Sunday, February 18, 2018

Author Event: Neal Shusterman

I was going to lead this off with a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, but then I started to worry about copyright infringement.

So I will tell you the gist, which hopefully will not be reminiscent of a five year old telling you about a movie, or anyone ever telling you about their dream.

Calvin is vociferously complaining about something being unfair. His dad tells him life isn't fair. To which Calvin replies, "But why isn't it ever unfair in my FAVOR?" 

I have loved this crack since I first saw it in the newspaper (remember those?) back in the 1980s. But as I get older, I also start to look for those moments when life IS unfair in my favor. I mean, besides the white privilege stuff, which is a whole 'nother conversation.  But sometimes things just line up right, and not through any hard work or other deservingness on your part. Case in point:

About ten days ago, I was in Powell's Books picking up an order I'd placed. I happened to notice a sign that said Neal Shusterman would be there on Feb. 15. I realized that it was an evening I would actually be able to go.

Around the same time, I was finishing up the last few books I was reading as a round 2 CYBILS judge in YA speculative fiction. One on our list was Scythe, which I'd read a year earlier, but had been saving to re-read after giving all the other contestants a fair chance.

I re-read Scythe, loved it even more than I'd loved it the first time, and waited to see what the committee thought. We all loved it. It won.

CYBILS made their announcements on Feb. 14, a couple of days after the big industry awards come out (Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, etc.). That meant that it was okay for me on Feb. 15 to be talking about Scythe being our winner.

And that is how I ended up shaking hands with Neal Shusterman and congratulating him on his win on behalf of our committee, and how he ended up signing books to us with thanks for the CYBILS honor.

Of course, since life is not always fair in our favor, I also forgot my phone at home and have no pictures of the event. You win some, you lose some, as my dad (and, most likely, yours too) always said.

TOMORROW I will actually tell you about the event itself, which was very cool. Highlights to look forward to include:

  • How Wendy slayed it (get it?) on the trivia contest
  • The official story about where he got the idea for the Arc of the Scythe series, and the real story, which he only realized recently
  • The irreverent joke that became the seed of the Skinjacker series
  • What Shusterman said about movie/TV adaptations of his works
  • How Shusterman's writing process is JUST LIKE MINE (I jest)
  • and possibly some thoughts on being one of the adults at a YA author event, unless I decide that's a separate post


  1. You got to tell him that he won? That’s so cool! I’m glad you enjoyed the event. I’m hopefully going to read Scythe before the end of the month.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. I would be SO interested to hear his now "story of the story" of Scythe. I remember he told ONE story at ALAN in 2016, right before Scythe went on sale and after I had read it as an ARC ... and it had *just* occurred to him that major life events influenced his writing. Interesting to see if the story he told then off the cuff lines up with the story he told now.

    Have you had a chance to read Thunderhead yet? It's so good. I can't even explain how good it is.


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