The time there was pizza

Posted June 23, 2014 by Stacee in Signings | 2 Comments

When the Summer Lovin tour was announced and I saw Suzanne Young on it, there was no way I was going to miss it. Michelle and I met up for our pre-date as usual before heading over to Mysterious Galaxy to bug Rob.  When we got over there, we were told that they were going to order pizza and have drinks, so we were asked what sort of pizza toppings we liked.

People started showing up around 6:45, so we quickly claimed front row.


Before the event officially started, the ladies sat down and were talking about the candy they brought.  If you asked a question, you got a piece of candy.  That prompted everyone {mostly me} to just ask random questions so we could get some candy.  The event started just after 7pm. Each author introduced themselves and talked about their newest book before it was opened up to a Q&A.


Where did you come up with the idea for your book?

J: Two separate ideas that came together. I had heard the Celtic mythology about the thin place and I thought about it. Around the same time, my son was in 7th grade and was riding a bus with another boy who walked around everywhere bare foot. He would walk in the snow without shoes, he went everywhere.  I wanted to know why he wasn’t wearing shoes and tried to get my son to ask, but he wouldn’t.

SO: One of the main things were that people in my family were getting on Facebook and not doing anything else. Not calling or writing letters. I started thinking about how I didn’t have Facebook in high school. At the time, there were of a lot of celebrity scandals. Imagine walking out of here and saying something stupid. It’s 5 seconds of a mistake and now it’s online forever.

SY: Originally I wrote about a girl who attempted suicide and then had to go back to school and everyone knew. My agent said that it was too sad. There was a commercial for antidepressants and the side effects were suicidal thoughts in teens.  That got me thinking about suicide epidemics and I did some research on it.

Then I was also writing a book called The Break Up Pill and it was about a girl who had a broken heart.  There’s a boy that she knows who creates a pill — because you can totally do this with chemistry — that can make you forget about your broken heart.

I like to pitch it as Children of Men meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

C: I drew from my personal life. What happens when your parents fall out of love or get separated. My parents split apart when I was 8 and I was still thinking about it when I was 26.

I lived half the week with my mom and half the week with my dad and I noticed that things were really different between them. At my mom’s, we had to take our shoes off and dinner was always at the same time.  At my dad’s it was just wild times.  The dog was allowed to sleep on our bed.  Sometimes the cat did too.  I sort of got fleas, but it was okay.

I knew there had to be conflict.

When you’re writing, did it come to you in one thought?

SY: The initial seed yes. Some times I’ll hear a lyric and it’ll be something I want to work on. Or the word melancholy.  I think all of my books have the word melancholy in them.

SO: I like to play “what if”. I will constantly ask “what if this happens?” I’ll write one scene and then spend time daydreaming about it. That’s one thing I like to tell people: that you’ll spend a lot of time staring at the wall thinking about what’s going to happen.

J: I wish an idea would come fully formed. I wrote Thin Space during NaNo. I thought it was about a girl moving into a new house. I figured out how to write 2k words a day and on the 3rd or 4th day, the barefoot boy would come in and try to take the story away.

I put the draft away and then came back to it later. When I read it, it was horrible. My daughter pointed out that it was really interesting when the barefoot boy came into the story, that maybe it should have been from his point of view.

C: If you write, you tend to write a lot. So I was writing things about my family breaking up. And then I just decided to get another family in there. Different bits and pieces started coming in.

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What is the most drastic thing you’ve done for deadline?

SY: Now, I usually go to a hotel for a couple of a days. But as I was writing one of my books, my editor would send me 40 pages of edits, so I was constantly working on both at the same time. At that time, I couldn’t afford to go to a hotel, so I would put a blanket over my head and my computer and cry by the glow of my screen. I’m also a teacher, so if I’m on deadline, the kids know it.  My patience level is a lot smaller.

SO: I get long stretches where I don’t know what day it is or what time it is or the last time I took a shower. I had planned on taking a road trip, but my editor told me I would be getting edits back around that time.  I canceled the trip and then they never came.  About a month later, we decided to go.  Just got in the car and drove from Colorado to Oregon to Washington.  And then of course, the edits were ready. I didn’t know in advance where I would be stopping for him to send me something.  I found myself calling ahead to these small towns to see if they had FedEx.

Then I just decided to have it sent to my house. When I got home, I had about 4 days to do edits. Coffee coffee coffee, no shower, stand up every 2 hours to stretch and then back to it.  What people don’t know is that some deadlines are flexible, but sometimes if deadline is missed by 2 weeks, the book could pushed back by a year.  That starts this whole cascade effect.  The book doesn’t get published right away, that delays getting paid, and so on.

J: This is my first book, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. They told me that they were sending me a document and it would have comments and things in the margins. It came to me when my son was graduating and there were 10 people in my house. I tried to open and scroll through it. I didn’t see much, just a few marks here and there.

I woke up in a cold sweat and realized that there had to be comments and I just didn’t know how to open it. I went to the computer and found 167 of them.

SO: You don’t want to let anyone know that you don’t know how something works or what the acronyms mean.

C: During my deadline, I won’t commit to seeing anyone or doing anything. Even if I have 5 weeks to work on them, which is quite a bit of time.  I just read this quote that said “the way you spend your days is the way you spend your life” and I’ve just had this revelation that I’m spending my life sitting in bed, staring at a computer. {There was more to this}

Now I know that unless it’s a strict deadline, I need to get out.  It’s okay to go for a walk.  I’ve started going camping by myself.  It’s sort of scary, but that’s what life is about, right? That feeling that you might die, it makes you feel alive.

For your endings, do you have an ending set? Or do you just go along with it?

SY: I end my chapters like it’s the end of the scene. For me, I don’t know if I’ve ever kept any of my original endings. Most of the time I write my books as stand alones and then they want me to write another one.

SO: Lately I’ve been trying to plan ahead. Sometimes my editor will say no. I like to know the end before I write the story. It’s all about my character and where they’re going.

J: I don’t know where they’re going to end. They have a question that I’m trying to figure out. For this one, I’m trying to figure out why he’s walking around barefoot and when I got there, it was pretty cool. Then the second question is “will he find a thin space?” And I wrote the book to find out.

C: I’m working on my second book and I still don’t know the ending. I’ve only written one ending so far because I’ve only written one book. For this one, the ending changed. I had a different character dying and it changed the message of what I was trying to say.

There is a death at the end and at first I changed it to a different character.  And then changed it to no one dying.  I sort of told them to have a cuddle.  My editor told me that life isn’t really like that and that I needed to kill someone off.  So I got all killy and chose a different character.


Do you usually have characters in your head that you need to find a story or a story that you need to find characters?

C: I never really have ideas. It’s sort of a problem, so let’s see how my career goes. I’ll just sit down and do some free writing and remember that it’s okay to write rubbish. Then I look over it and see if there’s anything I want to take away from it.

SY: For me, it depends on the book. For The Program, I had the idea for that couple and would they get back together. I sort of liked having the idea first. In the new book, I’m making the characters adapt to the idea.

SO: Most of my stuff is character driven. I had the idea and had to figure out who the best characters would be to tell the story. In Fixing Delilah, I had a girl knocking on my head telling me she wanted to tell me about her issues.

J: The character sort of morphs along. I didn’t know who the barefoot boy was, but it was his voice. It’s sort of horrifying that I wrote an entire book to write this one, but I had his voice.

What’s one thing about publishing that you wish someone would have you?

J: It would be too much info of they gave you a tutorial.  It’s sort of nice to find things out as I go along.

SY: It’s so much of a roller coaster.  I knew it would be, but not this extreme. I can have one month were one week,  I get horrible news like maybe a book gets canceled and then the next week you hear that you have great sales.

J: There’s so much that’s out of your hands.

SO: All you want to do is get your book published. To be able to walk into Mysterious Galaxy and see your book. When you get there, it’s going to be going uphill and downhill.

SY: The business side is what gets to me.

C: One of the things that’s difficult is that it’s a business. You’ve written a book and handled it off and everyone starts talking about it differently. It would be good to say that its okay to say no to edits. You might get pushed too far. You’re so grateful that you’ve been accepted into the club that you’ll do anything.  But, if you change parts of your book to something that you don’t like — because maybe their opinion was wrong — you’re going to hate it forever.


What’s your guilty pleasure when you’re not on deadline?

SO: Supernatural. Over 3 months I watched all 8 seasons.

SY: I indulge in Netflix. I like to watch foreign films even though I don’t know what they’re saying.

J: This week is a guilty pleasure for me, I feel like I’m on vacation.  I just turned something in and was at the point where I didn’t know what day it was. I thought my husband was lying about it being Friday. My house looked like a tornado. There were a couple of weeks where I had to try to come back to life.

C: I binge watch all sorts of things.

Do you base your characters on real people?

C: It’s all a mixture. You’ll see someone walking down the street and take something like the way they wear their clothes.

SY: I take people’s mannerisms. Except for my science teacher Mr. Powell with his tweed jackets and he doesn’t even know. I take a lot from tv, like the way people talk.

SO: Real people are a bit more complicated. My next book is sort of based off of Dean Winchester. It’s hard to pinpoint a formula.

SY: At some point they become real and then it’s their story.

J: I’m afraid to use real people because I’m afraid they’ll read the book and know. I have a hard time with names and sometimes I’ll use my daughter’s friend’s names. I’ll end up changing them because I would hate to have someone think it was really based on them.

SY: For my first book, it was about cheerleaders who investigate cheating boyfriends.  When I went on tour and did a book signing in New York, all of my ex-boyfriends were in the audience because they wanted to see if they were in the book.

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Favorite book that’s not yours?

J: We Were Liars. It was awesome.

SY: I can’t answer that. It’s really hard. It changes for me.

SO: It always changes for me too.  Right now, it’s the Raven Boys series

C: Mine changes all the time too, so I’ll recommend one that I recommend all the time: How I Live Now.

What made you want to want to be a writer?

SY: I’m addicted to writing itself. I wrote murder mysteries in 6th grade and would kill off all of my friends. I love living in the world that I created.

J: I’ve always been writing. I loved reading when I was younger. As soon as I became a big reader, I started writing too. I took a long path, but it is sort of like a drug. You’re tapping into something and if I don’t do it, it won’t feel right.

SO: I knew I wanted to write when I was in 1st grade. Tried to get a copyrighted story of ET published. My mom just gave me a box filled with all of the things that I wrote when I was younger.  Some of it is little kid like and some of it is really disturbing.  I think I’m going to start scanning it and posting it on Tumblr.

C: I wrote a lot when I was younger. I was obsessed with boarding schools, so I would put my friends in school and write about it. I didn’t think I could be a writer. I thought they were all male and dead. {There was more to this}

aazEvery time Suzanne saw me take a photo, that was the face she made.  I love it.

What’s next?

C: Stand by Me but with girls. Real outdoorsy adventure but with heart.

SY: I’m working on a prequel to The Program. {This is where I completely lost my shit.  Suzanne gave the complete synopsis and I was so excited about it that I didn’t type a single word about it.  Just know that it’s a full book, it sounds amazing, and I acted like a damn fool when she announced it.}

SO: My next book comes out in June 2015.  It’s a contemporary take on The Little Mermaid.

J: I wrote 4 other books and one is a sequel. I wrote it for myself, but I like it better. The one I just finished is very different. I can’t talk about it because it feels so personal.

From there, the signing started.  I got up to Sarah first.  We talked about meeting previously at the 2013 Summer Lovin tour at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach while she signed my book and then I thanked her before heading over to Suzanne.

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There was a person in front of me for Suzanne.  While she was getting her thing signed {and having Suzanne do a short video message for someone}, I was not so sneakily taking candy off of the table and eating it.  When I got up to Suzanne, I continued to make a complete fool of myself by shimmying my way up to the table. We chatted and I gushed about how excited I was for the idea of the prequel book.  She signed my book and we took the most ridiculous selfie that she says she’ll post somewhere…

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After saying goodbye to all of the ladies and Rob, Michelle and I headed out.  This is the second time I’ve seen the Summer Lovin tour and each time was a lot of fun.  I can’t wait to see who comes around next year.

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