Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rachel Hartman Book Signing

Before Rachel Hartman was a best-selling award winning author she was a Kentuckian.  Little known fact about Kentucky -- we LOVE Kentuckians.  We root for them in all endeavors (well good ones, evil villains we blame on other states' bad influence).  I've been waiting to buy Rachel's book for nearly a year, not because I don't love it, but because I knew she'd be back someday and I really wanted a signed copy.  So when she tweeted me that she was visiting her parents and appearing at a mutually favorite bookstore, I headed down the great I-64 divide (alongside a lot of Louisville citizens going to Lexington for other reasons, sigh. Let's not tal about that.) to finally get my hardcover.

This is the location of the signing.  The wonderful Joseph-Beth, the Lexington branch of a group of independent bookstores. It's massive, beautiful and everything I think a bookstore should be.  I spent a good portion of my college years hanging out on benches and chairs in this store and Rachel spent her high school years there. It's a welcoming and recommended spot.

I was very excited to learn that the seeds of Seraphina began in Kentucky (Really we'll take credit for anything here). Back when Rachel was a seventh grader at Southern Junior High she had an assignment to write a narrative poem. For the first and only time in her life Rachel had a narrative poem bubbling inside of her.  It was about a little girl named Sir Amy who was a knight.  There was also a dragon who played the cello (which conveniently rhymes with jello for poem purposes).  It took place in Goredd, the world where Seraphina is set. 

That world stayed with Rachel, who wrote comic books set there in her 20s.  Because drawing dragons is difficult and according to Rachel she wasn't very good at it (I would really like some evidence), she came up with the idea of dragons that could take human form.  "From laziness came a wellspring of ideas."  

Some other fun notes:

  • When the Morris Award committee called her on her cellphone she responded, "Oh good. Now I'll be able to sleep tonight."  In fact she was too excited to sleep that night.
  • Rachel wants to write other books set in the Goredd after the sequel to Seraphina. 
  • I find it reassuring that Rachel started taking herself seriously as a writer when she hit 30. I have 3 years to get serious folks! 
  • A sixth grade teacher wrote "Rachel you are a real writer" on a piece she did. From thenceforth she saw herself as a real writer. 
  • The glossary was added to the book because both Rachel and her editor have an affinity for strange words.
  • "Quire" is not actually a Rachel-ism but how Canterbury Quire was spelled in medieval times.

Look at that long line! Good turn out. 

Me and Rachel.
(Or as the bookstore employee called me
"The lady who is buying 3 books")


Catie said...

Thanks for covering this for the rest of us who couldn't be there! I love hearing about how people come up with amazing ideas...they all seem to come from something more mundane. Maybe if I clean my house today I'll come up with an idea for a brilliant novel. Haha. The new edition of Seraphina is gorgeous! Can't wait for the sequel. Love the pictures.

Katja Weinert said...

Oh that's so interesting! I recently interviewed Rachel and she's just lovely.