I showed up at the store about 30 minutes early (you know, just in case) and at first was concerned whether the event would have enough attendees. I shouldn't have worried. There was a pretty decent crowd of about 50 people. Card must have a very strong fan base as there were people who had come all the way from DC and Atlanta just to see him, in spite of the hurricane Sandy. Overall I thought this turned out to be a pretty neat signing (not that I have anything to compare it to).
Card was very chatty and managed to have a small talk with just about every person at the event. He was even able to identify my accent after me saying just three words ("to Flannery, please"). He has a rather elaborate set of signing rules though. If you are planning to attend an event with him, you might want to acquaint yourself with these rules posted on his website beforehand.
Card's wife was there as well; he talked of her a lot and during his speaking part she was the one who often kept him on track. He likes to go off on tangents while answering questions.
As 7 pm rolled in, the event started.
Next OSC took questions from the audience.
3) On if it's okay for a 7-year old to read Ender's Game: Card said that in his opinion when it comes to YA, the perfect age to read any YA book is at the age of the protagonist -2 years. Ender's Game started when Ender was 5-6. Most likely a 4-year old won't find it interesting, but for a 7-year old this book would be perfectly acceptable, as long as the story itself is engaging enough for him/her.
4) Writing advice: Don't just want to be a writer, be a writer and write. Card said that every aspiring writer has to write about 10,000 pages of drivel before becoming a real writer. If you are lucky, you write them before your fist book is published. In his case, he is still occasionally writing drivel because he hasn't reached that mark yet. So if you see nonsense in his books, attribute it to that:)
According to Card, writing never gets easy. Every project presents its own set of challenges.
He also has an explanation for "writer's block." You experience it when you are subconsciously not satisfied with where your story is going. During times when you'd do just about anything BUT write, your mind encourages you to find a new, better path for your story.
5) On why he chose to write such a dark story about child soldiers (meaning in Ender's Game): When the idea of this story came to Card, the concept of a "child soldier" didn't exist, at least not as it does now. So that idea wasn't the core of the story. Rather, Ender's Game was conceived after reading a book about pilots in WWII who got shot down by enemies because they didn't think to watch out for other planes approaching them from behind, above and below. These pilots only looked straight ahead. That's why Card started thinking about 3-dimensional combat in space. In his mind, soldiers had to be very young to be successful at such a training. OSC was only 16 when he thought of this idea, but he found an actual story involving aliens to incorporate it into when he was 23.
6) On his future writing: Here Card got very personal. He said that 2 years ago he had a stroke and it made him think about his whole approach to writing. At the time he had 2 outstanding book contracts and he realized that if he died his wife would have to return both advances and that would eat up all of his life insurance. So now he only accepts money for the books he has already written. Even though financial considerations are always at the forefront of his writing decisions, he never writes books he doesn't believe in.
Then more book signing and picture taking.
All in all this was a very interesting event. Card was very comfortable with the crowd, very sensitive to how the public was reacting to his stories, so at no moment was he boring. He is an engaging speaker and fortunately he left his political opinions I strongly disagree at the door, making this event more enjoyable.