Yesterday, October 23rd, I attended the Lady is a Champ event, hosted by Indigo. Learning from my last event, I left an hour early so that I could get a good seat and wouldn’t haven’t to wait in line for too long.
I arrived at the event 15 minutes before it was supposed to start, and this Chapters was PACKED. Not only were all the seats filled when I got there, but the standing line snaked around a bunch of displays before ending in the Young Readers section.
The panel itself started right on time, with Vikki VanSickle (publishing professional from Penguin Canada) playing host. First she introduced all the members of the panel with funny reviews of their books. The panel included:
- Catherine Egan, author of Julia Vanishes and lots more
- Kiersten White, author of And I Darken and lots more
- Marie Lu, author of The Midnight Star, a lot more, and was the author most people were here to see.
- Morgan Rhodes, author of The Darkest Magic, and a lot more
There was an overall theme to this event, if you can’t tell: all of these authors were discussing their books that contain female protagonists that don’t necessarily fit the category of “good”. Morally grey characters can be found throughout all of their books.
After introducing them, Vikki began with some simple questions, including (but not limited to) the following (paraphrased answers since I had to write down their ideas in point form):
Q: What do you like about writing villains?
- Lu: They get to do what they want without needing a good reason to; it’s refreshing
- White: Throwing away the idea of likability and focussing on the journey
- Egan: You get to put all the nasty parts of your life into a character, which is fun to write
- Rhodes: Villains think they’re the heroes, it’s just a matter of the choices they make. (She also found herself intrigued by the fact that she likes Warner from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, despite the fact that he hadn’t done anything particularly good)
Q: Is it easier or more fun to write villains?
- Lu: Adelina fought me every step of the way
- White: I had to fight every impulse to soften certain characters, to make them likeable and instead make it so they don’t care
- Egan: Villains are easier to write – in fact, scenes with villains came rushing out faster than those without
- Rhodes: The nicer a character is, the harder they are to write. I get bored with good characters always making the right decisions, so I have to horribly injure them.
Q: Is there a genre or age-group or topic that you would have a hard-time writing?
- Lu: Contemporaries (I also *think* I heard her say “straight romances”, too, but I’m not 100% sure because right at that moment the girls beside me started laughing really loudly)
- White: I can’t do contemporaries, I need a higher concept (than real life) to work with
- Egan: I love to read Historical Fiction, but I can’t write it – I’d be too worried about getting everything wrong!
- Rhodes: I tried pitching a middle grade story, but my editor didn’t like it. I enjoy writing romance too much.
After that, members of the audience asked the questions they were dying to have answered, which included (but were not limited to):
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
- Lu: I travel with a notebook and write down people’s quirks or interesting things I come across; I also really like videogames (The Young Elites was inspired, partially, by Assassin’s Creed)
- White: Travel
- Egan: Reading, conversations, going places
- Rhodes: Wine and chocolate! Also reading, magazines, watching TV – it’s called filling the well
Q: Specifically for Marie Lu – do you plant to write about life after Legend?
- Lu: I have no official plans so far, but never say never! I do, however, have a book called Warcross coming out next fall that’s inspired by the world building in Champion.
Q: What did you want to do before you became a writer?
- Lu: I wanted to be a fighter pilot when I was 9, but my mom said they wouldn’t let me in because I had bad vision. I also wanted to make videogames.
- White: I’ve wanted to be a writer and a mom since I was a kid – I should’ve said that I wanted to be a member of the X-Men!
- Egan: I’ve wanted to be a writer my whole life, but I have done other jobs that go along well with writing, like teaching and waitressing.
- Rhodes: When I was kid a wanted to be, in order: a jewel thief, a private investigator, and a movie star. I was a graphic designer for 10 years, but quit that to become a writer.
After the hour-long Q&A, it was time for the signing. I waited in line for nearly two hours, but around 4:50PM I finally got to go up. First I got my copy of And I Darken signed by Kiersten White!
After that I met Morgan Rhodes for the second time, and she remembered my name!
I was just telling her about how I skipped studying for midterms to come to this event when she held up the sticky note with “Rebecca” on it and said “Rebecca? What the crap is this?” I’d completely forgotten that the last time I met her I’d introduced myself as Becca, and online I refer to myself as Becca. Woops! Anyway, she signed my books (she remembered my social media name, Becca the Lit Witch, too!) and took a selfie with me, which made me incredibly happy.
And that was pretty much it! Although the line was long, it was another wonderful YA panel, and once again has inspired me to write and write and write.
A huge thank you to Indigo for hosting the event, and thank you to all the lovely writers who came to be part of the panel. I hope to see them all again soon!
Until Wednesday, friends!