Thank you for coming. Twizzler?

Occasionally, I have one of those deeply humbling moments.

These include, but are not limited to, such things as trying to help my son with his math homework, anything technological, finding out Bono is 46, checking my bank balance, realizing my mother was right about anything, and undressing in a Macy’s fitting room beside a full-length mirror under the most heinous flourescent lighting ever.

Last night was such a moment. I was scheduled to read and talk at the New Brunswick, NJ Public Library. So I grab my umbrella and catch the train to NJ, forgetting to grab a train schedule so that I had to pester the nice conductor to tell me when to get off (humbling moment #1. Or no, just stupid moment #1,458,907.) It’s pissing rain. The librarian, John, and I go for a really nice dinner. He is a sweetheart, and we bond over sci fi, zine publishing, Hal Duncan, hummus, and kids. I’m nervous about the library gig. (I am one of those misleading introverts. I can pass for extrovert but inside, I’m ready to bolt for the safety of my Hobbit Hole.) I’m thinking, gosh, what if there are a lot of teens? What if I don’t read well? What if I make an ass of myself or spontaneously flop-sweat? What if I have pepper in my teeth? What if they ask me questions about the third book and I respond with non-answers like, “Yes. Possibly. Or not. Look over there–baby foxes!”

This is all for naught. (This is what we writers call foreshadowing.)

At 7:00, we enter the room and there sits…one girl. One. Uno. Un Solitario. I think Three Dog Night said it best when they sang, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”

Her name was Allison. She’d never read my books, so I kind of told her about them, and wondered if maybe this would be the time to bust out the new routine I’ve been considering: The Story of AGATB…in mime. Sadly, my “walking against the wind” movements were a bit rusty so I decided against it. But the dear girl was such a good sport that she sat next to me for far longer than she needed to, sipping a Capri Sun while I nodded and smiled way too much and said things like, “So…have you always lived in Franklin Township?”

Finally, after an hour, she looked longingly, one might even say desperately, toward the doors and said, “I think my mom’s here.” I owe Allison a potted plant. John offered me all the Twizzlers I could eat and took me to the train station where we gabbed some more and no doubt he was thinking, “Sheesh. Next time I book Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier.” New Brunswick. Tough room, tough room…

And in more humble-land, I got back my editorial notes from my beloved editor, Wendy. All twelve pages of them. I asked her if I could just wait until she publishes her notes in hardcover. Hahaha. Ha. Ahem. Wendy, being Wendy, which is to say unfailingly polite, has already assured me that this is a “good book” that with “tweaking” will be “great.” I already know that I will be ripping this book apart by the seams and completely refashioning it. I really do feel like this is Project Runway, and Tim Gunn has just said, “I’m concerned” and “Make it work.” And I will. Actually, I love revision. (Full disclosure: I’m high on pre-Halloween mini Snickers.) But seriously, while revision is no picnic, it’s where the real stuff happens. For me, at least. Please. Dear God, please. But the little hamsters who run on the wheel inside my head that activates my brain are scurrying along, and I’m starting to crackle with new ideas. It’s finally making sense and I feel jazzed again. Some old friends might be stopping by. *cough* Poppy Warriors *cough* Or not. But it will come together. I will make it work. I do not wish to be auf’d.

Oh, and we have a title: THE SWEET FAR THING. It’s from W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Rose of Battle.” (google away.) Wish I could say I thought of it, but it was Wendy to the rescue. I wanted to use Yeats; she suggested this particular line. Maybe she needs a potted plant, too.

Two last bits of news and then I’ll shut up:
1. I had a very nice conversation with Charles Sturridge, the director who is writing the screenplay for the film adaptation of AGATB. I lost about the first ten minutes of what he said because he has the most gorgeous British accent, the sort that makes everything sound yummy–honestly, he could’ve discussed entrail surgery and it would have sounded like “Masterpiece Theatre.” But then I caught up again, and I think he’s going to do a fantastic job with the film if we get that green light.

2. I have a first-person essay in the November issue of Cosmo Girl. It’s about hair, self-esteem, car accidents, feminism, and the tyranny of the beauty myth. In, you know, 800 words or less. Check it out, if you’re so inclined.

Now, I really am getting back to it.

195 thoughts on “Thank you for coming. Twizzler?

  1. I am honestly shocked no one really showed up to your book reading. I know if my friends and I had heard about it we would have been there. And if we didn’t have the insane theatre filled class schedules we do. Alas, to be majoring in theatre in college. 😀

    Just a quick oh-em-gee I love you inserted here: all my friends love your books, we love the combination of historical settings followed by fantasy (we think of it as Lord of the Rings meets Victorian England).

    This will most likely not happen as I am sure you are insanely busy but I’m in NYC Saturday (the 21st of October) and would love to, oh I don’t know; kiss your feet for the awesome books? Or just talk, I understand you write plays too and I would love to discuss theatre, books, life in general with you.

    This has gotten longer then intended.

    Thanks for any response!
    Kate L.

  2. I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say about the title and the upcoming book…it sounds so good. If I lived in the area, I would’ve come to hear you. Yes, British accents are quite delicious. Yum! I read your essay in CosmoGirl!…it was great!!! I totally related to that. I like authors that sound like your best friends.

  3. An admiring fan

    Hello, can’t wait for the third book!! You’re an awesome writer Ms. Bray. Please keep writing. You bring joy to this bookworm’s life. Thanks!!

    ~Shara, 17-year old fan of Libba Bray

  4. I love the poem that the title came from. And the title.

    JEFFREY WON!!! To be honest, I was hoping for an Uli win, but Jeffrey’s good too. I loved the dress that Marylinda wore.

    Mmmm… accents. I want one.

  5. Oh, oh. Although I highly doubt that you will read this comment, much less reply to it… I urge you to have a deeply flattering moment, Libba darling, and consider the lives you have made even the tiniest bit more complete with this trifling livejournal entry. And by ‘trifling’ I mean ‘essentially and crucially important to both our lives and yours.’ … Unless my definition of journal entries isn’t open to universal use. Ah. Awkward.

    This past summer, I think around mid-July, I finally decided to honor the promise I’d made to my friends Morgan and Jenny back in October of 2005:

    “Okay, okay, I’ll find whatever that book is… about a Beauty? Okay, I promise I’ll get it,” I said, fully prepared to completely forget about the book and face the reprimands later. I succeeded.

    Well, months passed, my birthday had come and gone, and one afternoon I found myself looking longingly at my bookcase with eyes of Midsummer Boredom. On this day, my sister had plans with her friends at the mall in which I was required to be a chaperone for whatever reason. I dropped by Barnes and Noble before tackling this obstacle, hoping to cure my need for a good book in the middle of my intellectually devoid summer. I surveyed the shelves, and casually spotted AGATB. My friends’ voices chimed suddenly in my head, and the next thing I knew, I had the book in a bag under my arm.

    When my sister and her throng of loud preteen amigos had been sufficiently tamed and were under my (relative) control and supervision, I found a place to sit down, retrieved my new book from the crackling green Barnes and Noble purchase bag, and turned to the first page, fully prepared for (and I’ll admit to it) the ever-prevalent and predictable mediocre fantasy-book-beginning, which possibly leads into a marvelous core. I’d seen so many before. What made this time any different?

    Apparently, the first paragraph did.

    By the end of that paragraph, I was fully hooked. It was hopeless. I couldn’t put the book down even as I traversed the mall behind the babbling horde of my sister and her comrades… It’s a wonder that I wasn’t the culprit of some terrible “Trampling Accident Caused by Distracted Teen.”

    I finished the book before ten o’clock that night.

    As soon as I possibly could (which was the next morning), I found and read Rebel Angels. Because I am a book glutton. And when I glut a book, I’m sure to rave about it to find companions in gluttony. IN FACT! I walked into my Statistics class today (TODAY!) and found one of my victims sheepishly withdrawing a red-covered book from her purse. I could barely contain my wave of shuddering excitement when I saw the title, in great, sweeping letters: “A Great and Terrible Beauty!” It was simply wonderful.

    Thank you for your simply astounding pieces. I can’t even begin to describe how much I admire you, your talent, your skills, your writing! You are what I aspire to, Libba! You are what I wish I could be. You make Gemma and her adventures seem so believable… so real… so human… All the while retaining a mystic breath of fantasy. You’ve formed and kept the magic in your stories without it becoming an uncontrollable, ruinous force that destroys all sense of realism and logic, and that is a feat worth highest acclamation and praise. Too many could-be wonderful fantasy novels lose track of that need to tie in with understandable notions, and this inevitably takes away from any possible grandeur. But your books… Your books are filled to the brim with grandeur, romance, fantasy, realism… All complimenting one another, all meshing together in perfect, perfect harmony to create a symphony for the mind of the fantasy lover!

    The Sweet Far Thing… It already sounds beautiful.

    I cannot wait.

  6. OMG,YOUR DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i think you should put up the first capter on your LJ.
    it would be so COOL!!! 🙂
    Please,please,pleeeaaasse think about it!!!

  7. Why That?

    i luv the title of your third book!!! it sounds so romantic (sigh)….
    But why that title, out of all the ones you could’ve chosen?

  8. I would’ve come!

    I so would have come to your book reading. I mean, it’s the thought that counts, right? Well, at least that’s what they say. If you ever have anything in the Metro-Detroit area (specifically Sterling Heights), I’ll be there. Oh, and I can’t wait to get the Cosmo Girl!

  9. well as a writer it is nice to know that even someone who has made it like you have has these humbling moments. : )

    and, for me as well, all writing is re-writing. in the words of someone famous whose name i can’t remember, “all first drafts are shit.”

    and- jeffrey won!
    idk if that iswho yu were rooting for, but i was, and i need to revel in my (his) glory.

  10. come to ohio! Southwestern ohio!! please! i wish i was that solitary girl in that library! seriously, if i was a kid with cancer that would most likely be my wish…that and meeting Jensen Ackles in person, but i won’t go there. The title sounds awesome, i love yeats, defidently will be doing some serious googling in a few minutes. And the movie thing… still bugs me, but if you’re satisfied with it, i think i can at least pretended to handle it. keep all my opinions on how the movie indistry slaughters beautiful books under my breath.

  11. Love the title.
    And off the top of my head, I can think of at least twelve people who would jump at the chance to visit a library you were at. And then worship if or the next four months.
    How’s that for humbling?

  12. But hey, at least you got twizzlers

    I totally would have shown up, books in hand ready for intense discussion – but then again… I don’t have a car and that’s a long way to walk. If you happen to be nearby though, I will definately show up. With twizzlers. Do you have a schedule of appearances? If not, sometime if you’re able to post up when you’ll be in the DC/Northern VA area, that’d be awesome.

    Congrats on notes and good luck 🙂 I hope the movie bid goes well!

  13. I know, I already commented. But I’m doing it again.

    I just read your article in cosmogirl. It was really awesome. I recently did the “chop off all my hair” thing.

    first I looked like this:

    but then I went to work at camp, and I felt that THIS was a good idea:

    But now I look like this:

  14. your article

    ok so i read your thing in CosmoGirl, and I loved it! You are such a good writer, as if your books didn’t already showcase that talent.

    anyway, i am so excited to read the next book, and great title btw.


  15. Yea, if u came 2 somewhere near Bournemouth (South England), you’d have a hell of a turn out. I’d take an entire army of friends who love your books to see you! Omg, i’m so excited about the book! (And the movie, of course!)

  16. Just wanted to say that the Project Runway note is BRILLIANT…just like i’m sure your book will be once all those revisions get in! I’m looking forward to it, that’s for sure.

    Also….wow. All of those things in 800 words or less?! You are one incredibly talented and smart woman 🙂

  17. Huzzah!


    I am so excited for you! Congrats! This is so awesome…someone is going to make a movie out of a book that you wrote. How does that make you feel? I think that would be amazing.

    You rock Ms. Libba Bray. Kudos.

  18. Oh! That’s awful! I’m honestly surprised the place wasn’t full of people… I know I’d go (any chance you’re going to be around Arizona soon?).
    Hey! I get Cosmo Girl! I can’t wait for your essay ^^

  19. just a quick question miss libba….on saturday at this charlotte thing..I know it starts at 930am but when does it go to? I want to try and make it but I need a ride and nobody wants to get up that early LOL. Just wondering. Hopefully you get this in time ha. 🙂

  20. So I’m just going to be one of those annoying fangirls, and sort of kind of obsess over how awesome your books are, and how much I loved Rebel’s Angels. I’m sure that it probably gets old, but wait for it….
    Oh my God, I loved Rebel’s Angels!!!
    There now. Got that one out of my system.

  21. YOU WERE IN NEW BRUNSWICK??? I GO TO SCHOOL THERE! If I had known you would be there, I would have definately come to the reading. And I’m glad to hear that you’re book will soon be a movie. I know this sounds like a crazy-fan-gone-obsessive thing to say, but would you happen to know if there are any parts to the movie that will be open audition? If yes, then when and where? I’m an amateur actress. There, it’s out in the open. Oh, and, if you ever do have more readings in either the Edison or New Brunswick area, let me know. I’d love to come hear you.

  22. As a librarian, all I can say is:

    This is my worst nightmare. You book a great author, you do every kind of outreach you imagine, you booktalk to every high school you see, you plaster the world with flyers. . .

    And still no one shows up and you have brought a great author to your branch only to have her feel slightly less embarassed than you.

    Although at least I know we’re not the only library system with that problem, but man do I feel bad for both you and that librarian.

    Awkwardly grimacing in sympathy,
    A librarian-type

  23. I Love You!

    I read that essay thing in Cosmo Girl. I am so excited for the next book to come out! Oh and if you came to my town library, i would drop everything just to go meet you.

    – Allison Benson

  24. OMG i was just looking around your website to see if you may be pursing a movie for the books and im so excited you are! i cannot wait! i read both of your books over the summer and i’ve been thinking of how awsome they would be as movies! so i hope it does turn out and that there will be a rebel angels one too! good luck!

  25. Oh, goodness. What have I stumbled upon?

    I am *amazed* by:

    1) The fact that this may actually be the author of “A Great and Terrible Beauty”‘s live-journal.

    2) The fact that their was only ONE person (not trying to rub it in) to listen to you talk about your fabulous books. (Is there any possibility that you would/could come to Washington in the future? You would have at least three people who are in love with your books…)

    3) The fact that (no offence, it’s not like I expected you to be some horrible, rude person or anything) you are so awesome!

    4) The fact you wrote for Cosmo Girl (don’t ask why I’m amazed by that… I really have no clue)

    5) *Jaw drops* *hyperventilates* There’s going to be a movie???!!! really?????!!!!!! (I’m not freaking out, I have no idea what you’re talking about…)

    6) The fact that I’m amazed by so many things and have most likely managed to sound like a complete and total moron in the process of writing this.

  26. Movie info

    I was wondering about that whole movie thing. Is it really going to happen? If so, I am so jazzed! I have read the first two books about 14 times (literally) and I was actually hoping it would be made into a movie. I know there are probably 2 MILLION teenage girls who are up for the roles, but I would absolutely LOVE to audition. Basically, I’m wondering if you could post any information on auditions because I know these characters back to front (she says so humbly).
    Thanks for your time,
    a BIG fan

  27. agatb movie!

    i think that is sooooooo cool that there will be a movie i have had so many daydreams on the bus to school about being in the movie. When are the auditions i am definently interested.

  28. Re: Movie info

    me too! I so think the people who actually read them should play them. Also me and my friends who read them will film ourselves doing the parts who would you want to play?

  29. Congrats

    My name is Nikki, congratulations on the third book and the screenplay. I can’t wait to read the book, I have loved them so far, no rush though. I was however, wondering about the movie, are there going to be open auditions, because I would love to try for Gemma, it would be awesome to play a part written by my new favorite author. If so, please email me, my address is:

  30. =D

    Yea I did find it eventually,
    It’s really inspirational and I want you to know that my mum was always jealous of my sisters and my long hair and gets sullen when we go to get it died. But then she read your article and was slightly happier with her short funky hair, so thanks for making my mum happy!

  31. ?!

    A movie??

    That is brilliant! I’ve been sitting and thinking “Wow, I wonder when AGATB/RA will make it to the big screen” And now I know!

    ThankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouTHANKYOU for making the movie, in advance. And good luck to you!


    You have NO idea how much I’ve been praying and begging and hoping that there’ll be another book. And there is!!!!YEA!!!!
    Strange title. I like it though.
    Did all the titles come from poems?
    I know, now, where this one came from and I know “Rebel Angels” came from Paradise Lost, but where did “A Great and Terrible Beauty” come from? Anybody?

    Anyway, when’s “The Sweet Far Thing” coming out?
    Can’t wait!

    -Lady Hope
    P.S. And yes I got the name from “Rebel Angels”. I do hope you don’t mind.

  33. new brunswick, nj public library

    OMG!! i live near there but i couldnt go cuz we had 2 go 2 this stupid party…..FYI the party sucked and i was pissed i couldnt go….yeah im finished rambling, anyways i hope u had better audiences at other libraries!!!

  34. Hey, I just read this and I dunno if you have comments going to your e-mail and if you don’t, then you probably won’t ever see this but if you do, then you will.

    Anyways, I just wanted to let you know, that I like your books A LOT more than Scott Westerfeld’s. . . . stylistically and just in general.

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