Thursday, June 7, 2018

Legendary Tour with Stephanie Garber in Conversation with Mackenzi Lee

On a cloudy and rainy Monday on June 4th, I was fortunate enough to finally meet Stephanie Garber who recently released Legendary, the second book in the Caraval series. I meet up with my friend Rachel prior to the event before heading to Brookline Booksmith. Thank you to Brookline Booksmith for hosting this captivating event! Rachel and I bumped into Stephanie who was with her publicist and one other person who works at Flatiron Books.

Can I say that was my favorite part of the day? Rachel and I had the opportunity to talk to Stephanie about The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw. Stephanie had the book in her hand to purchase and of course it was signed! Swan season is in the air and everyone is buying and/or reading The Wicked Deep this month! Go check it out if you haven't heard of it. We also talked about Gita Trelease's upcoming book, Enchantéewhich Rachel and I hope to buddy read with our other friend Marci. Stephanie loves Enchantée and encouraged us to read it ASAP.

When Stephanie and crew went to get ready for the event, Rachel purchased a copy of Caraval and Legendary before we ventured downstairs to get good seats. We bumped into Ellie, Lyndsay and Andi. Stephanie's and Mackenzi's conversation was perfect. Everything flowed well and they had wonderful questions and answers.

The event started off with Stephanie reading a page from Legendary. Andi called out page 29 and that's the page Stephanie read. This is Stephanie's first time reading Legendary out loud. Mackenzi mentioned that when she reads The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, she likes to read out loud in a British accent when her roommate isn’t home.

The first question Mackenzi asked Stephanie was how did Stephanie come up with book 1, 2 and 3 of the series. Stephanie said the idea came to her when she was reading Code Name Verity. Mackenzi was very excited about this fact and literally said, “No, Really?” Mackenzi loves Code Name Verity for those who don’t know already. Code Name Verity is historical fiction and Stephanie was grabbled with the thought of what if people are playing games? What if there are two possible truths and you don’t know which one is real? She also was inspired by The Great Gatsby’s party scene in the movie where Leo holds the champagne. Stephanie mentioned, “I want to write a book like this scene.”

“Centuries” by Fall Out Boy was on repeat when Stephanie was plotting and writing. The following verse sparked an idea of how she wanted to shape her second book:

Some legends are told
Some turn to dust or to gold
But you will remember me
Remember me for centuries

Stephanie wanted to write a book about a man in charge named Legend. “Who calls themselves Legend?” In fact, she originally thought Legend by Marie Lu is about a character named Legend. She was very disappointed when that wasn’t the case.

Caraval and Legendary are both visual, sensory and over the top novels. Mackenzi asked Stephanie how did Stephanie know what to pull from our world and what to invent. Stephanie sets the foundation of the novel first before she adds the visuals. She often uses Pinterest for idea inspiration. One of her inspirations is fashion by Alexander McQueen. The Deck of Destiny’s Fates are Greek Gods meet tarot cards. When Stephanie saw a pin of a woman with a cage of pearls, she knew this lady would become one of the Fates. Sometimes she sees an image and can get carried away.

With drafting Stephanie likes to layer and layer based off something real and she adds her own unique flair to it. When Stacey Lee was writing her novel, The Secret of a Heart Note, Stephanie wanted Stacey to name the book Rosemary Lily and Jack of Hearts after a Bob Dylan song. However, Stacey and Stacey’s editor were not feeling it. Hence, the Prince of Hearts was formalized for one of the Fates in Legendary. Stephanie actually wrote Caraval as a standalone originally but her editor wanted a sequel.

Mackenzi was talking about how the core of Caraval is about the sister relationship and if Caraval was always going to be a sister book. How did this book evolve? Stephanie mentioned she started outlining the book with Scarlett having five brothers but she couldn’t get past writing chapter two. She revisited the manuscript after talking to Stacey about a story about two sisters and Stacey encouraged Stephanie to write the sister book. The book took around three months after Stephanie committed to writing a sister book. The sister relationship is the heartbeat and is the center of the book.

Mackenzi asked Stephanie what has been the best of the crazy and wild ride. Before Caraval sold, she wrote six manuscripts. Stephanie was living at home with her parents and was an adjunct professor for creative writing but she was doing what she loves. Her agent left the business and there was one point when her mother said “you might have to accept you won’t be a writer.” That hurt Stephanie a lot but she persisted and kept on writing because that’s her passion.

Eventually Stephanie signed with another agent and when she received a rejection, she was excited because someone looked at her manuscript and was reading it. One morning after she went out all night long, her agent texted her “OMG, OMG, OMG! Are you awake?” It was 6:00 in the morning and her agent even texted her “This is your agent,” before telling her about the great news. Her agent texted Stephanie a screenshot from an editor who was reading the manuscript. Stephanie promptly knocked on her parents’ door in her pajamas telling them that someone read her book and loved it. Stephanie told the audience that there was “no offer but it was so validating. I wrote a book someone loves. That was my heart.”

Mackenzi talked about writing and if Stephanie wrote when she was child or was she late to the writing game. Stephanie wrote a lot when she was a kid and wanted to publish a book one day. When she went to college, she found out she likes working with college students during her senior year. She was a Students Director of Orientation aka “Director of Fun.” However, the job wasn’t good for her mental health and a counselor said that she needs an outlet. Stephanie likes to write and writing is her outlet. She mentioned that she is afraid of many things and that she didn’t know how to write but she learned as much as could about writing. Prior to Caraval, Stephanie wrote a space opera, a sci-fi-thriller and a trilogy about two sisters (not about Scarlett and Tella). The books had all of her favorite tropes.

Caraval and Legendary are written in third person POV. Mackenzi asked about how was the voice shaping Caraval. Scarlett and Tella are distinct sisters. While Scarlett has some of Stephanie’s qualities like being cautious and one who calculates things, Tella is the girl Stephanie wants to be. Stephanie absolutely adores Tella. Scarlett is fearful and deliberate. On the other hand, when Tella wants something, she will go out and do it. Tella doesn’t weigh out pros and cons. She hits the ground running. At first it was hard to write Tella but then it got easier. In Finale, both sisters POVs will be showcased compared to Scarlett’s POV in Caraval and Tella’s POV in Legendary. Each sister knows want they want and knows what drives them.

Mackenzi asked Stephanie a non-book related question and centered it around how Caravel sounds like Carvel ice cream and how would a Caraval inspired dessert or cake look like. Stephanie was very excited about answering this particular question. Caraval would be a cake with multiple layers. The cake will be covered in edible glitter but one layer of glitter is inedible. There will be hidden stars and glowing magical lights and an angel. This is when Mackenzi chimes in, “there are lightbulbs in it?” Stephanie mentioned about a layer of red velvet checkerboard filled with stardust with the occasional star in it. The last layer is black like nighttime with a layer of fortunes at the bottom where one must bite the fortune in order to receive their fortune. Also, this cake disappears while you are eating it. The last bite chooses the person who shall consume it. Mackenzi then asks, “Is this the wand that chooses the wizard?”

Mackenzi wanted to know what is something that is making Stephanie happy now. Stephanie responds with AJR's The Click album but she likes listening to "Sober Up". She loves this album because it’s upbeat, fun and has interesting lyrics. Stephanie also likes "I Wish I was Sober" by Frightened Rabbit. Stephanie then turns the table around and asks Mackenzi what makes Mackenzi happy. Mackenzi says, “Um, every dog on Instagram." She is particular fond of St. Bernards since she used to have one named Zoey as a child. “We always need some happy.” Mackenzi loves watching a dog grow up on Instagram and she actually follows a mother who writes a picture journal on Instagram about the dog’s life. Mackenzi is finally going to have a St. Bernard in The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. She also loves Doodles but not so much Poodles. She tells the audience, “you may be a Poodle but you can grow up as a Doodle.”

Someone in the audience mentioned how Scarlett reminds them of the movie Speed. And how when you meet someone, how much do you really know them? How much does Scarlett know Julian. They just met and he’s a performer. Stephanie mentions that Legendary has more information about Scarlett's and Julian’s relationship. Someone else asked what is the easiest part to write and what is the most fun. Stephanie said chapter 5 of Caraval is the easiest because it’s about Legend’s backstory. Chapter 13 in Legendary was the most fun to write.

Another person asked how Stephanie would do in a game of Caraval. Stephanie said it depends what group of people she is with. If she is partnered with her sister, she would be able to win. Stephanie said she is much like Scarlett and is very vigilant. She joked around that if she has to win, she would take a selfie with Legend. At the Legendary launch party, Stephanie’s mother wore a top hat and was telling readers to go to Stephanie saying, “Legend sent me.”

Another question was “did you always aim to write YA?” Stephanie said yes. She always wanted to write YA. She mentioned that she didn’t have a lot of YA to read back in the 90’s. She loves exploring YA and connecting with readers.

The last question was asking Stephanie what books got her into YA. When she was working in Student Development and she was one of the very first to read Twilight and got a good amount of people hooked onto Twilight. She always loved vampires. Other books she mentioned include Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr and Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor, who influenced Stephanie’s love for third person POV. Melina Marchetta's Froi of the Exiles, Mary Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles and Holly Black’s Coldest Girl in Coldtown are also other books she recommended.

I hung back chatting with some friends before jumping in Stephanie's signing line. Stephanie enjoyed last week at BookExpo and BookCon and is having a blast on her book tour so far. If you have a chance to attend a book event with Stephanie, do it! You won't regret it because she is amazing and is super thoughtful. She is very enthusiastic and she is super excited to be on this tour. She really loves her fans and it shows! If you haven't read Caraval and/or Legendary, go read these books ASAP.

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