What seemed like it would be a low-key appearance, the evening of conversation with Eleanor & Park‘s Rainbow Rowell and Elaine Lui (from LaineyGossip) ended up with a packed house of over 200 people in the upstairs room of the Northern District Branch of the Toronto Public Library. It was only after a few bloggers noticed the event listed on Rainbow’s event page that we found out about it and being a fan of both of Rainbow and Lainey, I knew I had to attend – especially having missed both of their previous author signings. Ardo and I definitely underestimated the turnout and arrived fairly late, as it seemed. By the time we all filed into the room, all the seats were taken so we, along with Tiff (Mostly YA Lit), took to the first row of standing-room-only in the back. It worked out well actually, giving us a great view of the two guests of honour.
With the room not having a sound system, Rainbow and Lainey had to project their conversation (and awesome fangirling) loud enough for the entire room to hear, and it was great. Given that it was in fact such a large crowd, it still felt quite intimate of an event. Lainey and much of the fans in the audience, including yours truly, are huge fans of Eleanor & Park and the discussion opened right into talking about that book. Rainbow confirmed that there is an E&P sequel – but it only exists in her head at the moment. When she originally was writing the novel, she had plotted it out as two books but after finishing the first book, her agent advised that she can’t already be writing a sequel to a book that hasn’t sold yet – it would be “like writing my own fanfic!” But yes, Rainbow would love to write the sequel one day which would take place when Park and Eleanor were in their early 30’s.
Now that the news has broke that Eleanor & Park has been optioned for a movie, Rainbow tells us that she has no creative control but she will try her best to keep things as close to the book as possible. It just wouldn’t work for the Korean character of Park to be played by, say, Zac Efron. Anything that changes would just feel like undermining the whole essence of the book. Lainey asked Rainbow about how she was going to be writing the screenplay. Laughing, Rainbow shared that she’s never written a screenplay and jokes that she tricked the studio into letting her do it. She is currently reading many screenplays for research but thought she could totally do it! Love that kind of confidence, as did Lainey, who segued into how she loved how comfortable with being confident Rainbow was and that many of her characters are struggling with that.
After all that Eleanor & Park love, talk turned briefly to her other YA novel Fangirl. She admitted that she loves writing about identities and twins, or people who look alike. Each of her protagonists go through some form of that, with Cath and Wren being the most obvious. Rainbow is the spitting image of her mom and yet they are very different personality-wise, so she feels strongly about the identities of people.
Rainbow also spoke about how she started out as a newspaper journalist, and thought it was her dream job. The best thing she did for herself was to walk away from this apparent “dream job”. It was a great feeling knowing you can keep reinventing yourself and to stop betting against yourself. What’s coming up for this busy author? After finishing her next YA novel in the next month or so, she’ll be touring to promote her new book Landline and then get to writing the E&P screenplay. Maybe then at some point she’ll sit down and write that sequel.
What was meant to be a quick Q&A turned to be a growing line of fans with many great questions, making it hard to cap it off. However, once the line had gone through and Rainbow graciously answered all the questions from fans, it was time for book signing! Lainey & Rainbow had two separate lines so Ardo and I decided to take each other’s books and split up. I got my two copies of Listen to the Squawking Chicken, and Ardo’s one over to Lainey while she grabbed my copy of Attachments and stood in the long Rainbow line. It was a great chance to chat briefly with Lainey, even though I somehow became a bit tongue-tied trying to tell her how much I loved her book and how much I could relate to it. Afterwards, I re-joined Ardo in line who had not moved – and we seemingly didn’t move from that very spot for about half an hour. That being said, I find the long lines never feel very long when you’re among book friends. We chatted, saw Dan from Raincoast and fellow Paper Droids writer Vanessa… always great – and soon we were finally up at the front of the line! Got our books signed, took some photos and had a great time.
Thanks to the teams at Raincoast Books and Random House Canada, the library staff for staying open late, and Lainey and Rainbow for a fantastic evening of fangirling over Eleanor & Park.