Book Event: PASSENGER and TRUTHWITCH Launch at Books of Wonder

The launch event for Passenger and Truthwitch was tonight at Books of Wonder. Read on for a special recap of the event!

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Erin Bowman moderated the highly anticipated launch for Alexandra Bracken and Susan Dennard’s new novels, PASSENGER and TRUTHWITCH, respectively. I had a such a great time at this event! The atmosphere at Books of Wonder is always amazing, but there was so much palpable excitement as the crowd built and the store filled.

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Books of Wonder also created a BEAUTIFUL window display! Sadly there was scaffolding, so it was hard to get a good shot, but I promise it was phenomenal.

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The full crowd way before the event was supposed to start! And there were so many people standing behind me, you guys won’t believe it.

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And then the powerhouse women of the night emerged!

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Important: These are not direct quotes, so please don’t treat them as such!

On the inspiration of their novels

Susan: Truthwitch was a ‘perfect storm’ of ideas. She was couch surfing across Croatia and fell in love with the country. Yay Croatia! Everyone go!

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She loved the city so much she knew she wanted to set a story there–or in a world inspired by it. She also knew she wanted to write a female friendship that was crucial to a fantasy story. Plus there had to be magic! Then one night as she was falling asleep the word “threadwitch” popped into her head and she was like ‘ooohhh, what’s that?’ and more and more ideas came to her. She was also inspired by the musical group Two Steps From Hell.

Alexandra: Passenger, like her Darkest Minds series, was a book she wanted to read. She was a history nerd in college and cites Hamilton for making history cool now. But when she was in high school it was not cool, but she was super obsessed with the 18th century and read 6 biographies on George Washington. She was convinced a past life of herself lived in the 18th century. She went to the College of William and Mary, one of the oldest universities (and a super good school! just saying). In colonial Williamsburg she would go to the reenactments and try not to rage at the inaccuracies–like the total exclusion of slavery. It made her feel like a time traveler.

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On the topic of research

S: Both she and Alexandra had a hard time finding an interior layout of an 18th century ship. They discovered this was an issue because back then, people didn’t really make blueprints. They just kind of designed something and hoped it worked. They winged it. Every ship designer had their own style and they didn’t document it on paper for all time. And they were so frustrated by this because they wanted to be very authentic. Eventually they realized they would have to wing it too and create something. Susan also took a lot of workshops about life on a ship, and horses, and diversity. She wanted to craft the most realistic and respectful novel possible.

She also teased an upcoming video where she had her sensei get her into weird twisty positions so she could figure out how to break out. So get excited!

A: In the same vein as Susan, she tried to find the right layout of a ship. She watched a lot of Master and Commander, but that wasn’t good enough because it was a war ship and thus not the type she was looking for. She also gets really into research and gets distracted by slightly off-topic things she discovers and procrastinates writing by going deeper and deeper into her research. She had a lot of primary documents saved away from her college days and felt very comfortable writing from an 18th century male POV. The only thing was having to check the English Oxford Dictionary to see when words were originated and if they meant the same thing as they did today back then. She also has a scene set in London during the Blitz and had to find out if locations she wanted to use were unharmed/still standing.

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On world building

S: Her editor was a big help because she said there were too many types of witches and suggested breaking it all down based on the elements. Since Susan was a big fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender (and the crowd–including me–got very excited about this), she totally rolled with this idea, but was hooked on the number 6, so she used that instead of the usual 4.

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A: Like Susan, she loves creating rules and sticking to them. She thought creating her time travel around magic instead of science would have made things easier, but it still ended up being super complicated. Paradoxes!

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Every solution she came up with just created more problems. She joked she made a guide called ‘How Not to Get Killed in Another Century.’

On problem scenes and favorite scenes

A: Beginnings are the worst! She mentioned the BEA ARC vs the new ARCs that came out after she did significant edits. She had a hard time figuring out where the story was supposed to start, but loves endings. Her first drafts always have ten thousand characters and then she cuts away in revisions. Her favorite scene is the end of Passenge.

S: She agreed beginnings are hard, maybe because they’re what we write first. She wrote the first 200 pages in a burst of inspiration and had her ‘I’m a genius!’ moment. But because the book was sold On Proposal, there was a six month lag period where she did no writing, waiting to see if the book would sell before she could commit to writing the entire story. After the good news it indeed sold, she had a hard time coming back to the story and the voice.

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Susan said she’s more of a reviser than a drafter. Her favorite scene was The Lighthouse Scene in chapter 15 and then she showed off a lighthouse necklace someone gave her and Alexandra and Erin cooed over it and it was lovely.

If your MC could get help from any other character in literature or pop culture, who would it be?

A: Sherlock Holmes! There are a lot of puzzles and murky character motivations to work out, so she feels the famed detective would be an asset. Plus he would know his history to work out some connections.

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S: Gen from The Thief by Megan Turner. The ‘ultimate squad buddy,’ as she put it. 😉

Would you wanna live in your world?

A: Yes! She’s a history buff, so of course! However, she noted time travel is only always safe if one is a white guy. She would not be equipped to be a girl in the 18th century. However, she’d be down to go to the future cause she loves spoilers.

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S: Yes! She loves the Witchlands and she’d be a water witch cause she loves Katara from ATLA.

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(How can anyone not love Queen Katara?)

She’s also a Pisces and used to be a marine biologist, so water is in her blood, basically. Her dream super power is to be able to breathe underwater. And then she did an impersonation of Sokka’s ‘water tribe’ and I died!

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Other Stories/Inspirations

A: Outlander! She didn’t want to write YA Outlander or Outlander 2.0, but she wanted to create something as immersive as that series.

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(I’m totally here for the plot…)

Any scenes based on a real life experience?

A: Etta is a fantastic violinist and she used to be the second to last clarinet chair. She got to revisit the musical world in this book. She also set Etta’s life in New York because she was living in New York at the time and loved all the history of the city. Sadly colonial Manhattan doesn’t exist anymore, but the grave of Alexander Hamilton does–at Trinity Church downtown.

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S: Croatia!

What books have you read recently that you’re excited about?

S: The Thief!

A: Illuminae and Red Queen! And thus a fun story about meeting Victoria Aveyard at SDCC happened. “It rhymes with graveyard!”

Erin: Six of Crows and a 2017 YA contemporary debut called Kissing Max Holden.

R2D2 or BB8?

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S: R2! The original trilogy has a special place in her heart. She’s gonna name her next dog R2–she already has a Leia! 🙂

A: She agrees BB8 has gotten a lot of love lately and is hogging it. She’s sad R2D2 got pushed into retirement. Although, BB8 is so cute.

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And there you have it! Doesn’t it feel like you were at the event yourself?

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All links are below! Thank you very much for reading.
truthwitch cover
Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

 

passenger cover
Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

 

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Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

Are Susan and Alexandra coming to a city near you?

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Friday Reads: THE LUNAR CHRONICLES by Marissa Meyer

My Friday Reads is WINTER, the last book in the LUNAR CHRONICLES series!

winter coverTitle: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pub Date: November 10, 2015 from Feiwel & Friends
Amazon: Here!
B&N: Here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves!

 

 

 

The Lunar Chronicles is a fantastic fairy-tale reimagining like you’ve never seen before. It is one of my favorite series, so get ready for a lot of fangirling!

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Marissa is a MASTER of pacing! It’s impossible to stop once you’ve started. And she’s a wonderful plotter because–oh my gosh–I’m on the last book and things from Cinder are coming back and even just managing a score of POV characters and all their plot threads in an 830 page book and keeping everything cohesive and amazing… I bow down to you, Marissa.

My favorite aspect of the books are all the fabulous character dynamics. I think every single character interacts with each other at some point in the books. It’s so entertaining! If you’re looking for sass, this is the series for you.

I’m so sad to be finishing this series, but I’m SO HAPPY the last book is AMAZING.

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It totally sucks when the last book is a letdown. Marissa does not disappoint.

She makes these stories feel SO real! She brings back details from the beginning of the books that ground these characters in reality. For example, one character gets kidnapped in book 3, and in book 4 there’s a mention of how her farm is still running despite her not being there to take care of it!

Last Wednesday I went to see Marissa at B&N for her Winter Tour. #WinterIsHere, yo 🙂

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It was Lunar Ball themed, so I wore my Cinderella castle shirt. I figured it was close enough.

There were so many pre-teen and teenage girls with their friends and they were so excited. It made my stone cold jaded college student heart so HAPPY to see girls so unabashedly excited for something. And to see friends reading together.

We were very lucky and got a reading from Rebecca Soler, the audiobook narrator. She read from chapter 2 and did all these voices. It almost felt like what a movie would be. Speaking of, we want a movie! Or a mini series! Seriously, if cyborg Cinderella, hacker Rapunzel, and SPACE doesn’t warrant a movie, I don’t know what does. Hollywood, you have a diversity problem and The Lunar Chronicles might endear some people to you.

Back to the event! Marissa came out and all adorable and said that five years ago today she had signed the contracts for her book deal to publish Cinder. Talk about coming full circle.

She told us the story of Snow White and talked about her love of Disney movies as a kid sparking her desire to retell fairy tales in new and exciting ways. After all, Disney is just one huge retelling.

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YES, YES, I WILL JOIN THE RESISTANCE.

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soooo prettyyyy…

There was a pre-order campaign that included swag, but I didn’t join in since I figured correctly I’d have to buy the book at B&N to get it signed. But to my surprise, there was extra swag to take on tour!

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Note: The cat was not part of the swag.
Note: Cats do not like posing for pictures. They’d rather sniff stuff. See below.

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So in conclusion, read the Lunar Chronicles! I’ll be here, sobbing in my corner about the end of this fantastic series.

Seriously, Marissa. Teach me your ways.

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Book Event: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell’s CARRY ON has arrived in the world today! Happy book birthday to Simon, Baz, and Rainbow. The launch event was this evening at Powerhouse Arena in downtown Brooklyn.

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I saw Rainbow when she was at McNally Jackson in March 2014 for the NYC Teen Author Festival and it was amazing. Unfortunately, the store was packed and I didn’t stick around to have my book signed. So when I found out CARRY ON was launching right in my borough, I knew I had to go! For those of you who couldn’t make it, below is a recap of the Q&A.

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Important: These are not direct quotes, so please don’t treat them as such!

On her career in journalism: Rainbow talked about how working at a daily newspaper influenced writing fiction. There’s no time for writer’s block when you have a column due everyday! There’s also little time to agonize over reader reaction since they’ve probably already moved onto the next section. It helped her learn to get words on the page and not sweat the small stuff. Journalism also gave her a lot of experience working with editors. In addition, it meant she spent a lot of time listening to people speak. She developed a ear for dialogue and finding the magic quote that makes a piece shine.

On writing and loving fantasy: Rainbow talked a lot about how much she loves Star Wars and grew up with it. She loved imagining what Princess Leia would be like in our world and what other planets were like. And, it has romance! Yay! She also loved the animated Hobbit film and had easy access to it since her dad used to install VHS players in hotel rooms. She came to Harry Potter soon after it was published because she’d heard people raving about it. She had her book club read it! At the time, she didn’t have a computer at home, so her love of Harry Potter was very personal and intimate. Fantasy is her favorite genre to read, but she never felt confident writing it. She didn’t know she could write something she would want to read. But eventually Simon and Baz came to life and she had to write them!

On Harry Potter and her Hogwarts House: Because of the nature of Carry On, naturally we had to talk about Harry Potter. Rainbow said she loved the world of Harry Potter, how it felt so real and seamless. She also said she feels like HP is written for children and she reads if differently as an adult–aka WHY DOES NO ONE HUG HARRY? Does Harry have a family? Can it be Dumbledore even though Dumbledore sacrificed him? Did Harry go through extensive therapy–because that epilogue was not satisfying! She read Harry Potter to her sons and sees it as a kind of moral guide. You don’t really go to Harry Potter when you want good romance (Empire Strikes Back!), it has a different feel to it.

Rainbow was asked by a reader which House she is. Thus came a story about how she identified as Ravenclaw, then she took the Pottermore sorting quiz–she would save a person over a book if Dumbledore’s office was burning!–and was Gryffindor! At first she rebelled, especially because she ardently disliked the house (house prejudice, anyone?)(John Lennon is a Gryffindor), but had a friend who told her she refuses to back down from a fight and has a very Gryffindor-y personality. She eventually relented and has embraced her Gryffindor-ness. She also thinks all children (and Jesus) are Hufflepuffs until the age of twelve.

On Carry On: Rainbow said she wrote Carry On expecting you’ve read Harry Potter, saw Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, know who Superman is and all kinds of other fandom-y goodness (and if you’ve read a bit of the Bible!). It is a little bit of a satire/critique of Harry Potter and fantasy. She loves, loves Baz and hopes the moment he shows up in the book, everything clicks. She backtracked, amending that hopefully you’re already enjoying it, but when Baz appears go, “That’s my favorite song!” She loved writing him, too. Carry On partly arose because she loved writing Simon and Baz in Fangirl and felt like she had already done all the hard world building for that book, but then never got to do anything with those characters. Thus she had to write Carry On.

On Gemma, Cath, and Rainbow’s Simon Snow: As Rainbow has talked about before, she’s not continuing Cath’s fanfiction in this book. And she’s not writing Gemma’s characters, either. Rainbow said she modeled Gemma’s Simon Snow off JK Rowling and the other great English children’s lit writers–a lot of classic children’s writing comes from England (Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan) and she wanted to try and embody that with Gemma. Cath’s Simon and Baz were supposed to mirror Cath’s own issues and be thinly veiled versions of people she was having feelings over throughout the novel. And Rainbow’s Simon and Baz have a bit more swearing, a bit more sadness, and dragons.

On her advice for young writers: Write, write, write. Read, read, read. Learn how to recognize good writing. Know you’re probably going to suck and that is okay. Not all fantastic writers get published. Half the game is just finishing a manuscript.

On her graphic novel: It’s long. And fantasy.

On which of her books would make the best Netflix series: Carry On! She said Eleanor and Park would have nothing happen in it as a series. Eleanor’s dad would abuse her nonstop and then there would be separate shows when she leaves and she and Park are doing her own thing. She also mentioned Fangirl at the end and how cool the Simon/Baz stuff there would be.

On writing queer characters: Rainbow feels privileged to be able to tell stories about characters who are confident in their sexuality, but also characters questioning and unsure. When she was growing up, there was no room to question. Sexuality was not a spectrum the way a lot of us recognize it today. It was either you’re straight, or you’re keeping it a secret.

On writing both YA and Adult: She doesn’t see much difference between the two except the age of the protagonist and where the books are shelved in stores. The distinction doesn’t both her. She doesn’t approach Adult by going “DIVORCE, DIVORCE, DIVORCE,” while her YA stuff is more sexual than her Adult books. As long as her books don’t have gross covers, she doesn’t care what age category they are sold/shelved in. For her it is a marketing thing more than anything. She is confident that librarians and booksellers do a good job of getting the right books into the hands of people who want to read them. When asked about YA being seen as not serious literature by certain people, she said doesn’t care, especially if it comes from someone who don’t like or won’t read YA. They don’t get to have opinions. #IReadYA!

On the development of fandom: Rainbow feels that fandom has grown. When she was younger, it was a lonely thing to love something and as soon as you found someone that shared the same interest, you became friends. But now she doesn’t have to be friends with every Harry Potter fan she meets. Fandom is big enough.

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Powerhouse Arena put together a fantastic event! There was lots of book swag and the staff were so friendly and all wearing CARRY ON t-shirts. It really felt like the bookstore was excited to be hosting this event and went all out. The first stop of the signing line was a photo wall!

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And then Rainbow, herself!

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I thought I knew what I was going to say, and then it was my turn and my brain just stopped. While I babbled something about how much I love Fangirl and can’t wait to read Carry On, Rainbow was lovely. She personalized both books which was a nice surprise! A lot of authors can’t personalize more than one book for time and for the sake of their poor hand. And 300 people were expected, so Rainbow really was being amazing!

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And then there were tables to collect swag! Pins, tattoos, a poster or book cover, and cookies/tea. I didn’t get any pictures of the cookies since my brain stopped working at that point. It was like, COOKIES!

I’ve been to a lot of author events and this was by far one of the best! Thanks to Rainbow Rowell for being such a delightful speaker, writer, and human being. Thanks to Powerhouse for the care that went into this event! I hope you guys love CARRY ON! I’m excited to get reading.


Find CARRY ON:
Goodreads
Amazon
B&N

Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl.

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.