Last Night’s Event

The event at Books of Wonder with Libba Bray, Kristin Cashore, Suzanne Collins, me and Scott last night was astonishing. Several people said they thought there were around 200 people there. I could not possibly guess from where I was sitting, but it did indeed appear to be many.

Here’s my bad fuzzy photo of the many:

It was pretty overwhelming to be on the bill with such popular writers, especially Suzanne Collins. For those who don’t know, her two most recent novels, Hunger Games and Catching Fire are currently, and have been for some time, numbers one and two on The New York Times bestsellers list, selling bajillions of copies a week. The Books of Wonder appearance was organised around Suzanne because it was her only signing for Catching Fire. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that Peter Glassman (the owner of BoW) thought to ask me to take part. Here’s Suzanne in action (with Libba Bray listening carefully):

I’d never met Suzanne before. She’s lovely, smart and gently funny. She, me and Libba had a fun conversation about the joys (meeting wonderful teens, booksellers, librarians) and travails (food poisoning) of touring. She’s also extraordinarily generous, giving up a big chunk of her presentation to talk in detail about how much she’d loved Liar, Fire,1 Leviathan and Going Bovine. Thank you, Suzanne.

I’d never met Kristin either and she also turned out to be lovely. I don’t know what it is about the YA world but almost all the authors I’ve met have been fabulous.2 It’s such a wonderful community to be part of.

It was only overwhelming at first then it quickly became relaxing. For most of my tour, I’ve done solo events with all the attention on me, but last night I could sit back and watch how other YA authors answer questions about how they come up with names, where they get their ideas, and which characters they like best.

Suzanne and Kristin were both so thoughtful and smart, providing little glimpses into how they work. They both have detailed maps of the imaginary worlds they’ve created. It sounds like Kristin’s world encompasses gazillions of countries and large swathes of time. Very Tolkienesque. Libba Bray remains one of the funniest people on the planet and I don’t just say that because she’s a dear friend of mine. As does Scott.3 Last night’s event made me want to stick to doing events with other people. Not just because it’s more fun for me, but also because it felt like the audience gets more out of it too.

What do you think?

One event I’m dying to do is me and Libba talking about unreliable narrators. For those of you who haven’t read Going Bovine you really should. We wrote Liar and Going Bovine at the same time and commented on each other’s early drafts. I can’t tell you how deeply eerie it was to discover we were both writing unreliable narrators and how many resemblances there were between our books even while they were also extremely different. Going Bovine is hysterically funny; Liar not so much. I think our two books work amazingly well side by side. Turns out I am not the only one to notice this.

Maybe some time next year we’ll be able to talk about our books, their unreliability, and how hard they were to write side by side. Fingers crossed!

  1. As Kristin said, “Look! Our books rhyme!” []
  2. Another contributing factor to why I never want to write for the grown ups: I’d have to hang out with the cranky adult literature authors. Ewww. []
  3. Yes, I know he’s my husband but he truly is hilarious. []


  1. Ellen on #

    I loved the event last night! Alas, I arrived too late to hear your introduction of Liar, but I did catch the tail end of Libba’s presentation (which was hilarious). The Q&A session was a lot of fun too. It was cool to hear perspectives from a few different authors at once. I think it provoked more discussion than some of the single-author presentations I’ve been to (and also it was a bonus that everyone there happened to be on my list of favorite YA authors).

  2. JJ on #

    I feel as though I distinctly recall you saying you hated academia and footnotes and only today I just realised footnotes are regularly part of your blog posts.

    The event was amazing. It was great to meet you and everyone else there.

  3. Justine on #

    Ellen: Such a bummer! I told everyone the truth of what happens in Liar.

    Libba’s ridiculously funny. It should be illegal.

    Q&A is always my fave part.

    JJ: Academic footnotes are a nightmare. Blog footnotes are fun. The same way scholarly writing is horrible but fiction and blog writing are wondrous.

    Lovely to meet you too!

  4. Jo Treggiari on #

    I think it’s wonderful to have readings with more than one author particularly in the YA genre which is so strong right now. The line-up for this reading basically included all of my favorite authors. I only wish I could have been there.
    I think it’s nice for the readers to experience an evening of reading (across a wide variety of styles and sub-genre* hate that word but can’t think of another one.)And having the opportunity of directing questions to a group of writers all at once. It must be nice for the authors to interact with each other as well and sometimes travel together on the tour. Writing is such a solitary pursuit.
    From a publisher’s point of view it must make more sense to send authors out together esp. in this economic climate.

  5. Abby on #

    I wish you all could have come to Boston. I’m not YA in age, but I am YA in all that I read. And I love all of the works of the authors who were included in this reading. Don’t rule out making this a merry, traveling band of writers.

  6. wandering-dreamer on #

    Dangit, now I have to track down copies of both Going Bovine and Liar, wonder if my super amazing used book store already has copies….
    And if you came anywhere near me and I have a car I would totally come and listen. Never actually been to an author event although my friend and I are going to try to make on in January (try being the key term since our most viable plan involves building a car to get there….).

  7. Rebecca on #

    it was really good to see you guys. i wish i had been able to get on the line and chat a bit with you and scott, but the amount of people was phenomenal and i didn’t have a damn ticket. i gotta say, i was gushing like a fangirl for suzanne collins and kristin cashore. both their books are amazing.

  8. Rebecca (allreb) on #

    I was 111 in the signing line, and there were a handful of folks after me and plenty of people ahead were groups sharing a number, so 200 sounds about right. 🙂

    I love panels like that as a reader because it’s a great way to find new books to read. The first Books of Wonder signing I went to, I wanted to see Scott and my BFF wanted to see Garth Nix, and that was where I picked up Magic or Madness. Last year I went to Suzanne Collins and picked up Robin Wasserman’s Skinned (loved it!). Last night, I grabbed Going Bovine because I hadn’t read anything by Libba Bray yet, and am really enjoying it so far. (My BFF got Liar and sent me a frantic email when she finished it today. *g*)

  9. Ellen on #

    I knew it!! Now I will never find out the real ending. *angst*

  10. Mary Elizabeth S. on #

    I would have been over the moon to go to that signing.

    All you YA authors should do a massive group tour all over the country. You could travel in a convoy of tour buses, stopping here and there to bestow awesome on various towns and cities. It would make history. Can you imagine what would happen in YA authors traveled in a pack like that? The world would be Altered Forever.

    On an unrelated note, I got three new mice today! One named Aussie because I swear she’s a miniaturized kangaroo (a sleeker version of a quokka, maybe?). The other two aren’t named yet, but I call them the Twins because they are nearly identical except that one has red eyes and the other black.


  11. Justine on #

    Jo: It definitely makes more sense but logistically it’s a lot harder. I know my publisher tried to tour me with other authors but it did not work out.

    And, yes, it’s much more fun for us writers.

    Abby: I’m trying to imagine all our various different publishers being able to organise a massive tour with all those different authors. I can’t imagine it happening.

    But quite a few diff YA publishers have started sending out their authors together. Simon & Schuster sent Scott out with Sarah Rees Brennan and Robin Wasserman. And this (northern) summer Harper Collins sent a bunch of their fantasy writers out on the road together.

    So I’m hoping that shared tours will become more and more common.

    wandering-dream: Hope you like your first author event when it happens!

    Rebecca: There was an astonishing number of people wasn’t there? I think the last person went home after 9PM. It was quarter to ten by the time we left.

    Rebecca (allreb): Yeah, plus there were people who didn’t get a ticket.

    You’re right multiple author events really are an awesome way to introduce readers to other writers. So pleased your BFF liked Liar or, at least, read it fast.

    Ellen: This is what happens when you’re late. You snooze, you lose!

    Mary Elizabeth: Buses? *shudders* I’d be car sick for sure. It would have to be a train.

    In all seriousness though it would be very hard. For instance, last night it was five authors with five different publishers. All of whom have their own ideas about how to do publicity. As I mentioned above though there are more publishers sending out a group of their authors together. And those tours seem to bring in bigger audiences. So hopefully there will be more of that in future.

    Congrats on the mice!

  12. Becca on #

    I would always, always rather do a group signing/event than a single. It is loads more fun to feed off the energy of other authors (and the odds go up of actual *people* showing up when there are three authors working an event!)

  13. Faye on #

    Hi Justine,

    I agree with you whole-heartedly, the Books of Wonder event was FABULOUS. I’m actually in the first picture that you took – Asian girl on the left, with the fringe and headscarf. I didn’t get a chance to talk to you personally, but I loved hearing you speak and will definitely look out for Liar. Author events are my favourite fan-events to attend – you all are so thoughtful and creative and funny 😀


  14. sonia on #

    hi Justine,
    had the great pleasure of being at Scott, Holly, and Cassandra’s signing last week in Toronto. Never really been to an event with multiple authours before and it was really great.
    Having more than one authour there was actually very enlightening as each one plays off the other and since all are writing a similar type of novel (YA) it makes it even more interesting to see their different views.

    hope you make it out here too sometime for ‘Liar’

  15. Heather Z. on #

    Your second footnote is the best. I wish I had heard about this. That lineup is about as awesome as you can get. Were you the one wearing the really hot boots? (I read that on another blog).

  16. Alyce on #

    I’m always in two minds when I read about author appearances because they always sound like fun but they are so rare in Australia that there is basically zero chance of actually attending. I wonder if this is a purely logistical problem due to our small population or is the interest level just not there?

    I know you have mentioned major events like the festival in Melbourne earlier this year (with the way Melbourne trades on being the ‘intellectual capital’ of Australia its almost a requirement) but local readings in libraries and bookshops never seem to happen, especially outside Melbourne (and Sydney to a degree) even with local authors.

  17. Lauren on #

    Alas I did not get to see any of y’all either…. and all of my favorite authors side-by-side! please come to fort worth some time, okay? I did not get to see you in Austin because you were too far away… help me! End this fantasy of you and Scott and Suzanne here! Please come, We need more authors visiting your poor little town…. 🙂

Comments are closed.