22 March, 2014

Holly Goldberg Sloan at Buena Vista Library Recap

Hi, everyone. I meant to write this post a couple of weeks ago but somehow time got away from me and I suddenly realized that more than 2 weeks had gone by since this event. So apologies for the delay.  

On March 6, 2014 Holly Goldberg Sloan (I'll Be There, Counting by 7s) did a talk and signing at Buena Vista Library in Burbank, CA. This is actually one of my local libraries and the one closest to my house. They get a great lineup of authors and I know to keep an eye out for their fliers in the YA section for upcoming signings. 


I showed up about 45 minutes before the signing and made my rounds in the library before settling in to see Holly. My friend Kimberly also came to the signing and we snagged a pair of great front row seats. The room was pretty crowded and was an eclectic mix of readers of all ages.


Holly started off by telling us about how she had recently found a bunch of old papers and projects from her childhood. Within this collection she found and old report card from her 2nd grade teacher which said that he hoped that, for the rest of her life, Holly would tell stories. Seems like her teacher saw Holly's potential early on. Holly spoke about her childhood and how her experiences as a child and teen really shaped her outlook on life. Her father was a test specialist (think SATs and such) who was always trying out his tests on his children. Because of his job, Holly's family moved around a lot and she often had to start over in new places with new people. Holly has lived all over the world and says that she loves to meet people and to learn about new cultures. 


Holly decided to write her newest book, Counting by 7s, and set it in Bakersfield, CA because she felt that it was an overlooked city in California. The book took her 2 years to write. It was too painful and she kept quitting. Though the book is about grief, she hopes that the book is still a hopeful one.

This is where things get fuzzy because Holly is so engaging and funny that I stopped taking very good notes. So I will just list a few more things that I learned during her talk.


  • She doesn't outline at all. She starts with characters and knows how her books will end but doesn't know how they will get there.
  • One of her favorite secondary characters is Riddle from I'll Be There which is based on 2 people.
  • A character in Counting by 7s is modeled after Zach Galifinakis's character in The Hangover.
  • She started writing I'll Be There after an ill-fated trip to Mexico where her husband was so ill she had to vacate the room they were staying in. To occupy herself she started writing.
  • Holly began her career in Hollywood and has written several screenplays including Made In America and Angels in the Outfield.
  • There will be a sequel to I'll Be There, call Just Call My Name. These are lyrics to a Jackson Five song (I'll Be There), which Holly obtained the rights to for this purpose.
  • One of Holly's rejected stories is going to become a Hallmark Christmas movie (I know someone who is going to be so excited about this). 
After all the talk, it was time to sign books!



Holly was super gracious and funny. There was a long line behind us so we didn't chat for long. If you ever get a chance to see Holly somewhere, you should definitely go. She's very funny and outgoing and it's just a good time. Holly is going to be at the Pasadena Teen Book Festival on April 26 and I hope to have read Counting by 7s by then. If you're local, we hope you can come out for it.

Thanks to Holly Goldberg Sloan and Buena Vista Library for putting on a great event!




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