This past weekend, I went out to Denver to visit a couple of college friends who’d moved out there not too long ago. One of the bonuses of choosing this last weekend was the opportunity to attend an author event in Boulder on Saturday evening, featuring three debut authors — Donna Cooner (Skinny), Emily Hainsworth (Through to You), and Tiffany Schmidt (Send Me A Sign) — and more-seasoned author Brenna Yovanoff (The Replacement and The Space Between).
Before the signing itself, I met up with Emily and Tiffany for a little ice cream. Except, it was probably the saddest ice cream experience ever, given that they ran out of ice cream for what we all wanted to order and Tiffany and I settled for less-than-stellar choices. Of course, it wasn’t about the ice cream, but the company.
Shortly after, we made our way down to Boulder Book Store and upstairs to the area that had been cleared out for the reading. And immediately after, the news came that the exit from the interstate to Boulder had been shut down for an accident and Donna and Brenna may be late. That then led to realizing those who wanted to attend might not make it either. Fortunately, a couple of other people came (including Jen from A Book and a Latte and Owyn). We waited for a while and knew that the traffic situation was going to throw the schedule off a little, but in the mean time, Tiffany was kind enough to do a little reading for us from another book, Hot Guys and Baby Animals (with a short cameo from Emily):
Then Donna made it as the reading wrapped up, and by the time 6:30 rolled around — the event began at 6 — everyone started and crossed their fingers Brenna would show up. She hadn’t made it as everyone began their introductions, but she snuck in right in time to share hers, too. Here everyone gives a little background into themselves and their books (here’s where my stellar video-taking skills came in, as this video is a little choppy since I had to edit an entire rotated screen I somehow made happen):
This was an extremely informal panel, meaning that no one introduced it and there wasn’t an agenda. So once the introductions were over, Donna suggested everyone do a short reading from their books. My camera’s capacity filled up mid-way through Tiffany’s reading, meaning I didn’t get to capture all of hers nor any of Brenna’s, but here are Donna, Emily, and (part of) Tiffany’s readings:
Donna Cooner reading from Skinny:
Emily Hainsworth reads from Through to You (the sound doesn’t pick up immediately, but it kicks in after a few seconds):
Tiffany Schmidt reads from Send Me A Sign:
Once the reading ended, they opened the floor up to questions. Fortunately, the audience had filled out nicely and they ran out of time answering questions because the were that many. I wish I’d done a better job of taking notes on what was asked and answered, but I can share what I asked, which was what was the most surprising thing about being a debut author (for the three debut authors) and what was the most surprising aspect of being a seasoned author past that “debut” stage. For Donna, it was how much people would interact with her and share how they felt about the book. In other words, it had nothing to do with the writing or the promoting but was much more about how suddenly, people wanted to talk with her about her story. Brenna’s answer was really thoughtful, too, about how different it was going from being a debut to being a non-debut author — it was hard to juggle writing and promoting and having her head in two different places, especially as it’s less of a “status” to be a non-debut author.
There was a great discussion about branding and about how the authors felt their careers could look in the future, especially since they’ve all written stand alone novels. Where those who write a series kind of have an idea of what their careers will look after their debut novel, those who write stand alones don’t. Do they stick with the genre or “type” of book they’ve done before or do they try something entirely new? How does Donna Cooner write another “Donna Cooner” book, when she’s only written one before? Brenna mentioned that she loves writing somewhat creepy stories, so continuing down that path isn’t something she worries too much about just yet.
Another good question that came up was directed at Emily and how she managed to write such a believable male protagonist in Through to You. She talked about working through scenes and dialog again and again until it sounded right and not too emotionally-driven, like a female voice tends to be. She talked about the challenge, especially because she herself had never been a teenage boy.
Once question and answers were cut off (because there were a ton!), all of the authors hung around to chat and sign books. I didn’t get a photo of everyone on the panel together because my camera died, but there is an excellent one with Jen over at her blog.
Before I snuck out, I did manage to get someone to take a photo of Tiffany, Emily, and I:
This was a fabulous event, and I am envious of anyone who lives in Boulder and gets to attend things like this regularly.