Brave New Worlds: Author Extravaganza
Tuesday night, Books of Wonder, the indie children’s bookstore in Manhattan, hosted an author event entitled Brave New Worlds. The authors on panel were Suzanne Collins, Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, Kristin Cashore, and Justine Larbalestier. Michael Grant was supposed to be there too, but sadly he came down with the flu and was unable to make it. My friend has been so looking forward to meeting him too! The authors were all there to talk about their new books. I knew about this event weeks ago when I saw it on Kristin Cashore’s blog and saw that she was going to be there with Suzanne Collins and I got so excited. And then I find out there were going to be even more authors. Even grander!
My friend and I dashed out of work right at 5pm to get to the store, in anticipation of a crowd. We bought our books and got our numbers for the signing. I had brought my UK copies of Graceling and Fire with me, and I bought my copy of Catching Fire and Gregor and the Code of the Claw (Gregor Book #5) and Leviathan at the store. I already have a signed copy of Hunger Games that I was able to get last year when it first came out, not knowing how huge this series was going to be; I had so loved the Gregor books that I wanted anything signed by Suzanne Collins. So having a signed copy of Catching Fire and the Gregor book was quite the highlight for me.
We got there early enough that we were able to snag one of the few chairs. Soon after 6pm, the authors came out and briefly talked about their books, and then took questions from the audience. I had my notebook with me to take notes but didn’t write anything down cause I was having a grand ol’ time listening to all of them, but here’s a quick rundown of some stuff I do in fact remember:
*Scott and Justine are married. I actually didn’t know Justine was Australian, and Scott jokingly said that by law he has to include something Australian in his books now.
*When Scott was talking about Leviathan, he actually had some slides prepared but because the powerpoint wasn’t set up, he used his iPhone to project the images onto the ceiling. Pictures below. It was quite amusing to watch. When it was Libba Bray’s turn to speak, she said that Scott did quite the job of raising the bar. All she could do now was pole dance, and then we all turned to stare at the huge pole in the middle of the floor that was part of the store’s construction. Laughs all around again.
*Someone asked Scott and Justine what it was like being married to a writer and who is the better writer. That question got a lot of good laughs and Justine took the microphone and said “I’ll answer the first question.” She actually credits Scott for getting her to write cause she used to be an academic and always wanted to write something that wasn’t an essay or paper, and when she was offered a fellowship, Scott urged her to not take it; he told her to write instead. And the rest is history. The two of them actually take time during the week to read to each other what they have written so far and give feedback. Justine said that when she reads Scott’s work, she is very expressive, but when Scott reads her work, he sits very stoic-like and takes notes without any facial expression, and then she proceeded to demonstrate it to us. Just in general there was great interaction between the two of them.
*Side note: Justine had some awesome cowboy boots on. Sadly, was unable to snap a picture. But they were rockin!
*Justine says that since she wrote Liar, people have been telling her their own interpretations of the story but she says she will never tell us what really happened.
*Apparently, this author event was going to be just Suzanne Collins, but she was the one who suggested gathering other authors. This was her only appearance this Fall because she is hard at work on Book 3. She also said this was her first time out in public in four months!
*Someone had asked Suzanne if the third book will contain a map of Panem, and she said “No,” only because then we’d know more than Katniss knows. Katniss only has a vague idea of where districts are but nothing solid. Suzanne did say that she has her own map of Panem.
*Kristin Cashore mentioned that she had hoped Suzanne Collins didn’t think she was trying to ride on her coattails of success, since right now, both books have the word “fire” in the titles and the female characters’ names are so similar.
*Kristin said she didn’t plan on writing Fire to begin with. There was a sentence in Graceling that she wrote of someone describing another world with monsters. And then she started to wonder what this place was.
*The question was raised about how the authors come up with their names, and Kristin said she tried to have each character from each region some sort of similar names, like names having to do with color for one region. She says that Po’s mother is never named and to discredit the theory that it was some act of feminism or whatnot, she said that she just couldn’t think of one for her. She said, with great amusement, “I was just lazy.” Kristin admitted that she is actually jealous of the name Katniss and wishes she came up with it.
*Hunger Games has been optioned to be a movie and Suzanne is going to be writing the screenplay but she made sure to iterate that that doesn’t mean that the move it actually being made. It’s still a long process.
*In response to a question about the band in her new book, Libba Bray said at one point that when she was growing up, she was a huge fan of the Beatles but everyone would talk about the Beach Boys and the album Pet Sounds. It wasn’t until much later that she realized the genius of that album. So the influence for the band in the book came from those two bands mostly.
*Someone asked all the authors if they could spend some time with any fictional character who would it be. Suzanne Collins said it would be Simon from Lord of the Flies. Libba Bray said Winnie the Pooh. Kristin said Bitterblue from her Graceling book and her upcoming third book. Justine said it would be the main character from the new book FlyGirl. She loved that book so much that this is the first time she has considered writing fanfic. Scott said Dr. Barlow, from Leviathan.
Phew! I know there are other things I’m missing, but I am just so glad that the store let the authors take so many questions in the first place. I loved how they played off each other. It was truly a pleasure seeing all of them and meeting them. Now I have more books to add to my bookcase that has only signed books (and is slowly filling to capacity). Tonight’s event will not help in that respect: we are going to go see Carroll Spinney (aka Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch) and Maria, from Sesame Street at a Barnes and Noble event. We are SO excited!
Pictures below. Apologies if they’re not the best quality; the lighting was just a bit off.
(The art in the background is art prints from Julie Andrews’ newest picture book. The store alwasy some nice art being displayed there.)