Julie was great behind the mic. It was apparent that she had been to author events before and that we shared the opinion that the Q&A is the best part. She began with some tantalizing selections from the book, and since the book is told in the first person from a teen male protagonist, a writing workshop student of hers read. Then she turned it straight over to Q&A.
There were the usual questions, ones I'm sure she prepared for. These are NOT direct quotes:
- How do you find time to write? I watched less t.v., slept less, and drank more caffeine. If you want something badly enough, you make time.
- How long did it take? 3.5 weeks for the first draft and a year of revisions
- Where did you get your idea? an editor, while rejecting her submitted manuscript, told her he wanted a YA time-travel and she went from there.
- Who are your favorite authors, what are your favorite books? Little Women, Number the Stars, The Babysitters Club, John Grisham, Courtney Summers, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter . . . I typically read 2 to 3 books a week, so there are more favorites that I just can't think of right now. One I loved recently was The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.
- Was it challenging writing as a young male? YES. All the danger and peril in the book helped.
- What have been some of the most memorable and exciting parts of the journey? Selling film rights and foreign rights, opening the email from Suzie, her agent offering her representation, getting good reviews, teens liking it, and a 13 year old boy saying she had done a good job writing as a boy with her main character, Jackson.
- What is your advice for aspiring writers? Read a lot, read your work out loud, have an online critique group, write something and finish it. Leave it for a while and write something else. Read tons!
The question that came out of the blue was one from the back about 3/4 of the way through the presentation:
- "Hi, I came in late, and I was wondering if you could sort of summarize what you've said so far." . . . "Particularly, how did you do it? How could I do it?"
Dudes. That is the toughest question I've ever heard an author get.
I was very worried. I was blushing, and my hand was covering my eyes, so I have no idea how Julie was looking up there in those first few moments. But let me tell you, she handled it with grace.
Even as I was thinking, "there's nothing a novelist hates more than distilling her work into a summary," Julie pulled a beautiful one right out of her ear. She emphasized some things she had said before and added a few extra tidbits. She managed to both answer the question and not bore the rest of us to tears. (Ditto it's horrid follow-up by the same asker: "No, I meant how does it actually become a book?")
After that (oh my word it's like I just watched someone run a marathon) I felt like someone had to ask a good question. Being myself, I asked the only question I could think of, even though it was totally oddball.
"This might be kind of strange," I said, "but my question is for Suzie. How did you become an agent? What was your path, and how does one become an agent?" Suzie was more than happy to step up (phew) and told us her fascinating story -- English major to English teacher to Unemployed in NYC to Working for free, Working so much they thought they'd better start paying her, and at last a full fledged agent! Anyone who'd like to follow in Julie and Suzie's footsteps can check out Guide to Career Education for some schools offering English and writing courses.
There were two or three more questions for Julie and then it was time to sign books!
|Literary agent Suzie Townsend preps the books.|
|Julie Cross signs Tempest|
While Julie was signing away, I got to interview Jackson, who did a great job reading from the book. Yes, that's right, he has the same name as the main character in the novel. I thought it was very clever of Julie to not read it herself, and that Jackson was perfect.
|Jackson read selections from Tempest.|
Jackson was a beta reader, so he read the book while it was still in draft form. He knows Julie because he took a week long writing camp with her, and his mom is one of her coworkers. (His mom is seated next to him, above. She's sassy, classy, and gorgeous, folks. She says Jackson is the "best ever!") Julie said she would rather have a boy read from the book, and knew Jackson had been in plays. Plus there was the serendipity of his name being the same as the main character's.
Jackson has competed in NaNoWriMo, and finds it crazy that Julie wrote the book in just three and a half weeks. Amen, brother!
Hopefully soon we will get a review of Tempest up in here! I am rather dying to find out what happens after the parts that Jackson read.
If you could ask Julie Cross anything, what would you want to know?