In which acclaimed author Frances Hardinge and her editor Michael Stearns (henceforth our heroes) undertake a breathless, breakneck tour across the continent and back—visiting seven cities, seventeen schools, eight libraries and bookstores, and one enormous (and rather interesting) gathering of national booksellers. A thrilling adventure filled with moments of high danger, humor, and courageous acts.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Day Eight (May 16)

A hat-trick of appearances. Autographs galore. A strangely positive way of looking at "rejection." Three schools full of intimidatingly smart and thoughtful students. Salad and pizza.

"I am not here alone. That man with the camera is my editor, Michael Stearns, who is here to make sure that I don't attempt to escape and make a run for the door."

Filled with hope, weird stories, and cashews, our heroes attempt not one, not two, but three school visits—topped off by a bookstore appearance. (Please hold your applause.) Only their audiences can say whether they were coherent by the end of the day. At Graystone School and Almaden Country School, when asked whether Fly by Night is the start of a series, Frances revealed that she had just handed in her next book. Set in our world, it nonetheless has fantastical elements (which Cannot Be Revealed Just Yet). And she’s begun work on her third novel, which features volcanoes (mostly because she climbed a few of them while on her year-long fandango) and, most likely, one monkey (to please her travel partner). She would, however, love to write another book about Mosca and her adventures.

Frances reads before a small group of intensely smart readers at Almaden Country School.

Dave's Avenue School? This must be the place.

After a quick lunch of salad and pizza, our heroes went to Dave’s Avenue School, where Frances talked about rejection, and about how before publishing Fly by Night she submitted many stories that were rejected, and how even the most successful writers usually have stacks of rejections as thick as a book. But she never gave up. Quite the contrary. “A rejection letter isn’t a sign that you should stop writing; it’s a sign that you are serious about what you are doing.”

Before the massed fifth graders of Dave's Avenue School, Frances briefly forgets to remove her "confidence hat." (She remembered, however, before the extended Q&A.)

Day’s Most Striking Questions:
”Will you always be a writer?”
(Answer: “I am going to keep writing until I’m stopped. My current plan is to write books until I’m dead.” Laughter.)
”That guy Mosca hangs out with? Did he kill her father?”
(Answer: I’m not going to say anything about who kills anybody. You’re going to have to read it to find out!)
”Why do the pages of some books have rough, jagged edges?”
(Answer: Book pages are printed on big sheets that are folded again and again until you have a block of thirty-two pages. Centuries ago, when you read a book, you would have to rip through the edges of those pages with a letter opener. Nowadays, the pages are usually trimmed for you by a machine. When publishers leave those ragged edges—called “deckled edges”—it is to make the books look old-fashioned.)

This is becoming quite a habit: For bookplate after bookplate, Frances draws goose after goose after goose.


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