Books, authors, and quality time
June 30, 2014
by Jenni Sebora

“Give me summer; give me books,” is the summer slogan at the Red Balloon Bookshop on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. This is a wonderful, small, quaint bookstore that has something for everyone, including author events.

This last Sunday evening, my teenage son and I headed to the “Fierce Reads Tour,” at the charming Red Balloon.

The event featured Leigh Bardugo, author of “Shadow & Bone,” the third and final book in her trilogy, which my son claims is the best series he has read.

Other authors to “make the stage” were Emmy Laybourne (author of “Monument 14”), Ava Dellaira (“Love Letters to the Dead”), and Jennifer Mathieu (“The Truth About Alice”).

Bardugo was born and grew up in Jerusalem, and is now living in California. A former make-up artist, she is now a full-time writer.

I believe, two of the other authors were also from California.

Mathieu, however, is a high school English and literature teacher in Texas. While listening to her, I thought how lucky her students are to learn from her. I would love to take a literature class from her.

Actually, I was mesmerized by all of the authors. Their creativity, communication skills, vocabulary, and exuberance are to be respected. I could understand why writing was in their repertoire of skills.

The panel was led by a junior from Washburn High School, and Red Balloon Bookshop staff. The formulated questions were asked by the high school student to the author panel, and the formidable authors answered with grace, style, excitement, humor, and down-to-earth genuine style.

Questioning was then open to the small, but focused audience. My son asked a question about their writing process and what was the most difficult part of writing each of their books.

Laybourne answered humorously, yet truthfully, “The month of February.”

Laybourne writes one book a year and February is the target finish date for each book. That can be difficult, wrapping everything up and meeting that deadline.

Writing the last book in her trilogy was Bardugo’s most difficult time. She had to wrap up her series, which meant finality to her plot and characters.

Each author shared that connections are formed with the characters in their story lines. This probably plays a factor in the success of their writings.

Speaking of success, Dellaira shared with us that she has recently been contacted by a movie company to turn her book into a movie. This is her current project.

Of course, my son and I could not leave without purchasing some summer reads. Actually, my son bought the last book in Laybourne’s trilogy, which he immediately dug into as we drove home.

The highlight, of course, was the author signing books. My son brought the other two books along from the trilogy, along with the new book he bought, to have each autographed by Bardugo. And autograph she did.

“Improbable, but not impossible,” she wrote in one book.

She did ask him if he wanted to be a writer, since his question was about the writing process. They discussed their interests in writing venues.

My son made Bardugo’s day when he shared with her that her trilogy was his favorite book series.

She smiled and said, “Thank you. You just made my day.”

The time spent with my son on this nice little venture of books and authors absolutely made my day.

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