Last Saturday, January 18, 2014, I had the privileged of meeting one of my favorite YA writer, New York Times bestseller author, Gayle Forman during the Blogger’s Conference organized by National Book Store as part of Gayle Forman’s Philippine Tour.
For those who aren’t familiar with Gayle yet, she is the author of the critically acclaimed novel “If I Stay” and its sequel “Where She Went,” and another duet of novels, “Just One Day” and “Just One Year.”
So, NBS organized a private event for bloggers where few lucky invited people like me got the chance to meet and talked to Gayle before her public book signing event in Glorietta. Most of the attendees are my fellow book bloggers friends and the usual press people we usually meet.
I don’t usually sit in front during events like this but since it is Gayle that I am meeting I choose the front and center seat directly in front of her. If it isn’t obvious yet, I’m a confessed fan of Gayle! I love all her books, I cried tons of times reading & rereading her novels, If I Stay and Where She Went.
At the forum, we got the chance to ask Gayle lots of questions about almost everything which she enthusiastically answered. First question came from Louisse, then from me, and this is what’s I’ve asked her:
Most of your books focus on telling events that happened in a single day. What is it about a one day event that seems appealing to you?
Her answer is kinda long and with my poor memory, I can’t write exactly what she said, but basically her answer focus on how one day event can catalyze change to anyone, like with her characters in Just One Day and Just One Year where a one day in Paris had been a catalyst for Willem and Allyson. And that’s why those books take over a year, because that day catalyzed the change.
We’ve learned so much from and about Gayle during the forum. Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that she visited Philippines. In 1998 she came here to write an article for a magazine for her work. The filename of If I Stay when she’s writing it is “Why Not?”, she write the novel without an intention of publishing and said for her it is the easiest book to write. While the hardest so far is Just One Year because Willem POV needs more details being a Dutch that he is. She also give few books recommendation to read like The Circle by Dave Eggers and some YA books.
Gayle is usually mistaken as a musician because of her books, If I Stay and Where She Went, which stories centered in music. But according to Gayle she is no musician even she keeps on singing to us that day. She love music but she’s no musical genius neither got any musical talent like her characters Mia and Adam. She don’t know anything about Cello when she first write Mia as a cellist. She didn’t even know why Mia becomes a cellist, it just happen according to her. Like Mia said to her “I am a cellist”. Gayle’s favorite song from her book, Where She Went is Bridge, then next is Hush, which are both great. I love all the songs in that book, but if I have to choose one I guess I still go with Animate.
Someone asked about her travels and Gayle told us about her travel experiences, from Paris to India and other countries. She have to revisit Paris and explore more the not so known places there for her book Just One Day. Her travel experience sounds so much exciting.
Gayle will have another book coming out soon, entitled “I Was Here”, which is a suicide mystery love story about a girl name Cody who investigate her best-friend’s suicide. The book is due to released in Winter of 2015 and will be stand alone. She’s also working on a picture book which will be called “The Best Day Ever, The Worst Day Ever.” If I remember it right, this is a children book about two sisters and inspired by Gayle’s very own daughter.
As an executive producer of the movie adaptation of her book If I Stay, Gayle is very much involved in the film. Though she wasn’t the one who write the movie script she can guarantee that it’s close to her book. She even cried four times while reading the script. Even before the filming, I am already excited to see the movie adaptation on big screen. Hearing Gayle talked about it and her experiences at the set of If I Stay makes me more thrilled to see the movie. Her stories about the cellist, the cast and every little bit of information she can share just makes me more excited.
After the forum’s QandA, we got the chance to chat more with Gayle and have our books autographed. When I meet her in front I just have to hug her tightly. She’s incredibly lovely. She said I’m so slim and hug me again. And it feels like I’m hugging a long lost friend. Warm and cuddly.
She is sooo lively and full of life. She sings a lot and even joke that she really went in Manila for karaoke. During the forum she belted Let It Go, Do You Want to Build a Snowman? And a line from of one of Adelle Song. She even let us take selfie photos with her and encouraged us to make fun faces. She is so fun! I just love her!
After our private meeting with Gayle we also went to her public signing at NBS Glorietta where tons of fans are waiting for her. I’ve heard that some of those people are there since 8am, queuing in line while waiting for the opening of the book store and get their number for the public signing. When I drop by around 10:30am to claim my reserved books, the area is already jam-packed that early. So just imagine how many people actually gather during the public signing by 4pm, which ended till the mall closing at around 9pm.
After her Manila signing, Gayle went to Cebu the next day for another book signing event which I’ve heard is a success too. And since Cebu is celebrating Sinulog Festival that day, Gayle got the chance to witness one of the biggest and most attended festival of the Philippines.
Meeting Gayle in flesh is an awesome experience. Something I cherish not only as a one time experience but also as the best bookish event so far. I am forever thankful to Gayle for visiting us here in Manila despite of her busy schedule with all the filming of If I Stay. And of course to National Book Store for inviting Gayle.