In the beginning of June, the annual Bay Area Book Festival kicked off in the heart of downtown Berkeley with all the literary awesomeness that any book lover will love. Tents, stages, art installations, food, and book lovers filled the closed-off streets.
Everywhere you turned, you see people standing in lines for panels, carrying books picked from the Lacuna installation-library, chatting with the staff and volunteers who made this festival possible at the tents, browsing the farmer’s market that happens every Saturday. Everybody that attended was here for the books.
Saturday was my only free day, so I stopped by the Festival, hoping to make up for my lack of panel attendance last year and meet some awesome authors that I adore. I only managed to attend two panels: 1. “Crossing a Bridge: Moving Between Tween and Teen and Back Again” with Tim Federle, Lauren Myracle, and Jason Reynolds; and 2. “A Sense of Place: Writing Where We Live (and Lived)” with Stephanie Kuehn, Stacey Lee, Elizabeth Percer, and Yvonne Prinz.
Not Your Mother’s Book Club™ proudly presents Carnegie Medal-winning novelist Patrick Ness, in celebration of his new novel The Rest of Us Just Live Here! A bold and irreverent novel, it powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.
You know who you must see in person if you get a chance? Patrick Ness. He is a gem, and you don’t want to miss out on a wonderful gem.
The last time Patrick Ness was in the San Francisco Bay Area for his book tour (I know he was here during ALA) was in January 2013, and I, unfortunately, had to miss it because 1. I hadn’t known about the event until day of and 2. I had sprained my ankle and I couldn’t exactly hobble around for fear of worsening it. Suffice to say, I was absolutely dyinnnnnng to meet Patrick Ness.
I did meet him when I was at ALA, but I never got the opportunity to unload all my More Than This ~feels onto him. I needed to tell him how much that book wrecked me and how much it meant to me.
Named a 2011 Young Adult Library Services Association “Best Fiction for Young Adults pick” for her debut novel, The Sky is Everywhere, Not Your Mother’s Book Club™ proudly presents presents highly acclaimed author Jandy Nelson sharing her latest masterpiece, I’ll Give You the Sun. With rave reviews by the likes of New York Times-bestselling authors Ransom Riggs and Tahereh Mafi, I’ll Give You the Sunis a radiant novel which will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
Joining Jandy is actress and audio book narrator Julia Whelan, who provided narration for Jandy’s audio recording of I’ll Give You the Sun. Julia has co-starred in Fifteen and Pregnant alongside Kirsten Dunst (1998), played Grace Manning in the Golden Globe-winning television series Once and Again (1999-2002), and was the star of the film The Secret Life of Zoey alongside Mia Farrow (2002).
No matter what, I had to see Jandy Nelson. I needed to tell her that I’ll Give You The Sun destroyed me. Rain nor shine. I was going to tell her. Absolutely imperative to my health. And see her I did.
I walked almost a mile to get to the bookstore, only because I had time to kill so I got off the train a stop earlier. (Note to self: Don’t walk the way you did. Not very safe.) And when I got to the bookstore, I was early enough that I got a very good seat.
How do I even begin to describe Rachel Hawkins? Awesome, sweet, amazing, THE BEST. I’m sure you’ve heard me credit her time and time again for convincing me to give YA a chance after I read her books. (It’s true though!) I haven’t had a minute to sit down and process my feelings on meeting one of my absolute favorite authors (because of moving and packing and unpacking).
I went to see Rachel Hawkins early April and you can guess that it was AH-MAZING! It was the first event I’ve been to since last October (Yes, that’s a long time!). The event was pretty small (because there was another event the next day in the South Bay). There were about seven people (nine if you include the bookstore staff), which was a bit awkward but awesome at the same time! She gave each attendee (fake) pearls and it was fabulous.
Tuesday evening, I went to Not Your Mother’s Book Club (NYMBC)’s Awesome O’Clock event at Books Inc to see Gayle Forman and Tamara Ireland Stone. (It’s also called “She Said, He Said: Exploring Character, Story and Perspective in Duet Novels.” :D)
If you haven’t guessed it already, the theme of the event was about DUETS! (Y’know, because Gayle and Tamara have books written from the male and female perspective.)
Gayle Forman was wearing a double happiness t-shirt and she had on the loveliest Oxford shoes! She actually took her shoes off and set them on the table. Ha! (But she eventually put her shoes back on because it was too weird to leave it on the table.) She is such a hoot! She made me laugh a lot with her puns and pure awesomeness.
The two authors began talking about writing duets (companion books). The first question was about whether they knew ahead of time that they were going to write companion books. Tamara wrote Time Between Us, hoping it’ll be part of a series, but when she got to the end of the book, she realized she really wanted it to end. She ended the book in a way that allowed readers to not read a second book if there was one or if they didn’t want to read it. With If I Stay, Gayle didn’t know that she’d write a companion book. She didn’t think it was a viable book for a sequel, but the characters kept waking her at night. With Just One Day, it was going to be a standalone for like a week (and she was going to end it exactly where she ended it in the book. *gasp*). After she finished writing the book, she realized that writing the second book would connect the books together and take the story to a different level. She said it would be more ambitious and challenging.
They read parts from their books. In Time Between Us, Tamara read the scene where Anna goes to Bennett’s grandmother’s house and sees all the family pictures. In Time After Time, she read the scene from Bennett’s perspective of his family’s pictures. Gayle read scenes with the watch in it – in Just One Day, when Allyson tells Mrs. Foley what happened and Mrs. Foley inquires about her watch, and in Just One Year, when Willem goes to Celine, hoping that Allyson stopped by and when Willem tries to find Allyson by calling touring companies in England.
Both Gayle and Tamara are pantsers (they write by the seat of their pants. No planning. No outlines). Tamara writes whatever scene enters her head. Gayle writes in chronological order, but had to experiment with skipping around in Just One Day.
They talked about how they always have families in their books because it’s a big part of the characters. “Yay for good parents,” Tamara said.
They get a lot of calls for a third book, but Gayle doesn’t want to do a third book because it wouldn’t be interesting. It’d either be about their mundane day-to-day life or about terrible tragedies like Mia from If I Stay getting pregnant and then losing the baby. Nobody wants that. Oh, and Gayle says she’s done writing duets.
Gayle and Tamara talked about why they always start writing from the female perspective and how it was to write from the males’. Gayle asked why Tamara wrote from the female’s perspective when Bennett’s the one who’s struggling with his ability. Tamara said she liked the idea of a reluctant hero and found it interesting to show that by writing in the perspective of the girl who loves him (like if Spiderman was written from Mary Jane’s POV). She was scared to write from a teenage boy’s perspective. She had her husband help her with what guys would say and found it hard when she had to write guys interacting out with other guys because they say nothing. For Gayle, it never occurred her to write from the guy’s perspective. Adam was easy to write because Gayle is like him especially when Adams is being unpleasant in Where She Went. Gayle struggled with Willem because she didn’t know him and he didn’t use the slang that Americans do (because y’know, he’s Dutch). And she didn’t want Willem to have a Dutch cultural background and tried to find something that fits.
These are the questions I remember that was asked by the audience:
QUESTION: Any new projects they’re working on?
TIS: She sold a book “Every Last Word” that’s due to come out in 2015. She noted it was good therapy writing it.
GF: The book she was writing along with Just One Day was recently sent to the publishers. She said the guy in that story is “the hottest guy ever. The hottest of the hottest.”
(Both are working on standalones; no more duets.)
QUESTION: Do they have things they have to have to write? Any routines?
TIS: She can write anywhere, but she needs her headphones. She doesn’t have to play music, but when she does, she listens to a lot of movie soundtrack. She loves writing in coffeehouses and her office.
GF: She needs to get her kid out of the house and have coffee.
QUESTION: Do they write for a specific amount a day?
GF: She writes until she feels done or when the wine bottle is depleted.
QUESTION: Do they have a celebrity that they see playing their characters?
TIS: For Bennett, Jeremy from The Vampire Diaries and for Anna, Lorde the singer (Her son reminded her). And George Clooney as the dad. ;D
GF: She doesn’t think about it ’cause it’s hard. She said the guy from the Lumineers (Wesley) would be her Willem, but only if he was less pretty and had brown eyes and looked craggier. She said he looked too earnest. LOLLL.
QUESTION: What inspired them to become writers?
TIS: Wrote for herself. It’s cathartic. She credits Judy Blume.
GF: The romance answer is that the story inspires her, but poverty inspires her. ;D (She used to work as a journalist and that did not pay well.)
QUESTION: How do they name their books?
TIS: She wanted to name Time Between Us Möbius because she found the Möbius strip to be fascinating because it said that time could be manipulated. She liked the idea of events coming full circle. Her editor named Time After Time.
GF: She filed If I Stay as “Why Not,” then it changed to “If” and then to “If I Stay.” She said Just One Day came to her in a dream.
QUESTION: How do they name their characters?
TIS: She always liked the name Bennett and she chose Anna because it’s simple and a classic name. It’s also a palindrome!
GF: With Allyson’s name, she wanted an everyday name with a weird spelling. And with Willem, it’s a common Dutch name. (Note: she named him Willem before she knew William Shakespeare was going to be an element in the book.)
They sang a duet too! Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and it was sooo awesome.
(*The two pictures of Gayle and Tamara were not taken by me.)
I told Gayle Forman I am living vicariously through her books since I can’t travel (even though I want to since it’s an absolute must after college but I haven’t yet). She said I still have time since I’m young. :D She gave me some free swag (the double happiness tattoo, two postcards, and a fucking awesome bookmark). I really love that you wrote “all the feels” in If I Stay. :D I wanted to take a picture with Gayle but my camera’s battery died :((((((, but luckily, Gayle use her phone to a picture of the two of us and emailed it to me. :’D So sweet of her!
I did not get anything signed by Tamara Ireland Stone. Only because I plan to see her and Veronica Rossi (again) on the 23rd. *crossing my fingers that I do!*
I’m so happy that I went. I just hope I like Just One Year.
On Wednesday evening, I went to see Maggie Stiefvater at Mrs. Dalloway’s.
Maggie Stiefvater is an incredible storyteller, not just in her books but real life too. When the event started, you couldn’t help but hang onto her every word. It’s almost like she hypnotizes her audience with her awesomeness.
When the event officially started, the first thing Maggie did was unravel the mic cords from the stand and proceeded to tell us, the audience, that she bought a few baked treats from the bakery and ate them all in the bookstore’s back room so she’s extra energetic. She talked about how her books are getting difficult to describe and that it’s failing the elevator test (which you have to describe your book in the time it takes to get up two floors. Elevator conversation, you may call it). She went on to talk about how The Dream Thieves is about Ronan, whose good attributes are that he’s brave and loyal.
Maggie talked about new characters – Joseph Kavinsky and Mr. Gray. She told us that Kavinsky is basically Ronan, but 100 times more horrible, and that Kavinsky tries to lure Ronan further into the dark side (haven’t we heard of this before? ;D).
While she talked about Kavinsky, she somehow segued into a story about her launch party for The Dream Thieves in Kansas City. Let me tell you that it was fucking hilarious; I was shaking so hard with laughter. I don’t remember all the specifics, but it involves: a knife spray-painted on the side of Maggie’s car; readers spray paint her car (which was on purpose); drunk guys approaching Maggie while she’s signing books and telling her there is somebody more famous in town; “got milk,” “we love cows,” and a gang sign on her car; removing said gang sign from the side of the car whilst the landscaping guys shaped the bushes; her goats got loose, got high on the spray paint remover thingy, and ran into the car door when they saw their reflection. A day in Maggie-Stiefvater’s life.
Then, when she talked about Mr. Gray, she got a couple of volunteers to read the different roles when Mr. Gray is first introduced. It was pretty cute and funny, seeing Maggie and the volunteers speak the lines.
After the Mr. Gray reading, Maggie answered questions. I don’t remember the questions at all. So, I’ll go with fun facts I remembered Maggie Stiefvater saying during the event:
- Maggie was part of a bagpiping competition for three years.
- When she was in Paris years ago for a book tour, it snowed for the first time there in 18 years, but she didn’t stay in the city; instead, she took her husband to the cliffs of Normandy.
- She is super into Maxfield Parrish, who you should Wikipedia because she said so.
- She did research on a Mitsubishi by going to a dealership and “accidentally” buying one.
- She raced cars. (She may or may not have said she raced that Mitsubishi she bought.)
- She has a mean right hook.
- She was “terrible” like Ronan when she was younger.
- She had the idea of The Raven Boys and knew she wanted the whole Noah thing to happen since she was 19.
- When she dined with her UK publisher and they asked her whom she’d want to play Sam (from The Wolves of Mercy Falls series) if there was a movie. Her answer was Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys and she proceeded to describe that he’s perfect because he has a big nose and a gangly body. She was later told that Alex Turner’s (then-)girlfriend was sitting behind them, so Maggie inadvertently insulted Alex Turner.
- She chose the voices for The Scorpio Races’ audiobook – Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. Librarians were pretty much in love with Steve West.
- She gets angry when she thinks about Blue’s name because Jay Z and Beyoncé named their kid Blue Ivy. ;D
FACT: I did not know what to say to Maggie Stiefvater.
I wanted to say something along the lines of “hey, I love the history and mythology in The Raven Boys,” but I felt like I would have to elaborate on it. Yes, I did study history in college, but nothing about Welsh kings.
You know what I did say? “I’m a ball of nervousness.” Yup. That’s what I said. Maggie jokily asked me if she was an intimidating person, and yes, she is because of this overflow of energy she has. She asked me if I had a dog (nope), a cat (nope but I do like them), allergies (nope), if I was an only child (to which I responded with “I think like two” and she teased me for not knowing how many siblings I have. In my defense, I was very flustered by all these rapid-fire questions!).
Majestic horse! I wish I gotten Maggie to draw a raven since there was plenty of time. Alas, I didn’t. I will settle for the pretty horse!