Seraphina, as previously described, blew my mind a little. So promptly after putting it down I emailed Lindsey over at Random House and begged her to please, please tell me Rachel Hartman was doing a signing sometime between August 8th and 13th in Vancouver. Because I was going to be there, and I had to meet this spectacular woman (she lives in Vancouver, I wasn't just randomly picking a location). To which she promptly replied that she could do one better, Rachel was going to be HERE on thursday. Yes, as in 3 days from the moment we were emailing.
And I said I was never lucky!
So it was with great glee that I attended the Toronto Public Libraries I Haven't Read the Book Club event with Rachel Hartman and Kelley Armstrong. A collaborative effort between Mables Fables, the Toronto Public Library and Small Print Toronto, it's a bi-montly event for teens where they can flex their writing muscles and meet they're favourite authors. Ok, so obviously my teen years are past me, and my writing muscle is like all my other muscles and doesn't respond well to on the spot performance. But all the same I went and it was a blast. Lets just say this was my second Toronto Library author event, and they throw the best author events I've ever attended. I mean, other than the ones at Random House. There was even popcorn!
All the usual blogging suspects were present, and then a good turn out of teens as well. There was a brief Q&A between Kelley and Rachel, then Rachel suggested a writing exercise and everyone got to work. Except me. I froze up, and could literally think of NOTHING. I told you, I bad when I'm put on the spot. I went through French Immersion for 13 years, and am fluent, but if someone goes -say something french- I forget every single thing I know and just stare blankly at them. So I sat in the back and giggled and generally distracted people. Then I thought of excuses I could use if anyone called on me. It was like high school all over again. Just without any cute guys I had crushes on. So marginally less embarrassing.
Once the time was up, several very brave/selfless people (many of them the not teen bloggers) took mercy on us and volunteered to read their essays. Then there was an open forum discussion about writing. And more popcorn. Followed at the end by a signing.
What inspired Seraphina?
In her 30's her parents got divorced and it set her to wondering what it would be like if you married someone and found out many years later they weren't who you thought they were.
It's such a rich world, how did you come up with it?
She'd been drawing a comic of this world for a long time before the book, so she had already developed the world. The dragons inhabiting human skin came from her not being able to draw dragons.
Will there be more?
YES! She's writing it now. Hopefully summer 2013 it will publish. Assuming all goes well with deadlines!
Seraphina is such a great and capable Heroine, where did she come from?
She is a tribute to so many great women she's known. She has one really musical sister and one really smart sister (lots of laughs on that one caused Rachel to amend it to -ok, both of them are smart, they both have PHD's and she does not).
Were you into Dragons growing up?
Yes, she loved books with Dragons, and thinks she probably owes Anne McCaffrey a subconscious debt.
Rachel- She started writing when she was 11 and was inspired by one of her teachers. At one point she handed in a poem to which the teacher wrote on the bottom "Rachel you're a real writer!" And she thought, Yes! I am!
On her greatest skill as a writer:
Rachel- Patience with herself (Kelley agreed). Seraphina took 9 years to write from the first inkling to publication, and if someone had told her when she started that she would be 40 before it published it would have been discouraging.
On if they were plotters or if they let the story just flow:
Kelley- Both, though with deadlines she's more of a plotter. Early on she was a let it flow writer. Plots need to be something you're not married to, more like casual dating. If you see something better out there you need to go for it!
Rachel- She wrote with the flow for the first draft and after submitting it to numerous publishers and being told repeatedly that "you're a good writer, if you ever figure out what a plot is, contact me." she decided it was time to plot.
On how helpful is it to work with other writers:
Rachel- Doesn't really know many other writers yet.
Kelley- Writing groups are hard, because they all need to actually, consistently, be writing (not necessarily published). Published writers retreats are great! It's like girlie slumber parties for writers. Lots of talk about craft, and it's great to get out of your head for awhile. The YA community is especially inclusive.
On Why YA?
Because of the kinds of questions she was asking and also because it's a hopeful time of life. She feels like adult lit is often about looking back and regrets.
On who is a big inspiration (writers):
Rachel- Terry Pratchett. She thinks they're interested in the same kind of questions, social questions.