Tag Archives: Author appearance

Meeting Author Brad Meltzer

16 Jul

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting author Brad Meltzer. He was in town doing a book tour for his latest title, The President’s Shadow. Meltzer’s first book in this series, The Inner Circle, had been chosen as the Everyone’s Reading title for our area. You can read my book review and book club reflections of that book.

Image via Lisa (click for more)

Image via Lisa (click for more)

Meltzer was a great speaker. I was really blown away. I didn’t really know what to expect from him, but I guess I should have reasoned that someone who hosts two television shows would be a good speaker. He has some very strong ties to Michigan, namely that he is a University of Michigan graduate and a very proud alumnus. Every year for his birthday, he teaches a class to pass on the knowledge he gained when he attended there. He told the story about picking UofM because he had a friend with an old ‘Michigan’ t-shirt that he loved and it got him to look into the school. His first book was about Michigan and while that one landed in the ‘reject’ pile, he works a Michigan reference into all of his books. In The Inner Circle, I think the President was a Michigander.

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Me and Brad Meltzer.

Brad was asked about what kind of books he likes to read. He said that he doesn’t read a lot of thrillers. Because he’s so involved in the structure of them in his own writing, he tends to figure out the red herrings and can guess at the ending before he’s supposed to and it ruins it for him. Instead, he reads a lot of Young Adult books and comics. I should add that in addition to thrillers, Meltzer is known for his children’s books and writes comic books. He said that Neil Gaiman is his favorite author.

IMG_1962Before I had to chance to, someone asked him about his writing process. He said that he handwrites his outline before he starts. I would think that as a thriller writer, you need to know the ending when you begin. Though Brad is the first thriller writer I’ve met so I can’t say this is a trend. Then he’ll outline 50-100 pages in more detail and write those chunks. This reminds me a bit of the Snowflake Method that I’ve visited in a few posts before. (If you’re interested, search my ‘Library Writers Group’ posts.) Being a UofM grad, a lot of his friends were able to come to the event. One in particular Meltzer recognized and made him stand. The man was a doctor. Whenever Meltzer is working on a murder scene or has a question about human anatomy or illness, he calls this friend. I think friends like this are an invaluable resource for writers!

IMG_1961After waiting in line over an hour to meet him, I got my two minutes with Meltzer. I asked him the question I ask all authors. “I want to be where you are. What advice would you give me to get there?” His answer: “Don’t stop.” I don’t plan on it, Mr. Meltzer. No time soon.

There are a few more pictures below. Enjoy! Meltzer’s current book tour is over, but you can vote on his site for your hometown to ask him to visit. Maybe he’ll stop in!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Meeting Kazuo Ishiguro

14 Apr

Kazuo Ishiguro is probably the most famous author I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Maybe Khaled Hosseini could rival him, but that’s debatable. Either way, Ishiguro was a great person to meet and hear read.

IMG_1535He was doing a signing about an hour before the reading so Nicole and I went and got in line about 4:45. Of course, I picked up his latest book, The Buried Giant. While we were waiting in line, we got the terrible news that we could only have two books signed! I was heartbroken. I had a copy of The Buried Giant for myself, one for my father-in-law, and a copy of my favorite of his novels, Never Let Me Go, for myself. Luckily, the kind soul standing in front of me in line heard my plight and offered to take on of my books for me because she only had one! Thank you, kind soul! So I got all three books signed. Ishiguro is a pro and got through 200+ people in line in two hours without seeming rushed or dismissive. He was even nice enough to take this picture with us.

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There were some refreshments and then it was time to get in line and rush to get good seats. Luckily, I’m super pushy and we got seats about 7 rows back right on the aisle. The awesome picture of Ishiguro below was taken by Nicole while he was reading.

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Ishiguro read Chapter 11 from The Buried Giant to the full crowd. It took him about a half hour reading at a moderate pace. He was very comfortable with his words and you could tell he’d done this several times before. As you can see in the picture, he read from a paperback copy of the book. I’m guessing it’s a proof copy, but I thought it was interesting he chose to use this instead of the final hardbound book.

He agreed to answer questions for the second half hour of the event from the audience. Before you get too giddy, no, I did not ask my author question (How do I get to where you are) because of a fear of talking in front of so many people. He talked mostly about Giant and how it was an unconventional love story because it was a story about those already in love who had to remember why they were in love. The concept sounds very interesting. The couple is afraid of the bad that comes with the good parts of their relationship. They fear separation from each other and never finding out the truth more than they fear death.

Asked about his books, Ishiguro said that he’s fascinated by stories (plot-driven books) and likes trying to blend genres to find a new way to tell stories. One of his older books that I was unfamiliar with is called The Unconsoled and he said it was an attempt to try a new approach to storyline. Instead of being written as a memory or as a current progression of facts, he tried to write about a current progression where the people the character met brought back memories though there weren’t real flashbacks. I had trouble understanding what he was saying and I think only by reading the book would I really understand.

The buried giant in the title referred to secrets and history of the UK that’s been pushed aside but needs to be recalled. There are surely buried giants in any nation’s history and past. The novel plays with remembering and forgetting. How does a nation remember or forget compared to an individual? Are we deceiving ourselves when we forget? I like the concept.

Ishiguro was asked what books were most influential to him as a writer. He gave two, the first is Marcel Proust. He said Proust was a bit dry for him but that in the middle of the text there were great passages that moved him. He wanted to create passages in fiction that moved people in the same way. It was an element to fiction that wasn’t part of visual description and action, something that was more philosophical. He described it as a ‘texture of memory.’ The other book that influenced him was Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. He said he didn’t mean for it to be very influential, but that he’s found passages of that book that are very similar to his own. He uses a style in which the characters are confiding in the reader and sometimes withholding vital information in much the same way Jane does. I thought that it was interesting he admitted to being so influenced by a book to have the same elements in his own work.

Overall, it was a great experience and one I wouldn’t change for anything. It was well worth being tired while I was in Texas!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

What Does a Writer Look Like?

9 Jan

At a New Years party, a guy I knew in high school was talking to me and he found out I write. We haven’t really had much communication in the six years since we graduated, so he was curious. He asked me about my book and then said this line, which has stuck with me for a week.

Are you going to be famous and have people stopping you on the street, begging for your autograph?

I feel I can firmly say that this will never happen, no matter how famous I am. And if it does, it will be so few and far in between that I’m shocked when it does happen. And why is that?

Next to no one knows what writers look like well enough to recognize them away from a book flap.

I will already admit that there are exceptions. I feel relatively certain I could recognize J.K. Rowling  on the street and I’m sure some Song of Ice and Fire fans could pick George R.R. Martin out of a crowd. There are a few others I think I could find, but most of them I already met so I have a better idea of them physically.

Does this make anyone else sad?

My husband always rolls his eyes when I watch movies based on books because I get frustrated at how long it takes for the “Based on a book by…” part of credits to come up. Of the movies I’ve watched recently, J.K. Rowling’s name came up pretty quickly (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), Phillip K. Dick’s name came up after a minute or two (Blade Runner) and I don’t think I saw Audrey Niffenegger’s (The Time Traveler’s Wife) at all. Maybe I wasn’t looking close enough, but still.

Why do we give such little credence to the writer, the creator of the words, ideas, and images that we are so attracted to? I’ll freely admit I could pick Jennifer Lawrence out of a crowd (Miley haircut and all) but couldn’t tell you what Suzanne Collins’ hair color is. (Brown? I’m guessing brown, I saw a picture of her once.)

It seems that we’re more attracted to something visual than something written, as the popularity of movies from books proves. The book sold well, the movie will be a blockbuster. The author made a million dollars and we’ll pay the B-List celebrity portraying the mother two million.

I made this point the other day when I was out with my friend CA. We went to Barnes and Nobel for her to pick up some books and I told her about this. She kind of laughed at first, but then thought about it. I asked her if she knew what Stephen King looked like and she said no, even though he was one of her favorite authors. We picked up a copy of Doctor Sleep just to oogle his image. She wouldn’t have known him from a complete stranger.

Reader, I’m curious what you think because I’m stumped. Why do the words of an author stick with us so much and we never get to know their face? Do Authors have faces not worth remembering, or are their words so much more important than the face attached to the hand who wrote them?

Until next time, write on.