Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fierce Reads Event Recap + Giveaway

On Friday afternoon I had the distinct pleasure of attending Macmillan's Fierce Reads tour as it stopped at Books & Co in Dayton, Ohio. Young adult authors S.A. Bodeen (The Compound/The Fallout/The Raft), Alexandra Coutts (Tumble & Fall), Marissa Meyer (Cinder/Scarlet), and Leila Sales (This Song Will Save Your Life) were all in attendance to talk about their books and answer questions, but thanks to the lovely people at Macmillan I was able to meet with all four fabulous ladies for a quick Q+A before the event started.

If any of you have read past recaps for various author events I've been lucky enough to attend, you know that I get absurdly nervous when faced with authors and have a tendency to either freeze up and say absolutely nothing, or ramble on and on about anything and everything that pops in my head just to fill the silence. I was of course a little anxious about meeting these women even as I was enormously honored to be asked to be a part of the event, and that anxiousness only increased when it became apparent that, due to a tight schedule (they were only in Ohio for a matter of hours before flying out to Austin, TX), I would be interrupting them as they ate lunch to bombard them with my questions. Super. Thankfully they were all very good sports about me and my wonderful mother-in-law (and partner in blogging crime) Cathy joining them, and were enthusiastic about answering whatever I threw at them.

I tried to come up with questions that were a bit more on the fun side rather than serious questions about their books and writing processes, so I hope you all enjoy! (Please note that if the answers seem overly succinct, it's because I couldn't write fast enough to catch everything, not because they gave short or clipped answers!)


If a portal were to open right here and whisk you off to assume the life of any one character in fiction, who would you most want to be?

Leila Sales: Sarah Crewe (from A Little Princess) at the end of the book once she's free of Miss Minchin.

S.A. Bodeen: Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia

Marissa Meyer: Elizabeth Bennett

Alexandra Coutts: Same as Marissa. Elizabeth Bennett

You can change the ending of any one book, movie or television show. Which do you choose and what new ending do you give it?

Leila: Season three of "The OC". Marissa wouldn't die.

S.A.: Titanic. Jack wouldn't die, Rose would make room for him.

Marissa: Les Miserables. Jean Valjean wouldn't die.

Alex: The ending of "Lost".

What's the last word you wrote (current work in progress, side project, outline, or anything fiction-related)?

S.A.: Nacho.

Marissa: Unconscious.

Alex: Briscoe.

If you were all able to interview each others' characters, whom would you each choose and what's one question you would ask them?

Leila: Some of Marissa's characters, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't answer my questions! Or Nick from Tumble & Fall (Alex chimed in here to say Nick was based on a friend of hers). Or Sophie from Tumble & Fall, and I would ask "How old are you?"

S.A.: The dad from This Song Will Save Your Life.

Marissa: Same! Or Vicky (from This Song Will Save Your Life).

What's the longest you've had to wait for a book you've been dying to read?

Leila: A decade. There was a decade between two books by Connie Willis.

S.A.: However long the wait was for the 7th Harry Potter.

Marissa: How long was the wait for Bitterblue?

Alex: A decade (she mentioned the titles of the books, but I couldn't write them down quickly enough. Fail.)

Which book has your favorite beginning or end (either that you've read or written)?

Leila: The ending of The Sun Also Rises.

S.A.: The beginning of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron.

Alex: The beginning of Just As Long As We're Together by Judy Blume - "Stephanie is into hunks".

We all have book boyfriends (some of us have more than others O.o). Who tops your lists?

Leila: Michael from The Princess Diaries.

S.A.: Captain Thorne from Scarlet.

Marissa: Besides Mr. Darcy? Brigan from Fire by Kristin Cashore.

Alex: Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars (we both at this point acknowledged that in our heads, our YA book boyfriends are all more age-appropriate. Obviously ;-)). Wait. No. I'm switching to Gale from The Hunger Games.

*Leila said that not too long ago she was playing a Family Feud type game where they had asked 100 people which fictional character they'd most like to take out on a date, and after we all attempted to guess the number one spot she told us it was Hermione Granger. YAY FOR BOOKISH GIRLS!

After a stressful or particularly difficult day of writing, what's your go-to comfort food?

Leila: I eat chocolate chips while writing. I know it's time to stop when I've eaten way too many.

S.A: A hot drink and a Fiber One lemon bar.

Marissa: Any dark chocolate and a glass of wine.

Alex: Mac and cheese.

If you had $20 and 5 minutes in a bookstore to make a purchase, which section (other than YA) would you run to first?

S.A.: The adult recently released paperbacks section! (Leila agreed with her)

Marissa: Either the recently released paperbacks section or self help books.

Alex: Cookbooks.

• • • • • • • • • •

After all the questions were answered and everyone had finished their lunches, we headed across the street to the bookstore for a quick photo op before heading upstairs to the event itself.

Left to right: Mary Van Akin (publicist), Leila Sales, S.A. Bodeen, Molly Brouillette (publicist), Marissa Meyer, and Alexandra Coutts

There was a really great guest moderator from a local high school who asked a series of questions before opening things up to the audience, so below are some of the highlights of what was discussed; a combination of my notes and Cathy's since she was nice enough to jot things down as I popped up now and again to take pictures.

• There were originally going to be 5 books in The Lunar Chronicles series, with the last being "Puss in Boots", but it ended up being cut very early on and Marissa decided the series would end with Snow White in Winter.

• S.A. Bodeen originally never planned on writing a sequel to The Compound, but she was continuously asked what happened to Eli, so she started wondering that herself and came up with a twist which led to book two, The Fallout. It took 5 years for the sequel to happen though.

• Leila Sales has a background in psychology, her major in college, and has always been fascinated by the more social element to to it – how people interact with one another rather than the science of the brain. One of the studies referenced in This Song Will Save Your Life about people liking someone more if that person smiles at them, is a real study.

• Marissa was asked what attracted her to classic fairy tales and what her thoughts were on the damsels-in-distress-needing-princes-to-rescue-them aspect. She said she loved fairy tales in general, but wanted to present stronger, more diverse female characters who have dreams and ambitions far beyond meeting a handsome prince.

• All four authors were asked how they write full character arcs. S.A. said her characters always start out really flat, and it then takes draft upon draft for her to build their flesh. Alex said she always thinks she knows the full character at the start of their story, but the journey usually changes as she writes. Marissa said she focuses on a character's strengths or weaknesses and then builds up from there, asking herself what her characters are afraid of. Leila said her characters always start out flawed, and then hopefully over the course of the story they find a resolution for some of their problems and end up better than they started.

Audience question: What is your favorite book of all time?

Leila: The Little Prince. Said it's such a simple story, but one with so much depth.

Marissa: Pride and Prejudice. It's the only books she's read multiple times, she's not a re-reader at all.

S.A.: A Prayer for Owen Meany and Shadow of the Wind.

Alex: The Sound and The Fury. When she was a senior in high school she had to write a paper on it, and has re-read it 3-4 times.

• Audience question: Which character in your book was the easiest to write or do you most relate to?

Leila: Said there's a piece of her in all her characters, even the secondary ones, but she related to Elise most when she was writing This Song Will Save Your Life.

Alex: Surprisingly, she said male characters are often easier for her to understand and therefore write, stating growing up with 2 younger brothers was helpful in that regard. Her female characters all start out similar to her, and she finds it much easier to separate herself from a male character, so Kayden in the book probably came easiest for her.

Marissa: She most related to Cress. Cress has been stuck in a satellite for 7 years at the beginning of the book, so she often escapes into her own imagination and has a profound fantasy life, which Marissa said of course could be said of her as well.

S.A: Eli was easiest for her. She said she enjoyed getting to delve deeper into who he is in The Fallout.

After the Q+A all the authors signed books and handed out fun swag goodies. It was a truly fantastic event and drew the biggest crowd I've seen yet at this bookstore which was really fun and exciting, and I want to say a huge thank you to all four authors (and the awesome Mary and Molly!) for letting me be a part of the event, I had an absolute blast. The second leg of the Fierce Reads tour is coming back to Ohio November 5th, this time passing through Cincinnati, so if any of you are in the area, I hope to see you there!

A few more pictures from the event:

Left to right: S.A., Alex, Marissa, and Leila; Alex answering questions

S.A. signing books; Marissa and Leila listening attentively :)

 Marissa signing books; her tin full of Lunar Chronicles-related goodies

S.A., Alex, Me, Marissa, Leila

• • • • • • • • • • 


Thanks to the amazingly generous team at Macmillan, I have a truly awesome giveaway for you all today. Up for grabs are signed copies of The Compound, The Fallout, Cinder, Scarlet, Tumble & Fall, and This Song Will Save Your Life. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Oooh I'm most excited for Tumble & Fall!! Awesome giveaway! The event looks like alot of fun (:

  2. I've been really interested in Cinder for quite a while although all of these books look great. Thanks for the chance to win!!

  3. How exciting!! I love that you asked them questions about each other's work as well!
    So much fun!!

  4. I'd love to read Cinder and Scarlet the most.

  5. Oh I love this post, Jenny! There is unfortunately no tour stop around where I live so I fully appreciated this post. The questions you asked are so fun and interesting! I'm glad you had a great time. Your bookstore is also so pretty, what the heck?! ;) Lovely post, dear!

  6. I told the library yesterday that they should get Cinder ;)

  7. I am always so jealous of you US bloggers when you get to attend these things! But at least your recaps are so detailed that they give me the feeling that I've been there too.
    I would totally be Lucy from Narnia too, btw, she's one of my favorite female characters ever.
    There events are always such awesome opportunities to learn more about the authors you love and ask questions you'd never get to ask otherwise. I have no idea how you come up with your questions, but they're always so entertaining and original.
    Thanks for such a detailed recap, Jenny! :)

  8. Marissa Meyer is after my heart! After all, P&P is one of my faves, I'd love to be Elizabeth Bennett, and I am OBSESSED with Brigan from Fire! :) I'm so excited for Cress and I loved reading all these answers! Who knew Leila Sales had a psychology degree? Jenny, thank you so much for such a fun and detailed re-cap. You rock!(:

  9. WOW how exciting for you! It is hard pd to pick just one of these titles but if I had to pick just one it would be Tumble and Fall.

  10. Thanks for the awesome giveaway! It looks like it was an awesome time. I am most excited to read Cinder and Scarlet. I have heard great things!

  11. Scarlet for sure! I've been trying to read that book for the longest time, but whenever it's time to start a new book, something just pops up and I completely forget. I will get it read before Cress comes out. One way or another.

  12. This Song will save your life, Ive read great things about it. I cant wait to read it and see for myself.

  13. Captain Thorne = book boyfriend? HECK. YES. I want to reread those books all over again now.

  14. Ooh. These four are coming to my neck of the woods this week. If I go see them, it'll be like I'm seeing you. In a weird, roundabout way.

    Okay, maybe not.

    Anyway. I loooooove Marissa Meyer's books. I'm with Amanda, now I want a reread!

  15. Love it, girl! How fab that you got to hang out with all those awesome authors and chat with them, too. Great questions -- even if you got flustered, you did a great job!

  16. I cannot wait to read The Fallout and This Song will Save your Life. Eep!! So wish I could have been there!!

  17. Tumble & Fall! Fierce Reads looks so awesome, I wish I had gone! :D

  18. Holy gorgeousness! Jenny, what a fantastic recap! I love the fun questions you came up with, I wish I was witty enough to come up with great Qs like that on the spot, I tend to freeze up or ramble when faced with authors, too, so I really admire your bravery *pats Jenny on the back*.
    So many wonderful authors.. Which book am I most excited for?! Good luck making me pick just one! Bahahah
    No but seriously, I already have Scarlett, so I'd go with either This Song Will Save Your Life or The Fallout and The Compound. I heard amazing things about both TSWSYR and TF/TC series :)

    Great recap. Lots and lots of awesome informations and I love the pics! You lucky duck!!!! :) Next time take me with ya T___T

    Happy Sunday!

  19. Who would be jealous of just seeing bunch of books there and some amazing authors. I mean not a big deal right. BUT HOLLY CR*P girl this sounds amazing. We need that damn time machine like NOW as I want to go back and attend this event. I'd read Cinder then too, which I'm postponing for year or so.
    Anyhow I'm so glad you had a great time and thank you so much for this report. I feel close to it somehow.
    Great post :)

  20. Hmm. That is such a hard question! At first glanc, I would say that I am most excited to read This Song Will Save Your Life because I have read such great reviews of it on all my favorite blogs, and since I have yet to read a novel based on music. But then, I looked closer, and realized Cinder was on there. I am very embarrassed to say that I have yet to read the Cinder chronicles. I have been hearing such good things about the series for ages though! Just never got around to reading it. Overall, I'm excited for all of these books, but ecapecially the two I mentioned above. I love all books!

  21. What a faublous event!! You ladies look so beautiful in the picture and the event sounds like so much fun. You did a great job on the interview and I'm already composing a list of all my book boyfriends (a lot haha).

  22. Sounds like you had a great time...and great pics too. Marissa Meyer did a signing in Vancouver when Cinder was first released so I'm hoping she will come back one of these days.

  23. Oh my gosh Leila is like my twin! I actually did a degree in psychology, I hated it when Marissa dies in the OC too and I loved Michael from the Princess Diaries!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful recap post with us Jenny, we don't have many author events near where I live, so it's always great fun living vicariously through others! <3

  24. I've heard amazing things about This Song Will Save Your Life! Looks like you had an awesome time at the event!

  25. What an awesome event, Jenny! I get tongue tied and fangirly when I meet authors too. I can't help it! I've heard amazing things about these books.

  26. I'm excited for scarlet. I actually don't think I have any of these books.

  27. This Song Will Save Your Life. :D

  28. I am excited about all of them. Especially the Fallout. Thanks for the giveaway.

  29. thanks for the awesome post and giveaway!!! Loved Cinder :) thanks for sharing!

  30. i'm excited about all the books, but especially Tumble and Fall

  31. I'm really excited about the Lunar Chronicles! I've seen it everywhere but have not read the series.

  32. I am excited for all of them! Tumble and Fall is one that I am most excited for!
    Thanks for the amazing giveaway!

  33. They all look and sound awesome. How does one pick a favorite? Thanks for the giveaway!

  34. I've already read Cinder and Scarlet, and they were stinking amazing! The one I'm looking forward to the most is The Fallout because I loved The Compound and am excited to see what happens next.

  35. Insanely jealous that you got to meet four authors at once :P I can't imagine waiting a decade for a book! I'll either have forgotten the previous book by the time I read the newest or just would never read the latest book because I'd be worried that it could never live up to my expectations.

  36. I like all of them. If I had to pick one favorite it would be The Fallout, but I want them all.

  37. COOL. You were at that event? I saw live tweets from then and especially about Marissa Meyer's new book, but I imagine it was just a lot of fun to just be there. The only author event I've gotten to see near me (somewhat) was the launch party of Siege and Storm. And you got to do a pre Q&A! How awesome!

    Hahaa, your experience with authors sounds a lot like mine. I'm generally the say absolutely nothing type unless they ask me a question o.O.

    ELIZABETH BENNETT. Me too. Again, Jenny, the best questions. I want your interview skills.

    Oooh, the ending of Titanic. Definitely. It's interesting that most of them chose t.v./movie versus a book (except Marissa) for the ending to change. Maybe that's something to do with the writing process? Their natural reaction?

    How nice that they all chimed in to they'd interview each other's characters. YA authors always seem so gracious to one another!

    HP wait. Bitterblue wait. Definitely those two. Nowadays it's two years wait for any book we as bloggers start anticipating...

    BRIGAN!!! Okay, I'm consistently identifying with Marissa Meyer's answers. (Again, really fun questions! And yessss, YA book bfs are more age-appropriate in our minds, we manipulate the time... hey does the 'o.O' mean you have a lot of book boyfriends, Jenny?)

    YAY GO HERMIONE. I am so surprised because the Family Feud questions - those answers tend to not always make sense to me o.O but I can so see Hermione!

    A moderator from the local HS? That's awesome. I also didn't know that there could have been 5 books in the LC series; I guess we're making up for that now with Heartless soon after! And ahhaa, I think I know which psychology study Ms. Sales is referring to too.

    Ooh, yeah, Elise was really easy to identify with so Ms. Sales' answer also doesn't surprise me there. Jenny, I don't think I've thanked you for writing this down yet? Thank you. I saw live tweets, but they were not this in depth.

  38. That was a fun read! Great books too!
    I'm most excited to read Scarlet. :)

  39. I can't wait to read Cinder!
    And that looks like it an awesome event! :)

  40. I'm excited about Cinder and Scarlet! All of them look awesome! Hope you had fun!


  41. Can I cheat and say "All of them?" They all look like they are incredible books. Thank you for sharing them!

  42. I'm very excited to read This Song Will Save Your Life!

  43. I am most excited to read Tumble & Fall. :)

  44. I can't wait to read This Song Will Save Your Life! Actually Leila's answers to questions are so similar to what I would say! I LOVE Sara Crewe from A Little Princess. That's one book, and movie, that I have read and watched many, many times.
    S.A. Bodeen and Marissa Meyer will be here this weekend for Wordstock. So I'm not sure if I'll get to see them since I'm working the floor, but hopefully! And I've met Marissa before and probably will again since she lives nearby. But this event looks great! This bookstore looks really pretty, I love the fireplace.
    I think you did great with the notes. I always freak out when I do in person interviews cause I can't write fast enough so I try short hand and then can't decipher my notes. I get nervous too, that's normal!
    Thanks for sharing all this with us!

  45. Woo, lucky you!! But umm, I bet I could out-awkward you at an author signing. I just get so flustered and gahhhh. It's all a blur once it's over. It's like, what did I even say to her?? Hopefully nothing too embarrassing. I like that you kept your questions on the fun side! And it's interesting to learn more about the Lunar Chronicles...

  46. I'm most excited to read Cinder! I haven't read it yet and I've heard many good things about it.

  47. I actually want to read them all but I'm really looking forward to Scarlet and the compound. Thanks so much!!

  48. CINDER sounds EPIC! Thank you for sharing with us!

  49. Tumble and Fall looks really good!

  50. This Song Will Save Your Life sounds like a great read (and the main character sounds rather like me back in high school!)

  51. Tumble and Fall! It sounds so great!!

  52. I'd like to read Scarlet.
    Michelle Tucker

  53. I just got a copy of Cinder and am so excited to start that series, and I'm also dying to read This Song Will Save Your Life :D