I was on a book panel at Books Of Wonder in NYC with 5 (FIVE!!) other YA authors – ALEXANDER GORDON SMITH (Fugitives), JESSE ANDREWS (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), BARRY LYGA (Mangaman), PADMA VENKATRAMAN (Island’s End), and ALECIA WHITAKER (Queen of Kentucky).
This was only my second speaking engagement for WINTER TOWN, and as I mentioned in my talk, the first one was 80% family and friends (but they said I did a good job.)
I love doing these panels, it’s a lot of fun to meet other authors and hear stories about how they came up with their books and their writing processes. I always walk away with a bunch of new author friends. I still talk to Sarah Ockler online after meeting her at a panel, and I had dinner with Matthew Quick once and still check in with him too. What did we do before the internet?!
I sat next to Barry and we talked a lot about comics and upcoming projects. He is a busy and productive fellow, and I’m jealous of his easy-going nature. He’s a great people person, I’m a shy hermit. That said, he was jealous that I could draw, so it evens out.
I’m also jealous of Alexander Gordon Smith, who mentioned he can write a full book in 3 weeks. It takes me a year at least! I do a lot of outlining and plotting beforehand though, and still work full time so I suppose it’s not a fair comparison.
Everyone was hilarious and nice and informative, it was a great panel. One of the questions we got was for what the high point and low point of the book writing process was. I had a pessimistic but kinda honest answer for the high point – I agree there are many high points, and Barry’s was very good, that point where you have one new idea that impacts every other story idea in a meaningful way. That’s a definite high. My answer was the initial moment you think of an idea – it’s untarnished – it can be ANYTHING still, you just know it’s a good concept and this can be a book. Your mind starts racing with ideas and you can see the whole thing floating in front of you. Eventually you add characters and story notes and scenes and words and it becomes concrete – this is what the book is. It’s never as wide open and awe-inspiring as that first moment. Pessimistic because of course that means you start at the highest point, and it’s all downhill from there.
My low point, is that period I’m in now, where you have an idea, some sample writing, it’s started, but you haven’t gotten approval or a contract or anything – it’s not an official book yet. Once it’s approved and it IS your next book, it’s a full on rush to the end, but right now there’s a lull where you’re just messing around trying to get it right and adding polish and changing things around. Padma was after me and scolded me. She insisted there ARE no lulls and no low points in writing and that it’s all fun. That’s true, too. Jesse backed me up with his tales of first envisioning a story and how the dogs can have teeth outside of their heads and have 6 legs or something, I’m not sure what that was but man, that guy is funny. He read from his book and had the whole room cracking up, too.
Anyway the event was a blast and every one of the books there sound great so I suggest picking them all up!