Friday, July 31, 2009

On the Road: New Jersey

Room-service has been growing on me. I've been living on a hamburger a night, delivered right to my door. But tonight? I went to a restaurant with some great company!

But first...

The people who came out to the Borders in Bridgewater were a fun mix of folks. There were plenty of teens, a minister, a marine...and another therapist. (Plus, as you'll notice, a couple more vacant chairs in the front row!)

One person got cropped out of that photo because I had no room to take another step back. But it's alright because Frankie gets a close-up in the next photo!

I didn't ask, but I'm guessing Frankie has done a little acting. When she read Hannah Baker's lines, it gave me goosebumps. I actually met Frankie at the NYC SCBWI conference in February. That's when I signed her second copy of Thirteen Reasons Why. What happened to her first copy? She broke it.

Don't ask.

Then I went out to dinner with three very special people who came all the way from NYC. Ben Schrank is the brains behind Razorbill, the awesome Penguin imprint which made my dreams come true by publishing 13RW. Lauren Oliver is the author of Before I Fall, a book I'm extremely excited about (and you should be, too). But it doesn't come out until next year, so I'll save all of my praises until you can run out and buy it.

And here I am with Allison Verost, the Superwoman who organized this book tour. I can't thank her enough for introducing me to some amazing booksellers and working so hard to make my schedule so enjoyable.

There was one minor glitch in today's schedule (which wasn't Allison's fault, just so ya know), but it turned out to be kind of fun. Five minutes before my wake-up call was scheduled to wake me up, my phone rang. NPR was calling to do a radio interview. An interview? But I hadn't even received my wake-up call! I didn't remember there being an interview scheduled for that time. The woman asked if I wanted her to call back after I had some time to move around a bit. I told her I was ready, so she began recording and we did the minute after I woke up.

So if you hear one of my NPR interviews and I sound really loopy, that may be the one you're listening to!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

On the Road: Delaware

So far on this road trip, I've given eleven newspaper/radio/video interviews and spoken at six bookstores. My wife, a singer, always told me I needed to learn to project my voice correctly...and I'm finally beginning to think she's right.

My throat is raw! (And the massive amount of coffee I've been drinking probably hasn't helped.)

Today's stop at a Borders in Delaware was a lot of fun. The audience was full of the usual mix of teens, parents, librarians, teachers, and (increasingly) therapists. When I began to speak, we also had the traditional two empty seats in the middle of the front row.

During my presentation, the crowd slowly grew. I was trying to project my voice (incorrectly, I'm sure) over the espresso machine, and I began to notice several people who were browsing throughout the store begin to move closer and closer to hear what was going on. Of course, that made me try extra hard to get the audience to laugh. So while I focused on the people in the chairs, I also kept an eye on the browsers. It became a challenge! And soon there was a fairly solid wall of people standing around the chairs...many of whom had probably never heard, or cared to hear, a YA author speak.


When I saw a few of those people in line for an autograph, I was glowing inside (which, apparently, makes the throat even rawer)!

The person who volunteered to read the part of Hannah Baker today continued the streak of very strong readers. Thank you, Stella!

Tomorrow's bookstore event should be interesting. A few people from Penguin (past and present) will be there.

Am I nervous?


On the Road: Connecticut

John McCain picked me up at the airport in Connecticut.

Okay, it wasn't really McCain, but the guy looked exactly like him. But I didn't say anything just in case the man who was responsible for getting me places on time and weaving me in and out of traffic would be upset by such a comparison. But then he mentioned that he's a twin and I searched my brain for useless bits of political info. Does John McCain have a twin brother? Finally, Jim (his last name is not McCain) broke the ice. During last year's election he had his 15 minutes of fame by taking a dare and standing in Harvard Square with a sign which read McCain for Obama '08. He eventually had to be whisked away because the crowd got so big around him.


Oh, right. The book tour! The event at RJ Julia Booksellers was wonderful...and not just because they sold out of my book. The evening began with a reading by Samantha (as Hannah) and me (as Clay). Thanks, Samantha! You did a great job.

Here's how the audience looked from my point of view:

The people in my left eye...

The people in my right eye...

I know I missed a few people in the middle. Sorry!

Of course, the audience looked even more beautiful when they all got up and stood in line for autographs.

And finally, here's a photo I found online of Mr. 15 Minutes himself!

Thanks for getting me everywhere safe and on time, Jim. And thanks for the great conversations!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On the Road: Virginia

Tonight's booksigning at Borders in Fairfax, Virginia included some people from the early days of Thirteen Reasons Why. Only one month after its release, Kurtis Goad gave my book a great review on Boys Blogging Books. In the photo below, I'm joined by Kurtis and Sherri Goad (who did a great job reading as Hannah tonight).

Linda Acorn won a contest on my old blog and came to tonight's event with her winnings. I signed her very rare Thirteen Reasons Why t-shirt and an Advance Reading Copy.

Some of you may know that I'm "kind of" into politics. So when the driver took me to my hotel, I had a serious case of What would be the right thing to do? It was late. I had to get up early for my next flight. But Washington D.C. was just across the river!!!

So I hopped in a cab and decided to sleep on the plane.

Monuments have never impressed me much. Many of them are simply bland or overly symbolic for my taste. Looking at photos of the Washington Monument always left me scratching my head. But to see it in person? It's so...well...monumental! (Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try, there's no way to express how impressed I was without my description sounding full of innuendo.)

And the Lincoln Memorial is absolutely inspiring and beautiful.

Even at 11pm, there was an excited crowd gathered in front of the White House.

And now...goodnight!

Monday, July 27, 2009

On the Road: Illinois

Day Three:

I got into Chicago around 5:30 and was driven to several bookstores to sign what they had in stock. Back at my hotel, I began to look over the next day's schedule. For one of my radio interviews, which would be done at the station, I was supposed to bring a copy of my book.


So I walked to the nearest bookstore, a Borders, to buy a copy of my own book. (For some reason, that felt really embarrassing.) The copies I had signed earlier were arranged beautifully. I grabbed one and walked to the front counter. As long as whoever rung me up didn't look at the author photo, I'd be alright.

The cashier asked if I had a Rewards card. I did. I gave her my phone number. She punched it in...then paused. She tilted her head at the screen. Then she looked at the cover of my book.

"Is this your book?"

I blushed. "At least it'll help my sales."

Day Four:

I had two telephone interviews in the morning, which I'll link to when they're online. One, conducted by a marriage and family therapist was absolutely wonderful. The host had a great sensitivity to the issue of suicide and we had a fascinating discussion.

Before I do a telephone interview, I often try to find a photo of the host to give me something to look at while I'm talking. So some of the conversations look like this...

(Most interviews don't get as confrontational as the above photo implies.)

Then I did an interview in an NPR station and another that was filmed for a Barnes & Noble Meet the Authors segment. This photo's from the NPR station interview...

Finally, I got to eat! I attended a pizza party put together by Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville. Well, pizza and one humongous brownie.

The event at Anderson's afterwards went great. Lots of teens. Parents. Teachers. Librarians. And writers!

Someone I credit with giving Thirteen Reasons Why a very big boost last summer was in the audience. Amber did an NPR report for All Things Considered titled "Three Books for Teens Who Hate to Read." For several months after that clip aired, I ran into people who first heard about my book from that report. So thank you, Amber!

And during today's reading, Hannah Baker was performed by Susan. Thanks for doing a great job, Susan!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

On the Road: California & Washington

Day One:

I drove up to Oakhurst, California, which is near the entrance to Yosemite National Park. Willow Bridge Books hosted me as part of the Central Valley Writers' Symposium. At most of my speaking gigs, I have a lot of fun with Powerpoint presentations. But for this book tour, I'm doing it the old-fashioned way. Just an author and a microphone! Turns out, it can be a lot of fun to go off-script and meander around with what you're saying.

One of my favorite things to do at book events is to do a co-reading of Thirteen Reasons Why. I read Clay's lines and get someone else to read as Hannah. I planned on getting photos from each stop of me reading with a different Hannah, but so far, it hasn't been working out.

But here's who played Hannah on Day One:

Kelly Sonnack is an agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. ABLA is the agency which represents me, so this was kind of like doing a reading with my literary cousin.

Day Two:

I flew up to Seattle, Washington and got picked up at the airport by a media escort. A media escort! Sounds fancy, doesn't it? It feels fancy! She drove me all over Seattle so I could stop by several bookstores and sign their copies of my book. Then she drove me up to Bellingham, Washington so I could speak at Village Books.

Once again, I didn't get a shot of me reading with a member of the audience. But here I am signing her book! Unfortunately, I also forgot to write down her name. But I zoomed in on this photo, and I think I can read what I wrote in the book. So thank you for doing a great job, Kaily! (It is Kaily, isn't it? That's what it looks like!)

I happen to have an uncle and aunt living in Bellingham, so they took me out to eat and I finally got to see their house. They have a creek in their backyard. A creek! In my backyard, all I have is a broken sprinkler.

After driving back to Seattle, I was able to make the final hour of a party with some fellow writers. Here I am with Martha Brockenbrough, Holly Cupala, and Martha's cousin, Isabel.

And then I signed Martha's copy of my book...

That's another first for me!

Monday, July 20, 2009

9 Bookstores - 9 States - 9 Days

At the end of this week and all through next week, I’ll be on my first official book tour! Nine bookstores in nine states in nine days. If I’m anywhere near you, please stop by and say hi. I’ll be discussing Thirteen Reasons Why, answering your questions, and signing books.

  • July 24: Willow Bridge Books; Oakhurst, CA; 5:00pm
  • July 25: Village Books; Bellingham, WA; 2:00pm
  • July 27: Anderson’s Bookshop; Naperville, IL; 7:00pm
  • July 28: Borders; Fairfax, VA; 7:00pm
  • July 29: RJ Julia Booksellers; Madison, CT; 7:00pm
  • July 30: Borders; Newark, DE; 4:00pm
  • July 31: Borders; Bridgewater, NJ; 7:00pm
  • August 1: Barnes & Noble; Framingham, MA; 2:30pm
  • August 1: Barnes & Noble; Manchester, NH; 6:30pm
See you there!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Chat

This was filmed during my visit to R.A. Long High School last April.

Now you see why I had such an amazing time!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Trip Down eMemory Lane

Today I combed through and deleted hundreds of old emails. So far, I’ve made it through 2007 and 2008. Here are a few snippets from those years which made me smile all over again:

I just (and I mean just, less than five minutes ago) finished reading it and it is one of the best, if not the best, books I have ever read.
- from the very first e-mail my editor received regarding the Advance Reading Copy of Thirteen Reasons Why (which caused both of us to relax…a little)

I'm so excited about your book. I never doubted you'd make it big as a writer--perhaps this generations Judy Blume…I love your sense of humor and I'm sure the book is poignant and hilarious.
- from a former co-worker who apparently didn’t know what my book was about

Thirteen Reasons Why is the only book that my whole galley group (eleven girls) has cherished, and every new member MUST read Thirteen Reasons Why or else...well one of the members says that it is the initiation of joining the group.
- from a member of a bookstore book club which reads through Advance Reading Copies to help the store decide what to stock

5. Do you like catfish? Taylor Grocery has the best catfish around. My best friend is the chef.
- from a bookseller trying to convince me (with thirteen reasons, of course) to visit her town

Last night was a BLAST! It was so much of a blast that I when I left the school, I left it unlocked and a candle (Thank goodness nothing is missing...that we know of, and my principal has not fired me yet!) The kids had so much fun (we got some great pics!) and the discussion was phenomenal...much better than I ever imagined!
- from a school librarian after leading a book club discussion of my book

First let me start by saying I absolutely loved your book Thirteen Reasons Why! That is why I have decided to teach it in my Modern Literature class for the 2008-2009 school year.
- from a teacher

Congratulations! THIRTEEN REASONS WHY has hit the New York Times bestseller list at #10! Everyone at Penguin is so happy for you!
- from my publicist at Penguin

2009, here I come!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What Did I Miss?

After spending three days doing pre-planned activities in Boston, Salem, and Plymouth, I gave myself one day to just walk around without an agenda.

Of course, my feet happened to pull me into several bookstores. Once inside, they always yanked me to the teen sections where my eyes made me look for a certain book. And wouldn't you know it, I also had a Sharpie in my pocket to sign them!

I listened to a cool cover-band play in front of Faneuil Hall. I watched some breakdancers. And have you seen those people who give away free hugs? Every-so-often they show up at Farmer's Market back home, and I've seen them a few other places. I always thought it was a cool idea, and the huggers were usually so happy and sincere about the offer. So today I thought, "Why not!"

Yep. Free hugs are nice.

Then, since I still had a couple of hours to waste in Boston, I did what Bostonians do and went to see a movie. BrĂ¼no was hilarious!

At my home, we don't own a TV (which wasn't as hard to get used to as I feared). But when I travel and stay in hotels, the hour or so before bed is always something I look forward to. Here's how I spent tonight's dinner...

What was in that white box? Something yummy...

It was one of the best cupcakes I'd ever had! I even gave Snoopy, who's been my recent travel companion, a chocolate chip. But just one! Chocolate isn't good for dogs.

See ya back in California!

Friday, July 10, 2009

History Comes Alive!

Today I went to...

Plimoth Plantation is amazing. Amazing! I recently read Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, and that book is what most inspired me to fly out here. So I had extremely high hopes for today...and I was not disappointed!

First, I walked to the Wampanoag Homesite.

While the staff was dressed in historically accurate clothing, they weren't playing particular roles (which they did on the next stop). But you can watch them build structures, make clothes, cook food, and tend to crops exactly as their ancestors would have done.

Inside one huge structure, you can sit around a fire on benches blanketed with fur. When I went in, this man was answering every question thrown at him with so much depth. I could've stayed and listened to him for much longer than time allowed.

But I needed to move on and visit the 1627 English Village...

I suppose you could call it a museum, but it's more like historical improv theater...where the audience has free reign of the humongous stage.

In the Village, like in the previous stop, you can watch them cook and build things. But here, everyone is completely in character (a specific historical person) the entire time. They're unshakable!

They'll tell you all about where they "came from" and funny stories about their "spouses" or how much fun "the wedding" they just attended had been. But they'll talk as if they'd never heard of putting quotes around words to signify that they're in on the joke.

They asked if I was thinking of settling nearby and then asked where I was from. California just did not register with them.

You can pull up a chair in their home and chat for as long as you'd like.

But someone will eventually put you to work...and there's a lot of dirt to sweep up.

Then I hopped on a trolley and headed over to this structure. In a pit between the columns, sitting in dirt, rests America's original rock star!

I seriously hope you knew where I was going with this.

It's Plymouth Rock, people!

And docked only feet away is the Mayflower II, a full-scale replica of the ship which brought 102 men, women, and children to Massachusetts in 1620. Mayflower II was built in England and sailed across the Atlantic to Plymouth in 1957.

Notice the wooden flower on the back of the ship. Guess which flower that's supposed to be.

You can climb aboard the Mayflower II, where you'll find even more people dressed in period-clothes. They'll speak, very convincingly, of their recent sixty-six day journey to New England.

Between the plantation, the rock, and the boat, it's going to be hard to top today. But I still have one day left before I fly home. So what are my plans?

To sleep in.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Which Trials?

I've been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials since childhood, so I was really looking forward to today's trek. I hopped on a train bright-and-early and headed thirty minutes north to...

Anyone? Anyone? Yes, you at the computer.

Is it Salem?

It absolutely is Salem. Good for you.

First stop, the Salem Witch Museum.

There are several cool buildings lurking around Salem. Some are cool because they're historical. Others are cool because, even though they're modern, they do a good job of looking historical.

Salem is a town which takes full advantage of its reputation. There are more tourist traps per square mile than any town I've been in. But none of the traps are expensive, so if you don't mind spending eight bucks on a cheesy good time, you'll be alright. (Just to be fair, the cheese you see below was not taken at the Salem Witch Museum.)

There are some gems amongst the cheese, as well. But before I mention those, you need to check out this shot I took in one of the downtown bookstores. The other aisles looked exactly the same.

There's a fairly new wax museum dedicated to horror movie monsters called Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery which is very well put together. I talked to the owner for a bit, and the Gallery is basically a childhood dream come true...which is probably why he took so much care constructing it. The Witch Dungeon Museum is also a lot of fun. It begins with a staged trial re-enactment.

Have I ever told you how much I loved Bewitched growing up? It's true. And even though she was much older than me, I totally had the hots for Samantha Stevens.

One of the reasons I came to the Boston area was to take a bunch of guided walking tours. Historical tours. Ghost tours. Whatever! I never mentioned the tours I took earlier because I wasn't very impressed. But today I went on the Salem Witchcraft Walk and loved it. Our guide, Tara, knew her history and was an amazing storyteller. I actually learned a thing or two (about the witch trials and storytelling).

The final stop on the tour was the Witch Trials Memorial. The place is beautiful on its own, but when you know the symbolism it's even more impressive. That's Tara walking near the stone wall, which contains protruding stone seats.

Each seat is a memorial to someone who was accused and executed.

After my tour, I had dinner with Laurie Faria Stolarz, author of many teen books, including the series that begins with Blue is for Nightmares. Laurie actually grew up in Salem, which officially means she rocks. We had such a wonderful conversation about books and writing (which helped me tremendously), that I got all caught-up in chatting and made a couple of severe boo-boos. One, I forgot to get a picture taken with her. And two, I forgot to ask her to sign my copy of Blue is for Nightmares.

After we parted and I realized what I'd done, I punished myself.

No, don't ask me to go easy on myself. It's the only way I'll learn.