I am a writer. I daydream. Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like to attend my own book signing or to speak at a conference. (My introvert palms are sweating about that one already.) The obvious question, “What would I wear?” got me browsing through photos of my favorite female Y.A. authors, whose outfits apparently run the gamut from T-shirts and jeans to designer dresses. No help there. Then I noticed something interesting. Big-name male YA authors sport a kind of “author’s uniform.” If you’re a male (or female) author searching for a good public look, here are three options you might want to consider.
The Rock Star
I challenge anyone to find a photo of Neil Gaiman not dressed in black. (Costumes don’t count.) Gaiman’s “author uniform” (which he totally rocks) consists of a black shirt, black blazer, and black pants. Occasionally, Gaiman mixes things up with a black sweater, black trench coat, or black bomber jacket. Are you detecting a theme here? Gaiman prefers clothing that’s dark like his stories, one of my favorites being The Graveyard Book.
The Boy Next Door
Imaginative and prolific author Patrick Ness’s go-to author uniform is a polo shirt with zip-up hoodie and jeans. Hey, whatever works, as long as he keeps writing books like The Knife of Never Letting Go.
It is worth noting that for gala events, Ness cleans up very nicely. Guys are so lucky to be able to slip on a gorgeous tuxedo and call it a day.
The Friendly Professor
Yep, that would be John Green, who meets with the public wearing a tieless dress shirt, blazer and jeans.
Which author uniform is your favorite? If you were to attend an event as an author, what would you wear?
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!
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 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.)
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!
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.
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!
Do you use Goodreads? If so, what are some of your favorite things about it?
I recently chatted with a fellow book junkie who says she never uses Goodreads, which surprised me. I’m definitely a Goodreads devotee, though I’ve barely scratched the surface of all its features–the reason for that is Lack Of Time. I wish I had more time to even write reviews. At some point I think it would be a blast to start categorizing books I’ve read into special shelves. I’d also like to get more involved in the Goodreads reading community but, yeah, to date have a sum total of about 11 friends.
WANT TO READ – For sure, my favorite thing about Goodreads is being able to click “want to read,” thus adding promising books to my TBR.
UPDATE READING PROGRESS – Oh, and I like publicly updating my reading progress (though I have no idea why this is important to me).
COMPARE BOOKS – I also love this feature I recently discovered (go ahead and laugh, Goodreads veterans) where I get to compare my reading lists/ratings with authors I follow. When I did this with Lauren Oliver, our ratings on books we’ve both read (around 15) matched 100%. No wonder Lauren is one of my favorite writers. (Incidentally, Neil Gaiman and I have zero books in common.)
COMMUNITY REVIEWS – Another thing I really enjoy about Goodreads is checking out other readers’ reviews. There are some cuh-razy readers out there and, yes, some of the reviews are very, very harsh. Strangely–even though I’m a writer–I don’t know that I’m totally averse to the ridiculously mean reviews. Admittedly, even a single one-star review would be terrible for new writers with only a handful of reviews because it would kill their book’s overall rating. Still, maybe I’m wrong, but I suspect there are some ringers out there, too, as in authors with tons of friends or die-hard fans who post 5-star reviews before they’ve even read the book. Why not also have the one-stars at the other end of the spectrum? As a book lover, it’s interesting to browse all the different reviews, both good and bad, and try to suss out whether or not I might like a particular book. Yeah, reading other people’s reviews is definitely my next favorite thing about Goodreads.
My three favorite reads this summer were The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, and The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.
Neil, Rachel, and Holly, thank you – you not only captivated, thrilled, and entertained me with your wonderful stories but, by your example, you proved to be wonderful writing teachers. Here’s what I learned.
Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
– Make sure there’s tension with very high stakes from the get-go.
– Cleverly reveal characters and events in ways that allow readers to put together clues and figure out for themselves what is happening, like an inside secret between author and reader.
– Do a little historical research then let your imagination soar.
Rachel Hartman – Seraphina
1st Person POV
– Know your world so well you don’t have to explain it. Start the story in a way that reveals your alternate world in all of its differentness without confusing the reader.
– Have a clear understanding of the desires and weaknesses of each of your characters, not just the main ones, so that each one shows growth by the end of the story.
Holly Black – The Darkest Part of the Forest
3rd Person POV
– Set up the story in vivid detail, making the reader think they’re stepping into a normal teen world but then gradually revealing that this is not, in fact, a normal world at all. That kind of creeping revelation is so satisfying.
– Be a keen observer of human nature.