Sarah J. Maas is currently on her Asia tour, which saw her spend a few days in Singapore. International authors, particularly bestselling ones, rarely visit our shores, so Elaine and I decided to check out the session on Friday, March 11.
The book signing was scheduled for 7 p.m., so I made my way down to Kinokuniya at 6 p.m. By the time I reached, there already were over a hundred people queuing with their books. Elaine joined me about half-an-hour later. Meanwhile, there were a few announcements on site:
- maximum 3 books per person, anyone with more would have to queue again
- priority would be given to those who bought their books at Kinokuniya
- those who bought their books elsewhere had to join another queue at the back
Segment 1: Sarah J. Maas Talk
To start off the evening, Sarah talked about her books, the title reveal of Empire of Storms and generally how happy she was to meet us. She was all around very animated and so upbeat throughout the book signing. I thought this was quite a feat considering her packed schedule with the Singapore Writers Festival and school visits. Plus, the temperature on Friday hit 36°C! I was exhausted from the heat that weighed down on us but Sarah brought her energy regardless.
Sadly, there were limitations to the venue. The layout of Kinokuniya at Orchard Road is such that the centre of the store has exits to the mall’s escalators. That meant that the queues had to form up around the corners. While those hundred or so who were in front could hear everything, the rest couldn’t hear anything that Sarah said.
As much as those who came later likely expected to miss out, I don’t think enough of an effort was made to include everyone who came for the book signing. Hopefully this problem will be solved for future events. On the other hand, nobody was turned away from the queue, which definitely was a good thing for everyone who came.
Segment 2: Q&A Session
After Sarah was done talking, the two moderators for the evening, Adelena and Jing Zhi, launched into the Q&A session. They pulled prepared questions from a jar, which Sarah gamely answered. Then they took questions from the floor.
During this time, Sarah shared that she writes every day. She mostly tries to clear non-creative stuff in the mornings, such as emails and other administrative matters. The time between lunch and dinner is then dedicated to writing. If she has pressing deadlines, she continues to write into the night. Mornings aren’t her thing and she joked that she shouldn’t be legally allowed to drive before noon because she has no idea what’s going on then. Over the weekends, she likes to chill with her husband and dog.
Someone from the floor asked what Celaena would love and what she would hate about Singapore. Sarah immediately referred to the humidity as something which Celaena would hate. Besides the food, she would love the melting pot of people from all over the world. They have so many different backgrounds, she stated, and there are so many interesting beautiful faces here.
Another person asked about her favourite author, who is J.K. Rowling. Sarah talked about what an inspiration Jo is to her, what with her real-life Cinderella story. She made something of herself and yet kept her big heart, donating her money in abundance, seeking to help wherever she can.
When someone asked about the Throne of Glass TV series, Sarah became very cautious. She noted that legally she wasn’t allowed to disclose details. Choosing her words carefully, she vaguely referred to “exciting developments”.
In true display of Singaporean hospitality, once the Q&A segment wrapped up, Sarah received a token of appreciation from Kinokuniya. Here in Singapore it’s very common to thank speakers and esteemed guests with a little gift. Sarah though, wasn’t expecting this at all and was extremely delighted.
Segment 3: Book Signing
Half-an-hour into the meet-the-author event, it was finally time for the book signing. To ensure everyone would get their books signed, there would be no personalisation. There were a few exceptions for those who were directly involved in organising the event, and for those who brought particularly thoughtful gifts.
With that, I went back to Elaine who so patiently had held our place in the queue. She hadn’t been too far behind but in that section it already was impossible to hear anything from the front. I gathered that at least two-thirds of those who were there weren’t able to hear Sarah speak. Nonetheless, undeterred, everyone’s excitement bubbled over when it was their turn to get their books signed.