Friday, March 5, 2010

Another Author Visit!

On Wednesday, debut YA author Rachel Hawkins came to Decatur bookstore extraordinaire Little Shop of Stories, to celebrate the Tuesday release of her very first novel, Hex Hall. Thanks to the great folks at Little Shop, Rachel also came to Paideia to speak to two classes: Jennifer's 8th graders and Martha & Greg's 7th & 8th graders.

Both groups really enjoyed Rachel's visit. She first talked about her path to authordom (starting with really elaborate preschool plotlines starring her Barbies), writer's block, how she creates characters, and other writerly stuff, and then she answered our questions. The students were prepared and asked good ones, and Rachel had good stories as answers. Her tales of how the cover and the title came about showed the balance publishing has to maintain between good stories and good sales.

Hex Hall is Rachel's story of "what if you got that letter from the owl, and went off to Hogwart's School, and it was really, really BAD?" Another description of the book is that it's about "teenage witches and warlocks making out." (definitely not a book for the elementary set :-) Shenanigans ensue.

Our students are a great bunch, and include a number of aspiring writers. One of my favorite questions, from a voracious reader, was "What did you add to your book to make it stand out from all the other magical boarding school books?"

I also liked Rachel's description of most YA authors as "overgrown teenagers." I think she's got a great point there -- I can't think of any successful authors for teenagers who aren't a little bit crazy or sardonic or overflowing with restless energy -- the old, tired, jaded thing just doesn't fly for this age. How else can you capture the teenage mind except from the inside?

The library's copy of Hex Hall arrived yesterday, and I've got first dibs. I'm looking forward to settling into my favorite reading chair this weekend and enjoying the antics of Sophie Mercer at Hex Hall.

Monday Update: I breezed through Hex Hall over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. The obviously-a-sequel ending tied up enough ends to satisfy, and there were plenty of twists and turns to keep it interesting. I can see why Disney/Hyperion picked it up so eagerly -- Sophie fits right in with their lineup of sassy/spunky teen characters. Imagine if a much smarter and less self-absorbed Alex from The Wizards of Waverly Place got sent to reform school. It's bound to be a hit!

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