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Archive for the ‘Writers’ Category

The Selection Collage

Last month at WonderCon 2014, New York Times best-selling author Kiera Cass – the woman behind “The Selection” book trilogy – took to the stage to talk to folks about her experience as a writer and her successful book series.

With her editor Erica Sussman from HarperCollins alongside her, Kiera talked about the anticipation of the final book in the trilogy – “The One” – that would be released two weeks after the last day of WonderCon 2014. She joked that she was “super nervous” about book three coming out and shared that “she might hide from Twitter that day” just in case.

The first book in the trilogy “The Selection” came out on April 24, 2012 and focused on a futuristic world that Kiera described as “The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor, but not as bloody”. She shared that the trilogy is a love story at heart; and during the process of writing the books she “was surprised by how forceful the characters were” as they would “tell me what to say”.

The basic premise of the trilogy focuses on 35 girls who are given the chance of a lifetime. They are given the opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth: to live in a palace and compete for the heart the prince of Illea, Maxon Schreave. Among those 35 girls is America Singer, who is not happy to be one of the chosen, as it means she has to turn her back on her secret love with Aspen.

When asked if she is at all like America, Kiera shared that she is actually more like America’s younger sister May, who is “boy crazy and a bit of a fan girl” especially where Prince Maxon is concerned. When asked if she herself could choose between Prince Maxon and Aspen, Kiera could not, but she did share that both characters have features of her own husband Calloway Cass. She also shared that the character of America wasn’t really based on any particular person, she “just showed up in my head”.

Kiera loves fairy tales and love stories and those were the genesis of “The Selection” trilogy; in fact she shared during the panel that she didn’t know about the world of “dystopian stories” when writing her books. And with the final book The Elite now out on bookshelves, she shared that she “wouldn’t count it out” if there were spin-off stories about some of the minor characters in the trilogy. She couldn’t, however, delve too deeply into what she has planned next despite the fact that “she hates keeping secrets”, but there are “things in the works” that she could not yet discuss.

The second book in the trilogy entitled “The Elite” came out on April 23, 2013 and the 35 girls have now been dwindled down to just six girls, all competing for the heart of Prince Maxon with America needing to decide where her heart truly lies. And the final book “The One” has been out since May 6 with the focus being on the winner of the competition for Prince Maxon’s heart being chosen and America having to make a decision, too, between the two men in her life.

Personally, I read the first book in the trilogy, finding it to be an entertaining read and I look forward to reading the rest of the books soon. Readers can also check out the novellas for which Kiera has written in relation to “The Selection” trilogy including “The Prince” and “The Guard”.

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On the last day of Comic-Con 2013, some of the top sci-fi authors gathered for a panel entitled “Witches and Fey, Monsters and Mortals” about all those things that go bump in the night for which they have created for their books.

The panelists included the following:

Rachel Caine, the author of The Weather Warden series, The Red Letter Days series, The Morganville Vampires series (which is actually being made into an online series), The Athena Force series, The Outcast Season series and The Revivalist series;

Brom (aka Gerald Brom), the author of Metamorphosis, Offerings, Brom’s Little Black Book, Darwerks: The Art of Brom, The Plucker, The Devil’s Rose, The Child Thief and Krampus the Yule Lord;

Leigh Bardugo, the author of The Witch of Duva and the books of the Grisha trilogy, including Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm.

Seanan McGuire, the author of the InCryptid series and the October Daye series;

Amber Benson, the author of the Calliope Reaper-Jones series and the Ghosts of Albion series (TV viewers will also recognize Amber for her recurring role on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer);

C. Robert Cargill, the author of Queen of the Dark Things and Dreams and Shadows;

Morgan Rhodes, the author of the Falling Kingdoms series; and,

S.M. (Shannon) Wheeler, the author of Sea Change.

Some of the authors first talked about their backgrounds and how that differs greatly from what they are doing now; such as Rachel who shared that she studied accounting and music in college and Robert stated that he is a “history buff”, but that actually helped in his writing because what we know as fantasy “was someone else’s religion” at one point in time. And, Leigh shared that she was an English major (which obviously helped in her career path) and that she wanted to make the creatures from the dark ages into literal beings that would “scare the crap” out of her readers.

And some of the authors then talked about what drew them to their particular creations with Brom sharing that “monsters don’t know they are monsters” and “one person’s God is another person’s demon” so it was interesting for him to develop the creatures in his stories and in his artwork.

When the subject of whether they designed their own creatures or created them from research, Robert shared that he “did create a fairy based on mythology” while Seanan stated that she “does both”. Then Brom shared that “he feels like he is role-playing with his monsters”, making it easier to design them.

Of course the subject of what character in pop culture scares each of the authors most brought out quite different answers:

• Morgan – Pinhead from Hellraiser and the girl from The Ring
• Robert – Freddie Kreuger
• Rachel – The gentlemen from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
• Shannon – The creatures in the video game Silent Hill
• Seanan – Creep Show 2
• Brom proudly announced that “he loves monsters” and it is actually “his happy place” but he does not like parasites.

Then the discussion turned to what each of the authors are currently working on:

• Shannon – Sea Change sequel
• Morgan – Fallen Kingdom book 3
• Robert – Dreams & Shadows sequel, a possible Sinister movie sequel as well as a possible adaptation of the movie in video game format
• Amber – A new series of books with the working title “Witches of Echo Park”
• Seanan – Working on six different, ongoing projects
• Leigh – Book three of her current series
• Brom – A collection of illustrations and a fifth novel
• Rachel – The Morganville Vampires online series and for the first time in 20 years, she is taking some much deserved time off

Much too soon, the panel had to come to an end with a short Q&A from the audience; and that brought to an end my last day at Comic Con 2013 as well.

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On the first day of Comic-Con 2013, one of the cool smaller panels that was held at the San Diego Convention Center was entitled “Geeks Get Published – and Paid”, featuring the following authors as panelists:

S. G. Browne – The author of dark comedy and social satire whose first book was a “rom-zom-com”, a romantic-zombie-comedy told from the point of view of a zombie. That was followed up by a black comedy about fate and destiny and his latest book about a man with the ability to steal other people’s luck with a simply handshake.

Bonnie Burton – The author of six books, primarily centered on Star Wars. She also writes comics and is a columnist for SFX, a British magazine that covers science fiction and fantasy.

Katrina Hill (aka Action Flick Chick) – The film critic, book author, reporter and web-comic star who loves action flicks and horror movies. She also writes for Crave Magazine and was rated by Twitter as one of the “ten most influential women” online.

Alex Langley – The author of “The Geek Handbook”, he also writes news, interviews and comics for the website Rocketllama.com.

Alan Kistler – The geek historian and consultant, who has three published books, is a frequent contributor to Comic Book Resources and a columnist for Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., which he created. He’s written several unofficial challenge books and is the author of Doctor Who: A History.

Dr. Travis Langley – The psychology professor at Henderson State University, makes regular presentations on the psychology of superheroes at conventions like Comic Con and his research includes studies of aggressive behavior and mass media, particularly the psychology of media fans.

With moderator Jenna Busch from Fanhattan at the helm, the authors first talked about how they got started with Bonnie sharing that she wrote anthologies about blogs before anyone took blogs seriously; S.G. got started in 2003 on his first book, but didn’t get published until 2006 with all three of his books actually starting out as short stories first; Katrina shared that she got started with her blog first and then a publisher came to her to write a book about her love of action flicks; Alex was approached to write the Geek Handbook and Alan was also offered to write a cookbook for Game of Thrones and Travis shared that his credentials helped him get into writing.

Each author then talked about whether they had an agent or not with the split being even between all of the panelists, each sharing their opinion on whether it was a help or a hindrance in having an agent. But one of the main pieces of advice that several of the authors agreed on was if you decide to get an agent, check out agentquery.com as they are the “internet’s most trusted database of literary agents:.

They then shared their tips on writing as follows:

• Bonnie simply saying “write, write, write” and “never turn down a writing job”;

• S.G. sharing that it’s best to “read like a writer…the broader (your) scope you have will enrich your life”;

• Katrina shared that its best to “write about what you love then it doesn’t feel like a job”;

• Alex shared that you should “read constantly, expose yourself to “stuff” that is really bad (so you won’t) be afraid to improve and acknowledge your weak points”;

• Alan shared to “make it personal, do what it is that you’ve got to do, but if you’re phoning it in, (anyone) can tell; and

• Travis shared its best “to listen to advice, get feedback and loving what you’re doing is important”.

Each author has also had different experiences with publishing – some going the self-publishing or e-book route while others have been published through the help of their agents, getting them publishing deals.

Needless to say, it was an interesting panel with authors who obviously love what they are doing and fellow geeks/nerds/pop culture enthusiasts who can dispense good advice to those of us who wish to follow in their footsteps.

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