The streaming for this event didn’t start until 6:06 pm!! Which was such a relief. I am thankful they waited until more people logged on, since I came running from dance lessons and gymnastics, so I didn’t miss a thing.
To start off this book launch event with Kew & Willow Books for the book Weird Kid by Greg van Eekhout, they had the author Greg van Eekhout talking to another middle grade author Matt Wallace. It was such a fun, comical, and witty conversation between the two authors that felt very comfortable to listen to, like I should have been sitting in a big comfy leather chair by a fireplace during this event.
One of the topics that they talked about was how self-care before a book launch is very important to do. Which is such a good reminder that through all the stress to make sure you are looking to take care of yourself. Also, as supportive authors do, they commented on the fact that their books should not be bought off Amazon, although they can be. Individual bookstores’ support is so important to authors but apparently even more important for middle grade authors. That I was not aware of since I do not normally buy or read middle grade books.
Weird Kid is Greg van Eekhout’s 9th published book overall. It is about a kid who is an alien and came to earth as a blob who can shapeshift, but in puberty the alien named Jake starts to lose his ability to control his shapeshifting. There is also an interesting sounding subplot about a certain hum in the town he can hear, sinkholes, and other strange things. The book focuses on difficult transitions, empathy, and friendships. The author commented that when he had been asked if the dog on the cover lives, his answer was “Yes, the dog lives. I’m not a monster.”
Another interesting topic that was explored in this conversation was theme and how sometimes without noticing authors tend to fall into certain reoccurring themes. A few other people attending the event pointed out some Greg van Eekhout’s regular themes, but a big one that was brought up which seems to be a central theme for many of his books is isolation. He explained that he believes it is because he feels it is important to explore personhood through dogs, aliens, robots, and things that are not humans, so people can learn to love and accept others even if they are different and so readers can question and figure out what it means to be a person exactly.
A question that was asked was how to make a book funny. Matt Wallace brought up that not everyone is funny in real life and how tiring it is to see dialogue all the time that goes back and forth trying to force comedy. Being authentic to the character is the most important. If you have forced dialogue or forced humor, it can take the reader out of the reality of the book.
A piece of advice from Greg van Eekhout was that every book is a journey and sometimes writing a particular book is harder than it was writing others, but that doesn’t mean that it is the writer’s fault. When writing is difficult, you have to be kind to yourself and know that if you make it through and finish it, it builds your confidence as a writer. He stated this because this particular book he was launching was hard for him to write.
Another echo of wisdom from Eekhout was that every writer’s process and brain is different. The important part is making sure as a writer you are having fun since most of a writer’s life is at the keyboard, so a writer needs to make sure they find a way to make it enjoyable. Also be consistent. Greg van Eekhout stated that what gets him through to the end of his books is his consistency.
As can be seen from the paragraphs above, this author cares about children, humanity, bookstores, and other writers. I highly enjoyed listening into this conversation and I am excited for his book to get shipped so I can read it.