Three local young adult authors gathered for a question and answer session on November 29 thanks to Saint Louis County Library and Left Bank Books. As the crowd slowly filled the event room at the Schlafly Branch in the Central West End, the authors mingled, personally welcoming guests with smiles and enthusiastically chatting about books – both their own books as well as those of the other panel members. As the top of the hour arrived, the authors took their seats and the questions began.
Fiona Paul (FP): The debut author of recently released, Venom (though she has more books coming in the near future).
Antony John (AJ): A local that writes a variety of novels, with Five Flavors of Dumb being one of the most talked about books of 2010 and Elemental being his most recent release and first fantasy novel.
Heather Brewer (HB): A popular author with a stack of paranormal work, including The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod and the companion series, The Slayer Chronicles.
Stand-Alone vs. Series
- FP: She originally wrote her book as a stand-alone, but her editor came back asking for more, turning it into a series.
- AJ: Elemental is his first book in a series; all of his other books have been stand-alones.
- HB: Her books are simply too big to stand-alone, going straight to a series every time. She wishes she could write a stand-alone.
- FP: She read books, scholarly papers, and travel guides. She watched movies. In the editing stage, she turned to an expert on the renaissance era, which raised the level of the story.
- AJ: He has discovered that people want to help and he has built amazing relationships along his research path. By asking and talking to people, he believes it has provided a third dimension to the story.
- HB: She loves research! Two notable examples: (1) speaking to a librarian in Barrow, Alaska (the northernmost city of North America and perfect potential location for vampires) and (2) a phone call to the American Red Cross inquiring about blood (an awkward moment that resulted in a very quick hang up).
Characters & Setting
- FP: She cannot divulge too much information when discussing her characters and setting without giving away “secret” aspects of the story and spoilers. She will say that her setting limited her in some ways, but also provided exciting possibilities.
- AJ: Elemental, his latest release, is post-apocalyptic and therefore, set in the future. However, it reverts to the past (the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island), which created both the characters and setting at the same time.
- HB: With Brewer’s latest book in The Slayer Chronicles, characters come first, as it serves as a companion to her Vladimir Tod series. All are set in the present day.
Why an Author?
- FP: She always loved to write. As an adult, she started writing reviews, which re-inspired her to return to fiction again.
- AJ: He stumbled into it! He previously taught music at a university. With a turn in life events, John became a stay-at-home dad with a need to find a creative outlet. He began writing and rediscovered his creative passion.
- HB: Stephen King and Carrie! She wanted to provide writers an escape like King did for her.
Why Young Adult (YA)?
- FP: Anything can happen in YA!
- AJ: The pre-teen and teen years are a very powerful time of our lives. Many of our memories are remembered vividly and with such raw emotions.
- HB: Adults are boring! As a teen, everything is more real and raw.
Favorite Books of 2013 and All-Time
- FP: Going Bovine by Libba Bray (All-Time) and Black City by Elizabeth Richards (2012)
- AJ: How I Live Now by Meg Rosof (All-Time) and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (2012)
- HB: Lord of the Flies by William Golding (All-Time) and Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (2012)
Formal Training in Writing Needed?
- FP: Agents don’t look at credentials. They look at your ideas and/or story.
- AJ: Surround yourself with a good critique system. That’s what you really need.
- HB: All you need is the secret formula: butt + chair = writing.
- FP: She is in the midst of finalizing edits in Belladonna, her to sequel to Venom as well as writing the third book in the series and two more (very different) books scheduled to release in 2014.
- AJ: He just sent off the final draft to the second book in the Elemental trilogy. He is also writing a sci-fi/contemporary YA thriller.
- HB: She is currently working on the third in The Slayer Chronicles.
If this information leaves you wanting more, be sure to check out more on these local authors online: