I walked into the gallery of Newport on the Levee in Northern Kentucky with butterflies in my stomach. I was getting ready to come face-to-face with an author that has spent the last eight years ensorceling me with her words and her mind.
Getting to attend events like book signings and the like is a choice perk in this business, and I try my very best to always remain professional and collected when meeting artists I admire. But Karen Marie Moning is my unicorn, she’s my Elvis, the Beatles at Shay Stadium. We all have them. She is the rockstar of my literary world and being in close proximity to her had my nerves crackling. Don’t even get me started on all the things going through my mind when she welcomed me warmly to her green room with a smile, a hand shake and a hug. It honestly could not have been a more pleasant and satisfying experience.
I looked around me and noticed that I was surrounded by a throng of people on all sides. There were Moning Maniacs everywhere I looked, some that had been camped out since the night before (pictured above), slumbering soundly outside of Barnes and Noble with only sleeping bags and new companions to keep them warm.
Karen finally emerged into the buzzing crowd with fellow author, J.R. Ward. J.R. Ward was too fabulous for words in her just-off-the-yacht ensemble and was so engaging that I will promptly be buying her complete works tomorrow. J.R. and Karen said some truly lovely things about each other and then Phil Gigante, the voice of Barrons, Ryodan and many of the other male characters in the audio books, was introduced.
I have never in my life listened to an audiobook, but that too shall change. After hearing Phil Gigante bring Jericho Z Barrons and Ryodan to life, I realized what I had been missing. His voice is like crushed velvet and satin on bare skin: sensual and inviting. And since the voice actors behind Dani and Mac were not available, he picked two Moning Maniacs from the crowd to accompany his reading. It was a delight.
Phil wrapped up and J.R. Ward took the floor for a Q&A. It was hard for me to engage in this one as I’m not familiar with her books. But she is raunchy, blunt, hilarious and just generally wonderful to behold. Her session was impeccable. It was now time for our Q&A with KMM, and the crowd was more than ready.
Let me apologize for not getting as many of the questions and answers on Twitter as you all would have liked. I was trying not to miss anything myself while Tweeting and taking photos. Please forgive me! If anyone has a transcript of the session, I would love to link it here! Nonetheless, here are some things we did learn:
-The mysterious, red-headed woman and her friend that appear to Circen and Lisa in The Highlander’s Touch from the future are NOT Dani and Dancer.
-Kasteo will likely play a bigger role in future books as Karen answered that with “That’s an interesting question!”, her patented response to inquiries she can’t and/or won’t answer.
-When asked again about why she chose to switch back to Mac’s point-of-view in BURNED as opposed to taking on Dani’s voice like in ICED, Karen set the record straight: She told us that, sure, you can keep a story going while strictly adhering to your original plan; but would you rather have it be terrible and stick to the plan, or let the story detour into the direction that it needs to to be truly spectacular?
-Karen doesn’t think giving Barrons his own book is a good idea. Who could live inside of that mind to create an entire novel?
-The Nine are NOT related to the Draghar in any way, but I thought that was a damn fine question.
-About three years ago, Karen gave us a sex scene from the point-of-view of Barrons. It was shocking and threw the fans completely for a loop (in a good way). That scene just-so-happens to be the very first scene in BURNED. When asked why she chose to open with that after all this time, Karen told us that it just felt like the right place to do it. It fit there, and it was the line of demarcation in Mac’s life: where she had suffered so little tragedy in her life previously, she would soon be drowning in it. Barrons was, is and always will be the character of which she has the least control.
-We learn that Karen is well aware that she will never please everyone. But this will never stop her from writing what she wants and how she wants it. Thank God for that; you do you, Karen.
-There MAY be more graphic novels in the future, but FEVERMOON was so time-consuming that it prohibited her from writing more FEVER books. And she was right in assuming that what we really want from her are more books. More. Always and forever.
-Expounding on the “plan” dilemma, Karen explained that the first five books in the FEVER series (DARKFEVER, BLOODFEVER, FAEFEVER, DREAMFEVER, SHADOWFEVER) came to her fully-formed in a dream. But despite that, she knew when SHADOWFEVER was over, the stories of Mac, Barrons, Dani, Kat, Ryodan, Cruce, The Unseelie King and everyone else were not. In fact, she said she couldn’t believe we let her get away with ending it there for as long as we did! And then we had ICED and now BURNED, and another (couple) on the way. Blessed be.
After meandering through the crowd and taking as many questions as time would allow (there was a schedule to keep to, after all!), Karen took her leave to change into some comfortable clothes to prepare for what was sure to be a long afternoon. The crowd was intense, but Karen greeted each fan warmly and engaged with them inasmuch as she could. You never felt shuffled along or overlooked. Eye contact was made and she flashed her beautiful smile for anyone who wanted a photo, and she signed for over 6 hours.
And today, another gaggle of Moning Maniacs gathered at a Downtown Cincinnati restaurant and were given another chance to cozy up to KMM. And this is why her following is so fierce: she hears us, she cares about us, and she does everything she can to really reach out and include her fans in this fabulously beautiful world she has created.
Thank you to Barnes and Noble for facilitating this momentous event. With the amount of people that were there and the fact that we were smack in the middle of a high-traffic entertainment center, I thought the signing really went off without a hitch. Though, we all know that was mostly due to Team KMM, Karen’s incredible group of helpers led by the beautiful and sublime, Leiha Man. I found a new author to indulge in, learned that I have been missing something magical in audio books, and rubbed elbows with my favorite wordsmith. I have certainly had worse days.
Congratulations to Karen and her Team KMM (comprised solely of superheroes, in case you were wondering) for a wildly successful signing, and an even more successful BURNED. No one deserves it more.