One has high expectations when attending a panel featuring Rainbow Rowell at BookCon 2015. Luckily, one’s (OK, my) expectations were met, and then some. On Saturday, the writer of Attachments, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Landline, and the forthcoming Carry On (which comes out in October!) spoke with Tumblr’s Rachel Fershleiser at the massive book convention.
Rowell spoke about her eagerly-anticipated Carry On , which takes meta to a whole new level: the story is a spinoff of Fangirl, in which the protagonist (and titular fangirl) Cath writes fan fiction for Simon Snow, a Harry Potter-esque fantasy series. In Carry On, Rowell herself takes on that fictional wizarding world, revealing the love story behind mage Simon Snow and his vampire-mage roommate Baz Pitch.
She also spoke about the inspiration behind her beloved books, her love of nerd culture (she mentioned Star Wars and Sherlock and, of course, fan fiction), and even revealed some dream cast ideas for movie adaptations of her books. As if you didn’t already want to be her BFF, here are 11 tidbits you didn’t know about Rainbow Rowell, as exclusively revealed at BookCon 2015.
Carry On Is Her First Fantasy Novel...
But she's no stranger to fan fiction. "I have written fan fiction with fantasy elements," she said. "I mean, I've written X-Men/WHAM! crossover ... where I got to date all the blue X-Men."
...And It's Her First Novel Written In First Person
Actually, it involves six first-person narrators. Also, they all have English accents. Also, it's in present tense. She did say she wanted to challenge herself...
But The Research For Carry On Sounded Pretty Fun
She only read books by British authors, and only watched UK television shows (with very few exceptions) to get British speech patterns and funky lexicon down pat.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, $10, Amazon
Carry On Was Inspired By Classic "Chosen One" Fantasy Stories
...like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. And, yes, Rowell acknowledges that those heroes are all dudes (except for Buffy, whom Rowell also acknowledges was created in reaction to the dearth of heroines in fantasy narratives). And even though Simon, Rowell's "Chosen One" in Carry On is a boy, "I also brought in all of these women to sort of comment on their place in the Chosen One's life. So Simon's best friend and Simon's girlfriend are playing with these tropes and assignments."
She Doesn't Change Her Voice When Writing YA Books and Adult Books
"For me, there's no difference at all," Rowell said of writing fiction for teens and fiction for adults. "When I was a teen, I certainly wasn't only reading books only about teenagers. So for me, in novel writing, the shift is [only] between characters ... I'm not thinking, okay, smaller words for teens! More divorce for adults!"
She's Written A Draft Of The Screenplay For Eleanor & Park
Even though Rowell was the mastermind behind the beloved YA book, the process of translating book into movie wasn't easy. "I didn't necessarily think I was the best person for a job, I just really wanted to write a screenplay," she admits. "It's a little bit like taking something that's alive as a dog, then killing it and bringing it to life as a cat."
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, $11, Amazon
Her Mom Hasn't Read Any of Her Books!
But her inspiration is evident in almost all of the parents throughout Rowell's four books, especially in Lincoln's mom, Eleanor's mom, and Cath's dad.
She Changes Up Her Music Tastes Based On What She's Writing
When writing Attachments, she imagined Lincoln listening to Ben Lee, Counting Crows, and Sean Lennon (so she did the same). And "for Carry On, I listened to a lot of angsty electronic stuff. For every Baz scene, I listened to Wild Beast."
Fangirl's Levi Makes a Cameo In Landline
Did you notice that? He's the gallant guy who lets Georgie use his phone in the Omaha airport, then drives her to Neal's mother's house in the snow.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, $11, Amazon
She Has Some "Dream Cast" Ideas for (Hypothetical) Movie Adaptations of Her Books
Firstly, you should know that Rowell used Tom Felton and Daniel Radcliffe as physical models for Fangirl's Levi and Nick, respectively. Makes sense. And in a very informal brainstorming sesh with her sister, Rowell imagined Christina Hendricks playing Eleanor's mother in Eleanor & Park, Nathan Fillion as Park's dad, and Mark Ruffalo as Cath and Wren's dad in Fangirl.
Oh, and She's Never Revealing The "Three Words" at the End of Eleanor & Park
You know what I'm talking about: in the very last scene, Park finally gets [three] word[s] from Eleanor, the contents of which the writer doesn't reveal. In defense of her pointed silence on the matter, Rowell said,
I feel like I didn't need to say what those words were, because Park's reaction was so [hopeful]. I also lead you to think it's one thing, but I think that there's a deeper answer hiding behind that thing. The obvious thing would be "I love you." But has Eleanor ever told Park she loves him? Do you think she'd tell him in a postcard? Are there other things she wants to tell him, that she doesn't tell him? What sort of person is she? ... but it's all right there, in the book.
Looks like it's time for (another) E&P re-read.
Image: Augusten Burroughs/St. Martin’s Press