|Beth Revis, Amie Kaufman, & Megan Spooner|
enjoying the spotlight at Park Road Books
One of the fun parts about writing a book for young adults is meeting authors. Recently Park Road Books, Charlotte's own indie bookstore, hosted Beth Revis (Across the Universe trilogy) Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner (These Broken Stars). They talked fast and furious about their books, advised new writers, and offered insight into collaborating on a book. Since I didn't bring my laptop, I took notes. Their paraphrased remarks are below:
Little Known Fact About Beth: Part of what inspired Across the Universe was an Agatha Christie book, Murder on The Orient Express. She thought about how Christie's murder took place in the close environment of a train. Then she went on to think, "What if there was a murderer on board a spaceship?"
Researching Your Book: There were was much laughter when all three authors shared some of the strange research they've done. Beth seemed to find a lot of information from Russian astronauts who apparently have tried more things than Americans--including surviving (for a very short time) in space without a spacesuit.
Words of Wisdom from Megan: Look all around you for ideas. When you get one, chew on it for a while. Play, "what if?" Stories can get built out of small ideas.
Question from Amie: All writers come back to certain questions or themes that fascinate them. What are the ones you inserted into your stories?
Beth "Mine is finding your place in your world. What is home?"
Megan "People from different worlds must work together to survive."
On Collaboration: Megan and Amie played with their characters first. They e-mailed back and forth for at least a year imagining their adventures before they decided to write a book together. They each took one of the characters and wrote the chapter from that person's point of view. During the revision stage, they each worked on the entire book so that at some point, they no longer could identify who wrote what.
On a Character’s Motivation: Don't get your characters what they want. Or give it to them and then make sure the character hates what he or she received.
Advice to young writers: Read. Everything. Don't worry about publication. This is not a race. Beth added, "This is about creating art. When in doubt, make better art." Meg said, “Get used to showing other people your work as soon as possible.”
On Creating Imaginary Worlds: Make an encyclopedia and maps. Include as much information as possible. You'll be thankful later on that you did. Beth said that after Across the Universe was written, her editor asked for a map of the ship. She was forced to admit that one didn't exist.
On Creating Dialogue: Realistic dialogue should be a cross between what we think we sound like and what we really sound like.
Amie's Advice on writing Your First Chapter: Don't spend a month re-writing it. It will get changed a lot. Get it out and move on.
How about you? What do you learn from other authors--either ones you meet in person or via their books or in cyberspace? I'd love to hear your tidbits too!