The time they weren’t on tour together

Posted February 17, 2018 by Stacee in Signings | 4 Comments

Seeing Susan Dennard is always a sure thing.  If she comes to the west coast, I’m going to figure out how to see her.  I had seen the announcement that she would be in LA, but an event was announced at Mysterious Galaxy the next day and I was so excited.  Even better that Holly Black was going to be with her. I had purchased a signed copy of  The Cruel Prince from MG, so I was able to use my receipt to get a ticket for the signing and I was number 1.

Hubs and I got to the store earlier than normal and it was Gary’s birthday, so they served the most delicious chocolate mousse cheesecake and we sang to him.  And then I waited for Michelle before we ran amok. We ended up leaving for some food and then came back to the store right after 6pm and it was already filled with people.

As I was wandering around, handing out post-its, I saw Mary Pearson walk in.  I went over to her and hugged her and we chatted for a minute.  I grabbed her books for her and got her a chair to sit with us in the front row.  As we walked over to our seats, she told me she had something for me.

Annnnnnd it turned out to be an arc of her upcoming book.  She told me that it was the very first one that she had signed and wanted me to have it. We talked about the book and how excited I was to read it and how nervous/excited she was.  I hugged her a few more times because I wanted to scream.

Somehow, I ended up by the counter of the store and was standing there when Susan and Holly came in.  I snuck over to Susan and hugged her.  She commented on my Donnie Darko shirt, we talked about the movie and I told her about my meeting James Duval at SDCC. I then took her and Holly to the back room of the store so they could relax a bit.

Then I found myself getting back to Mary and Michelle and we talked about Disneyland and tattoos and Disneyland tattoos…and then the ladies came out right at 7pm.  They launched right into questions.

What drew you to the world of fairies?

H: {Okay, so I didn’t get her answer at all.  She said something about a book from the illustrator from the dark crystal and that’s all}

S: I started reading fairy tales when I was young. We didn’t have YA when I was younger. All I consumed was adult fantasy and I didn’t have Amazon, so it was whatever was on the shelf.  Sometimes that meant reading the series out of order or reading the fourth book first.

Do you create or discover your characters?

H: I used to say I created them and I used to get angry when people said their character veered off. In Darkest, I had a character named Hazel who had a secret that I didn’t know. And I didn’t know how I didn’t know, but with her I knew what people were talking about.

S: I create some characters. I found this out when I wrote a novella for my first series and had to write from their POV.

How are these books different or similar from your other books?

S: This is an entirely different format. It’s all in journal entries. I tried doing this years ago and it didn’t work. When I sat down to do it later, she exploded.

H: My husband and I used to tell each other this huge story about a world we created. We did it on car rides and it was never any where else. I used bits of it in The Cruel Prince.  People have asked what he thought of those bits and he asked me where I came up with it.

What are some childhood stories that inspired you?

S: I read a lot. I’m literally looking at The Phantom Tollbooth that’s right there.

H: And you said A Wrinkle in Time.

S: Yes, that too.

Has your reading changed?

S: I read fantasy and I write fantasy. I’m a super big Michael Crichton fangirl. I would love to do something with science.  Maybe a YA Jurassic Park?

H: I wrote The Curse Workers because I wanted to write a magic system without folklore in it. I learned a lot from those books and I think I take it with me in all of the other books.

What is something odd that you’ve researched?

H: In one of The Curse Worker books, someone gets thrown in the trunk of a car. I asked a friend to put me in her car. And when I thought about this, it was an impala. Something huge.  Nope, she had a hatchback and there was a really large back window, so people could clearly see that she had kidnapped me. Did anyone stop to see what was going on? No.  I will say, it was surprisingly comfortable.  Well, I would want a neck pillow next time.

S: I’ve uncovered a lot of weird things. In my first series, I found that clothes were very restrictive. The corset would be so restrictive and the bustle would make the women stand a certain way.  It was supposed to be erotic and they called it the Grecian Bend.  {Susan then came out from the podium and showed us what the pose looked like.}

H: Oh, I have something for a demonstration.  In competitive eating, it’s against the rules to say that someone needs to vomit. They call it a reverse of fortune.  So, if you’re doing competitive eating and you’re getting full, you just move back and forth like this. {Holly had come out from the podium and did a rocking back and forth thing.}

S: I think we’ve got a new dance now.  {And Susan came back out and danced a combo of the two poses.}

What was your process for creating maps?

H: Susan took a lot of time and effort into making her map. I thought what if there was a map that was a generic outline that was absolutely no help and did that.

S: I love ecology, so I am always thinking about the land. I got the idea when I was backpacking across Croatia.

Did you work with your illustrator?

S: Yes. We were really late, so it was just “that looks great, let’s go.” And now I look at it and I love it. {She talked about a map that she drew and hung it by her computer. She sent it to the illustrator and thought he was going to redraw it, but the published version is her map.}

Do you have a theme song for your book?

H: I make a playlist for all of my books. It takes me right back when I listen to it and as I get sick of listening to the songs, I’ll take them off until I’m listening to the same two songs over and over again. I put a lot of murder ballads.

S: I do a playlist too. It’s on Spotify. They get long, like 350 songs. I’m obsessed with Two Steps from Hell. They’re amazing.

Bucket list goal as an author?

H: I would like to write an adult book. When I started, I thought it was an adult book. If my protagonist would have found out she was a fairy changeling at 35, the audience would have thought she wasn’t the sharpest pair of scissors.

S: I would like to write for games. I primitively code my own games. It’s so much work to see what it takes to make a tree.

Did you know how your book would end?

H: I didn’t know how my first book would end. Now I know, worst case scenario what could happen.

S: I have an ending, but it doesn’t mean that it’ll be the ending. I have to be flexible.

What’s next?

H: I just finished the sequel. {Holly gave the titles for the next two books, but I didn’t get them.  She also talked about her middle grade series.  I was taking photos.}

S: Bloodwitch is next. It’s technically book 3.  {to Holly} Maybe our next books will come out at the same time and we can go on tour together.

H: Yes! We’re actually not on tour together.  We just keep showing up at the same events.

Favorite character that you’ve created?

H: I have different favorites for different books. I think the people from Tithe will be the favorite because I spent 5 years with them. It’s usually the people I’m working with or the people I’m about to work with who I think will be more charming.

S: Same. I can’t name someone who is a favorite. It is very much what I’m working on right now. If they weren’t favorites, I couldn’t do it.

Is it hard to shift between MG and YA?

H: I always try to think of what I was really like as a kid. I have a 5 year old and I think he’s so small. It’s a challenge, but sometimes it’s a huge relief. The YA that I write is dark and complicated. MG is a little more fun and a little lightness. Sometimes it’s a relief.

Interpersonal relationships? Planned?

S: These books are all about best friends, but some of the relationships surprised me.

H: In Darkest, it has a love square. It was one of the most difficult things.

S: It can get real complicated real fast.

We’re these your original vision for the covers?

H: I wanted a throne and underground and roots and from across the room it looked horrible. They told me their idea and I thought it wasn’t good, but then they showed me and I told them it was gorgeous.  There’s a reason publishers have an entire division to do covers.

S: For Truthwitch, I wanted something different and it didn’t fit at all.

What divides YA from adult?

H: To me, it’s three things: a teenage protagonist, teenage concerns, and that it’s not nostalgic. YA is a marketing thing, not a genre.

S: When I was younger, there wasn’t YA. I would say it was a character finding their way in the world without adults around.

H: The Patrick Rothfuss books have a young protagonist, but it’s looking back. For me, that’s a defining thing, that’s what make them adult.

Favorite video game?

S: Do you really want me to answer this?

H: I recently got into StarDew Valley.

S: I really like Skyrim and Fallout. Right now, my obsession is Dishonor.

Where do you see your writing going?

H: I think a lot about the specific books I want to write. Five years seems like a lot of time, but in the work of books, it’s not a lot. I mean, I always want to say I’ll be a shinier person and my words will be dripping with wisdom. I am really frustrated with my process. I never settle in. I need to figure out how to sit through it.

S: Some people love drafting. We’re not that way.

There were a couple of other questions, but I was getting my final photos and sort of going back through my typing.  Michelle and I let Mary go in front of us, but then it was our turn.  Susan signed the poster from the store for me and then as per our tradition, she started drawing in my book.  While she was doing that, I went to Holly and started having my books signed.

We talked about her pointed ears and how much it hurt, her blue hair, and why it was taking Susan so long to sign my book.  When we both said that she was drawing in it, Holly said that she should draw in my book too.  She was signing a set of Michelle’s Curse Workers books and I said that those weren’t my books.  So I handed her my copy of TCP and she drew a cat in there.

Susan then handed my book back and it’s amazing.

From there, we said goodbye to both ladies and made the rounds to say goodbye to all of the lovelies at MG. As always, Sooz and Holly were delightful and so much fun together.  I’m super excited to read both of these new books.

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