The time it was a conversation

Posted August 12, 2018 by Stacee in Signings | 4 Comments

Gretchen McNeil is a favorite of mine and I have loved all of her books. Going to see Gretchen is always a sure thing, especially if she’s coming to me.  I moderated Demetra Brodski’s launch event {I swear I’m going to transcribe it eventually, even if it’s been months} and she is absolutely delightful, so I was so excited to see the two of them together.

Hubs and I got to Mysterious Galaxy around 2:45.  There was still people in the signing line for the author who was there before Gretchen’s event. We chatted with some of our favorite booksellers and I perused the shelves.

Gretchen and Demetra came out just after 4pm. Gretchen introduced herself and then talked about the premise of #murdertrending.

G: It sold on Halloween 2016 and then a week later, we had an election and that’s when all of the presidential things came in. I was able to put all of my feminist rage into it.

Demetra then talked about Dive Smack and being a debut author before the conversation started.

G: On paper, these don’t seem similar. We both have characters with traumatic background and maybe some unreliable memories.

D: Theo feels responsible for a fire that took his mom’s life.

G: we also both have a mystery to solve. And the mystery solving is sort of hard. I always get asked how you write it without people finding it out. My answer is that you hope you don’t. I’ts like a Jenga game. I always know the killer. And you know who the antagonist is.

D I do. I write as I go and keep a notebook. In the editing process, it might get tricky. You had a true villain.

G: this is a book about serial killers.

D: you gave them great names. And you sort of know how someone is going to die by their names.

G: yes. Yours is not a murder mystery, per se. It’s more about secrets. And your big twist, I didn’t see it coming. How did you make sure that some smarty pants like me wasn’t going to know?

D: I think if you read it again, you would see it now. When I set out to write it, I wanted it to be something that someone would read again to see what they missed.

G: I talk about this in my teaching class. You only want to show enough for it to make sense, but not spoil it. In Ten, it all hinges on one moment and if the reader figures it out before the main character, it hinders the main character.

D: I think thrillers are polarizing.

G: I always read the last 5 pages of a murder mystery after I’ve read about 20 pages. I don’t have the time to do a reread.

D: I’m going to do that. I just got one of Agatha Chistie’s books for my birthday.

G: it’s a great teaching book. You meet all of the characters within the first few pages, including the killer.

What are you working on?

D: three sisters being raised as doomsday preppers. I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s some family secrets.

G: I feel like that’s a given. You don’t get to be a doomsday prepper without dark family secrets and maybe a body.

D: why the hashtags?

G: the story takes place on a island and the main character doesn’t know what’s going on. I wanted to show public opinion and this isn’t set in the future, this could be tomorrow. There is a Twitter-esque page that the viewers post to.

This book is published by Disney Freeform and the word Disney is not in this book at all. It is in the arc. I was able to use the name Cinderella, Snow White, but I had to use Snow Queen for Elsa and Beauty for Belle.

The sequel is #murderfunding. It follows whoever it survives, but it’s about a new set of characters. It definitely moves forward. {she talked about some of the new killers and the plot point, but I don’t want to spoil anything.}

D: is it a duology?

G: it is  right now.

D: well, you shouldn’t have made it so many characters.

G: it’s hard to come up with the plot. The hardest part was coming up with the user names. And that took me days.

You’re sort of mean to your teen characters. What do you think your child will do?

G: I have a fetus. you have kids, what do you think?

D: {I didn’t catch this because I was taking photos}

G: if I read it as a bedtime story when he’s a toddler, I’ll save for therapy and not college. But we’re the architect for the story. I’m creating a scene for someone else to enjoy. I’ve had people ask if I get scared while I’m writing and no, I cackle with glee.

Do you both have an older favorite and a new one?

G: Wax by Gina Damico. I read it and was jealous that I didn’t write it. Backward in time is a novella called The Haunting of Hill House. The first line tells you right away that the house is a sentient being.

D: i really liked a lot of VC Andrews.

G: well, that’s all about family secrets.

D: I’ve been devouring Megan Abbott. I just really love family secrets.

What’s your writing kryptonite?

G: I hate writing love scenes. It’s hard to stop for romance when you’re running for your life. No one is going to believe that you’re going to fall in love when you’re being chased by a guy with an axe.

D: same. I wrote a scene in a graveyard and there’s some making out.  My editor told me that it could go further.  I said that she just shared that she was grieving and apparently, grieving people like to get it on.  Who knew?

G: I wrote a scene where someone ran out of a building and started throwing up.  The love interest then walks out and there’s some kissing.  My editor was like, “this is good, but can we take out the puking?”

D: I don’t like to slow down for description. I’ll basically write a screenplay with notes about “describe forest here”.

Will you venture back into contemporary?

G: I have a great idea that I’ve thinking about for a while and it’s about a prom night time loop. I love it and every editor I know says the same thing: that readers are not going to like not smart and popular main characters. And I ask them if they’ve seen Clueless.

D: how did a contemporary come to be after 6 horror books?

G: my husband made me watch this French 90s movie about a quirky and possibly unhinged girl who shows up in this depressed guys life and inspires him to write a great American novel. There’s no plot for her and I got super pissed off and thought about all of the movies and books that deal with this trope: Elizabethtown, 500 Days of Summer, Sweet November. And I thought about a girl who chose to do this to get her boyfriend back. It came out in the fall of 2016 and I loved writing it.

The signing line started and we were able to get close to the front.  I got up to Gretchen and we chatted about the book and the names of her serial killers and the Disney aspect of everything.  We spent way too much time with her, but I regret nothing.

There was a bit more of all of these answers, but I truly love watching Gretchen and not in a creepy way.  She’s so charismatic and knowledgeable and listening to her is fantastic.  And the combo of Gretchen and Demetra was so great.  I loved that it felt really like a conversation between friends.

I can’t recommend Gretchen’s books enough.  She is one of my favorite authors and an auto-buy for me.  I literally do not read the synopsis of her books any longer, her name is enough. I haven’t had a chance to read Dive Smack yet, but I’ve only heard good things.

If you get a chance to see these ladies do it.  And definitely go read their books.

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4 responses to “The time it was a conversation

    • Stacee

      Yay!! I’m such a fan of Gretchen that I love hearing people enjoyed her books.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  1. You always get to go to such amazing events :D Thrilled you had an amazing time at this event love. <3 Yay for loving Gretchen a bunch :D I haven't read her books, ack, but they do look pretty awesome :)

  2. I don’t know why I just saw this, after all this time, but thank you for writing this post and for coming out to the event. It’s always a pleasure seeing you at book events.

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