Holly Black at the Christiana Mall

As expected for a event featuring the Queen of the Faeries, there was a huge crowd – probably the largest I’ve seen at the Christiana Mall Barnes and Noble. With the event being held on a Sunday (before the holidays no less), people came from all over. I showed up about 20 minutes after the store opened to get my wristband for a place in line (I had bought the book and saved the receipt earlier in the week), and was the last person to get a ticket for the first group!

I ended up camping out in the second row and reading four the next four hours – because lets all be honest, if I had gone home I would have just ended up reading anyways. The night before I had stayed up until 1 AM finishing The Wicked King because I had wanted to wait to read it until closer to Queen of Nothing‘s release date and ended up waiting too long.

The Holly Black book talk and signing was a bit atypical compared to other that I have attended because there was no structured Q/A with a moderator before she dove into crowd questions.

A lot of the crowd questions had to do with writing personal projects – story building and publishing. Some tidbits that stood out to me:

  • If you aren’t in love with your main character, then the story probably isn’t working. Your main character and the stresses they go through is the driving point of a book.
  • A book has multiple plots – the main “contention” (such as a dragon needs to be slayed), and the emotional journey of the character (the king that needs to leave to fight the dragon to win back the heart of his wife, who is in love with his brother etc.) Figuring out how these work together is one of the main building blocks of any book.
  • When looking to publish, research agents on publisher websites and check out the new agents as well as the established ones. New agents are trying to build a name for themselves (and they may be willing to try and do that with your book!) Check out the acknowledgements section of authors books to see if they thank their agent. If they do, that probably means they’re awesome, if not… you may want to avoid.

Some other things discussed during the Q/A: Holly is working on a new darker YA series currently, although of course she would love to return to the Fae world of The Folk of the Air (I personally would love a Grima Mog backstory).

One of Black’s pleasures is watching “trash” reality TV shows. A large part of the inspiration for her book The Coldest Girl in Coldtown came from these shows and how we as humans enjoy watching the angst and suffering of others for entertainment.

When working with Cassandra Clare on their shared book series, Black and Clare would each alternate writing a few hundred words. The person would backtrack and “write over” the last hundred or so words of the last person to write so that the novel could achieve a more uniform voice. Holly would love to collaborate with Clare again if either of them are able to find free time and the right story.

Even after her all of her success, Black still feels “impostor syndrome” when she finds herself in positions like author panels with other well-known colleagues.

I’m so glad to have been given the chance to meet this wonderful author! Now that I have all my books signed, I need to catch up on reading them all. To date, I’ve only read the Folk of the Air trilogy and I need to read all of the backlog so I can understand the character references!

Ilona Andrews Book Signing at the Christiana Mall

On Thursday October 24, I was fortunate enough to be able to see the amazing writing duo Ilona Andrews at my local Barnes and Noble! For most of the signings I’ve gone to I’ve had to drive about two hours away to the Philly area, so I’m super excited that a northern Delaware book store is beginning to draw more big name authors.

For about the first hour, Ilona had to hold the floor by herself because due to flight confusion Gordon was showing up late (if it all). Hearing her tell the story of airport horror was highly amusing – and I’m glad she was able to smile about it because I would probably still be close to tears. Gordon did show up during the last about fifteen minutes of Q&A though so I’m glad he was able to get there for the signing part!

It was interesting hearing them talk about their publishing process as “bigger” authors. A lot of the previous signings I’ve gone to were YA authors, so hearing the perspective of adult romance was very different. Among the many things I learned, I had no idea that authors could pitch certain projects to a specific editor they wanted to work with. The talk about finishing out contracts before working on new projects, hearing how stories had to change or morph from the original shape to better fit a romance audience, and pitching projects to publishers that may never happen was also intriguing. (I would totally read a “pretty dark” YA fantasy series by Ilona Andrews if it ever ends up happening.).

I still haven’t read the Hidden Legacy series yet, which this book appearance was mainly for, so I can’t really relate to some of the questions that were asked regarding those characters. Gordon does apparently love sharing spoilers to fans who ask though.

Overall it was a wonderful night, and I’m looking ahead to many of the other authors coming to the area!