A great event for book fans
“Spine Out” is an up and coming author event presented by Dixon Place, where everybody’s favorite authors stop in and read some of their favorite personal essays that they have written. This amazing event gives fans an opportunity to learn more about the authors behind their favorite books while also having a great time. This very first “Spine Out” event was brought together by the talented Emmy Laybourne, who is the author of the “Monument 14” trilogy, and for this event she brought along her friends Leigh Bardugo, Matt de la Peña, David Levithan, and RL Stine. Together, these authors shared some of their personal experiences in the form of essays and to say the very least, the audience loved every single second of it.
First to speak was Emmy Laybourne, who decided that she wanted to share the story of when she studied abroad in Spain. In her essay, she talked about her experiences in Spain, specifically the time in which she was a victim of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Although this topic is a very sensitive and controversial topic, Emmy was able to tell her story with a light hearted tone while also implanting how serious and frightening her experience was. Emmy is one of those authors that is able to take any sort of situation, no matter how grave, and make it into an interactive, riveting story, that pulls the audience in. With her story about how she was attacked by a Spanish man while she went to the restroom, she was able to bring the audience in, not by making the audience feel sorry for her past self, but instead by telling her story as if she was a spectator to her own incident, which drew the audience in and made for a much more enticing story. Emmy painted such a vivid picture in her essay that it we felt like we were with her. But what really was impressive about Emmy and her story was how she talked about this event in a very calm and collected way, which made her story more impactful.
Next to speak was David Levithan, an award winning YA author who wrote the popular book “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.” His story focused a lot on his experiences in school. His essay was about his experience in college and how the dorm he was in was one of the first centers where the concept of e-mail was tested out. He talked a lot about how this simple idea of e-mailing changed the way people interacted with each other in his dorm and how he experienced this now simple concept. After he read that essay, he read aloud a story that he wrote while he was in college, talking about a time when him and his friends stayed up late waiting to watch the sunset together. David, throughout his entire reading, was exceptional. Although David painted a great picture for the audience to imagine, what he really excelled in was capturing all of the emotion he experienced in the story along with the emotions of each person featured in it. With that in mind, he was able to capture the attention of each audience member not only by his vivid detailing of the setting, but also through his detailing of human emotion.
Next to read was Leigh Bardugo, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author for her “Grisha” trilogy. Leigh did a phenomenal job that night. Her essay was nothing short of hilarious, thought provoking, and downright entertaining. Her essay was about how she had the opportunity to meet a cheerful, pleasant face painter named Megan. Megan, was everything Leigh seemed to despise. Megan was cheerful, pleasant, optimistic, down to earth, and just too happy all the time. Leigh always poked fun at Megan to her boyfriend in her essay, Charlie. Leigh helped Megan out with face painting whenever there was a children’s party that hired Megan. However, towards the end of the story, when her boyfriend Charlie breaks up with Leigh, it is Megan who becomes Leigh’s rock and main support system while she deals with her heartbreak. Leigh used her sarcasm in such an ideal way where it kept the audience laughing constantly while also using her humor to really get her main idea across. Leigh told a story of how she realized that a person who she didn’t think she would ever get along with became her biggest supporter. Leigh, like all the other authors on this list, did a great job of telling her story and using vivid details. However, what set her essay apart from the rest was her wit and how she used it to keep the story going and really let the audience take a peek at who Leigh is.
After Leigh, Matt de la Peña came to speak. His essay was short and sweet. He spoke about when he was trying to figure out what to do with his life. His essay depicted the way that authors write and how they feel. He told the audience that with any sort of writing, it can start from a place that seems very displaced, and take a turn to something completely new. He started off talking about playing basketball at a local park with his friends and ended it with how he was at his college professor’s house at a small party.
Lastly, RL Stine came up to talk. Although he is known for being a “scary guy,” his essay talked about how he hates surprises in which he then told humorous stories about the times he was surprised. He did everything from reading funny fan mail that he received to talking about events that happened in his life that he thought were humorous. RL Stine is such a masterful story teller that he made every little depressing moment into something that the audience could have a good laugh about.
Overall, these essay readings were all fun to listen to and examine. “Spine Out” was a huge success in every sense of the word and this series of author readings is likely to continue at Dixon Place. Read our exclusive interview with the legendary RL Stine below:
Q: What was it like reading at this event for you?
A: I had a lot of fun. It was a great audience. I just love doing these things because these are people who are actually interested in books and in reading. What a nice thing. And I always just have fun with it.
Q: And people know you more for your scary stories but here you came out with a bunch of comedic and funny stories. What gave you the inspiration for that?
A: Well, the thing is, I never really planned to be scary. I always wanted to be funny, and before I started writing scary books I wrote about a hundred joke books for kids and I did a humor magazine for ten years called “Bananas.” I was just funny. I was known as jovial Bob Stine. And I never really planned to be a scary guy. So it is fun for me. I think people usually think it is odd because they expect me to be scary, but it’s not what I do. And I’ve been doing this for so long that I have a lot of funny stories. A lot of weird things have happened to me; a lot of funny stuff and I love telling those stories.
Q: Do you have any stories that you didn’t share tonight that you wanted to share?
A: I have a lot of stories, but you’re not getting them. I’m saving them for later.
Q: And since you pulled out the fan mail during the reading, can you share the most memorable fan mails you have gotten?
A: I have my all-time favorite, from all these years, my favorite fan letter. ‘Dear RL Stine, I have read 40 of your books, and I think they’re really boring.’
Q: And that’s from a kid? How did you react to that?
A: Well, I laughed like a lunatic. That was like 20 years ago that the kid wrote that and I loved that letter. Last week I got a letter from a girl and it said, ‘Dear RL Stine, you are my second favorite author.’ That was the whole letter.
Q: And many people know you for your scary Goosebumps stories, and even though there are some funny elements, people usually think you’re this very scary guy. But tonight, you showed a lot of diversity with your humor and I’m sure a lot of fans don’t know that side of you. So, is there anything about yourself that you would like to share that fans don’t know about you?
A: After all this time I would think they know everything. I guess that I’m a country music fan.
Q: Is there any sort of writing genre that you want to explore?
A: No, I love what I’m writing and I love what I’m doing. I’m so happy to be back doing Fear Street. I get to kill off teenagers again and I’m having a great time writing new Fear Street books because I didn’t write any for 20 years, so that’s been a lot of fun for me.
Q: How did it feel for you to have the audience react so well to your reading tonight?
A: It’s a lot of fun for me and it gets me out of the house.
Q: And if you had to do this particular event again, which authors would you like to read alongside with?
A: I have to think about that. This was a wonderful group tonight. They were really good and really smart and funny and this was a wonderful night.
Q: And can we talk about how Eye Candy, one of your books, has been made into a show on MTV?
A: Well they were very clever. They took the book and expanded it. A lot of things that don’t happen—the added characters. They were very smart about it. I love Victoria Justice in the part. She is so good and beautiful and a very nice person. And it has been exciting for me. It’s the darkest show I’ve ever been attached to. My name is usually with kids’ stuff. This is pretty violent and I think they did a great job.
Q: And the Goosebumps reboot, how excited are you for that?
A: I’ve seen it. It’s really fun. It’s a great kids’ movie. And Jack Black—Jack and I are like twins. He is a very evil version of me, very sinister, and it has got a million monsters in it—all the monsters from the early Goosebumps books. They all come alive in the movie, it’s really fun.
Q: Do you any favorite Goosebumps character?
A: Well Slappy the Evil Dummy. He is so much fun to write too because she just insults everybody. I love writing that.
Q: And lastly, do you have anything coming up that you would like to share?
A: My new Fear Street comes up April 7th and it’s called Don’t Stay Up Late. And the newest Goosebumps book is called Nightmare on Clown Street.