YA AdVANture Tour Recap

Thursday night, I went to another local event, this time at the Stonebriar B&N in Frisco, TX, which is actually about 10 minutes away from my work. Too bad I wasn't working that day! This event was part of the YA AdVANture tour featuring Sonia Gensler, Tessa Gratton, Tara Hudson, & Myra McEntire. This tour is basically these women in a van, which I imagine looks like the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo. I was really excited about this one because Tara's Elegy was one of the first ARCs I ever received (as part of the young adult scavenger hunt aka YASH) so I really looked forward to finally meeting her in person AND because there was a dinner beforehand with all four authors and any interested parties. Lucky me, I was at a table at dinner with Sonia and local authors Krissi Dallas (Phantom Island series), Heather Reid (Pretty Dark Nothing), and Julie Murphy (Side Effects May Vary). Which one of these is not like the others? The blogger aka ME! But it was a lot of fun. Lots of laughter and booktalk and "Veronica Mars is awesome" and that sort of thing. After dinner, we headed over to B&N to get the real show on the road.

Gwen Reyes of Fresh Fiction moderated.

Q1. Introduce yourselves and your novels.
Myra McEntire (MM): I'm the queen of "that's what she said" jokes. My novels are about time travel and death and kissing and explosions. And more kissing because it's the last book. They don't always tell you that when you write the last one, you get to put in as much kissing as you want.
Tessa Gratton (TG): The Lost Son is about vikings and valkyrie, high school and trolls. And kissing. I look forward to putting more kissing.
Tara Hudson (TH): Hereafter trilogy is a mystery with demons and witches....and kissing. Do you sense a theme? It's a ghost story from the perspective of the ghost
Sonia Gensler (SG): The Dark Between started with a real society for paranormal research. And maybe there will be a sequel.
Gwen: Did you plan on doing that sequel?
SG: No, but there are more stories to tell, and I hope to explore that.

Q2. 2013 has been about endings with books, tv shows... Myra and Tara, how do you draft a trilogy and say goodbye?
TH: It's cliche, but ending a series is really bittersweet. You spend so much time with the characters that part of you is ready to be done. When you're mad, you joke that you can kill everybody off. You can do that in ya. But when it's finished, you miss the characters. I still think up storylines for characters, and then I'm like, "Oh, wait, he's dead". I definitely have ideas that live on.
MM: I got to say goodbye to all my characters because each book is from a different point of view. For Infinityglass, I waited to include the epilogue until I submitted. My characters' stories aren't done, just the series. I have more stories to tell, even if I do it on my blog for free. I'll go back one day.

Q3. I'm really excited about Norse gods invading high sschool. Where did that idea come from, Tessa?
TG: I was part of a group blog called Merry Fates. It was really fun, but then I got tired. I had no ideas. Done. When it was my turn, I would spend six hourrs lying on my floor, staring at ceiling, praying "give me an idea." Sometimes it worked or sometimes I'd walk my dog. There are all sorts of ideas to fix it. I was in the shower when an image appeared. For Blood Magic, I researched religions that used blood. Baldor is the Norse dying god. I had a sudden flash of a crowded room with tv cameras, a god laying out on pyre. I could see celebrities. It was clearly a big event. I saw the image of a girl leaping up onto the pyre. Her best friend in the audience that threw a spear at her, trying to get to the underworld. I wondered about gods in our media-saturated world. What do you have faith in when you don't have to have faith in God.
Gwen: How long did you have that idea?
TG: I started toying with it and turned out a few Merry Fates stories with it. It took me nine months to start to write The Lost Son.

Q4. Sonia, you're the one writing standalones. How do you get a complete story into one book?
SG: It is a challenge to create. When I wrote The Revenant, I knew it was a self-contained story. I'm always baffled when readers ask me if there will be a sequel because I thought it was clear where things are going. I would like you to imagine it! I get impatient with series. Honestly, it's a relief to write standalones. I don't like to watch tv shows until many of the seasons are out.
TH: It's true. She's like, "Have you heard about this great new show Buffy?!"
SG: I may write a short story or novella about Willy, but the main story is done. Yes, there is more story to tell with The Dark Between. There are lots of unresolved issues, and yes, more kissing. I know where they're going.

Q5. In the YA genre, there's pressure to shape young readers. Who did that for you? How do you feel about your readers?
MM: Judy Blume. I did a book report on Are You There God? It's Me Margaret in the second grade. I ended it, "and then she got her period." I went to the principal's office; my Mom came. I was not allowed to read her again until the sixth grade. Also, the Trixie Belden books. My mom wouldn't give them until I said times tables. I couldn't and would cry. There's lots of Trixie Belden in my books: a gang of friends, more kissing. They're not profound, not life changing, but they changed my life. I feel if I can make you laugh, I've done my job, although what I'm working on right now isn't particularly funny...
TG: Anne Rice, I started reading in fifth grade. Robin McKinley. They both have this detailed, rambling narrative, and that is the core of my telling a story. As for the responsibility for writing for teenages, I don't write for teenagers, I write about teenagers. It has a different effect on teens than older readers, but no, I don't have a responsibility.
Gwen: Why write ya, then?
TG: I needed books the most when I was a teen. Books don't shift my world view the way they did when I was a teen; that's why I want to write those experiences.  It's harder to change the older you get, but it's exciting and passionate to write teens.
TH: Read Stephen King at eleven. Christopher Pike. I figured I liked Pike because his characters were teenagers instead of hard-working, hard-drinking men from Maine. I also read V.C. Andrews. These books captured your imagination, and your world view did shift. I still feel that way, but in a different way. You're more set. I wanna go back to that time when I changed. Reset that mental clock.
SG: Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me Margaret. A reader could find themselves in that book. Madeleine L'Engel. Laura Ingalls Wilder. My mom and grandma made Laura Ingalls Wilder dresses for my barbies. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon. Finally someone took female characters from Arthurian legend and made them center stage. It was electrifying. My first story was about that, kind of an homage to her.
Gwen: Do you intentionally write good role models to girls? Not pushovers?
SG: My protagonist in The Revenant is a jerk. She's strong.
TH: I knew Hereafter was three books. After I submitted, we reshaped the first book. Amelia starts off not knowing who she is. It's not a thinly-veiled metaphor. However, she's pretty tough by end. She's the bus driver. It's such an important thing for your characters. I wanted to show growth and empowerment. I didn't know who I was at 16, when I was coming into myself. I wanted to showcase that.
TG: At this point, I've written equal boy and girl protagonists so it's not something I think about. I'm more concerned with their choices in extreme situations. I find it interesting with smaller differences what signals courage and bravery in boys and girls, how you're allowed to have them behave and be strong and likeable. I have never been told to make boys more likeable, but its happened with two female characters. Likeability in girl narrators is a big thing. It means different things when boy narrators cry or girl narrators cry. It's complicated. Soren's a wuss.
MM: I disagree. Soren is sexy. My character Emerson is authentic, which is wildly important in relationships. She's afraid to be vulnerable.  It frustrates me a lot that kickass women, they have to start like that. They don't have to grow. It's a joke that Emerson is brown belt at the beginning of Hourglass. There's that expectation that kickass chararacters stay that way or get more kickass. Her depression is important. I wrote Infinityglass three times to create her in the layers I did. I wanted to build personalities and the relationship together, strength to compliment strength. I think brokenness is way stronger than the facade.
SG: One reason I like to write historicals is that I don't have to work with the constraints of today.

Q6. What are you reading?
TH: Infinityglass!
SG: The third book in The Montmaray Journals. It's set in the '30s in this fictional coastal island country. There's this gothic crumbly castle. I think this one goes all the way to WW2.
TG: Anne Rice. I needed comfort after months of revision.
MM: Mists of Avalon, and I'm like, I need people to not talk to me. Autobiography of genghis khan.

Audience questions!
Q7. How do you push through self doubt?
MM: Every time it happens, I put my head down on my desk and say, "I know God will get me where I'm going."
TG: I'm still trying to figure it out because it only happened recently. I always have been overconfident, but I've been writing this sequel for two years. It's emotionally traumatizing. I have to remind me of things I can do. I have a punching bag and I've gotten better at boxing. But really, I just have to sit down and keep trying.
TH: Most authors are not super confident, social people. I experienced it not being under contract this last year. What propelled me forward, when I'm self-doubting or blocked, is to try something completely new like skydiving or law school. When I was panicked about my English thesis, I went to law school instead. Distracts you from trouble, but you can go back. I started my own law firm this year. Now I'm back with a new project, but I'm contractually obligated not to talk about it. It helped me not fail.
SG: I am the poster child for self doubt. Have a champion you can go to. Mine is my husband. He's also a writer but not fiction. He helps me get perspective. My trainer is also a good person for that. You have to get back into story. Read something else. It's medicine.

Q8. How and where do you draw the line between ya and adult?
SG: Teen fiction is in the moment and immediate. Teens do more than kiss. I don't monitor kids reading.
TH: Like Tessa said, I write about teens but not for them. My husband says my book is for 14 year old girls of all ages. As a mom too, I want to read what my kids do. My parents let me read voraciously because the exposure to reading was more important. I found out later that my dad stayed up at night reading so if I had questions, he would be able to answer them. *laughs* I put him through a lot with the V.C. Andrews!
MM: For me, with the third book, that was weighty choice. There was action where there wasn't before. I don't describe it. It wasn't in Hourglass, it  probably happened immediately after the end of Timepiece. It was being true to the story. I like to write kissing and sexy, but I won't describe it. I will always shut the door.
TG: As author, my job to be true to the chararacters and the story and their choices, and then I talk to parents and librarians about what's in my book. Any more than that is not an author's job. I feel it's someone else's job to interface with readers. If you start a series with a character at 14 and then it ends at 18, they're a different character. They changed.
Q9. How do you get ideas?
SG: I steal them. That's what I always tell people. Don't you ever get flashes of inspiration and think, "what if I remixed this, what would happen?" That's what I do.
TH: I am a place writer. When I go somewhere cool or strange or awful I wonder what kind of people would live there, who would hate this, who would love this. I'm really scene specific and atmospheric. I always think, "what went down here 50 years ago?"
TG: It's magic, and it can come from anywhere and everywhere. If I'm low, I just read more books and watch tv.
MM: There's this creative well you have to fill. When it runs out, you have nothing left to give. For my latest idea, a friend told me to use a bird and music and someone who is not dead and is not alive.The bird is a dove, and the music is Iron and Wine, and I can't tell you about the rest yet.

The discussion was pretty intense during the Q&A so it was pretty short. After, everybody lined up for the signing. It was really great talking to all the ladies. Sonia is so sweet and personable; I loved talking to her over dinner. Tara and I bonded over the end of Elegy and how I agree with it. Tessa and I laughed over the fact that she just can't stay away from Texas. Myra and I bonded over our Tennessee roots and a mutual love of the Smoky Mountains. Good times. I very much hope to see all these women again. Come back to Texas soon!!

Once again, I urge everyone to read my full giveaway policy, which can be found in the Review / Site Policies tab. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run until 12 AM September 14th. What's up for grabs? A signed set of the Hereafter trilogy by Tara Hudson! Good luck! PS Yes I have signed books from all of the other ladies too. You may want to keep an eye out for them in future giveaways. Dum dum dum...

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  1. I would love to take a road trip with Julie Kagawa (Author of The Iron Fey Series & The Blood Of Eden Series), Rachel Vincent (Author of The Soul Screamers Series & The Shifters Series), and Kresley Cole (Author of The Immortals After Dark Series & The Arcana Chronicles Series). The reason I picked these authors is because not only are they some of my favorite authors, I know that they would have some awesome stories to tell about places they visited and experiences they had. I would, of course, bring along all the serieses I mentioned.

    1. Yes to Julie, but I have to warn you, she's ruthless! I met her a couple months ago, and she was takling all sorts of mean author things like saying she hopes we all cry when we read The forever Song! :)

  2. I would love to take a road trip with Rick Riordan! The Percy Jackson series came from bedtime stories he made up to tell his son, so I would make him tell me stories about the Greek gods and goddesses while I drove to entertain me :)

  3. Jodi Meadows. You and Alex, too. Books? Hmm.... Incarnate series (obviously). Not sure what else we would take. Just know there would be LOTS of quality Sam discussion time!

  4. I'd love to road trip with Anne Rice! I'd bring all her books along with... :)

    1. I've never read Ann Rice, but I've heard good things from just about everyone.

  5. I'd love to go with John Green or Cassandra Clare, or maybe even JLA or JKR. Who knows? And I'd take ALL THE BOOKS.

    1. Yes to John Green, who knows how to write a good road trip, and yes to Cassie and JK both as well!