Of course I shared the news with Ashley, and despite the fact that she had just spent way too much time in a car, she agreed to come with me.
In the meantime, two other exciting things happened. First, Shannon announced that she will be having twins, in September! I myself plan to give birth in that month. Secondly, on the afternoon of the signing, I received my prize! Remember that Book Trailer contest that all of you voted for me in? Well thanks a million! Look how happy this box of books from Bloomsbury made me:
We left the boys (husbands and toddlers) around 4:00 last Tuesday, and drove straight there. Ashley's baby was a sweet little trooper. Needless to say, upon our arrival my first concern was finding a restroom. Looking back, it was pretty comical that I had to find an employee and ask for toilet paper. In the meantime, Ashley got the little guy out of his carseat and started looking around for Shannon Hale, who was supposed to have been speaking for 15 minutes already.
Come to find out we were two doors down from Shannon, in the other part of the bookstore. This was quickly remedied, and at long last we settled in (on the floor, as it was standing room only) to hear the rest of the Q&A.
In this picture from Shannon Hale's blog post about the event, you can see us on the far left:
Shannon tackled some tough questions: (I had no recording devices, this is all just the gist)
How do you deal with writers' block? Stop believing in it, it's like the boogeyman. Also, give yourself permission to write poorly.
Do you ever overwrite? She always writes more than what ends up in the book. She said if your 200 page novel hasn't been 600 pages at some point... and the best way to get to know your characters is to get them in a conversation with each other.
How do you come up with your characters, like Razo? She loves writing Razo -- he just kept popping up and saying funny things and giving people nicknames. Her characters are much like toddlers ("can you tell I'm in mommy mode?") in that they need freedom to explore but she has to guide them and keep them on track.
Your settings (especially Princess Academy) seem so real, where do you draw them from? She said at the time she didn't feel like she had claim to write from places that she hadn't descended from -- mostly European countries for the Books of Bayern and Princess Academy. Later, writing Book of a Thousand Days, she felt that she could, as a human, draw features and references and names from Mongolia.
Anyway, there were several more questions, at least, and Shannon was charming and witty as ever.
Next came the signing. While we waited for our turn in line, Ashley changed her little guy into his pajamas. Sometimes babies need a change of clothes on short notice -- it's a fact.
When it was our turn, I mostly blabbed about pregnancy stuff with Shannon. I did also enthusiastically talk about the books I had gotten that afternoon (there were 27 in the box! Tons!). Then we took a picture together, and Shannon pronounced the baby "so squishable!"
We had a great time, and even the drive back wasn't too bad. I haven't the foggiest idea of whether or not we traveled the farthest to be there, but some people were impressed when we told them we lived 3 hours away.