Sarah J. Maas: Tower of Dawn Release in Nashville
I had the pleasure of attending the book release of Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas on Tuesday, September 5. Organized by Parnassus Books and held at Harpeth Hall, Sarah talked about her new book and the entire Throne of Glass series in front of hundreds of fans. Some were even dressed up as fae and witches. There were a few white haired Manons in the crowd (which I learned is pronounced “Ma-NON”).
Sarah J. Maas was funny, down to earth, and wonderfully sassy.
She didn’t give any spoilers, which was nice since I was in the middle of Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass book 4) at the time of the event. She did give a lot of insight into her process and her background.
When it came time for Q&A, the moderator pulled out notecards with questions on them from the crowd. (I didn’t see this when I came in, so I didn’t get to write a question. If I had, I would have asked about her outlining process.)
One person asked what a chapter from Abraxos’s perspective would have been like, which really tickled the author. She said it would be the gentle warrior-hearted wyvern sitting in a field sniffing wildflowers and daydreaming. Sarah J. Maas had such interesting asides and often strayed from the original questions but in quite an illuminating way. In answering the question about an Abraxos chapter, she told the inspiration for Abraxos, who was a dog who (I believe) was found and raised by her cousins. They found the dog in a street, and he was in bad shape. The vet thought he was used as a bait dog to train fighting dogs. Hence the beginning of Abraxos’s story.
Another person had asked for the best writing advice she ever got. She said she remembers the worst, which in a way turned out to be the best. She told a story of a high school creative writing teacher who was having students workshop pieces. When it was Sarah’s turn, her teacher ranted for a while about how fantasy books aren’t real books, about Philip Pullman (author of His Dark Materials series, one of Sarah J. Maas and my favorites!) is a hack, about how serious writers didn’t write fantasy. Sarah kept a detailed live journal at the time and wrote on it that night, saying how she wished the teacher would be crushed beneath a pile of fantasy books. Ha!
Another thing that struck me about Sarah J. Maas: her honesty. She laughed about her outfit and her hair.
“This person you see now, with the hair and makeup and heels, it’s a lie.” — Sarah J. Maas
OK, I’m paraphrasing, but she definitely said something really effing close to that. Sarah, like me, enjoys sweatshirts and sweatpants and ponytails. Comfort is key. And she loves her puppy. But back to the writing.
Sarah said she wrote Tower of Dawn in five days. FIVE DAYS. What the. What.
Sarah J Maas (who I’d really love to hang out with over a bottle of wine and a joint if she’s into that) said she knew where the book was going, and she was on some sort of medicine that her doctor even said would make her feel (or act like) The Hulk. The doctor gave the husband an apologetic look. She wrote late into the night until her hands were curled and cramped. She said Tower of Dawn just poured out of her.
I can’t wait to get to that point, where a book just pours out of me. But it isn’t easy.
Sarah J. Maas’s writing advice: sit your ass in the chair and write.
The moderator that night called Sarah the Queen of Foreshadowing. And I have to agree. Sarah really inspired me to dig deep and wrangle my 50k words of rambling scenes into a real story. Now I have to vision and the drive to outline, plot, plan, and then jump back into telling this story.
Thanks, Sarah, for all the words.