Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hudson Valley YA Society: Lance Rubin, Nova Ren Suma and Tommy Wallach.

Where: Oblong Books, Rhinebeck, NY.
When: Sunday, April 26, 2015.
Who: Lance Rubin (Denton Little's Deathdate), Nova Ren Suma (The Walls Around Us) and Tommy Wallach We All Looked Up).

It was a beautiful day for a drive upstate.  The sun was shining and flowers could be seen everywhere. I had almost forgotten what flowers looked like after this past winter.

After eating a delicious hamburger at Terrapin...wait, it wasn't just a "hamburger." I usually don't eat burgers out because I never feel well after and I always think the reason is the restaurant must use cheap meat.  However, this menu boasted local Hudson Valley meat.  Not only that, you could pick your bread, toppings and sauce.  I went for the burger on a soft brioche roll, topped with smoked Gouda and Maple Mustard sauce.  Yum.  Anyway, I digress. 

The authors started the event by telling a little bit about their books and reading from them.  One astute attendee stated that all their novels have a thematic similarity of death and they were asked to address this observation.  Nova explained that she was always interested in an afterlife and ghosts and feels there is a lot of drama and urgency of those moments.  Lance said that he thinks a lot about death and time.  He often asks himself, "Where was I two years ago? Three? Five?"  He then got the idea that what if you could look ahead to a date?  Would it change your life?

The story became a metaphor for what it means to be alive. ~Lance.

Tommy admitted that everytime he does something, he thinks about how many more times he'll get to do it.  For example, he's seen Star Wars 30 times.  He'll probably only get to see it 30 more times and then...that's it.  "It makes me sad." He confessed. 

Jennifer from Oblong Books.
What was the most challenging scene to write and what was the most fun?  Nova said that the murder scene was a bit frightening to write.  However, when she did, it surprisingly became fun because it was " not her."  She felt like she was channeling the moment and the terror.  Her most challenging was the beginning.  The opening few paragraphs took her four weeks.  Nova said that she has a way of not being able to move on without a starting point and many times felt like a failure.  "I couldn't find my way in."

It was very interesting to see that these published authors have as much doubt as anyone.  In Lance's novel, the self eulogy was fun to write and the hardest was a part in the book called "The Sitting" which is the time you are waiting to die. 

Tommy said there is a moment in the the book where two characters spend the night together.  He had a hard time with the morning after scene until he made it just dialogue and then it became the most fun.  The most challenging was the 2nd part of the book because it is structurally complicated.

How did they get to YA?  Tommy said he wrote six books before his published one. He had no intention of writing YA, but then the YA idea came to him. Lance always thought he was going to be an actor and did some acting and screenplays.  (He is also the voice of the Berenstein Bears.) However, he eventually realized the lifestyle of an actor wasn't what he wanted. He read Hunger Games and had a "What if?" moment and he put the idea for a screenplay into his book.  Nova observed that none of them came to YA intentionally.  She had an MFA and was mostly writing short stories and adult novels (literary fiction). When she worked at Harper Collins she was a Production Editor and came across the book Feathered by Laura Kasischke and was blown away.  "This is YA?" She thought and realized that this is what she should be writing.

Their advice for writers? Lance advised that you should treat your writing as if you already have a career in writing.  Focus on the doing of it.  Tommy stated simply, "Write."  Start writing what you want to write. 

What I loved about this event was that it wasn't so much a Q&A, but more of a discussion.  The authors fed off each other's comments and contributed to a conversation that was inspiring and exciting.

~I am giving away one (1) signed copy of The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma.

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