Amber Morrell

writer, reader, librarian

Month: March 2016

On Meeting Authors

Melissa Meyer (right) and myself.

Marissa Meyer (right) and myself.

I’ve been very lucky in the past month or so to have the opportunity to meet with two authors that I admire: V.E. Schwab, the author of Vicious and the A Darker Shade of Magic series, and Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles series. Meeting an author is more than simply an opportunity to get your books signed and pose for a photo–which I definitely do, but these things don’t represent the total value.

To me, the most valuable thing about meeting authors I admire is perspective. Even if you interact with an author online, getting to meet them in person confirms that they are a flesh-and-blood person and not a magical-goddess-robot-writing machine (though they may also be that. Who knows.).

But seriously: meeting an author not only puts their writing into perspective, but also your own. Every time I meet an author I go home feeling inspired and reinvigorated to keep writing.

For one thing, authors often talk about their origin stories–at V.E. Schwab’s signing in Huntington Beach last month, with Gretchen McNeil and Marie Lu, the three authors dedicated an entire segment of the panel to their origin story. They discussed not only the origins of their characters and stories but also their publishing journeys, and all the sweat and blood and tears that go into the arduous, lengthy process. This is all about perspective–it gives context to the wonderful book you hold in your hands, and it reminds you that one day your random word vomit might also be a wonderful book.

V.E. Schwab (left) and myself.

V.E. Schwab (left) and myself.

I always leave author events running through all the imaginary panels I might one day be on through my head. What will I tell budding writers about the writing process? About the misery and pain it takes to create long form fiction? What will my signature look like? What will my origin story be?

With the internet, published and aspiring writers can interact easier than ever. I follow most of my favorite writers on Twitter, and often we might exchange a few words together. How invigorating it is! How amazing it feels when one of your favorite authors likes a tweet you sent them, or one that you simply mentioned them in. To put your heroes on a pedestal far above you, but to have them reach down and touch you in the smallest ways. It makes a difference.

I have a slew of events planned this spring where I will have the opportunity to meet many more authors and creative people. I’ll be attending the annual AWP conference, the LA Times Festival of Books, and YALLWEST. But no matter how many times I get to meet authors I’m still always excited about it. My pulse quickens and I can’t help but fangirl a little bit once I lay eyes on them in real life. When it comes to your heroes, you really can’t meet them enough.

At a recent signing I attended, I saw a girl bring a book up to Andrew Smith to get signed. He’d already signed it the last time she’d seen him, but she wanted him to sign it again. One signature is a stamp in time: it’s “that one time I met the author and it was awesome.” But two signatures creates a new temporality, one that’s a constant exchange between author and reader, one that says, “I care enough about you and your work to come back again and again.” I hope I have that experience myself someday.

REVIEW: THE GIRL IN THE WELL IS ME by Karen Rivers

51gubUXsmpL._SX372_BO1,204,203,200_THE GIRL IN THE WELL IS ME by Karen Rivers
Release Date: March 15th, 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Format: Ebook ARC from NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon

The Girl in the Well is Me is one of those books that has you laughing and crying at the same time. I absolutely adored Karen Rivers’ unique and funny voice, and her ability to really bring you in to Kammie’s head even as she loses coherency.

Kammie is smart and funny, if a bit naïve about certain things. It seems at first that she is just an average girl subjected to bullying while trying to fit in at her new school. But as the novel goes on it’s revealed that Kammie is anything but average; and discovering (as she suffers in a claustrophobic abandoned well) her troubled past is half the fun.

I really enjoy Kammie’s character because she seems like the type of character that’s usually on the other side of the coin. Wealthy, smart, good at ice skating and horseback riding—she is the kind of girl that might be the antagonist of the story, not usually the on you root for. And in a lot of ways, I did dislike her–but her self-realization that she was not the best person is part of why I like her. She starts to realize that personal identity is not linked to personal wealth, and that she can be who she wants to be without being a wealthy, popular girl.

While the voice of this novel is definitely where it shines most, I’m also really fond of the overall structure of how the story is told. Kammie spends most of the book inside a well. The action comes from the things she hallucinates, her interactions with the people outside of the well, and the slow revelations of her past. Despite the main character’s relative immobility, this book is still a page-turner. I found myself desperate to learn more about Kammie and her past life, but also anxious for her to escape her current predicament. Rivers is good at creating atmosphere and really making me feel claustrophobic right alongside Kammie. The unique voice and premise of this novel make it a winner for me.

five-star

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