The Penguin Teen On Tour group descends on Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables, on Mar. 22, to start a 10-city tour over the course of 12 days.
The tour features five authors who write fantasy books for teens.
“All of them have fantastical element to them,” said Rachel Hawkins, author of the Rebel Belle series. “It’s a nice mix of paranormal and fantasy. I do more contemporary books that have magic in them.”
Hawkins said the books feature strong female characters.
“Which is nice, too,” she said. “There are a lot of kick-ass girls.”
The other authors include Alison Goodman (The Dark Days Club), Alwym Hamilton (Rebel of the Sands), Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes series) and April Genevieve Tucholke (Wink Poppy Midnight).
“I always prefer the group tours,” Hawkins said. “People are the fan of one author and then they discover others.”
One of the things that she likes best is the fact that with a group, they can almost guarantee that fans will show up.
Because the tour starts in Miami, Hawkins jokes that they will be fresh faced and relaxed, conditions that will quickly change as they quickly move from city to city.
On tour, she is promoting the Rebel Belle series. The second book, Miss Mayhem, is now out in paperback and the third book comes out Apr. 5.
“It’s a little bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a little bit of Charmed… so that’s fun,” Hawkins said. “It’s been fun to write about a main character who is so far from myself. She’s Type A, Queen Bee. It’s been interesting and fun for getting inside her head.”
Hawkins said her books are pure fun.
“They are escapism. I think with all of my books, I feel like if you want to get more out of them, you can,” she said. “But if you want to read them and forget, you can. Mostly, I just want kids to read them and have fun.”
She is fine with calling her books candy books, high concept and entertaining.
“They are fun to write and what I like to read, usually,” Hawkins said.
She has been writing most of her life but she got serious about writing young adult novels in 2007. Once she took the plunge into writing fulltime, her first contract came quickly.
“I feel really lucky. It was a whirlwind time,” Hawkins said.
She wrote Hex Hall from October 2007 to February 2008. Once she finished, she sent queries to agents and secured an agent within two weeks. The first sale happened in six weeks.
“I had just quit my job when I started writing,” she said. “I went from lowest point to highest point in my life. It was sort of an emotional whiplash.”
To make things even more interesting, her husband also quit because they both hated the school where they worked.
“I just hit the nuke button. I thought I might as well try [writing] now,” she said. “That must have been the right decision.”
The book contract brought in enough funds for her husband to go back to college to get his master’s degree. He now teaches geology at a university.
Hawkins also has a middle grade book coming out.
“It’s about a trio of kids solving a supernatural mystery in the Highlands of Scotland,” she said.
This is Hawkins’ third signing at Books and Books. She’s looking forward to returning to the store.