Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Gayle Forman, Nina LaCour, & Deb Caletti at University Bookstore

The lovely set-up of books. Sadly, it didn't even occur to
me that I ought to take pics of the actual authors.
Hearing authors talk about their writing styles and their books has always been fascinating to me. I've wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. And writers, like most who aspire to go into creative professions, view authors a bit like celebrities. In a lot of ways, they've made it. We long to absorb anything they say that might help us get closer to that very same goal.

Last night, I went to University Bookstore in Seattle to see Gayle Forman, Nina LaCour, and Deb Caletti have a chat as a part of Gayle's book tour for I Was Here, the story of a girl whose best friend commits suicide and is left to deal with the aftermath, trying to piece together how something so terrible could have happened. Despite the sad beginnings of her newest book (or maybe because of how intriguing that premise is), I was thrilled to see these women, especially Nina, who has been a favorite author of mine since I stumbled upon Hold Still (a book which has a similar premise as Gayle's newest book) at the library when I was about 18 or 19.

Every one of the authors was as delightful and hilarious as I expected them to be. Granted, I haven't yet read any of Deb Caletti's work (that will be changing soon, since I purchased one of her books even though I shouldn't be spending money). All three women were absolutely wonderful.

They opened up with a "dramatic reading" from Gayle's newest book, I Was Here, where she voiced the main character, Cody; Deb voiced Ben, the love interest and best friend; and Nina voiced leather-clad "Stoner Richard." It was hilarious. Nina seemed to really enjoy pretending to throw back beers, while Deb seemed thrilled to yell the word "fuck" in the middle of a bookstore. What doesn't sound fun about that?

About half of the time was dedicated to questions, which all turned out to be pretty good. Q&A time tends to usually be hit or miss, but I thought the ones I heard were pretty good. A lot of people asked about structure. Nina LaCour talked about how she tends to jump around in the writing of the book, while Deb Caletti seems to favor starting off and seeing where the story takes you, discovering how the story unfolds as you write it. Gayle Forman talked about how she's in the middle of three different projects right now and is waiting to see if they will all pan out or take each other out "gladiator-style" (her words, not mine).

Afterward, I waited until the line died down before getting in line for the signing. I had brought two books each for Gayle and Nina to sign, then bought one for Deb because I just couldn't resist. At the last minute, I left Where She Went in my bag so I wouldn't be the one who brought all the books. I regret that a bit now, because I actually liked it better than the first book. I was fairly awkward, as per usual, in getting the books signed. Gayle complimented my typewriter necklace and it took me a good ten seconds to realize what she was talking about. I don't even want to talk about how red my face probably got while talking to Nina.

All in all it was a pretty awesome event. I have to say, though, that it's quite a different experience going to these sorts of things as someone who intends to be an author in some far off future versus someone who has three-fourths of a manuscript typed up on the laptop sitting beside her. It adds this extra level of both fear and excitement. It feels like that dream profession is finally attainable, but just out of reach at the moment.

Anyway, if you can see any of these lovely author's while they're on Gayle Forman's I Was Here tour, I highly suggest it. They keep the audience laughing and engaged from start to finish. And if you can't make it, pick up one of their books. I've read many of them and I'll be the first to tell you, they won't disappoint.