Before author James Frey (“Endgame: The Calling”; “The Lorien Legacies,” as Pittacus Lore; “A Million Little Pieces”; “My Friend Leonard”; “The Final Testament of the Holy Bible”) sat down for a chat with InquirerSuper, he had to do something first for a friend. “A friend of mine writes books, and I hide his books in different places wherever I go. I plan to hide two in Manila, one in Cebu and two in Singapore,” said Frey.
He actually hid his friend’s book at Raffles Makati’s Writer’s Bar, where two bookshelves cover a portion of the wall.
Frey was flown into the country by National Book Store to sign books for fans in Manila and Cebu. He showed us his Facebook inbox, saying he’s really excited to meet his fans.
“Look at all the messages and friend requests I’ve been getting, they’re all from Filipinos; I think I’ll have over 300 Filipino friends by the time I leave,” he said.
While Frey was here specifically to sign “Endgame,” he said he is more than willing to also autograph any of “The Lorien Legacies,” the most popular being “I Am Number Four” after it was turned into a film produced by Michael Bay.
“I’m happy to make them (fans) happy. They just want their books signed, why would I not do it? The whole goal is to make the readers and fans happy,” said Frey.
He was so accommodating that he even signed books for a fan he bumped into in Greenbelt.
Was the film version of “I Am Number Four” everything he imagined it would be?
“I made movies before I wrote books, so I know that it was going to be different than the book. What you do is show up and be happy and be thankful. I’m stoked that it got made,” he said.
Where did the inspiration for “The Calling” series come from?
“To write a cool book, to write the best book I can write,” said Frey. “I wanted to do a book that had a puzzle in it, ’cause I read ‘Masquerade’ which had a puzzle in it when I was a kid. And I thought it was cool, and the inspiration came from that.”
He added: “I liked the story, I thought it was cool. A lot of the YA (young adult) books are either dystopian or supernatural, and I didn’t want to do either of those; I just wanted to do a book set in today’s world that was like an action and adventure series.”
“The Calling” series has already been optioned for a film version. “It’s the same producers as the ‘Twilight’ movies, ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ ‘The Maze Runner,’” said Frey.
He shot to fame with his controversial bestseller “A Million Little Pieces,” and while that book was geared toward a more adult audience, the author said writing for teens is no different.
“I don’t approach it any differently. I wouldn’t say I’m writing for a younger audience, I don’t just want teenagers to read this, I want everybody to read it. In fact, ‘Endgame’ was written without a particular audience in mind. I just wrote the book and then we just decided to release it as a YA book,” he explained.
“The Calling” series is set to have three books and 12 novellas, with the second (still untitled) one scheduled for release in October.
“Endgame” and writing as Pittacus Lore has endeared Frey to many young readers. We asked him what advice he would give his readers about overcoming mistakes, especially in an age when the Internet that never forgets can easily love you one day and then virulently hate you the next.
“Who gives a f**k what the Internet says? Who cares? It’s just people talking s**t. I’d prefer it when it was good, but you can’t put too much stock on what people say on the Internet. Just wake up, work hard, do your best, and try to make cool stuff in the end. You do that and whether you’re a writer, a teacher, a reporter, or a doctor, or a waitress, be the best person that you can,” he said.
Frey, who has three kids aged between 4 to 11, said none of them have read his books: “They can read them when they’re older when they want to.”
Apart from signing books, Frey plans to do other things in Cebu, as recommended by a friend’s Filipino wife: “I have a day off in Cebu, and I’m going to a cockfight. I want to ride in a jeepney to a cockfight. Oh, and to eat lechon.”
James Frey’s books are available at National Book Store. Events will be on Jan. 31, 2 p.m. at National Book Store, Ayala Center Cebu; Feb. 1, 2 p.m. at National Book Store Glorietta 1. Follow @nbsalert on Instagram/Twitter for updates. Use the hashtag #JamesFreyinPH to join the discussion.