A bit of a flashback, but I didn’t think readers would mind if I went a little back in time to recount my first meeting with the amazing Sarah J. Maas!
I first started reading SJM’s books in 2017. I had just left teaching at the time and I started working at a travel agency. I was experimenting with jobs and I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Reading has always been something that I have loved to do, but it was during this point in my life that I truly started to become a bibliophile. Enter Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series: I was instantly hooked and I was fully immersed into these worlds. It was exactly what I needed at the time and it became my much needed escape from reality.
I finally sorted things out by 2018. I had quit my job at the travel agency, threw in the towel for good with teaching, and I applied to do my Masters of Library and Information Science. I was in grad school for something I was really passionate about and I was reading more and more books on the regular, SJM’s work included. I was only in grad school for a couple of weeks when I found out that not only the newest book in the ACOTAR series, A Court of Wings and Ruin, was being released, but SJM would be making a stop in Canada for this book tour! It was really important to me that I attend this event and try to meet her, so I immediately checked my schedule and marked myself unavailable for May 21st 2017.
The event would be free and open to the public, but in order to get a wristband to attend the signing, I would need to purchase a copy of the book the same day as the event. I was worried though that there might be spoilers during this event, especially during the Q & A planned with Maas, so I decided to pre-order a copy of her book in order to read it ahead of time. I then planned to purchase another copy the day of the event, so I could attend the signing – anything to avoid spoilers, am I right?
We arrived early that morning at Indigo Sherway Gardens and we literally saw people RUNNING to the mall entrance. The mall wasn’t even open yet, but as soon as we saw people hauling it for the front door, we followed suit! We made our way to the store entrance, but when I saw the lineup outside Indigo, my heart sank. Online, they said that they would only have 250 wristbands available for this event and they would be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 250 people in line. It looked like there were just about that many people in line already, but we made our way to the end to wait to see if we would be getting a wristband or not.
No reason to worry though, because we made it just in time. We arrived shortly after 8:00 AM and the event was sold out by 8:30! We still had to wait until 11:00 AM though for the store to open. Once opened, we all proceeded inside, still in our lineup, to receive our wristbands, our group number to get autographs later, and to purchase our copies of A Court of Wings and Ruin. After purchasing our copies, we were told to come back at a later time for the panel interview with Sarah J. Maas.
Q & A Panel
I had never attended an author event like this before, nor had I ever been to a Q & A session. This was my very first one, so I really enjoyed the experience. I loved listening to SJM talk about her writing process, her own thoughts on characters and the books themselves. I’ve listened to podcasts in the past that featured authors where they discuss similar things, but done in person was so completely different. I loved hearing her live answers and I also loved being around other fans and the hype from the crowd. In case you were wondering, no spoilers were shared for A Court of War and Ruin, out of respect for those who had just picked up their copy that day and still have not read it yet. I thought this was amazing, but was I ever kicking myself for having pre-ordered and raced to finish the book before this event, but now I know better!
Here are some of the other things SJM talked about:
- TOG was inspired by Cinderella, while ACOTAR was inspired by Beauty and the Beast.
- She started writing TOG when she was just 16 years old.
- SJM had ACOTAR written in 2008. At the time though, she was still writing her TOG series, but decided that she would share the story instead of waiting.
- She’s a huge Lord of the Rings fan (she was president of the LOTR club at her high school!)
- SJM was a fan-fiction writer of Harry Potter and Sailor Moon crossover.
- SJM’s Hogwarts house would be Slytherin!
- She has no musical talent whatsoever. Aelin’s character plays piano, because it was a failed dream of hers, so she included it in the book instead.
- SJM shared that her husband and Rhys are not the same, but they do share the quality that they love their partners unconditionally – “People who love you on your bad days are your family and friends”.
- SJM doesn’t believe in guilty pleasures – “love what you love, there is no shame”.
- According to SJM, she is her own cruelest critic.
- Tower of Dawn was supposed to be a novella. She sat down in November to write this novella about Chaol, but she ended up writing four chapters with 20,000 words! After five days of writing, she was at 100,000 words! Seven months later, the novella became a novel.
- Hogwarts houses for each of her characters:
- Rys: Ravenclaw
- Cassian: Gryffindor
- Feyre: Hufflepuff
- Aelin: Slytherdor
- Rowan: Slytherdor
- Manon: Slytherin
- When SJM was asked, who would win in a fight, Aelin or Rhys, SJM answered that Aelin would be too distracted by Rhys’ good looks and Rhys would be too interested in her magic, saying things like, “show me those fire powers.”
- SJM has a giant mirror in her office to act out scenes with facial expressions.
- If SJM could go anywhere with one of her book characters, she would go to the Louvre with Feyre and the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City with Aelin.
As promised, a book signing was to follow the Q & A session. Where you were in the morning line-up to get your wristband, determined what grouping you were placed in for the singing. We were near the very end of the line that morning, so we were put in the final grouping, group 3. We were told that guests would be limited to getting only one signed book and two books stamped with SJM’s signature. I decided that I wanted my copy of A Court of Wings and Ruin to be signed by SJM and then I brought along my copy of Throne of Glass to be stamped. SJM was not alone at the signing table – her husband, who she often refers to as Papa Maas, had joined her and was helping out by stamping the additional books fans were bringing forward.
So you are probably wondering, what was it like meeting Sarah J. Maas in person? To be honest, I couldn’t think of one thing to say to her! I just stood there, star struck, and I waited for the awkward moment to pass. She was lovely though and tried prompting me along, asking how I was, and where did she want me to sign. At this I finally managed to speak and requested a specific way for her to sign my book. I wasn’t confident that she would say yes to my idea, but I still wanted to ask and see if she would be willing. After I explained what I wanted done, she didn’t hesitate! I wanted my copy of this book to face out on my bookshelf, so I took off the book jacket and asked if she could sign the front of the book with a silver sharpie I brought. It turned out AMAZING! The black cover contrasting with her silver autograph looks stunning on my bookshelf. My time was finally up with SJM and I left the signing table. At the end of it all, I walked away with an embarrassing interaction, along with two autographed books (thanks to my person who accompanied me to this event, and one stamped book, to ease my suffering.
If you ever want to attend an Indigo event in the future, check out this page here. It lists all of Indigo’s upcoming author/book related events. I’ve only been to this one, but I was so impressed with how well organized it was that I would definitely attend another! I also used to work for Indigo as a bookseller, so I have seen a lot of the back-end planning that goes into these events. I would 100% recommend attending one if you ever get the chance.
As a side note, as I was writing this post, I really missed reading SJM’s books and I just started picking them up again. I also came across this older podcast episode by 88 Cups of Tea, featuring Sarah J. Maas. If you’ve ever wondered about her story or if you want to hear her insights on writing, her books, and other randomness, this episode captures her personality perfectly. Check it out here!
Have you ever attended an author singing? Who did you meet/see? Share below!