Author Panel: Rees Brennan, Black, and Bray

“I hate it when you wake up after a party and everyone’s dead.”

–Sarah Rees Brennan

I went to Burlington with the Boston Science Fiction and Fantasy Meet-up Group for an author panel last Friday. Glad I decided to get in on that action.

The writers of the night were Libba Bray, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Holly Black.

Once the authors arrived there was a lot of excitement from the crowd and banter from the stars of the night. Sarah did an interpretive dance of the plot of Libba’s Diviners.

Libba: “I don’t remember writing any of this. Can’t wait to see how it ends.”

We started with each author reading a short excerpt from their books. Diviners is about a flapper girl from the 1920’s with the special ability to get vibrations from objects. The prose was very flavorful and I love the Prohibition-era historic setting.

Sarah read from her novel Unspoken, which all of my friends have now read, so I think that one is next on my reading list. “I have to be standing for this because of reasons,” she said, as she began her reading. Libba spit out her Fiji water when Sarah began stripping.

I am intrigued.

It happened to be Sarah’s birthday, which might explain the delightful energy she had going on.

Next up was Holly Black. Since the closing book of Black’s Curseworkers trilogy Black Heart, has been out for six months, she gave us the special treat of reading from her current work in progress. 

She read a chilling scene from the opening of Coldest Girl in the Cold Town that had everyone paused and quiet in their seats and on the floor.

It was also a treat to see that “real authors” are just like us unpublished slobs. Her WIP was printed out on computer paper! It was probably hand noted!

We somehow got on the topic of hot brothers, a topic that is prevalent in teenlit right now. On Sarah’s The Demon’s Lexicon trilogy: “It’s about hot brothers who fight with swords.” There are also debonair brothers in the Curseworker’s series and The Diviners.

I suppose there are only so many sibling combinations you can do, but Sarah was right. Between “Supernatural” and “The Vampire Diaries,” hot brothers are a thing.

I’m not complaining.

Audience Question and Answer Time:

What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

[On reconciling your ability to execute your ideas with the image you have in your head] “The hardest thing is living with disappointment.” –Libba Bray

“The hardest thing is plot. Trying to get to this thing and the first draft is not that.” –Holly Black

What would you tell your younger self?

“I would tell myself to dream bigger.” –Holly Black

“Be the heroine of your own life.” –Sarah Rees Brennan

What inspired your characters?

Holly: “I love a liar more than anyone else. I love a conman.”

Sarah: “The world tells girls to settle down… I wanted to write someone indomitable.”

Writing Advice?

Libba shared the personal story of why she started writing. “Story had that kind of power to ground me and keep me tethered here.”

“Read widely.” –Sarah Rees Brennan

Nanowrimo tip: “Go forward, keep writing. Don’t look back.” –Holly Black

Be careful with comparisons when pitching: “It’s like Twilight. But with badgers!” –Libba Bray.

I got to speak with each of the authors in turn after their entertaining discussion. I bought copies of The Diviners and Unspoken as my intros to these lovely authors and got some extra special swag in exchange.

I was also thrilled to meet Holly Black, whose work I’ve admired for a while. She signed my copies of White Cat and Red Glove, one of which had evidence of being well loved from when my mother’s dog savaged it.

It was a very successful night.

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