Yesterday I dropped by St. Rita Catholic School for a visit with what ended up as about 300 students in an auditorium. The students listened to a presentation I had prepared called "Alex Van Helsing: Launching a YA novel series from pitch to shelves," which is actually kind of fun because the presentation goes over the many different versions of an idea a writer can go through before you finally settle on one. I like this sort of nuts-and-bolts talk a lot more than talking about the actual fiction, because talking about the world, the characters, just seems personal and self-serving. The preso ends of course with the release of Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising. We went into deadlines, drafts, formats, pitching, all of that.
The students really dug it. When we were done they asked lots of questions: what is your favorite scene? How long did it take to write the first draft? Do you get stressed out by deadlines? Have you gotten any starred reviews?
(Yes. A middle schooler asked me if I have received any starred reviews. By the way: yes.)
But you know what? I think I enjoyed it even more. I was genuinely struck by the enthusiasm the students had for reading and writing. What a great experience.