october 26, 2016

Hi all! Today’s post is gonna be a little different. Last night I went to see Nova Ren Suma and Courtney Summers because I adore their words, but I also was using the event for one of my response papers for a class I’m taking this semester called Feminism and American Poetry. Like the nerd I am, I’m ridiculously proud of what I wrote, so I thought I’d share for anyone that missed the event and wishes they could have attended.

feminist-rant


 

Suma and Summers Talk Their “Beautiful and Brutal” Novels at McNally Jackson

New York Times Bestseller author Nova Ren Suma and ALA Award Winning author Courtney Summers were at the independent bookstore McNally Jackson last night, October 25, 2016, to promote the paperback releases of their latest novels, “The Walls Around Us” and “All the Rage,” respectively.

Events at McNally begin the same way. You step into the store, the roar of the city behind you instantly fading, sneak a peek at the crowded café and long for a warm cup of tea, marvel at the tables of books and resist the urge to touch each of them, and then you make your way downstairs. You meet strangers, readers, and bloggers, and editors all mingling. Eventually, the booksellers will appear to transform half of the lower floor into an event space. It’s a magic trick. Bookshelves disappear, hundreds of books vanishing with them.

Listening to Suma and Summers is no less magical. One would think these two talented women have known each other for years, as just a glance at Summers’ second book “This is Not a Test” yields a powerful blurb from Suma calling the at-the-time fledgling author a “ferocious talent.” However, there is a twist in the story. Suma and Summers had only just—finally—met in person the day before the event. Their relationship began online. They connected through Suma’s blog, on a post she had written about rejection. Summers could relate. She left a comment, and their friendship followed from there. Suma read pieces of the original post, laughing and grimacing at the purple prose and overdramatic “the rainbows have turned grey” sentiment of what rejection makes one feel.

They have been online friends and critique partners for ten years, a support system for each other. When asked what the best piece of advice one has given the other, Summers said simply that when Suma tells her she “can do it,” she can keep going, Summers believes her. I’ve seen female authors do events together before, but it is always different when the authors have worked together, and battled the hardest parts of writing—the doubt, the anxiety, the frustration—together. There is a special bond there. When recounting their meeting at the hotel the other night, Summers and Suma were both laughing, describing Summers’ elevator opening as Suma walked into the lobby, like a romance from a movie.

The women also talked about writing “beautiful and brutal” books about teen girls. Summers, while wearing a shirt that said Unlikeable Female Character, spoke about the large number of female characters in literature that have been written by men. They are portrayed as “objects,” as “mystical” perfect girls. Summers’ said she feels women read this work and have a disconnect to it, can’t recognize themselves in it. The crowd laughed in agreement, as if all remembering a moment they read a woman in literature written by a man who was more a goddess than a human. Summers ended with the notion female characters are different when women write women. Suma agreed, talking about teen girl culture, which she said is beautiful and brutal, to recall the earlier words of the moderator, and that “the teenage girl is so feared, powerful, and misunderstood.”

Suma also raised an interesting point when asked what her favorite scenes to write were. She said, without pause, she liked the violent scenes. “The Walls Around Us” certainly is a violent book, set in a juvenile delinquent center for teenage girls, with ghosts and murderous ballerinas. She self-deprecatingly said she does not know what that enjoyment of violent scenes means about her. But I think it raises the point Summers made earlier about men co-opting women’s stories and female characters. In the same way, men have controlled the rhetoric around violence in literature, and many times, women are victims of usually sexual violence. Men tend to be heroes, punching people in the face, handling a gun deftly, and skilled with knives while they save the girl. Or, they are the perpetrators and get to unleash every urge and desire they have. Women, when they do have the luxury of being a hero, tend to be sexualized, or she is the single one in a group of men. So there is something revolutionary of women writing violence, of taking control of the narrative around blood and letting teenage girls be more than victims, but terrifying.

While “The Walls Around Us” is an exploration of girls and violence, Summers’ “All the Rage” is about rape culture, sexual violence, and trauma. Summers was not able to talk much about rape culture, but she did say briefly that it was hard to write a book about these topics and look around at the world around her and see it mirrored so closely.

Feminist poet Anne Sexton also got a shout-out by Suma, when asked what books she loved as a teen. Suma said she loved “The Handmaid’s Tale,” as well, and those two writers tell you all you need to know about what Suma was like as a teen.

To close the evening, Summers said about writing, “It almost feels like magic.” It does, just like a crowd of strangers gathered in the basement of an indie bookstore over words on a page, or two women meeting each other after ten years of kinship online, or the notion that girls can be beautiful and brutal.

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october 12, 2016

Hi people!

What I’m Reading
So I stayed up all night reading THE MIDNIGHT STAR by Marie Lu and SOBBED SOBBED SOBBED. Ahhhhhh soooooo gooooooddd what are feelings???

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I was lucky enough to attend her launch event last night. It was so much fun, especially since she talked about how different the series was when she started writing it. Also she seemed so calm and composed, and I aspire to have that level of cool.

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I’m also reading THE MOON AND MORE by Sarah Dessen. I’m loving it, especially the focus on family and going off to college. I’m also kinda hoping for some sort of reconciliation with Luke… I liked him… Theo is blah. I also love all the Dessen Easter eggs. (I lowkey squealed with Wes and Bert were mentioned!)

“As long as you were moving, you were always going somewhere.”

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I’m going to be starting the Throne of Glass series soon. I have all the books from the library, and I’m going to dive into it once I get through the other library books I already have. Ha, so it’s my motivation to clear my pile.

What I’m Doing
LOTS OF STUFF.

So the coolest thing to happen last month was Leigh Bardugo’s launch party for CROOKED KINGDOM. I remember when the event was announced. I was showing my mother the wonders of the Jane Eyre mini-series when news broke and shortly after it was revealed we’d have to buy tickets. Tickets were supposed to go up that day, but no one would say when, other than vague hints like “soon.”

I was in ultimate fangirl mode, definitely not wanting to miss out. It was mid-afternoon at this point, and I couldn’t focus on the mini-series anymore, constantly checking Strand’s website if tickets had gone up. At one point, we crashed the Strand site.

laid back parks and rec

I waited alllllll day. Night struck, business hours closed. I began to lose hope.

And then, without a warning, a hint, a sound, a whisper, tickets went up. It was like ten or eleven at night, but the buy link was live. All my refreshing had paid off. I secured a ticket! And thus a countdown to September 26 began.

And now I can tell you it was one of the best book events I’ve ever been to!

Also this book destroyed me. The end.

Then, I was just at Comic Con!

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That was an insane four days of nonstop action and excitement. I spent most of my time on the show floor ogling plushies and shouting out cosplays as soon as I saw them. “Gaston! *GASP* It’s Rose and 10!! Aang! omg that is the coolest Jafar! So many Ariels! Ms. Marvel, I love her. REY!” Yeah, I was fun.

Here’s a mini cosplay collage:

I only went to one big panel, and that was to see the cast of Shadowhunters. They were adorable cupcakes. Dom kept jumping off the stage like Jace whenever fans would ask for a selfie or had something to give him. Kat and Emeraude were so supportive and excited to talk about the relationship between Clary and Isabelle, a light of positivity and girl power. Harry reenacted how he does Magnus’ magic, and it was actually pretty cool. It was a fun panel to be at, for sure! The dynamic between the cast is adorable.

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Also… I found BB8 and it was the best moment of my life.

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Oh, speaking of BB8!!! I can’t believe I forgot to include this in my collage!

I’ll leave you with this final image from Comic Con…

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I AM GROOT! ❤ 

What I’m Thinking About
THE ELECTION. Oh my gosh, guys get out there and vote. #ImWithHer

Also, if I’ll get all the things I need to get done, done + get through my TBR pile. #stressed

What I’m Writing
This thing I’ve been thinking about and loving. Not actually really writing, yet. Still plotting and outlining and I can’t talk about it yet! But *happy squeal*

What I’m Listening To
Ha, well I’m back on a Hamilton stint. Brittany and I did a sing along on our way to Comic Con on Sunday, and I’m back. I mean, I’ve been listening to it nonstop (;)) since the album came out, but with the new Bastille album and some other things, I kinda stopped listening to it as much in the last few weeks. Never fear, I’m back.

That’s all from me for now. Be kind to each other,
Mic ❤