AUTHOR EVENT: ANDREW SMITH

Once again, Little Shop of Stories has shown me that it’s the best book store that could possibly be near me. Another Californian author found themselves on the east coast folded between a Starbucks and a Decatur boutique. Luckily, more and more book tours are happening and Little Shop of Stories seems to have found itself a little niche in the bookish world. Now I don’t have to wait until the Decatur Book Festival or the Yallfest to meet authors.

Back in January, Marissa Meyer made an appearance with the release of Fairest: Queen Levana’s Story. This past Monday, Andrew Smith moseyed down to highlight the release of The Alex Crow and to remind us to “Keep YA Weird” with Penguin’s marketing team.

So we hitched up and headed out on a Monday night to drive the trek (an hour) to Decatur. Where else would be popping on a Monday if not an author signing?

I even called in at work. I was *cough cough* feeling pretty sick… but anyway.

It’s funny how I complain the store’s so far away when I’m fortunate to even have a book store like that within a moderate distance that hosts author signings and book festivals. Either way, I’m not satisfied unless I’m in walking distance, or work there. Or both.

At the Meyer signing, the upstairs was packed to the railing and down the staircase with mostly girls from tweens to adults eagerly holding their collections of the Lunar Chronicles and holding their phones up to take pictures of Meyer as she talked. The place sweltered with bodies and my view was more or less the back of someone’s head.

We cruised in at 6:30ish on Monday night to a book store with a few drowsy customers and my immediate thoughts were that we had the wrong day. I assumed there would be less people, but I didn’t realize the change would be so drastic. They weren’t accepting people upstairs yet, but even so, I expected the book store to be filling up. After wandering the streets to kill some time, we peeked into the store again and the numbers hadn’t grown much. We strolled upstairs without a problem and didn’t have to face the mass bottle-necking of bodies stampeding to the seats.

This time we even got seats because there may have been all of 15 people in there, which I completely loved. This was probably the first author signing I’d been to where I felt like I wasn’t just another audience listening to a lecture; rather, I could hear without a microphone and see Smith without the obstruction of fangirls. A high school kid also interviewed Smith before 7 p.m., and I’m still curious as to how he scored that job.

So while I was disappointed more people didn’t show up for his talk, I selfishly enjoyed having a two minute signing line and feeling like I was in a closer setting than usual.

He read a little bit from his new book and explained how he formulated the premise of the plot. It’s interesting because he said that he doesn’t draft like most authors; rather, he writes all the way through but just makes sure everything is perfect while he goes. He said that’s he’s a disciplines writer and has been writing his entire life. He works as a high school teacher in California, and some of his ideas are spurred from his students. In Grasshopper Jungle, he explained that the only thing he knew going into it was the first scene and an idea that tied in the end of the world with adolescence. I’m still not sure how giant grasshoppers got involved….

I would say he’s been one of my favorite authors to listen to. He didn’t just talk about his book or just about writing. He gave an overview on how he got his ideas and inspirations, how he uses Google to help form his thoughts, and how he underwent the publishing process. I also loved hearing about his editor because I hope to become an editor. I figure I’m not creative enough to become an author, so I can just get my name in small print toward the back and be perfectly happy with helping out with great books.

Plus, as a side note, I only read Grasshopper Jungle about a week ago, and my water bottle broke open in my school bag and spilled over everything. I doctored my book as best as possible with a whole roll of paper towels in accordance with Epic Read’s guidelines, but the beginning pages still stayed a little wavy (I don’t know if you can tell in the picture). I confessed the the damage and worried that I’d be labeled as a book-abuser, but all he said was that Grasshopper Jungle is a moist book, so it’s fitting.:)

Otherwise, I felt like he was super personable and easy to listen to. His talk kept me completely engaged and I loved his reasoning for his books and ideas. I recommend going to hear him even if you haven’t read any of his books, but I know the experience was better for me because I loved his books so much!

CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE READER: INK-STAINED HANDS

An idea sparked in my mind, promoted, of course, by a novel. This idea sparked and fizzled away for a while, until I read another novel. And I sat there, and I read a sentence over and over and over. And I needed that quote. And I wanted to remember that quote. And I wrote that quote on my hand, and I looked down at it periodically until it faded into my skin.

And that, my friends, is how my hands became perpetually ink-stained.

Ironically, I can’t remember the quote that made me stop and temporarily tattoo it into my hands. I do remember the book that started it all: We were Liars by E. Lockhart. For some reason, when Cady and her romantic interest (I can’t remember his name…) wrote words on their hands, I loved it. It was romantic. They wrote part of the sentence on the left and part on the right. Always something that would connect together.

So, I read this fantastic quote and I thought, wow, I should write this on my hand.

Let’s back track. Some time ago, I watched this peculiar indie film called A Love Song for Bobby Long. I liked it well enough; it made me minimally uncomfortable, but it was okay. I think about that movie periodically, and for some reason, it’s been pretty influential. Bobby Long was a lost soul who used to be a college professor, and he dramatized everything and could quote long passages from famous writers without hesitation, and I’ve always aspired to be able to quote off the cusp.

And thus the quote jar was born. But I never took the time to find paper, write the quote, and stash it in the jar. I let it sit, collecting dust instead of words, for a year or so.

Flashforward again. Writing on my hands. Somehow, from this movie, the quote jar, and We were Liars, I realized that my arms and hands were perfect mediums to write on and be able to look at each day. For at least a day I’d be able to look down and read and reread these quotes as many times as I wanted. They’re comforting. A little piece of my novel when I can’t read. A snippet of gorgeous words to inspire or evoke emotion. I wish I started this habit when I was in the midst of We were Liars because that book is full of beautiful quotes.

Longer quotes I put on the inside of my forearm because a. that doesn’t wash off as easily as on my hands and b. I, unfortunately, am not ambidextrous, so it’s quite a feat when I write on my right hand. Usually the quotes that I write on both my hands are very short and cute and probably wouldn’t make sense if you hadn’t read the book. It’s like my own little inside jokes. Right now I have “(left) When I found (right) everything romantic” from The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. I like the way the quotes are broken in places that should flow. I think it adds to the effect.

Now I’ve been doing this for a good many books, maybe ten or so. Then I got those little bookmarks that are arrows that point to the exact line you stop at. And I had an idea. I’d use those arrows and bookmark the good quotes and write said quote on my hand. Once the book is finished, I’ll pick the best bookmarked quote (maybe a couple, depending on the book) and write it on a more permanent material (like paper) and put it in the dusty quote jar.

Eureka! I now had a system. A tedious, somewhat complicated system that, if attempted to be explained to non-readers or non-romantics they’d ask me the universal question of why? Why would I spend all this time on these words? Why do I want to stain my hands with a never-ending cycle of quotes? What’s so special about them?

Well, my dears, I’ll tell you why. I want to win an argument by quoting a famous writer. I want to look at a piece of artwork in some high-class museum and say to my comrades, “this reminds me of a quote by… ‘…’” In short, I want to have all the tools to be completely pretentious. If I decide to use this power, it’s up to me. But the fact that I can is all that matters.

And I guess in a practical sense I can use it on exams and such in school. But who cares about that?

Anyway, in all seriousness, I just really like words. And, no, it doesn’t completely work. I don’t remember all the quotes I write, and some I do remember aren’t that significant. Here are a couple:

  • “Us fight” –Alice Walker, The Color Purple (this is a quote in dire need of context)
  • “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.” –Marina Keegan, The Opposite of Loneliness
  • “You can find ways to be okay with dying, but you can’t fake your way through living.” –John Corey Whaley, Noggin

And my personal favorite,

  • “The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never forget about the drops of oil on the spoon.” –Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The Alchemist was loaded with beautiful words and gorgeous quotes, but this is the only one I can recall instantly. I recommend the book, by the way.

I’ve decided, just now, that this can qualify as a hobby, and I adore it immensely. Sometimes I transcribe words that mean specific things to me, or cornerstones in the plot of the novel, or pieces of wisdom, or a beautiful line. I hope I’m not the only one who loves stealing these words.

Do any of you guys have an obsession with quotes? What’s your favorite bookish quote?