As a prelude to her World Domination Tour with Shannon Hale on the west coast, Libba Bray dropped by our little children’s section at Bookpeople here in Austin. She did a lovely presentation, read from her book, and did one of the longest signings I’ve ever seen. Yes, part of this was because she drew a huge crowd, but some of it was due to the fact that Libba was willing to chat with every fan who came up with a book. She has to be one of the most personable and friendly authors I’ve seen. As a terminally shy person myself, I always admire anyone who can put more than a sentence together when talking to a perfect stranger.

But as great as Libba’s large event was, my favorite part of the evening happened earlier during our “Coffee & Tea with Libba.” We held a drawing for four lucky people to come chat with Libba before the event. Here’s Libba with the winners making the universal “W” sign for winner. Libba is in the center.

This more intimate event was a fascinating question and answer session moderated by our kid’s buyer. Since one of the winners also happened to be a writer, there were lots of writing questions asked. What I found most inspiring was Libba’s frank discussion about the art of revising. Like many writers, Libba has a more organic, unoutlined method of writing. She finds that she writes best this way but does have to revise more. Her first draft of her latest novel, The Sweet Far Thing, was 540 pages. She received back from her editor a full 12 single-spaced pages of notes and comments. She then went back in 2 months and rewrote 400 of the 540 existing pages. I find this story both daunting and inspiring at once. In 2 months she rewrote 400 pages? She said she pulled 2 all-nighters and several 18 hour days, but still . . . That’s impressive. I think if faced by a prospect like that, I might just cry. But it’s inspiring to think that this nationally best-selling author still has to do copious rewrites just like the rest of us. She doesn’t automatically generate beautiful prose. Ah, there’s still hope for the rest of us.

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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