I recently went to see Alexa Martin (Girl Wonder) and Amber Kizer (7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes, Gert Garibaldi’s Rants and Raves: One Butt Cheek at a Time, Meridian, Wildcat Fireflies) promote their new books at Third Place in Seattle. It was a fun, intimate evening, with lots of great information from the authors about their inspirations, vices, and writing processes. Here are some fun facts:
Alexa’s vice is Louisiana style coffee, which is mostly cream and sugar. Amber says hers is “food, and I’m not a vegetarian. Baked goods.” I loved hearing that! I’m always comforted by women who like caffeine and pastries as much as I do.
Alexa shared a fascinating story about her formative writing experiences. She was diagnosed early with a learning disability, and went through school feeling “less intelligent” than the other kids. Special education helped her achieve success in literacy, and in fact, she began to overcompensate for her disability, producing “very clean copy.” I can attest to that. Her writing is crisp and clear, with her verbs doing most of the work. When she uses an adjective, it’s the perfect one. What an amazing example for anyone struggling with a learning disability.
Amber told us about her inspiration for one of the settings in Wildcat Fireflies.Helios is a restaurant she visited many times with her family, and over the years, she formed a bond with the owner. When this woman was fighting cancer, Amber told her that Wildcat Fireflies would be “her” book. The owner then revealed that she’d made a bucket list, and one of her dreams was to leave something lasting. With Amber’s book dedication, she felt she could check off this dream.
It was also inspiring to hear about writing process from these two very different authors. Amber aims to produce ten new pages of work each day, while Alexa works more slowly, piecing together memories and weaving them into her books. I’ve heard these two types of writers termed “gushers” and “bleeders” (sorry if that’s a bit dark) and I’d say these ladies each fit one of the categories. You should have seen Amber’s storyboard, which is an organized miracle of boxes, numbers, and different colored marker. Alexa, on the other hand, prefers to work more organically.
Finally, both ladies shared a “Top Thirteen” book list in honor of Banned Books Week, which I’ve included below. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll check out these talented writers, if you haven’t done so already!
This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
For Esme, with Love and Squalor by J.D. Salinger
Forever by Judy Blume
Watership Down by Richard Adams
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt
And Amber’s favorites:
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
Generation Dead by Daniel Waters
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
Izzy Willy Nilly Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt