The weekend before last, I was lucky enough to attend a book signing. The Girls Gone SciFi tour hit Malaprops, an indie bookstore in Asheville, which is about 2 hours from me. Not only was I lucky enough to be able to bring a close friend who is a librarian and aspiring writer. Her name is Lauren and I’m gonna let her write this post! So, for my first guest post, welcome Lauren! You can read more about her on my About Me page, I added a section for her because I’m sure she’ll be back. 😉
It was rainy the whole drive.
There were mountains on all sides and just ahead of us, and from the trees I saw fog curling from the trees. I thought it was smoke at first. We went over a bridge and on our left rose a cluster of mountains with a valley between them. From the surface of the mountais rose wisps of fog. It rolled off the sides of the mountains and drifted up into the air as if being drawn into the sky. There was more driving and another bridge. To our right was another group of mountains and a river and along the river were the most lovely houses. They were all multiple stories with dozens of windows looking out over the water. We saw more houses hidden in the trees on the sides of the mountains and I was reminded just how beautiful Asheville was.
It wasn’t just the scenery- it was the atmosphere.
The parking deck we used had a brick tower that housed the elevator, which had huge windows that opened out onto the various shops and the street. The elevator was a bit eerie inside. It was dim and chugged along as it moved down; there was a paper cup with a sort of swampy brownish fluid and a spoon on the floor not far from it with the same substance smeared over it. I stared at that cup a long while in a kind of fascinated horror, but the elevator stopped and we stepped out into town.
It’s hard to describe how artistic the place seemed to me. Being artistic myself I felt a bit like a commoner stepping into a castle. We passed by street performers playing guitars with open cases littered with swaying bills and glimmering coins, there was a massive statue of an iron on one of the corners, stone cats stretched and climbed on brick walls, murals decorated the sides of buildings, and when we stopped to get something to eat, at the table beside us was a scholarly looking family with a very young child who wore a sweater vest and had the most perfect curly hair. He was painting while his parents talked and posed with books for photos. It was finger painting of course, but I was just blown away.
The restaurant where we ate was right across the street from the book store, which had its own magical feel.
This was my very first author event and I found myself staring at the table with the name cards and propped up books with a sort of reverant awe. Since being an author is my fondest dream, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if it was my event. What if someday my name was up on a card with a book standing behind it? What if someday people traveled hours and hours to come and see me and hear me talk and buy my book? This feeling continued throughout the night, but this time it wasn’t about me, it was about the amazing Jessica Khoury, Beth Revis, Jessica Brody, Tamara Stone and Megan Spooner.
When introductions were over and everyone was seated, the authors entered like rockstars.
They began by playing a game where they had us call out page numbers and they read snippets of their books. Afterwards, there was a trivia game where I won a necklace and two posters- one of which was signed by all of the authors! The question and answer session came after that, and I have to admit, that was my favorite part. To be perfectly honest, Beth Revis’ books had always seemed vaguely interesting to me, but I kept pushing them lower and lower on my TBR pile because there were so many other things that were just… more interesting. My opinion has now changed simply because Beth Revis herself is like my writing soulmate.
There was a point when someone asked about violence in young adult books and I remember Beth Revis grabbing the microphone and stating flatly that she just blew everyone up. I’m pretty sure that amid her talk of the multitude of fictional people she killed that there was a few bouts of maniacal laughter and evil finger wriggling. Aside from that, all of the authors seemed to agree that violence in books was a necessary evil and that while at times it might be scary for the younger readers, it gives them an opportunity to learn how to deal with tragedy and the darkness that is sadly a part of our real world. It also presents a chance for parents and teens to talk about violence and instead of sheltering teens, violence in books prepares them and educates them. Megan Spooner finished out the discussion with the quote: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” (NOTE: We aren’t sure of actual source of quote, but goodreads said Neil Gaiman.)
Megan Shepherd even made a surprise appearance in the audience to ask a question herself!
There was also a great discussion about writing from a boy’s perspective instead of a female’s. Beth Revis told the story of how she had written this scene where Elder and Amy meet for the first time and how she had written pages and pages of description about the way the girl’s hair curled and the shape of her face, etc.. She showed this to her husband and asked if this was how a guy would think and the conversation that followed:
Husband: “She’s naked right?”
Husband: “I’d just be staring at her boobs.”
“So I deleted everything and put boobs!” She said with a shrug, and all of us laughed. So, if you want Beth Revis’ advice about writing from a male’s POV- “BOOBS!” Jessica Khoury said that she had grown up reading old sci-fi novels and since most of those were written from a boy’s POV, she had a kind of ‘boy voice’ in her head. There was talk of other things, but those specifically stood out to me the most. There are not enough words to express how inspiring it was to get to hear authors talk about their process and their work. I’m still in shock; it all still feels a little like a dream.
When it was finally time for the actual signing part, I was very nervous. I had no idea what I was going to talk to them about or if they would even want to talk to me. I really had no reason to worry. All of the authors were AMAZING and so nice. Khoury was super excited to hear that it was my first author event, and Stone asked me how I had liked the way they had chosen what portions to read from their books. I couldn’t believe she actually asked ME how I had liked it. I of course said that I had loved every minute of it. I went through the line twice for Spooner because after hearing portions of her novel Skylark, I simply had to go buy a copy and get her to sign it, too. She was excited that I was excited about it. Brody was super sweet and since I wasn’t able to buy one of her books from the store, signed a sample of Unremembered for me instead. Revis signed both of the books I brought for her and I told her how much I enjoyed her gleeful answers about the violence in her books. But by far the most exciting and squee-worthy part of the night was at the very end.
Tabitha and I asked for a picture with all of the authors and we scooted in behind them to take the picture. That itself was amazing, but what made it even better was that the authors wanted pictures with US. Two of the authors (I think it was Stone and Brody) handed over their phones and had someone take pictures of all of us together with their phones. They didn’t do that with anyone else, and it was AMAZING.
When it was all said and done, Tabitha and I carried our bags of awesome back to the brick elevator. We had a little trouble getting out of the parking deck and figuring out which way to go to get back to the highway, but all in all, it was a perfect trip and I wouldn’t have changed anything about it. We finished the night off with McDonalds and sang along with Lorde’s Royals while we drove down the dark roads that led back home.
I’m not sure what I was expecting going in, but what I got was something I will never forgot. I got a taste of my dream and what it might be like if I am ever able to get published myself. I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I hope one day that I am able to stand up in front of a group of readers and offer my work to them. I hope someday I will be able to introduce the world to the multitude of characters and worlds, and more than anything, I hope that, like the authors I met, I am able to inspire someone else to follow their dreams.
I have an awesome poster from this tour, signed by Jessica Brody, Lauren Miller, Tamara Ireland Stone, & Jessica Khoury. This is US only and all the standard rules apply, no cheating, respond to winning email within 48 hours or forfeit your prize and I’ll select someone new. The giveaway will run for two weeks and then I’ll (hopefully) mail your prize that following Saturday. Enter in the raffle below and good luck!
Thanks Lauren for giving us your thoughts on our trip. I had so much fun and can’t wait to do it again!