The Pen Fatale tour stopped in Seattle and I enjoyed a fun night at Third Place Books with Mary Pearson (The Fox Inheritance), Gabrielle Zevin (All These Things I’ve Done), Alyson Noel (Dreamland) and Jessica Brody (My Life Undecided).
My camera decided to die just as the ladies started speaking, so I don’t have any pictures to share, but check out these lovely book covers, instead.
I love hearing authors describe the conception of their stories, and the round-up was particularly fun this time:
Jessica Brody admitted (shame-facedly) that she was watching The Hills when she came up with the idea for My Life Undecided. She became so irritated with The Hills characters for their poor decision making that she thought the audience should be able to vote on their choices. She decided to build a story around the idea, in which her indecisive main character blogs about her life and agrees to make decisions based on an audience vote. Fun premise! And Brody has actually put it into action, on her website, www.mylifeundecided.com, where members can anonymously post questions for a group vote.
Gabrielle Zevin found the inspiration for her story in 2008, when the economy was taking a nosedive. On a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a ticket seller told her, “You should give more than the suggested contribution, because we might go under any day now.” This made Gabrielle wonder what the future might look like if the arts and libraries were no longer funded, and if each year things got a little worse instead of a little better. Then she threw in a mob family, and some laws against chocolate, and All These Things I’ve Done was born.
Mary Pearson’s conception story is moving and thought-provoking. When her daughter was diagnosed with a “good” kind of cancer, for which treatment was effective, Mary wondered: what if her daughter had been born fifty years ago, when the treatment didn’t exist? And what kind of medical technologies might be possible fifty years in the future? She began to research, and found that futurists are predicting computers advanced enough to scan and upload human minds, which became the seminal idea for The Fox Inheritance.
Alyson Noel told a story I think many authors can relate to. She found herself so drawn to Riley, a character in her Immortals series, that she had to develop a spin-off series around her. Riley kept popping up in The Immortals wearing crazy outfits, speaking funny lines, and Alyson found herself giving a secondary character more time and attention than she’d expected. She said it was very difficult to remove Riley from the story, and at that point, she knew she’d have to give Riley her own story to tell.
And finally, here’s what you can look forward to from these wonderful authors:
Jessica Brody’s next book, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, will be coming out next year. She assured us she does not hate her father, like the spoiled heiress in this book, whose father delays her inheritance and insists that she work a different low-wage job each week for a year. She also has a fantasy trilogy in the works.
Alyson Noel will continue the Riley Bloom series, and she gave us some exciting insights into Whisper, in which Riley goes to Ancient Rome and becomes enchanted with the excess and glamour of the time. Apparently there’s a fight with a Gladiator ghost! Good stuff.
Gabrielle Zevin is working on a sequel to All These Things I’ve Done. It continues the story of the futuristic organized crime family, and it takes place in Mexico, where chocolate is legal. I love that Gabrielle is exploring what it’s like to be a girl in a family/social structure that typically disenfranchises women. As she put it, “When women try to claim any power in the Mob, they get slapped around.” I’m glad somebody is talking back to that.
Mary Pearson is working on the third and final installment in the Fox Trilogy, tentatively titled Fox Forever. She said any more info than that would be a spoiler. Whatever it is, I know we're all looking forward to it.