Thursday, March 31, 2011

I'm in Author Heaven: Brandon Mull, Markus Zusak, and Carrie Ryan

Ok, ok.  I've been putting this post off (but now I've got three events I can discuss, so aren't you glad I waited?)  There have been so many great Utah events with authors in the last few months that I've had to miss some (which is painful, I assure you).  Here are three I'm glad I didn't miss!

Event 1: Brandon Mull, Launch Party
A World Without Heroes (Beyonders)Seriously, this was unlike any signing or launch party I've been to before.  (Check out my review of Beyonders: A World Without Heroes.) Brandon Mull knows how to throw a party!  Held at a high school auditorium, the place was packed with tweens.  It was so fun to see their excitement over an author that I started to act a little underage.  Apparently they spared no expense - there was food for sale, in addition to books and t-shirts.  Mull's college comedy troop DC performed for us as well.  There was a gorgeous set on stage that just added to the mood.  And they had Shannon Hale to MC the night!  Seriously, it was almost worth the trip and the waiting to hear her entertain us.  I loved the incorporation of other Utah authors into the skits, and I was really pleased that nearly every skit had something to do with books.  In a world where TV and video games seem to rule, we all were entertained almost solely with literary goodness.  I didn't bring my camera, but fortunately there are a few people out there who caught some of the madness on camera.  Check out Emily's and Suey's posts.

One last thing that really made the event for the librarian in me.  As we were pouring into the auditorium, I heard this brief exchange: 

Tween girl 1: "Gees, you'd think he was a rock star or something."
Tween girl 2: "Well, he kind of is."

Yeah for author rock stars!!!

Event 2: Markus Zusak!!

The Book ThiefAnd, speaking of author rock stars, this event was a dream come true for many of us locals!  (I'm looking at Suey and Jenny here...)  I have to admit, I was totally excited and it was worth every moment of waiting (which, actually, I didn't spend a lot of time doing, compared to others).  I managed to be in a very good seat, third row in the middle.  And I brought my camera, even though I usually don't.  Unfortunately, nearly every photo I took captured some extremely awkward facial expression of Mr. Zusak's.  It's amazing a man that good-looking has weird facial expressions, but trust me, I got them all on camera.  Here's an ok one, though:


I also took some video, but I have a crummy camera, and there are others who got some great footage, so I'll just send you to elsewhere.  (Check out Suey's numerous videos - she got the whole thing on camera!) I did want to mention some things I really loved about his speech:

He told this great story about his childhood revenge on his brother, which he used to illustrate some of the ways he writes.  For the story, go to Suey's video (and drool over the Aussie accent).  The two things that stuck out to me about how he writes are the details and the unusual reactions.  You notice details and they are memorable - essentially they make a story by dressing it up realistically.  Unusual reactions or circumstances are also memorable and this is illustrated most obviously in The Book Thief where Death is a sympathetic character who is intrigued by humans and doesn't love his job. Some really interesting ideas about writing and if I ever manage to get my writing happening, I'll have to look back at this info.

What really struck me in his speech, were the beautiful stories he told us about his parents' childhood in Europe during WWII.  So many of those stories ended up in The Book Thief and you could tell how emotionally he was invested in that book.  I think most of us who read it feel that way about the characters too, but his stories made it ten times more moving.  He told this story about his mother seeing a line of emaciated Jews being marched to Dachau and a young man running to give bread to a starving a man, who wept into his feet.  The bread giver was later beaten and the bread taken away from the Jew, but what a vivid image this story makes!  It's such a powerful part of the book and being based on reality made it even more so.  Some of Rudy's story as well was from his parents' lives.  It was just so fascinating and sobering to have those stories brought to life both by Zusak's gorgeous writing and by his family's personal experiences.  Needless to say, it was a privilege to hear him talk about these things.  He also did a reading from The Book Thief which others caught on video. 


I was also really impressed with the amount of time he spent with each person and the personalization of what he wrote.  He signed so many books, but each one was personal and he spoke to each of us.  It made for a very long line (which I was fortunate to not be in for very long) and a very late night, but when are we going to get another chance to see and talk to Markus Zusak?  It was just a fantastic and probably once in a lifetime experience listening to and meeting him.  Do be sure to visit Suey's posts and Holly's post and JenniElyse's post and Eve's Fan Garden's post (with giveaway) and probably many more I've missed for more recaps.

Event 3: Carrie Ryan
The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 3)When I saw a last minute announcement that Carrie Ryan was signing books in SLC on Tuesday, I nearly cried.  I just couldn't possibly make it.  Then, the good news came, that she was also signing Wednesday as well at a Barnes and Noble somewhat closer to home.  So, I went.  There were not many chairs to sit on and I was standing, but I really enjoyed her presentation.  Carrie is personable and funny and very real.  I loved hearing about how she ended up an author (having been a lawyer before) and how she decided to write about zombies (nothing like horror films to inspire).  Especially I liked her thoughts about why writing about zombies brings to the forefront our thoughts about humanity.  Very interesting.  The signing line was not too long, but I managed to be at the almost-end.  She was very sweet about thanking me for waiting and even wrote down my blog address (which makes me nervous for some reason).  Anywho, it was a nice visit and I'm dying to get my hands on her next book (which I was too poor to buy in hardcover and so I must wait for the library to get it...).  Read my reviews of the first two books The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves.

Whew, I'm feeling kind of author-ed out right now!  But, then again, if I hear that someone's coming, I'm sure to get a second wind...

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. WHOA three of my favorite authors- you are so lucky! I can't wait to read my copy of A World Without Heroes :D

    Did Markus Zusak say anything about his new book at his talk? Anything about when it might be out? :D

  2. Awesome recap! I'm so glad you did it.. it's fun to hear things from you point of view. I decided to not go to the Carrie Ryan one last night, and it sounds like I missed a pretty good party. Should have gone I guess. I was just sitting around here... readin'! :)

  3. Amy, I think he said he's been putting other things ahead of writing recently, but I believe he's still working on it! I can't remember :(

    Suey, it was pretty last minute we decided, but it was fun! Hopefully she'll come again.

  4. How very cool! Utah is definitely the place to be these days. :-D (And you sure know how to throw a party!)

  5. Lucky you. There isn't any interesting event like that in montreal. =(

  6. Melissa, it's true! It makes me sad to leave :(

    beautifulmadness, hopefully you'll get someone interesting to visit soon! :)


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