Thursday, February 6, 2020

Safe Spaces ... and Dreams of Cupcakes (Mary Strand)

This month, we’re blogging about what librarians, teachers, booksellers, and pretty much anyone in the vicinity can expect from our visit.

On a good day? Cupcakes.

Seriously, you can expect ME ... along with books, bookmarks, and other author swag.

I haven’t yet brought a guitar, but that very concept is currently being discussed in connection with a possible book event with another author who (like me) is also a songwriter. But it would definitely have to be for the right crowd.

Book cupcakes at a Barbara Vey Reader Weekend

I’m an extrovert, which is rare for a writer, and not even remotely shy. I’m not the type to shove myself in anyone’s face, though, because it’s not my style. I can speak on pretty much any topic, sometimes even knowledgeably. (Sometimes not, but then whatever I say will be pretty funny.) I’m not a stand-up comic and don’t aspire to be, but I’m pretty funny if I’m in the mood, and I’m often in the mood.

I love Q&A’s, especially when the Q’s come from kids and teens. Kids and teens don’t get a pinched look on their face when asking why I write about the things I do. Although my books err on the “sweet” side, I think they’re realistic, and real life isn’t as neat and tidy as some parents of kid and teen readers want it to be, and I don’t pretend. Even though I write fiction.

Pinched Face: “Did your character really have to say ‘rat’s ass’? Do the sisters really have to talk about BOYS and the possibility of having SEX some day?”

Me: “They really do, because it’s true to their personality. Kids and teens are THINKING these things, and books are a safe space to explore those thoughts.”

Yeah. Kids and teens don’t ask questions like that.

I’m happy to read excerpts from my books, but most readers prefer Q&A’s. They can read on their own, but they can’t easily ask me questions and get answers unless we’re both in the same room. I think Q&A’s are a better use of the reader’s time, but hey: up to you. (You can also ask me questions on Goodreads, though, or via my website or my author email address. Go for it.)

The best book events feature at least a couple of authors, along with readers (some of whom might be future authors) who want to join in an open exchange of thoughts: about books, about anything they like. My book events provide a safe space for that, even when a few pinched looks on a few parents’ faces threaten that safe space. I simply don’t let them.

But cupcakes are good, too.

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at


  1. Totally agree about giving more time to Q&A than to reading excerpts, and for the same reason! I also like (as both author and when I'm an audience member) behind-the-scenes dishing about the book.

    1. Yes! I think everyone loves behind-the-scenes dishing!

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  2. I adore Q&A. Teens ask some amazing questions.

    1. And when they've already read the book before meeting you, they've really read it.

  3. Replies
    1. Lots of songwriting is currently happening! :-)