book event · discussion

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas Signing

**This post is spoiler free on ACOTAR and TOG series**

On one uneventful day I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a tweet from the wonderful Sarah J Maas. Three words in this tweet made my heart jump into my mouth: UK book tour. I quickly grabbed my phone and sent a text to my writer friend Jenny telling her that the possibility of us not going simply wasn’t a option. We booked tickets and the antagonising wait began.

I have to hang my head in shame here because despite getting A Court of Thorns and Roses the day of release, I hadn’t made it past page fifty (life just gets in the way sometimes). So the hour long car journey to Birmingham became half catching up with Jenny as I hadn’t seen her in a while, half reading the book. We arrived to Birmingham with no issues and went on a little adventure to bow down to the Waterstones store that was the venue for the signing. I got so excited by the “queue here for Sarah J Maas event” sign that I fell off the pavement and hurt my ankle. With an hour to go before it started, people were already queuing.

Jenny and I left enough time to eat so we went to my favourite eating place Wagamamas which again was a chance for us to catch up but quickly spiraled into trying to multi-task using chopsticks while reading the book (“Just one more chapter, I promise!” was uttered several times). I ate my Yasi Chan Han so fast due to the mixture of nerves and excitement I was feeling that soon after we paid the bill and made our way back to waterstones where the queue was now stretching around the side of the building. We joined the back and began reading again.

This was my third time at a book signing and honestly if you’re an avid book reader, nothing can compare to the feeling of being surrounded by people, all clutching copies of the book, who love it just as much as you do. Not only that but getting to meet the person behind the words, who strung those beautiful sentences together and created these characters that make you wish it were possible to jump into the book and hug them, is a feeling that there just simply aren’t enough words to do justice. Also, it provides a platform for you to talk to strangers about the book when talking to someone you don’t know might be unfathomable to you in any other situation.

When everyone took their seats the atmosphere was so intense as we stared at the stage where Sarah J Maas would soon make her appearance. When she did, she was greeted by applause and screams. The very timid looking Sarah said a quick hello and then took her seat for the interview part of the signing. I just want to point out that this was Sarah’s THIRD signing of the day and she still looked utterly flawless!

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For those who don’t know, ACOTAR is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a faerie lore twist. The interviewer asked Sarah what other fairy tales she would like to retell to which Sarah responded with The Little Mermaid but wasn’t down for ocean world building or figuring out how mermaid reproduction works (Sarah loves her sexy scenes).

Questions were asked over how Sarah came up with the character Celaena in Throne of Glass. She launched into a story about how in seventh grade (year 8 to us English people) she felt that you could either be a girly girl or a nerdy tomboy, but you couldn’t be both. She chose girly girl because she thought it was the cooler option and she stopped reading, pretended she was an airhead, and that she hated things like Indiana Jones until one day when she went “hang on, why can’t I paint my nails while watching Indiana Jones?” She liked the idea of creating a character who was badass but also had that “stereotypical” girly side. The idea for Celaena came from when Sarah was watching Disney’s Cinderella and laughing at the Duke’s over-the-top reaction to Cinderella leaving the ball. She thought about what would make the Duke’s reaction valid and joked that maybe Cinderella was an assassin and had left the ball because she’d just tried to kill the prince.

When the topic turned to her writing process she started off by saying “I write the boring shit to get to the sexy stuff” which resulted in several minutes of laughter from both Sarah and the audience. She said that she always has to write linear (beginning – middle – end) and that she has a playlist for each character and listens to that when she needs to get into their heads for a scene. She revealed that she has a mirror behind her computer so that she can act out her scenes using a batman voice, which led her on to say that she could never write in coffee shops or any other public place because she’d probably get thrown in jail.

Her advice to aspiring writers was “write as often as you can but remember that it’s important to go out and live your life. You can’t spend it shut away in a room, you need to get out there and talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Also, there are going to be people out there who tell you that writing isn’t realistic and you can’t make a career from it. Fuck them. Don’t listen to them.”

She then told a really touching story about how her parents were very against her writing and frequently told  her it was more of a hobby and she’d never make a living from it, yet when she rung her mother to tell her that Throne of Glass had made it onto the NY Times bestseller list, her mother said “I regret ever saying those things to you.” I found this so relatable because as a writer myself, I’ve had pretty much all of my family say these things to me, and despite finishing a degree in Creative Writing and English, working on a novel and trying to get a job in publishing, they still think writing is a silly pipe dream for me. So having an author like Sarah who is my total inspiration for writing YA Fantasy and seeing how far she’s come and that some people had traveled over three hours to see her, filled me with hope. And I actually had a little cry after meeting her because I got to tell her how much she inspires me.

I urge everyone who hasn’t yet, to read all of her books because they are just so rich and beautifully written that seriously, you’re missing out if you don’t. And if Sarah ever does an event near you, go to it. Meet other fans of the books, make friends, see how funny, charismatic and almost other-worldly Sarah is. You won’t regret it.

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Check out Sarah J Maas on Twitter

Check out Throne of Glass on Goodreads

Check out A Court of Thorns and Roses on Goodreads

Check out Jenny on Twitter

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