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Monday, February 2, 2015

Signing recap: James Frey Manila Book Signing! #JamesFreyinPH

National Bookstore brought James Frey signing for their first ever YA Book event for 2015. What can I say? I am pleasantly surprised.

James Frey visited Manila for a book signing for his latest interactive book called Endgame: The Calling which features a puzzle you can solve in order to win $500,000. And in case you didn't know, his publisher has also recently announced shortly before his tour that James is Pittacus Lore, the author of the Lorien Legacies books.

James opted not to use the mic and proceeded to answer the questions from the bloggers right away. As for his answers? Check the Q&A I listed below:

The hardest part of Endgames to write: was it the beginning, middle or end?

Books are all sort of the same. The ending for Endgame has been changed four times, which James considered to be the hardest part, because there are now four different endings and he kept redoing it. The beginning is hard because you know there are hundreds of pages in front of you, the middle is the easiest and the end is hard because you have to get it right. If it stinks, your book stinks.

Endgame is an interactive trilogy that involves playing a game with a real prize, utilizing social media and producing e-novellas, what's the most challenging part in putting all of it together?

Before James and Nils started, they wrote a 50 paged document on how to integrate everything, and they just had to make sure to get it right. The hardest part was the logistics, as Endgame came out in 165 countries in 35 languages all on the same day, which was a very complicated thing to carry out. The book also has a puzzle in it where one can win a lot of money if they were able to solve it, and they had to make sure that it was legal all over the world as different countries have different laws with lots of paperwork. As for the social media aspect, the characters in the book had their own twitter handles made a year before the book came out, and it was just a lot of work. But James considers himself lucky for having an awesome job, as hard work is a good thing. He also had kids, where he jokingly said that the job makes it possible for him to buy shoes for them. :)

The puzzle in Endgame is embedded in the book, how did James & Nils go about in designing it?

James wrote the puzzle into the story on his first draft of Endgame. It was, however, very simple and it looked the way he wanted the puzzle to look and function. He then hired 3 guys with PhD's from MIT who then made it way harder, way cooler and way more fun. The puzzle James wrote can be solved in a couple of days, while the puzzle the MIT guys wrote will take a year to be solved.

Did James helped, in any way, for the movie adaptation of his books: I AM NUMBER FOUR and ENDGAME?

 James help and contribute as much as they want him to. I Am Number Four is Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay's work and they don't really need James telling them what to do. If they called him with questions then he was happy to talk with them and give them his input, but he wasn't aggressive in trying to make things the way he wanted them to be. In his experience, generally it doesn't work out well. The smartest authors are just happy that they're books are getting to be made into movies as it increases their audience dramatically. With Endgame, the producers were the ones who made the Twilight, Nicholas Sparks movies, Fault In Our Stars and Maze runner and they don't need to hear from James either. They're old friends of James and he trusts them.

In working out strategies of the characters according to the rules of the game, did James think that a particular character will definitely violate the rule?

There are no rules! They can do anything they wanted. The only rule is that there are no rules. That's the beauty of it. That gave both James and Nils the ability to make the characters do anything they want, be as good or bad as they want. Once they have the cultures they started making the characters appropriate to the culture, and then they had to decide which characters had to be good or bad and they try to balance it out (e.g. not making all the Asian characters bad and all the white characters good). There are 5 Asian characters in the book which is way more than anybody else.

Will there be more Asian characters? (Not really as players.)

For sure. James has to figure out how to get Manila in the next book as he wants to write a chase scene set in Manila.

What sets The Calling apart from other books in the same genre?

James asked Sab what she thinks the genre for The Calling is. It's not dystopia, as it is in an alternate world. What sets it apart? It's way freaking better and way cooler. And Filipino readers love it way more. James and Nils tried to make it different by setting it in our world, a world we all know. Something happened at the end of the book that is unlike any of the books with love triangles. It was a deliberate decision that basically says James is sick of "love triangle" books. Also, the characters are "global". It doesn't just have white characters. James wanted to make a book with characters all over the world, a book that acknowledges cultures and people all over the world because in today's world, an author's audience is not just white Americans, and it's way cooler to make a book with characters from all over the world.

Among the 12 players, which one best describes James?

As a writer, unless you are writing directly about yourself, every character is you in some way and none of them are you. If there's one who most resembles James, it's Jago but he doesn't really think any of them is like him as James had different reasons for writing all of them. When you write a book, you have to treat your characters fully with equal care, attention and love or the book will get messed up. You give equal care to the good ones and the bad ones.

Is there a scene in Endgame James wishes to change or remove?

No, he thinks the book is perfect. Certainly when you give a book to a publisher and you go to the long process of editing where you change, remove and add and do all sorts of things with the book, part of it is taking input from the publisher, what the author thinks as he writes and right now he's pretty happy with what he has.

Is there already a title for the sequel to Endgame?

They already have a title, but it had to be changed, and now they are planning on changing it again so James doesn't know what the title is going to be. He asks his readers to give him suggestions for potential book titles. :)

As a bonus, here's a message from James to his Filipino readers:

I am missing around a minute and a half in my recording, because I totally forgot that I pressed "Pause" on my recorder and only remembered to start it again towards the end. You can check the other recaps for two or more of the questions and their answers! Sorry about that.

I arrived a little bit late so I only had time to take photos with my other blogger friends while James was signing our books, so here are some of the photos:

First #Kaiselfie of the year! Oscar inspired, eh?
And of course James signed my books! He really likes it here in Manila, as evident in his messages and what he writes in the books he signs. And it's true, he signs EVERYTHING. National Bookstore raffled off 5 shirts and I managed to win one and he signed it for me. He also signed Polaroids from my blogger friends.

And then at the public signing, we were greeted by the screams of hundreds of fans who pushed their way near the stage as James Frey arrived. I thought my ears were going to fall off! James answered a few questions as well and picked a winner for the contest he mentioned before, where a fan can win a chance to be included in James' book!

It was an unexpectedly fun book signing, and as always, thank you National Bookstore for organizing this event! I had a lot of fun and James is quite the cool guy.

Did you attend the assigning? How was it for you? Share your experiences/comments/recaps with me!

Now who's excited for the book signing this March? :D

Other signing recaps:

Precious @ Fragments of Life
Sab The Book Eater


  1. Awww, it's too bad that I wasn't included in the first Kai selfie of 2015! :( I miss you!!!

    1. Aww, Kayla! Will I see you at Lockhart's signing? YES? YES? YES PLEASE! I miss you too!!!


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