Thursday, May 9, 2019

Aurora Rising Launch with Jay Kristoff and Susan Dennard

I'm always completely over-the-moon when I hear about a bookish event happening in Grand Rapids. If you've followed me for awhile, you know I hate driving. Even more, I hate driving in cities; it makes me anxious, and that doubles when it's somewhere I don't know. So I never go to book events unless they're at Schuler's in GR. Already I was excited, but then JAY FUCKING KRISTOFF would be there!!! Susan Dennard too, but I'd never met Jay before, and I always wanted to but he's in Australia and his tours are never around where I live. So I couldn't even deal with how excited I was.

But I had some shit go down on the drive up. From not being able to take my car because it got stuck in the grass/dirt at home and I could not move it no matter how hard I tried, an intersection light that wasn't working (and that I would not have been able to get through if people hadn't stopped for me), and almost getting in an accident, I was DONE. Like see, here, this is exactly why I hate driving. And the city is worse, and people are stupid, and like. I JUST HATE DRIVING!! However, it's always still worth coming up because it's not that far from me and I get to meet authors.

Anyway, that was awful. But I got to sit for a little bit and read (Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore by Emma Southon) and Theresa was kind enough to save me a seat. I got to see Sarah (The Book Traveler) and meet a few new people (Mandy and Megan), including one of the booksellers because we started fangirling over The Raven Cycle series. 😂 All in all, it was super fun! Jay started the night off by having us all say hi to Amie in a video because she was sad she couldn't make it (I was also sad because I would've LOVED to meet her too).

Here are some of the highlights of the talk!

  • Amie wrote Susan a letter and wanted to ask Jay questions. One of them was if he'd been forced to sit in regular-sized seats on the airplanes, and he was like YES. Multiple times. He also got randomly searched 3x. LOL
  • Jay said making Amie cry is one of his goals (but in a good way 😁)
  • When asked about his writing processes with soloing it vs. coauthoring, Jay said he makes it up as he goes more often on his own. But when he's with Amie, they tend to plan 100 pages at a time. They like to go to pubs to do it, where Amie eats fries and Jay has drinks. Then they write their POVs and send them to each other.
  • Susan plans a lot, and she has a general idea/the ending, but she tends not to know what she's actually going to do until it happens. Which SAME.
  • They both love it when the story surprises them, and when they end up making genius things happen without even thinking about it. Haha.
  • Susan actually figured out a plot point/bad guy to her story when she overheard a conversation between readers while on tour.
  • When asked if he needed time between books or if he could jump right in, Jay said that he and Amie will block out big chunks of time so they can each do different things while the manuscript is with the other.
  • Neither Susan nor Jay can keep writing if they know they need to fix something behind them. (SAME SAME SAME).
  • Susan had to write Bloodwitch in 2 months (!!!) and while she loved it looking back, she never wants to do it again. LOL, I don't blame her.
  • Susan can cut scenes with very little issues, because she thinks about it in the context of it making the book better. She cut a whole character POV in Bloodwitch, which is super hard but she said she could basically make a novella about the person now. And she likes keeping them because it's extra, bonus content too. (Jay mentioned that you typically know when something's not working too, which I agree with). 
  • Jay also said that cutting darlings when you're coauthoring is easier, because he and Amie have mad respect for the other's decisions. They don't really even argue. He did talk about the time they got into it at a writing retreat (with other authors) over the ending of Obsidio though. Jay leans dark and Amie leans light so they had ~fought~ over that. It was so bad that everyone else cleared the room. LOL. (Amie won out).
  • Someone asked how to decide if something should be YA or adult, and both the authors said that it pretty much depends on age, but that the lines are blurring so it almost doesn't even matter. YA just makes more $$. So they told the reader to write what they want, and let the labels come second. (Really loved this advice, and also love how Jay made a little snark toward Sarah J. Maas 😂)
  • Jay originally killed off his main character in this first book (Stormdancer) but his publisher was like hey, maybe let's NOT because we can make more money if this is a series.
  • When asked what made her want to write, Susan said that she's always loved telling stories, as far back as she can remember. She told them to her sister, and said bless her heart. So then Jay was like WAIT, is that the nice bless your heart or the other one? She's from Georgia so she knew exactly what he was talking about and said it was genuine and that you KNOW when it's not.
  • Jay worked in creative advertising, which was a big reason why he ended up writing books. But he was also a storyteller in D&D (He and Susan geeked out over Dungeons and Dragons for a few minutes).
  • Amie is really great with conflict resolution, and she's basically a lie detector. She gave Jay a tip once and said that if someone looks to the right, that means they're lying. (Because if they look to the left, they're accessing memories). He also said this is why she wins all the arguments. 😂
  • They talked about names too, but all I remember from that is that Amie really loved Kady for a kid, and she used it for the Illuminae series. :D
  • Lastly, it only took Jay like 30 seconds before he started dropping fuck into the conversation. HAHAHA.

One thing that made this talk with them so great is that you can tell they're friends. Amie is one of Susan's favorite people as well, and she and Jay were actually in the same debut author group (the 2012 Apocalypses). So it felt organic, energetic, and they asked a lot more audience questions than normal because they thought that would be more fun for US. Then it was time for the signing, which took a bit, but I didn't mind since it told me that they were giving everyone a chance to meet them. When it was my turn, I basically forgot stuff that I wanted to say and didn't really know how to talk to Jay, BUT I got some fabulous pictures!
Susan recognized me, that's always flattering and lovely 😭


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