And I also met Roshani Chokshi, Marie Lu, and Leigh Bardugo at the same event.
Guys, while the Lord of the Rings cast is still my #friendshipgoals, author friendships come a close second. This author event became so much more than a book birthday and signing because of the relationship among these three gorgeous women.
Once again, many thanks to Vroman’s Bookstore in Old Town Pasadena for hosting this event. Support your local independent bookstore, people, they’re seriously awesome. It is definitely one of my favorite places in Pasadena and I’m so happy that many authors love this place too. Plus I live so close so… yay!
Anyway, it’s been a long minute since my last author event. I think it wasn’t even a legit author event. It was the VE Schwab panel at WonderCon 2016, if I remember correctly. Then, nothing. Sigh, for someone who read 80 books last year, my overall events list was lacking.
I heard of Wintersong a couple of months ago on GoodReads. It is promoted as a sort of Labyrinth retelling with Beauty and the Beast elements thrown in. I was intrigued. I started and ended 2016 by reading a book by Marie Lu. I read five books by her… six, if you count her artwork contribution in Gemina. Legend was the first book I read last year and Champion was one of the last ones. The final pages of Champion destroyed me. I’m not much of a crying reader but this did me in. Now, I need to acquire the rest of her work. When I saw that she was joining this event, I for sure wanted to go. Then Roshani Chokshi was announced to be in attendance also. She’s half-Filipina and I’ve always wanted to read The Star-Touched Queen. There was a point last year when I read 2-3 Indian inspired books in a row so I wasn’t able to get to it.
The day before the signing, I bought The Star-Touched Queen and Caraval (also for a signing). My mom was reading my ARC of Prodigy and my copy of Legend is a tattered library hardcover so I bought Champion with me. After all, that’s my favorite. Wintersong‘s release date was February 7 so I picked up my copy at the venue.
I knew then that by the end of the day that these titles will go from regular “want to read” and “read” shelves to “own-signed” on my GoodReads account. 😄 I love me some signed books, if you don’t already know.
As I mentioned above, it wasn’t your straightforward “author reads an excerpt then Q&A then signing” event. It was like a gathering of three girlfriends over coffee. It was so chill and they were all lovely. They took command of their own panel, asking questions to each other, and sharing insights. Really, the only thing missing was a cup of coffee and Starbucks music.
It was lovely to see that JJ’s family was there to celebrate her book’s release. I’m sure a lot of their friends were there too. I mean, Leigh Bardugo was there. If I’d known then I would’ve taken one of her books with me too. But I did get a Post-It note signed as an impromptu signed book plate.
She was in front of me at the signing line. Then she talked to Marie a bit, hugs all around. Again, author friendship goals. She even offered to take my picture with JJ! She had Roshani’s and JJ’s books out to have them signed. Hahaha, forgive me… this is my first author event where there are more than 1 author in attendance. It’s all new to me and really, it gave me the warm and fuzzies.
I wasn’t able to take a photo of the table but the three of them arranged it themselves to make it “Instagram ready”. And it was pretty. As were these women. All of them had glitter eyeliner on and they all prepared together with the Fifty Shades of Grey OST in the background. They all have connections to LA and/or Pasadena. They shared their versions of how they all met and became friends. Their insights about their writing rituals, inspirations, processes are very helpful and really, it made me appreciate their work more. (Marie’s especially because I’ve only read hers.)
I got to ask a questions. I wasn’t sure if my question was okay but in the light of all these diversity issues in the book community plus my genuine interest, I asked “How does your Asian side influence your writing?” And then I threw in a question to Roshani, “Being part-Filipino, will we see that influence in your future work?”
Roshani shared that while she was raised in a very Western way to avoid confusion when it comes to identity, she was still fascinated with Philippine folk lore and stories. “Every culture has a version of a fairy tale,” she said. She also said that Filipino stories and folk lore are every oral. I agree; while I do know a lot about it because I grew up in and around it, there seems to be a lack of readily accessible sources about it. I’m not saying that there’s none out there but here in the United States at least, you can’t just go to your local library and expect to find a black hole of information about aswang and manananggal. She also said that the book she’s working on right now will have a Filipino character. She looked so excited for it and it made me excited too. And oh, I got a hug! 🙂
JJ’s answer was about Asian work ethics. And also you know how Asian parents want their kids to learn a musical instrument or two, right? Wintersong is music-themed. The way both Roshani and Marie described the writing in Wintersong made me want to drop everything and experience it myself.
Marie’s answer was my favorite. She mentioned a particular scene in Legend that closely resembled what went on at Tiananmen Square. She shared that she was five years old when it happened and she was there when the conflict was going on and she remembered the people and the tanks. Somehow, maybe almost subconsciously, it crept on to the pages of her writing and she only realized it after the release.
I am so looking forward to reading Wintersong and The Star-Touched Queen as well as The Young Elites trilogy. I really enjoy Marie Lu’s writing. It’s easy to follow and she does action so well. She did mention that that’s easiest for her to write while romance is the toughest. Same with JJ. But Roshani is the opposite. She loves writing romance. I’m definitely in a romance mood. February is looking to be a TBR-ish month.
This was such a fun event. Such lovely people. This definitely reminded me why I love going to these kinds of events and meeting authors. It’s not just to have your book signed. It’s also to hear the author’s story, how their book came about. Social media interactions are exciting too but meeting them in person is something else entirely.
I say the same with vendors at Artist Alleys… creators love hearing their work praised. It makes their day when people ask them to sign or talk so positively about something they worked hard on. I can imagine it’s the same with authors. So if you have the opportunity, go to a book signing. It’ll make your day making someone else’s day. (If that makes any sense at all.)