I talked about this story here and on other blogs, the story behind Modern Persuasion’s inspiration. Today, I am going to go deeper into the story so you can understand where the idea came from.
I have been attending Book Expo American since about 2005. BEA is a conference dedicated to the publishing industry. It’s where authors, agents, booksellers, librarians, bloggers, and publishers meet to learn about what is going to be publishing over the next… year-ish. The first time I went it was because it was the only conference I could afford. I had a place to stay in NYC, where it was being held, and the library would pay up to $400 for the trip. It was a conference that changed me as a reader. It gave me access to a new world within books, reading, and writing. It was especially powerful because that previous November I had done my first National Novel Writing Month.
Things changed over the 10 years between my first Book Expo and the year I was inspired to write Modern Persuasion. That April I had finally written an update of Pride and Prejudice that I had been playing with for about a year. I had enjoyed modernizing Austen and I had been reading other Austen variations/fan fiction. I got on the train to New York in 2014 and I was thinking about what I was going to write for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo. I was looking for a new story to tell and a new challenge. I wanted to come up with the idea on this trip so I wouldn’t have time to get to know my characters. I thought it would keep me focused on the story and themes and not how much I loved these characters.
There were some things that happened on this trip that had never happened before. First, I was there for two conferences. It was the first time I attended a conference about Wikipedia. I was going to be speaking at this conference. Second, and as a result of this Wikipedia conference, I would not be at the final day of Book Expo. They were trying something new by letting in the public, like a Comic Con. Third, I was completely alone for the first time in a few years. I didn’t bring a friend with me, I wasn’t making tons of plans to spend time with friends, and I wasn’t going to countless events.
I checked into my hotel with Persuasion modernization in my head. It was a germ: two former lovers reunite in New York City. I didn’t know anything more. As I got ready for my biggest event, dinner at the Yale Club with other librarians. I put the idea aside through dinner, but it returned to the front of my mind as I walked back to my hotel later that night. I stopped at Radio City Music Hall, I went to the top of 30 Rock, and I enjoyed a cool night in the city. All the while, the germ was becoming something more.
At the conference, I talked to people about books and publishing. I heard stories from publishers who were worried about the final day because they weren’t sure they were prepared for the public. There was anxiety about what *could* happen. I remember chatting with one person about the possibility that someone would be injured because of stampeding book lovers. The idea was amusing and it did NOT happen in reality. Still, now I had the idea on why my two former lovers would have to be together again.
The first third of Modern Persuasion was born at Book Expo. It was born from ten years of meeting different people in publishing, meeting authors, wanting to be an author, of having visited New York City, and having friends who have lived in New York City. Emma, the publishing insider, and Fredrick, who had no idea what to expect, were born from this week in New York City.
The truth is that, there were mixed stories about how that new day at Book Expo went. People were annoyed with the crowds, the smaller publishers suddenly charging for books, and some entitlement from attendees. Others were thrilled to see new people at the conference, to connect with new readers, and more celebrity authors providing the chance for lesser known authors to get some attention. They still do the public event right after Book Expo ends.
As you read Modern Persuasion know that the first third of that story came from my experiences at Book Expo. The short story about Mary was directly inspired by something that actually happened to me. The trips I take to New York, for Book Expo and other reasons, have impacted the stories I want to tell. As I ride the train to this year’s conference I can’t help but wonder what inspiration I will find this year.
Watch my Instagram feed for pictures from the conference this week. I am going to see friends who live out there. One of those friends I haven’t seen since high school! I will also have books… a lot of books!