Kristin Cashore Book Signing

Posted 10 May, 2012 by Amanda / 24 Comments

On Sunday, my mom and I drove down to the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul (MN) to see Kristin Cashore, author of Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue.  I want to take a moment and plug the Red Balloon, because they’re an indie bookstore that has been in business for over 27 years.  Since that’s older than I am (though not by much), I have to admit that is pretty darn cool.  The Red Balloon Bookshop is one of three places I know of that frequently hosts book signings in the Twin Cities area (Mall of America and the B&N in Roseville being the other two), though the Red Balloon often has their events at a local library, since their store is on the smaller side.  It was my first time at the Red Balloon, but I look forward to future events there.

I want to preface this recap by saying that I have not read any of Cashore’s books yet, though I do now own all of them, and have every intention of reading them.  I love book signings, but you will always get more out of them if you have read the books by the author(s) present.  The book signing was pretty standard: Kristin introduced herself, talked a little bit about her writing process, took some questions, and then signed some books.



What was extra awesome about Kristin’s talk was that she had a slideshow for us.  She started off talking about the process of writing Bitterblue, and telling us that not only does she write by hand (which has to be extremely hard work) but that after turning in the first draft of Bitterblue to her editor, her editor told Kristin to start from scratch and rewrite the whole thing.  In the slideshow, Kristin shared some of the pages from her notebooks, complete with notes and crossed out words (and lines, and pages).  Every signing I go to renews and strengthens my respect for authors and what they do.  The writing process plus the editing process has to be incredibly exhausting.

Kristin said that Bitterblue took up 7 notebooks (she had a picture of all of them, but I missed it!).  When she transcribed the manuscript to her computer and printed it out, it came out at 750 pages.  When she started her second draft, rather than using new notebooks, she took a printed copy of her first draft, crossed out nearly EVERY LINE and rewrote it.  She also makes notes to herself, both positive and negative.

(this one is hard to read, especially with the head, but it says: “This is crap but push on thru 2 the other side.  The only way out is through.”)

Some of the tidbits I remember from the Q&A*:

  • Kristin wants to revisit the characters she’s created in the Graceling realm in the future, but it all kind of depends on what happens when she sits down to write.
  • She has work pajamas.
  • Normally, as an author, she has no control over the book covers for her books.  However, because it took so long to write Bitterblue, she was asked for input on Bitterblue’s cover.  Thus, there is both a literal and figurative (ciphers) importance for the three keys on the cover of Bitterblue.
  • Failure as an author is IMPORTANT.  She stressed this a few times.
  • To build on that, she said that she has a negative voice (e.g., this is crap).  She imagines him as a sad man sitting in a chair next to her, and when he gets too negative, she gives him a hug and moves on.
  •  She wrote a contemporary around the time she was shopping Graceling around.  She says the contemporary is in her closet and will stay there.  I gathered she wasn’t very proud of it.
  • She’s also writing a contemporary novel right now, but said she wasn’t ready to talk about it.  She said either her agent or editor had it.
  • Kristin has an English degree and a Master’s in Children’s Literature.  I believe that before she became a full time author, she was a freelance writer for textbooks (what, exactly she wrote is fuzzy for me)
  • She is a very moody reader, and said that part of this reason was that after spending the day picking apart sentences, it can carry over into reading.  (and I so understand this)
  • She also lets her emotions dictate when she writes.  Sometimes she find herself at the end of a day, and realize that she “took the day off.”
  • How much time Kristin spends writing a day (and during what time) depends on where she is in the process.  When she is near the end or in a really good scene, she can write for up to 14 hours.  On days where she is is doing research or “drudge work” she may only spend 2 or 3 hours writing.
  • When she was transcribing her manuscript (through voice recognition) she finds that there are some words that the voice recognition software does not pick up.  The biggest offender for Bitterblue?  Queen.  Kristin said that she had to come up with a code word of sorts to use to replace queen.  So she chose telephone, as the word telephone does not appear in Bitterblue, and was therefore a suitable alternative.
  • Her idea for Graceling started when she had three characters arguing her in head.  Kristin said they were very angry with each other, and that she spent some time learning who these characters were and how to write a story about them to connect some of their conversations/arguments.  The three characters ended up being Katsa, Po, and one other character I’d probably remember if I had read the book.  But I didn’t, so I don’t.

*Please note that I am writing these at least six hours after the event, and I am reconstructing what was said from my memory (no notes were taken, though I wish I had). If I have given incorrect information, I apologize, as it is completely my own mistake.

Filed under: Event,


24 Responses to “Kristin Cashore Book Signing”

  1. Awesome recap!

    I love author signings too :) I love that she writes in notebooks because I still journal in a notebook. It is something about seeing the words on a page that just makes me feel like they are there (yep I know that makes zero sense)!

    • Thanks! :) Author signings are a ton of fun, though I need to either start going to ones where I’ve read the books, or I have to read the books before I go. You get sooooo much more out of it that way.

  2. You’re from MN?? That’s awesome! I live in Plymouth :D I wish I had known about this signing before it happened, curses, but I’m subscribed now so hopefully I find out about the next one xD

    *minnesota highfive*


    • Yes! We’re actually probably about 20 minutes away from each other. :) I’m also working on putting together a site for Midwestern bloggers, so be sure to sign up for that when I post about it next week. We’ll be able to have a list of bloggers in the area. :)

  3. Thanks for the recap! I had to work when Kristin visited in Chicago and I was SO bummed. I always feel like I get another aspect to the book after hearing the author speak and that really shines through after I finished reading “Bitterblue”. I’m actually really curious as to what the first draft of “Bitterblue” is like and how it differs with the actual result.

    • Oh! I don’t know if I wrote this, but after Kristin turned in the first draft, her editor asked her to basically start over… from scratch. She said that she had the major plot points, but that she basically crossed everything out and started again.

  4. WOW! Again, completely jealous. I do hope you read the books soon. Fire was my favorite but they are both outstanding. Bitterblue has been staring out me but it’s SO damn large that I need to work myself up for it. I should add it to BoB lineup, but it would be the only book I read, methinks.

    And now, I understand why Bitterblue took so long to write! Holy shite, I cannot believe she writes by hand!

  5. Rain Maiden Jen

    I have never gone to a book signing, so thank you for sharing. I too am blown away that she writes out her story by hand. Sounds like she is a very honest, open person. Looks like hard work to me.

  6. Yay for Work Pajamas!

    And wow, writes everything by hand. That’s amazing.

    Awesome pictures. So glad you got to go. I usually drag my mom to signings with me too, so I’m glad I’m not the only one. :)

  7. I’m glad you had fun! It sounds like book signings are quite insightful. I have Graceling and Fire in my TBR and this post has made me want to move them up. I like the pictures! I think I’d cry if I had to scratch out all that hard work…

    You’re right. After reading your post I have a new-found respect for her. That is a lot of work!

  8. Haha, I love that she pictures her negative voice as a sad man. But whoa, writing a whole novel and realising it sucks… That must be pretty tough to deal with.

    I didn’t really like Graceling (couldn’t stand Katsa) but I think I’ll give Bitterblue a try. Hope you’ll enjoy them all though!

    It sounds like a great book signing (: I wish we had more of those here

  9. Flipping love Cashore. So jealous. Glad she talked about her process. I bet you did enjoy that. I used to could only physically write, until I started blogging. I think it takes me longer on the computer to get my ideas out than it does with paper.

  10. Awesome recap! Thanks, Amanda!

    After I devoured Graceling and Fire I spent a little time stalking Kristin Cashore’s blog for news on Bitterblue, so I kinda had read somewhere that she wrote by hand and that she had to rewrite all of Bitterblue, which is NUTS! I think I would cry, lol.

    • If I remember correctly, I think Fire was pretty much written by the time Graceling was picked up, so there was less of a wait between those (and likely may have made Bitterblue seem like such a long wait, you know, other than it being a really long wait. =P)

    Oh, I LOVE you points, and recaps! I can’t believe she completely re-wrote Bitterblue. That’s insane… and handwriting that entire novel? Phwoah.

    Also? Work pyjamas? This is win.