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.