The LA public library has been having teen panels for a while and I never had a chance to actually attend one. Somehow I saw the post about the one year anniversary and was interested in going after seeing that it would be Amy Spalding, Michelle Gagnon, Jessica Brody and Sarah Skilton.
I checked with the authors [and the library] to see if there would be a signing afterwards. While there wouldn’t be anything formal, I was told that the authors were usually more than happy to sign anything after the panel.
We got up to the library around 5pm and wandered around. And there was definitely a lot to see.
Ceilings like this…
And Getty exhibits of old Hollywood movie memorabilia.
The doors opened at 6:30 and we headed right in. Three of the 4 authors were already in the room and I got caught eavesdropping on Amy Spalding’s conversation. *facepalm* The YA librarian, Mary, [who scared the crap out of me when I opened the meeting room door before the event started] said that there would be mingling until 7pm and the panel would start afterwards.
They even had some arcs they were giving away.
Mary started things right before 7pm. She gave a brief introduction about the LA public library teen panel and how it was the one year anniversary. And then she handed it over to Cecil. Cecil gave a brief bio of each author and then each of the ladies read a couple of pages from their book.
And then the questions started…
How did you come up with your mystery/thriller:
M: First book thought to be a college coming of age and ended up being a thriller. Had serious meltdown with both drafts: a hard drive crash and a Southwest flight attendant spilled wine on computer keyboard.
J: Was told all books have mystery to it. Big twist in UNREMEMBERED was in the middle and she moved it, tends to have a reveal of sorts every 10 pages.
Other books deal with grief, talk about writing contemp with grief:
S: loves Buffy and shadow cat from X-Men. Wanted to write a girl who was strong because she trained everyday, not because she had special powers. At the moment you’re tested, you fail, so if you’re not who you think you are, who are you?
She took martial arts classes in high school and college – she is a black belt. Took out her journals from her own classes as a refresher/research.
A: Main character is trying to learn about who she is within her mothers world. Contemp is heightening everyday emotions. Like the morning after kissing someone you didn’t expect to is like being in a prison of your own mind.
Research for hacking:
M: Most of the research was for her fictional disease. Had endocrinologist friend help with symptoms and such for PEMA. A worker with White hat hacker helped with the hacking info, gave a “top 10 signs you’ve been hacked” list.
Most importantly, the research can’t overwhelm the reader. Michelle writes from beginning to end without stopping, places bracket indicator for where she needs research.
What is the trick for setting up a series?
J: Sold Unremembered as a trilogy, so she had to have some idea. Main trick is to finish off the main story, but leave some questions.
M: Adult series was reoccurring character with four different plots. With YA trilogy, she feels like she’s fumbling through it, due to a much larger arc to work with.
How do you keep it fresh?
A: Desperately clinging to what is cool. Had flip phones in copy edits and finds it very hard to keep current.
S: Wants tv shows to stay on longer because they’re referenced in the book. Amazing race, csi Miami, Oprah.
What came first: character or concept?
A M J: concept
J: Concept. She took a failed idea and set it up in Unremembered. Actually became the main twist of the series.
M: Concept, It was an idea that editor and Michelle came up with over lunch. Just needs one idea: a sentence or paragraph and can run with it.
A: Concept. Loves long lost family stories and didn’t find one she wanted to read so she wrote one.
First person or third?
M: Always writes in third person. Just read a book in multiple 1st person POV and was very confused, they seemed to all have the same voice.
Thoughts on romance being so important in YA:
J: MC is dealing with a boy who claims they were in love before the accident. Wanted to explore the idea of are all memories erasable.
M: Has a hard time with romance, especially when on the run. Didn’t seem natural to have them hook up.
S: Has a romance subplot, didn’t want it to take over the story.
A: Romance is not focus, but there’s definite romance. Also hates when there’s something serious, but let’s make room or kissing.
Around 7:45, they wrapped it up. I quickly went to Amy and asked if she would sign. I had a book for Tonya as well as myself. She signed Tonya’s first and then as she was signing my copy, I explained who Tonya was. Amy recognized her Twitter handle and asked for the book back to “not be so generic”.
Jennifer Bosworth was hogging Michelle, so I went to talk to Jessica. I got a signed sample of Unremembered and she commented on my Doctor Who shirt. From there, we started talking about tattoos and she asked me some questions about healing time.
Cecil snuck in and I asked her to sign my Dear Bully. That prompted the conversation about getting everyone to sign and how many authors I already had.
Jennifer was STILL talking to Michelle and while I hovered, started petting my arm. She graciously stopped her conversation so I could jump in and get my copy of Don’t Turn Around signed. I told Michelle that I had loved it and had finished it while driving up.
Thanks so much for coming, Stacee, and for your kind words on DTA! Great meeting you in person.
Thanks for taking the time to come down from San Francisco to be there! I had a blast, it was a great panel.
And you're welcome for the words on DTA, I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel!!
I'm working on it now- final page edits due Weds!