Stay tuned. We're about to tell you everything.
It'll almost be like you were there and at the bottom of the post, we have presents for you, so if you win the contest, it'll be like you really were there with the signed books and swag to prove it!
-For a brief period she tried to write dark stories too, but it never worked.
-Sarah feels that life is complicated enough for teenagers without having to bring a supernatural element into the equation.
-She only writes about regular girls, normal girls, though she admits she doesn't know what's "normal."
-The changes she underwent in high school had lots of intensity that can inspire her stories. Now motherhood has a similar feeling of constant change and intensity to it. There's no handbook, no rules. She now has greater appreciation and sympathy for the mom characters in her novels.
Laurie Halse Anderson Opening Remarks:
-This was her last day of publicity for 4 months (so we got lucky seeing her).
-Laurie and Sarah do a lot of signings together because their books tend to complement each other, though Laurie said she jokingly refers to Sarah as "Glenda the Good."
-Got her early love of writing from her father who loved poetry.
-Her parents always joke that she can write as much as she wants about them as long as they're dead.
-She thought they were insane when she was in high school, and fully believes that adolescence is hard!
The FNC's pile o' books for signing.
Question and Answer...
Sarah on the movie How To Deal
The screenwriter who wrote the screenplay was also a writer for the MTV show Daria. Though it was optioned and had a script, nothing really happened with the movie until Mandy Moore read it. Mandy loved the script and wanted to star in it and thus history was made. Sarah got to meet Mandy Moore twice, they have one picture together and everyone in Sarah's house LOVES Mandy Moore.
Laurie Halse Anderson pays $1 to whoever asks the first question
Laurie hates how women are taught to be shy and meek and quiet and so being the first to ask a question is a big deal and she likes to reward that, although if you like being quiet, than more power to you. She is just anti the idea of HAVING to be quiet.
What keeps you motivated to write?
LHA: College tuition!
SD: You won't accomplish much if you wait for the muse.
LHA: Jane Yolen has it down...B.I.C. Butt in Chair. If people really understood the monetary pay off for a writing career, no one would go into it.
On First Drafts:
LHA hates first drafts, they make her feel stupid. The language is stilted, you don't fully know the character yet, descriptions are cliche. She LOVES revisions because she gets to take a steaming pile of yuck and make it better.
LHA advises that you figure out what you love to do more than anything in the world and then find a way to get people to pay you for it. She loves to do revisions.
On Being a Full Time Author:
SD: That basically means that she has no other job, writing is her only source of income. She used to teach creative writing classes, now she focuses on her writing and takes care of her daughter.
LHA: Works on writing and author-work (blogging, twittering, running the website, signings, events etc) all the time. She'd love to get down to working on 60 hours a week.
The FNC and Courtney!
On the True Story behind their Stories:
LHA writes about things that make her angry. She feels teens are disrespected and wants the world to be a better place for them. For Wintergirls she never went through the experiences of her characters, but she has struggled with body image since the age of 11 and so the story was fueled by her emotional background and then grew through lots of research.
SD says that something that just actually happened to her isn't interesting. If you're telling a true story you're not creating. But all stories start with truth. Along for the Ride is about a girl who is always worrying about the next step, never stopping to take a minute to herself to actually pause and breathe and be in the moment and enjoy where she's at. Sarah is like that and knows many teens and college students who are the same way. When you reach a goal, then you suddenly have to set the bar higher and what do you do if you're not striving for the next thing?
SD also sometimes writes about the dynamic funny girl that everyone wanted to hang out with. Sarah wanted to be that girl, but she was quiet and hung out with those sorts of girls and became the chronicler of stories or the oracle of her friends, remembering everything that happened between them.
On the Overlap of Characters and Places in Sarah Dessen's Books:
Started with readers asking for a sequel to Someone Like You. The ending is complete, but maybe not the tightest end. Sarah won't write sequels, but having Scarlett appear in This Lullaby was her little nod to readers who wanted to know Scarlett was ok. However it happens more often now and she isn't always aware of it. The overlap also stems from the fact that she lives in her hometown where everything overlaps and repeats, so it makes sense to her.
Janine and Sara reading Laurie Halse Anderson's picture book
The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School
Laurie Halse Anderson on Outlines:
She doesn't outline for her contemporary books. She doesn't want to completely know how it's going to turn out for her characters. But for her historical novels she outlines like a nutcase and obsesses over every detail down to what material was used for underwear.
How Long Does It Take To Write a Book?
LHA: 1 year for a YA, 2 years for a historical
SD: 7 months
On Writing from a Male Perspective:
SD: Has never written a male MC before, doesn't plan to, but never says never. She just doesn't know what boys are thinking and she thinks she doesn't want to know.
LHA: Has written a male MC before. Approaches it like you are writing a book outside of your culture, so you must approach the writing as you would a multicultural novel where you are outside your element. You must assume nothing, clear your mind and write with complete respect.
How Many Books Do You Write At Once?
On Distractions from Writing:
LHA mentioned that her husband, a carpenter, built her a cottage to avoid distractions. Distractions from her writing can be anything: the dog, the internet. She has no phone and no internet in the cottage. It's important to disconnect!
SD's biggest distractions are the internet and her toddler. She also mentioned that even if you are working from home and you are your own boss (which is usually the case for full time writers) you must take your work seriously or no one else will. A friend wouldn't stop by and start chatting if you were serving tables at a restaurant, so just because you're sitting at home, that's not an invitation. You're working!
On What They're Reading:
Frankie and Donna signage!
The FNC with Laurie and Sarah!
Next...we caravanned to Haverford to another indie, Children's Book World, for a signing with... Laurie Halse Anderson (again!), T.A. Barron, Sarah Dessen (again!), Steve Kluger, Justine Larbelestier, David Levithan, Lauren Myracle, Scott Westerfeld, and Jacqueline Woodson.
Donna with Justine Larbalestier and Sara with Scott Westerfeld
One highlight was seeing T.A. Barron again. He is one of the sweetest and most sincere writers I've met and his ability to encourage is amazing. Another huge highlight was David Levithan!!!
Meeting David Levithan
Lauren Myracle was also great to meet and very funny. She and Donna chatted about How to Be Bad and was so excited that Donna loved it so much.
Donna and Lauren Myracle
Contest runs until 12/1 at 11:59PM EST.