(NOTE: You are free to skip ahead to the Alex London segment of this post. Look for the title "Meeting Alex London" and you will find all the juicy details relating to that encounter. I will be recounting EVERY INTERESTING MOMENT of the day in the first part of this blog post.)
August 30, 2014 - I always have a hard time starting these things, so let's just say that my day was SPECTACULAR. Without further ado, here's what I experienced!
When the announcement for this event was revealed, I was kind of disappointed with the sudden change of venue. Glorietta (the previous mall for signings) was convenient and accessible for me and I felt it was the near-perfect venue for book signings (if they held signings at Mall of Asia that will be my perfect venue). So when they announced that the signing was going to be at SM Aura, Taguig I was really hesitant because of the commute. However, I really enjoyed Alex London's novels and I wanted to meet him so I decided to go for it.
|SM Aura at its finest!|
I was glad that the security officer took our names and made a list because I finally had an inkling of what number I was going to get. I was so proud of myself to have this number...
Considering that I was sort of late, my signing number wasn't as horrific as the other signings I attended *cough #VTRinPH cough*. Anyway, I met up with a couple of book signing buddies, Joanna and her brother (whom I met at the Stephanie Perkin's signing). I was also introduced to quite a number of people I interacted from social media. The first one is Arjude of Jude Reads (a fellow book blogger I met on Instagram) and I was so glad he walked up to me and said hi!
I am going to be honest with you guys, I am not great at familiarizing faces and names. My memory isn't sharp, so I always have a hard time putting faces to names. So when Arjude introduced himself to me, he didn't immediately clicked in my head. Thankfully he mentioned something that sparked something in my dead-frozen noggin and I was finally able to recognized him. *hides under a rock in shame*
After chatting up for a little while, we decided to go our separate ways. Once Joanna, her brother, and I established our seats, I decided to roam around Taguig. I've always admired the beauty of this metropolis because it isn't as chaotic and polluted as other places in Manila. My aunt and I ate lunch at this place where it was only a few feet from Powerbooks (a sister bookstore of National Bookstore).
Being a bookaholic and all, I had to go in and take-a-peek. They were having a huge sale, which was really exhilarating, but I wasn't able to buy anything because nothing caught my fancy. I guess the mere fact that my TBR has insanely grown, really did damper my mood to shop (thank goodness). Anyway inside the store, I saw Jerzon (another book signing buddy I met at Stephanie's event) and his friend Pam (the thing with Arjude happened again with this encounter. Oh the shame...) who were roaming around the store and we talked for a while.
Afterwards I went to Fullybooked, another bookstore (yes, I have a problem), which is my favorite place in Taguig.
I really wanted to buy one of the shirts, but the sizes were too small for me (the problems of being fat gets real in situations like these, just saying).
After shopping for a few necessities (which I won't mention because this post has gotten way out of topic). I finally went back to venue.
MEETING ALEX LONDON
The event started on time and we finally got to meet the man of the hour!
Basically here's what he talked about (I recorded some bits of it so I got some direct quotes from the author himself, booyah!)...
Some facts about Alex:
- Alex London actually got married on the 23rd of August, so he was freshly married at that time. You all know that everyone got sappy once the news broke [including hopeless romantic me].
- Some of his favorite books are:
- Adult: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
- Chidlren/Middle Grade: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- YA: Feed by M.T. Anderson
- He has always made stories as a child. He actually started writing when he was just 8 years old with a book by the title of Lawrence & Luther Goes to Summer Camp. He personally illustrated the characters and the scenes in the book and he said that "there is only one copy in the world and I gave it to my Mommy... She thinks its excellent." Then in high school he started to write imitations of his favorite authors and even though they were terrible, it taught him something about the writing craft. That's the reason why he became a journalist. "Learning how to write real voices, taught me how to write made up voices."
- One of his inspiration as a writer was his older sister who forced him to read when they were kids. She used to read him books and did all of the voices of the characters as she read them to him. That was one of his exposures to storytelling.
- He has 15 books already [which was just WOW]. The first two books were adult non-fiction books about children in war and journalism, but eventually he got tired of writing for adults. Then he started writing for 8 to 12 year old kids that resulted in the Accidental Adventures Series with titles like We Are Not Eaten by Yaks, We Dine with Cannibals and We Give a Squid a Wedgie. As he wrote these silly and fun children books, he wanted to write something "more dark and more intense and more action-packed." Thus Proxy was born, which was his 10th book.
- As an author, he went by different names. His adult books were written under his real name Charles London. When he published his first children's book he had to change it to C. Alexander London (which was inspired by J.K. Rowling). "I don't want a ten year old to Google Charles London and find this depressing and heavy and frightening book." However, when he wrote Proxy, his publishers wanted to differentiate his brand so they shortened it to Alex London which was his "action-packed sexy name." He admits that he embodies all of those names and the corresponding genres he wrote for.
- One of the reasons why he wanted to become a novelist was because of a kid he met from a refugee camp in the Congo who loves to read. I wouldn't go much into the details (check the video attached here for the full story), basically this kid created the biggest book club/orphan support group in the refugee camp, all because of a copy of The Little Prince Alex London gave to him.
- He is going to be the next writer of the 39 Clues under the series Double Crossed. He still has no clue what the book was about and what the title was. He even joked about starting it right at the event. "Maybe we could come up with the first word together."
- His 15th novel is a darker children's book involving "a raccoon who comes to the big city and he gets caught up with this gang of criminals, who are rats and turtles and stray dogs and cats. And then there's a war coming with the house pets (the cats and dogs who live in the houses) and this group of criminals have to fight with this group of house pets and the raccoon has to - kind of - save the day."
- The character Marie actually had a different name in his first draft. He eventually named her after Marie Lu, author of the Legend trilogy, who had a tremendous influence on Proxy. He apologized to her because the character "does some terrible stuff, this is your namesake, and Marie was like 'I like it. She kicks ass.'"
- He wanted to differentiate Syd from the typical heroes of dystopian novels. He intentionally made his skin color vague because he wanted Syd to represent every diverse type of readers. "I know a lot of kids and they're not all white, and they never get to see themselves as heroes in these kinds of books. I wanted every teen to be able to imagine themselves as a hero in this."
- In terms of Syd being gay, Alex didn't plan on it and "he kind of came out of the closet to me and I was like 'Oh! Okay Syd I accept you.'" He didn't want the book to focus on this matter. His publishers were on board with Syd's sexuality from the get-go.
- Alex didn't want Proxy to be a safe book that is why he constantly placed his characters in dangerous situations (more on this in the video provided below).
- The Valve was based on actual locations he visited during his time as a journalist.
- The Purifiers were based on child soldiers in Cambodia. He wanted to explored the child soldiers he knew through the character of Liam. He wanted to show "the guilt they had and the beauty they were nursing inside but were too afraid to let out."
- Alex told us that he isn't planning on writing a third book, but he is not done with the world and characters of Proxy.
- In regards to a Proxy movie he just told us to "keep your fingers crossed for the next two weeks." In terms of his dream cast he has been looking up the internet for potential candidates, but the problem he doesn't know many teenage actors. However when he wrote the character of Knox he pictured him as Colton Haynes.
- Alex London shared two of his writing philosophies which were:
- "If I am surprised the readers will be surprised." He tries to place characters in difficult situations where it becomes too complicated, even for him. "If I can't even figure out how to get out, it'll be really hard for them (the characters)."
- "When in doubt blow something up." If he isn't sure what to do next, he will make some action happen. However, he also said that breaking the action up and finding the pauses or calm scenes makes the book even more interesting.
- He also shared some writing tips (this portion is taken from Arjude of Jude Reads with permission. Click the link to see his post about the event):
- “Read. A lot. Read everything because that’s fuel for your imagination.”
- “Write a lot. Write every day and it doesn’t have to be good. You are allowed to suck at this because you are just starting out.”
- “Practice. The more you do it the better it gets.”
- "The most important piece of advice: Write your book. Don’t write a book for someone else. Don’t write a book for fame or fortune. Don’t write a book to chase a trend. Write the book that you mean to write and in an honest way that you can write it. There is no book that is too silly or too weird or too action-packed or too boring or too sad or too happy or too funny or too strange. There will always be a reader if you have written your honest book. There will always be a reader who can take that book up and say “Whoa. You too? I thought I was the only one.” And that is the power of books. But it only works when the writer is honest. And you might get a lot of rejection from that but just write the book that you mean to write. You can only improve your craft, but you can’t improve your honesty. Find that author’s voice and say it out as loud as you can for as long as it lives."
Alex London was just funny, entertaining and charismatic (all of the girls who were swooning at the event will totally vouch for that). If ever I achieve my dream of becoming a novelist, I wish to have the same level of wit and charisma he had during this interview.
|I think this is where I told him about watching the Guess the Adaptation Challenge he did on Tiernan of The Booktuber's channel.|
I also gave him one of my signature bookmarks!
I admit that this one is not good at all. I made it the night before the event so... Yeah... Oh well, at least I got to give him a token of my appreciation...
...and I am glad he liked it! Well, I am just assuming he liked it.
|Look at that stick figure! I am so happy he did that!|
This event wouldn't have been possible without the fantastic efforts of National Bookstore in bringing incredibly talented authors in the Philippines! Seriously you guys are AWESOME!
I would also like to express my deepest gratitude towards ALEX LONDON for bringing to life such a deep, dark, and moving adventure novel! The stories you told us during this event were inspiring and extremely entertaining! You are one of the coolest authors I have ever met in my lifetime!
Did you go to Alex London's event? How was your experience? Please share your thoughts regarding the event, Alex London and/or his books down below!