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.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Day Ten (May 18)

Another trifecta of schools. Frances at the top of her voice. The origin of the title. A slow descent into exhaustion and blibble, and a surprise guest blogger.

Notoriously soft-spoken, Frances “bellows,” but the students are still leaning forward to hear her at Moore Square Middle School

The next morning, our heroes, bleary and weary from many days on the road, staggered into Moore Square Middle School, where they were warmly received. Frances “bellowed” (her description) in order to be heard by all hundred-twenty thoughtful, sharp-eared students. (If anyone could not hear her, they apparently did not mind.) blibble Neither she nor Michael fell asleep. Later, at Centennial Middle School, Frances revealed that Fly by Night had originally blibble been called A Way with Words. A title deemed Not Terribly Exciting. blibble “I came up with the title Fly by Night because Mosca herself is named after a fly. In addition, at the end of the first chapter, Mosca, Saracen, and Clent all flee under cover of darkness—in effect, flying by night. And finally, ‘fly by night’ has a ring of ‘here today, gone tomorrow,’ not quite legal, not quite trustworthy—much like Clent or many of the other characters.” blibble

Frances demonstrates her karate chop . . .

. . . but the students of Centennial Middle School do not seem intimidated.

A banner welcomes our heroes . . . shortly before they tear it off the wall, roll it up, and steal it away.

Finally, our heroes, their exhaustion beginning to show, shambled into Ligon Middle School, where Frances admired the blibble hung on the blibble, and amused the receptive, keen-witted blibbles with blibble and blibble about blibble. Then, blibbling blibble and blibble blibble blibble, blibbleblibble


Honk honk honk honkhonkhonkhonk. Hissssssssssssss HONK. Honk! Honk! Honk! Honkhonkhisshonkhisshonkhiss—hiss, honk honk honk. Honk. Hiss, honk!

[From the editor: Our best quess is that at this point, our heroes having descended into gibberish, Saracen has taken over the blogging. Our knowledge of goose is somewhat elementary, but we think he is expressing gratitude to the students of Ligon Middle School, apologizing for his caretakers, and reassuing us that thanks to his intervention, Frances and Michael made their plane and reached New York safely.]

Ligon students line up for autographs, including the mysterious “Mischievous Bookworm.”

Day’s Tastiest Questions:
“What do you do to unblock writer’s block?”
(Answer: “I am a great believer in panic and caffeine. For example, I attend writing group meetings to give myself a deadline.”)
“When you were growing up, who was your favorite cartoon character?”
(Answer: Bugs Bunny. He earns his success. Unlike the Road Runner, who is the cartoonist’s “pet,” Bugs gets by through being clever and resourceful and ingenious.)
“Why do you like to write stories about crime and killing people?” [From Michael: “That is, what’s wrong with you?”]
(Answer: When younger, Frances always enjoyed adventure stories, murder mysteries, swashbucklers—stories in which a lot of things happened. She still finds them exciting.)


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