I went to the Decatur Book Festival on Saturday. My friend (who used to manage a Borders and is a book pro) signed us both up to volunteer at the Teen Stage (knowing that I have recently completed a YA novel and am currently working on the sequel).
I got to see a panel called “Well, how did I get here,” where Lauren Miller, Myra McEntire, and Michelle Hodkin, three YA writers, discussed the “time dimension.” I got to see Francesca Lia Block discussing her new book, Love in the Time of Global Warming. And I got to see a little bit of the Bridie Clark, Lauren Morrill, and Robyn Schneider in the Love and Romance panel. I was mostly helping out with the book signings in between the panels.
I had this grand plan to read books from Lauren Miller, Myra McEntire, Michelle Hodkin, and Francesca Lia Block before I volunteered–having looked at the schedule and seen what was going on during our shift. I only made it through Parallel by Lauren Miller, though, and I’m about halfway through Love in the Time of Global Warming now, which I’m really enjoying.
After our shift, my friend and I got some really awesome Persian food, and then we walked around some more. I stopped to talk to the Atlanta Writers Club (which I definitely plan to check out) and the Georgia Romance Writers (they gave my friend a nice Harlequin book called Her Baby, His Secret or something. Haha. I will have to borrow it and see what that’s about.) We stopped at the “all paperbacks $5” booth and got some used books (I bought The Red Tent and Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991) and then we stopped by the Little Shop of Stories where I picked up some YA books by authors who had been at the festival (Hourglass by Myra McEntire and Reboot by Amy Tintera – both signed!).
It was really great to just be around so many books, so many writers, and so many people who were passionate about reading, writing, storytelling, etc. It was exactly what I needed. It’s good to geek out on the internet with other geeky people who are into the same geeky things that you are into, but it’s also really amazing when you get tons of geeks together in one place. (Especially when Dragon Con is going on down the road — but we are different kinds of geeks, I suppose. There was definitely some crossover!)
But the coolest thing about the whole day for me was seeing all of these teenagers at the teen stage get so excited about books. They were engaging in the panels and asking really intelligent and thought-provoking questions. They were standing in really long lines to get books signed. They were buying new books from all of the YA authors there — some of them even had whole suitcases full of books.
I think it’s a really exciting time to be writing for teens. When I was a teenager, the young adult genre was a little muddy. I almost never read books in the YA genre, but some of my favorite books were later added to the genre (like The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky). Thanks to series like Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games, though, the YA genre has totally blown up, and as I witnessed on Saturday, so many teenagers are really falling in love with books and the art of storytelling through the exciting expansion of this genre. This is also a great thing for teen writers. I heard so many teenagers telling the authors about the things they were writing, which was really cool. And I loved how supportive and encouraging all of the authors were.
I heard Lauren Miller tell one girl that she looked like her main character in the book she was currently working on. When the girl walked away, she was saying to her mom, “Did you hear what she SAID? I look like her CHARACTER!” And she was so excited. It really made me smile.
The whole experience really has me jazzed up about my own writing. And also about reading in general. There’s just something magical about the art of storytelling. It’s like crack. You can’t get enough.
- Cover Porn: Gorgeous Young Adult Covers (crunchingsandmunchings.wordpress.com)
- Review: “Love in the Time of Global Warming” by Francesca Lia Block (birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)
- Parallel by Lauren Miller (2headstogether.wordpress.com)