Gretchen McNeil

My First Time Couldn’t Have Been More Perfect @amreading @amwriting

VE Schwab trio of authors

Marie Lu, V.E. Schwab, Gretchen McNeil  – photo by Eve Messenger

Within a week of reading (and loving!) my first V.E./Victoria Schwab book, A Darker Shade of Magic, the author tweeted that she would be doing a book signing 15 miles from my home. My first book signing? With my new favorite author? Sign me up!

A Darker Shade of Magic

Though I was crazy nervous, I got myself to the event without hyperventilating. Alas, I had to go alone because I couldn’t find anyone else who was available.

My First Book-Signing Event was. . .

PERFECT

Perfect even though the meet-and-greet line was super long and slow-moving (over a hundred fans were there!) But here’s thing, the REASON the lined moved slowly was that fabulous Victoria Schwab spent lots of time talking with each and every fan. I LOVED watching fans step away from the authors’ table carrying freshly-signed books in their hands and HUGE GRINS on their faces.

Perfect because Marie Lu and YA horror writer Gretchen McNeil were there, too! Marie Lu signed my copy of Legend. 🙂 All three super-talented authors were friendly, enthusiastic, smart, and super fun. They were obviously good friends, and their banter created a positive vibe for the entire event. (Note to self: Someday, when I have my own book signings, I will ask author friends to join me.)

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/27/Legend_Marie_Lu_Book_cover.jpg

Perfect because, even though I THOUGHT I didn’t know anyone there, I ended up running into and chatting with a writer I’d met through NaNoWriMo. Unbeknownst to me at the time, writer/reader/blogger, Jennifer F. Santucci, was also there. And SHE noticed that Nicola Yoon (Everything Everything) was there as a fan, too!

VE Schwab picture cicled

Author/fan Nicola Yoon is on the left. The top of a blonde head in the back is me. 🙂 Photo by V.E. Schwab.

Meeting Victoria Schwab

Okay, so I mustered up the courage to ask Victoria Schwab if–since I am an aspiring writer–she might write something inspirational in my copy of the first book of hers I’d read. She wrote something nice in all three books. 🙂 Thank you, Victoria Schwab!

Interesting Things the Authors Said

Victoria, Marie, and Gretchen have known one another since before they were published, as members of a writers’ group called “YA Rebels.” They initially “bonded over all things evil.”

Victoria Schwab calls herself a “chipmunk author,” or a “connect the dots writer,”gathering little pieces for a year and a half until she has enough for a story. Darker Shade of Magic started with an image of a boy walking through a door covered with blood and then running into a girl dressed as a boy. Once she has images for her story, she asks herself questions about them to fill out the plot. Before she starts writing, she needs to have five to ten moments, one of which must be the ending.

Gretchen McNeil’s microphone kept cutting out, so she said, “No problem. I can project because I used to be an opera singer.”

Marie Lu said that when she was a little girl there were two things she wanted to be, a writer and a fighter pilot.

Marie Lu said that her agent, Kristin Nelson, is so blunt that when Marie sent Kristin the first 100 pages of her early draft of Young Elites, Kristin asked,“Marie, when you sent this to me, did you think it was good?” Ouch. Marie ended up completely rewriting Young Elites from the villain’s point of view.

All three authors agreed that every single book is, in its way, painful to write.

Victoria said she bought an audio version of her own book, A Gathering of Shadows, so she could repeatedly listen to pp. 307 to 308– a super hot scene between Prince Ry and his ex-boyfriend. 😉

One of My Favorite Author Questions: Do You Listen to Music While Writing?

Victoria said she listens to a lot of music–but never while writing. Because she started out as a poet, listening to music messes with the rhythm of her words. Instead, she listens to white noise and uses a site called noisli to build her own white noise with sounds of rain, static, coffee shop sounds, etc.

Marie Lu said she has to listen to music while writing because the “silence gets too loud.” She splits up her playlists by mood, e.g., exciting, evil, happy (which she says she never uses, haha).

Writers are fangirls, too.

YA fangirl

All three authors talked about writers they get totally starstruck around. Victoria is a huge Neil Gaiman fan and wears her WWNGD (“What Would Neil Gaiman Do?”) bracelet every day. Why? Because Neil Gaiman was the first writer to teach her that she didn’t just have to write one thing, that no matter what genre she writes, her voice will still come through.

I am now seriously toying with the idea of getting my own “What Would V.E. Schwab Do?” bracelet. I am so glad I overcame my introverted nature and got up the nerve to attend my first book signing. I honestly don´t think it could have gone any better. I´d love to attend another one, and the only thing I´d change is to find other people to go with next time– there was just too much excitement to keep all to myself!

–Eve Messenger

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