The time it was about the Reality Bites panel

Posted March 21, 2015 by Stacee in Signings | 2 Comments

Attending Ontario Teen Book Fest became a sure thing as soon as I saw that Kasie West was going to be one of the authors attending. As the event got closer, Kasie was sick, but she kept assuring me she would be there. 

I got up to the library just before 2. Traffic was stupid and I couldn’t find parking because the area that was indicated by the event map was closed off. I parked in some random lot with other people and we all hoped we wouldn’t get tickets.

I saw Jessica Brody in passing and guarded the men’s room door for Lauren Miller before making my way to the Reality Bites panel. Kasie saw me lean into the doorway and ran out to say hi. We chatted for a couple of minutes before the panel started.

Michelle Levy was the moderator and she introduced the authors: Aaron Hartzler, Kasie West, Elizabeth Ross, Maurene Goo, Katie Finn and Cecil Castallucci.


After the introductions, each author talked about their books and then Michelle asked questions.

Are there characters based on you?

C: I have a character, Rose, who lived in my apartment in New York. When I lived there, across the street was where the Russian consulate lived, so if I threw a ball, it was technically in Russia. That book is the closest to what has been ripped from my life.

KF: I thought that in this series there wasn’t, but I realized that I lifted an entire situation from college. A lot of stuff from my Morgan books are from my real life. I didn’t realize it until they were published.

M: This book has a lot of my life. There are a couple of chapters based on my life. One was awesome because I got to make fun of the people who made my life miserable. Which you can do when you’re 30 and out of school for a long time. I did let Holly have more articulate thoughts and feelings than I did. It was fun to channel them into something fun.

E: Well, I haven’t worked at an agency, but there’s definitely a pressure on girls to be attractive. More specifically, I worked in Paris when I was a teenager, so I drew from that. This Paris is the Paris from my imagination.

KW: When I started writing, I purposely tried not to draw from my own life. As I would go back and read them, I would see myself. Now I don’t try. I have based a 16 year old girl on my husband.

A: Obviously my character is me. There are a couple of characters who are people put together.  {He then started talking about his upcoming contemp “What We Saw” which is about a girl who has been molested by a group of sports players.}


Are your characters based on anyone?

KW: Every time my mom reads my books, she always asks if that’s how I see her. I have a great mom, but apparently we need mom angst in our books.

MG: Everyone thinks they’re in your book. A lot of my friends would ask. It’s a weird territory, people are always looking for themselves.

C: When I was in a band, guys would always come up to me and ask if it was about them. It was always the song about liking someone and the guy who asked was never the right guy. I’ve started saying yes to people, because they’re seeing something from the book in themselves and we’re all pulling from personal situations.

To Katie: have you ever gotten revenge in real life?

No. It’s been so fun to write. With revenge in the title, of course there’s going to be a war. I read a lot of revenge books before starting and it never ends well. No one ever says “I got revenge and now I’m happy.” There’s a proverb that says before you’re going to start on a road to revenge, dig two graves.

To Katie: was there anyone that you thought of before starting?

KF: Is it bad that I don’t have any enemies? I would love to have a nemesis without knowing.


Who is your favorite secondary character in your book?

C: I’m going to pick Tin Star. Heckleck is not a good person. He’s sort of scary insect, but he has a real big heart. Something happens to him and it was really hard to write.

KF: There’s a character in the 1st book who we don’t see, but he’s become a main character. It went from a love triangle to something else. Someone on Twitter said that it was now a love rhombus and that’s really true. His showing up changed the trajectory of the series.

M: There’s a character named Elizabeth and I initially made her have a weird best friend. The relationship between Carrie and Elizabeth became authentic. It’s fun to have a character who says snobby things.

E: I like Isabel. At first she’s a total brat, but you realize that she’s also trapped. She wants to do greater things for herself. There’s a lot of depth to her and it was fun to write.

K: I have a weakness for funny guys. I married my husband because no one had made me laugh like he did. In this book, it’s one of her brothers, Gage.

A: My favorite is my grandmother. She’s a real steel magnolia and would say the most outrageous things.

To KW: your main character is a tomboy. Where do you fall in the makeup spectrum?

In the middle. I like the girlie moments, but I grew up with rough and tumble people. I like sports. I married a 6’8″ basketball player.

To KW: Do you have tall children?

No! My oldest is only 5’8″. I’m disappointed by their average height.  {there was a lot more to this}


What is the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten or given?

C: Put your best ears on, especially when it comes to critique. Sometimes we only hear “this is horrible and stupid.” If I can put my best ears on, I can be brave and get rid of the bad stuff.

E: Read like a writer. Read critically. The books that you love, read them again and really look at them.

KF: I’ll say the opposite. Read the things you don’t like. If you don’t connect, figure out why and try to fix it.

C:  Even reading something you don’t like can help you find your style.

E: Read outside of your comfort zone.

KW: I would say read a lot and write a lot.

A: Yes to all of that. And I’ll add that there is no one way to be a writer. Go to school or don’t. Go to workshops or don’t. Just write a lot.

MG: Turn off all of the noise. Especially with YA, people are always talking about being a writer. New trends and who got signed and how many books were sold. I wrote this book in a vacuum and it was ignorantly blissful. Now with the pressures of being a published author, I had to tune all of it out. I was the most happiest when I was writing for me.

A: Comparison is the crowbar that will ruin everything you love. Keep your eyes on your own work. It may have been said in kindergarten, but it’s true now.

C: When you’re working, read things that nourish you. I had to read for doing panels and it felt like homework. It took away from being playful.


Which came first: book or character?

C: For Tin Star, it was the character. I had an image of a girl deciding if she was going to survive by eating alien food and being abandoned.

KF: Weirdly the title came first. I knew that I wanted revenge. It really came first. I had the second title before the first title.

MG: 100% the character. Holly came to me when I was filling out a Facebook thing about 24 things you didn’t know about me.

E: It was the concept of the agency and then the idea of a teenage girl being part of it.

KW: Most of mine are character. In The Distance Between Us it was the setting. I would have to sit in front of a porcelain doll shop for 30 minutes while waiting for my daughter in guitar lessons and I thought it would be the coolest place for a book.

A: It was the plot. I knew I wanted to write about it. In the Twitter conversation that was sparked, everyone’s humanity was stripped away. {There was a lot a lot about this, but it was captivating and I didn’t get a word of it}


What Harry Potter house would your main character be in?

MG: Everyone wants to be Gryffindor, but we can’t be. I would say that Holly would be in Slytherin.

C: Ravenclaw

KF: Gemma would have the same thing that happens to Harry. She’s really kind of two sides.

E: I haven’t read Harry Potter.

KW: Charlie would be Gryffindor.

A: 16 year old Aaron would not have been allowed to read Harry Potter and 40 year old Aaron hasn’t read them. 

There were a few more questions, but I didn’t get them. From there, the panel was over and we were directed to go to the cafeteria for the signing. They had us line up outside and we just started to wait. 

After a couple of minutes, they let us in. It was one long table and we were able to go up to each individual author to get things signed. I stopped at to say hi to Gretchen before getting in line for Kasie. 


And when I got up to Kasie, I seriously held up the line. I was easily there for 10 minutes.  We chatted about The Fill-In Boyfriend {which is amazeballs} and arcs and other super sekrit things that were definitely “off the record”. We finally got around to her signing my arc and she said that it would be the first art of FiB that she signed.

And then this happened…

2 3

I apologized to the people behind me. Thanked Kasie a zillion times and told her to get better soon.

From Kasie, I went over to Katie Finn.  I had an arc of Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold that I wanted to get signed. When I got to her she told me that it was sort of a hot commodity because the covers had be redesigned and the second book wouldn’t have the arc cover.

{I don’t have pictures of Katie signing or the book because I’m fail}

After that, I sort of hurried out to get back home.  Next year, I’m definitely going to plan on attending the entire event. It seemed to be well ran.  There were a lot of volunteers/staff available to answer any questions or direct me where I needed to go.  I look forward to seeing how it grows.


Tags: , , , , , ,

2 responses to “The time it was about the Reality Bites panel

  1. Glad you made it, Stacee. This is my second year attending and it is very well run and a fun event. Nicole said she saw you for a second and I wasn’t sure if you had just come for the signing. Glad you got to see Kasie’s panel and had a chance to chat with her at the signing.

    • Stacee

      I didn’t get to go last year because there were fires and we had just been allowed back to our apartment after been evacuated. I had a lot of fun and I’m definitely going to try and make the whole day next time.

      I didn’t see Nicole! Hope to see you soon. Will you be at YALLWest and FoB?

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.