Google+ Reading Teen: Smart Chicks, Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong Answer Some Question

Friday, August 27, 2010

Smart Chicks, Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong Answer Some Question

A Q&A With Two Very Smart Chicks

Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr, two authors participating in the
Smart Chicks Kick It Tour, give a behind-the-scenes look at the unique concept behind the tour, how and why it was developed and what fans have to look forward to when the Smart Chicks hit the road on September 13, 2010.

What makes the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour different than other tours that feature multiple authors at one venue?

Melissa: This tour is definitely one-of-a-kind! We are author-organized AND author-funded with an ambitious schedule -- 12 cities in 14 days.  Another unique component is that the 18 participating authors come from a wide variety of different publishers.   Additionally, the author line-up at each city is different, and the authors on the tour are a combination of bestsellers, award-winners, and up-and-comers.  They are all authors that Kelley and I personally chose (although there are a lot more authors we wanted to include but we are already twice the size we planned!). 

Kelley: Most importantly, these are all authors who write “kick a**” protagonists—and in our opinion, a lot of the authors we invited are pretty kick a** too. A couple of them have reached out to set up visits to juvenile detention facilities in tour cities; they are reaching out to readers; and they are rolling up their sleeves to make this potentially unwieldy tour of ours run smoothly. 

How did you come up with the name for the tour?

Melissa: During the preliminary planning in August 2009, I sent an email to Kelley & Alyson Noel that (among other things) said, “We need a name.”  Kelley pulled our ideas together and suggested “Smart Chicks Kick It” because, as she succinctly summarized, we were focusing on books about “Strong heroines, smart heroines, capable heroines...real girls with real strengths, not necessarily out there kicking butt, but able to handle themselves in tough situations.” 

Putting together a twelve city tour with 19 different authors must be quite challenging.  How have you managed it all?

Melissa:  I like organizing things—to the point that as a result of the fun of setting up the tour, I recently volunteered to run the Young Adult track for RT Booklovers Convention in 2011. To me, this is good fun. 

It looked complicated (and has been), but I enjoy it. Fortunately, Kelley is also very organized, and we have many great volunteers. 
Kelley:  Yes, this has really been a grass-roots effort and it’s been great how several Smart Chicks have lent their expertise to the planning and execution of this tour.  For example, participating authors Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a PhD student at Yale, so she’s our “gridmaster,” creating numerous spreadsheets to help keep track of everyone. Rachel Caine is a graphics professional, so she designed one of our tee-shirts and web icons (Melissa’s husband was even roped into doing some graphic work too).  Sarah Rees Brennan is a frightfully clever young woman, so she’s written some great blogs that are both fun and smart.  We have a lot of volunteers, and to be sure we didn’t miss any essentials, we collectively pooled our funds and hired Media Masters Publicity, a literary public relations firm, to help us.  

What can fans expect when they attend a Smart Chicks Kick It event?

Melissa: At each event, fans will have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with the authors and get their books signed by all of the Smart Chicks.  We love to get our pictures taken with our fans – but since we might be sharing a few “spoilers” we don’t allow video.  We don’t want our spoilering caught on tape! 

Kelley:  We’re looking forward to having fun and interacting with our fans. There will also be tons of give-aways, including one “mega swag basket” at each stop that features books from ALL 18 Smart Chicks, tote bags, audio books, bracelets and necklaces and lots of other cool stuff! 

What has been the response from fans and booksellers?

Melissa: Amazing! We wanted this to be not just “our way” but “their way,” so our first step was a Facebook page where we solicited city and store suggestions from our fans.  Once we came up with our wish list the booksellers eagerly jumped on board. From there, we also spoke to a couple of librarians because we want to include both stores and libraries in our plans. Honestly, the response has been so positive that we went from our initial plan of 6 cities to twice that. We’ve had to draw a line somewhere, but the support has been so strong that we are already getting requests for a Smart Chicks 2.0.

Readers, of course, were a very vocal part of the initial conversations, and their support and enthusiasm for this tour has been there every step of the way.

All of the authors on tour write books categorized as “young adult novels” but many of your fans are adults.  Are you surprised by this?              

Melissa: For the decade or so before I wrote, I taught university, but I still read picture books. Story transcends form and age, and as my inbox and solo touring experiences make clear, a lot of adults read so-called “young adult” books.  I think JK Rowling went a long way to reminding readers that books featuring younger protagonists were accessible to adults too.  Moreover, a lot of paranormal texts derive from myth, folklore, and fairy tales. Today, those are wrongly thought of as “children’s” texts, but in the original versions, they were far from child-focused. It’s no wonder then that these texts are resonating for adults.  

Kelley: I’ve been writing “adult” urban fantasy for years, and those readers also cross all age boundaries from teen to retirement age. I’m not surprised to see the same thing with my YA novels.  If a reader is willing to spend a few hours enjoying the story of a werewolf, he/she isn’t going to have much trouble reading about characters in another age group!

You two will be with 16 other woman for almost two weeks – do you think you will all have a special bond with each other after this experience?

Melissa: I’ll confess that I already knew a number of these women.  I’ve read all of their books, blogs, and in many cases have shared panels with them at conferences, so I’m optimistic that the tour will add to my already positive regard for them. Likewise, others on the tour know each other already. I think the writing community already provides a close connection for a lot of us, and I’m counting on that to give us the strength to succeed at the tour . . . and collaborate to find ample morning coffee.

Kelley:  I’m a little more isolated from the community than Melissa, both because I come from the adult side and because living in Canada has limited my chances to meet fellow writers in person.  But while I only know some of our “Chicks” personally, I’m familiar with all their work and looking forward to meeting the rest.

Can I still “follow” your tour if I’m not located near a city where you will be?

Melissa: Absolutely.  We’ll be tweeting, Facbooking and blogging while on the road, sharing the good (the events), the bad (the grueling travel) and the ugly (a bunch of night owls trying to locate coffee before an early morning interview!). 

Kelley:  We’ll also be bringing a photographer along for the ride so we can visually chronicle this adventure and share our trip with our fans.

Are there plans for a Smart Chicks tour in 2011?

Melissa: Tentatively, Kelley and I are looking at a smaller 2.0 tour with a different line-up, bringing in a lot of non-paranormal YA writers and some of the paranormal YA writers who couldn’t make this tour.  In my rather optimistic way, I’d love to do a few big “reunion” events with this line-up too.  I haven’t exactly mentioned that to the authors on tour yet, though, so we’ll see where we end up on that topic.

Smart Chicks Kick It Tour
September 13th, 2010 - September 25th, 2010
September 13th, 20107 PM @ BOOKPEOPLEAustinTX
            Appearing: Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel,
Holly Black, Rachel Caine, & Cassandra Clare
September 14th, 20107 PM @ B&N THE WOODLANDSHoustonTX
            Appearing: Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Holly Black,
Cassandra Clare, Kami Garcia & Rachel Vincent.

September 15th, 2010, 7 PM @ The Refuge, hosted by BLUE WILLOW, Houston, TX
            Appearing: Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Holly Black,
Sarah Rees Brennan, Margaret Stohl & Cassandra Clare

September 16th, 2010, 6 PM @ Plantation Commons, hosted by LEMURIA BOOKS, Jackson, MS
            Appearing: Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Holly Black,
Cassandra Clare, Jessica Verday & Sarah Rees Brennan

September 17th, 2010, 7 PM @ Scottsdale Civic Library Auditorium, hosted by POISONED PEN Phoenix, AZ
Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black,
Sarah Rees Brennan & Kimberly Derting.

September 18th, 2010, 6 PM, Menlo Park Library, hosted by KEPLERS, San Francisco, CA
Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa de la Cruz,
& Kimberly Derting

September 20th, 2010, 6 PM @ VROMAN'S, Pasadena, CA
Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine,
Melissa de la Cruz, Rachel Vincent, Margie Stohl, Kami Garcia & Mary Pearson

September 21st, 2010, 7 PM @ Encinitas County Library, hosted by MYSTERIOUS GALAXY, San Diego, CA
 Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Mary Pearson,
Rachel Caine, Rachel Vincent, Margie Stohl, Kami Garcia & Carrie Ryan

September 22nd, 2010, 7 PM @ Ventz Concert Hall at North Central College, hosted by ANDERSON'S Chicago, IL
Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Jackson Pearce,
Jennifer Lynn Barnes, & Carrie Ryan
September 23rd, 20107 PM @ BOOKS & CO AT THE GREENEDaytonOH
            Appearing: Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Jackson Pearce,
Jennifer Lynn Barnes, & Kami Garcia
September 24th, 20107 PM @ JOSEPH BETH Cincinnati, OH
Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Jeri Smith-Ready,   
Jennifer Lynn Barnes & Margie Stohl
September 25th, 20102 PM @ CHAPTERS BRAMPTON (Toronto) ON
            Appearing:  Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Melissa de la Cruz,
Jeri Smith-Ready, Kami Garcia, Margie Stohl & Jennifer Barnes



  1. Great interview! I'm very excited for this tour, as I'll get to attend my very first author signing EVER in Cincinatti! :-) Thanks for sharing!

  2. I'm excited for this tour! I will be attending the one in AZ.

    Great interview.

  3. Great interview. I'm hoping to be able to see them when they come to Toronto. It's going to be at least a two to three hour bus ride though to get there unless I can find a ride.

  4. Sounds like a bril idea. Pity it's not in Ireland:S

  5. One is only 3 hours from me! I hope I get to go...


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