Tonight, I got to listen to a panel between June Hur, Kristin Dwyer, and Axie Oh to celebrate Susan Lee’s debut Seoulmates.
It was cute how all four of them gushed over K-dramas. It was also funny that Susan Lee admitted that how she writes stories is by following the beats of K-dramas and if she gets stuck, going back to the episodic beats. She said because of that she feels like she is writing fan fic.
It was interesting to hear Susan Lee and the others talk about how most times they get too much in their heads with worry about if what they are writing is too risky and unrealistic, but then they remember that they are writing K-dramas.
When they asked Susan Lee what K-Drama she wished she had written, she said What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim because it is a great example of being formulaic.
Something I learned from this was that K-dramas were usually formulaic, but now are staring to lose their way because episodes will be added as they film after they see how popular they are and what they need to add or not. So, because of that, it takes away from the formulaic feeing that used to let watchers know what they were getting. Now a lot of it feels added on or stitched together.
Got to attend an event hosted by Oxford Exchange Bookstore discussing Elektra by Jennifer Saint.
What was really cool about this group tonight was that we had some more persistent readers of Greek stories who knew a lot of the character and we had some that did not. I am one of the people who does not know that much about the past stories, so I learned a lot of interesting things during this discussion. Like how Greek stories revolve around tragedy, death, and unfairness all the time. What left me feeling unsatisfied and hollow in parts when it came to what I saw as unnecessary deaths, the others that were more versed saw that those deaths fit the theme in different ways.
As someone who does not know much, it was cool following the story as a story and experiencing new things. It was also fun talking about why we sympathized or did not with some of the characters. It was also interesting that not many were fans of the first-person-point of view for the three different characters and felt a little distant from the story.
We all decided though that this was not a feminist book, just in the point of view of three women. We discussed a couple tweaks that would have made it a feminist book, which was one of the most fun discussions of the night.
I loved and appreciated everyone’s different view coming from different paths of reading when talking about this book.
Had a panel event this evening with Brookline Brooksmith presenting three incredible authors. The authors were Ayana Gray who has written Beasts of Prey, Kalynn Bayron who has written Cinderella is Dead and This Poison Heart, and Namina Forna who wrote The Gilded Ones. All three have sequels out or sequels that are coming out soon.
Ayana Gray described during this event how she had a harder time writing her second book than her first because of the deadline. Trying to promote while writing the second book with a deadline, had cramped her style, but what did make some parts easier was having a world already built and a magic system.
Ayana Gray said that she loves writing fantasy because she loves reading fantasy to learn from and escape into, so she loves providing that for others. She also loves tackling and thinking about the idea of fatalism in her books.
Kalynn Bayron said that when it came to her first book This Poison Heart becoming a duology, it was because she had let the story take her where it needed to go. She had wanted it to be a standalone, but it did not work out that way. She said that drafting the second book called This Wicked Fate was a challenge, but she had fun. She wanted to make it compelling and she believes that she did.
The reason why Kalynn writes fantasy is because it has a potential for the fantastical. She loves how her recent books are set in a real place with an undercurrent of the fantastical so that she can use pop-culture references. She has found that in her writing, she has the theme of destiny in all her books. She believes it is because of something she is working through personally as an author. A wall she keeps encountering in her own life when trying to find information about things like her family and past that should be simple to find, but is not simple for her since she is a black woman living in America and grew up in the deep south.
Namina Forna’s sequel took a lot out of her, but with how the book has been resonating with the readers, she says that it was worth it, although she would rather do standalones from now on. How she typically likes to write is by starting with a one-page quick story, then diving into a year of research, doing an outline after that year, and then starting on writing out the pages.
Namina Forna loves to write fantasy because she is a fantasy lover herself. When it comes to fantasy, she has no standards. She loves just about anything fantasy. She also loves how while writing fantasy, real-life issues can be tackled in them making it easier for those issues to be related to. The reason she wrote The Gilded Ones’s world the way she did was because she wanted to make an Africa that is true. She is an immigrant that came to America when she was nine years old and hates all the lies that are told about the amazing country.
One of my favorite answers to one of the questions was Namina Forna’s answer to what would happen if your main characters were put in a rom-com. She said that it would not matter if it was at the beginning or end of her main character’s development, her main character would think she was in hell if she was placed in a rom-com.
Thank you so much Brookline Brooksmith for your support and this panel!
Had an interesting conversation with Oxford Exchange Bookstore about The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake. The Atlas Six is a huge conversation starter for many reasons including plot, mechanics, story, characters, morals, and theme, so the conversation was a long and full one.
It was interesting diving into everyone’s favorite character when there were so many. But everyone’s favorite was mostly the same, except for a couple people had different answers. Most people loved Reina. Everyone also was in agreement that they believed Parisa was the author’s favorite character.
Almost everyone had the same take on the ending and are waiting until the next book to have some questions answered and things explained. The ending though threw some for a loop, while for one other they had guessed the twists right away.
One of the most interesting conversations we had was about gate keeping knowledge. We voted that gate keeping should not be allowed because then people would also have the knowledge to protect themselves if they needed to and knowledge is for all.
Everyone liked this book and the cool ideas it brought with it. I know I am excited to read the second one.
I got to attend what felt like an exclusive event last night with Mysterious Galaxy interviewing Ben Riggs on his debut novel Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons which is releasing today. This was such a fun and interesting conversation to listen to full of secrets and D&D talk.
Slaying the Dragon:A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons is about the TSR company that rocketed Dungeons and Dragons to its success. It dives deep into why TSR started failing as a company and what happened for Wizards to buy the company. Riggs highlights many interviews in his work and mentions if he was told two different stories about one incident to make sure that he tells everyone’s story. Tom Thurman who was the person during this event interviewing Rigg described the book with high praise saying that it was not dry but very readable and that Riggs’s personality shines through.
I found Riggs to have a fun and quirky personality. He mentions that he could not interview Lorraine Williams because she refused. (Lorraine Williams was in control of TSR when it had failed). But he showed his optimism during this event that she may reach out to him and want to be interviewed because he had beautiful art of her made in his book. He did interview her brother though along with 50 plus others.
Riggs mentioned multiple times that he knows his success is all thanks to luck and timing. D&D is the most popular it has ever been in history. Stranger Things has been a help with that. He laughed and said that he did a local interview in his newspaper about his book and they did not put his picture on the article, but instead put Eddie’s picture from Stranger Things, which he is proud of. His favorite edition of D&D is the 2nd edition because that was the first one that he played and he sees the game as a cultural artifact.
Ben Riggs apparently has a podcast called Plot Points that has been up and running since 2013 where he takes a deep dive into role playing games including the influence and origins of those games. He was such a kind, gentle, and respectful person to listen to during this interview. Anyone could tell how deeply he cares about people and about games in general and how certain games have impacted culture.
I loved how much Riggs showed his love for creative geniuses in during this event and how much information he gave to everyone. I am excited to get his book and read his words. Thank you, Mysterious Galaxy for hosting him!
Since the author wrote this book for all ages and for each age group to be able to come away with something different, it was very interesting to hear how differently everyone approached the book when reading this. One of the big discussions was how some readers found it too spooky, while others found it not spooky or dark enough at all.
Something that everyone agreed on was how they had sympathy toward the main character Olivia and LOVED her spunk. They also had sympathy toward Mathew. We also found it very interesting how the two characters had to communicate with each other since one was unable to speak and the other did not know sign language. It was very nicely done!
EVERYONE loved the structure of this book, especially with the pictures involved in it. What was very interesting was hearing that some readers listened to the audio book and did not know that there were pictures connected to the book at all. This seemed insane to me since the pictures seemed so instrumental to the story, especially since the author herself felt they were needed for the story. But to hear that people still loved it through the audio book (some gushed at how well the audio book narrator did and were excited to see that there were pictures later on) was amazing and mind-blowing.
Everyone had different feelings about the very end scene of the book though. Some found it happy enough, some found it not happy at all, and some found it just plain sad and lonely. The takeaway though is that the ending fits the tone of the story and compared to where the main character was at the beginning, she is not truly lonely and it is in a way a happy place after all.
Tonight, I got to listen into an awesome book event between three authors hosted by Book People for Pride Month! The authors were Jason June presenting his book Out of the Blue, Brian D. Kennedy presenting A Little Bit Country (a debut), and Lyla Lee presenting her book Flip the Script.
The authors were dressed for pride! So that was cute! And the first question to them was how they like to spend Pride. Some of the answers were with parades, family, friends, and sunscreen!! Hahaha.
I thought it was interesting and so heart-warming how Brian D. Kennedy wrote his book set in the south, while making sure that he did not have the main character viewing the south as a bad place. He wanted to show how it can be different coming out in different places, especially someplace that is not as ready to accept it, but he wanted to show that there are ways to still live authentically even if you live in one of those places or come from one of those places.
Lyla Lee set her book in South Korea where there are no gay rights. Her book is set in a big city where it can be dangerous to be at Pride. She wanted to write two queer teens falling in love in that context because she needed that as a teen growing up, but she made sure she didn’t make it too idealistic.
In Jason June’s book, he had two settings, but in the Blue, everyone loves who they love and who they are. It is very intriguing how all their settings are so different from one another and was very interesting listening to them talk about it!
Jason June brought up the fact that in the books that Lee and Kennedy wrote, the main characters are public figures being watched as they are trying to explore their identity. Which would be so hard! That led into favorite queer and gay icons. Layla Lee’s favorites are Halsey and Lady Gaga.
It was really cool listening to Kennedy’s passion with this being his debut. His passion lies in country music. He talked about how he loved diving into country music and getting to nerd out about it while building his own world.
They all would love to see more diverse voices because they believe that people need that. When they were growing up, they NEEDED that to feel less alone and less confused. They would also love to see more queer rom-coms to bring about more fun and happy reads to queer books. I could not agree more!
Tonight, we talked with Oxford Exchange Bookstore’s Book Club about These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong.
One of the things I found the most interesting is that one of the people in the group who normally does not like romance, really liked the romance in this book. Another interesting thing was seeing how the different povs for secondary characters displayed in this book worked for some of the people in the group, while it did not work for others.
I loved hearing about how Chloe Gong was nineteen when she wrote this and that since it is a very dense book with so much going on, many in the group believe that she will amount to great things. It was also really cool hearing how although some in the group could not relate to the storyline at all, there was someone in the group who connected with the story because they were able to relate to the storyline because of how they grew up.
A few things that everyone agreed on were that they all wish that there had been more fantasy elements or at least more of the monster, that the action was fantastic, everyone loved Kathleen, and that they wish there was a prequel about the past events that had occurred that this book talks about in length.
If you can’t tell, my favorite part about discussion tonight was seeing and discussing what worked about this book and what didn’t for the different people in this group.
After a change of events, today I got to join in on a conversation with Elodie Harper with Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. It was really cool hearing about her books, which I added to my wish list.
Elodie Harper has written two books so far out of a trilogy that she discussed during this interview. The two books are called The Wolf Den and The House with the Golden Door. The Wolf Den takes place in ancient Pompeii before the town was buried by volcanic ash. It tells of the story of a girl named Amara who is a slave and a prostitute in a well-known brothel. Harper wrote these books because she wanted to tell the stories of the brothel women without focusing on the sex work. She wanted to show that even the lowest born slaves can dream of new beginnings.
With the short time that Harper had during this interview, she discussed how she visited Pompeii with her best friend to research for this book. She described it as “the closest one can get to time travel” and explained how one can view the glassware, paintings, lamps, and marble countertops.
The host and Elodie Harper then went on to talk about Elektra by Jennifer Saint, who sadly was unable to join. Elektra is apparently told in the view of three characters who are each deeply affected by the war that is going on and who each have the power to influence it. The host and Harper complimented on how Saint was able to nail Greek tragedy in the book, how it felt fresh because she was able to dive into the gaps and motivations of the characters, and how well she was able to represent the gods and show how involved they are with the humans around them just like Saint did in her previous book Ariadne.
I appreciated this insightful interview, and although there were technical difficulties, I thought that they host and Elodie Harper handled it very well. Thank you Mysterious Galaxy!
Got to have an amazing conversation with Oxford Exchange Bookstore’s Book Club about Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. The wonderful hosts started off the club with a question about what tea would be served for everyone at the particular tea shop in the book. Some interesting answers were jasmine-green tea, orange tea, and mint-lemongrass. It was cute to hear the explanations of why those teas would be chosen and it led into even funnier topcs!
The best part about this discussion was learning how this book worked for different people just like how the book highlights how everyone is different so everyone needs different care and everyone will have a different path after death. The book also did amazing when it came to grief and being honest about it, especially how grief is soft and tender but also hard and harsh at times.
It seemed like out of all the characters many of the group’s favorite was Nelson, although a very interesting things was brought up on how a favorite character could not be chosen because all the characters felt like one unit. Another thing that was discussed about characters was how Klune did a terrific job in using the fear of the unknown when it came to the manager.
For my own personal take, I just want to make sure that I state that my favorite lesson in this book was the fact that your death is yours and no one else’s. I love that because it helps readers grasp control of their fear of the after-death.