And then I show up at Changing Hands tonight and watch as these authors walk in together with their publicist, Kate. It's amazing how perceptions based on jacket photos and blurbs can change as soon as someone walks into the room. Lish McBride walked in with bright red hair and a smirk... a fierce smirk though. She was closely followed by Ann Aguirre (and I quickly learned that you pronouce Ann's last name in Spanish, no gwire sounds in sight), not scared to stand up for the correct pronunciation of her name or the fact that romance writing is not porn. Elizabeth Fama was fierce in different ways, she's interested in the people around her (and asked me to sign HER notebook) and she rocked tennies with a floral dress. And then Marissa Meyer comes through the door in this bright and happy, girly dress. It was like, one of these things doesn't belong. Don't get me wrong, even Christian Siriano would have called her dress fierce.
There wasn't very much room in the back room at Changing Hands where we were doing the meet and greet. There were supposed to be 25 students from Tempe Union High School attending this session. And man, I think about twelve showed. To the other dozen who signed up, but didn't come: YOU. MISSED. OUT. But since I'm sure other readers want to know what happened, and these things will help explain the aforementioned fierce, here goes:
- Most of the authors (with the exception of Ann who has her writing process down to an exact, precise science) do at least 8-10 different rough drafts before their work is ready to be submitted. That doesn't count copyedits and any revisions their editors ask them to make.
- They use beta readers for feedback.
- Your writing style is up to you. So is your setting and whether or not it's real or fake. But if it's real, make sure you're really good at internet research or it's some place you've been before, because if you've never been to Prague (which, btw, high schoolers, is in the Czech Republic... that's Eastern Europe), your Prague-dwelling readers (because let's be optomistic, you're going to sell those Czech rights first) will call you out on it in a heartbeat.
- It's great to have people in your life that know what's going on with your draft that you can bounce ideas off of and get good direction. You know, like in Elizabeth Fama's case, her teenaged children who dared her to write her paranormal book.
- You have some control over the title of your book. (EF sent a list of 127 titles to her publisher when they didn't like the one she originally had, and they picked one off that list) But, cover art? Nope. Not so much. They might take your feedback, but ultimately, it's the pub's decision.
- And if you're looking for the list of book recommendations that they handed out in the back room, no luck. Sorry. I couldn't write fast enough.
And that was just the practical stuff. Not the funny stuff like how:
- Lish McBride actually had some random dude show up at one of her parties growing up that said his name was Mint Chocolate. She later used him in a short story.
- When asked "Do you like Twilight?" all four authors stayed silent. It was an awkward silence. Until Ann said that we respect what Stephenie accomplished. Translation? Nope. Not so much. But hey, Twilight was like seven years ago, yo.
- If you want to be a writer, Ann suggests you find a wealthy spouse who will indulge your writing aspirations.
- Lish McBride doesn't eat meat. So she came up with a vegetarian character who has to kill things, just not things he'll eat.
- Elizabeth Fama troubleshot her entire book with her teenaged kids while jogging. (um, dual talented? I suspect so. I can't do anything while jogging, let alone think)
All that stuff up there? That was just from the meet and greet. Yeah, the one that the public wasn't invited to, but half of the teenagers that were invited ditched out on. So here are my favorite moments from the author event for the public (many of which I live tweeted with hashtag #FierceReads):
- "You can write about zombies and get a degree." --Lish McBride wrote her first book to,graduate college.
- "I wrote this book on a dare from my kids." --Elizabeth Fama. And they don't undeestand that it won't make them rich.
- "Mom! When are you going to write something we can read?" --Ann Aguirre's kids. Why she entered the YA market. (Ann previously wrote for the adult market)
- "Man I love this crowd!" -Marissa Meyer in response to thd MANY hands who knew who Sailor Moon was in the crowd. #ArizonaRockedTheSailorMoonCasbah
- "It's a little inappropriate for me to love [Fade] as much as I do. In my mind he's 18." --Ann Aguirre in response to a question about who their favorite characters were to write. And the others' were: Iko for Marissa Meyer, the elderly Scottish pastor for Elizabeth Fama, and Ashley & James for Lish McBride.
- "I have crushes on all of my men." --Marissa Meyer who was referring to her male characters, thankyouverymuch.
- Q: Your necromancer isn't evil? Lish McBride: Neither was Odysseus or The Ghost Whisperer. And plus, people have shown her instances of necromancy in the Bible.
- "You can't write a fluffy bunmy dystopian" --Ann Aguirre "Or can you?" --Lish McBride who once bounced the idea of weregiraffes off of a group of readers and was rebuffed for such an absurd idea.
- "If it has a zombie in it I will watch it. I've actually considered watching Zombie Strippers." --Ann Aguirre
- The Italian and Spanish covers of Cinder are different, but most of the international versions kept the red shoe.
- "I've been impressed by the cover gods so far." --Marissa Meyer in response to whether or not she liked her covers.
- "I really like my French cover although I have no idea what's going on in it." --Lish McBride
- "Just because a guy likes you and you have no interest in him - is that a triangle? No. It's more of a diagonal." And later, "It's a love diagonal." in answer to a question about the love triangle in her books.
- "You cannot make eye contact with someone while eating a banana." --Someone on the panel. There was too much laughter and I was trying to tweet, so I didn't catch who said it.
So after hearing the authors describe their processes, their characters, their stories, and seeing the passion that sparks in every one of their eyes when they do, I walked away feeling fierce myself. It's like their fierceness rubbed off on me a little bit. And like there was some serious girl power (sorry dudes in the audience, really, it's girl power, Spice-style even) not only demonstrated, but shared. Fierce? Indeed. My first impressions of these women and their books from the jackets? Foiled. That's what Fierce Reads is all about.
Didn't get to go to Changing Hands? Fall Fierce Reads not coming to a stop near you? Leave a comment to be entered to win the six book set signed by the authors: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer; Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride, Enclave; Outpost by Ann Aguirre, Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Plus, some sweet swag to boot. Since you're leaving a comment, why not tell us Yea or Nay to Fifty Shades of Sailor Moon?
|L-R: Lish McBride, Marissa Meyer, Ann Aguirre, Elizabeth Fama (Teen section, Changing Hands)|