Friday, March 16, 2012

Megan and Rachael *Almost* Meet Ally Carter (and Rachel Hawkins)

Megan and Rachael *almost* met Ally Carter. While not as cool as discovering a real-life Hale out in the world, it was a good time.

Here's our story.

Since we had Rachael's little one (L.J.) in tow, we sort of tag-teamed the Q&A. Megan took the first half and Rachael took the second and it worked out sort of perfectly. So to tell you about it, I (Megan) will talk about it and then Rachael will jump in and close us out. Also, most of the discussion (at least on my part) will center around Ally Carter. Not because Rachel Hawkins didn't seem lovely, but we haven't read her books. Also, one of us will be reviewing the new Gallagher Girl book soon.

We arrived at Bethesda library around 4:40 thinking we'd totally have plenty of time. As you can see from the picture, it was standing room only and the standing room that remained was in the doorway. The room was packed with excited teenagers, which we agreed was awesome. We were super excited that so many would come out to hear an author speak because things like that just didn't happen when we were growing up. Or if they did, certainly not in our small towns. Ally and Rachel decided not to read from their books, opting instead for a Q&A session before signing.

I think the thing that was so awesome was that although there were the typical questions about characters (Q: "Will Josh be back?" A: "I wish I'd killed him."), a lot of the questions centered around the writing process in general. So, as a writer, I found it super exciting that the readers were interested in that. Here are some of the most important things I learned.

For you Rachel Hawkins fans: This is the last Hex Hall book, but there will be a spin-off based on a character in the third book. She is also writing a new series which is about, in the simplest terms, a debutante assassin. Which sounds awesome and now I might be a Rachel Hawkins fan.

For Heist Society fans (like me!): Ally clued us in that whatever Kat steals in the book is reflected in her sunglasses on the cover. Maybe other people already knew that, but I had no idea. So someone asked what Kat was stealing in the third book and though she did not give specifics, Ally said that thing reflected in Kat's glasses....wait for it....will be HALE. Let the speculation begin!!! I'm pretty psyched. She also said that the book is currently titled something like, "The Saga of Brooding, Shirtless Hale." So yeah. I'll read that. Hale. *Swoon.*

There will be six Gallagher Girl books and, as of now, only three Heist Society.

And as for the best advice the ladies delivered about the writing process and about when you don't know where you're going you just sort of start adding stuff like car chases and more kissing, they admitted "Car chases and kisses only get you so far." Advice that I will be printing out and taping above my computer.

And then I left to go do puzzles with L.J. Take it away Rachael!

By the time I took my place at the back of the Q&A crowd it was completely out the door (hence the AWESOME photo I took of Ally and Rachel). The crowd was getting restless and parents were started to push their way inside to retrieve their children (Note to Self: if my child ever is interested enough in reading that they want to meet an actual author, let her do it...let her have the full experience and don't be the weirdo lurking in the background tapping the watch saying it's time to go.)

I'm pretty sure my favorite question was "Hale, Josh, or Nick?" To which Rachel Hawkins was the first to respond "HALE!" which got lots of giggles. (Also, obviously Megan and my choice as well.) Ally was nice and wouldn't choose...whatever, you know she meant Hale ;-)

An interesting tidbit that I'd sort of read online was that the girl on the cover of the Gallagher Girls books looks the same, but is actually a different model. The rest of the story: the original girl which they have tried to get for the other books, her mom isn't letting her model anymore until she gets her grades up. Ha! Loved this story a lot. (Lesson: You can't even be a photo-op Gallagher Girl without doing your homework!)

Both writers were asked whether or not they would ever write non-YA books and neither said it was a thing right now. Ally Carter's first two books (which one girl in the audience had and she spotted and said, "You and my mom were the only ones that read that...") were for adults and she doesn't see herself writing anymore. Rachel mentioned other genres she enjoyed, but the research aspect of say, historical fiction, was a big turn-off rather than just telling the stories that come to her imagination.

All in all the event was worth the drive, L.J. got to experience her first "building full of books" and we were inspired by the sheer number of teens that turned out. Way to go Ally and Rachel, write more books, inspire more readers and who knows, maybe a few future authors as well!
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