Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Busy Fall

So it has been a busy month and a half, starting with two comic book conventions and then hitting a literal wall of book and reading events. In retrospect, I wish I'd gone to the Arlington Library's 813 Ball, a 1920s/Great Gatsby inspired fundraiser complete with band. The ball takes its name from the Dewey Decimal location for literature because well... librarians. The ball coincided with the fall book sale which was the usual chaos on opening night.

Spy Museum Elizabeth Wein event

On September 19th afternoon, I went over to the National Spy Museum to see Elizabeth Wein. She was signing copies of "Code Name Verity" and the newly released "Rose Under Fire." It was a small event, so I was able to talk to her a little, how so many of my friends on twitter particularly had loved (and sobbed) through "Verity" but carefully hadn't spoiled me. Interestingly Wein warned me that the first chunk of "Verity" was a tough go, so wouldn't hold it against me if I didn't love it unconditionally. The Museum shop person had read "Rose Under Fire" to the underprivileged teen group she worked with and they were now reading Verity as well. Wein was bowled over by this news and all the acclaim for her work.

Then September 27th was the V.E. Schwab "Vicious" event at my local independent bookstore One More Page Books. Since the book is about superpowers and villains and heroes, the book event invited people to dress up in costume. She'd have masks (red for villain, black for hero) and a cool set of trading cards you could obtain for preordering the book or attending her signings. I'm not a natural cosplayer, but I figured I could enter the spirit when I saw this retro Black Widow t-shirt at the Spy Museum shop. (Romita doesn't actually portray Natasha wearing heels with that then new costume, I might add, but I love the style of art.) I paired it with an old goldish bracelet and OPI's "Affair in Red Square" nail polish for effect. I felt very Polyvore Black Widow. The other three people were pretty off the rack too -- a Lizzie Borden in black clothes and an axe as prop, a lady in a black cocktail dress and wand as Bellatrix and another in suit jacket / name tag as Agent Jemma Simmons from Agent of SHIELD because her name actually was Simmons. Bellatrix won mainly because Schwab admitted a love for the character.

A glimpse of my red nails and bracelet

Then Schwab gave a reading from "Vicious" and answered some questions. Some were book specific, like whether there was a traditional hero in "Vicious" or not. She also talked about the storytelling format since the book covers several time periods. She wrote it in order but then had markers to tell herself where things fit chronologically. She intended the chapters to be in short chunks like panels in a comic book. (I'm picturing some of the awful DC/Marvel captions where the story starts "NOW..." to cue you and so forth.) She wrote the book over about two years in between other book deadlines and wasn't originally about Victor and Eli. She had a different leading character and she was writing the backstory on the rival gangs and realized they were more interesting than she realized. She didn't tell anyone about the project for awhile. She talks a bit about writing "Vicious" on Scalzi's blog here and published a short story Warm Up as a lead-up to the release. (Hilariously they didn't mention it was tied to "Vicious" so some of the regular sf/fantasy commenters were confused everyone knew about some upcoming book and assumed it was spammy.)

She has now three publishers: one for middle grade (Scholastic), one for YA (Hyperion) and adult (Tor) and will publish 4 books next year. (EEP!) She was asked why Vicious couldn't be YA and it wasn't the ages as much as the tone and black humor that she didn't think fit that mindset. She hates cliffhangers, so even her series book feel like they can stand on their own. She's more of a classic Marvel comics fan, although she did her thesis on Bat-villains and how they're personifications of chaos/Batman's fears. She just prefers the Marvel shades of grey. She's an X-men fan, Magneto specifically.

What I find fascinating as a "no, no, don't tell the authors" fangirl of long standing is how Schwab has utterly embraced the fans, hoping someone will write the Victor/Eli epic of her dreams. She finds it the best compliment that someone wants to spend more time with her characters and world. She has since even started a forums for people to play in.

Then last week my local library hosted their first YA lit/writing event. They're gearing up for Nanowrimo in a big way, at least on the teen front. I've asked about the adult side of the coin and there is some furious discussions about the idea, so hopefully something will happen on that front. I didn't realize how much I missed having real people to talk to about writing. Not that the Internet isn't lovely (I do love you all really), it's just isolating at times, too.

For the event, they had several YA authors to answer questions, along with the teen librarian to give her perspective on Nanowrimo and reading. The first panel was all about "rough drafts" and the process, rather than the business/market side of things author events get bogged down on lately. The authors were Diana Peterfreund, Jessica Spotswood, and Jon Skovron. I was only vaguely familiar with Peterfreund; she'd done a book signing at One More Page fairly recently. Her "For Darkness Shows the Stars" is a science fiction version of Jane Austen's "Persuasion". The second book in the series "Across a Star Swept Sea" started life as Scarlet Pimpernel in space. The other two authors I wasn't as familiar with, but they gave some good advice about outlines and when to start projects and how to juggle real life/writing. (What I gathered from this is wishing my commute was longer -- mine is strangely too short for writing or podcasts/audiobooks anymore.) The event seemed very well attended and most would-be authors, whether YA genre or otherwise.

All in all, I'm a little worn out by book/author events, but encouraged leading up in Nanowrimo. As much as I love reading, I miss writing as much.