The following post is written by author Judith Graves.
I love doing author visits to schools and public libraries. They are the highlight of my writing life. Usually, my writing days consist of hours sitting at my desk, typing on my laptop or reading through research materials. I may or may not still be in my flannel PJs. I might consume a few pots of coffee. And certainly I’d make time to hang out with my three crazy dogs. These are hard-working days. They’re fun at times and frustrating at others—especially if my characters aren’t cooperating, but they can flow from one day to the next.
Author visit days, however, are always standouts.
I’m revved from the moment I wake. I’ve polished my presentation and added a few new movie or TV clips that I can’t wait to share. I’m geared up in my favorite superhero or Walking Dead t-shirt and am ready to rumble. Once at my destination, I’m in full nerd glory, making sure the many clips, music files, and sample writing documents display properly on the big screen, and that the room is as dark and moody as possible. And I make sure the speaker volume is set to LOUD.
I have three simple goals for an author visit: educate, excite, and entertain. I want to share key writing tips and support the efforts of educators, but I also want to get kids hooked on reading and spark their interest in writing. Now is such a fantastic time to be a creative soul—there are infinite possibilities. You can write short fiction, novels, graphic novels, scripts for film/TV/webisodes, write fan fiction, have a YouTube channel…You don’t need to live in a big city—I don’t. Creativity doesn’t require a fancy address.
That I get to talk to people of all ages about writing and the worlds a writer can build, one word at a time—well, it’s pure icing on top of the publishing cake. And like a sugar rush, it’s addictive. The energy from the crowd, their laughter, and the stories they share when I ask them things like: what’s your greatest fear or if you could have one superpower, what would it be? When we brainstorm ideas and create characters from thin air and then find ways to torment them and make them face their fears. When I can have students analyze a commercial and point out the key elements of storytelling—right there in a quick 60 second clip…that’s heady stuff. They’re starting to get it. That story is all around us.
I’m excited about an upcoming tour to Ontario and can’t wait to meet young readers. I’ll be sharing a bit about my novel Exposed, which is part of the Retribution Series co-written with Natasha Deen and Sigmund Brouwer. Exposed features Raven, a street smart girl with parkour skills who teams up with other teens to take down the boss of a car-theft ring. This project was a blast to write and I’m honored Exposed is a 2017 Golden Oak Award Nominee. Plus, there are more Retribution titles coming down the pipe!
After this tour I know I’ll come home, recharged and ready to dive back into my own writing. Because, while I always hope I’ve inspired young writers—the real benefit to author visits? The young writers have inspired me.