Coming to you from Naperville Illinois at Anderson’s Book Store June 2011
The Dark Days of Supernatural tour featured five fabulous authors time stop on the tour, and of course their amazing books! The five featured authors were:
After some great, and funny, introductions on themselves, we launched into a Q&A with the authors. People were picked at random, and I did my best to scrawl it all out via my computer.
Many people now run book blogs. Do the blogs ever impact how you write the next part of your story, how you feel about what you’ve already written, or inspire you? (asked by MMSAI)
Aprilynne – read a lot more book blogs when she first came out because she liked to read them and find out if she’d done anything universally wrong. She doesn’t look much anymore, unless she’s curious about someone else’s book.
Ellen – doesn’t read the blogs but does read her emails – it gives her an idea of what people want to see in the next book.
Veronica – She used to check them more then now…checking reviews makes her nervous so it harms her ability to write. It’s a good place to find out good things to read because some of the reviews are really intelligent and thoughtful.
Amy – In the beginning when there was nothing else to do, she read everything that came out. After things started heating up, she stopped reading about herself. She still loves to read about other authors though.
Tara – She does like when the blogs give more personal aspects that are more specific like author interviews or character interviews. It shows more about the authors/characters personalities.
Here’s Rosmelie with Amy Plum with a little sign saying “Hi Amber”
The ladies comment on the Wall Street Journal Controversy about YA books being too dark.
Veronica - sometimes things disturb you but sometimes it’s a good thing. It’s okay as a parent sometimes to say not to read it…but what’s not okay is telling other parents to tell their children not to read the books. Some kids need those books to get through their own issues.
Ellen – There’s not just one kind of book, use your discretion
Aprilynne – She works hard not to make the books dark and disturbing – there is a lot of good stuff…from 12 and up. Bright and fluffy bubblegum, and there is dark and disturbing that shouldn’t be given to anyone under 16. They deserve respect.
Amy and Tara agree.
What inspires you?
Amy – The inspiration is internal. She has to write. It’s a compulsion. Whether or not it’s getting published, she has to write.
Tara – Had her first child this year and was still working full time…for her, writing was just fun. It’s what she does when she needs to have fun. You get stressed and writing is where she goes when she needs to relax. She’s tired after but it’s the good kind of tired. You’re exhausted afterwards, but it’s fun. Writing is her running…if only running were her running.
Ellen – Life is inspiring, whether she sees someone on the street or it’s just for fun. When she was young she had an entire imaginary school system…so sometimes as she aged those things are still in her mind. Different people, different ideas, different formations.
Veronica – has been writing since 6th grade. She writes because she likes to and because she’s working through things. Tris’ entire struggle is overcoming fear and that’s Veronica’s issue because of Anxiety problems. It teaches you when you write a lot of the time.
Do you know how your books will end…and what’s your writing process?
Aprilynne – She knows where the series is going to end. She writes an outline. She never skips ahead and if she skipped ahead she’d not be able to write the rest of the book. It gives her motivation to start at the beginning.
Ellen – She’ll do the outline sometimes, but she’s organic and sometimes she has an image of the scene and will go from there. It may be the middle, end, or beginning. She’ll also go in by what mood she’s in.
Veronica – She doesn’t like outlining and when she does, it hurts. She writes out of order. She wrote all the scenes with Four first. He was compelling. Then she wrote the beginning and filled in the gaps. Sometimes you’re just in the mood for zip-lining off the Hancock building.
Tara – With Hereafter, it was structured and outlined. She completely revised it from the original draft. Big changes happened from how it would go. The second book was written differently. She let it flow. She was very mood oriented and just went with it. The second book got really action packed because she was in an action mood a lot of the time.
Amy – She flies by the seat of her pants. With Die for Me, she planned it as one book but she kept going. She had no idea where really she was going, but she took it day by day. It was organic but stressful. It’s like reading really slowly and not knowing what’s going to happen before you go to bed. When she found it was going to be a trilogy, she started planning a little bit. She needed some kind of underlying foundation. She’s done it roundabout. She knows what the end of the series is.
Deciding character ages:
Amy – that was the first thing she decided. The first thing she came up with was Kate and while thinking about who she was, the original first sentence was “10 days after my sixteenth birthday, my parents died in a car accident”
Tara – Decided the age of Amelia about 12 years ago. At the end of the short story she wrote she was looking for Joshua. She always knew she’d be 18.
Aprilynne – She knew where the series needed to end so she had to count backwards. Ideally with it, she wanted to make her a freshman to start…but ended up starting her as a sophomore. The high school her character goes to is a real h.s. But then she decided it would be all the sophomore’s first days.
Ellen – Raven she wanted to turn 16…so she started with her as 15. She knew she wanted it that way. The other series she’s been working on, she knew she wanted to make her 16 originally, but then she made it older.
Veronica – She did it as 16 because it seemed like an awful idea to make you decide who you are and who you will be forever at such a young age. Tris seems the young age.
Online question: What was your first reaction to cover art?
Veronica – When she first got the cover art, it looked almost exactly like it does now. It wasn’t originally the Chicago skyline. When she first got it she was all “this is not Chicago, they’ll know”. She was very happy about it, she didn’t think having a face/girl on the cover would be good because there’s a lot of action stuff on there…and putting a girl on the cover would exclude a lot of people. The symbol is in the book so to see it in front of her was awesome and she loves it.
Ellen -She loved the model when she saw it and when it was first done it was whiter…it was strange but she loved it.
Aprilynne – When she first started doing the cover process her editor basically told her all this stuff about how they built a whole huge thing about it but then it wasn’t the same with anything and her agent sent the cover…by the way they scrapped the cover shoot. She loved everything except that it was white and the girl was horrifically ugly. The way that it was laid out was good but the girl wasn’t pretty. She tried for 3 weeks to love the cover. When she got the new cover art, the thumbprint was very strange and it was messed up…she thought it got worse. She finally pressed the view button and it was gorgeous.
Tara – Loves her cover. Hereafter is set in Oklahoma and she swears she saw that as a vision and it looks like every river and lake you see in OK, and the girl’s kind of gorgeous. In the original version, she was in a sundress and had blonde hair. She only had to change the hair color throughout the book because of the cover. She loves the blue that evokes a haunting cover.
Amy – She had a similar experience to Aprilynne. They have the same editor. Kate in the boat was going to be the American cover. Studio was rented, they had a boat in there, got a gorgeous model, and it was great. The only comment she had was the boat was red in the book and the cover looked like pink velvet. The British version (Adam) came up with the cover and when Harper-Collins saw it, they loved it. They had already printed bookmarks, arcs, etc…and they decided to change it by the new cover. Both scenes could have come from the book, but the actual version is kind of a teaser to book 2.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Amy – Write every day. That was the best thing she ever did. She has been writing since she was very young. When she moved to France she was very isolated, she started writing a blog…short stories and such. She wrote every single day. Your brain is a muscle, and if you work it out it gets stronger and better.
Tara – You need a support network. Basically like Beta readers. She wrote the first chapter on a lunch break because she was mad at her boss. She sent the chapter to her two best friends and the question they gave her was “what’s next?” By the time they were entrenched it, she had half a book. You need to have someone that’s there reading it with you. Someone who will give you outright “yes/no”.
Aprilynne – Her mom is her cheerleader. She tells people all the time, start writing when you’re young…and don’t worry about finishing a book yet. It’s more important that you’re thinking creatively every day. The fun and exhilaration of writing the first draft is a high that gets you through the awful terrible world of edits.
Ellen – Don’t listen to other people. Everyone has a different way of writing. When she first started writing, she talked to her brother. He told her a different way to write then she could manage – basically the outline, go by that, etc…She can’t do the plot, ending, outline thing. She finished her first book in 6 weeks because it was sort of this outline to a book but it was full. Get opinions but if it doesn’t work for you, it’s okay.
Veronica – Learn to accept criticism. She had a writing prof in college give her a metaphor – The backpack. When you’re writing a story it’s like climbing a mountain. You don’t pack a hairdryer (aka extraneous details that never come into play – what they ate for breakfast), because it’s not useful to climbing up the mountain. She’s cut a lot because of characters, things, etc. because of the details. It made her a better writer.
Do you have a favorite character to write?
Veronica - Four, because when she wrote the first 30 pages it was from his perspective. It’s creepy to think he’s hot because it’s like…her son in a way, but she loves villains so that’s part of it.
Ellen – Loves writing Raven because of the fearless things she goes and does. She also loves Trevor because he drives her crazy because he was supposed to be a small part but ended up bullying her and bothering her and he was one of the biggest characters. She loves writing Jager and Alexander.
Aprilynne – Her first book started from the mythos not the characters, but one of the characters who sprang was Chelsea. So that’s her favorite to write because she’s grown with her truly from the beginning. She has no filter.
Tara – Her favorite to write was/is Eli who’s the villain. She didn’t even have him in mind when she originally wrote the book. He’s larger than life and she loves that about him. She loves morally ambiguous villains who you sometimes don’t know and might feel sorry for them, but then they tick you off.
Amy – Kate and Vincent are of course her favorites. But she loves Georgia and Ambrose because the banter between them is really fun. After that is Jewel, because the flirting was fun.
What was the most surprising thing to happen since you were published?
Ellen – A kid asked her to marry him.
Tara – 2/3 weeks after she got an email from a long lost relative.
Aprilynn – When the first book hit #1 on the NY Best sellers list. – The list comes out on Wed nights…it was the second week and she got a call and it was her editor and agent conference calling and she was like “so”…she screamed on the phone “Are you kidding me?!” Her husband didn’t get it because when she put her hand out it was the international symbol for “wait a minute” so he waited ‘til she got off the phone. She wouldn’t even tell her own mother.
Veronica – Before the book deal happened she wrote an off-hand about how she’d jump in a pool of marshmallows. She decided to go for it in a bathtub – she went to Jewel and Dominick’s and got a bunch of marshmallows…mom told her she needed at LEAST 50 bags. They filled the tub with marshmallows and she and her editor jumped in…she became a marshmallow person and it took forever to clean up. It stuck to everything! There is a video online.
Has there ever been a scene that when you actually write it, you think “What was I thinking?!
Tara – An original scene was someone got possessed…and it was cool. But then it was really disturbing when she wrote it out. It didn’t work and it was eerie in a bad way and it was cut.
Amy – It happens all the time. She’ll write out a scene and go back and think “I don’t know if that works” but she often ends up changing scenes dramatically.
Aprilynne – When she got to the end of Wings, she didn’t want either guy to get their hearts broken. One would be a boyfriend in the real world and one would be in the fairy world. She gave it to her husband who hated the ending, and she said her sister would love it. She sent it to her sister and her sister loved the book but not the ending.
Veronica – had to come up with crazy stunts. You didn’t understand in the original why anyone would pick Dauntless because they were jackasses. There was no compelling reason why you’d want to be one of them. She had to do the crazy stunts. In place of the Hancock zip-lining it was hide-and-seek in the building.
A special thank you to all of the authors at The Dark Days of Supernatural tour at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville. Special thank you also to Anderson’s for hosting such an amazing event. Be sure to be on the lookout for more Q&A’s from Anderson’s coming at you from :