I was nervous before my talk on STAINED yesterday at Chapters Scarborough. I’m always nervous before I give a talk! (Part of it is that whole “we’ll-kill-you-if-you-talk” thing my abusers used to tell me, and part of it is that I’m an introvert. I’d rather talk one-to-one with readers.) But being nervous means I practice a lot–and that’s good for my talk.
So it was lovely to see copies of STAINED on display, next to books by Gayle Foreman (If I Stay), John Green (The Fault In Our Stars), and Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (The Iron Trial). STAINED was in such good company!
And it was reassuring to find Christie from the teen section of Chapters Scarborough and bibliophiliacs there, who helped organize everything so beautifully–and who came in when it wasn’t even her shift to help out, hear me talk, and buy two copies of STAINED and get them signed! I was honored. She is smart, kind, knowledgeable, and knows a ton about YA books.
I set out the free book swag I had for readers–some positive-message stickers, positive-message wristbands, and of course bookmarks. I also had a draw for readers for a Chapters giftcard and an audiobook copy of SCARS.
Christie introduced me. She had such nice things to say about me and about STAINED (which is a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year for Ages 14 and Up, 2014).
I talked about why I write the books I write, the need for strong girls, emotionally strong boys, and diverse characters in books. I talked about how I used to write instead of speak (my abusers told me that they’d kill me if I talked, and since I’d seen them murder other children I knew they could do it, so I turned to writing and art to speak), and how that lead to me writing books, mentioned #WeNeedDiverseBooks, the need for everyone to see themselves reflected back in books and popular culture so we don’t feel invisible, other, or like there’s something wrong with us, and how important books that deal with painful issues can be to some readers. Sometimes a book is the only “person” a teen has to turn to, the only way they can know that they’re not alone, not crazy, and that they can get through. That was true for me as a child and teen, and it’s true for many teens today.
After my talk I did a short reading from STAINED to gain readers’ interest. 🙂
I love how the audience always gets so quiet when I talk–they’re really listening!
After the talk and reading comes my favorite part–talking to readers, signing their books, and hugging them. 🙂 It feels so good to hear that I’ve opened up their eyes to an issue like self-harm and the reasons it happens, or the effects of rape and abduction, or the strength of survivors, or just that I’ve moved them.
Talking to my readers–readers who’ve read one or all of my books, and readers who are just discovering them–is rewarding!
And one of my very favorite parts of a talk is hugging readers afterward if they want a hug. Here’s me hugging Laurie, who’s read and loved my books. Laurie’s written some poetry, and she and her daughters love to write and read. I love hearing that!
And here I am hugging reader and activist Casey Anne. This hug and meeting her meant so much to me. Casey Anne has read all my books, talked with me online–and she drove more than 10 hours from the US to Toronto to come meet me and hear me talk! Casey Anne has such a good heart, so meeting her was a delight.
Mary, who drove down with her daughter Casey Anne, and I also had a few good hugs.
And so did reader Kaitlyn and I. Kaitlyn’s a tween, not yet a teen, so I left it up to her mom and grandmother about whether my books would be good for her. Kaitlyn read them, and so did her family, and they all enjoyed them. What a good feeling!
Casey Anne and I spent a good long time talking together after my talk and signing. I wanted to make sure that she had some time with me after driving so far to come meet me! It was a fantastic talk; I enjoyed it so much. Casey Anne is smart, kind, and talented, and she’s got such a good heart. Her visit was a highlight for me. She brought four of my books for me to sign, and I wrote special messages in them for her. I also gave her an audiobook copy of SCARS and a rainbow pencil. I am honored that she drove so far to meet me! I have such fantastic readers.
After my STAINED talk, reader Casey Anne gave me this beautiful journal she painted with a lovely quote and moving inscription inside because I write, and reader Laurie gave me the copper ring on my finger because of the copper jewelry in HUNTED. I was so surprised! I always have things to give readers; I didn’t expect them to give me anything. I have such thoughtful, kind readers!
And after I’d spent good time with Casey Anne (and part way into it, too) I signed the stock of STAINED and HUNTED that Chapters Scarborough had–all with special messages inside. I also enjoyed seeing a teen and her mom grab a copy when I was signing stock.
I heard many lovely things from readers after my talk. Then this morning I met a man on my walk with Petal who told me he was at my talk and how very inspiring it was. That felt so good to hear!
All in all, I think it was a lovely talk and signing. I so appreciate everyone who came by to hear me speak and to get a copy of STAINED or get their own books signed. Thank you all so much for a lovely day!
And thank you so much to Christine Hipper for so many fantastic photos from the event!