I got an arc of Red Rising at WonderCon last year with the explicit instructions to read it immediately. Of course I didn’t. It went into my TBR stacks and eventually I ended up giving it away. Flash forward to a couple of days ago and my phone started going crazy with people emailing me and texting me about Pierce’s launch party.
It was a last minute decision to go. Mostly because I saw a glowing review from Entertainment Weekly and they’re so picky. I knew that if I didn’t go, it would be something that I would get pissed about later.
We got down to Mysterious Galaxy before 6pm. There was all sorts of snacks set up, including a cake [it was Pierce’s birthday]. But the most impressive thing was the book display.
Pierce got to the store around 6:30 and went to work on signing the stacks of books that were around the store.
Patrick started at 7. His introduction talked about how a year ago he started talking about the book and 8 months ago he was pimping out the arc. Now he can actually sell the book.
Pierce did a brief introduction. He talked about this being his very first event and that he didn’t have anything prepared like a lecture. There was talk about his childhood and parents, but I was taking photos and didn’t get any of it.
Also? I have a disclaimer: Pierce talks fast and smiles so pretty so my recap isn’t anywhere near to being complete. Consider yourself warned about the hot mess that’s about to happen.
There will be more?
Yes. It’s a planned trilogy. It’s always been 3 books for me. I don’t want to prostitute the story for money. There could be more stories, but most of it will be told in 3 acts. There could be future stories set in the same world. I have a big black book that I try to hide that has info about the world and characters.
Without discussing the plot, what is the set up for building the world?
It’s sort of like those CDs “Now That’s What I Call Music”: a compilation of all of your favorite things. My first coloring book was about the Greek and Roman wars. Have you ever seen the great illustrated classics? My parents gave me those. They became part of my childhood. World building is my favorite.
This book quickly became a revenge book and as I went on, it became about justice. There’s a lot of Antigone. There’s probably some Hardy Boys in there. There’s some Serenity.
How did you get the idea for the book? Did you pick Mars because of the color or the god?
The first thing I knew was that on Mars there’s a flower called a blood blossom and that was the first line and I don’t know where it came from. [There was WAY more to this…somehow this was all I got down]
Were you an English major?
Nope. Political science and economics major. I couldn’t get into AP English. They told me that I didn’t write correctly. Economics really helped me with the story.
Will there be deleted scenes?
That’s a question my editor should answer. I’m hoping that before book 1 and 2 there will be little episodes. I would like to show Darrow as a lancer. That would be fun.
How did you end up getting assigned an editor and how do you decide work that way?
I’ve been trying since I was 18 to get an agent. I wrote books and query letters for each one. It took me 3 books, well my first book was 720 pages… Five books later, I finally got an agent. I had been rejected by 24 agents and I was working at a tech start up and I wasn’t really liking it.
An agent’s former assistant contacted me and asked to be my agent. She was now an agent and I would be her first client. There’s a lot of negatives to that, but the upside would be that they have a lot of time on their hands. And she helped me edit it.
All of the publishers wanted to change something. And at Del Rey, they didn’t want to change any of it. Then my editor ended up leaving to go to Amazon. My new editor, Mike, is amazing and we work well together. A good editor will champion your work and you don’t have to argue about content. I know that if he sees there’s something wrong in the book, there probably is.
What modern day authors influenced you?
Gene Wolfe. Shadow and Claw traumatized me. George RR Martin. Patrick Rothfuss’s work is great. I like Neil Gaiman a lot, his world building second to none, except maybe Joss Whedon. They can battle it out.
Did you try to draw in politics that are happening now and put them in dystopian situations?
No. I don’t like to do that because it seems like I’m preaching. I haven’t lived enough to have those sorts of opinions on humanity. I know they will change. When I’m 45 it’ll be different, when I have kids, it’ll be different.
Do you watch tv?
Not as much as I used to. I like a lot of premium channels. I love the idea between revolution, but I couldn’t get into the show. And I love Being Human, but I don’t really watch. I love anything that JJ Abrams puts his stamp on, so I watch a lot of Buffy and Serenity.
Are you anticipating studios contacting you?
Yes. I had a studio send me a gift today. I said that I loved a particular movie and they sent me 4 different copies of it and huge poster. I wasn’t home and they sent a huge package and my roommate wanted to open it. So he did and videoed the entire thing.
Hollywood is really good at first dates. I don’t want to be stuck in development. If the right team comes along, sure. But I haven’t given up my rights.
How do you approach swearing?
I fucking love it. [There was more to this answer, but I just didn’t catch it. I mean, really. What more do you need?]
How do you categorize this? YA?
I wrote it to be YA, but quickly realized that I can’t write YA. I find that in a lot of YA, they cater to what they think people want, to get readers. Like the love triangle. TFiOS is an amazing book and it’s considered YA. Harry Potter is considered YA and that just literature.
When I realized at page 20 that I was going to kill someone, I had to abandon the idea that it was YA.
Are you going to let them see your previous 6 books if they ask?
Oh god no. I don’t think I could even read them. There’s some good characters in there.
Do you write with an outline?
No. And they hate that. I feel that outlines will keep away epiphanies while writing. I do always know where I’m going. The last scene of every book, it’s all in my head.
Pagers. No, twitter and facebook are the best. My email is a lost cause. I should be writing, but I could be doing that instead. I always answer.
Then he started talking all about book two, giving us some of the plot and the title. I don’t want to post that info, just in case…
The signing started around 7:45. Everyone in my row lined up like normal, only to find that we had to move to a different line up spot. So instead of being 3rd in line, I was near the end.
I got up to Pierce almost an hour after the signing started. We talked about hot peppers, Scooby-Doo snuggies, raw cookie dough, London, living in LA, tater tots, throwing things at him and social security numbers…all within 5 minutes. He’s chatty and adorable.
That should be enough, right?