The time I had to use a microphone

Posted May 24, 2014 by Stacee in Signings | 6 Comments

As I said in the Mysterious Galaxy post, I was asked to moderate both SoCal dates for the Story Crush tour. Michelle and I got up to The Grove just before 4. We killed time by going to The Cheesecake Factory and wandering around, talking ourselves out of buying purses.

We went over to BN around 5-ish And ended up finding a group of people already lined up. Jessica Brody came up and said hi. Lita got over to the event area and she let everyone in. The event area quickly filled up. Lita introduced me to Lindsey, then we talked about the previous night’s event. Lita started telling stories of some previous events and things that happened.


Around 6:15, she had things to go do and we just waited. Kevin and his guitar got there a bit early and we chatted a bit. He told me about the music that he had written for the book and how he wanted to perform one of the songs if there was time. I saw that he had a sonic screwdriver sitting on the table, so that prompted me to start a conversation about Doctor Who and the upcoming season.

Before I knew it, 7pm had rolled around and it was time to start the event. I told Lita that I really didn’t want to use a microphone. {I’m a firm believer that under no circumstances should I be allowed to use a PA system.} She told the audience that if they couldn’t hear me they had to say something and I would be given a microphone. I interjected that I would give them $50 not to say anything.

Alas, I didn’t even get 10 official words out of my mouth before someone shouted that they couldn’t hear me and Kiera handed me her microphone.


And then we were really off and running…

{Note: my phone was on the floor while recording and it was picking up the vibrations from the PA system, so I wasn’t able to hear absolutely everything this time around. Anything that is incorrect or missing is completely my fault. And all of the photos are from Michelle!}

I promised you guys I wouldn’t ask you the same questions as last night, except the first question. Describe your book in 5 words and you can’t use the same thing from last night.

KC: Poop!

Lita: That was just one word.

KC: Poop poop poop kissy time.

A: No kissy time well one.

KE: Music, road trip, see that’s three. Plus ghosts.

Is there something specific that you need in order to write?

A: I can’t write long hand, so I always say my laptop. And a little bit of time. Which is good because I have a day job, so it’s always just a little bit, which is good. Every once in a while, I’ll end up with an entire day. Like today, I had all afternoon, but I waited until 5 to do some work and get in a half hour. I like a deadline.

KC: I do listen to a lot of music while I write. I just sort of keep Spotify going. Sometimes it asks for suggestions of songs, it’s always nice to hear new music. I do eat a lot of wheat thins. A lot of Coke Zero. You guys know about this because it’s on my acknowledgements page. I think I actually need distraction, if that makes any sense. I kind of like to rotate on Twitter and stuff.

KE: I need a crushing sense of fear because of a deadline that’s really looming. I do work at coffee shops now. I’m getting sort of old and surly. I’m becoming that that guy who is like WILL YOU SHUT UP IM WORKING IN THE COFFEE SHOP. But it fuels me and I’ll work anyways.


What book do you wish you would have written?

A: The Selection.

KC: I’m going to recycle an answer. I’m really in love with The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender . It’s really new, so look it up. It’s really beautiful. I don’t know why it reminds me of The Book Thief, maybe because it’s so beautiful. My writing is always something I’m looking to improve. I’m jealous of those books.

KE: I wish I had written the biography of Motley Crüe. It’s really disgusting…but yeah. I’m in it for the writing. His Dark Materials was the first book where the world building…I was like JERK. ITS AWESOME. I WANT TO DO THAT.

What’s the weirdest thing you googled while doing research?

A: Tease has a legal component and I’m married to a lawyer. One day…well this is not funny at all. One of the boys has been accused of statutory rape and that’s a really legal thing that varies state by state. I don’t actually specify what state Tease takes place in because I didn’t what to make it too specific, I wanted it to be a timeless as possible. One day my husband came home with a printout packet called “Adolescent Sexual Behavior and the Law”. I asked if he was going to get in trouble at work for printing it out. It was very sweet of him to do it and I never read it.

KE: I google stuff all of the time and now I can’t think of anything. It’s a tough question. One of the main characters finds out who is father is on his 18th birthday. His dad committed suicide and he was a rock star 15 years ago. I ended up…I didn’t really know that’s where the story was going. I spent a lot of time looking up Kurt Cobain’s suicide note. Have you guys read it? It’s really freaky. And it’s sort of a big legend up in Seattle. Recently, the Seattle police department released some crime photos. It’s a really creepy topic and I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at it, but more than I probably should have.

KC: I wish there would have been something funny that I googled for The Selection. The one thing that I remember is that in The Elite, something happens to Marlee and I had to google all about that just to be accurate about what would happen and the reaction afterwards. I just hated that research. I finished writing that scene and I pushed away my laptop because I was so angry, but it had to be written.


What three fictional characters besides your own would you invite to a tea party?

KC: Book characters specifically?

Me: You could invite One Direction.

KC: But they’re real people.

Me: Then they don’t count.

KC: Lily Potter, Sebastian from The Little Mermaid, and maybe an actual Disney Princess…let’s go with Belle. That’s an interesting combo. First topic, what are we going to eat?

A: I’m going to steal your Dark Materials answer and say Lyra because she’s really awesome and she gets things done. The world is coming to and end and she gets a polar bear. I really like that. I always completely blank like I’ve never read anything before. This is sort of cheating, but since I’m an editor for my day job and I work in this series called Wings of Fire and it’s for younger readers. It’s about dragons and one of the dragons is really awesome. And that’s Sunny {I’m not sure how to spell it. Sonny? Suny? Whatever.}, she’s from the 5th book. Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones. As long as he shows up like Colin Firth.

KE: Admiral Piett from Star Wars. He’s the one guy who keeps rising through the ranks because Darth Vader keeps killing people. He starts out as like as a lieutenant or something and ends up as an admiral by the end. He does this awesome face every time. Back story on my second answer, I have an 8 year old daughter, so Flynn Rider because yeah. I’m going to cheat slightly because I’d like to have Amy Pond and Rory. I’d like to know how they balanced all of that timey wimey stuff with having a relationship.

What’s your favorite sound?

A: I’ve thought about this because of those James Lipton questions. So my favorite sound is the sound of the subway that I’m waiting for coming into the station because then I know I don’t have to wait any more.

KC: This is cheesy, but Zuzu is talking now and says “I yub you mommy” and it’s the “yub”. Or she says “oh funny.” You can ask her “Zuzu, where’s Jupiter?” And she’s like “I don’t know” and she always puts both hands up. No matter what you’re looking for she always looks down at the ground and says “I find it.”


What’s your favorite word?

KC: Copacetic. It’s a fancy way to say okay. If you say “it’s fine, I’m copacetic.” and you sound smart.

A: I say awesome a lot. I don’t know if it’s my favorite word. And seriously. That’s a big under my breath as I’m walking along. No one is ever really serious. The f-word is infinitely useful. I try not to use it, since I have a young child. But it can be a verb…it’s very versatile. It gets the job done.

KE: Those are good answers. These questions are hard. I over use the word shudder a lot. My anxious nervous little characters are always shuddering. So that’s a word. Nodding is another word. I don’t know. How about moist?

Perfect segue because I hate that word. So what is your least favorite word?

KE: Moist

A: Probably irregardless. You always hear people say addicting, but I want them to say addictive because it sounds better to me. I don’t know…I think all words are pretty useful. We can’t lose any more. I think we could get rid of slacks.

KC: Saliva. And I almost changed Sylvia’s name in the book because it was too close.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

KC: I don’t have guilty pleasures. I’m not ashamed of anything I love. I eat what I want, I listen to boy bands, I wear clothes that are way too young for me. I don’t give a crap. I like what I like.

A: I agree with that. There’s a few things that I’m ashamed that I haven’t seen, like some tv shows. But even then, if I’m talking to someone one on one, I might defend my position, but I won’t put it on Facebook. We’re in LA and we passed the stairs that she walked down in Clueless and I love that movie. My friends mentioned Pretty Woman, but I don’t really like that movie…with a prostitute. And that’s okay.

KE: I don’t know. I don’t feel guilty about the things I like. Golden Grahams? I’ve talked about those, they’re not that healthy for you, but they’re not that bad. I spent a lot of time now that I’ve got kids, reading the nutritional information of crappy cereals and thinking they would be a good dessert! They’re whole grain oats! I’m just going to leave it there. You’re welcome.


You get the first contact that says you’re being published for the first time. Describe the next five minutes.

KE: I was alone in my apartment and I went out on the balcony and screamed “Yes!” There were people down on the street and they just looked at me. They didn’t scream “Yes!” with me. It was like a Tuesday at 10. I called my wife, I forget what I said, but it was basically “YEAH” and she was like “I’m at work.” I ran around my apartment, but I had pants on. It was fine.

A: I was at work, so I was supposed to be doing work. I got a call from my agent and I ran to the editorial director. I’ve known her for about 13 years and she knew everything. I basically just went into her office and went {Amanda mimes being excited} which is also basically the same way I told her I was pregnant. I went into her office and went {Amanda points at her belly}. So it’s good to have shorthand with people. It was good to not be alone, but to have one person where I could say “stop what you’re doing and talk to me.”

KC: I think it was a lot of phone calls. I feel like I was stunned or quiet. Guyden was born, so I was probably cleaning. Or covered in something. If you don’t know, getting an agent is hard and then it’s a lot of meetings. When I was on submission, all of their meetings were on one day. One day it was a meeting and the next day I had a deal. It was bizarre.

Kiera, were there any scenes in the series that had to be cut that you wish would have stayed in?

KC: Yes. Very yes. There is something in The Selection world that exists, that is completely true to the world, but there was no where for me to place it in the book. If you haven’t heard, we’re doing a prequel from Amberly’s POV, so I don’t want to share this information yet because what if I need it? I can tell you that there’s a huge bomb that happened in Maxon’s life and it’s completely true and maybe I’ll tell you about it one day. I’m sorry that’s not a satisfying answer.

There’s a lot that ends up on the cutting room floor. We took the middle of The Elite out twice. So there’s a lot of info that I go looking for, that I think happened, but it hasn’t been written on paper as far as anyone knows. Like originally, America was drugged and she’s chilling in the hospital for a chunk of time, but it was really boring and no one would have wanted to read that so they made me change it.

It’s weird because I tried to stay really true to what she told me, but most everything that really mattered made it through.

Amanda, would you ever consider writing a different point of you from someone in your book? Either as bonus content or did you do it to help you write Tease?

A: No. I had a few reviewers ask for that or ask for more information on some of the characters. Sort of the whole inspiration for Tease was that there were girls and kids out there who weren’t getting listened to because they’re guilty or bad people, so everyone decided who should get to tell their side of the story. I felt very defensive for them and I wanted to hear what she had to say and why things played out the way they did.

A lot of people have asked for the victim’s point of view, Emma. I don’t know of I could get inside her head. I think it would be a very sad place to be and I think it would be really hard. Maybe some of the other characters. I could definitely do something short on Carmichael. He has his own troubles, but he doesn’t really voice them, so he’s like the good guy in the book.


Kevin, as your bio says, you’re a musician. Did that help or hinder when writing Exile?

KE: It was kind of where the inspiration for where the book came from. I wanted to write a book — I’ve been playing music since I was 9 years old — and I’ve always wanted to write a novel about it. I had struggled forever for what kind of plot or what kind of story I wanted to write about a band character. I always saw the world from behind a drum kit and then later from behind a guitar, but always on stage, looking out. I was talking to my editor about a rock band book that she didn’t like, which is coming out next winter any way.

We were talking about what points of view were available. About 5 years ago in Seattle, I was in a band and we were playing crappy shows on Tuesdays. We played an all ages show and this high school girl came up to us afterwards and said her name was Alina and she really wanted to manage the band. For like 2 or 3 weeks she was our high school band manager. She booked us some shows and made us posters. And we found out that she ran away from home and was sleeping at her friend’s house. She would drop off the map every once and a while. Meanwhile, we were like, “we’re a bunch of 30 year old guys. Is this appropriate?” It ran it’s course pretty quickly, but she made a big impression on me.

That’s where I got the idea for Exile. What about that POV? She wasn’t a musician herself, but she had a pure love of music. She could see the music from the side of the stage or the front of the stage in ways that a musician never could. A lot of the characters have experiences that I had, but her experience is different and it was a lot of fun to explore that.

{In my horrible attempt to lead Kevin into singing, I just straight out asked him if he wanted to sing. He gave a bit of a background on how he wrote music for the book. The publisher asked if he wanted to record the songs. They did and they’re up on iTunes. Kevin joked about singing “Let it Go”, but performed “On My Sleeve” acoustically and it was amazing.}


My last question is what is one question you wish you would get asked in an interview?

KC: I feel like I get asked pretty thorough questions. People pay way too much attention to stuff. I think my teenage predominately female readers are very savvy and clever and figure out things way too soon, but you ask great questions.

A: I don’t know. Kevin wants to be asked to play a song and he answers that quite well.

KE: The thing that’s fun to talk about sometimes is a lot of the details. In Exile there’s a lot of things that are really personal. Especially settings. I really try to write about things I know so I’m always geeked out to talk about them. If people ask “why is there a scale model solar system in Exile and where is that from?” I have a really long answer for that.

A: Tease has a lot of political aspects and I can talk about that for a long time. I think the obvious question for my book is “why did you write it from the POV of the bully?” I love answering that.

{The first audience question came from a girl who one the right to be named in one of Kiera’s books. It was the first time they had actually met face to face.}

With your kids, what is the book you’re most excited to read with them?

KC: Guyden was reading texts the other day and it’s exciting to see him excited over words. But definitely The Giving Tree.

A: I have a 2 1/2 year old so he’s already reading a lot of books. He has my copy of Corduroy from when I was a kid. I’m definitely super excited to share Harry Potter.

KE: My daughter is 9 and I’m really surprised to see what she likes. I had a few of the Unfortunate Events books on my shelf and I have to say when I was teaching and kids were reading them, I didn’t see why they were so popular. They’re so dark and twisted. The reading level is about where she’s at, but she’s a really high strung kid. I told her there was a lot of death and she’s obsessed with them. It’s changed my perception on why they’re awesome. I didn’t get it until I read them with her.


Do you have any critique partners or beta readers?

KE: I have a few friends who read in advance. We trade manuscripts and it depends on what state you give it to someone in. If I tell my friends, “tell me what you think” it means be really nice.

A: I had a group for a while, there was about 8 of us. I think the really battle is getting people to show up on a regular basis and give you nice constructive notes. I ended up feeling overwhelmed because the day job is all about reading critically and then going home to find time to write. Between those, I felt like I was reading all the time and I really like tv. I just needed something to give, so I gave that up. It was nice because there was only one other person who wrote YA, it was nice to read something different and exercise my brain.

KC: I do not. I don’t let anyone touch it until way way way down the line. Post first run through with my editor, then my best friend and my mom can see it. I’m really protective of what I write.

For Kiera, your characters have really cool names. What was your favorite?

{This is where the girl who won the character named after her shouted out her name.}

I really liked Emmica and Amberly. For those who don’t know, I have weird name association issues. So when I assign a name to a character, there’s this whole connotation in my brain about stuff. When it was time to think of baby names, I wanted names that had their own association. My husband is Callaway, there’s only one Callaway. There’s only one Guyden, there’s only one Zuzu in my world. But Callaway rejected Amberly and Tuesday and Emmica. I thought they were rad names and decided to give them to my fictional babies.

{At this point, I don’t know what happened to the recording. I can’t pick up any of the sound. Thankfully, there was only 3 minutes left.}

When the Q&A was over, Lita directed everyone on how they would line up. While that happened, I went up to thank Kiera, Amanda and Kevin. I also asked them to sign the circle sign from MG that had my name on it.


Kevin and Amanda both thanked me and said I did a great job both nights. Kevin asked if I would come with them to do the rest of the tour dates. I said absolutely.

Right before I walked away from the table area, someone came up to me [a Harper rep of some sort? An editor?] and also told me that I did a great job and that she loved my questions. {SQUEEEEEE}

I thanked Lita again for asking me to moderate and then quickly grabbed my things and left.

Moderating definitely wasn’t as scary as I was expecting it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I was absolutely petrified. However, these three authors were fun and I think they really helped me to relax and enjoy it.

And just maybe it’ll be something I do again…

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6 responses to “The time I had to use a microphone

  1. That’s so cool. The book events that I usually go to aren’t usually that filled so I don’t know how I would’ve reacted. I’d love to moderate an event one day but I don’t know if I could keep my cool. It’s so awesome. You sound like you did a pretty good job, you sound pretty funny!

    • Stacee

      I had my chair turned so I was facing the authors, not the audience. :D I was absolutely nervous, but after things started going, it was pretty amazing.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  2. I am sorry I didn’t make it to the Grove event. Stupid work! But it looks like it was a really great event. You are so much braver than me because I would totally freak out if I had to moderate something like this. Great job!

    • Stacee

      Oh, I was absolutely freaking out! It was a lot of fun, I’m glad I had the chance to do it.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!!

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