I've said this a lot of times before, but I am a really big fan of Jennifer E. Smith ever since I've read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. She's amazing and her stories are something I can always relate to. And add to that, Lissa Price, who has written this intriguing set of books, so I was sure we'll have a good time when I see them. And then they're there:
I just had this huge grin on my face (I was sitting in front, so I see them up close!) while looking at them! I loved seeing their faces as they answer questions about their writing and their books.
My question for Lissa was:
Starters' core is very complex (seniors being able to rent bodies of teenagers in order for them to live/feel young once more). Did you already have an idea of how you were going to work around the complexity of it all or did everything simply flow in the process of writing?Her answer: Lissa is a planner so she has this post it notes where she writes her middle, high points, ending so she has a skeleton of her plot line sorted. But as her characters change, she follows them. It's a delicate back and forth between what she planned and what she discover as she writes.
A few points of the Q&A:
Lissa Price's process in world building of Starters and Enders:
She went to Costco to get a flu shot but they didn't have enough vaccine for everybody, and so the government set up a triage system where only the very old and the very young will get the vaccine because they're the most vulnerable members of society. Lissa thought if it was a killer disease, then all that was left standing would only be the very old and the very young. What kind of world would that be? And she thought "Ah! That's the kind of world I'd put it in a book". Thus, Starters was born.
Was there ever a time when their editors wanted to remove some parts in their story which happens to be their favorite?
Jen is an editor so she sees both sides of the process, and she's a believer of it. What's good in the book comes out as you go through draft after draft. But there are times she'll say no, but most of the time she tries to treat it as a perspective she can't see as the writer. She'll take 75 to 80% of suggestions.
For Lissa, the notes a writer gets from the editors oftentimes "stink". She sets them aside for a few days and gets back to it the next time around and sees it more clearly. Editors suggest fixes but it isn't always right, and for her what's important is the characters "work" and she makes her story better her own way.
Lissa doesn't have the cliffhanger ending of Starters in her original draft, her editor asked for it.The line in Statistical “It's not the changes that will break your heart; it's that tug of familiarity.” which is one of the most quoted line among her book? She was right to retain it. :)
On Lissa's writing process and when she decided she wants her book to be published:
Every writer who writes want their books to be published. It took Lissa 9 months to write Starters. She got an agent in 24 hours and the book sold in 6 days. It was quick!
Would Jen want to: meet a British guy in the airport, having a long distance relationship or being friends with a movie star?
She doesn't want a long distance relationship, it's not ideal for her. She'd want to meet a cute British boy on a plane! She loves Graham, but Oliver is her favorite.
Did Lissa intended Enders to be a duology?
Yes she did. When she first started writing, she thought she'd write a trilogy because it was like what she was reading at the time (Hunger Games), but her editor suggested she make it a duology because publishers might be getting tired of trilogies and at the time there aren't a lot of YA duology.
Lissa is entertaining the idea of writing a third book because so many fans asked for it! But nothing is confirmed yet.
How does Jen balance her work as a writer and as an editor?
Not very well. She wrote her first 5 books while working full time and it was just about really wanting it. Getting up really early and staying home for the weekends to meet a deadline, it was a challenge for her. She doesn't think her work as an editor as a day job. And she doesn't edit YA so it's nice for her to be in another genre. Now she has a flexible schedule and she thinks she's a better writer now.
The biggest challenge Lissa had to overcome while writing a book set in the future post war?
It was the whole process of writing a book before she got published, because it's a whole different thing after you get published. You have your editor, guidelines and expectations and the challenge itself is the beauty of it. Everything will change once one gets published!
If you want to listen to the rest of the Q&A, check the recording below:
I had a really fun time meeting both authors, and Jen E. Smith was such a sweetheart! For once I was able to hold a proper conversation with an author that I love! I told her I was tweeting about NBS bringing her here and she was just full of thanks to everyone who made it possible. And oh! You should've seen how cool Lissa Price was when she told us a friend had a first edition of Starters and she gave us pointers on how to take care of a first edition book because it's precious and collectors want them.
And as always, it's twice as fun because I see my friends and fellow book bloggers and really just get to hang out with them and talk about anything we want. And books, of course.
As a bonus, I recorded a video with Jen E. Smith and Lissa Price's message, check it out below!
I can't thank National Bookstore enough for making this possible! Meeting Jen E. Smith was a dream, and having Lissa Price as well? AWESOME! And congratulations for another successful book event. Keep it up!
Lissa Price was generously giving away swag to everyone because she brought a ton, and she told us we can use them as giveaways, so I am giving away some! You can win 2 signed bookmarks, a bookplate and a button!
Open to PH residents only
Must be at least 13 years old
Ends October 10