The time it was the Let’s Talk YA Tour

Posted June 15, 2018 by Stacee in Signings | 2 Comments

Once upon a time, Tamara Ireland Stone messaged me and told me that she was going to be coming to LA and would I be interested in moderating the date at The Grove.  Of course I said yes and I spent the next 6 weeks or so with a secret.  Tamara came back a bit later and told me that Gretchen McNeil and Robyn Schneider would be joining her.

Michelle, Keiko, and I left San Diego around 1pm and we made fairly good time and made it up to LA at 2:30 or so.  We headed over to The Ripped Bodice, but it wasn’t open…so we found some food and a place for Keiko to get an Apple watch before we headed to The Grove.

We got there, found the events manager, I introduced myself, and told him that I knew we were super early. Lenny told me I could be back in the area around 6:45. We ended up going to the cafe for sweets and coffee and on the way back, Lenny stopped me and said that I could come with him.  Lenny and I went into the super sekrit back room slash office where Gretchen and Tamara were hiding.  We chatted for a few minutes and then I went back to the event area.

Tamara, Gretchen, and Robyn came out right after 7pm.  They had a quick little photoshoot with a Getty photographer and I waited in the audience.  As soon as they were settled in, I sat up on the stage with them.

Me {whispering to the authors}: Okay,  you’re being recorded now.

G {into microphone}: ohhhhhhhhhh greaaaaaaaaaaaat.  We’re being recorded everybody.

T: no pressure

R: no one told me we were being recorded.

T: so don’t swear

Me: please introduce yourself and give the elevator pitch for your book.

G: hi everyone. I’m Gretchen McNeil. I am the author of 7, almost 8 young adult novels. Most of them are horror, but not this beautiful pink one you see right here. That would be a bait and switch if it included graphic murder like my other books. {she then gives the pitch for book.} so that’s my feminist rom-com book without graphic death and decapitation.

R: can you write that next?

G: it’s literally next.

R: are we not supposed to put those things in our books?

G: just not in pink ones.

R: I don’t know if I’ve done this right you guys. Hi, I’m Robin Schneider. I am the author of The Beginning of Everything, Extraordinary Means, and my newest one, Invisible Ghosts. {She then talks about what the book is about.} It’s sort of a romantic, coming of age, ghost, horror thing.

T: Hi I am Tamara Ireland Stone, I am the author of Time Between Us, Time After Time, Every Last Word, and a middle grade, Click’d. This is my fifth book. {She then gives the pitch for it.} I pitched it as Eleanor & Park meets the movie Saved. Somehow along the way, it got a little bit of a Friday Night Lights vibe in it and I’m so thrilled. And then are there Judy Blume fans? I kind of think of it as Forever meets Are you There God, it’s me, Margaret. Which sounds kind of strange, but if you read it…

G: that’s the longest comp title I’ve ever heard.

T: well, it’s really just the Eleanor and Park part, but I kind of have to put the rest of it in there.

G: Stacee, are you going to introduce yourself?

Me: No.

T: yes, you have to.

Me: no. No, I’m not.

T: we will do it for you if you don’t do it for yourself.

Me: I’m not going to do it.

G: this is Stacee Evans, otherwise known as book junkee and if you don’t follow her blog and her Instagram, you should because she is all about young adult fiction and she moderates a lot of panels which means she knows a lot of authors.

Me: *sighs*

Someone from the audience: your Instagram is wonderful. I love it.

Me: thank yooooooooou.

T: yes. Her Instagram is gorgeous.

G: If you love books and you’re on Instagram, you should follow her.

Me: yeah, follow me.

T: and now we’ve embarrassed her.

R: you should have just introduced yourself.

Me: no, I never will. That’s why I say you need to introduce yourself, because then I don’t have to do it and then it doesn’t come back to me having to introduce myself.

Sort your main characters into their Hogwarts houses.

G: thanks for the softball to start off with.

T: yeah, no kidding.

R: haven’t you already thought about it? I’ve been tweeting mine for weeks.

T: okay, then you can start.

R: Rose is a hufflepuff. Jamie is a slytherin who thinks he’s a gryffindor and he’s totally not. Do I need to sort the rest of them? I think if I have to sort a ghost and he can’t just be a house ghost…I haven’t really thought about Logan, but he’s probably Ravenclaw.

T: I think Hannah is a Hufflepuff. Emory is probably a Gryffindor. {to me:} you’ve read the book.

Me: I read it 7 months ago. I’ve got nothing.

T: so I guess I won’t be going to you for help. What do you think Gretchen?

G: Beatrice thinks she’s a Ravenclaw because she’s all about her brain and her mind. Realistically, her and her two best friends, Gabe and Spencer, are all Gryffindors. Jesse, the guy she’s in love with is clearly a Slytherin, but like a really dumb Slytherin. We don’t really talk about dumb Harry Potter characters, but we really should because they exist. Crabbe. Goyle. And Toile, named after the fabric, is our manic pixie dream girl and she’s definitely a Hufflepuff, but nobody knows that until the end.

Are you guys sorted? Do you know your houses?

G: is there anyone who isn’t?

{someone in the audience raises their hand}

G: Get on that, girl.

R: it’s your homework.

G: I’m gryffindor

R: I’m Slytherin, but I always say that you have two houses: your adult house and the one that you would have been sorted into at 11. My 11 year old house is totally gryffindor.

T: I’m a Hufflepuff. I keep reading all the stats and thinking that maybe I’m a Gryffindor, but no.

Within any sort of media: movies, books, tv, who is your favorite villain?

G: I talk about this a lot when I teach writing and it’s the difference between the T-Rex and the velociraptor in Jurassic Park. The T-Rex is bigger and meaner, right? It’s got bigger teeth and claws, but it’s not very smart. A velociraptor can figure out how to open a freakin’ door. Smarter villains are always the best, so I’m going to go with the velociraptor. Okay, not Jurassic World. Not Blue. The original movie. Those things were terrifying.

R: I’ve always loved Loki. I’ve always thought he’s a great villain, but he’s sort of crossed into hero territory. Maybe Villanelle from Killing Eve. Have you guys watched this? {Robyn then went on to give a synopsis of the show.} It has really good fashion and really good killing.

G: I just wrote my first female serial killer. Most of my killers are dudes.

T: that must have been so much fun.

G: it was. She is psycho and it’s great.

T: I sound like I’m making a plug for Incredibles 2, but I swear I’m not. Even if the sequel wasn’t coming out this week, I still would’ve said Syndrome. I just love him. Incredibles is one of my all-time favorite movies. I study movies the way I study books now: i’m looking at structure and pace. I really think the Incredibles one of those perfect movies. Syndrome is a smart villain like you said. I can totally relate to the “I work alone buddy”.

What is your favorite word?

G: *laughing* I can’t say it here. You said no swearing.

Me: I didn’t say that.

T: I said that. It was a joke.

G: it’s the word that I have to cut out of my books the most.

Me: what does it rhyme with?

G: it rhymes with duck. And if you spent more than five minutes with me outside of a book event, you know that I use it frequently. I always get notes back that say, “Okay Gretchen, you know we have to cut out 2/3 of the swearing.” Sorry librarians. It’s just so evocative.

T: it really is. Sometimes you just have to get it out.

R: I guess this is just like super me you know. If you’ve read my books, it’s not a surprise. It’s a German word: schattenparker. What it means is wimp, but the literal translation is “someone who purposefully parks their car in the shade so the interior does not heat up.”

T: there’s a word for that?

R: yes and it’s German and if you call someone that they get all insulted.

G: that’s called smart. Is this because there’s not enough sunshine in Germany? In LA we’re like that’s what you do and in Germany they’re like “sunshine? You have to enjoy it. Let your car soak it up for those five minutes a day.”

T: I will always pick onomatopoeias. I love words like slurp. I’m going to go with incendiary today. I love the word and I’ve been saying it a lot just for fun and I don’t know why.

G: I thought you’re going to say onomatopoeia was your favorite word.

T: Onomatopoeia is a fantastic word.

G: they came up with smart person words and I used the trailer word. So now you know.

Least favorite word?

G: I have two words and it’s due date. Every time you write a book you have a due date and they’re never fun. It’s never like you have all the time in the world here’s three months deliver your first round of revisions. No, it’s more like it took us eight weeks to get you an edit letter and now we need these back in four days. It’s not really four days, but usually like four weeks.

T: something painful.

G: yes. That’s how fast we have to turn these things around.

R: i’m just going to copy her because I have no idea. So I’ll say deadline which is similar.

T: feel like moist such an easy one. If my daughter were sitting here she would just be cringing.

For either love or money, which book do you wish you had written?

G: my favorite horror novel is the haunting of hill house by Shirley Jackson. Well it’s actually a novella. The opening lines are the definition of insanity and then the second line is “Hill House, not sane, stood where it had always stood for 80 years” and it’s just so brilliant. I hate her. So I’ll take that one. I’ll just rewrite it no one would know, right? She’s dead.

R: this is how I knew I was a Slytherin. People have asked me what I would do with a Time Machine and I said I would go back with copies of the Harry Potter books and I would publish them myself. And I know it’s awful. I truly do think J. K. Rowling should have those. She did it all herself and they’re hers. Something that I love and is the secret history by Donna Tartt. I also would really love to write the film adaptation for that. I know it’s never going to happen. I have never loved a book more than I have love that one.

T: i’m a specially drawn to paper towns by John Green for whatever reason. I especially love the character of Margo Roth Spiegelman. I love getting into a bad girl’s head. She’s not that bad, but I just love her prankster ways and who she is. She’s just so comfortable in her own skin. I tried to borrow a little bit of that for my Emory character in LDWK because I just thought Margo was a fun character to hang out with for an entire book.

What book do you wish you could read again for the first time?

*deep sighs from all three authors*

T: this is painful

R: it’s so hard.

Me: do you want to talk about your writing process instead?

G: No. One of the books that I read as a kid that would have liked to read again when I was older because I think I would have had a different experience is Anne of Green Gables. If I would’ve read it at 18 or 19 instead of around 11 or 12 when I did, I don’t know if it would’ve ruined my childhood to grow up without Anne. Seeing something again through adult eyes, I’ll never have that experience with a book like that.

R: I wish I could have read The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks when I was in high school. It would’ve been really great. It was just so feminist and such a takedown of the patriarchy and I loved it to pieces. I wish I would’ve had it at 15.

T: *sighs*

G: you’ve had all this time.

T: you guys are just so good. I devoured the Harry Potter series and I would love to go back and read them again. I read them as an adult, I didn’t get to read them as a kid. I would’ve enjoyed reading them with my kids for the first time.

If you could have dinner with any character, who would it be?

G: are they picking up the tab? Because then I want to go with a millionaire and go somewhere really fancy and eat something fancy like a lobster Thermidor. I don’t even know what lobster Thermidor is, but I feel like I should order it. If Bruce Wayne is taking me to dinner, I’m going to order a gold crusted lobster with a side of steak and diamonds.

Me: I like that you’re more concerned about what you’re having for dinner than who it is you’re going with.

G: I mean, yeah. I actually don’t think having dinner with Bruce Wayne would be all that entertaining. He’d just be like *does Batman voice* IM BRUCE WAYNE and I would probably be a disappointment.

T: it can be any character?

Me: any character, yes.

T: you’re mean.

R: I’m blanking on everyone.

T: we can’t choose real people?

Me: no, but just out of curiosity, who would you choose?

T: I immediately thought of Stephen King.

G: well he’s like a character.

Me: ooh, that’s good but it doesn’t count.

G: maybe dinner with Carrie would be fun. That would be entertaining.

T: or maybe her mom.

G: no. Her mom’s not invited.

R: i’ll say Sherlock Holmes. I would like him to read me. I would try to throw him off, it would be great. And would be like “ah, you’ve been on book tour I presume.” “How do you know that?” “All of the weariness around your eyes and all of the chins you have from all of the airplane air.”

G: and he probably wouldn’t say “what is an airplane?”

R: Sherlock Holmes but modern. It could be from the TV show I guess, but I like book Sherlock.

T: I guess I’ll say wonder woman. I would like to go out with her and learn all about her life.

G: does she eat?

T: She must eat something.

G: I guess. She’s immortal, do immortals have to eat?

Audience member: she had ice cream in the movie.

T: Well she can just watch me eat and then pay for dinner.

You just learned you’re being published for the first time.  Describe the next 5 minutes.

G: I was at my day job. I was an office manager at an employment agency. I got the call from my agent and then I hung up the phone. Then the phone rang at the office and it was some temp who wanted to know where his paycheck was. He had moved and didn’t tell us. That was the glamour of it. That’s really the glamour of being a writer, there’s no gold crusted lobster.

T: there’s no wonder woman.

G: no there’s no wonder woman. There’s no Batman. It’s just me at my day job and I did it for the next four years.

R: I was studying medicine I know my agent had told me that we were submitting the book on a Thursday night. She had told me that it would be a couple of weeks before we heard anything back. On Monday morning, I was a grad student you guys, so I didn’t roll out of bed at an appropriate hour.

So my phone rings and it’s super early, it’s like 9 AM and it was my agent she told me that we had an offer. And she was talking and talking and talking and said something about Christopher Paolini and I was just so baffled. I really think that I was half asleep. I told my agent okay that everything sounded great and then I went back to sleep.

I woke up about an hour later and wondered if I had an awkward sleep phone call with my agent. I checked my email and sure enough, I was supposed to go and have a talk with an editor who wanted to buy the book. But I was supposed to go later that day in like two hours. But I have absolutely no memory of the actual call.

In my defense my agent should not have been calling that early in the morning. She has teenagers, she knows…I was 25.

T: it happened in a yogurt shop. I think that should be the first line of my next book.

G: Or your epitaph.

T: said the horror writer.

G: but it would be pretty amazing, right?

T: I was with my kids my age was pitching it. They always start with “don’t expect anything, it could be weeks.” It was sort of set up like I was going to be in this limbo place and it happens to a lot of people. It’s a very real thing.

So I had taken my kids to get yogurt. It was later in the day and she had sent it out earlier that morning. She called me and told me that the editor had taken it into her office and shut the door and read it in one sitting and wanted to make an offer. I actually cried in Yogurt Shack. My kids thought somebody had died or that something horrible had happened. I was completely blown away.

It’s just when you want something in that much. I wasn’t expecting it to happen. It was absolutely shocking.

So, this was the end of my questions and we opened it up to the audience.  I don’t have any of those for three reasons:

  1. My phone recorder didn’t pick up the questions that were asked
  2. I’ve been working on this transcription since tuesday and the amount I do have has taken me 4 hours
  3. this post is already so long, do you really want to read twice as much?

After the last questions, it was time for the signing.  They didn’t do it row by row this time, so everyone just ran over to the side to line up.  As everyone was getting set up, Lenny said that if you purchased a book, you would get priority in the line.  Anyone who didn’t purchase a book had to wait at the end of the line.  As we were getting in line, I did hear him talking to someone who had a bag filled with arcs and books from home. He was polite, but firm when he told her that she shouldn’t have been one of the first people in line if she wasn’t going to support the store.

I went up to Gretchen first and gave her my copy of #murdertrending.  We chatted for a minute and I told her how much I loved that she was still signing with the ten hash marks and she said she was excited to be able to sign in red.  I gave her a hug and told her it was good to see her and then moved over for Robyn.

While Robyn signed my book, we talked about the other upcoming signing I was moderating for her, the questions I was going to ask, and the other author.  She gave me her phone number and had me text her so we could be in contact on Friday.

And then there’s Tamara… I don’t have words for this lady.  We hugged a couple of times.  She told me she loved the questions and had so much fun.  I thanked her for asking me to moderate.  She signed my arc and then gave me a music edition of LDWK.  I had given her a hard time about not having one and even though I was sort of joking, she spoils me rotten. We hugged a few more times and took a couple of photos before saying a final goodbye and heading home.

As always, it was great to see Tamara and Gretchen and to meet Robyn.  These ladies were so much fun and this transcription doesn’t really show all of the snark and laughter and mini tangents. IF you haven’t read their books, go forth and do so.

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