young adult book reviews & more

NYC Teen Author Festival recaps

Last week was my spring break. Last week was also NYC Teen Author Festival. So, basically, that means I spent almost all of last week running around to different bookstores and library branches, gazing lovingly at books, and chatting with all the book people. That's what I call great timing!

Day 1
I'll Take You There: A Change of Scenery, A Change of Self

moderator David Levithan & panelists Jennifer E. Smith, Melissa Walker, Bennett Madison, Gayle Forman, and Kristen-Paige Madonia

As I am someone who is always rushing to get places and always over- and under-budgeting time, it is no one's surprise that I made it to the Mulberry Street branch of the NYPL only minutes before this event started. Fortunately, my publishing intern friend Eunice was kind enough to save me a seat, and a great one at that!

Since the books of each of these panelists revolve around some sort of important change in scenery (think international traveling, a road trip, or a summer vacation), the panel focused on how a change in scenery—specifically, the accompanying sense of disorientation, destabilization, and insecurity—encourages and is even vital to character growth. The authors discussed the difficulties and complications in writing characters that need to grow as well as the pros and cons of writing about fictional or real places.

In all, it was a fascinating discussion, and I had a great time chatting with my friend Eunice, other bookish friends Adam and Marisa, as well as authors Alison Cherry, Nicole Lisa, and Michael Northrop. 

Day 2
The Only Way Out Is Through: Engaging Truth through YA

moderator David Levithan & panelists Amy McNamara, Jessica Verdi, and Crissa-Jean Chappel
panelists Crissa-Jean Chappel, Tim Decker, and Ellen Hopkins

I sadly arrive about 20 minutes late to this event due to an unfortunate encounter with the G train (to my chagrin, I went a few stops in the wrong direction before realizing my mistake!). But, as you can tell from the pictures above, I did make it safe and sound to WORD in Brooklyn. 

This panel touched upon a topic that I find endlessly fascinating: the idea of truth through fiction, specifically YA. I'm a big believer that you can find truth in something that is by nature not a truth (i.e. fiction), and it seems that many of the panelists were on the same page as me on this issue. But then comes the difficulty of how to handle that truth, whether it's grief or STDs or teen prostitution (or more lighthearted matters, of course), and how to convey it in a way that's not cliched. 

I had a wonderful time at this event chatting with my bookish friends Ruth and Adam, author Michael Northrop, and blogger Khy from Frenetic Reader.

Day 5
Reader's Theater

Jeff Hirsch, Elizabeth Eulberg, Nova Ren Suma, Rainbow Rowell, Eireann Corrigan, and David Levithan

I am a big fan of reader's theater, especially when it's at least in part orchestrated by David Levithan. So, I went to the Barnes & Noble in Union Square with the hopes of laughing and left with my expectations far exceeded!

Before getting into any of their individual books, the authors did a trial run of sorts to introduce reader's theater anyone unfamiliar with the concept—by reading from Go Ask Alice. Needless to say, it was overdramatic and a complete riot. The rest of the event included a reader's theater version of each author's newest book, a brief intermission between readings for a small panel discussion, and finally, a signing. I made sure to get my copy of Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality signed, since it sounds absolutely hilarious!

I got to chat (although too briefly!) with a lot of fabulous people at this event, including my bookish friend Adam and authors Alison Cherry, Nicole Lisa, Frankie Diane Mallis, Elizabeth Eulberg, and Michael Northrop. 

Day 6

This was a day of five amazing panels and/or sets of readings. Though I arrived a little late, I made sure to stay through the end of the event—and boy was I glad that I did!

panelists A.S. King, Aaron Hartzler, Marisa Calin, and Jacqueline Woodson & moderator David Levithan

As I mentioned, I arrived a tad late for this panel, titled "Defying Description: Tackling the Many Facets of Identity in YA," but I still feel like I got to hear a really great discussion. The authors talked about the many qualities and things that make up identity, from race to sexuality, and their concerns about what kinds of identity that they're comfortable writing. I'm always a little comforted and relieved to see that many authors deeply care about the identities of their characters and making them true to life, because these are things that many readers care about too.

author J.J. Howard

The next section included short readings from four debut authors, including J.J. Howard (pictured above), Kimberly Sabatini, Tiffany Schmidt, and Greg Takoudes. I meant to take pictures of the rest of the authors, but I think I was so enthralled with the readings that I just forgot!

panelists Katie Sise, Kathryn Williams, Jen Calonita, Hilary Weisman Graham, Deborah Heiligman, Amy Spalding,  and Kody Keplinger & moderator Terra Elan McVoy

After that, the next panel "Under Many Influences: Shaping Identity When You're a Teen Girl" focused on basically what its title suggests: influences on teen girls as characters and people. This led to a lively discussion about everything from parents to friends to boys—and the question of which is worse: getting dumped by a boyfriend or a best friend.

panelists Lindsay Ribar, Jeri Smith-Ready, Jessica Spotswood, Alexandra Monir, Maya Gold, Gina Damico, and Jessica Brody & moderator Adrienne Maria Vrettos

The penultimate panel, titled "Born This Way: Nature, Nurture, and Paranormalcy," focused on the paranormal. Specifically, the authors discussed why they chose to give their characters certain special abilities and whether they'd have liked to have these same abilities when they were teens (the resounding answer to that question was a pretty absolute NO!).

The symposium ended with a short panel ominously titled "The Next Big Thing." I was having such a great time listening to everything that I completely forgot to take a picture, but I did remember to take somewhat detailed notes. Four authors, including Leanna Renee Hieber, Barry Lyga, Maryrose Wood, and a fourth author whose name I unfortunately can't remember for the life of me, basically came up with pitches for what they thought would be the next big thing in YA. So, what will be big? It might be anything from panda mermaids to books that are vampires (not just about them), but the final consensus was: Carrie Babies (horror meets middle grade meets Sex in the City), YA about adults, bondage-themed fiction for kids, and books about unicorn existentialism (some of these might not sound funny in this list, but I guess you had to be there...). This was probably my favorite panel of the day, which is why I'm so glad I stuck around for it. It was completely hilarious!

I got to hang out and chat with so many awesome people at the event, including bookish friends and bloggers Adam, Julie from Bloggers[heart]Books, and Khy from Frenetic Reader; authors Marianna Baer, Kody Keplinger, Alecia Whitaker, Lindsay Ribar, Frankie Diane Mallis, Donna Gambale, Jeri Smith-Ready, Katie Sise, Amy Spalding, and J.J. Howard; as well as one of my favorite editors at Scholastic.

Day 7
No-Foolin' Mega-Signing

The recurring theme for me for this year's NYC Teen Author Festival, aside from books and authors of course, seems to have been running late or almost late. Yes, I was running a little late to this event, but fortunately, I got to Books of Wonder just in time for all the action.

I unfortunately completely forgot to take pictures (despite having made sure to pack my camera that morning), so there are no visual accompaniments to this part of the recap. I also didn't get very many books signed this year—just a few for me and a friend—so that saved me the hassle of having to drag around an enormous, super heavy bag. So, I had a lot of time to just chat with many other people at the event, including but not limited to bookish friends Adam, Jennifer, Danielle, Sam, and Marisa; bloggers Khy from Frenetic Reader, Renee from The Book Girl, and Rachel from Bookshelf Lust; and authors Kody Keplinger, Lindsay Ribar, Alison Cherry, Nicole Lisa, Michael Northrop, Sarah Beth Durst, Susane Colasanti, Jen Calonita, A.S. King, and Jeri Smith-Ready.

In all, it was a fantastic end to a fantastic week of fantastic events! (Did I use "fantastic" too much? I think not!)

2 munch(es) :

holdenj said...

I think fantastic is the perfect word! Thanks for the update and pics. I always like to see what the authors look like!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an awesome event! Lucky you! Conferences and festivals are always so inspiring.

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