This past weekend I had a rare opportunity to attend an author signing. And I took it.
On The Road I GoBecause highway traffic can be crazy on the weekend, and because I needed to buy the third book in the Defiance series for the signing, I left my house really early. I managed to avoid any traffic issues and find the Barnes and Noble without any problems, so I arrived at about 11:30 am.
Nothing To Do But Wait
After securing my book (which was one of only three copies, so I'm glad I left early) and covertly checking out the signing area, I made my way to Starbucks for the brunch of champions. Then there was nothing to do but wait and browse the shelves.
Once the chairs were placed and the author's had taken their seats, everyone spent a few minutes talking with each other. My early arrival paid off and I managed to get front row seating. Even though the group was on the small side, I was still pretty excited as I've never had front row seating anywhere before.
Before the chat officially started, CJ and JA were talking about how they hoped people in the audience asked questions or they'd have to resort to asking some of their own. Which turned into a Loki vs Thor discussion, so maybe that would not have been a bad thing if they had.
Christina ended up sitting next to me and we got to meet.
What I Learned:
- CJ's husband smuggled a cardboard cutout of Loki into the bathroom for Tom Hiddleson to sign. He gave the cutout to her for finishing The Shadow Queen. (That's love!)
- CJ's character Victor, is inspired by Loki's appearance and Tom Hiddleson's personality.
- Sauders is pronounced like 'soldering iron.'
Finally 2pm arrived and it was time for our introductions.
Then the questions began.Up first was about CJ's inspiration for The Shadow Queen. As a child CJ had few books of her own and spent a lot of time at the library. She loved fairy tales and would work her way through the section, reading every book even if she had already read the story.
So she was excited for Snow White and the Huntsman. She shared her thoughts about watching the movie and how she was disappointed with the way things played out. How she thought of things the heroine should have done to be more of a heroine and less of an glorified object to fight over. Finally her husband basically told her to write it herself, and so she did.
Her talk of fairy tales inspired me to ask a question next. I wanted to know which one was her favorite.
CJ: There were two that she liked but were ones most people haven't heard of before. One was The Girl With No Hands and the other was something about a girl with a multi-skinned cloak. (There are, however, quite a few stories that fit the pieces she talked about so I am unsure which one it actually is.)
JA: Her favorite was the Sleeping Beauty short story retelling by Kendare Blake.
Up next was a question for JA about what inspired The Elysium Chronicles. Bioshock?
She said her husband and son was playing the game while she was trying to watch a documentary about people's perception of perfection. The idea came to her then. She wrote the first chapter by hand then and there.
Though things have changed, that first line never has. "My life is just about perfect."
- She used to be in the military and called up some buddies to ask hypothetical questions to.
- Her mother helped her design the area, asked her all sorts of questions like "where are the bathrooms."
- She loves the 50s (loved all the vinyl records they were sitting next to.) Because of similarities to Bioshock she couldn't use that time frame. But there are hints of her 50s love. Some of the weapons used are WW2 like.
Someone asked about the map in The Shadow Queen.
CJ: She siad felt like a real fantasy author because she had a map in one of her books. She told us how she had a vague idea about the land and the other kingdoms, and when the publisher requested that information she had to flesh it out quickly.
She now has 10 kingdoms planned out. There are clues scattered about on the map. While she cannot talk about books she has not signed a contract for, she did say up next was Rumpelstiltskin.
When asked about series, the ladies had this to say:
JA: "The third book nearly killed me." She needed to take a long break. But she loved writing the horror/dark themed parts of the series. Every time she was told to change them, she didn't get rid of them but made them better. So maybe she'll write another dark themed book.
CJ: "Trilogies are hard." She turned in Deliverance three times without an ending before she got one she liked. She loves writing the books in the Ravenspire series, because while they are all in the same world, they are standalones.
JA: No more series for her. If a publisher wants to back a second book, it will be more of a companion novel.
There were a few writing based questions after that.
CJ: She described what a copyeditor does and then added "and then they destory your confidence in your writing."
JA: Voiced her agreement.
CJ: Mentioned how a fan's email before book three was turned in saved her from contradicting something she wrote back in the first book.
That lead to her talking about how there is "magical destruction" in The Shadow Queen and how that was different from her "how bad could it be and make it worse" method for writing The Defiance series.
"Blood, gore, and dragons." There are dragons in both series, because she likes dragons. (If I wasn't trying to get good photos and take notes, I would have applauded this comment for I, too, love dragons.)
How much prep do you do before hand?
Audience: Everyone laughed. "Is that an official term?"
JA: "Butt-load actually is."
CJ: "Butt holes has to do with wine."
JA: "That's why the little hole in the casket is called bunghole."
Me: *thinking* Ah, the things one learns at a book event.
JA: *after a minute returns to the question* A lot. She learned the military uses clear aluminium on submarines in place of glass. Glass's sand molecules give it different fracture points across the surface. Aluminum doesn't have that.
CJ: It takes her about two and a half months to draft a book. She usually has eight to nine project she's slowly gathering information for at any time.
The next question was for JA: What inspired mother?
She got a little personal here, and I won't repeat that but she took elements from her own childhood and made them "500 times worse." She made mother the hero in her own story and had to find out what motivated her to do all the bad things she does. (She sees herself as the hero because she is trying to save her people.) JA checked news outlets for stories about what parents do to their kids. She talked to people.
Basically she took all her research and tossed it together "and hoped it all worked out."
Because I was right in front of CJ Redwine, I jumped on her line first. This was the second time I had met her so I got to talk about meeting her last year at The Orphan Queen launch party in NYC.
When I got to talk with JA Souders, I told her how the line from her series ("my life is just about perfect") is something I turned around and use it as a form of inspiration and motivation.
*I forgot to take a picture of JA Souders signing my book because we were all too busy chatting and I was telling her my story.*
Wrap UpI had a lot of fun meeting these two lovely authors and chatting with my fellow book nerds. A huge thank you to my job for allowing me the time off and to the nice Barnes and Noble lady who talked with me while I waited hours for the chairs to be brought out.
RELATED: (other signing/bookish events) The Orphan Queen Launch Party // BEA-BookCon 2015