I have been to a handful of signings, each one more enjoyable than the previous but I am still amazed at how each book signing has something different to offer and it feels like I am attending it for the very first time over and over. And as always, I am plagued by sleeplessness because of my over-excitement at the fact that I am meeting fabulous authors the next day.
That shock when you see the authors whose books you just read, and see them walking in front of you, smiling and waving for the very first time never gets old, really.
Both authors were there early! We started on time, and the questions started rolling and both Claudia and Madeleine gave such witty, elaborate answers to the questions each blogger asked. I've read Spellcaster (which I reviewed here) so I knew my question will be about that particular Claudia Gray series, so when it was my turn to ask, my question was this:
The witchcraft in your Spellcaster series is new for me in a sense that a caster needs to also summon a memory to cast a spell. Can you tell us more about how you were able to build this kind of witchcraft? And what can we expect in Sorceress, the 3rd book in the Spellcaster series?
In Spellcaster, a witch has to ground herself with an element (necklace, magic jewelries) and call forth a memory in order to cast a spell. Why is memory needed? Because Claudia wanted the story to have an "emotional" component. While Claudia was writing the book, she didn't realize that this kind of set-up will allow her to delve into the back stories of the characters, especially Elizabeth. When you think about it, Nadia is 16 and Elizabeth is 400. Memories are the fuel for the magic, and the longer you live the more varied memories one will have, so you'll have more power and finesse to place in a spell. Claudia wanted it to be clear from the beginning that Nadia is not going to be stronger than Elizabeth, but she has to be smarter, and has to see possibilities that Elizabeth, being locked up for so long, doesn't see. What to look forward to in Sorceress? One word: Asa. He was introduced in Spellcaster and Claudia knew he'll be needed in the next books, and it's a lot of fun playing with him and with the role that he plays.
Listen to the whole thing below:
- Madeleine got her amazing hairstyle by using a beard trimmer. She does it herself and put designs on the sides. She didn't have time to make one during the blogger's event though.
Speaking of Madeleine, a blogger asked if she ever got creeped out by what she was writing?
Her answer: Yes. That's when she knows it's good, when she gets nervous. It doesn't happen often though. When she re-reads and try to get immersed in the story, that's when she feels it. She tries to make each book scarier than the 1st one. Her third book (which she's finishing while she's here in Manila) has a lot of really scary scenes. Unfortunately, there aren't scenes in Manila in the book, but she might include a name of a ride or a street name. The setting of her new book is in New Orleans.
If Bianca, Nadia and Marguerite were chosen as Tributes in the Hunger Games, who would win the competition?
Tough question. Bianca has a connection to the undead that gives her a serious edge, and she can't be killed, which is what you have to be if you're in the Hunger Games. Nadia will be the best competitor because she has magic, but she might not be a tribute because she might cast something so she wouldn't be chosen. Marguerite will be a better fighter though. But in the end it'll be Bianca.
- You can call Madeleine Roux Maddie or Madeleine, either way is fine with her.
As a gamer, was Madeleine able to insert situations in the games she play in her novels?
What she loves in games are the strong supporting cast. When their stories are interesting and rich, and they might not get much time to develop their stories, but that's something she hopes get into her work. You'd want to know more about them even though they're not the main character and it's something she hopes get across in her writing.
- If Claudia is to blurb A Thousand Pieces of You, for her it's Orphan Black meets Cloud Atlas! She likes the idea of people fated to meet but the outcome isn't fated. There's a thousand possibilities for every single encounter.
Has Madeleine ever thought of writing a collab novel with another author?
She has to get someone to agree with it first, and if it's like that then it would have to be a good friend of hers and fellow YA author Michelle Gagnon (Don't Turn Around!). Their styles will work really well together as they both like writing fast paced thrillers.
- If Claudia thinks about traveling with the Firebird, she doesn't think of ending up anywhere. She'll just keep going. But if she has to choose any of the universes in ATPoY, it's the Russiaverse.
- For Madeleine: haunted asylum or creepy carnival? She doesn't like clowns (and the dark), so she'd go with asylum because it tends to be empty.
The most difficult part of Claudia's writing process?
It varies from book to book. You have to learn how to write each one. The super easy part in one might be what trips you in the next book. For ATPoY, it's figuring out how the Firebird will work, the things it could and couldn't do, things that could go wrong.
- How does she figure out which one to write first? The ideas choose Claudia and wrestles her down.
- Madeleine didn't get to visit any asylums while she was writing Asylum. Her research was done online and her college school had a lot of old buildings, places where she can feel its history.
- The photos in Madeleine's books were chosen through a collaborative process with her publisher. They either have shoots to recreate the scenes in her book or find photos they can manipulate.
- If Claudia was born sometime in the 19th century and transported to the 21st century, she'd want to learn about how far women have come and wonder why we haven't come even farther.
The hardest part of being a writer that most people don't know about?
For Madeleine it's two things. One, how much junk she has to do all the time. The things you don't realize you need to do when you become a published author and the things you don't realize that comes with the job. While it's fun, some days she just wants to write. Two: how guilty you feel when you don't write. It's not a 9 to 5 job, so you're constantly thinking about what you're working on. It's tough.
The future of Young Adult fiction:
Madeleine: A lot of blending of genres, less straight up fantasies, sci-fi. (Vampires in space with unicorns!) You can get away with it in YA, unlike in adult fiction. Madeleine hopes to see more diversity as well.
Claudia: Diversity in YA. Many people have wised up about it and people are starting to jump in on it as well. Fewer people going "what is this crazy fad and trend"? A little less of "what is this thing people are doing"? and YA being more an accepted area, with it comes a little bit less of "flavor of the month" pressure. There will also be less pressure to fit in the mold as YA becomes more established.
- Claudia can't talk about the new projects she's thinking of right now, but she loves sci-fi fiction and she hopes to write more in the genre. She will never say never to anything.
What sparked both authors' interest in reading and when did they realize they wanted to write?
Madeleine has always been into reading. She started with American girl doll companion books. She was reading things that she should not have been reading yet, but she just wanted to read so badly. She'd read her brothers books and encyclopedias. Jane Austen ignited her passion for reading, Shakespeare and Anne Rice as a teen, and then Tolkien and Harry Potter. Madeleine was doing creative writing in college and was just reading masterpieces, figuring out how they did it and then one day, she was writing a historical piece which got her so tired because she was researching a lot of things. And then she decided she'd write for fun and ended up writing a zombie book, which got her so invested and she enjoyed writing that she thinks it's better than her scholarly piece. That's when she realized she can do it as a job because she liked it, and it's not constant research.
Claudia was a very enthusiastic and early reader. She's not a discriminating reader too. She'd read anything she can get her hands on. She'd read MG books and then read John Steinbeck, all of it was interesting and fascinating to her. She always knew she wanted to write and enjoy writing. Claudia watched Superman when she was 8 or 9 and she kept thinking up sequels inside her head. She never considered being a novelist professionally before, but it's because of her lack of confidence. She wrote so much fanfiction! Her first novel length idea was fanfiction, and writing it was a huge education for her. The first moment Claudia knew writing is in her future was when she published the last chapter of a fanfic, met up with her friends and when she checked her email, she had 500 emails in response to her story. It was still a good 5 years before she tried to write seriously.
And then they signed our books and it was a magical ride from then on.
Guys, Madeleine Roux was such a rock star. While Claudia Gray was busy signing a ton of books and Madeleine ran out of books (and postcards!) to sign, we were sneakily trying to take a selfie with her, but she noticed us and told us we should take one with her in it. We tried fitting all of us in the frame and doing it was a hilarious thing! And Claudia Gray was such a chatterbox. I asked her if she had gone shopping and she told me about her holding off because she'll be visiting a friend in Singapore and will shop there too.
Also, I had a complete trilogy proof of the Spellcaster series and I was so surprised when Claudia gushed over how it was the first complete proof she will ever sign and the first proof of Sorceress she will also sign. WOW.
|PH YA Book bloggers with Claudia Gray and Madeleine Roux. And yes, that's Madeleine doing a peace sign on my head!|
Afterwards, we went to the public signing and had more fun there! In the dizzying chaos of the signing event, we checked out each other's books and a staff from a cable company noticed us and decided to interview us as a group, which gave us an opportunity to talk about Claudia's and Madeleine's books on cam. You'll probably see us in a cable feature soon. And the fabulous Nicole Lim, nail art goddess and one half of The Twins Read, got interviewed as well!
We also got to meet Sarah Woodruff of Harper Collins International! She arrived that morning and was considerably jetlagged, so we only got to chat with her for a few minutes, where she asked us what food recommendations we can give her. There's balut, yema, ensaymada, adobo. You should've seen us when we were explaining to her what balut was. :)
To say it was a fun event is an understatement. It was all sorts of awesome and I am still reeling from the experience. Once again, thank you very much National Bookstore for making all of this possible! And for all the other things we got to experience as we get to live a life of a bookworm. It was amazing. Amazing!!!
And a bonus! Here's a video message from Claudia and Madeleine for Filipino readers.
See you next month, fellow bookworms!