I was wide awake until 3:30 am the day of the signing, mainly because of a bad case of nerves. Come on, it's E. Lockhart. Some few months ago I was nursing one of the worst book hangovers of my reading life because of We Were Liars and then I'm finally meeting her face to face.
|Ladies and gentlemen, E. Lockhart in the flesh.|
The moment Emily sat there and spoke after the first question was asked, I know we're all going to be in for a treat. If you're going to listen to the recording below, it's obvious how there are always a couple of seconds of dead air because we're all eagerly waiting for her answers and Emily takes time to think of her answers, but once she speaks the words just flow out of her and we just sit there listen to her. Very surreal experience, dear readers.
I got the opportunity to ask her a question which was:
In writing We Were Liars, how hard was it to tackle a story with an unreliable narrator (in Cadence) and still be purposely vague. What are some of the difficulties you encountered while writing and what kind of considerations did you have to make to piece the story together?
E. Lockhart: I guess two things. For the first time with We Were Liars, I used a different word processor. I used one called Scrivener, which a lot of writers now have been using for a long time and it's often used by writers who are writing big multi book fantasy series that have huge arcs and a million characters to keep track of. What Scrivener allows you to do that Microsoft Word does not is see the structure of your book from a bird's eye. It's hard to explain but if you think of it that way, you can see it from above and you can move the pieces around, and then look at it again. And so because if this is an amnesia story, I really needed to think through where the pieces in the book were in the way that I hadn't needed to another novel, so I used that software.
And the other thing I did was I shared the book with a lot more colleagues than I usually do. So usually I'm fairly confident in what I've written as, you know, telling the story that I want to tell. But with We Were Liars I was not so confident because I didn't know when people will begin to suspect what, whether they would have this sort of misleading suspicions that I wanted them to have, whether they would actually figure it all out, and so I gave the book to a lot of my writer colleagues. I gave it to Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman and I gave it to Sarah Mlyknowski and I gave it to Lauren Myracle. I gave it to all these people I know and now I owe favors to. (And they're making me pay them back!) And they gave me reads on it and one of the best reads I got was from Robin Wasserman who's a really great YA novelist and she was like "Oh! I know everything that's going on by page 10.". And I was like "You're right!". So she obviously could tell that I did not want that to be the case, so she gave me an edit that allowed me and said "here is where you're tipping your hand", "here is where your misleading is going to far and I don't believe you" and she gave a lot of comments like that which helped me revise well.
A run down of the forum Q&A:
- When asked which book of hers is her favorite, she said it's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. The pranks took her forever to figure out as she had to read the history of college pranks and high school pranks, and how to prank. (Thank you, internet!) She would have sections on the book that says "Prank goes here, it is brilliant!". She was very pleased for creating a character that is smarter than hers.
- Each book she has written has a structural device that is a challenge for her.
- Will she write books with fairy tales in it? Nope, because Emily has just finished a draft of a new book, but she had set herself another structural challenge because that is what keeps writing fresh for her.
- No publishing date for the book yet because they're changing from two season to a three season structure. Her due date suddenly became a weird deadline.
- If there is one thing she can change in We Were Liars? Nope, not the dogs. To tell the truth, Emily did not re-read We Were Liars, because she's writing a new book. She made the best book she knew how to make, and then she stopped thinking about it. She can rewrite things and add scenes and tinker with her writing but she's not thinking about it, she's thinking about the things she needs to change in her new book.
- We Were Liars had a style of writing which was like "going out of a limb" for Emily. She was ready for people to read the book and say "this is the most pretentious book I've ever read", for people to dislike the style and dislike the character because of the style.
- We Were Liars was first an idea for a book about "real estate".
- The plot for We Were Liars was written in 10 minutes, before Emily picked up her daughter.
- "Sexy things and bad things, put them in your book and then they will be fine." (This is according to Emily. :D )
- If she can write something not quite Young Adult, what would it be? Con Artists.
- Her next book is not set in high school and has a little bit of murder. About international jet setting 19 year olds.
- If there was a reality show about the Sinclairs? It'll be about cooking, a cooking show. Emily would like to know what's going on in their kitchen. "The secrets of the Sinclair family kitchen". Or "The real housewives of the island."
- We Were Liars is really about families fighting over property, grown children fighting over parental love and approval and younger kids hearing older people fight and feeling powerless and angry about the way the grown-ups are conducting themselves.
- Again, for the fairy tale parts in We Were Liars, Emily has this collection of fairy tale books, which her father gave to her mother, and was one of the only things she brought when she and her mom moved, and they move a lot. She would read them when she was little and the fairy tales in WWL came naturally from Emily's memories of reading the books. She was interested in We Were Liars in writing a story in which objects were endowed with a lot of family baggage and meaning. She'd always been using that box of books in her head.
- Is she an emotional writer? She had to push herself in rewrites to put the emotion in the book. She's scared of it and avoids it in the first drafts of a novel, which is true for the comedies and We Were Liars. She would shortchange the scenes where the emotion is the highest and would do it for multiple drafts until she faced the fact that she would actually feel things and write them down.
My two most favorite questions and answers of the forum are:
What advice can you give to aspiring writers who are looking to develop their own writing style?
I was taught to probably write just as you were, which is to erase myself. In scholarly writing, that is what's taught, in journalism, that is what's taught and so I came out of college writing as formally as stiltedly as invisible as a person, as a personality as could be. A breakthrough for me in finding my voice as a storyteller was trying to write like I would talk to a friend. The Ruby Oliver books, the first couple of those were the first Young Adult fiction that I've written and I suddenly realized that the way that you would tell a story to a friend was actually a pretty unusual way of telling a story. It didn't always go chronologically. You're going back and forth through time, the way that you would actually tell a story and you'll fill people in just what you need to fill in and I realized "Oh, that- you know I didn't need to think that everything should be in perfect order and that I didn't need to be invisible". I can just try to talk on the page.
If you were Cadence and you had a choice, would you let them go?
I think I would, because you cannot stay on an island forever. You have to go back to the rest of the world. You can't, you have to go back to the world.
You can listen to the whole thing here, as Emily said a whole lot more and it was one of the longest forums I've attended but TOTALLY WORTH EVERY SECOND.
Afterwards, we got in line and had our books signed and Emily brought out her stamps! We, of course, had fun talking to her a little bit more (she said sorry about the "pain" in We Were Liars) while she was signing our books! She also signed our shirts. :) And as per usual, I had fun taking photos of my book blogger friends!
I am just so happy to meet E. Lockhart and talk to her about her books and convey my feelings for her works. It was such a surreal experience! I have no other word to describe it! She was as awesome as I thought she'd be.
Also met a fellow book blogger / booktuber Kevin (@tomebound, I'm sure you know him, he's on Instagram too!) at the public signing and got to talk to him about books and Insurgent. So nice meeting you again, Kevin!
And here's a picture of us bloggers with the fabulous and amazing E. Lockhart!
I cannot thank National Bookstore enough for this opportunity to meet Emily! Thanks for another unforgettable experience and for meeting such a wonderful author. Wow.
And as a bonus, here's Emily's short message for the bloggers who attended the forum. Emily took the time to read our blogs before the forum and her message just made me so proud to be a Filipino Young Adult book blogger.
Were you there at the signing? Share your experience with me!