The authors on the YA or Bust! tour are Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door), Gayle Forman (If I Stay, Where She Went) and Nina LaCour (Hold Still, The Disenchantments). Their camaraderie was evident from the minute they walked up to the table, quickly transitioning from the seats to sitting on top of the tables so they could see and interact more with the audience. The discussion was moderated by Anna Minard from The Stranger. I had a bit of a laugh over the signage outside the school. Here it is:
Minard was a rather entertaining moderator, and it was clear she is herself a huge YA fan. As she introduced each author, she included an anecdotal story about an experience she'd had with one of their books. (e.g. She started reading an ARC of Hold Still after work and forgot to drive home.) Her first question right off the bat was to ask Gayle Forman whether she owned stock in Kleenex tissues, which got a laugh from the audience. Surprisingly, Forman said that If I Stay was actually a joy to write and she found Where She Went to be a much harder experience. Later in the evening, when asked how she felt about writing a sequel to If I Stay that was essentially a spoiler for the first book, Forman said that generally, sequels suck. She never intended to write a sequel but she kept waking up at four in the morning. Her characters seemed to be saying, "think about where you left us" and that was an exercise she wasn't entirely prepared to partake in. Forman spoke a bit about what it is like to be in Adam's head--what it feels like to experience grief one step removed from tragedy, and what it is like to feel like you have no right to the grief you are feeling. I loved that. She also said that she found lyric-writing to be one of the hardest things about writing WSW.
Forman mentioned a blog, The Page 69 Test, wherein author's read and discuss page 69 of one of their novels. All three authors then did so, and here is what they had to say:
To lighten the mood, Minard asked Perkins about fashion. Perkins admitted that she sees Lola as a braver version of herself and then somehow the topic changed quickly to The Babysitter's Club (a transition I NEVER have a problem with). In Perkins' opinion, Claudia is the best character, Stacey comes second, and basically everyone else sucks. Aaaaand scene. Everyone was laughing because really, does ANYONE have something amazing to say about Mallory? Yeah, I thought not. Forman jokingly said she was far too sophisticated to read the BSC books--she was reading Jackie Collins instead.
Nina LaCour, when prompted, spoke about how much she enjoys road trips and how they are such a great vehicle (heh) to indicate transition. (going towards the future, leaving everything from the past in the rear-view mirror) She said that she only wants to do fun research for her books so she was happy to do the compulsory road trip and research on girl rock groups for The Disenchantments. LaCour talked about the importance of writing groups and having people to support you, read your work, and the importance of doing those things for others. Forman advocated for time and education to develop your writing skills and Perkins spoke about reading, reading, reading and actually stopping when you find a scene you like or when feel yourself experiencing some emotion. At that point, go back and see how the author brought you there, step by step. I'm no writer but I found this bit of advice interesting. It's always funny to me when I am just moseying along in a book and then I feel outright disgust or elation in one sentence.
Here are a few lightning round questions they answered:
"What scene from your own book is your favorite?"
Forman: The bridge scene in Where She Went and the checkers scene in If I Stay
LaCour: The bike scene in The Disenchantments (note: I can't read my notes to make this more specific)
Perkins: The Luxembourg Gardens scene in Anna and the Thanksgiving bed scenes in Lola.
"Which YA book do you wish you'd written?"
Forman: Jellicoe Road
LaCour: Before I Die
Perkins: Harry Potter
"What advice would you give to 16-year old you?"
Forman: Wear more sunscreen. Also, she talked about how travel is transformative and that she'd give more advice to 15-year old her to travel more. (She ended up spending her 16th year studying in England after a push from her father)
LaCour: Be more adventurous.
Perkins: "I'd remind myself that my dad comes home for lunch."
After the event, I met Sarah and her mother Sandra, both from Clear Eyes, Full Shelves, and Mindi Scott, author of Freefall and the upcoming Live Through This. I am always so excited to meet fellow readers, bloggers, authors, and book lovers. I'm only sorry I don't have a picture to share. *sigh* Maybe next time? There are some great YA events coming up. Get ready for some more recaps!
Have you been to any author events lately?