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September 30, 2013 • Cee • Events

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Yesterday, I went to the Fierce Reads event. IT WAS FRICKIN’ AWESOME.

It was a fabulous event. I arrived an hour early, before the staff at the bookstore even set up the chairs. I spent my time browsing the store, and when they finally set up the chairs, I took a seat in front of the four chairs (that the authors would be sitting). I was actually an arm away from the authors. (See, at the bottom picture, literally an arm away. Such a great seat!) I had been initially worried and nervous about talking to people because I feel awkward, but the people there were friendly. A woman, whose name I forgot (sorry!), let me read her Cress ARC before the event and the seven chapters that I read, frickin’ amazing. I need that book in my life!

When the event started, each authors introduced themselves and their books. We have –
Leila Sales – author of This Song Will Save Your Life
S.A. Bodeen – author of The Compound and The Fallout
Marissa Meyer – author of Cinder and Scarlet
Alexandra Coutts – author of Tumble & Fall
(In the order of when they introduced  their books.)

This was the first Fierce Reads event that the authors did not have a moderator, so they decided to ask questions to each other that they wanted to know and then opened the questions up to audience.

Question: What Hogwarts House would your character be in and why? Or which House would you pick yourself in? (Asked by Leila Sales)
Marissa Meyer (MM): Cinder and Scarlet would be Gryffindor because they’re no-nonsense, take no prisoners, willing to get the job done, and brave. Marissa would most likely be a Hufflepuff.
S.A. Bodeen (SAB): Eli, the main character in The Compound and The Fallout, would be mistakenly put into Slytherin because Eli’s considered the bad twin. He has done bad things and people would most likely judge Eli for what’s on the surface.
Leila Sales (LS): Elise would be put into Slytherin because she thinks she’s terrible because she “has been feed negative ideas of herself over the course of her life from her peers and would have a negative self-imagery of herself.” And terrible people belong in Slytherin, especially if Gryffindor is for brave people, Ravenclaw for smart people, Hufflepuff for nice people, and Slytherin is for terrible people.
Alexandra Coutts (AC): All three characters would be in Gryffindor because they would have to be brave to go out into the world despite an asteroid coming.

Question: What has been your favorite highlights so far on the Fierce Reads tour? (Asked by Marissa Meyer)
SAB: Being able to hang out with the other authors on the tour.
LS: Getting to meet teenagers. (She’s usually surrounded by adults, but interacting with teenagers is the best.)
AC: Getting to read during flights.
MM: A teenage fan gave her a necklace that was made from wire to form the words ‘Cinder’ with a card that read “Thank you for all the daydreams.”

Question: If Square Fish (an imprint that makes the paperbacks at Macmillan) wants to cut 20 pages of your book, what scene would you cut out? Or is there a character you would cut? (Asked by S.A. Bodeen. Very tough question for all the other authors.)
LS: Everybody thinks her book is short, so it’ll be hard to cut anything.
MM: Probably minor characters.
AC: She doesn’t know who, but knows she wouldn’t cut out Gretchen, who is AC’s favorite character, even though readers do not like Gretchen and call her ‘Wretched Gretchen.’
SA: Her answer is that Square Fish would have enough money to publish her entire book. (Hahahaha. :D)

Question: If you weren’t writing and editing for a living, what would you do? (Asked by Alexandra Coutts)
MM: Tell people how to live their lives (like Blake Lively – lifestyle curator).
LS: Event planner.
SAB: Social studies teacher.
AC: A jazz singer.

Question: To S.A. Bodeen, did your job influence the way you created the male POVs?
SAB: She doesn’t know if that influenced her. She finds it pretty amazing that boys like her book and are enjoying reading because of it.

Question: What research did you do for your book?
AC: For her first book, Wish, she moved to San Francisco for four months (because it’s set there). For Tumble & Fall, she researched about asteroids and watched visual simulations of what would happen if an asteroid hit the Earth.
MM: Spaceships, moon colonies (+ how that would work), mind control + actual scientific theory on how you would control people, and cyborgs. Her favorite research moment was when she and her husband got underneath an old Mustang, and he pointed out what everything was.
SAB: For The Compound, she researched how to build an atomic bomb. For The Fallout, she researched Doomsday preppers. For The Raft, she went online to look at rafts and survival kits.
LS: Went to dance parties to see what people were wearing and how they were dancing. Read things about  how to DJ and the technicalities of it.

Question: Is there a scene that you wanted to change if you had more time to work on it?
SAB: People wanted a sequel to The Compound. She got an idea and drafted up an outline, wrote it, and sent it to her editor. Her editor sent back the first 150 pages and told her to scrape the other half, so S.A. had to rewrite half of the book.
AC: The whirlwind romance. People felt it was too fast. Alexandra would make it clearer that Sienna and the boy were responding to what was going on around them (the impending doom).
MM: She wished she made it more obvious that readers are supposed to pick up on the big reveal. (Readers felt she was trying to hide the big reveal, but she didn’t intend that. She wanted the suspense to come from knowing the secret and how it’ll unfold for the characters.)
LS: Pleased with her book.

Question: What is your writing process? And has that process change from book to book?
MM: She’s very chronological writer – never deviates from beginning to end. However, for her third and fourth book, her process changes because she has more characters (+ their subplot) to add, so she finds it easier to jump around more.
LS: Writes chronologically + a perfectionist as she writes. She won’t leave blanks. (ie. If she wanted a teacher to be of Indian descent, then she’ll sift through lists and won’t move on until she figures it out.) (That is totally like me!)
SAB: Really lousy drafter. She gets it out fast. She’s a good reviser.
AC: A combo. Outlines a lot. Very linear. Writes in order. She won’t skip ahead.  She can’t move on if something isn’t what she wants it to be.

Question: When you sit down to write, do you have any particular rituals you have or items you need?
LS: Will not write without chocolate chips nearby. Doesn’t have to be in arms reached. She wants it there because she can potentially eat them if the going gets rough.
SAB: A hot drink with her favorite mug.
MM:  Something to sip at, usually water (or glass of wine in the evening). Has to wear socks because cold feet distract her.
AC: Has to wear something comfortable – pajama-esque.

Question: Do you do anything to bribe yourself into writing? (Asked by Marissa Meyer)
SAD: Get an iced-coffee from McDonald’s.
LS: Going out for ice cream. (If the store closes at 10pm and if it’s 9pm, she has to  write or she won’t get ice cream.)
MM: Doesn’t put off bribing herself. She “seduces” her computer having chocolate and lighting a nice candle. :D

Question: What is your favorite book?
MM: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
SAB: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
LS: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
AC: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (and also, Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume)

FUN FACT

  • Leila said she doesn’t have marketable life skills and created an “I don’t have any marketable life skills” Facebook group in college.
  • Marissa worked as a typesetter and a proofreader.
  • S.A. was a social studies teacher. She also taught a middle school geography class that had 18 boys and two girls.
  • Leila loves the song “This Old Heart of Mine” by the Isley Brothers.
  • S.A never intended for The Compound to have a sequel.
  • S.A. has a favorite mug that says “Live long and prosper.”
  • The ending of This Song Will Save Your Life took Leila a lot of rewrites.
  • Marissa has a tattoo on her upper back – a stack of books. When she got published, she wanted her tattoo to be a stack of books. She got it a month or two after Cinder came out. Four of the stacked books represent The Lunar Chronicles books and the one on top is everything that will come in the future.

After the Q&A section, it was the signing! (I was so glad that I purchased my books beforehand because I would’ve have to wait in line.) I got an “I Love Iko” pin (and I would’ve gotten “Big Bad Wolf” if I had known there was one). When I got my books signed by Marissa, I was sooo overwhelmed. We talked about Sailor Moon (which was awesome because she loves Sailor Moon, and Sailor Moon was an integral part of my childhood) while she signed my books. I also took a picture with her. :DDDD

Because I couldn’t buy the other author’s books (which I really felt bad about), I made them sign my Moleskine and got a picture taken with each of them. I was pretty much all over the place, but I am extremely happy! It was a fabulous event. Meeting all the authors made me love them to pieces!

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(From left to right: S.A. Bodeen, Alexandra Coutts, Marissa Meyer, Leila Sales)





September 16, 2013 • Cee • Reviews

Alexandra Coutts - Tumble & FallTumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
September 17, 2013
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings

The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that’s left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.

Alexandra Coutts’s Tumble & Fall is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.myreview

First sentence: “The day she gets out, it feels like the end.”

Oh, cover of Tumble & Fall, how you have misled me. You would think I wouldn’t judge a book by its cover, right? WRONG.

You might think this book is strictly about the apocalypse, but it’s not; it’s more contemporary with an apocalyptic backdrop, dealing with relatable issues like family, death, and absent parents. Tumble & Fall follows three characters – Sienna, Zan, and Caden – as they continue with their daily lives while they wait for the asteroid, Persephone, to hit Earth. Sienna has just been released from rehab due to her depression and has to adjust to life on the outside. Zan mourns the death of her boyfriend, Leo, and goes on a scavenger hunt to find out what he was doing in his last moments. Caden deals with his alcoholic mother and an absent father who kidnaps him, which I can only describe as a bizarre mess.

I wanted to like Tumble & Fall. I really did, but this book was sooo goddamn boring. Reading it was like waiting for the impending doom to arrive. I wanted the end to come, so I didn’t have to force myself to trudge through the nonsense (maybe that was the point of the book?). The story was very slow and dull because of the lack of plot. It was very much “a day in the life of these characters” with an added bonus of the world ending. Yes, “a day in the life” stories can be done well, but I struggled hard to connect with this book, especially why  the author decided to use an apocalypse as a backdrop since it didn’t really change the way any of the characters dealt with their issues.

Besides the plot, I didn’t connect with the story because I found the characters and their situations to be unlikeable and unrealistic. They felt one-dimensional. I didn’t feel like I knew them enough to understand their actions. Their stories lacked a connection to each other, which was fine, but I felt that it was too disjointed, especially when it came to Caden’s POV. I was extremely turned off by the instalove that occurred in Sienna’s POV. (I kept thinking, “Ummm, honey, I know the world is ending, but you have known this guy for FOUR DAYS. FOUR. FUCKING. DAYS. Just think about it for sec.” You can just imagine the look of disgust on my face when I read that part. Eww.) The only problem with Zan’s POV was that I didn’t care for her “epic love” with Leo. I didn’t understand why I should care. Caden’s POV was extremely different to Sienna’s and Zan’s POVs. Everything in his part was…how should I say…comical? (I’m sure it was unintended.) It was like a messed up circus. So many absurd things occurred during his POV that I was left with a big fat WTF??? over my head. His situation felt extremely exaggerated, so I was so close to dismissing the entirety of his POV.

I like that Tumble & Fall is very much an examination of what people do when they know the end is near. Do they run around the cities, stealing anything they can get their hands on? Or do they spend the rest of their time relaxing with their family? Or do they try to cross out things on their bucket list before the end finally arrives? It made me think of what I would do if an asteroid was to Earth in a few days.

I would advise against reading this book. I had to force myself to read it, which is one of the worst feelings on the world. If you want something apocalyptic, go watch “This Is The End” featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco or “The World’s End” featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Those were way more entertaining than Tumble & Fall.

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