On Saturday I was incredibly lucky enough to go to the launch party/book signing at a local indie bookstore, The King's English for Ally Condie author of the amazing MATCHED! If you haven't read my review yet you can see it HERE.
Ally spoke to us for a while about her journey and her books. Here are the best little tid-bits! I write down quotes as close as possible, but please know these are paraphrased and not direct quotes.
"I've had signings before that no one came to. So my family came up so I wouldn't be the only one, so I'm thrilled there are people here!"
Ally has had several books published with a small local publisher, but this is her first big national market book.
People often ask Ally how she came up with the idea of MATCHED. She said mainly it came from her husband Scott and the experiences they have had together. They used to chaperon High School dances. She said "It was always a good time to turn away the drunk kids, and be asked to danced." But she said that at a High School she worked at, a few weeks before the prom the Senior boys would make a list of the Junior girls who didn't have dates to the dance. This list would be passed around until all of those girls had a date for their Junior Prom so that they didn't have to miss that big night! How sweet is that? She said the dance was always a big event, and that always stuck in her head.
Also, with Scott, they were the house parents at a Sorority in Ithaca, NY and were always surrounded by "boys, girls, dating and kissing". That got her thinking about all of those things. And then she and her husband talked about marriage and who gets to define what it is and who can get married to whom (a very timely, political topic right now), but the idea came up what if the government controlled it all. Who you married, how many kids you have, everything. And MATCHED started to form.
She said on the release day (Nov. 30th) they were out at a store and saw the book on the shelf and said "Oh look, there it is. It's out. Who knew?" I imagine that was a very surreal moment.
In fact she wrote an AMAZING blog post about the experience and her feelings on the release day that you should all go read HERE, cause she read it to us, and I read it when she posted it, and I think it is amazing.
And a last bit from Ally, "It now belongs to you, and I hope you like it!"
Then we had a Q&A! Here are my faves.
Q: How do you pronounce your protagonists name?
A: Cash-a (spelled Cassia). I got it from the Greek name Cassius.
Q: Can you tell us more about the trilogy?
A: Well originally, it wasn't a trilogy. The first book ended as it does now, but in my head it was stand alone. Of course it was open to some more ideas, so when we sold the book we sold it with a sequel and a third book optioned but not necisarily a book in the MATCHED world. After I finished book two I knew there needed to be more. Book two's title is CROSSED and there is no title for book three. But I am 1/3 of the way through writing the third.
Q: I love the Grandfather. Where did his character come from?
A: I had a great relationship with all of my grandparents. Something that I think is rare today. So the relationship and closeness comes from a mix of all of my grandparents. But I think he looks most like my paternal grandfather.
Q: How do you get into the writing process?
A: I can't draft with music playing, but I listen to music before I write to get into the mood. Well, mostly to drown out the sound of Scott wrestling with the kids and getting them into bed. The rest is just me in a chair in a semi-cold basement and getting it done.
Q: Do you keep a notebook of ideas?
A: I keep notebooks on every level of the house, because to be honest I am too lazy to go find a notebook when an idea comes to me. I also keep one in my purse. I often get ideas when I am out running too. Something about being out in the fresh air and getting exercise brings on ideas. But I lose my ideas fast if I don't write them down. So I will have to run the idea in my head over and over and over again. I probably look strange concentrating until I can get home and write it down.
Q: How did you choose the Tennyson Poem?
A: It has been one of my favorites since I read it in Anne of the Island (Anne of Green Gables series) in fourth grade. Plus I loved that this poem bookended my other favorite poem used in the book as well.
Q: For book 2, you mentioned on your blog that you were trying to write poems of your own, and having a hard time of it. How did that go?
A: It was SO hard. Most of them we ended up deleting. I am not a poet but I have a character that is. I often thought "Can't you just write your own poems?"
And lastly, possibly my favorite question was:
Q: Who is hotter? Xander or Ky?
A: (After much laughing) Well I can't really say with Scott here...but, I did split up Scott's attributes among them both. So I can't really pick. If I had to choose one solely on looks I would probably pick Xander because he got my husband's blond hair and coloring.
I could not be more excited for Ally! MATCHED is a wonderful, timely book and I highly, highly suggest you all go buy it for yourself and someone else for Christmas! Congrats Ally! I can't wait to see more from you in the future!