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.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Day Seven (May 15)

A grievous error, a ridiculously early check out. A harrowing tale of kidnapped chapters. Bookstore signing punctuated by outbreaks of I Spy. Frequent idling.

Among the many students at Castle Rock Middle School were several budding writers (as well as the odd person avoiding science class). They all listen rapt to the tale of a girl and her goose.

Our heroes rose for a 6:45 pick-up. Alas, the car was actually scheduled for 10:15. (Frances wisely double-checked and returned to bed. Considerably less wisely, Michael checked out. And then idled.) At Castle Rock Middle School, before some fifty or so kind, attentive students, Frances related the story of how her novel found a publisher thanks to the cunning! perfidy! and outright trickery! of one of her very best friends, fellow novelist Rhiannon Lassiter. Fed up with Frances’s insecure mewling about the novel, Rhiannon “kidnapped” the first five chapters, showed them to her editor, and within a week Frances had a book contract. After the talk, there was more idling, with our heroes splayed on comfy couches, reading and "flash napping." (That is, nodding off.) At an evening bookstore signing at the Park Meadows Barnes & Noble, Frances and Michael played I Spy. (Michael, uncharacteristically disdaining fancy-pants vocabulary, disallowed spectacles for eyeglasses and claimed Frances was cheating.) Frances autographed a towering pile of books, then the two of them leaped into a car and were whisked to the airport and San Francisco.

A patron watches patiently while Frances draws a goose, using Saracen as her model.

Day’s Most Business-Oriented Questions:
“Do you have to be a certain age to have a book published?”
(Answer: Not at all. Many writers (Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Christopher Pauolini) brought out books in their teens. And some teen authors such as S.E. Hinton have contributed important books.)
"How long does it take to get a book published?"
(Answer: Once the final manuscript is accepted, it can take anywhere from a year to fifteen months. Michael then went into tediously thorough detail about sales and marketing. There were enormous yawns. Snores. Crickets heard chirping outside. Etc.)
"Who gets the author comments [aka "blurbs"] that appear on the back of the book?"
(Answer: A book's editor sends out early copies of the manuscript and begs, or simply lucks out and finds an author who is not only generous with her time, but who also happens to appreciate a particular book.)


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