Sunday, June 17, 2018

Stephanie and Kerri take Nashville

Last Monday, Stephanie Garber and Kerri Maniscalco made an appearance at Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee as part of Stephanie's Legendary tour.  After over seven hours of travel, a friend and I were able to be among the 100 or so attendees.  There is so much that could be said for the fun I had on this adventure, but I will keep this post limited to my encounter with two of my favorite authors.  At this event, Stephanie graciously shared several, never before revealed, secrets about the Caraval series and her creative process, including:

  • Caraval did not go as initially planned.  Julian was supposed to be killed off around page 50, but the character "persisted to keep his part of the story alive" as Stephanie put it.
  • Legend's identity changed often as Stephanie continued to write.  She had originally planned on Legend being *BEEP* but was altered as the story evolved.
  • When asked if she prefers writing heroes or villains, Stephanie and Kerri both decided on villains.  Kerri goes on to say that the morally gray characters are the ones who are the most enticing, because they are so unpredictable.  "You never really know what they are going to do next," she explains.
  • If Legend were to have pets, he would probably have a pair of fierce Great Danes with him at all times.
  • While the entire first draft of Legendary was discarded, most of Caraval remained intact.  Some details and scenes were altered, but nothing was plainly cut from Stephanie's debut novel.
  • In addition to all intense editing that came with Legendary, Stephanie admitted that there were seven different endings written for her latest novel.
  • Tella is considered fearless by many readers, but Stephanie disagrees.  "Its not that she's fearless.  She just doesn't let her fears hold her back," she explains.  After her adventures in Caraval, it was not surprising when Stephanie revealed that Tella's greatest fear is death.
  • Both authors agreed that their favorite tropes are when the main character falls in love with the villain and the enemies to lovers style.
  • Stephanie originally sent in her query for Caraval labeled as "The Night Circus meets Clue" referring to the board game that she adored as a child.  She was then told that she could not submit a query involving a board game.
  • Stephanie's fascination with Disneyland is what helped inspire Caraval.
  • Tella was one of Stephanie's favorite characters throughout the writing process, because she admired her courageous spirit.
  • Favorite advice from their characters:
    • Stephanie: The power of a sister's love that makes you go to great lengths in order to keep one another safe (speaking about the Dragna sisters' relationship in general).
    • Kerri: "The dead speak to those who listen."  Spoken by Dr. Wadsworth to Audrey Rose in Stalking Jack the Ripper.
  • Both authors began to take their writing seriously around 2009.  This is when they decided that they wanted to pursue writing as a career choice.
  • Scarlett's fiancé was the hardest character for Stephanie to write.  It was difficult for her to show that he played an important role in the story.
  • Thomas Cresswell was (and still is) the hardest character for Kerri to write.  Thomas is a complex character who does not fit inside a little box like he should.  He is a character who writes his own story, and Kerri has to work hard to keep him in line.  (Let's be honest.  This is one of the biggest reasons why all of the Maniscalco-Maniacs out there love Thomas so much; myself included.)
  • Stephanie contributes a lot of her success to the support of her family and friends who constantly encouraged her to keep going and never give up.

After the Q&A, Stephanie and Kerri decided to play a game with us.  I, along with three other lovely ladies, were chosen to go up onstage.  We were given ten quotes from either Legendary or Escaping from Houdini.  As a group, we had to decide which book each quote came from.  Unfortunately, we only got 5/10 correct (Sad. I know haha).  However, we each received a handmade bookmark, sewn by Stephanie herself with embellished buttons from her grandmother (if that is not special, I do not know what is).


The event then concluded with Stephanie and Kerri signing hundreds of books for the dedicated fans that made an appearance at Parnassus Books.  Since I arrived later than everyone else, I was toward the back of the line.  As I was waiting, I had the opportunity to meet an incredible group of young women.  We shared our love for the authors we were about to meet and talked about our bookstagram accounts (You can give them a follow by clicking the links in the picture's caption).

My old and new bookish friends.
(R-L) Drea, Wren, Katie, Grace, Dayrin, & Me
As the line crept forward, my anticipation grew and my heart began to race.  Have you ever been within seconds of meeting a couple of your heroes?  If not, its a little like this.  My mind was spinning with thoughts of compliments, witty remarks, and conversation starters.  I had no idea what I was going to say without sounding lame.  I was holding my stack of 10 books and the girls beside me were carrying equally large stacks.  

The six of us had finally made it to the front of the line, when Stephanie jumped up from her seat quicker than lightning.  "Oh my gosh! Look at those stacks," she squealed.  This is not even close to all the copies of your book that I own, I quietly thought to myself, but pushed it aside.  Stephanie insisted that she take a picture of us for a Flatiron Books post on Instagram, so we happily obliged.

That is when the most remarkable thing happened.  Stephanie looked up from her phone and asked me, "Are you @BlondewithBooks?"  I am literally no kidding when I say that I thought I was going to go into shock.  "We thought we recognized you earlier during our game," Stephanie continued, motioning to Kerri.

"Yes.  Thank you so much for all of your support and the giveaways and everything else that you do for us," Kerri chimed in.  And that did it.  That is what solidified the fact that June 11, 2018 was one of the best days of my life.  Not just the fact that two of my favorite authors remembered the 'Blonde with Books' brand, but that it made an impression.  This is something that I needed.  I had been contemplating closing my blog for some time now,  because I did not think it made a difference.  Hearing those kind words showed me that I am making a difference and that makes my heart smile.  I hope that this blog continues to grow and expand with time.  I hope that it makes other readers want to read more books.  I hope it continues to help authors grow in popularity.  And I hope that I continue to find happiness in each post that I write.

Thank you Stephanie Garber and Kerri Maniscalco for an amazing night of fun and fantasy at the Legendary Caraval - Moonlight Carnival inside Parnassus Books in Nashville.  I do not regret driving seven hours to meet you both, because it was one of the best experiences of my life.

You can help support these #1 New York Times Bestselling Authors by buying their books, today.  If you would like to purchase Legendary by Stephanie Garber, please click here.  And if you would like to preorder a copy of Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco, please click here.

Please remember that buying books from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN helps them be able to bring authors like Stephanie Garber and Kerri Maniscalco to town.  You can purchase books in the store or online at  Thank you in advance for your support!

UPDATE: Blonde with Books was Featured

Flatiron Books on Instagram

Stephanie Garber on Instagram

Kerri Maniscalco on Instagram

Stephanie Garber and Kerri Maniscalco on Twitter


Hey! I am Alexandrea. I am originally from North Carolina and I love all things bookish - reading and writing are what I do best so I hope you stick around to see all that my website has to offer!

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