Event Recap: Michael Grant signing

If 7-year-old me could see me now, she would be so jealous. Why? Because on Saturday, at the brilliant Muswell Hill Children’s Bookshop, I met Michael Grant.

Most YA readers will probably know Michael Grant from his Gone series or from Eve and Adam, which he co-wrote with his wife. Me? I knew him from the amazing Animorphs and Everworld series. Admittedly, it took me an obscene length of time to realise that those series weren’t only written by his wife, Katherine A. Applegate – but once I did, he shot up onto the “GODly AUTHOR” list pretty quick.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, the signing.

First off, the bookshop was completely packed. People were queued up outside to meet Michael – most of them kids accompanied by their parents but I also spotted a few teens and people in their twenties (so I didn’t feel too ancient!). The staff was super welcoming and engaged with pretty much everyone in line despite the limited space. To be perfectly frank, I’ve never seen such great hand-selling before. There’s a reason this bookshop is famous: great staff and great shelves.

I got there right towards the end of the signing, so I only waited about 15 minutes in line. Michael spent a lot of time with people in line, answering questions with surprising detail. Hearing him engage with everyone else gave me that extra boost of confidence to open my mouth and overshare.

Sure enough, I started off by telling him that – though I was sure that lots of twentysomethings had told him this before – the Animorphs series ruled my life as a kid, and that I’d read every single one (and still have them all). I’d written papers on the books and had, quite frankly, been completely obsessed. He had, indeed, heard this all before – so he told me about how, when revisiting the books when older, other fans had seen all the juicy extras going on in the background. It was that political vibe with its lovely moral ambiguity was what I had loved about the books when I was younger, though it was hard to spot at the time.

We then talked about how the series was published under his wife’s name, and he made a few really funny remarks about how they are in constant competition. He directed me towards the Reddit that Katherine did back in 2011 about the series (confirming that, yes, he was hovering over her shoulder for the entire time). I hadn’t known of its existence but, WOW. If you’re a fan of the series, take the time and scroll through it. There are so many great details in there!

All in all: a fantastic experience. I was so happy to see so many kids/adults/Yerks in attendance, and meeting Michael was an absolute treat. 7-year-old me is so, so jealous.

If you are in Ireland, you can still catch the tail end of Michael’s tour this week (more details here). Want to know more about Michael, the universe and everything? Check out:

Books on the Backlist: The Everworld Series

Once upon a time, there was an author named K. A. Applegate.  And – back in the 90s – almost every boy and girl had read her middle-grade series Animorphs.  It was an awesome, sci-fi series about teens who are given superpowers and forced to save the world.  This series taught me about loyalty, bravery, how to make tough (and sometimes immoral) decisions – all while seeing diving through the ocean as a dolphin, soaring across the skies as a hawk, or snuggling up to your favourite person as a dog.  Its 55+ books still occupy a shrine-like space on my shelves, and you can guarantee that I will be giving the books any child of mine.  Oh, and there was a TV show which starred that hot guy who has a twin… anyhow.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, you may soon, as Scholastic is reissuing the Animorphs books in May 2011.  I am not too crazy on the new covers, but think it is awesome that I even have new covers to complain about.

So, after Animorphs, Applegate wrote a Paranormal Young Adult series called Everworld.  It was the one and only YA series I read as a young adult, and it was fantastic – 12 books which followed 4 teens stuck in a crazy universe which took Old World Mythology and stuck it in a blender. I wish I could explain how much I loved this series: it was very dark, quite bloody, occasionally romantic, and had a dash of humour in some rather unexpected places.

K.A. Applegate has written about a zillion other books which I haven’t read.  I know the Making Out series and the Summer series really influenced a lot of teens in the 90s.  But for me, my love for Applegate began with Animorphs and then grew with Everworld. I seriously recommend the Everworld series if you are looking for something new to become addicted to.  There is plenty of romance alongside the godly beasts, not to mention the fantastic writing.  Here are a few blurbs and covers to wet your appetite:
by K. A. Applegate

David’s life was pretty normal. School. Friends. Girlfriend. Actually, Senna was probably the oddest aspect of his life. She was beautiful. Smart. But there was something very different about her. Something strange. And on the day it began, everything happened so quickly. One moment, Senna was with him. The next, she was swallowed up by the earth. Her screams echoing from far, far away. David couldn’t just let her go. Neither could the others. His friends – and hers. So, they followed. And found themselves in a world they never could have imagined. Now they have to find Senna and get home without losing their lives. Or their minds. Or both…

The Everworld Series

In the dark past, Zeus and Odin, Huitzilopoctli and Ra, and the other gods of myth decided to abandon the real world. They created another universe, where magic rules, where all the mystery and terror of these capricious immortals holds sway. It is a place where Vikings still sail in the name of Thor, where the Aztecs still make human sacrifices to Huitzilopoctli, and where Merlin still weaves his subtle webs.

For a thousand years and more, Everworld has existed apart from the real world. But now Everworld is in trouble. The cozy universe created by Earth’s ancient immortals has been invaded by the creatures of myths that are no part of human tradition. The gods are under attack, divided and terrified. And in this moment of supreme danger, Loki, Norse god of evil, reaches across the barrier between Everworld and the real world to seize a new power: Senna Wales.

Senna carries with her four ordinary high school kids from the Midwest: David, the insecure hero and Senna’s love; Christopher, the joker Senna spurned, who hides his own anger and bigotry beneath a glib veneer; Jalil, cold, calculating, and so devoted to rationality he can’t even acknowledge his own strange tie to Senna; and April, Senna’s half sister — actress, flirt, and Senna’s most dangerous enemy.

The series is currently out of print (I know, right??), but you can get new copies of the books very very easily on Amazon Marketplace (US site).

But you know what would be awesome, oh Scholastic dearest… a bind-up!  A lovely, shiny, beautiful bind-up of the Everworld books.  Consider that small plea from a girl who would consistently drag 50+ Scholastic books to the counter (á-la-Matilda) for her mother to buy.