A recap of the Sydney leg of Becca Fitzpatrick’s book tour, The Black Hand Ball, at The Establishment.
When I arrived at the ballroom of The Establishment, I was greeted by a waiter wearing black pants, shoes, black angel wings and nothing else, serving fruity red mocktails. Pity me, for I live a hard life.
We were offered little pumpkiny canapes wrapped in puff pastry, yummy meatballs and cute little blow-torched lemon meringue tarts.
The editor of Dolly magazine introduced Hush Hush Saga author Becca Fitzpatrick, who talked a little bit about how she got published and answered Dolly readers’ questions.
The rest of this section paraphrases some of what Fitzpatrick said.
When I was in college, I didn’t see myself as a writer; I wanted to be a spy. You laugh, but I applied with the CIA twice and they never got back to me. It’s their loss because I would have totally rocked that job.
I was 24 when my husband surprised me with a writing course for my birthday. I told my teacher, ‘I’m going to show up every week, but I’m not going to write anything and I’m not going to read anything.’ So he was real excited to have me there.
My teacher gave us an assignment on writing a humiliation scene. It reminded me of when in high school at 16 and we were learning about human reproduction. I wasn’t paying attention at the time and suddenly the teacher called on me and asked what I wanted in a mate. I was sitting next to a super-cute boy who was digging his fingers into me and saying, ‘Yeah, Becca. What do you want in a man?’ So that scene came from that inappropriate question. So many people emailed me saying it would never happen. It did.
Over five years I would receive almost a hundred rejections for Hush, Hush before my agent, who is from Sydney, decided she could sell it to New York. And that’s how awesome Aussies are because no one in America wanted it. Moral: persistence. We all have hopes and dreams and aspirations and the only way to get there is not give up.
I’m often asked, ‘Where do you get inspiration?’ I often steal stories from my own life. My friend wanted to ask a girl to a dance, but you couldn’t just phone someone up and ask them. He filled her tub with water and put goldfish in it. He made a sign saying: ‘Of all the fish in the sea, you’re the one for me.’
My friends wanted me to ask this guy who was super-hot called Beau. He was hot and popular and I was not so I knew he’d say no. Their idea was to get a hot dog with ketchup and mustard and relish and a sign saying: ‘Don’t be a wiener, go to the dance with me.’ At the last minute I chickened out because I knew he’d say no, so I put my friend’s name on the sign. But he knew my friend had asked his friend, so his mom Barbie (yes, that’s her name) rang around all the mothers and learned the truth, so Barbie made him ask me to the dance and he didn’t want to be there. He glared at me the whole night.
So if you’ve read that scene (in Crescendo where Nora sneaks into Scott’s room to look around and he walks in on her) you know exactly where that came from. Moral: Never ask a guy out with a hot dog. Second moral: Keep a journal so you can get ideas from things that happened to you.
If you could vote out a character and why?
It would have to be Detective Basso because when I was originally writing the story, he would have a super-cool role, but my editor disagreed.
What are we going to see in fourth book?
Has everyone read Silence? Okay, I’ll try to keep this one spoiler-free: the nephilim and fallen angels go to war, big battle… I can’t say this, I can’t say this because then it will spoil things. Patch is in danger, Nora usually the one who is in danger, but now he is. An old enemy hunts him down.
I’ve finished the rough draft and need to edit it before sending it to my editor. I know how it will end and that it will be the last book in the series.
Who is your inspiration for Patch and how did you come up with his name?
He’s based on this boy in school who was the ultimate bad boy, so I thought I could look him up on Facebook but he wasn’t on Facebook so I don’t know if he’s alive.
I used the name Patch and decided I didn’t like it, so I stuck with it until I could think of something better, but it never happened. My editor liked Rixon (the name of Patch’s fallen angel friend) and I changed went find and replace but it didn’t work for me.
Where did you get the mythology?
My mother would hate this but I got it from years of Sunday school. The Old Testament has awesome stories of angels doing supernatural things like communicating with animals and things like that. I came up with idea of the angel scars showing their memories.
What advice do you give to writers?
I’ve already mentioned the journal. Join a writers group to read and share their work. And not just write, but read. Read everything you can get your hands on, not just your own genre because they all have things to teach you.
Why not write a book from Patch’s POV?
I did at the end of Silence because my editor asked me to, but I was nervous because he’s still a mystery to me. I don’t have any plans to write a book from his point of view because I’d like to keep him a mystery in my own head.
How old were you when you wrote your first story?
Elementary school, so 6, 7, 8. I wrote plays and held auditions during lunch. I told my mother I wanted to be a romance writer because of Romancing the Stone. I thought it was normal for the writer to travel to South America to rescue her sister from these dangerous men.
Reading and signing
We were shown a special message from Patch read out by an actor:
If you haven’t read Silence, you’re in for a treat, because the best bit in my opinion is that it has a story from my point of view. I didn’t meet Nora for the first time in biology, I met her with my friend Rixon. I knew she was going to be there. I had been watching her for awhile and had admired her for awhile. I wanted to kill her but I got to know her and I looked into her eyes and fell in love. I couldn’t help it… You’ll have to wait until October 2012, to see what happens next but you won’t be disappointed.
Then Becca spent the rest of the night signing books. When my turn came, I told her I owed her an apology because I would have said that the question about what a school student looks for in a mate would never have been asked.
Before tonight I’d already read Crescendo and Silence (reviews to come), both of which I felt more freedom to enjoy without the stalky element I felt in Hush, Hush. With Patch being less ambivalent in his treatment of Nora in later books, it was easier to see that he was just having a bit of harmless fun at Nora’s expense by making her squirm. Also hearing about the origins of that scene showed that it was based on something that, despite my disbelief, could actually happen (because it did happen) and was taken a few steps further, but that was where it lost me. Without the context of the later books in particular, but also the story tonight, I think Patch’s role in the scene had a different complexion for me than the one Becca intended.
We were handed goodie bags when we left containing two books, the November issue of Dolly, a Darrell Lea discount card and a heart-shaped chocolate as well as a few other things.
Two complimentary tickets to this event were generously provided to Book Thingo by Simon & Schuster Australia. Visit the Book Thingo Flickr album for more photos of the event.