This was one of the coolest events I’ve seen promoted in quite some time. Five amazing authors: Beth Revis, Marie Lu, Marissa Meyer, Megan Shepherd, and Victoria Schwab held a contest, and the city receiving the most votes would get a visit from this Fab Five. I threw in a vote for Charlotte and then didn’t think much more of it. But then I saw a tweet from Beth that Shelby, NC would get a visit. Shelby is about an hour away, so…SCORE!
Yesterday afternoon, I hit the road in my formerly dark blue car, now green, courtesy of the North Carolina pollen. I got there an hour early and hung out in the parking lot for a while. I watched as people wandered around the old school building, searching for an entrance. I was also desperately trying to get my iPhone working since I’d dropped it – HARD – on my wood floor just as I was getting ready to leave my house. I had been unable to find my camera, so I was in a bit of a panic thinking I wouldn’t get photos of this great event. Twenty minutes later, I got it working, and the doors were finally open.
I got a seat in the front row and met Felicia (@FSJourneyToMars). We’d shared a few tweets in the parking lot: “Is this place open?” “How do we get in?” “I think it’s open!” Then the authors began to file in. Do you get a little overwhelmed in the presence of authors? I know I do. You read and love their books, you get a general idea of the kind of person they might be, maybe you share some tweets or e-mails, and then they’re standing right in front of you. They’re like rock stars to me, so I try to stay cool and collected, even as I snap pics like a paparazzo.
|The authors chatting shortly before the event started: Megan and Marie with their backs to us, and Carrie, Marissa, Victoria, and Beth|
Beth kicked off the event by asking each author to ask a question of the others. Marie asked to which Hogwarts house each author and her main characters would belong. Gotta give my disclaimer here: I took notes as best as I could, but I’m sorry if I got anything wrong! Marie said she would be in Ravenclaw, while Day would be in Gryffindor and June in Slytherin. Sounds right to me! Marissa said she would want to be in Ravenclaw, but she knows she would actually be Hufflepuff. Cinder is Ravenclaw, and Scarlet is Gryffindor. Victoria is the only self-professed Slytherin in the group, and Beth would want to be in Gryffindor since they have the most fun.
- Wesley from The Princess Bride was the inspiration for Victoria’s Wesley in The Archived.
- Megan’s Balthazar was inspired by…Chewbacca!
- Marie told us that she based Day and June on Jean Valjean and Javert from Les Miserables. But wait – those are both men! Marie originally imagined her two main characters as boys. We can thank her boyfriend for suggesting that June should be a girl. I remembered reading that before, but what I did NOT know is that Elector Primo is named after her boyfriend. This worked out quite well for Marie, because Primo sounds kind of sinister. But I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if her boyfriend was named Herbie or Wilfred. Hmmm – not quite the same feel, is it?
- Cinder is based on Sailor Jupiter from the Sailor Moon series. Marissa asked if anyone in the audience had heard of Sailor Moon. A few hands were raised, but mine was not one of them.
- Beth talked a LITTLE bit about her new book. All we got out of her is that it has ties to Dr. Who, the main characters are Jack and Rose, and someone makes a sacrifice. (I assume The Titanic resemblance is completely coincidental.) Beth also said that when she wrote Across the Universe, she had no idea that it would become so popular, so she had no problem naming a doomed character after one of her troublesome former students. She was worried when she met up with that student later, but he was thrilled that his namesake was killed off.
- Marissa wrote Sailor Moon fan fiction for ten years until she got the idea for Cinder, and she wrote a first draft in two weeks. She had a favorite coffee shop near Seattle that is now closed, and she writes now from her house.
- Unlike other authors, Beth does not plan or outline, and she needs to write in sequential order. She doesn’t know what’s going to happen until she writes it. Beth originally intended for Across the Universe to be a standalone that would end on a cliff-hanger, but her agent convinced her to write a trilogy. Beth’s husband hand-built a desk for her, but she prefers to fight with her dog for writing space on the sofa.
- Marie said she’s bad at outlining. She used to be a video game artist, so she makes detailed sketches of her characters (check out her awesome work here), then writes a character profile. She said she can’t write on planes, but loves to write on trains. (No word on automobiles.) All of the authors seemed to share her love of trains.
- Megan’s writing is inspired by actors, and she keeps their photos pinned to a board on her wall. She views her stories as a puzzle, and her task is to make the pieces fit. Similar to Beth’s experience, The Madman’s Daughter was originally intended as a standalone, but her agent also encouraged her to write a trilogy. Megan writes at home or at a lounge (I think she said it was a chocolate lounge, and if so, that is a place I do NOT need to visit) near her home.
- Victoria plots out her books as a series of five to ten dots, and then she works to connect them. She decided to move to England to write The Archived. This sounded very glamorous, but then she told us that she shared a not-so-great house with a bunch of other people. You’ll notice in the photo below that she’s holding a copy of her yet-to-be released book, Vicious. Recently, she tweeted a fascinating look at the process for creating cover art for Vicious. If you’re a book geek like me, you will want to read this. I saw her walk in with a stack of the books, and I was secretly hoping that she would accidentally drop one. Then I wondered if I could yell, “Fire!” to distract her so I could grab a copy. Instead, I asked her to pose holding it, and she kindly obliged.
You might notice that I mentioned Carrie Ryan above, but I haven’t discussed her yet. She attended as an audience member, and I took the opportunity to introduce myself at the end of the event. We discussed our love of zombies, and I think the highlight of my night was when I asked her if she’d seen the British miniseries, Dead Set. And she said YES! This is the best zombie show I’ve ever seen (my review is here), and Carrie is the first person I’ve met who has heard of it. So, I was thrilled. She signed three of my books, and when I told her that I’d seen a zombie sketch that she made for @Kris10Williams at her blog, My Friends Are Fiction, I requested (or demanded?) my own sketch. Carrie kindly obliged.