Friday, March 23, 2012

#PitchDarkDays Event Wrap-Up w/ Interview & Giveaway @harperteen @Pitchdarkbooks

So, if you know me very well at all, you know how much I dig going to author events and how excited about this particular event I have been, because not only were there going to be multiple authors,( Lauren Oliver,  Dan Wells and Claudia Gray!) there were going to be tons of bloggers attending as well. Yay! So, during the weeks before, I had arranged for a bunch of us bloggers to go to dinner after the event. What everyone didn't know is that I also asked the authors if they wanted to join us as well. (When they were through with the signing.) Yay again!

The event went pretty standard. It took place at my local Barnes and Noble Bookstore . 
(Thank goodness I didn't have to drive forever like some of the other bloggers, yes they came from all surrounding states! That's right, Southern Bookbloggers! Huzzah.)  
B&N was simply packed. I arrived super early, got seats and met up with a few blogger friends. I already had my books tabbed and ready to be signed so I could interview the authors before the event.


Let's get to know a little more about Dan, Lauren and Claudia. Shall we...

Amy: How long does it take you to write your books?

Dan: This is the first year I haven't had two books coming out. I only have one book out this year: Partials, which took me about three months to write and three months to revise. I try to write about half the work day. I treat it like a full-time job, but half my time is know, doing other things. If I actually tried to sit down and write an eight-hour shift, I’d probably kill someone. But when I revise...revision can really be all-night, double-shift, whatever it takes to get the book done. 

Lauren: Typically, it takes me about eight months to a year to get a solid first draft, and a few months to revise with my editor.

Claudia: I'm still kind of figuring that out. Earlier in my career, when I had a job and was writing on the side, it took me a little longer. Now that I'm writing full-time it's a little quicker, but it really depends. When I was working on the Evernight series, I was supposed to be publishing a book every six months. Somehow, I managed to write Stargazer in five months—that was probably the quickest. But my first book took me a year and a half.

Amy: Do you like to have the book finished before submitting it for publication?

Lauren: I’ve sold all my books on proposal, which means I’ve written about 20,000 words and outlined the rest.

Dan: In the case of Partials, it worked a little differently for me. Harper actually came to my agent, Sarah Crowe; they were looking for one of her clients to write some post-apocalyptic fiction. They pitched me some ideas, and I liked some of them, but I pitched my own idea back and that’s the one we ran with. My other books have all been “finish it first, then submit it.”

Claudia: I really like to have the book written and sell it that way, but my first experience was somewhat like Dan’s, even though I’d already started on Evernight. This was back in the dawn of time, as you’ll see—back when there were pterodactyls in the sky, because Harper called my agent and asked whether she had any clients writing teen paranormal. They couldn’t find any!

Dan: Imagine a time before teen paranormal.

Claudia: Yeah, right. And at the time I was packing to move, and my agent told me to drop everything and write as much of Evernight as I could. It was one of the fastest writing surges ever, because I had the choice between writing or backbreaking labor. So, each time I was contemplating the boxes, I wrote instead.

Amy: Is all of your work published at the same house?

Lauren: Yup. I actually threatened to get a “Property of Harper” tattoo!

Dan: My YA is with Harper, with Balzer and Bray, and my adult series is with Tor Books.

Claudia: Mostly HarperTeen. I mean, I did some work-for-hire for Disney, fairy books, totally different stuff.

Dan: Like the Pixie Hollow books? My daughter loves those.

Claudia: Yeah. That was actually more challenging than you’d think, because you can’t include any interpersonal conflict but there must still be a plot.

Amy: Any favorite stories about being interviewed?

Claudia: I was on a live morning show in Colombia, and the studio audience was up with me on the stage—which is fairly typical, but for some reason that day it was all school children and nuns. I had a translator with me, because I don’t speak Spanish. The questions started out typical, what you’d expect, but over the course of the interview they started veering increasingly off topic. And then, suddenly, the translator turns to me and says: “The interviewer would like to know what your feelings are about Batman?” I had no idea how we’d gotten to that point in the conversation.

Lauren: An Italian journalist once told me I was not as stupid as most Americans. Or women.

Amy: Have any authors been particularly influential?

DanAA Milne. When I was a kid I had big bookshelf full of stuff, because my parents were awesome. And I had Winnie The Pooh, which was okay, but next to it was The Christopher Robin Poems. I’ve worn out two different copies of that book, and I’m working on my third. Reading that book as a kid is what convinced me to be an author, because AA Milne was having so much fun. He wasn’t just writing, he was playing with words.

Claudia: If you’re a really avid reader, that question is a little like: what's best oxygen you’ve ever breathed? You know, all of it. But the book I've probably learned the most from—it’s not my favorite, but it’s the book that taught me the most about how to structure a popular novel--is Gone with The Wind. That book is 1100 pages, spans twelve years, and it never slows down. I once counted, and there are one hundred characters with some kind of plot arc, and that doesn’t even count the ancillary characters. And it’s full of these incredibly memorable scenes, like the burning of Atlanta. Any author would be glad to have one scene like that in the book, and this has dozens. She just does a really great job with wrangling an incredibly complex plot.

Amy: Have you written any poetry?

Dan: I was a poet for a long time, although I haven’t written poetry since I started trying to make it as a novelist. 

AmyWhat’s the biggest challenge you face as an author?

Dan: I have five kids and I work at home. I've started working at the library.

Claudia: Learning to tell your good ideas from your bad ones. Knowing which ideas to pursue and which ideas you can just, you know, think about in the shower for a few days.

Lauren: Plotting. I know that’s a pretty big one, but it’s true.

Dan: The hardest part of writing is writing.        

Amy: Has an editor ever asked you to scrap what you have and start over?

Lauren: No. However, I do have to go back and edit.

Dan: Editing means killing my darlings but the end is always better for it.

Claudia: No, but I will take suggestions from my editor.

Okay! So, very groovy right? I also learned that Lauren pretty much uses her Blackberry to write everything in. Yeah, like all of her notes and drafts for her books. Crazy, right? And Claudia doesn't write any notes down at all. Wow. The wonders of being a novelist!
All three authors have upcoming novels and tons of ideas brewing so be on the look-out!

To end the special afternoon a bunch of us went to dinner with Dan, Claudia and Lauren. 

How cool is that?

From left to right.

Claudia, Lauren and me!

Alli, Kelsey and me.

From left to right

It was an amazing day. And that's all I have to say about that.

Now for the goods. I have a couple of signed books to giveaway. 
One signed copy of Partials and one signed copy of Delirium - Special Edition (new cover).
I will also pick a 3rd winner randomly to receive a swag pack with signed bookplates from all 3 authors.

Standard procedure guys. Everyone is welcome to participate. 

The Deets:
1. One entry per person.
2. You must be 13 or older.
3. Giveaway is International.
4. Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. on April 7th.

Enter Giveaway --> HERE! 

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend!
Happy Reading & Arrivederci