The time it was six years later

Posted January 19, 2019 by Stacee in Signings | 9 Comments

I’ve been a fan of AG Howard’s words since I got my greedy hands on Splintered.  I don’t think it’s a secret that she spoils me rotten.  We met once in Vegas, when we were both in town for Vegas Valley Book Fest. When I saw that she was finally finally finally coming to San Diego, there was no way I was going to miss it.

Michelle and I did our usual routine of food, Target, and Starbucks before we headed back to the store.  As always, we hung out with our favorite booksellers and settled in to wait for the event to start.

I saw Anita walk with some people {including the ever-so-awesome Bethany Crandell.} I didn’t plan on saying anything as it had been a while since we had seen each other and I didn’t want to interrupt anything.  Turns out, Anita saw me and came over and we hugged and gushed.  Bethany came over and we also hugged {it had been forever since I met Bethany for her launch} and talked about Disneyland and all of my tattoos.  The three of us chatted for a few minutes before everyone went in the back room before the event started.

Anita and Livia came out right at 7.  They said it was going to be more of a conversation type thing {because of this, there weren’t always distinct questions} and Livia said that Anita should start with talking about her new book.

A: it’s a fairy tale, in every sense. It’s very dark, but there’s some light here and there. It’s a Princess and the Pea retelling.

L: it’s almost not like a retelling. You pull in so many things.

A: there’s a nod to Cinderella with the stepmother and angry stepsisters. Little Mermaid with the voice. Sleeping Beauty, but I turned it on it’s head a bit.

L: I really liked how you flipped things.

A: it’s not a really a retelling, but a gothic fairy tale inspired by Princess and the Pea. What about your book?

L: I say that my book is four questions: what if you’re a very talented healer, but you get the plague. {I didn’t get the rest of them, but there was something about losing your memory, falling in love with the person you hate, and then getting all of your memories back}

A: it’s interesting that we both have the common thread about memories in our books.

L: how did you come up with the idea?

A: it’s crucial to a story point, so the witch had to take her memories. I wanted everything she did to be done for a kingdom that she didn’t know was hers. I wanted it to be woven in without knowing why.

L: I got my idea from Battlestar Galactica

L: I love that Lyra is a strong character without wielding a sword. Was it similar to other characters you’ve written?

A: I always have bugs in my books. She’s best friends with moths and of course in Splintered there are bugs everywhere. In Splintered, Alyssa doesn’t have a sword, she uses her imagination. Lyra uses her mercy to be her strength. I didn’t want the regular Princess, not that I don’t love them. I just wanted something different.

L: Would you rather be locked in a coffin with scorpions or lose your voice for 5 years?

A: I’ll lose my voice. I can still text. I can write my books. What about you?

L: I would have said the coffin, but you just said you could text…so.

A: if you would have said that I had to give up my electronics, my answer would have been different.

L: let’s talk world building. You have cadaver brambles and other amazing things. How do you do it?

A: I knew I had to have a night and day world. I needed to separate them completely. If you make something relatable to the real world, it’s easier to believe. {Anita then talked about non-24 and how she crafted something similar into the story}

L: do you world build beforehand?

A: a little bit. I had to map some of this out beforehand to know how the creatures would react. I’m a very organic writer, I’ll just see threads as I’m writing.

L: let’s talk villains

A: there’s something about writing someone who doesn’t care. She changes her name and there’s a reason why. There’s consequences and she didn’t realize that and it was fun.

L: it’s an interesting moral question…if a villain doesn’t have a conscience, how much can you blame them.

Are you a day kingdom or night kingdom person?

A: I would be a night kingdom. I love snow and things like that. I think I would like it more than sunlight. What about you?

L: I would be day person. I mean, they have to sleep on beds of nails.

A: wait. Can I change my answer?

L: what your most princess like attribute?

A: I’m not a person who likes to camp or rough it. I like soft beds. What about you?

L: I wrote my first book to get out of a camping trip.

Who’s your favorite character to write?

A: I loved all of them. I’ve never done 4 POVs and they all weave into each other’s POVs. This was all from a short story I wrote before I was ever published. Crony was probably my favorite. She’s the witch and she’s hideous, but she’s got such heart.

L: where is the dialect from?

A: my friend thought it was similar to Mama Fratelli from The Goonies. I thought it was more Irish. The audiobook is being narrated by a British man and he’s doing all of these different accents and voices.  He’s doing Crony’s voice in an Irish brogue.

L: what changed in revisions?

A: there’s The Once Upon a Time narrative throughout. I took some of that out and added more action. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever written. It just poured out of me, but it was very intense. It took almost a full year to write a first draft.

L: did you have to push back deadlines?

A: I did push back by six weeks. They already knew that it wasn’t going to come out until 2019 and I told them that with it being a stand alone, I needed to do all of the world building and story and needed the time. It’s a huge book.

L: it’s 150k words, right?

A: yes. I don’t think people realize that it takes us 6-9 months to write and then we spend another 3 months editing.

L: are there any special writing things you always do?

A: I make a board with headshots of characters and creatures and I keep it right above my desk, so I can always look at it.

Which book has been your favorite to write?

A: I don’t know how to answer that. Every book feels different. If I was being completely honest, it would be anything I wrote while I’m wasn’t on contract.

Does your editor tell you what to write?

A: No, I’ve pitched all of my ideas. You tell them what you’re going to write, unless it’s an IP.  In those cases, they’ll give you an idea and ask you to write it for them.

What attracted you to fairy tales?

A: I’ve always loved them. Instead of there being a story I read, it was one that I watched. I’m very visual and the first one I watched and felt drawn to was Edward Scissorhands. I love the dark, but with a lot of heart.

L: I love fantasy. I just love the badasses.

What characters are you most alike?

A: probably Alyssa. She’s afraid of heights and she’s likes to thrift shop. Those are things I really like. I think I would have been a fashion designer or a costume designer for movies if I wasn’t a writer.

L: a friend told me that I write highly intelligent, but socially awkward characters.

A: I think we put little pieces of ourselves in them because they’re in our heads.

L: writing is like therapy. I realized that I had written 3 women who were seeking revenge against men and I had a really bad boyfriend.

Any advice for someone who has experience, but not in longer form?

A: I went from poems to short stories and I wanted to spend more time with characters. I suggest either taking a writing class or use writing books to help explain. I also read a lot of books and those helped me learn about plot and pacing.

What are you working on next and would you do anything outside of your genre?

A: I would like to write adult and I have a vampire fantasy I would like to “revamp”. For YA, I just pitched something, but I can’t talk about it yet.

L: I have a picture book coming out and I’m writing a historical middle grade.

Connection between music and language and what inspired you?

A: I’m eclectic with my songs. With Splintered, it was anything that felt like fairy tales. I have playlists on my website and they’re all the actual songs I listened to. If I heard the song, I could probably tell you what scene I was writing. The connection wasn’t intentional, maybe it’s something just in me.

Executive from Netflix, which book would you want to be serialized?

A: I feel like I have to say Splintered or a lot of fans would kill me, but I think Roseblood would look amazing on screen too.

There were a couple of other questions, but I didn’t get them. {And to be honest, there are pieces missing from some of the answers — it was just so nice to sit back and listen without having type.}

The signing started and Michelle jumped in line while I gathered all of my stuff up.  I got to Anita and thanked her for coming.  She had some awesome “signed by the author” stickers that she was offering and I declined.  I told her about some stickers I had seen other authors do for tour.  We chatted for a few more minutes before I hugged her and told her that she needed to come back to San Diego again.

As always, Mysterious Galaxy was amazing and seeing Anita was fantastic. If you haven’t read her books, I can’t recommend them enough and as an added bonus, Anita is one of the most friendly and genuine people I’ve ever met. Hopefully I’ll be seeing her again soon.

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9 responses to “The time it was six years later

  1. Danielle Hammelef

    I haven’t read any of Howard’s books yet, but Stain sounds amazing. Thanks for the post–enjoyed it very much.

  2. Eee, awesome event recap Stacee :D I love love love how much you love Anita. I have loved seeing all your tweets to each other for years. <3 Hugs. You are both awesome. And she seems pretty amazing :)

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