When Brevard native and Asheville resident Megan Shepherd swings into Malaprop’s on Friday, June 12, as part of the Dangerous Ladies tour, she’ll arrive with three other YA authors. They are: Carrie Ryan, author of Daughter of Deep Silence; Gwenda Bond, whose latest book, Lois Lane: Fallout, marks the beginning of a series that will give Superman’s love interest top billing over the Man of Steel; and Renee Ahdieh, whose debut novel, The Wrath and the Dawn, is a reimagining of The Arabian Nights. All are North Carolinians (except Bond, who lives in Kentucky), all released their newest books in May, and each of their books features a strong female central character.
The tour takes its name from this common thread, and is not meant to be a reflection of the authors involved. Nevertheless, Shepherd expects to have fun.
“We’re going to road trip together and stay in each others’ houses,” Shepherd says. “I’ve organized a tour like this for the past couple of years.” And, as is common these days, the tour is put together by the authors involved. While each receives some support from their publishers, they’ve very much set up the dates and arranged the logistics on their own initiative.
Why go to so much trouble? In part the reasons are practical. “We’re going visit some new stores and hopefully meet some new readers,” Shepherd says. “I think readers really appreciate these group tours. They get to learn about really great books and see their favorite authors.” Plus, Shepherd says, “a fan of Carrie Ryan might get exposed to my books and vice versa.”
The tour isn’t just a learning experience for readers, either. “When you’re trapped in a car with three other writers, you learn so much about each other and about the industry and about their experiences, and how theirs compare to yours,” says Shepherd
The main attraction, however, is the way a group tour helps build community. The writers have all been critique partners and have been to writers’ retreats together. Shepherd speaks admiringly of them all, especially Ryan, whose Forest of Bones and Teeth series garnered much critical acclaim and put her on the New York Times bestsellers list. “When I first got into YA,” Shepherd says, “she was one of my absolute favorite writers, and I’m just so thrilled I can call her a friend now.”
Ultimately, in fact, friendship is what has made this tour (winding up in Asheville after hitting independent bookstores in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee over the previous three days) possible. “I find that the YA community is incredibly supportive and friendly,” Shepherd says, “and the adult community is not always like that. It’s great that my coworkers and I tend to be really good friends.”
WHAT: The Dangerous Ladies Tour: YA authors Megan Shepherd, Renee Ahdieh, Gwenda Bond, and Carrie Ryan.
WHERE: Malaprop’s, malaprops.com
WHEN: Friday, June 12, at 7 p.m.