The time it was by candlelight

Posted November 11, 2015 by Stacee in Signings | 3 Comments

When I saw that Amie and Jay were coming to San Diego for Illuminae, it was a definite thing. Add the fact that Leigh was also going to be at the event and I was prepared to take the day off and camp out in front of the store.

Michelle and I met up super early to have snacks and catch up since it had been a while we had seen each other.


We got back to Mysterious Galaxy around 4 and spent the time hanging out with Rob and the other booksellers. After we bought books, we had plans to build a book fort, but they were about to set up the event space. So, we quickly stacked the books and Michelle took this amazing photo.


Around 4:30, someone called the store to let them know that the power was going to be turned off for four hours. After some quick brainstorming, Rob headed off to procure some candles and other alternative ways to light up the store. They also set up the chairs in a different pattern to try help with candle placement.


Leigh, Amie, and Jay got to the store just after 7pm.  Michelle and Keiko convinced me that I needed to go over there and say hi, so after some serious pushing, I did.  Amie and Jay both thanked me for being there after being in LA.  I then explained that I moderated the previous event.  The MG employee {whose name escapes me} started laughing and said that she knows how everyone knows me.  Leigh said it was because I get around.  After getting hugs from everyone, I went back to my seat.


They came out at 7:30 and they started talking about their books.  Then they started talking about wombats and teasing people or icey Australian politeness.

{I will apologize now for the incomplete format of this recap.  The three of them were so much fun and so hilarious and went off on so many tangents, it was impossible to get everything.}

L: I’m friends with Amie, but there’s always this weirdness when you’re reading your friend’s book.

A: Like please let this be good

L: Right.

J: You could have blamed it on me.

L: We might still.

A: The night is young.

L: There is a big twist moment and it was like a punch in the gut. And I started frantically emailing.

A: I woke up to a lot of emails, it was fun.

L: But I loved it.

Then it twisted into a story about Amie’s friend in law school and how Leigh is sort of like her and learning to weld and how the venti Starbucks is way too big.

J: Co-writing something is like the shoemaker who leaves leather out and wakes up to find that the elves made shoes. I went to bed and woke up to my book being awesome and I didn’t do anything!


L: How did you end up writing together?

J: We met due to the IRS. If you’re a foreign national earning money outside of the county, you have to file something. If you get it wrong, they don’t tell you why it’s wrong, they just say it’s wrong.

A: On my first attempt they mailed me back a form and when it said what I forgot to include it said “a document” and that when I resubmitted, I needed to include “a document”. Someone actually took the time to find a pen and write that down, but couldn’t be specific.

J: I managed to make it through attempt 3 and Amie was just getting to go through it. And we had a mutual friend. She bribed me with brunch and I can always be bribed with bacon. We started a breakfast club of 2 people.

A: There’s a famous story of Stephenie Meyer having a dream about a boy in a meadow who was sparkling and she wrote a book to find out who he was. I had an anxiety dream that I was writing a book with Jay, but I didn’t know what it was about. I couldn’t admit to him that I didn’t know, so I said “so, imagine that I’m someone who doesn’t know what’s happening, explain to me what the next chapter is.” I could only remember that the entire story was told in emails.


L: I love that you said inspiration is an ongoing process. There’s so many things that happen after that moment. For most books, it’s hard for me to pick The Moments. For Six of Crows, I have a moment. I was driving down the road and saw a billboard for Monument’s Men and I didn’t want to see that movie, but I wanted to watch Ocean’s Eleven. And I knew I wanted to write a magical heist book.

I knew that I wanted to write in the city, but I didn’t know what the story was. As soon as I knew the heist, I knew that I would put a cast of characters together. All of the things that we know about heists are from movies and tv and the things that work on the screen don’t work in books.

J: I love that we didn’t know what the end game was. That Kaz is the mastermind, but we only got glimpses.

A: Everyone has a reason why they don’t trust each other.

L: When we talk about plot twists, it’s just a release of information. It’s a game we’re playing and bread crumbs we’re leaving. I think it’s all in revising.


J: Do you plot the whole way there? There’s no pantsing?

L: For the record, it means writing by the seat of your pants. Not taking your pants off and wearing them as a hat.

I write in 12 points, like a screenplay. The zero draft was 30k words. The final book was 120k. I don’t know where the pantsing was. You can plan all you want, but you still have to draft and it’s still going to suck.

J: And that’s okay

L: Yes. None of these books are first or second drafts.

A: You often hear people say “my characters tell me”. And I’m like, really? I’m writing mine.

L: I just met Mel Salisbury and she said her characters legit talk to her. That would be pretty awesome.

A: Oooh.  It would.

J: So which of the crows are you?

L: I’m closest to Nina. She’s spent her whole life being told that she’s too loud and talks too much and eats too much and that’s me.


L: If I pointed to a specific line, would you know who wrote it?

J: It started with Amie would write the girl and I would write the boy. That’s a bit odd because in my previous series, my main character is a girl.

A: And I write they boy POV in my other series.

J: The lines sort of blur. I write Aiden because I’m more qualified to write an insane computer. I don’t know what that says about me.

Then it launched into a conversation of Amie and Jay needing to make sure the some what dirty jokes stayed in the book and needing to confirm with the editor that the slang was the same before the deal was finalized and the entire conversation taking place at 3am.

J: You really get to learn about someone when they don’t know they’re being watched.

First book that you read that captures you?

J: Where the wild things are

A: I used to read nonstop. The Dark is Rising.

L: I can think of specific moments. A French illustrated Beauty and the Beast and the beast had tusks and it terrified me. The book I closed and then wanted to read again was Dune.


When you send your pages to a beta reader, what sort of feedback are you looking for?

L: Tell me I’m awesome.

A: For me it varies, it depends on where I’m at. When I’m first drafting, unless I’m going way off course, I want you to tell me I’m pretty to keep the momentum.

L: I don’t show anything to anyone at that stage. It’s in part that it’s a bit of being self conscious. When I do show people, I tell them what I’m looking for. The best way to get feedback out of your beta readers is to be specific.

A: Mine is usually tell me where they got confused or what they love.

L: I never ask anyone to tell me what they love.

A: I just want to make sure that the same epic joke I thought was hilarious 10 edits ago is still hilarious because by then, I think it’s dumb.

J: Ask your friend what they want. I give everything to my wife because she’s brutally honest.  She’s seen me in my underwear.  Then see what your friend does with the feedback.  If they stop writing or stop talking to you, maybe turn down the brutality.


Defining moment when it clicked that you were an author?

L: Do you mean when we knew it was what we wanted or when we’re like IVE ARRIVED?

Audience member: Arrived.

L: I don’t think I’ve had that yet. I’m still waiting for someone to take it away. I have my two dream jobs. One half is that I’m in my pjs and I bathe when I want and I don’t have a commute. The other half is that I travel the world and get to talk to readers.

Amie then shared a story about a stapler and where the placement was and how she resigned because it was the last straw.

J: There isn’t anything to make you a writer. If you spend 5 minutes working on something, you’re a writer. It’s literally the best job ever, so if it’s what you want to do, do it.

A: And every book has to be written differently.

J: And there aren’t things to benchmark. It’s not if you get an agent you’re an author. Or if you get a deal you’re an author. Or if you make the NYT list, you’re an author.

L: You do have those days where you think you’re a genius, but it’s a long journey. Your hustle had to come from somewhere.


How long did it take?

J: Illuminae took 2 1/2 years. It’s a bad example because the design was serious.

A: We were writing book 3, so there are differences between the two different arcs and the final book. We realized that we needed to add some things, so if you can find the few lines that are the difference, you’re going to get huge spoilers for book 3.

While you’re writing, can you read or watch tv?

J: I would die if I couldn’t read for 7 months.

L: I’m like Goldilocks. I need to find something that takes my brain away. I was in the middle of drafting and started reading The Night Circus and after two pages, I literally threw the book because it was too good.

A: We just got Netflix and I can binge things now.

J: Do you listen to music while you write?

L: Yes. There are times that I don’t like to, so I do listen to white noise websites.

J: There is one song that I listened to over and over again for Aiden. It’s from an “extreme Swedish metal band”.


In a movie for Shadow and Bone, who should play the Darkling?

L: I don’t know. If I had a time a machine, I would pick a young Gary Oldman. It’s hard because he can’t just be cute. You have to believe that he could lead armies.

Then they started arguing about who Ezra would be and Amie and Leigh wanted someone from Battlestar Galactica. Jay said he was a jerk and Amie and Leigh told him to get out.

When the characters that are finished, do they ever come back?

L: For me, I’m still writing in the same universe, so they’re all off living their lives. They don’t show up and ask why I’m not writing them any more.

There were a few more questions after that, but I just didn’t type them up because I was laughing so much.  We did the book wave and then the signing started.  Maryelizabeth pointed to me and said, “This is Stacee.” Then she told me to wave, so I did.  Then she told everyone that I was first in line and everyone had to get behind me.

I got up to Leigh first.  She was putting out pins and bookmarks, so I took those while she was getting settled.  I thanked her for coming and said that it was always great to see her.  I had the Slasher Girls poster for her to sign and she was outraged that someone had signed by her name. She asked who my favorite character was and I said Nina, so this was my inscription.

lb3 lb1 lb2

Jay was next and I had Slasher Girls for him to sign.  While he was doing that, I gave Amie my copies of Illuminae to start.  Jay thanked me again for coming to the event and I explained that MG was my local indie, so being there was always going to happen. He asked how long it took me to get to Huntington and Amie said “Hours.” When Amie finished and Jay was signing, I told Amie that we were planning to road trip to Vegas for the signing she had with Meagan.  She was excited and said that she definitely wanted friendly faces in the crowd.  And before I left, I apologized for having eleventy billion copies for them to sign.  Jay said I should never ever apologize for that.

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As always, the staff at MG is amazing and they created an awesome atmosphere in response to a potential problem {the power never went out}. Leigh, Amie, and Jay are easily some of my favorite authors and people and they took my fangirling in stride.

If you haven’t read these books you need to and if you have a chance to meet them, drop everything and go.

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3 responses to “The time it was by candlelight

  1. Yaaay :D This is a gorgeous recap post Stacee. Thank you for sharing about it sweetie :D So glad you had a great time. And ahhh, I love these books and authors SO MUCH :D Wishing I could have been there too. <3 Yay for getting signed books :)

  2. Brilliant post Stacee!!! They really seem like an absolute riot the three of them!!
    And thank you for managing to compile as much from the event and questions as you did, the few times I’ve attended an event I’ve been too swept up to really take notes!!

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