The Fierce Reads tour stop came here to the Philadelphia area and did a great event at Towne Book Center with Marie Rutkoski, Ann Aguirre and Caragh O’Brien. These 3 ladies were HILARIOUS together and I had the privilege of being able to sit down and chat with them before the event started and it was so lovely and inspiring! I recorded the interview so I could better transcribe it later at home and, I have to say, I was laughing out loud A LOT while playing back the whole conversation.

The event itself was entertaining and lively and it was recorded if you want to check it out! They talked about favorite childhood books, if they were plotters or pantsers, how they balance romance & story, which Harry Potter House they would be sorted into, if they could see their books as tv shows or movies (Ann said movie and she’s actually turned down 2 options because they weren’t right; Caragh & Marie think tv show for theirs). It was a lot of fun and very good conversation. I’d definitely recommend watching the recording!


Fierce reads tourAnn, myself, Marie and Caragh


1. I ask this to every author I interview — describe your book in 6 words or less!

Marie: I’m going to use Ann’s description of my book: Young girl buys hot boy.
Ann: Marie’s answer for Ann’s since she did hers — Suicidal girl makes bad bargain.
Caragh: Dreams and danger collide.


2. How do you plan for your series? Do you know the end game when you start?

Marie: I didn’t intend for The Winner’s Curse to be a part of a series. I was about 1/3 through and I realized the ending I was trying to write toward I couldn’t visualize in the way that I usually visualize my endings. I usually see them from fairly far away and in fairly good detail. So I was having problems progressing — I was actually blocked. I asked myself some careful questions — Am I going towards the wrong ending? What would the right ending look like? What would the ending that is true to my book and true to my characters be? Once I realized that, I wrote the ending that now exists in the book and I realized what THAT ending would be that, “I’m good if I stop there. It feels to me like a story but I thought probably my readers would want a little bit more than that.” So I wondered whether I would want to continue that story and I did. I wanted to continue the story of Kestral and Arin so I plotted out how it would be in the next two books. I couldn’t have done it in only two; it had to be done in 3. Once I was 2/3 through Winner’s Curse I plotted out loose details of the following 2 books.

Caragh: I knew from the beginning it was a 3 book arc and I had a general idea of what was going to be happening in all 3 books. Once I finished the first book and started writing the second book I realized that my plan for the 2nd book does not work at all so I threw that out the window and now that I’m writing book 2 I had to start back at the beginning. Fortunately I left myself enough room from the first book and the world is big enough that I have some unsolved threads to play with. But now that I’m coming up with a totally new plan for book 2, my plan for book 3 has to be different.

Ann: YES. I do know my end game when I started.

3. Let’s say you were writing a spinoff series. Which minor/non-main character would it be about?

Marie: I would write about a character named Roshar that you will meet in book 2 but I’m not going to say why because you haven’t met him yet!

Caragh: I would write about Otis! I love Otis! (Ann interjects: but he’s an adult!) I know but he still really intrigues me! He’s got this interesting family and he’s an interesting person and I wonder why he’s there. (Marie wants her to write about Burnam!)

Ann: I would write about the Harbinger from book 2. He’s mentioned in book 1 but you don’t actually know that you’ve met him! But in fact you HAVE met him, you just didn’t know it was the Harbinger. I planted one fairly significant clue toward the end of the book. I’ll be curious if any readers actually figure it out. The reason I want to write about the Harbinger is because he is essentially Loki. So, if you like Loki from the Avengers it may be relevant to your interests.


Jaime-350x262Photo credit: Caragh O’Brien

4. What’s one or two skills or things that you possess that would help you to survive in your character’s world or predicament?

Caragh: I would have a camera. A filming camera.

Ann: I would say money and common sense.

Marie: Once I took a fencing class and I thought I would discover I was naturally gifted and I would be able to fight so gracefully. I was terrible awkward and really bad at it. So I like Kestral I would not be able to survive this world with any physical skills so I guess I would have to fall back on strategical skills. I think that maybe like Arin I can bide my time in order to execute my plans. Although Arin is sometimes not good at keeping his mouth shut while he is biding his time. Maybe I AM like Arin because I can’t keep my mouth shut.

5. What’s the coolest/most interesting/funniest/most memorable thing that’s happened on this tour?

Caragh (and this was also Ann’s answer but Caragh stole it first): They are SECRETS. We can’t tell the stories. But there was this taxi driver. He was telling us supernatural stories about celebrities and houses in the area. And he had so many details. He would NOT stop.  We’d try to say, “okay that’s really cool” and turn the conversation to something else unrelated  but before we could talk about it he’d be like, “well let’s talk about the munchkins some more.”  Then he added in these spooky weird stories. He was all, ” did you know Regis Philbin had a haunting? And that Christopher McDonald had an out of body experience?” And I think if we wouldn’t have been so tired it would had been fine.

Marie: A reader (@born_bookish) made a Winner’s Curse game — a Bite & Sting game from the book. It was really beautifully done and thoughtfully presented. She even made a box that had quotes on the outside from when they were playing and bits of dialogue that had while playing. It was really special. (Ann interjects — it was REALLY cool…very polished). Another special moment was the Downer’s Grove stop because that’s near where I grew up and lots of friends from high school came. And I got to spend time with my dad.

Bite & Sting gamePhoto credit: @fiercereads

6. In the spirit of Mortal Danger, if you were given 3 wishes what would you wish for (no strings attached!)

Marie: That all of my family members have a long and happy life. That sounds cheesy but it’s true. More hours in the day for ME (nobody else)…even 4 to 6 hours just for me. I want a painting — one of my favorite paintings and would be millions and millions of dollars. I’d have to choose one and that would be hard but I could do it.

Ann: I want to learn to teleport.  Then time travel. For my 3rd wish I want a Tardis.

Caragh: Peace on earth, wish that I could fly and wish that they would stop standardized testings in high school.  (Marie interjects and says “mine were so selfish. Ann says peace on earth is actually a really bad idea. Didn’t you see the Simpsons episode..they wish for it and then the aliens come and subjugate us. Marie — but if there were peace on earth the aliens shouldn’t be able to come.)


Check out the other Fierce Reads bloggers for more recaps, interviews and giveaways!

Downers Grove, IL: YA Bibliophile | @HMZ1505

Exeter, NH: Love is Not a Triangle | @LaurayJames

Cambridge, MA: Ticket to Anywhere | @Irisheyz77

New York, NY: Queen Ella Bee Reads | @GabySalpeter

Charleston, SC: Reading Underground | @andriaamaral




One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Winner’s Curse, The Vault of Dreamers & Mortal Danger!

Rules & Other Things:
* US only.
* You must be 13 years or older to enter (for legal-y) reasons. Have a parent or guardian or sister or brother do it for you if not!
* Prize will be fulfilled by Macmillan.
* Giveaway ends October 4th 11:59 EST

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This leg of the tour is over but leg 2 is starting up soon with all new authors and more shenanigans! Selfishly I wish another tour stop was coming to meeee!

Fierce reads tour stops

Storycrush Recap + Giveaway

Out of all the tours out there, the Storycrush tour is a tour after my own heart — all about contemporary YA. I love me other genres of course but you know this is my one true love. So when I heard that Storycrush was coming to the Philly burbs I wrangled book club and we made a date of it. And I mean…the author lineup was fantastic with a mix of newer debut authors and established authors.

Who was there you may ask? Lauren Oliver, Courtney C. Stevens, Melissa Kantor, Katie Cotugno and Robyn Schneider.


If you don’t know who they are/what their books are about, I got the chance to hang out with them for a while (wasn’t able to get there in time to do an interview with them!) and asked them to give you a synopsis of their book in 6 words or less.


Storycrush Books in 6 Words Or Less (Aren’t They All Adorable?)

The event:

The event took place at a Barnes and Noble that I’ve been to quite a lot because I used to live in that area during college and they host some great events there. When book club and I arrived it was already busy busy busy! I had the honor of being the official Storycrush live blogger — basically I live tweet the event until my fingers fall off. Very frantically because they have so much good stuff to say. I got to meet them before the event and I seriously loved every single one of them — so sweet and charming and fun! I knew it was going to be an energetic panel.

And an energetic panel it was — lots of laughs, really genuine conversations about their writing process and certain aspects of their books, great advice and wonderful questions from the audience. It was the kind of panel where I was DYING to get to the books I hadn’t read yet based on their answers and the non-spoilery discussion of their books and it gave new life and dimensions to the books I had read already. It was so apparent even from just talking to book club that we were all excited about various books now because of the panel. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, tour! It was one of my favorite panels of authors ever!

photo 2Book club with Lauren Oliver

Most LOL-worthy Moment

Either when Alison (publicist & moderator) called Ezra an “old grumpy man” when asking Robyn Schneider a question and Robyn said, “ummm well he’s kind of autobiographical.” (Seriously we were all dying). Or when an audience member started having a coughing/choking fit and got up (she took it all in stride!) and Lauren Oliver had just started speaking and she’s like, “Did I scare you off already??”

Best Writing Advice Given:

They all had a lot of great things to say — know there are ups and downs, don’t try to write how everyone else does/how you think you should, don’t take rejection letters as an “I hate this” but know it could mean many more things, etc. But my favorite piece of advice was from Courtney C. Stevens when she said, “Wear a cone of shame (you know those things dogs wear) — don’t look to the left or to the right trying to see what everyone else has.” I think that’s a good life lesson to in comparison and trying to make your own path. Your path is your own and isn’t the same as others.

Most Interesting Fact I Learned:

I totally didn’t know that Lauren Oliver started out for many years, before she wrote Before I Fall, writing a lot of adult books that she described as books talking about nothing for a zillion pages and pretty boring. The panel members all joked, “Pretty much what adult fiction IS!” Got a good laugh out of that!

Also, Courtney C. Stevens accent is adorable.

Most Exciting Moment:

Well besides meeting them I would say getting a postcard for Lauren Oliver’s new book (an adult fiction book!):

photo 1gffds

Question I Loved The Most:
What Was Your Favorite Scene to Write?

Lauren Oliver (Panic): A tiger scene!

Robyn Schneider (The Beginning Of Everything): A silent disco flashmob scene. (Also, a sex scene with an interrupting poodle? hahah)

Katie Cotugno (How To Love): A kissing scene that happens because it was a very high, wonderful moment for the character and then it is followed by a low low. (OMG I started How To Love after the tour and THAT SCENE. Devastating.)

Melissa Kantor (Maybe One Day): A scene where Zoe and Olivia talk about what happens when you die. (That scene!!)

Courtney C. Stevens (Faking Normal): A tent scene where Alexi really lets go and opens up.

Something I Learned About Each Book/Author That Made Me Want To Read It/Gave New Depth To What I Read:

1. Panic: I loved learning about Panic and I was interested to hear that Lauren Oliver thought as a high schooler she would have totally have played the game of Panic because was reckless and didn’t care about life back then. It sounds exciting and crazy and I can’t wait to read it!

2. Faking Normal: I think Courtney C. Stevens is one of the most wonderful and inspiring human beings ever. A lot of what she talked about added more to my reading experience but her and I had an interesting chat about how so often discussions of faith and God happen in YA in a way that isn’t preaching. I really appreciated that about her book because as a YA I felt like I was constantly questioning life and if God existed and why God lets bad things happen, etc. It was a wonderful side convo with her and I really enjoyed getting to know her!

3. Maybe One Day: I loved hearing how Melissa came to all of her ballet details in the book. Melissa had a friend’s daughter who had been in that competitive world and had the same kind of thing happen to her with getting cut from the program and so she talked to her a lot and drew upon her research! Love well researched details like that!

4. The Beginning Of Everything: It was so nice to see Robyn again. She is so delightful. I totally didn’t even KNOW that there was a huge Gatsby thread in her book and I’m so intrigued now. She was talking about how in high school people said they hated reading but suddenly everyone’s favorite book was the Great Gatsby on Facebook. She also said it’s a book that she thinks gets so misread in ways but a lot of people connect with and she wanted to explore that. I am intrigued about Ezra and his connection to Great Gatsby.

5. How To Love: I had to read this book immediately after this tour and finished it in a day and a half. I loved that Katie was inspired by the fact that she went to Catholic school growing up and every year there would always be a couple girls who would just disappear from school and then be back like 9 months later. She wanted to explore their story because she was always so curious.


Thanks to HarperTeen 1 very lucky winner will get a copy of the following:

– Panic by Lauren Oliver
– How To Love by Katie Cotugno
– Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stephens
– Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor
– The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider


– US Only.
– You must be 13 years or older to enter. Please have a parent or someone older do it for you if you are not.
– Giveaway winner will be contacted via email. You have 72 hours to respond or a new winner will be picked.

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