On Saturday, I went to the Barnes & Noble on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado to attend an author appearance and book signing. My primary reason for attending was to take my daughter to see one of her favorite authors: Kiersten White, the author of “Paranormalcy” (2010) and “Supernaturally” (2011). You can visit Kiersten’s website here.
I was not familiar with the other authors at the “Pitch Dark: Dark Days” event: Jocelyn Davies, author of “A Beautiful Dark;” Amy Garvey, author of “Cold Kiss;” and Claudia Gray, author of the Evernight series who is out promoting her new novel, “Fateful.” Needless to say, I am very glad I know them now.
All four authors read from their books; Kiersten treated us to the beginning of “Endlessly”, the third book in her series which will be out next year. In the “Paranormalcy” series, Evie is a teen who works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency but longs for a normal life. “A Beautiful Dark” is set right here in Colorado and involves an angelic struggle over the fate of the world (OK, I want that one); “Cold Kiss” explores what happens when a girl’s first love dies… but she has the power to bring him back (yes, I definitely want that one); and “Fateful” is about werewolves on the Titanic (what? TOTALLY want that one!).
Luckily, my daughter brought a friend, so each of us bought one book. (Becca already owns Kiersten’s books. Obviously.)
During Q&A, I asked them to briefly describe their personal journey to publication.
Jocelyn, who is an editor of YA books at a major NY publisher, said she began by talking with a friend of hers, another editor, about “the perfect pitch”: the dream YA book proposal she wanted to see come across her desk. They had a great time talking it over, and she started writing it all down just for fun. Her own publishing house bought the idea as a proposal, which made it serious, but she was still working with her good friend as her editor, and she said it didn’t feel real when they were just hanging out drinking coffee or wine and laughing so much. But when she hit the third draft, she said, was when it got real. And painful. She said that was the worst part of the whole process. However, she said she gets calls from friends who tell her that they are reading her book and she doesn’t quite believe it.
Amy used to ghostwrite, which she said was challenging, in that someone tells you “Here’s what I want you to say; now go and make it sound like I said it.” She also wrote romance novels, which she admitted are rather formulaic and have a certain set of expectations, including a happy ending. With “Cold Kiss,” she said, she could do what she wanted, say what she wanted, and not necessarily have a happy ending. Between the way she spoke and her reading from the book, I had to buy this one.
Claudia’s story was interesting because it was unconventional. She was picked up by an agent who was just starting out, and as she said, “we both took a chance on each other.” A publisher happened to be calling around looking for something dark, with creatures like vampires or something like that because there was nothing like that on the market. “Imagine how long ago this was,” she said wryly. She put together a proposal and the publisher snapped it up. Claudia stressed that this doesn’t happen often and that it put a lot of stress on her. She said the worst part of the publishing process for her is time immediately before a book releases.
Kiersten described how grateful she is to be able to have the two things in her life that she always wanted: to be a full-time parent as well as a full-time writer. She also writes her first drafts very quickly; NaNoWriMo is not a daunting concept to her because she has written a novel in nine days. She said she learned a great deal from writing the book that DIDN’T get published, and that enabled her to write “Paranormalcy” in such a way that it did. She also wanted to make it clear that she did not have any connections to the publishing industry — agents, authors, editors — before she got published, and that these connections are not necessary to be successful. She also said her favorite part of the writing process is when her characters do something unexpected; that though she may have a book well planned out, they can still surprise her.
There were many other questions and answers which I don’t have space or recollection to relate for you. In one sense, I wish I had made a video recording or taken detailed notes at the time; but on the other hand, the distractions of technology pull us out of the moment and dilute the experience while we’re having it. I do want to say that I was proud of my daughter, who hates to draw attention to herself, for raising her hand and asking a question.
The authors had to leave all too soon. I think their fascinated audience could have engaged them in dialogue for another hour or more, and I believe that the four women would have cheerfully participated. I urge you all to check out their books and their websites!