The time there was a meet and greet

Posted October 11, 2019 by Stacee in Signings | 2 Comments

Going to see Renée Ahdieh was a no-brainer.  If she gets within 100 miles of me, I’m going to go see her.  The added bonus was that she was touring with Sabaa Tahir and I couldn’t wait to see both of them.

On the day of the signing, I got a call from Mysterious Galaxy and was told that the first 20 people who pre-ordered The Beautiful got to have a VIP meet and greet with Renée and Sabaa.  I was told to be sure to be at the store at 6p.  Turns out their plane was delayed and the two ladies didn’t make it to the store until 6:45, but the meet and greet was still able to happen.

We showed our ticket number and were led into the back room of the store.  Renée and Sabaa each had a tray of cupcakes and there was a table with all sorts of swag on it. After everyone came in, the two ladies did a 15-20 minute Q&A where they talked about creating cruelty to their characters, finding the spark when writing, how they met, and how they are now referred to as each other’s mistress by their husbands.

After the meet and greet was over, we all went back to our seats and the two women came out shortly after.  They moved the chairs from out behind the podium and settled in.  Sabaa had a page filled with questions for Renée and just jumped right in.

S: Okay, the heart of this book is vampires. What is the first vampire book you read that you loved?

R: I always want to know the first vampire book people read. When I was 12 years old, I kept getting in trouble by propping up a textbook and reading something else. I got caught three or four times and my teacher said she was going to talk to my parents.

I was worried all day.  I thought they were going to take my books away. My dad called me into his office and said I could read anything in his library, except a particular row of books, as long as I didn’t read during math class. Of course that night, I went right to the shelf he pointed out and I picked Queen of the Damned because it had a bad word and this is where I fell in love.

S: Mine was also Anne rice. It was interview with a vampire. It was highly inappropriate. Then the movie came out and it was the beginning of knowing that the book was better.

R: I went on to read everything Anne Rice wrote.

S: I did get an education from Anne Rice.

S: Let’s talk about Celine. She’s the most personal character you’ve written and her love of fashion is an interesting add.

R: I love fashion and make up and I’m always irritated that people who think people who love fashion or makeup are vapid. To me it’s wearable art. Do you think this is easy? {points to eye make up}

I didn’t intend to put so much of myself in her. It was during the Kavanaugh hearings and I had an undercurrent of hate. I couldn’t believe that after Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill we were going to have this happen again. 3 of 5 women have had some sort of assault happen to them. I am one of them. I found myself putting things from my past into the story and it was cathartic.

S: I want to talk about my favorite character. Bastien is my boyfriend, so none of you can have him. I loved him from the first time he sauntered onto the page. I want to know how how you came up with him.

R: And I want to hear all about Elias. Bastien was the first one who came fully formed. I wanted to explore what makes a good man. He’s brought up in an area of toxic masculinity and I wanted him to challenge what it meant to be a good man.

S: Elias started as a side character. I was fascinated by the idea of being raised in a society where you’re expected to do really bad things when you have a good conscience. Elias is probably the closest character to me in that he has a savior complex. {there was a lot more to this answer, but I didn’t catch it…} I wanted the romance to come from her. That it wasn’t just a physical thing. Plus, it’s just really fun to write tall, hot boys.

R: They’re fun to read.

S: this is a very romantic book. It’s not a genre that gets a lot of respect. Why do you think this is?

R: I think it’s rooted in people liking to mock the things women enjoy, especially young women. I love reading romance. It’s so difficult to write a good romance.

S: So difficult.

R: the nexus of the stories my husband loves like gladiator is rooted in romance. People love to say romance writers set an unrealistic world for young women. If setting an example of a loving relationship is unrealistic, it’s a world I don’t want to live in.

S: my husband snuck into the library and read romance books written by women because he wanted know how to woo a woman.

S: Marginalized people in historical books. Can you talk about the approach to this?

R: New Orleans has a rich history. It was a port city and there’s a wonderful blending. It’s been a truth for many hundreds of years. I’m a child of mixed race and I was always so excited to see people when I found that.

S: I used to be so excited to see another brown person.

S: vampire or werewolf?

R: vampire

S: I would pick werewolf. I have some children like to snuggle and I love the sun.

S: Would you rather be transported to the world of Harry Potter and not guaranteed magic or Lord of the Rings with magic?

R: LOTR and be an elf.

S: same and when it goes all bad, we’ll just get on the boat and float away.

Romance recommendations?

R: JR Ward and Sarah MacLean and Julia Quinn and Christina Lauren.

Did you have any say in your book covers?

R: authors rarely get any say in covers. I’ve been lucky and worked with the same designer for all of my books. And she always gets every element perfect.  The cover for The Damned was just released and I love it.  My younger gothic self would have been in love with it.

Did you get to choose the titles?

S: Ember came from a song lyric.  {The lyric was something about an ember in the rafters burns everything down, but I didn’t get the exact wording.} For a long time, the book was called An Ember in the Rafters. My son watched a lot of Thomas the Train and they would “cinders and ashes” or sometimes “embers and ashes”.  One day he came up to me and told me the book should be called “An Ember in the Ashes” and I thought he was on to something.

R: I told him that he should have negotiated for 10% of the royalties.

S: He gets all of my royalties.

R: For the titles The Beautiful and the The Damned, it is a nod to my favorite Fitzgerald piece, but also, I love that people will have to search for “The Beautiful Renée Ahdieh” and “The Damned Renée Ahdieh”

S: There’s that book with a bad word in the title.

There were a couple of other questions, but I had fun just listening. When it came time for the signing, I got to Sabaa first.  MG let me have the poster display for the event, so I flopped that up on the table first and Sabaa delighted in drawing all over Renée’s face.

I gave her the book to sign and after she was done, I asked about her signature and how it came to be.  She said that the first time she met Laini Taylor, Laini had drawn a large fish in the book and said it was because it gave her time to be able to talk to the person at the same time.

Sabaa wanted to do something similar, so she asked a street artist friend about designing something for her.  He told her that the easiest thing would be to have something that was just making the same motion over and over again and now she can draw the mask in under 10 seconds and it gives her a bit more time with the reader in line.

I stepped over to Renée and showed her the sign.  She laughed and wrote something about Sabaa before signing it.  I gave her my copy of The Beautiful and she put her hand out and said “Hi, I’m Renee, it’s nice to meet you.”  I laughed and joked about how it was great to finally meet her.

I also asked her if there was a nod to Shazi in The Beautiful and she said absolutely. We chatted for a second more and then I hugged her again and thanked her for coming.

These two ladies are a lot of fun on their own, but even more delightful when they’re together. This recap isn’t as complete as they normally are because I had a lot of fun just listening to their conversation.

If you haven’t read all of their words, get on that right away!

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2 responses to “The time there was a meet and greet

  1. Danielle Hammelef

    Thank you for sharing! I just got a copy of The Beautiful this week and hope to start it by the end of the month.

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