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.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Day Five (May 13)

Guerilla hits at a local B&N and an airport bookshop. Delicate discussions of freedom of speech. Two familiar faces among the crowd. More cookies.

On the way to his appearance at the Edina Community Library, Saracen rehearses his role in the talk.

Our heroes read this notice with great interest ... in order to find out what they would be saying.

Saturday's sole appearance was at Edina Community Library, where our heroes spoke to a small but attentive group of avid readers. Frances recounted tales of eighteenth-century rogues—among them, Jenny Diver, who attended church services with a pair of fake arms clasped in prayer before her so that she could use her real hands to pick the pockets of the devout on either side. And Jonathan Wild, who ran London's underworld for a number of years and whose criminal network was the inspiration for the Locksmiths Guild in Fly by Night. The notion of censorship was raised and discussed, but fortunately all involved departed before the constables were able to locate our gathering. (And finally, many thanks to the two familiar faces in the audience: one girl from Carondelet Catholic Academy and another from South View Middle School—we were glad to see you again, and grateful that you were willing to brave Frances and Michael's presentation a second time.)

Frances describes a world in which there might be musket-bearing constables at the door, and for a moment, even seems to hear them.

Later, at a downtown Minneapolis Barnes & Noble, Frances flew in and defaced a small pile of copies of Fly by Night with her signature (over the faint protests of a very kind staff member). Later, at an airport bookshop, someone turned two copies of the book face out on the shelf, though the culprit's identity remained undetermined.

Day’s Most Intriguing Questions:
“Is the issue of banned books relevant to today?”
(Answer: Absolutely. The question of freedom of speech has been relevant to every age, and it is not an issue that is ever safe to ignore.)
“You don't talk down to kids in your novel—is that important to you?”
(Answer: I think it is very important not to talk down to my younger readers. I distinctly remember when I was seven years old I knew that adults thought I was stupid, and I left myself a mental note so that when I was an adult I would remember that children that age aren't actually stupid at all.)


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