A Q&A with Sarah J. Maas, Tiffany Schmidt, Susan Dennard, and Liz Norris: Event Recap

September 4, 2014 2014, bookish trips, event, events, Kim 86

You guys, you guys, you guys. What is life even anymore? I do not know. Last night I had the incredible, incredible privilege to moderate an author Q&A with Sarah J. Maas, Tiffany Schmidt, Susan Dennard, and Liz Norris at Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA.

So obviously I was super nervous but quickly found out there was no reason to be! I met with the ladies briefly before the event and we discussed our Q&A gameplan. I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah and Susan at the YA Runs a 5K event here in Philly last July, and was completely overwhelmed when they both greeted me with hugs last night.



What's this?! Why it's yours truly moderating the Q&A panel!

What’s this?! Why it’s yours truly moderating the Q&A panel!


I was so thrilled to see a huge number of actual teens and younger people in the audience. When I attended an event earlier this year at CBW it seemed like the adults definitely outnumbered the youths. And obviously adults can be fans of YA (otherwise–uh?? shut down this blog!), but it’s great to see so many teens at an event that is specifically geared toward them. Teens shouldn’t ever be crowded out of their own spaces by dumb old grown ups.

I had a list of prepared questions but upon seeing all those fresh faces I switched things up a bit and started off asking the ladies what is it about YA that speaks to them and makes them want to write for teens? Each of the authors in turn spoke about how important their favorite books were for them in their own teen years and how they made them want to start writing. Liz touched on reading a book where the heroine’s troubles are completely resolved once she meets the male love interest and how she was inspired to challenge that narrative.

There was a moment when some older fantasy series were mentioned and the brief pause that comes as I realized that this young audience probably/possibly doesn’t know the books that were popular when we were teens. And looking out at all the young faces, with cameras recording everything, gazes held in rapt attention and awe of the authors, I realized that these are the books and authors who are right now inspiring a whole new generation of writers. It was a heady and awesome moment.


Who's that creeper on the end creeping on Sarah? It's MEEEEEE!

Who’s that creeper on the end creeping on Sarah? It’s MEEEEEE!


The authors also discussed favorite scenes in their books (if you’ve read Bright Before Sunrise you should know that Brighton snooping around in a boy’s room is inspired by real life. Don’t trust that Tiffany Schmidt!!), what they’d be doing if they weren’t authors (I had NO idea Susan was a marine biologist–amazing!!), and how they cultivate believable voice for their characters. Another quick highlight: when asked which of her characters she is most like Sarah said Fleetfoot the dog! Ahahahaha. It was just a brilliant evening full of laughter and delight. And then before I knew it the Q&A session was over and it was time for book signing!

"You're amazing!"-Sarah J. Maas about me. Immortalizing that.

“You’re amazing!”-Sarah J. Maas, about me. Immortalizing that.


It was just this time last year that I was finishing Crown of Midnight and absolutely drowning in sorrow and anguish over that ending. I was completely in love with the series. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be a Midnight Garden reviewer and a moderator for this amazing author event I would have stared at you in blank disbelief and informed you that your gift of prophesy is sadly lacking.

Thank you to Wendy for ever asking me to join this blog, thank you to Bloomsbury for inviting me to moderate the event, thank you to all the authors for being so friendly and gracious, and thanks to everyone who came out and to the readers who said hi to me! (Shout out to Brittany and Rachel-it was really great to meet you!) If you were there last night and you have pics and/or a write up do link them in the comments here or tweet them at me @KimReadsThings. It was an incredible evening and I was just overwhelmed with the support and kindness of everyone. Thanks for giving me one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.


I was even more delighted than I appear

I was even more delighted than I appear


kim teal












86 Responses to “A Q&A with Sarah J. Maas, Tiffany Schmidt, Susan Dennard, and Liz Norris: Event Recap”

  1. Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

    Hi Kim!! It was so lovely meeting you!! :) Awww you gave me a shout out <3 I still haven't written my recap of the event, oh school *le sigh* I hope to see you at future bookish events!! Perhaps the Fierce Reads tour?? Awesome post, you were an amazing moderator and such a kind person (and still are). Keep on reading and writing awesome reviews <3

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books recently posted…ARC Review ~ Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

  2. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    This is sooo amazing and just a huge all around CONGRATS for being the moderator! AND FOR MEETING SARAH J MAAS. OMG SHE IS AMAZING!!! I’m about to start Heir of Fire today and I’m freakishly excited. ^_^ They all look like such awesome and nice people, and I’d love to go to an event like that one day. ;)
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Honest YA || Covers Part 4

    • Kim

      Ahhhh! Thank you so much, Cait! At first I was terrified but the whole thing was really just a dream come true! And, of course, getting to meet the lovely Sarah again. That was my third time in as many months, I think. I’m totally not a creeper! :p

      Soooo excited for you to read HOF! Can’t wait to see what you think! Just…hold tight, man. Buckle up for that ride! :D
      Kim recently posted…A Tour of Haze’s Setting: guest post by Paula Weston

  3. bethany

    I’m not even jealous, I’m just THRILLED that you got to do this! It’s so cool how the Internet makes the world smaller (in the best way possible) and to be able to take a part in crafting that experience… rather than just being a consumer/enthusiast (though there’s obviously a need for that too).
    bethany recently posted…Stitch Fix #4 and #5 {catch-up}

    • Kim

      Thanks, Bethany, you are such a sweetheart. :)

      It was absolutely incredible beyond words I can express to be a part of this! I still can’t believe that it was real and actually happened. *pinches self* My life has changed in so many wonderful ways thanks to this blog. So grateful for all the wonderful people and events that have been brought into my life!
      Kim recently posted…A Tour of Haze’s Setting: guest post by Paula Weston

  4. Leandra Wallace

    What a gorgeous group of talented ladies(moderater included!) ;) I always love getting to see authors out there doing their thing in the wild. And that’s wonderful there were so many teens there, and that you thought to start it out w/that first question. That’s thinking on your feet! =)
    Leandra Wallace recently posted…The Big Three

    • Kim

      Haha oh thanks, Leandra. :p I loved, loved, loved how many teens (and even a few a bit younger!) that were present. And they clearly idolized the authors. Stars in their eyes. It was awesome to see them hanging on to every word. I wish I’d been able to take more of it in without being all distracted by moderating. But then again moderating was pretty awesome. :p

    • Kim

      Yeah, I definitely feel your pain. All too often an author I’m dying to see isn’t coming anywhere remotely close. We’ve all been there. So fortunate I was able to moderate this incredible event!

    • Kim

      Thank you so much, Lisa! I’ve been completely overwhelmed by all the positivity and kind words!

  5. Larissa

    Wow what a awesome experience this must have been Kim! I’m sure you rocked it and you must have since the lovely Sarah J. Maas thinks you’re awesome [; Lol loved seeing the pictures and your captions with them. It must have been such a nerve wracking but exciting panel to host. I think it’s great that you did see not only adults but teens at this event. It’s great that us teens are feeling comfortable to go out to these things, and I wish there were some near me because I would totally go.

    Great recap Kim! Hope you get to do more cool things like this so you can post more recaps and continue to make me so jealous c;
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer

    • Kim

      Words fail me with how amazing this whole experience has been, Larissa!

      And I knowwwwww. You must know I was dying to read that. Jaw officially dropped! Sarah Maas thinks I’m amazing! It’s totally mutual. :D I was very nervous going into it but I have to say that my nerves were totally soothed after Sarah and Susan both greeted me with hugs when I arrived. They totally remembered me from the Color Run! Haha I dont know why I find that so surprising but I did. Anyway, it was immensely reassuring to me. And yeah! I was so happy to see that the event wasn’t overcrowded with adults like the last one I’d attended. I hope the trend continues for any future events I get to attend!

      Also, I think I would actually die from happiness if I am ever asked to moderate something again!

  6. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    Oh my gosh it is truly awesome that you got to host a Q and A game with such amazing authors! You look lovely in those pictures, by the way!

    Thanks for the recap, Kim <33

    • Kim

      Aw thank you so much, Mel! <3 And it was so incredible. I wish I could do it all over again!

    • Kim

      Ha aw thanks! And trust me ha. I was freaking out much more internally. I can’t believe it didn’t show on the outside. High five to me for keeping my cool haha. Still can’t believe I was asked to moderate. Best night ever!

  7. Wren

    This looks amazing! I wish I could have been there. Do you know if there are any things you might do in Florida?

    • Kim

      I wish you could have been too! As far as I know I don’t think Sarah’s current tour is going to Florida but you can double check on her website! I wish I was going along too but also I just had this one event. But what an event it was!

    • Kim

      Right in the middle? Haha don’t worry. You’re almost at the devastation! Oh and then the ending is also gut wrenching.

      But AT LEAST YOU CAN IMMEDIATELY READ HEIR OF FIRE. God, I was in agony from last September until May when I got an ARC at BEA. Whew. 9 more months til next BEA where I can hopefully get Book 4. sigh sigh.

      I’m here to talk to on Twitter about any/all TOG feels.

    • Kim

      Oh totally. I call them my “author crushes” where I like an author so much I want to be their friend. And I definitely have one on Sarah! :P She’s so nice and personable and takes time to talk to every single person in line. She’s the best.

  8. Liv_The Absent Historian

    Sounds like you had lots of fun and I loved the pictures of you with the authors. I definitely think its always strange to think about these authors inspiring todays generation and older authors still inspiring. I just find it bizarre how things change so quickly and inspirations adapts and moves forward, great post!
    Liv_The Absent Historian recently posted…Flashback Friday #1

    • Kim

      I had so much fun it was criminal! And it really was a surreal moment to see how much the younger folks idolize these authors and to see how the cycle perpetuates itself. Surreal but awesome. And awe inspiring!

    • Kim

      Thank YOU for reading! It was such an amazing time that I just had to share! Ha and not only is my book signed but Sarah said, “You’re amazing!” *puts braggy pants away now*

    • Kim

      Ha I know the feeling. I would love to have a YA author panel at the library I work at someday. If we could have half the audience we had at this event I would be ecstatic!

    • Kim

      It was mind blowingly awesome. Every single thing about the event from the location, to the authors, to the audience was delightful and inspiring. I wish I could do the whole day all over again.

    • Kim

      Surreal doesn’t even begin to cover it! And haha thank you! I’m glad my weird humor is appreciated. :p

  9. Brittany T

    It was so lovely meeting you and I had a blast. Can’t wait to do it again and thank for the tote from bloomburys (gah!) and the lovely bookmarks. They are by far my favorite!!! The authors were hilarious and I think I almost died when Sarah said she would be Fleetfoot! Susan’s shark stories were great as well. So amazing to get the behind the scenes and you killed it with your Q&A skills. :-)
    Brittany T recently posted…♡Tell Me Tuesday *Arc August Wrap-up*♡

    • Kim

      Haha I was so happy when they gave me those totes to give away to people who asked questions. I knew I was going to be putting smiles on faces!! And you’re welcome for the bookmarks too! They really are so lovely.

      I thought the authors made a sparkling team up there. They were all so honest, and real, and heartfelt. It was a very special energy in the room and I’m so glad you were there to be a part of it. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around at other bookish events in the area soon!

  10. Eugene

    I was so thrilled to see a huge number of actual teens and younger people in the audience.

    And some of them were boys! It made me happy to see that.

    You were a terrific moderator! I figured you must have done this before, because you were so calm and asked great questions. I bet you’ll be doing more of them!
    Eugene recently posted…sherlock’s approach to research

    • Kim

      Ha yes indeed. It made me very happy to see that too since all of the authors’ books could easily be pigeon-holed as “girl” books and I detest such shallow and restrictive categorization. So good for the boys and hooray that they came out to the event. :)

      And thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means so much to me. I’m really overwhelmed by how incredibly kind everyone has been to me. I’d never done it before but I’d love to do many more! I think I’ve caught the bug now. :)

    • Kim

      *happy sigh* Isn’t so wonderful when book lovers all come together united in our shared passion? Even just entering a book store or library always makes me so happy because I’m like, “Ah, I am amongst my people.” You know? But when you’re at an event to see specific authors and know that you’re all fans there’s an extra special energy. It just an incredible evening and I’m so lucky and privileged to have been a part of it.

  11. Alise

    Looks like you had a great time, Kim :) I would have been so nervous too! “I realized that these are the books and authors who are right now inspiring a whole new generation of writers.” Definitely! It really is so cool to think about that. I’m so glad you had a fun time!
    Alise recently posted…What You Like v.s. What Others Prefer

    • Kim

      I had an unbelievably incredible time!! I can’t believe this was less than two days ago. I wish I could go back in time and do it all over again. Maybe they’ll have me back for next year’s tour! I would definitely be less nervous. And I know better the types of questions that were really affecting for audience.

  12. Brenda

    So excited to hear how well things went. Sounds like a wonderful experience and congrats! It’s funny how you mention that the audience hadn’t heard of some of the authors favorite reads as teens, I’d never thought about that before either. I guess that’s why reading classics becomes so important, and hopefully they will be inspired to check them out too. Hope this is just the beginning of these kind of events for you.

    • Kim

      Thank you so much, Brenda! I had such a wonderful experience I wish I could do it all the time!

      And it was so inspiring and wonderful to see all those fresh young faces looking up in adulation. I sincerely hope they’ll look up the series their idols mentioned. But it’s just incredible to think that 20-30 years from now it will be some of those kids on that stage talking about THEIR childhood favs and the cycle goes on. It’s so lovely.

    • Kim

      It was an incredible night! Ha and I know. I hope they did too. Given the intensity of the stars in their eyes I wouldn’t doubt that some of them went home and looked up those series the very same night. It was seriously awesome seeing how much those kids looked up to the authors!

  13. Pili

    Oh my, that sounds like a brilliant event I would have loved to attend, and not only for the brilliant authors present but because you and Britt were there, Kim!

    And what you are saying about teens being present, that’s kind of a worry of mine, I’m gonna be trying to attend two book events in NY (1 I’ll attend for sure, the other will depend on transport and timings, since it’s the same day I land) and I’m scared to be the only oldie in the audience and stick out like a sore thumb!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #58!!

  14. Layla

    This is just so delightful I can’t even.

    And looking out at all the young faces, with cameras recording everything, gazes held in rapt attention and awe of the authors, I realized that these are the books and authors who are right now inspiring a whole new generation of writers. It was a heady and awesome moment.

    And this gave me ALL THE FEELS.

    Also if you ever need testimonials at some point, I’m hoping you quote Sarah J. Maas.
    Layla recently posted…A Q&A with Sarah J. Maas, Tiffany Schmidt, Susan Dennard, and Liz Norris: Event Recap

    • Kim

      It was so incredible, Layla. I honestly felt overwhelmed by *them.* Like, “I better do right by these young, impressionable people who are clearly in the presence of their heroes!”

      HA. I think I might just ask Wendy to change my bio to “‘…Amazing,’ says New York Times #1 Bestselling author Sarah J. Maas.” Just that. I’d be fine with it! She also said I was so good I should be a professional moderator but I don’t have that one in writing. Drat.

      • Layla

        I get that. I also think it’s wonderful that you were like … attentive and aware of the importance of making it a good space for them. (And oh my God, I can’t imagine what it would have been like to meet Tamora Pierce or Robin McKinley for me back in the day. I would have absolutely lost my shit. I remember reading Robin McKinley’s website like a crazy person.)

        THAT. And the bit about being a professional moderator is obviously just waiting to be in inscribed in Book 4, Kim. (Just think about what she’ll write in Books 5 & 6!) Anyway, I’m so glad you shared this with us. Happy sigh. I read the first page of HoF last night. I’m trying to be good but failing miserably.
        Layla recently posted…A Q&A with Sarah J. Maas, Tiffany Schmidt, Susan Dennard, and Liz Norris: Event Recap

        • Kim

          Yeah I keep thinking, “I really didn’t do anything special here.” But then I have to remember to give myself credit for accomplishments and be like, “Sure I did! I was attentive and aware of the importance of making this a good space for teens!”(stealing your words) Surely that’s worth something.

          I have still yet to read anything by Tamora Pierce. I’m clearly a failed fantasy nerd girl.

          I hope to god this is the Book 6 inscription: To Kim-Here is the perfectly perfect ending you’ve always wanted full of sunshine, rainbows, puppies, peace, prosperity, and Chaolaena!” That’d be nice.

          Also, don’t be good. Be bad. Read HOF.
          Kim recently posted…A Q&A with Sarah J. Maas, Tiffany Schmidt, Susan Dennard, and Liz Norris: Event Recap

          • Layla

            It’s actually really difficult to facilitate a good discussion, though, so I think you deserve mad props.

            Kim & Bethany, you should absolutely read the Alanna series at some point in time. I don’t know if it will have the same emotional impact on you as it would if you were, like, 12 or something, but they still hold up well, I think. I listened to the first three books on audiobook while working at the library this summer, and they’re solid. Also short! And about a young girl who crossdresses as her brother so she can be the BESTEST KNIGHT OF ALL TIME. AND AND AND she has a magic cat.

            Just think of the suffering Chaolaena will have to endure in 4 and 5, tho. :-( :-( Tears on my pillow, pain in my heart.

            Noooo. I’m going to give it six more days and do a readalong with my BFFL beginning next week, after I turn in all the writing. Expect feels via twitter.
            Layla recently posted…The Iron Trial: Review

    • Kim

      Thank you so much! I only wish I had more pictures to share but it was such a whirlwind for me from the time I got there until I left. So many nerves and the whole thing was so heady-bah! But wonderful. Really, really awesome. I’m so lucky and so grateful for the experience!

    • Kim

      It was a BLAST. Totally incredible. I am still-still!-pinching myself that it is an actual thing that really happened in the real world.

  15. Lily

    *sigh* I am so completely jealous of you right now. I wish I could have gone to an event like this! All the authors sound like they had good things to say and I’d die for Sarah j Maas to sign any copy of my books! AHHH!
    Lily recently posted…Deeper(Caroline & West #1):Review

    • Kim

      It was such an incredible thing to be able to moderate this event. I still can’t quite believe that it was real! All of the authors were so wonderful and gracious and it was honestly an honor to meet them. I hope you can make it to a signing with Sarah one of these days. She’s so lovely and personable and really takes the time to talk to everyone. I hope it so hard for you!

  16. Lindsey (Ideklinz)

    Oh my god you picture captions are brilliant lol!!! I really thought they all had awesome things to say! I’m so excited for their new material too–not gonna lie Truewitch and the Princess & the Pea sound so good! The friendship between Susan and Sarah was also really awesome to see too. Colleagues that can benefit from each other and become friends is awesome