I finished the KOTLC series around March, and it was agony having to wait until November to get Flashback, the seventh book in the series. But when November 11th rolled around, I was even more excited for the Flashback tour! KOTLC is one of my favorite books ever, and I was really excited to see Shannon Messenger in person.
When I arrived at the place, I got to pick up the free signed book, (not personalized, it came with the purchase of a ticket) Then we got some swag and a raffle ticket.
We got front row seats because we were so early, which was very exciting! I actually read the first 100 pages of Flashback before it started because I was so excited!
When she finally arrived, it was so cool getting to see her in person. The administrator of the event was Laini Taylor, a really good author. They opened with Shannon saying that her favorite color is teal, which everyone had guessed because Sophie’s favorite color was teal.
She told us that she had just signed 520 copies of Flashback in 45 minutes, which is amazingly fast, because her signature was intricate and fancy. She also said that the KOTLC series in its entirety is 4000 pages long!
She started by saying that as a child, she would go to the library and check out a book multiple times because she loved it so much. As an adult, she doesn’t have time for that and just reads a book once. She wanted her books to be one of those books that gets checked out multiple times by a kid, and even adults!
Laini Taylor asked how she came up with the idea for KOTLC. Shannon responded by saying that she had been juggling the idea of elves and Lost Cities for a couple months, but was stalling, and was still in the world building process. Shannon says that she is a planner, and likes to have specific outlines for what she wants to happen in the story, and she was delaying writing the story so that she could have perfect outlines. She says that when she was studying making movies and scripts, she had been taught to write EVERYTHING, and then worst case scenario, things get cut, which is really good advice. That way, you won’t forget anything about how you want your story to be like. She started applying this philosophy to her own books, which he felt made her story less stiff, and more flowing.
In fact, the very existence of the beloved character from the book series, Keefe, was because she had stopped outlining and planning.
The existence of Keefe is because I stopped outlining.Shannon messenger
Here’s the story: She was writing the book, and she needed someone to help Sophie get to the hospital wing after she had gotten lost. She didn’t know his name, so she made up a character named Him. She originally thought that Him could be a hall monitor, but then she realized that he needed to be someone who would skip class and meet Sophie in that hallway where they first met. Boom! Keefe was invented. Keefe’s name actually means, “good looking one” according to Shannon Messenger. He was originally going to just be a minor character, but he ended up having a pretty big role in the series.
Keefe was the gift the story gave me!Shannon Messenger
She started talking about how Shannon went through the editing process. Shannon admitted that the published version of the first book in the series is actually draft #20! She had to do a ton of editing before publishing. In fact, Sophie Foster’s original name was, get this: Agnes McWeeney. One of the first ideas she rejected in the editing process was that elves didn’t originally have emotions or dreams!
Shannon also talked about thinking to the future. She new that her books were going to be a long series, but she didn’t know how long! She was lucky that her editor committed to multiple books, but the deal was only about three books, depending on the demand. She had to decide if she wanted to shrink the series into about three books, or is she wanted to leave noticeable breadcrumbs, so that if she did end up extending the series she would have ways to branch off from the books. Luckily for us, the publishers gave her more room and now there are seven books out!
She told us that she was really glad she was done writing Flashback, not only because it is a huge accomplishment to write an 800 page book, but also because she would get to sleep again! She noted that the closer it got to the deadline, the less she got to sleep, until she was only sleeping 2 hours a day! She also admitted that she didn’t leave her house the entire month of August!
She told us about how she finished the final draft the day it needed to go to the printer, but there were typos after the fact because of the rush!
Laini asked about writers block and how she pushes through it. Shannon said that she tries to get a word count in every day, and tells herself not to stop writing until she has met her daily goal. She forces herself on. She used to be able to write 2 books a year, KOTLC and the Let the Sky Fall Series, but now she has to rush to even get one book done per year! She thought it would get easier to write her books as the years went on, but it actually got harder, because she kept setting the bar for her writing higher and higher and has to work harder and harder to make her books better than her last ones, which I totally agreed with!
It’s a good job. [Writing] It gets intense, but it’s a good job.Shannon Messenger
Shannon says that publishing is actually less fun than writing.
Publishing and writing are two different things… Enjoy the writing, the fun part. Make it a goal to finish a book before you think about publishing.Shannon Messenger
She recommends to finish writing the book before you worry about getting a publisher. You cannot just publish a book without a book to publish! The problem is, it is actually hard to finish a book. You will often get what Shannon likes to call “Shiny New Idea Syndrome” where you come up with an idea for a new book that you want to write, but you have to finish writing your book first.
Laini asked what Shannon’s favorite character was. Shannon said surprisingly that her favorite character is actually Silveny the Alicorn! Shannon says that writing Silveny’s scenes reminded Shannon of being twelve years old. She commented that she gets paid to write about what a sparkly fancy Alicorn thinks all day! (You will know what she means if you have read the series)
The next topic was about the character that was the hardest for Shannon to write about. She says that Keefe and Fitz were both very hard characters to write. Keefe is a scene stater. Everything is about him and the scenes revolve upon his pleas for attention. For him, everything is a joke. Fitz, on the other hand, is more reserved at first, difficult with what he is willing to share. Shannon says she had to rewrite Fitz’ scenes the most. It was really hard to write both of them.
Another favorite character of Shannon’s is Ro, the ogre princess. Ro is funny, and has a huge personality. Shannon knew that Keefe couldn’t have a normal body guard like everyone else, Keefe is an attention seeker and needed a new bodyguard that no one had seen yet. Keefe needed someone to keep him in check, and Ro does exactly that.
Fun Fact: Shannon Messenger actually hates love triangles.
In every book, Iggy, Sophie’s pet imp, has been a different color. Shannon decided to let the readers choose Iggy’s colors , because a little girl told her once which color Iggy should be, and ever since, Shannon has been putting polls, one per book, on her social media so that readers could decide.
And that was when Shannon’s microphone died.
(After someone brought her a new one…)
Next Shannon gave us some cool facts about the making of KOTLC.
Fun Fact: Fitz was originally going to be 97, but look like he was 16, but Shannon changed her mind because she didn’t think a 97 year old would hang around with a bunch of 12 year olds!
Shannon also does not know who Sophie is going to choose, even after everything that happened in Flashback!!! Shannon says that her characters surprise her, and she is never sure which direction they will go.
She told us the Story of how Stina Heks actually has two last names! Stina was originally was Stina Weathers, but it sounded too human so she changed it to Heks. But later, just as the first book was about to print, Shannon thought that she had forgotten to give Stina a last name, so she accidentally called Stina “Logner” instead of “Heks!”
The mistakes are proof that the author is human.Shannon Messenger
Fun Fact: Dex was originally blonde, but Shannon had to change it to strawberry blonde because on the cover, Dex looked to much like Sophie’s sibling.!
Next I got my book personalized with my name, and I got Nightfall, Neverseen, and Lodestar signed! It was super fun, and I highly recommend finding an author talk or something of the sort near you!