What: Literary Orange
Where: Marriott, Irvine
When: Friday, April 5, 2014
Please Note: The quotes are approximate.
YA: The Awesome Age
People on the Panel
- Maurene Goo, author, Since You Asked, www.maurenegoo.com
- Jessica Brody, author, Unremembered, www.jessicabrody.com
- Kendare Blake, author, Antigoddess, www.kendareblake.com
- Alyson Beecher, moderator
My first panel and second panel are in the same room, so I remain in my seat. Why not? I've got a good view of the stage. As the panelists play musical chairs, I gaze through my notes. Suddenly, I hear my name called. I look up.
Two members of my party--Michelle Knowlden and Debra Young--sit down beside me. They both took a "Save the Cat" workshop with one of the panelists, Jessica Brody, and they've come to show support for their former teacher. As for me, I'm here because this is the only panel even closely related to my chosen genre of fantasy. Mystery, literary fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction are all well-represented. Speculative works are scarce.
The members on this panel seem young. Two of the women are Asian--the only non-white speakers I will encounter the whole day. On the far left is Maurene Goo, followed by Jessica Brody and then Kendare Blake. Alyson Beecher, the moderator, occupies the far right. I think about taking a picture of the room for reference, but I'm too lazy.
The moderator makes the obligatory introductions and we begin.
* * *
Moderator: Can you each tell us a little about your writing journey?
|Since You Asked by Maurene Goo|
Kendare: I didn't think I could make a living from writing. I had a boring job. One night I was on the barn roof with my brother. We were drinking beers, talking about the need to leave the country. And the easiest way to do that was with a student visa. I went to Middlesex University in England. When I came back, I thought, Well, I can live with parents forever. I wrote a contemporary novel, first. But I decided blood and guts was the way for me and wrote Anna Dressed in Blood.
Moderator: Can you tell me about the element of world-building and research involved in your writing?
Jessica: Writing this trilogy has been a crash course in world-building. It takes place in the real world--at first. In the first book, I'd put in little hints about the world my character comes from. Then, in the third book, I realized she had to return to her own world. All those hints in first book needed to be explained.
|Unremembered by Jessica Brody|
Moderator: You all create characters that feel very real. Do you ever have trouble with characters going in different directions than you intended? Is it hard being evil to the characters?
Kendare: Well, as far as characters misbehaving, I created a character named Carmel, who I thought was going to die. Turns out she didn't. If I'd have known she was going to live I wouldn't have name her Carmel! In Antigoddess, Hermes told me he was gay. I was like, "Okay... At least you told me early."
Maurene: I think even normal characters can surprise you. Friendships in my book turned out to be much deeper than I anticipated. ...I guess, I don't really do evil things to my characters. The worst thing I've put them through is Life--which is evil enough.
|Antigoddess by Kendare Blake|
Moderator: Recently, there was an article in Time discussing what is the ideal YA female protagonist. Your thoughts?
Jessica: So I wrote a novel called 52 Reasons I Hate My Father about a rich girl who has to work 52 jobs before she can inherit her trust fund. People have told she's unlikable in the beginning of the story. I'm like, "Yeah... And your point is?" She's supposed to start off unlikable, but over the course of the story she changes and redeems herself. You don't have to like the character. Just the story.
Maurene: People have told me, "I hated the protagonist." I feel deflated, because she's based on me. There's lots of pressure to have this perfect character, but as a writer, it's not that interesting. My heroine is honest about her flaws. That's an attractive quality to me.
Kendare: There's this sense in society that females are judged more harshly than males. Look at superhero movies. When we meet the heroes at the start of the movie, they're dicks. But we're told, "You just need to peel back the layers, like an onion, and you'll see that deep down, he's a good guy." But we're not willing to do that with female characters. We expect them to be perfect to begin with.
Maurene: Plus, we're dealing with teenagers. Think of what you were like as a teenager. You weren't your best self.
We open for questions.
I glare at my notes. They don't quite capture how funny and witty these women really are. But I have been listening too closely to write down more than a phrase or two. Oh well. At least I had more fun at this panel than the last one.
After questions end, Michelle and Debra walk up to Jessica to say their hellos. Networking, I think. Here's my chance. But I am not a master socializer. I find myself standing awkwardly between the three ladies as they catch up. By the time Jessica turns to me for an introduction, I barely manage to burble out my name.
Well, that went well, I think, as the authors all move to their signing tables. A chance for networking has slipped through my fingers.
* * *
To Be Continued....