viernes, 2 de marzo de 2018

Event: Holly Black and Susan Dennard in San Diego [Cruel Prince and Sightwitch Tour]

Hello! On February 16th 2018 I attended the book signing of Holly Black and Susan Dennard for their Cruel Prince and Sightwitch book tour. The event took place in San Diego at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore.

I arrived around 15 minutes early, but I couldn’t find a seat this time, so I picked up my copy of Cruel Prince and bought another book and then stood around waiting for the event to start. This time the event was moderated by booktuber and book seller, Kaitlyn, so the event was in an interview format, that’s why I recorded the audio of everything and transcribed it, it was easier than summarizing.

K: What drew you to the world of fairies?
Holly Black
Holly Black [HB]: [I didn’t  record Holly’s answer :c]

Susan Dennard [SD]: I started reading fairy tales and fantasy when I was young. I was a teen, we didn’t have YA, so all I could consume was adult fantasy mostly from the library. And we didn’t have Amazon either back then, so you could only get what was on the shelf at a bookstore or a library which meant you frequently didn’t read things in order or a whole series, you would skip book four.

K: Do you create or discover your characters? What is your process like?

HB: I used to say I created my characters and get frustrated when people talked about how their characters veered off in certain directions. My characters are lazy and they wouldn’t do a single thing for me, they don’t want to be in the book. None wants to be in a book, right? It’s the worst thing ever to find out you’re the protagonist of a novel, nothing good will happen to you. And then I would say that in Darkest Part of the Forest, which is the faerie book I wrote right before this one, I had a character whose name is Hazel who had a secret that I didn’t know. And I was like “this doesn’t seem possible, how does she have a secret I don’t know”, but she did and it was kind of the big turn of the book. I would like to say that I create them but sometimes is a process of figuring, creating and then extrapolating from their behavior all of the things they want to hide from me.

SD: I definitely create some characters. I found this with a novella I wrote for my first series, I created maybe a secondary character, but when it comes to write a novella from their point of view, I realize I don’t actually know them. So I have to discover them, it takes time. Sometimes they don’t have a voice in my head and are not ready to talk to me. And I push their word, deadlines. But it’s a process of waiting for that voice to come, and I learned that if I don’t have a voice, I cannot write that story until the voice is in my head, and everything I write is just going to be crap.

K: What was different or similar about writing these books compared to your previous ones?

SD: This is in a completely different format, that seems like the obvious answer for this test. It’s all in journal entries, and different documents, and it’s also illustrated because it’s meant that she sketches everything she sees. It was really a surprise that the story came out that way. I tried to write it in 2014 with no luck because I didn’t understand the character at all; her voice wasn’t there, and then three years later, last January when I first sat to write it again, she erupted and in a totally unexpected format. It was really fun, like putting together a giant puzzle of different documents.

HB: Long, long ago, when I met my husband we played D&D together, and then after that we started and evolved a kind of weird on going story that wasn’t D&D, just a huge story about a magical world. Some was funny, some dramatic and some was just dumb and didn’t work, and it was totally separate from my writing life, it was just this fun thing we did and I never used anything from it, until this book. I stole a piece of this big story for Cruel Prince, so I ran up knowing more going into this book about what had to happen that I had never known before. It was a weird position to be in because there were moments when people told me that things needed to be different for the pacing, and previously I was always like sure, whatever, everything was flexible, but in this case I was like this thing have to happen, and they have to happen in this order. I was talking of this before and someone asked me what he thought of it, and he went through the book and was like “where did you come up with this stuff?”

K: In the cruel prince I know that wonderland makes an appearance, and that’s one of my favorite childhood stories, so I was wondering, what were some childhood stories that inspired you while growing up?

SD: I read a lot. Like just classics or in general?
K: Just in general.
SD: I’m literally looking at The Phantom Tollbooth that’s right there. That is one that I loved.
HB: You mentioned A Wrinkle in Time, right?
SD: A wrinkle in time for sure, I loved these.
HB: Also, in terms of A Wrinkle in Time books, I also read the Meet the Austins books, and then there is that moment when you realize they’re in the same world! It blew my tiny mind!

K: Has your reading or writing changed over time? Maybe some genre that you didn’t did before?

Susan Dennard
SD: I read fantasy and I tend to write stories that have magic in them somehow, but I would definitely like to write… I’m a super Michael Crichton fangirl, which is such a random and different, but that’s like one of my 5 favorite books of all time, Jurassic Park, the book, not the movie. It’s just that I love science, so I would love to write something like that.

HB: I wrote The Curse Workers, I had been writing faeries for many years and then I wanted to create a magic system that wasn’t based on folklore for a little while. In the process I did a lot of research about how cons work and I feel that writing that series and learning how to do that work, when I went back to writing other kinds of fantasy, I brought a lot of what I loved writing those books with me. And that’s where I think the biggest change in my writing came from.

K: What is something weird or interesting that you had to research to do your writing?

HB: This is also for The Curse Worker books, someone gets thrown in the trunk of a car by someone else, and I wasn’t sure how that would be, so I asked my friend Kelly to put me in trunk of her car, and she said “okay, I have some errands to do”. And when I thought about this, it was an Impala. Something huge.  Nope, she had a hatchback and there was a really large back window, so people could clearly see that she had kidnapped me. Did anyone stop to see what was going on? No. I will say, it was surprisingly comfortable.  Well, I would want a neck pillow next time. I did some human research on the ground.

SD: I’ve uncovered lots of things that were strange during my research. My first series is set in the 1870s, and back then because clothes were so restrictive and uncomfortable for women, you would end up with very strange poses. They would have poses; this one is called the Grecian Bend [She made a demonstration]. Because they had corsets and the bustle would make them pose in an “erotic” way. There are several illustrations and comics making fun of it.

HB: Oh, I have another one. In competitive eating, it’s against the rules to say that someone needs to vomit. They call it a reverse of fortune.  So, if you’re doing competitive eating and you’re getting full, you just move back and forth like this. [She did a demonstration]

SD: I think we’ve got a new dance now.  [Susan stood up again and made a little dance with both poses]

K: What was the process like to create the maps?

HB: Susan took a lot of time and research and really made her own map, and I thought what would it
be if there is a map that had no actual function other than give you a vague outline of the place? You really drew your own map [to Susan]

SD: I studied ecology in my former life, so I drew this map, I wanted it to be like… I was inspired by my trip backpacking across Croatia. So it’s some kind of European place. And in some way I wish I hadn’t made it so clearly European in shape, but what’s done is done. It’s pretty much like, “what if Croatia was expanded and took over on everything else,” and I have been told by Croatian readers that is very Croatian indeed.

K: And for the illustrations in your novella, did you work with your artist at all while you were writing?

SD: Yes. It was actually super stressful because we were really late, so it was just like “it looks good enough, go,” but now that it’s actually done, I think it’s pretty awesome. We were joking about this last night, because of a map that’s in page 18, and it’s on the poster, I drew one and put it in my room and before I write a book I draw a map, so logistically things will be accurate. And when I gave it to him, I thought he would make a different cool one, but he just used the same, so I think my map was alright.

K: If you can put a theme song or soundtrack for your book, is there anything that comes to mind?

HB: I make a playlist for all of my books. It is a great way, I feel, that when I listen to it, it brings you back into the story, and I would listen to them over and over, and over. In the course of writing the book I would remove songs as I get sick of them, so at the end there’s only two songs I listen over and over. I put a lot of murder ballads.

SD: I do a playlist too. It’s on Spotify. They get long, like 350 songs because every time I listen a song that sounds a bit like my world, I add it, but if I had to pick up a theme for the Witchlands, I’m obsessed with Two Steps from Hell. They’re amazing. I basically listen to anything they compose.

K: Do you guys have any goals or bucket list goal as writers you still hope to accomplish?

HB: I would like to, at some point, write an adult book. When I started in my career, I thought I was writing an adult book. It’s about a 16 year old protagonist, and over the course of the book she discovers she’s a fairy, but if at the age of 35 she discovered that, you would have thought she wasn’t the sharpest pair of scissors. And as it turned out, I’m really happy.

SD: I would like to write for games, video games. I primitively code my own games. It’s really fun. I’ve written a 20 minute game, but it expands so fast, with many choices of the tree you have to write content to fill that. If you guys don’t play story rich RPGs, you should.

K: Did you know how your book would end?

HB: I didn’t know how my first book would end, so now, no matter what I do, I come up with an ending, maybe not the ending, but in the worst case scenario, this is what could happen. It’s very useful because I’ve written a book with no end point in sight and it took me a long time.

SD: I definitely have an end, but It’s not always what ends up being the end. I think I have to be flexible.

Susan, Kaitlyn and Holly. Picture from Mysterious Galaxy
facebook fanpage.
K: What you guys have coming up next?

HB: I finished writing the sequel to this, which is Wicked King and comes out on January next year, and the last of the Magisterium series I write with Cassandra Clare, the Golden Tower, comes out on September, we just turned the edits on that, and I’m working on the third book of this (Cruel Prince).

SD: Bloodwitch is next. It’s technically book 3.  This [Sightwitch] is book 2.5. Maybe our next books will come out at the same time and we can go on tour together for real.

HB: Yeah! We’ve done three events together, but we’re nor touring together.

That was the last question from the booktuber, after that it was time for the Q&A that lasted around half an hour, it had mixed questions between specific books and writing tips.

After that it was finally time for the signing, I got a Sightwitch poster and a card, the line was kind of slow at first, and my dad was waiting for me, so I couldn’t talk too much with them.

I asked Susan to sign my poster and to recommend me a song to listen to while reading Truthwitch, her answer was El Dorado by Two Steps From Hell.

When it was my turn with Holly, I asked her the same question and she recommended me A Little Wicked by Valerie Broussard. I also asked her if it was easier or harder for her to write in collaboration with other author, she said it was hard sometimes, but that she considers it somewhat easier because it pushes her to do things she wouldn’t normally do.

As always, I had so much fun, but was kind of disappointed because I wanted to buy The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black and Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, but both were sold out :c

Have you ready anything from these authors?

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