction and research. Only really reads when on tour.
J: Read. Because 30 minutes isn’t enough. Needs at least 3 hours. Would get really angry at you. If I have to pull away from the zone, I get cranky.
E: Write. Guessing in the optimal zone: rested and just have this little gem and it’s time to get the ladle out.
A: Would read and write. When I start reading, I think “I can one up this person”.
Favorite book to movie. Not Harry Potter.
E: Children of Men
J: Really liked The Devil wears Prada. Thought the movie was so wonderfully done.
L: Like Water for Chocolate. Incredibly visual and lived up to the book. Shawshank Redemption. The short story was her comfort read in high school.
A: Gone with the Wind. Not many people have heard of it. Really liked to see Scarlett O’Hara come to life. Really entertained by her.
What do you do when you have writers block?
E: Dealt with it when doing improv. Internal critic telling you your work is crap. If in a scene and thinking you’re not funny, like a robot with a stone in your mechanics, has exercise. Tanya Harding was asked “How do you leave drama of real life off the ice?” Treeing: deep breath, hand on something made of wood, exhale.
J: Step one: don’t use the term writers block. Think it’s a mental thing. I do sometimes get stuck. Step two: step away and do something else. Step three: write through it. Don’t be afraid to write crap because it makes a great fertilizer.
L: Agreed with everything said. Change things. The problem is when you get stuck. Try to type faster than think, go for a walk, dance break, a different scene, write a different POV. Also be kind to yourself. You’re going to have bad days. Days where you think you’re a fraud.
A: Writers constipation. No matter how hard you push, only a little comes out. We’ve established that I like to one up people, so I read.
What are you reading right now and what are some of your favorite shows?
E: Eleanor & Park. So excited for early tour event time on Sunday to be able to watch Game of Thrones finale.
J: The Selection. Just bought The Elite. Loves Nashville and New Girl and How I Met Your Mother.
L: Has different humor than everyone else. Three’s Company was a tragedy. Loves Elementary. Didn’t expect it to be good. Hannibal. Game of Thrones.
A: Reading Pushing the Limits and loving it. Such messed up the characters, but not beyond repair. The Walking Dead. Terrified of the walkers and will fast forward to see if there are things that jump out.
The signing started just after 8 and I waited until the very end since I had so many books.
When the line dwindled, I jumped in. I chatted with each of the authors while getting things signed. However, with that many books [and being the last one], I was trying to hurry. Finally, I had Hubs feeding books to Leigh while I did the same with Anna.
We then took a group photo before thanking everyone and then jumping in the car to start the drive home.
Huge, mega, insane thanks [and eternal devotion] to Macmillan for the offer and to Emmy, Leigh, Jessica, and Anna for playing along. I had a blast.
Now. Part of the offer for being designated blogger means Macmillan sent me hardcover copies of each of the author’s newest book for a giveaway. Each book is signed!!
Rules for the giveaway are listed under the “terms and conditions” on the Rafflecopter widget.