Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Conversation with Author David Baldacci

Conference Call with author David Baldacci and editor Rachel Griffiths
May 21, 2014
Topic: David's new YA novel The Finisher

I was invited by the publisher to phone in for a conference session with David and Rachel. There were 15 other librarians, bloggers, and  independent booksellers on the call. The first twenty minutes or so, Rachel introduced the book and asked David some preliminary questions. After that, anyone who had a question for David about the book or writing could chime in.

I asked, " Vega Jane is a finisher and the title of the book is The Finisher, will she finish off all the problems?"

To which Baldacci responded, "Vega is sent out to make things right. More worlds will be revealed, and Vega Jane carries this story forward."

Baldacci usually finishes a book within eight months, but it took him almost five years to write The Finisher. His agent submitted in under a pseudonym--Janus Pope. The editor thought it might be Baldacci's work because she knows his agent, but when she realized it was a YA book, she ruled out the idea that it came from him. When asked why he submitted it to a publisher keeping his identity out of it, he said he wanted people to like the book for the content itself and not due to his name being connected to it. For that, I love David Baldacci.

Baldacci paid  homage to librarians and independent booksellers. He shared that in his youth, his librarian allowed him to check out many more books over the number usually  allowed, but she knew he would read them all, enjoy them and return them. It is because of reading, that he eventually became an author. Even though the public thought he was a lawyer for his first ten years of adult life after college and law school, he was always a storyteller.

When asked by a bookseller from Seattle what titles he would  recommend to YA readers as they wait for book two to be published, he responded that he thought many of the books he would recommend are likely to have already been read by them. His short list included: the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games series, the Divergent series and Jasper Fford's  Thursday Next books calling them, "real page turners" and saying that, "Kids will love them."

Baldacci revealed that, "First lines, first pages, first chapters are extremely important." He agonized and "obsessed" over his first line. The first  line of The Finisher is, "I was dozing when I heard the scream." Baldacci admits it was not always the first line. It was always a line in chapter one, but he moved it to be the first line after many readings.

Throughout the interview, Baldacci gave thoughtful, insightful and clear answers. It was a pleasure to speak directly to an author in a small group setting. He told us several times, "I'm a storyteller." He left us with this thought, "If everyone was a book lover and we were all book readers, what a great world we would have" to which I applaud and say BRAVO!

Thank you to John Mason from Scholastic for allowing me this opportunity. Thank you Rachel Griffiths and David Baldacci for a fun hour!

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