Last Saturday I hopped along with my school librarian to the Texas Teen Book Festival. This was my first time attending, and my second time doing anything where I met the author. Yes, she dragged me to that event (Ernest Cline) too. 🙂
I didn’t buy many books because teachers are broke this time of year, and I’m starting to think I’m just perpetually broke, but I did get a few books…and got them signed!
The keynote speaker was Sonia Manzano, who played Maria on Sesame Street. I didn’t know she was the keynote until I arrived. I didn’t do any research for this event, but I was very surprised and impressed by what she had to say.
***** The Authors *****
There were a bunch of great panelists present at #TTBF15. Images courtesy of Texas Teen Book Festival.
***** Who I Saw *****
I went to a few panels and also to Sophia’s keynote speech.
No Risk, No Reward Panel – Authors Jesse Andrews, Cindy Pon, David Levithan, and Carry Ryan talked about the risks they take in their writing processes and in writing about “edgy” subjects for teens.
I liked David Levithan’s response best: Depression, suicide, LGBTQ, etc. are not “edgy” things to write about. They are real.
Keynote – Sonia Manzano talked about the background of her book, Becoming Maria. She reiterated what many people say in that despite a person’s struggles they can make something of themselves. She disagreed – it is because of their struggles that they succeed. Her struggles through childhood and the conflicting images and feelings and situations that were perpetuated throughout are what lead her to become Maria on Sesame Street.
Future Possible Panel – Authors Pierce Brown, Claudia Gray, Sophie Jordan, Jenny Martin, Rick Yancy talked about the future settings of their books and a lot about killing off characters. (No spoilers!) I also learned that Rick Yancy is terrified of the hair that accumulates in the bathtub drain. And Pierce Brown writes in the woods. Claudia Gray also does not believe there is such a thing as writer’s block.
Even though these books are set in the future, I liked that Pierce Brown and Rick Yancy both spoke to the need for honesty in writing character, particularly when it comes to their reactions and emotions. If authors are trying to force or contrive a plotline or character, readers will feel the insincerity and see right through that attempt.
Closing – Libba Bay and David Levithan presented their friendship to the audience in three acts, including a slideshow of pictures and a reenactment of sections of the book they are working on together as well as a reading out of one of David’s books. It was hilarious.
I discovered Libba, who has gorgeous hair and is just all around kick-ass, sings in a band, so she sang a song for us. I also learned that if you ever want to become a YA author, you want David Levithan to be your friend. He is where it is at.
***** Ze Pictures! *****
I would also like to add that I talked quite a bit with Sophia Jordan when she signed my book, which I was inspired to buy after hearing her talk about the killer kid gene. Yep, it fits right in with teacher life.
***** The Books *****
I only bought three books at TTBF15. I was saving some for my school’s book fair, which started this week, but here’s what I got: