Who: Tom Leveen, Cecil Castellucci, C.J. Hill (AKA Janette Rallison), Adam Rex, Robin Brande, Amy Fellner Dominy, Aprilynne Pike, Bree Despain, Anna Carey, Kiersten White, and James A. Owen
Where: Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix, AZ.
Hosted by: Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ.
When: 4pm on January 28, 2012 (but again I got there early so I had a wonderful seat--again).
I wish I had pictures--but the authors panel was in front of a beautiful window and the light from behind made it so I could not get a good picture. But it was a fantastic view behind a fantastic authors panel.
The only author at the event that I had read before going was Kiersten White (I loved Paranormalcy). So I went hoping to learn about a bunch of new-to-me authors--and this event delivered in spades!
Here are some highlights I collected that have firmly moved some of these books onto my TBR list:
1) Tom Leveen encouraged future writers to be honest with their characters. That is what it takes to write characters that people care about. And always take the opportunity to prepare and learn about the process and not just focus on the end product of having written a book.
2) Cecil Castellucci loves Star Wars. And the first thing she remembers writing was a sequel to the original Star Wars movie. This story really inspired me because I remember writing all kinds of fan fiction of alternate endings or continuations or episodes for my favorite books, movies, and television shows.
3) Janette Rallison (AKA C.J. Hill) recommends that new or aspiring writers keep a notebook with them at all times because you never know when you will be inspired or when you will get an idea and you will want to write it down because it may not come back to you again in the same way.
4) Adam Rex wrote The True Meaning of Smekday as a way to explore history and in particular the way that the British colonies affected the Native American people when they came to America. So he brought that idea to the future with aliens--but he is glad that the book does not come across as having such a forced lesson that it is not also fun. I bought Fat Vampire, but now I want to read Smekday just as much if not more! It is on my wishlist!
5) Robin Brande was an attorney who was inspired after 9/11 to change careers and do what she loved and what she was passionate about: write. She said repeatedly that a big part of being a good writer is to get out into the world and live an interesting life. It is much more believable to read interesting stories if you have had interesting experiences.
6) Amy Fellner Dominy encouraged aspiring writers to not focus solely on the end goal of writing a book. Take any opportunity to write, and through all of it develop the love of writing.
7) Aprilynne Pike really kept a smile on my face the entire panel. She was very witty--and it made me so glad that I got the first book in her series! I also got a glimpse of book 4 in the series and I cannot wait to get to it! But the thought that struck with me was when she said she wrote for teens because she had always been raised to love teenagers. Her parents could not wait until she and her sibling grew to teenagers because they knew it was such a fun and exciting times of their children's lives. And now she cannot wait until her own children are teens because she knows it will be a fun and exciting time of her children's lives.
8) Bree Despain always loved to write. The story that stuck with me the most was that she wrote her assigned high school English journal as a fictional story because her life was "boring." She was also an aspiring actor who took a job as the theater director for a camp. She was supposed to help the kids in the camp put on a three hour play--which was a tall order when many of them had trouble reading. But she wrote a cinderella-murder-mystery for them to perform which ended up being a big hit! I wish I had had a play like that to do when I was in high school.
9) Anna Carey said that it is never too old to start writing especially if that is what you love. She told us that the hero in her novel came to her first--but more of the voice of the hero then the fully developed character that we find when we read her book.
10) Kiersten White said that she gets her ideas from taking two seemingly-unrelated-ideas forcing them together and then seeing what happens. For instance, for Paranormalcy she said that she was struck by what would happen if vampires (a feared being) had been hunted almost to extinction and so now they needed to be protected as an endangered species. What mechanisms would need to be put into place to protect the vampires as well as the humans?
11) James A. Owen impressed me so much with his drawings (I did not know he drew his own illustrations until I met him!). My favorite story was when told about his first "published" work: Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jim Owen Age 6. He found a copy of this work on eBay and was bidding for it. When he lost--he reached out to the person who won. It turned out that he knew the person--and that person now claims to have the most complete James A. Owen collection. :)
I also had to share the amazing drawing he did with his signature in the book! I could not believe that he did this freehand.