The time there was coughing

Posted December 5, 2014 by Stacee in Signings / 2 Comments

I’ve been in love with the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers since I found an arc of Grave Mercy in the super secret back room of MGRB. I’ve had the chance to see Robin a few times, but after devouring Mortal Heart, I knew I had to catch an event when she toured for this book.

We got up to Vroman’s around 4:30. I went to buy the book and ask about getting a numbered ticket for the line. The woman told me they weren’t planning for tickets, that my receipt would serve as my proof.

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We walked down to a record store a couple of blocks away and after getting harassed by some homeless man about buying him a bus ticket, we settled in on the front row of seats and waited. With about 2 hours to kill, we surprisingly didn’t get into any trouble. There were some hilarious and some hideous customers that we came into contact with, but nothing I’m going to take the time to type.

The event started around 7:15.

Robin came out and said she was at the end of a cold and apologized for her voice. She said that with the water and cough drops, she would be okay and that she had hand sanitizer so we shouldn’t worry.  She started her discussion by answering the question she gets asked the most: where the idea came from.

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One of the first movies I was allowed to stay up and watch was Camelot. I loved fairy tales and until I was about 10, I thought they were historical fiction. One of the main themes I was going to write about was empowerment. And I knew I wanted it to be set in the Middle Ages.

My husband said that the only reason I write fiction is because of the research and he might be right. I came across something that said noble women joined the convent because they had more freedom and autonomy. For a large portion of time, Catholicism and Paganism walked side by side. They acknowledged that the same gods and goddesses that pagans had were called saints in Catholicism.

Brittany has over 500 saints. They also had a lot of interesting folklore and legends. I was really intrigued by the idea of faith and integrity. I didn’t want to create really cool sociopaths or serial killers. I never thought they were assassin nuns, I always thought they were Death’s handmaidens.

In book 2, I wanted to addressing shaming and redemption. In book 3, I don’t want to address too much there because I don’t want to spoil anything. {I missed what she said about book 1}

I always get asked if I knew there was going to be 3 heroines. I knew on page 30 when Annith shows up and I thought “Oooh. What an interesting way to be raised.” And then Sybella showed up and she just stole the show. I had to have a talk with her and tell her that her turn would come. She sort of tossed her hair and flounced off.

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I worked on Grave Mercy off and on for 6 years. This is where you find out how boring I am. I would work on my middle grade books during the week and this fun project on the weekend. I wrote it not expecting to ever publish it. I didn’t think I had the writing chops. I wrote 17 drafts.

Who was your favorite to write?

That’s like asking which one of my kids. I would have to say Sybella. She’s really dark and angry and I’m not, so it was really cathartic.

Are you working on anything new?

I am not. Mortal Heart just about broke my brain. I need more than 9 months. I haven’t written anything since May. Also, I’m not ready to give up this world. There’s too many corners I didn’t see, too many people I haven’t met. About 90% of the history of these books are true. I had to play it down a little bit.

This was a question about romance in book 2, but didn’t catch what it was.

I was very conscious about the romance, especially since there’s a lot of things that are setting examples for young girls. I think who you choose to love and let into your life is important. It can either set you free or cave you up.

A lot of the choices were made due to who Sybella was.

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Now that you’ve spent so much time on this series, do you feel like they’re sort of old news or still so fresh?

They’re still so fresh. I don’t think I’m done with this world. With every girl that comes to St. Mortain’s I was wondering what their story was.

Did you have more fun writing YA?

I wouldn’t say it was more fun. Middle grade is a lot of fun and Sybella and Annith’s stories weren’t quite fun. But it made some new writing muscles work that I wasn’t really using. And I do like the kissing part.

Did you get to go to Europe?

No. I keep saying that I need to make a research trip, but I just got back for tour and I don’t know how I would be able to last on a 14 hour flight to France. I couldn’t write these if I couldn’t access google. I can see castle floor plans and when additions were put on.

Are there any movie plans?

There have been a couple of tv discussions, but it wasn’t really terms that we liked. Film is a bit daunting because there are 3 heroines.

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Did you ever get lost in the subplots?

Yes. Weekly. I would have to break out my huge piece of graph paper and I would plot in different color pens and then color coded index cards. I would have to use a bit of left brain to make the right brain work. There were excel spreadsheets and everything. It was all very anal.

What makes a good villain?

Someone you love to hate. I try not to think in terms of a villain, but the antagonist. The villain is the hero of their own story and they don’t always do evil things, but maybe they just want something different from the hero. So I would say it has to be someone that is a challenge enough that you’re wondering if the hero can take them down.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes. At 8 years old, I was given the set of Narnia books. When I was in high school and I said what I was going to do, everyone said being a writer was really hard and that I was too sensitive. I figured they had my best interests at heart.

It wasn’t until I was older and reading to my kids that I figured I could do it. It took about 10 years after that before I was published.

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At this point, Robin had a bit of a coughing fit and decided that it would be best to start the signing.  I was first in line {surprise, surprise} and after showing the employee my receipt for proof of purchase, I was able to go up to Robin.

I thanked her for coming and Robin thanked me right back. She asked if we knew each other on twitter and I told her my twitter name {and then someone in line said she followed me}. I told her that Mortal Heart was my favorite of the series and she said she was thrilled to hear that because she wasn’t sure how Annith’s story would be received.

Robin’s aunt was also in the audience {and she ended up being the woman that my husband helped with the parking meter} and after Robin made that statement, said that it was interesting to find out what goes through the mind of a writer.

I had an arc and a hardcover and Robin asked if it was okay that each was going to have the same thing written in them, that she didn’t have that many clever lines to write in them.

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Before we left, I chatted with Alethea for a few minutes.

As always, Robin is delightful and this series is one of my favorites. If you haven’t read them, you’re seriously missing out.

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