Monday, 10 September 2012

Michelle Harrison Author Talk

Before you jump to conclusions, Michelle Harrison is not doing an author talk here. Michelle Harrison, author of "The Thirteen Treasures" which was the winner of Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2009, did an author talk at my local library in Uxbridge.

Unfortunately I was late because I finished TheatreTrain at the time that Michelle Harrison started her author talk. I then took 10 minutes to work up the courage to go sit down even though she had already started answering questions. Here is what I did find out (I didn't have a notepad so the details are a bit sketchy as they are from memory). The author talk took place at Uxbridge Library, Hillingdon on Saturday 6th June.

Who is your favourite fairie?
Michelle Harrison said she had two: the Mizhog and the drain-dweller. The Mizhog because it was something her mother used to say. My parents say it too so that answer made me happy. If you weren't very happy, you were caled a Mizhog. And the drain-dweller because it's a fairy that lives in the drain and just likes stealing shiny valuables. It reminds me of a magpie. Michelle Harrison liked the idea of a drain-dweller, something that steals your most valuable things and hoards them in its drain.

Something worth mentioning:
Michelle Harrison works for a publishing house.

Michelle Harrison was asked a question that went along the lines of would you ever get your book published by a publishing company you worked for?
Michelle Harrison said no. She did know people who had had it done but she thought it would be a bit awkward. People have had to leave the room before when they were discussing how much money should be spent on publicising a book because money can be a very delicate topic.

Would you become a full time writer?
Michelle said she could do it but she enjoyed her job. Writing is quite a lonely job because she has to sit there in silence to write. It isn't very social. When you write, you're alone. She noted that the author talk events were sociable. Michelle's overall opinion was that she could do it but wasn't sure if she wanted to.

Is "The Thirteen Treasures" going to become a trilogy?
Initially Michelle thought not because a lot of people were doing trilogies at the time. She is now working on "The Thirteen Curses" which is a follow-up to "The Thirteen Curses". It may become a trilogy, it all depends on what the publishers think.

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Michelle Harrison made a point about originally wanting to have a fairie on the front of the cover but the publishers strongly said no. She claimed that she wasn't sure if that was the right decision. Some lady in the audience said that she thought it was the right decision. She said if she put "Knife" and "The Thirteen Treasures" together, she would pick "The Thirteen Treasures" everytime. Michelle said that it was interesting to hear that.
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Someone in the audience asked, "When you created the book how did you put everything together? If I was writing I would just have lots of bits."
Michelle said that she just had to go over everything so much and rework parts that it eventually all came together.

Did you ever put your foot down when asked to change something you really didn't want to change?
Michelle (I think) said that there weren't really any scenes that they cut that she really had to put her foot down on. She talked about how many different times she had to edit things and how it went to this really important person at the end (they may be called a copy editor) and they spot all the little things that will need to be changed for another country's edition. She couldn't think of any examples for her book but noted one she had heard of before, post being changed to mail for the US audience. Michelle also said there came a stage when you just had to say enough was enough. She had noticed a continuity error which she said she should have told her publishers about. I think she said it isn't there in the German version. Basically, (spoiler if you haven't read "The Thirteen Treasures") Fabian is able to see fairies at one point and he sees the fairie in the kitchen which should have already disappeared. It's not much of an error and I doubt I would have really noticed if it hadn't have been pointed out.

I don't know what this question was but I remember some of the answer.
Michelle was talking about how she had often heard about the Seelie and Unseelie court in books. However, what she felt hadn't been covered that well, was how they came to be. This is explained in "The Thirteen Treasures".

Sorry for my bad and sketchy notes, this is all from memory and is nearly a week old in my head (this is a pre-scheduled post, so I'm actually writing this in the early hours of Friday).

Afterwards:
Michelle Harrison was selling her books for £5 (quite a good price I think) and signing them. I already had my own copy but Michelle Harrison was kind enough to sign it anyway. She was a really nice lady who asked me if I had read "The Thirteen Treasures". I confessed that I hadn't but I had started it yesterday.

One more thing, I just want to say, I never realised how pretty Michelle Harrison is. Just look at the picture. I would upload a picture of the signed book but I don't know where my camera is or my phone lead. I lose things really easily!

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