The time it was about middle grade books

Posted September 12, 2017 by Stacee in Signings | 3 Comments

Seeing Tamara Ireland Stone is always a given.  We have a standing date at her launch parties and I’ve driven up to San Francisco for all of them: Time Between Us, Time After Time, and Every Last Word.  This time around, Tamara told me that she would be coming to me.

We got to the bookstore early enough for me to run amok, hug all of my favorite Mysterious Galaxy people, raid the back room, and peruse the YA section.

I saw Tamara and Alex walk into the store around 6:30 or so and I went over to say hi to Tamara and give her a squeeze.  She handed me a Chinese edition of Time Between Us and we talked about whether or not I already had a copy. After chatting for a moment, she introduced me to the Disney publicist who was traveling with them {where I promptly waved myself off and stg, one day I’ll do better at acting like a normal person in front of people I’ve just met} before heading to the back room before the event.

The ladies came out right at 7pm and introduced themselves and then talked about the books.

Now. I don’t normally type this part up, so I didn’t here either.  Then it turned into a 30 tangent/discussion about all sorts of things {including a brief conversation between Alex and I when she asked if anyone in the audience was a murderino. We gushed about MFM and I asked if she listened to Up & Vanished and she asked if I listed to True Crime Garage} and by the time I realized I should have been typing, it was too late to figure out where to start. Below starts the audience questions.

A to T: Have you ever written an evil character?

T: I don’t think so.

A: I’m living my best author life by writing all of the worst characters.

Have you ever thought of making an app?

T: I have. We’re looking into it. I’m not a coder and I don’t want to actually run a company, so I would need to find someone to write it.

When did you start writing?

A: I remember writing in the third grade. We would do creative writing blocks and I wrote a masterpiece about the asteroid belt. Which you can actually see the video on YouTube if you have patience. Then I wrote a lot of fanfiction and I wrote my first book when I was in college.

T: I’ve been writing my entire life. All of it was for me, I was never planning on sharing it. It was such a big part of me. I’m in awe of kids who share their poetry right away. I wrote my first book when I was 39. I think it was part of a checklist I wanted to complete. I never thought it would be on a shelf.  The file was actually titled “for me.”

A: That’s so cute.  My files are usually titled “Kill Me Now.”

Do you get inspiration from dreams?

A: I’ve never had one. I think I listen to too many murder podcasts.

T: I’ll often wake up in the middle of the night and will have solved a plot point or something. Sometimes it doesn’t make any sense.

A: I have to sit up and turn on a light. I’ve tried using my phone in the dark, but it’ll just be gibberish. Plus it seems weird to be whispering “hey, Siri” in the middle of the night.

How much input have had on the movie?

A: Authors like Stephenie Meyers or Suzanne Collins, authors who have sold so many copies, will get more control. For the rest of us, it’s not always like that.  I wish I knew who said this because I keep saying it and I want to give credit: Most studios like to pretend the author is dead until they can’t any more. I made friends with the screenwriter. I was invited to the set. There were a few things that I commented on, but I’m able to see the difference between the story and the screenplay.

T to A: Are there changes that you had let happen?

A: There are two things that I tried to push back on. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.  When it comes to changes, I’m not super precious about it. The existence of the movie doesn’t take away the existence of the book.

What was the most fun about writing a ghost story for middle grade?

A: I thought about writing this as a YA. I shared it with my agent and she liked it, but wanted to shelve it at the time. There’s a careful balance between the spooky moments and playful and it’s way different than how dark it would have been if I wrote it as YA.

A to T: Did you see that difference?

T: For me, I feel like I always have a character who will keep it light. In Every Last Word, it was Caroline. Every time I was feeling dark, she would pop up.

What are you working on now?

T: A sequel to Click’d. And I’m working on a new YA. {Tamara shared a bit about what it was about, but I forgot to ask if it was something to be shared, so I’ll just let you know that it sounds awesome.}

A: I’m working on Prosper’s sequel and I just finished the extra things for the special editions of the The Darkest Minds books. And I’m working on a YA that I can’t talk about.

Besides the age, what was the difference between writing middle grade and YA?

A: YA is the main character finding themselves in the world and exploring the world. In MG, it’s about finding your place in the family.

T: And maybe failure too. I think it’s important for girls to see that it’s okay to fail and get back up and try again.

There was one question after this one, but I was busy taking my final photos and getting my books ready. I was number 2 in line {but the first person for Tamara} and when I got up to her, she thanked Michelle and I for coming.  We said that of course we were going to be there to support her.

She went to sign my book and said she was going to get emotional and didn’t know what to write.  I told her she didn’t need to be emotional because she had recently sent me the loveliest note card.  Tamara said that she had poured her heart out in that card, so she agreed that she wouldn’t do it in the book.  We chatted for a minute longer and then I hugged her before saying goodbye.

I went around the store saying goodbyes and giving hugs before going home.  Of course I forgot to take a photo of my signed book and since I’m actually working on this while I’m at work, I’ll have to add the book photo when I get home.  Fingers crossed I remember.

Anyhoo, these ladies were hilarious together.  If you haven’t read their books, I highly recommend them.  I don’t normally do MG books, but Click’d was a lot of fun and I’m kicking myself for not getting a copy of Prosper last night…I just might have to go back to Mysterious Galaxy and buy one.

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3 responses to “The time it was about middle grade books

  1. For some reason I have read a ton of MG so far this year, in fact I am on my fourth in a row right now and my next read is MG also. Thanks again for sharing the event. I love Alexandra’s sentiment about the difference between Middle Grade and Young Adult, it is spot on. Now I have words to explain it to other people. :)

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