Authors Mark Huntly Parsons and his wife, Wendelin Van Draanen, talk to fans at the Village Lights Bookstore on Thursday. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Authors Mark Huntly Parsons and his wife, Wendelin Van Draanen, talk to fans at the Village Lights Bookstore on Thursday. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Authors Mark Huntly Parsons and his wife, Wendelin Van Draanen, offered a glimpse into their lives as authors during a stop in Madison on Thursday.

The couple talked with fans of their books at the Village Lights Bookstore.

The couple's "He Said, She Said" tour is focusing on the importance of independent bookstores and gives the two a chance to meet their readers across the U.S.

Parsons and Van Draanen, of Pismo Beach, Calif., have completed about 5,000 miles of their tour, which has them crisscrossing the country to visit non-chain booksellers.

"Independent booksellers can be literary matchmakers," Parsons said. "They help pair the right books to the readers."

"It's been really cool to see what each bookstore does with their stores. They are all so different. Each has a local personality that is different than the next," Van Draanen said.

Parsons, who has made a career of writing non-fiction works, recently had his first novel called "Road Rash" published. He said he has now caught the bug for writing fiction. "I've already finished another book and the third novel is almost done."

Parsons said his writing falls into the young-adult category, but that he doesn't write down to an age group. "I just write what I'd like to read."

Two of Van Draanen's fans who came to Thursday's event were brought by their parents from Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville.

Marel Smietana of Nashville, was there to talk about Van Draanen's book "Flipped," which also has been turned into a motion picture. Van Draanen said after she wrote "Flipped," she received many fan letters asking for a sequel that would pair the two main characters together.

"I had to tell them that I was happy with how it ended and wasn't going to write a sequel," Van Draanen said. "But, when they were making the movie, I went to Hollywood and asked (director) Rob Reiner to have them kiss at the end or maybe do something in the credits to show that they eventually got together. But he didn't. I think I'm the first author who had their book so closely recreated for film."

Regan Haise, of Louisville, came to the event with a stack of titles from Van Draanen's "Sammy Keyes" book series to have them signed.

During the talk, the husband and wife team also discussed the process of writing in the same office and quipped back and forth about the little things that each one did. "One thing that drives her crazy is my typing," Parsons said.

"It's because he's a drummer," Van Draanen explained. "When he types, it's so loud, 'TAP! TAP! TAP!"

She also talked about how their process of writing varies. "I won't start a book until I know how it is going to end," she said.

"I don't wait around," Parsons interrupted playfully. "I just get started and hope to figure it out when I get there."