The second signing was part of Stephenie Meyer's Host tour, in anticipation of the movie release. Actors Jake Abel and Max Irons were also in attendance (!!!!!!) and this was quite possibly the best-run/most efficient (if long, because that line was ridiculous, although not as long as the one for Richelle Mead last year in Lexington) signing I've ever witnessed. Mad props to the staff at the Lincoln Park Barnes & Noble in Dallas for getting it done!
Onto the first signing:
Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Tahereh Mafi, Veronica Rossi
Veronica Rossi said she wanted to write a coming of age story about characters around 17 years old. She said that this age contains a "treasure trove of life, of firsts, carving out identity," and that it was a "writer's playground." She said that Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion is a current favorite novel.
Tahereh Mafi replied, "Ditto." She mentioned that she was a lifelong reader, not writer, and had revisited reading for pleasure after college (because most people find it hard to juggle class-required reading and pleasurable reading or they get burned out on reading after blowing through textbooks). Tahereh said books shape childhood and that ya in particular does that, and that ya readers are more open. She then mentioned that the first few pages of Shatter Me are exactly as written in her very first draft and have never been changed.
Cynthia Hand said she tried writing literary fiction, but Clara's voice didn't match the literary tone. She said she loves the range of young adult fiction that she discovered when walking into a bookstore for the first time looking for ya novels to read. She said she loved the books she discovered like Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series, Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty and The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.
Brodi Ashton said that there's "no time in life when you feel so completely," and explained this thought with a story from her childhood when her grandma, who she loves so much, bought her a pair of "clown pants" (striped and horribly colored). Brodi said she wore the pants one time and one time only to school and thought she would die from the experience, that it truly was life or death. She said she still has the pants, and although the experience really was that traumatic, she clearly survived.
Moderator then asked Veronica why there's not a love triangle in UTNS.
Veronica replied that she wanted to write the great friendship between Aria and Roar and that it was a "good decision. Instinctual" and that it "felt right." She compared Aria and Roar to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and said she used a similar construction in Under the Never Sky because it really resonated with her.
Moderator asked Cynthia about why her novels are structured with a flash of the future in the beginning and then a revelation toward the end.
Cynthia said she always had a vague idea of the ending of each novel with the basic concept of visions, and that the ending always changed throughout writing. She said she is a "pantser" not a "plotter" and does not lock in the visions. She said she prefers not having a concrete series of events set for the visions because they differ from Clara's perception of them.
Moderator asked Tahereh about Warner's presence in the Shatter Me "love triangle."
Tahereh said she is actually very concerned by all the Warner love from fans. She said her reaction as the author is always "Yay!" and then "Good God!" She said that we do learn more about Warner as the series goes on, and that although she knows his thoughts and that there is more to him, she doesn't understand how the fans love him as he is. She does not consider Shatter Me to be a love triangle because she always knows who Juliette will be with in the end. Cynthia then interjected that she feels the same way about Unearthly because she always knew that Clara would end up with by the end.
Moderator asked Brodi why the format/structure changed between Everneath and Everbound.
Brodi said that she did not write all the before scenes together in Everneath, that it was written chapter by chapter as the story evolved. She said that Everbound simply didn't require the same structure that Everneath did.
Moderator asked about the heaven/hell theme in young adult.
Cynthia replied that she and Brodi actually created a powerpoint about heaven/hell that they used on a small classroom tour they did together. She said that the nature of her stories (angels and fallen angels) required the discussion of heaven and hell. She said that she used The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis as a reference for her vision with heaven as a substantial place and hell as insubstantial. She said she didn't want her version of heaven to be in the clouds, but rather have a dimensional element. She then smiled and said she enjoyed writing about hell.
Brodi replied that the underworld is not an afterlife so technically it isn't hell.
Moderator asked about Veronica's inspiration for male friendships/what did she base Roar and Perry on?
Veronica said she used her two brothers, who taught her about Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars, especially Han Solo and Chewie. She said she's a "running with boys kind of girl" and "loves writing about boys."
Moderator asked Tahereh to share a spoiler from Unravel Me in honor of its book birthday.
Tahereh said in regards to CHAPTER 62: "Stuff happens." Then in a totally hilarious moment that's really hard to describe, she said, "Juliette and Warner do this," and waved her hands around in this crazy way. Everybody cracked up for a good long while (and squeed or groaned, depending on affiliation with Team Adam or Team Warner **see below**).
Moderator asked Brodi who her favorite and least favorite characters are to write.
Brodi replied, "Cole." She said she has a love/hate relationship with Cole and that they both have abs. :) She said they are actually a lot alike, and that with Cole, there are many layers to undress to write in his perspective. She said it's always a surprise to write Cole's pov and as such, it weaves the line of good/bad/difficult to write.
Moderator asked about Clara having two guys.
Cynthia said very early on she planned to kill one character and that the editorial staff reacted so badly to it, she had to change her idea. She reiterated that she always knew who Clara would end up with so it's not really a love triangle.
Moderator asked Veronica if it is hard to write Perry's chapters.
Veronica said that both Aria and Perry are easy to write, but she has male influences read over Perry's chapter, and they tell her that he can only "tear up once a book." She said she has five guys close to her to tell her how guys think, and that she enjoys both perspectives because they are both familiar to her now.
At this point, the official part of the event was over, and everyone got in line for the signing. I stayed in my seat and picked Through the Ever Night back up. I have this thing where I like to be toward the back of a signing line because I don't feel rushed and I have more time to talk to the authors. Also, I had this stack of books with me and didn't want to have to juggle them all with tons of people waiting impatiently behind me.
In the meantime, I met author Lauren Morrill (Meant to Be), who is super sweet and kind. I felt like a moron because I hadn't read MTB or even heard of it at that time, but we talked about home (she grew up about 45 minutes away from me) and books and fun stuff. She signed a bookmark for me. I'm happy to say that since then, I have read Meant to Be and it was great!
When I got to the authors' table, I asked Brodi and Cynthia what it was like to write a novella while working on their novels. Brodi replied that it was super difficult and that she probably wouldn't do it again because Cole was so difficult to write and because the pacing of a novella is very different from a novel. She said it was hard to only write a short story. Cynthia said that Angela wasn't difficult at all.
I then told Tahereh that I don't undestand Team Warner at ALL (TEAM ADAM, baby!). She laughed and said she doesn't either but she loves it. Veronica leaned over and said she is completely baffled by it and is 100% Team Adam as well. We high fived and it was awesome.
Then I got to Veronica. As I said, I used my time waiting for the line to dwindle by continuing to read Through the Ever Night. Clearly this was a mistake because something HUGE (you know, that thing with the window and the river and all that) happened about 5 minutes before I talked to Veronica and I was rather upset. I asked her how she could possible have done that to all of us fans. She laughed and said it would all turn out okay in the end. I replied that she was holding our trust! I then asked if she would do another novella and she replied that she was thinking about doing another, maybe from another character's pov. Since then, it has been confirmed that she will release another UTNS novella, probably this fall before Still Blue's release, and that it will be from another character's perspective.
Cynthia, Brodi, me, Tahereh, Veronica
Team Adam! Veronica & me (also Tahereh's arm)
The Stephenie Meyer signing was another beast altogether. I got to the bookstore about 9 AM to pick up my sister's and my armbands. We were in group I, scheduled to arrive at the bookstore no earlier than 2:45 PM. I spent the rest of my day running errands and waiting for my sister to get out of work. I was panicked because she was actually like an hour away and I was afraid she wouldn't get there in time and would miss out on her chance to meet Stephenie. No worries because that line moved S-L-O-W-L-Y. We made friends with the girls in line with us and spent at least an hour discussing our favorite ya books and which ones were being made into movies and which ones had soon-to-be-released sequels and whatnot. It was so much fun!
The actual signing was very quick so there isn't much to tell. I got to ask Stephenie about Austenland (I believe she said that it would be released sometime this year. It was hard to hear!) and the sequels to The Host. She confirmed that she was starting to work on the first of the sequels and will get serious about it after The Host's release!
my sis Emily, me, and Stephenie
Then, we got to meet
Ian Jake Abel (Supernatural, Percy Jackson) and Jared Max Irons (Red Riding Hood). They are completely beautiful in a totally manly way. Poor Jake. When I told him how much I liked him on Supernatural, he said that most of the fans gave him crap for being the illegitimate Winchester brother. Be nice, SPN fans! There's ALWAYS more room for more Winchesters!
Beautiful, beautiful men
Max grabbing his butt. You're welcome, world.
The TXLA conference is at the end of April so stay tuned because I'll have more signing recaps then!
**All pictures in this post are my own.**