I don’t usually participate in blog tours, you may have noticed, but how could I turn down the opportunity to participate in the tour for Rainbow Rowell’s latest novel?! That’s right. I COULDN’T. Landline was published on 3rd July and you can read my review here. Rainbow is in London right now and has hosted two fantastic sold out events at Waterstones Piccadilly. I’m the last stop on the tour, so here’s my experience of her event on Monday!
I rarely attend a book event where an author has to cover so many books in one evening, but she sped through, talking about Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Attachments and Landline. For these events, Rainbow Rowell was in conversation with Bim Adewunmi, pop culture enthusiast and writer/editor, who was absolutely brilliant! Enthusiastic, knowledgeable about all things Rainbow and incredibly funny, Bim made an event with Rainbow Rowell even more enjoyable (we didn’t think it was possible!). I’d also like to say that although I made notes, there is still a chance that I misquoted or misunderstood some things, so if you were there and think I’ve said something drastically incorrect… do say! I’m also pretty sure there’s no spoilers, but here’s a spoiler warning, just in case.
Eleanor & Park, unsurprisingly, is the book that Rainbow Rowell holds closest to her heart. It’s the one, she says, that’s most like a child you have to keep an eye on, and the one that she’s most protective of, so when it was optioned to be a movie, she was a little afraid. At the event she said she was worried that a few changes could alter the story and that it could very easily go wrong. Shailene Woodley cannot play Eleanor. Park cannot be white. But then she imagined what it would be like if the film we went well, if we got to see a chubby girl and an Asian boy kissing on-screen – it would be great! So she’ll be writing the screenplay (but she hasn’t started yet!). She’s currently trying to figure out how to show the most famous quotes, like ‘Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something’, because they were never actually said aloud. Eleanor & Park is the book she wrote during an awful part of her life and when stuff from her teenage years began rising up. She didn’t plot out the story or plan, but wrote it like ‘falling down a hill’. Because, she says, nothing tastes as good or sounds as good as it does in your teenage years (like how older adults still listen to the music they loved as a teenager!), she didn’t really need to research the 80s because it started coming back to her clearly. Eleanor & Park is also the book she receives the most tweets about (especially people asking about those three words!).
Attachments was her first novel and she wrote it while working for a newspaper. She wanted to write something that wasn’t an assignment (and something that didn’t have to make six other people laugh before it could be published). She first wrote the emails, then Lincoln’s narrative, and then realised that he was the main character and so re-wrote it over several years. Lincoln is one of her favourite characters (and I think he’s pretty awesome) and is quite dear to her. She says that all the characters are in their late twenties because it’s a time when you realise that nothing happened the way you thought it would after leaving university/college, and so you start wondering who you are.
Fangirl was the one that most people were excited to hear about, I think. It was one of my favourite book reviews to write because we’re all fans, we’re (likely) all fans on the internet and we would never ask “what the fuck is ‘the fandom’?” There’s a lot on the internet about why she started reading fanfiction, so I won’t write it out all again, but even though I’ve never personally read fanfiction, I ‘get’ the Harry Potter fandom. Rainbow wanted to write about the ‘girl fan’ because it’s not something we often see. She thinks it’s brilliant that there are girls who think ‘I’m going to do this thing, make friends, be creative and I don’t care what you think’. Bim and Rainbow talked a little bit about Cath (who, like Rainbow, has social anxiety, but Rainbow had to deal with it without the internet) and Wren (who she doesn’t really see as a ‘flip’ of Cath, but more like her friends from high school). Her friends started to ‘grow up’ without her and separate, like how if your friends give something up, you feel you have to too. Cath tries to hold onto that, not sure whether she has to give up both her sister and her fanfiction.
Rainbow said that she looks a lot like her mother and so was expected to act like her too, so she felt she didn’t really have her own identity. Although I’m not a particular fan of fanfiction – and I’ll admit that I did skip some of the excerpts! – she said that she wrote it so you could do that, but if you did want to read them, you’d find out a bit more about Cath and Wren. (She also thinks Sherlock is the ‘greatest love story ever told’. Bim isn’t a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch (did I hear you gasp?) so we had a bit of fun with that. It’s fine though. We know you’re one of us, Bim).
And finally, Landline! Rainbow Rowell decided to dip her toe into fantasy and science fiction because she loves the concept of time travel movies like Summer in Time, Quantum Leap, Big and Back to the Future and she loves that it doesn’t have to stay within its genre. She thought her agent wasn’t going to get the idea, but he did straight away. They talked a little bit about how to handle the magic phone (this isn’t a spoiler!), but decided to go with ‘It’s just magic. No questions. Deal with it’. There’s no explanations and definitely no special effects noises when the ‘magic’ happens. Unfortunately, this is where we had to end the event, much to my dismay. (It’s all right, we had a lot to get through). If you went to her event on Tuesday, let us know in the comments if you heard any other fun anecdotes or stories! A little birdie told me that Rainbow loves writing phone conversations and dialogue, especially in Eleanor & Park, and so and wanted to do it more, hence Landline!
We also got to hear a teeny tiny bit about her Next Book. It’s YA fantasy. It’s set in the UK because it ‘couldn’t be set anywhere else’ (and yes, she is worried about getting our slang correct, but she’s getting British friends to read it too!). She’s written the first draft. If you don’t already know, she’s also writing a graphic novel, illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks, published in 2016.
Aaaaand that’s it. I haven’t written down everything that was said because, you know, the event was on for over an hour. BUT. If you’re ever offered the chance to go to one of her events, please take it! And don’t forget to check out other stops on the blog tour!