Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monstrous Beauty Book Tour Launch

Last Friday, September 7, I had the opportunity to attend the first stop on Elizabeth Fama's Monstrous Beauty book tour. The reading and book signing took place at Plimoth Plantation, which is an actual location in the book. It was such a fun event and Ms. Fama and her entire family are WONDERFUL. I had a great time. 

 See my review of Monstrous Beauty HERE.

Look! It's my copy of Monstrous Beauty making the trek from the North Shore where I live to the South Shore where the town of Plymouth is located. Google says it should take 1.25 hours to get there. But really that only happens if you go in the middle of the night (Not at rush hour when we traveled). We encountered a bit of traffic, but it was all WORTH IT.

This is the lovely room where the event took place. It is also where Plimoth Plantation holds their annual Thanksgiving dinners. If you ever have the opportunity, I recommend you experience one of them (also the whole site is a must see, but we didn't get to visit the village this day).

Here is the fantastic Elizabeth Fama reading from the prologue of Monstrous Beauty. It was lovely to listen to her read her story aloud, and also hear how to pronounce the difficult-to-say names that are located in the first section of the book. She is a witty and engaging speaker. 

Some things I learned about Monstrous Beauty throughout the course of the evening (from the questions part of the program and also from speaking directly to the author and her family): 
  • Syrenka means mermaid in Polish.
  • The character of Noo'kas is based on actual myth, as are many details of the mermaid mythology.
  • A lot of the places in the book are real stores and locations in town.
  • Plymouth doesn't actually have any caves. 
  • The book Holes influenced the way in which the author weaved the historical and contemporary plot lines together.  
  • The character of Hester is a lot like Ms. Fama's eldest daughter Sally. This is according to her son Eric. Sally wasn't present, so I was unable to consult her opinion.
  • Japanese animation influenced some of the details of the plot. 
  • Museum docents get nervous when you ask them about the logistics of stealing from the collection. Even if it is for 'research.'

I didn't even know this picture was being taken - thank you sneaky husband. But it captures the momentous occasion of my book being signed by Ms. Fama, and me fan-girling over her.  You also get a tiny glimpse of the tall form of Ms. Fama's husband in this shot. He and my husband commiserated over the fact that they have been drawn into the world of YA books through their wives (really, they love it). 

I was able to get my photo taken with both Elizabeth Fama and Syrenka! The drink in my hand was cleverly called a "Mermaid Tale." It was yummy too. Also of note, I was wearing flats and Ms. Fama was wearing platform sandals, so we are of an even greater height difference than what is depicted here. 

I picked up an awesome pin of Syrenka that was created by Ms. Fama's youngest daughter Lydia. See if you can guess what scene this is from ;). Seriously, I cannot stress enough how extremely talented her entire family is - they are writers, artists, musicians, illustrators, animators and more. And two of them - Eric and Sally - were very influential in the writing of this book. 

This is the map of Hester's Plymouth that Ms. Fama's son Gene created. I snagged one of these too (this photo is particularly horrible, sorry).

What could make the entire evening even better? My husband and I were invited to dinner with the Fama Family (I realize that isn't their actual last name but I like the alliteration).  This is the only picture I took at dinner - the wine and a distorted picture of my husband behind it. We had a great a time! THANK YOU Fama Family for good food and even better conversation. 


  1. This is amazing. I cannot even tell you how JEALOUS I am.
    1) That you met her first.
    2) That she met you!

    Great pictures. Great information. Great everything. LOVE THIS SO MUCH.

    1. ALSO, there is NO WAY I can do this post any justice later! I should stop and cancel NOW. There is SURELY not going to be a giant Syrenka or pin like that where I'm going. I need to check my jealously RIGHT NOW. It is a beast, albeit a very friendly beast.

    2. You are too funny! If it makes you feel any better, the Syrenka pin is actually quite small. It's not really to scale, but I wanted you to be able to see it in the picture. I'm sure your post will be AMAZING as always. Plus you get other authors too. Someday we'll go to an event together and have FUN FUN FUN.

    3. We will attend an event together and it WILL be fun. Yes. You're trying to deflect, and I think it is precious.

      I'm still jealous. I won't lie. That giant Syrenka behind y'all in that picture and that blue drink are pretty cool, Lauren.

      Seriously, I'm thrilled that my chance is coming up on Sunday. It'll be my first author event too. Can't wait!!!

  2. OMG that is SO AWESOME that you got to have dinner with the Fama family!! I adored this recap, Lauren, what an awesome event! That button is amazing, I love that her daughter created it, and it has me so incredibly excited to read this. I love that it's dark. Also, how cool is it that this event took place at a place that was in the book? It looks like a great building!

    1. I'm looking forward to hearing how you like Monstrous Beauty. I think it will be a book for you ;).

      Yes. It was such a unique opportunity to have a book event at a place that is featured in the story. I felt very honored to be there. The funny thing is that the museum staff was SHOCKED that we'd driven so far to be there. They kept saying "Wait, you just drove down because you liked the book and wanted to meet the author?" They could not believe it. Granted, most of the people there were older and came because it was a "cultural event." BUT it was such a good event, and the author is fantastic and I'm so happy I went!

  3. Gah, I love where I live but I NEVER get to attend cool author events like this, EVER. When one does happen to come around (or somewhat nearby) I always am unable to make it for one reason or another. So thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through you!

    Ok, first how cool is it that you not only met her but had dinner with her family?! See, that's just beyond awesome and I'm so thrilled you got a chance to do that, Lauren!

    Second, I love that Japanese animation played a role. I never would have thought that based on what (little) knowledge I have the book AND

    Third, that is HILARIOUS that you talked to the docents about museum security! Ha! Having worked at a museum (and with a gaggle of blue-haired docents)that is one of the funniest things I have heard in a while (and tantamount to screaming "BOMB" on an airline:)

    1. We'll this was my first author event ever, and I think I definitely lucked out. I hope to go to more though - seeing Maggie Stiefvater next week. I'll probably embarrass myself with my how excited I'm going to get.

      Yes Japanese Animation I really know nothing about. Her children are into animation and they greatly influenced the book. Because I don't know it well, I'm not sure how prevalent the comparisons are. The only thing I remember is that there is a scene in MB where one of the heroines cuts her hair and that is apparently a big theme in Japanese stories.

      Okay Elizabeth Fama is actually the one who talked to the docent about stealing something, because it plays a role in her book. But it was pretty funny.

      The sameness of us is getting frightening, Heather. I actually worked in a museum before I had my kids, a local art museum in Salem. That was my career path for a while. And though I loved the setting, I think I'm a better fit as a librarian. Though that would require more schooling. So we'll see.

    2. Yep, I think we were sisters in another life or something:) And I would LOVE to go back to school and get a degree in library science! Everyone looks at me like I'm crazy when I say that ("you want to go back to school and get ANOTHER degree doing what??") but it's true!

  4. Love it! So exciting!!! Ray gets major brownie points ;)


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