Sunday, February 10, 2013

Meet the Author: Victoria Schwab

THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab
On a snowy Saturday afternoon, I trekked through the slippery mountains of snow adorning the cemented sidewalks of Manhattan.  I was headed to Books of Wonder in NYC, which is an independent children's bookstore by Union Square.  Victoria Schwab was holding her only signing in NYC, so I had to be there and the snow was not going to get in my way.

I woke up overly excited at 9am.  The first thing I did was look outside my window to analyze the snow's damage.   The second thing I did was tweet to Schwab to see if she was still going to BOW.  She was.  I got ready and showed up an hour early - I wanted a good seat.

I was the first person there.  I browsed the books shelves and purchased The Archived only.  I grabbed a front-row chair about 30 minutes before the event began, pulled out The Blessed, and read until Schwab began.  Mind you, this is a predominately children's bookstore that includes YA, so there were a lot of little kids there.  Somewhere behind me, two parents were having a conversation, and their children were running around the event area.  I have little sisters, so I didn't mind it much.  One little girl, who was about 3 years old, was playing around the table set up for Schwab and proceeded to scribble on some piece of paper that had been laid out for Schwab.

"Daddy look."  She wrote on it and held it up to show her dad her squiggly "L".
"Show me the other letters of your name.  Write all of the them.  I. L. Y, "  her dad encouraged.

It was adorable, but at the same time I wanted to point out that it was laid out for the author; I was having an internal battle with myself deciding whether or not to say something.  Do I let this little girl scribble all over Schwab's paper or do I just hope Schwab doesn't need it?  Thankfully, the event coordinator walked over and resolved the situation.  She told her the paper was for the author.

"Are you the author?  You are much younger than I expected," the event coordinator joked.

Adorable.  Lily's dad swayed her away and the event coordinator replaced the paper, waiting for Schwab to appear.

Schwab appears.  There is a possibility a few swirls of smoked trailed behind as she walked to the front, but I'm going to pretend I was the only person that saw them.   She introduced herself and the book, and read the introduction in the book.  She read gracefully and eloquent, and made the think she had read the same passage aloud many times before.  As she read, I could sense her forgetting where she was and losing herself in the words she wrote, as if she was reading it for the first time.  She would peek at the audience and reel herself back into reality.  I wonder, was the only person that noticed?

She finished the introduction and opened the floor to a Q&A session.  Here is a summary of some of the questions that were asked and her responses.  Only a summary because I forgot to bring a notepad and had to write everything on the back of my receipt for The Archived in microscopic scribbles.

Audience:  How did you decide on the perspective?
VS:  I always knew I wanted to write in two perspectives.  Present Mackenzie Bishop and the flashbacks of Da.  I wanted the reader to learn about The Archives through Mackenzie's past, just as she did.

Audience:  How did you come up with the idea?
VS:  I had two ideas.  First was the idea for Coronado.  Second was The Archived.  You spend your entire life experiencing, amounting memories, and then you die and lose all of it.  I am comforted that in The Archived, memories are shelved and safe after you die.  I wanted to add some danger, so [the shelved bodies] woke up.

Audience:  How did you decide on the setting, specifically Coronado?
VS:  Setting should be a character.  The Archived is so big and I wanted to isolate Mackenzie.  If she is not at The Archived, she is at the Coronado.  I began to gather information for this book my senior year of college.  I visited some converted hotels in St. Louis and I thought it would be interesting to live in one.  I was intrigued by the decay of the places, the natural decay.  Coronado had a faded past, but it was always relevant, when it was a hotel and in Mackenzie's present.

Audience:  How did you get through the world-building?
VS:  I believe magic is in our world, but we don't see the doors.  Mackenzie sees the doors.  I wanted to make it in place of intuition, a library - where you shelves things.  I like things simple and elegant, so I wanted to make it simple and let it grow complex.  If you start with something complicated at the beginning, it is easy to make a mess of things.

Audience:  If you could choose any fictional characters to work in The Archived, who and which roles?
VS:  In The Archived, there are three types of people:  Librarians, Crew, and Keepers.  For Librarian, Professor Mcgonagall (Harry Potter).  Crew would be Katsa and Po from Graceling because it is one my favorite parings of all time.  Keepers...Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, Jace from The Mortal Instruments series, and Lyra from His Dark Materials series.

Audience:  If you could read anyone's "history", whose would it be?
VS:  Da Vinci.  I just want to get into that man's head.  After visiting his house, it would be amazing to see what's in his head.

Audience:  How do you keep writing?  How do you motivate yourself?
VS:  I love telling stories.  I always have.  I started off in Physics and ended up with a degree in book design.    Sure there are tough times in writing, but writing for me is my dream job.  Sometimes I can't believe that this IS my job, because it's a job.  And if I am having a hard time, I open a blank document and start a "life boat", which is a story that no one knows about and I work on to let myself breathe.  I just play with it.

Schwab announced that her first adult fiction book, Vicious, which is about 4 sociopathic 30-year old men is coming out fall 2013.  The sequel to The Archived is coming out winter 2014.  She finished recently her first MG book for Scholastic, the first of a series.  It is about a quirky, weird guardian angel.  Looks like I better start making some room on my book shelves.

She finished up the Q&A, I got my book signed, and all was well.

For Mariela.  Remember, nothing is lost. - Victoria Schwab


The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Hardcover, 321 pages
Published January 22nd 2013 by Hyperion
ISBN 1423157311 (ISBN13: 9781423157311)
Edition language:  English

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