Guess what time I slept for this signing? There's always something about book signings that make me lose sleep, and I was particularly looking forward to this one since I've loved Red Queen so much and read it a good half a year before it was published and the prospect of meeting the author made me all the more excited.
We immediately got the ball rolling and me and my fellow bloggers started asking questions which Victoria answered as much as she could (complete with Game of Thrones and Harry Potter ranting on the side which was so cute!) so here we go:
My question for her was: Red Queen featured a lot of big betrayals in the story. As far as shocking literary betrayals go, were any that you’ve read inspired those in the Red Queen series? And speaking of the series, is there anything you can share to us about the next book? A clue about the title? Is someone going to die?
A few, obviously Game of Thrones, pretty much everything in that book. *discusses the deaths in Storm of Swords* (I will not put this here because they're spoilers!) Another one are the deaths in Harry Potter, where you take away the mentor and it's story telling 101 in terms of plotting. *discusses more deaths in Lord of the Rings*
As for some details for the 3rd book in the Red Queen series, Victoria can't reveal the title yet since they haven't finalized it. But it starts immediately where Glass Swords leaves off, with the same format. There are a couple of characters in Glass Swords that will be in the 3rd book a lot more. As of current, Victoria is still writing the 3rd book.
Victoria gave some pretty amazing advice too! Check out her thoughts below:
For writing action packed scenes:
First, finish writing your first draft. You can't sell a book unless you've written one. Red Queen was the first book Victoria has ever written and the number one thing to do is write the end at the end. Get there however you can and don't edit yourself too much on the way there because you can get caught up in the quicksand of self-editing as you go. Forge ahead! Writing action sequences are her favorite parts as she finds it easier to write them than kissing. She'd love it if someone can tell her how to write romance/romantic scenes because it's her weakness! If you want to write action scenes, read. See how your favorite authors do it and internalize the language of those scenes and figure out how to communicate those visually.
Is character or plot more important and which one she decides on first?
Victoria picked a third option: world. Red Queen started with a single image of a girl about to be executed but killed her executioner with lightning instead. It's usually the world that comes to her first. She starts on a macro level that gets narrower. Bonus: the first screenplay Victoria has ever written is about a zombie apocalypse that breaks out in the middle of the Old American West. In short: Zombie Western!
For Victoria, character is more important. She's more of a world person but character is what makes a reader stay with the story.
On the Red Queen series having 4 books instead of a trilogy:
Victoria signed for Red Queen originally with three books. She initially thought she can tell the story in three books but while she was writing the third book she realized the ending will either be rushed or garbage so she went to her publisher and requested for a fourth book. (They want her to do 5 but she said no.)
It's not really extending or stretching the story line, but doing what the story was requiring as she understands it more.
Updates on Red Queen being a movie:
Universal Studios has the film options for the book and Victoria has read several versions of the draft of the screenplay. They've been very inclusive as Victoria have met the producers and Elizabeth Banks who will direct the movie. Victoria doesn't have actors in mind to play in the movie.
Victoria's top 3 favorite fantasy novels:
Lord of the Rings: Her water shed core inspiration. Victoria read it when she was 11 and carried the book around for 2 years until it fell apart.
Harry Potter: JK Rowling is her hero! She started reading when she was 9 and she felt like she went to Hogwarts along with the characters though she never got her letter.
Song of Ice and Fire: The way GRRM twists fantasy tropes but is very clear on there being no antagonists of protagonists. It's all shades of gray morality, and it inspired Red Queen, with characters who are bad that made good choices and good who made bad choices.
|Victoria while answering the bloggers' question.|
On having a screenplay writing degree, its advantages and if it's easier to write a script than a novel:
She learned all story-telling trick she knows from film school. For Victoria it's a comprehensive and highly internalized way of telling a story. She hates outlining! From film school she learned that pacing is key, you want to get in your scenes as fast as possible and escalation is the name of the game. Every single scene must up the ante and she thinks she has to outdo herself when she writes a sequel. Knowing her audience is very important as her job is to entertain them and she's putting on a show. She prefers whatever one she wasn't working on. :) Screenplays are visceral, 120 pages tops and 1/6 the size of a novel. Good screenplays are poetry! But novels give you a room to paint a picture and describe what things looks like, which you cannot put in screenplays.
Which scene in both books are most difficult to write:
The quiet scenes are difficult for her to write, the regrouping parts after a battle. The entire middle of Red Queen is difficult because it's a build up and learning the world in the story. There was a lot of self-doubt in it because she didn't know if the book will be published. Another difficult scene to write was one after a character has just died and everyone was really upset.
The inspiration for the names and abilities in the royal houses of Norta:
The names came out of thin air but Victoria wanted to put a Roman spin on them because it fits. Cal's name is from "Calor" which means "heat" in Spanish. Victoria did a lot of Google translations for words like "water" and "ice" and put spins on words. (Osanus sounds like Ocean!) For superpowers, she relied on Wikipedia, especially for background characters and picked from that especially for main characters, their powers should reflect their personality and service the plot.
On writing other stories after the Red Queen series:
Victoria wants to keep writing until the day she dies. But after Red Queen, Victoria will go back to writing scripts, as it's a good palate cleanser and keeps her on her toes when she switches from one medium to another. She also wants to continue writing in the fantasy genre, and maybe get good enough to write historical fiction because the research scares her, which is why she writes fantasy because she can make things up. After Red Queen, Victoria is signed with HarperCollins for 1 more novel, and she's still brainstorming about what she wants it to be.
On Mare and the message she conveys to readers and being a feminist:
Victoria's first job is to entertain people and any theme or moral (lesson) comes in later. Victoria is a feminist and it's just her natural inclination to write about a woman and a story where women are treated equally. For Mare, Victoria just wanted to write a character who she respects, strong, opinionated and complicated. It doesn't necessarily mean Mare is perfect, and Victoria loves her flaws.
The scientific background about the First Divide:
It's something that Victoria will expound more in the books, but it's not completely vital to the story. It's also not something that will affect the main plot (about Mare and the rebellion), but it is a result of nuclear warfare and mutation through radiation a couple of thousand years before the world in the book happened.
On writing a story with mixed genres:
Victoria likes genre mashups! She's a kitchen sink kind of writer and throws in the things she likes in what she writes. For her, it's cool to paint with different brushes and take pieces of the genres she loves and blend them together in her own personal way.
Finally, what else can people expect from Mare in the next books:
Readers can expect more of her emotional journey. Glass Sword is where she wobbles and can fall into a bad place, with her (sort of) anti-hero moments. In the third book, however, Mare will realize that she's not the center of the universe. Mare will realize that the wounds inflicted in her in Red Queen and Glass Sword are always going to be there and she has to move past them. In Red Queen she trusted the wrong people, in Glass Sword she trusts nobody, and in the third book she's learning to trust who she can and trust herself, which to Victoria is the most important thing. She will get back the trust in herself that she lost in Glass Sword here in the third book, but not to the point that it is unhealthy.
Whew. Okay, that was long! I wish I can share my audio recording but it's very, very bad you'll want to tear your ears off. Anyway! I didn't get to take a lot of photos with my blogger friends since we were all busy catching up with each other, but here are some photos!
Of course we were all waiting for the moment when Victoria will sign our books for us. So I was standing there in line, books in hand, and when it was my turn... I didn't know what to say to her. You'd think after attending quite a few signings, I'll know what to say but nope, I got nothing. So I just smiled and said Hi and she's like:
Victoria: You have a good stack here! *points to my ARCs*
Me: Yep, I got ARCs for both Red Queen and Glass Sword
Victoria: Oh yeah, I still have mine too.
Me: ... *runs out of things to say*
Victoria: Oh I hope we get ARCs for the third book! *still signing my books*
Me: !!!!! I hope I get one too!
After that I got my photo taken and the lovely (amazing!) Kate of The Bookaholic Blurbs kindly let me use her Instax so I can take another photo with Victoria. Sorry friend who I had to cut in line for! Victoria was kind enough to sign it as well! I didn't get the chance to have my bookmarks signed though. I was busy trying to find the right timing to have a #kaiselfie. It's a thing we do during book signing events, where we all try to squeeze in in one photo and include the author as well!
(Some settle for having their body parts included since they can't squeeze their faces in. I still don't know whose fingers those are. Friends, please tell me!)
Afterwards we headed to the public signing to see how many people there are, and color me surprised, we found out that the number was already running in the thousand! I first saw the number 900 and just before we left, it was more than a thousand! They had to cap it at 1,200 but... wow! Can you imagine an author signing more than a thousand books in one signing?
I'm so happy and proud for my fellow bookworms and book lovers for coming out and supporting Victoria! I know there were a few hiccups during the public signing but you waited just to see Victoria and for that I'm also thankful to you all! I hope you all had fun!
As a bonus, here's a video of Victoria with her message to her Philippine readers:
Again, thank you so much National Bookstore for the chance you've given me and other Pinoy YA book bloggers to meet and talk with Victoria, and congratulations for another successful event and all that you do for the local reading community! People can say what they want but I'm always thankful that we get such amazing authors to come and visit us here.
Did you attend the signing? How was it? Did you have fun? Share your experience with me!
See you at the Sarah J Maas signing this weekend!