Books, Event

7th Annual YA Lit Conference Recap: Part One

September 27, 2010
I had the extreme fortune and pleasure of attending the 7th Annual Young Adult Literature Conference in Naperville, IL this weekend. The lovely people at Anderson’s Bookshops ran the conference and it was kindly hosted by the Hotel Arista (pretty swanky hotel). I must thank the people who ran the conference for making it such a wonderful and fun event! This was not only my first Anderson’s conference, but it was also my first book conference as well, so I was very excited to be there. The most exciting part for me was being able to meet all the amazingly talented authors who have become internet friends of mine in person. πŸ™‚ I even met two other bloggers, Abby and Kelly!

I’m going to do this recap in two parts, so today is part one and tomorrow will be dedicated to part two.

Anderson’s had set up a little bookstore in the lobby of the ballroom, which was where the breakfast, lunch, and featured speakers took place. If money grew on trees and I happened to own one of those trees, I would have bought HUNDREDS of books! No joke. Not only did they have books by all the participating authors, but they had pre-signed books as well! I had to resist buying a signed Clockwork Angel hardcover and a signed Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. It was hard, but I resisted. I had brought some books from home to get signed, but purposefully waited for the conference to buy a few others. Still, I ended up buying six books, which wasn’t too bad considering how many more I could have bought. Haha.

The lovely people at Penguin had provided ARCs of Andrea Cremer’s fantastic debut, Nightshade, so I was able to snag another copy of that. Penguin also provided ARCs of Ruta Sepetys’ upcoming novel, Between Shades of Gray, which sounds really good! There were also posters for a few books, including Beautiful Darkness and Immortal Beloved, as well as some book samplers and bookmarks. Getting free stuff is always great, but when it’s book-related, it’s even better.

Okay, so once I had grabbed the free stuff and bought the books I wanted, I found my seat in the ballroom and chatted with the others at my table. Turns out, authors were seated at various tables and I had the extreme honor of sitting with and meeting James Klise, author of Love Drugged. He couldn’t have been nicer and it was great talking with him.

After the welcome announcements were made, there were three authors who each gave a presentation to help kick the event off. First up was Blue Balliett and she showed us photos of Three Oaks, the tiny town in which her latest book is set in. Her speech centered around her research and how she loved to just absorb everything and help make her story believable. Then Pam Munoz Ryan spoke and the thing I remember most about her talk was the photo of her writing with a typewriter with a glue stick next to it. She said she was asked by a young student the other day what the glue stick was for, to which she said, “You know that function in Word, ‘cut’ and ‘paste’? Well, back then, we literally cut pieces out and pasted them down.” Everyone got a kick out of that. πŸ™‚ The last speaker for the morning was Kenneth Oppel and he discussed his latest novel and how studies with chimpanzees have fascinated him and helped to inspire the novel.

Once the morning “events” were finished, different panel discussions (“breakout sessions”) were being held in various rooms. I have really bad memory, so for each session I’m going to highlight the things I remember most. Out of the seven sessions of the day, I was able to attend four of them. I unfortunately had to skip the Contemporary Edge one, but the ones I attended were amazing! The first session I attended was the New Voices one, featuring Andrea Cremer, Antony John, and Kirsten Miller. They each shared a little about themselves before talking about their books and answering questions.

-Andrea Cremer wrote Nightshade in 4 weeks. She had started her summer by taking horse riding lessons, but a horse had crushed her foot, leaving her unable to do anything, so she made her dream of writing a novel a reality.
-The main character in Antony John’s book,  Five Flavors of Dumb, is deaf. He has a super cool accent, but I thought he was saying she was “death”, like a grim reaper. It wasn’t until the end of his discussion that I realized she was deaf.
-Kirsten Miller views The Eternal Ones more as a thriller/mystery than a romance. When she was a child, she used to spend most of her time in this one aisle of the library that was full of unexplained mysteries and phenomenon, which she credits as her biggest inspiration.
-Antony and Kirsten edit as they write, but Andrea doesn’t.

After the New Voices session, I moved on to the You’re Never Too Young panel with Alexandra Adornetto and Kody Keplinger. They led a great discussion on being teen authors and it was wonderful to hear their stories of their journey to publication. They both did a great job leading the discussion, answering questions, and telling jokes.

-Alex recorded the audio for the audiobook for Halo and did so with an American accent. A guy asked her about it and she proceeded to read an excerpt in an American accent, so that was fun to hear. For those of you who may not know, Alex is Australian. I LOVED her accent! πŸ™‚
-Kody told us a story of how she was invited to go out one night and she didn’t want to, so she used her editor and meeting a deadline as an excuse, which saved her from getting in trouble.
-Both Alex and Kody received the same reaction from people regarding their goals of being an author. They would get the, “Oh, that’s nice. *pat on the head*” response that so many of us get.
-One of the main topics of their discussion was teen dialogue. Kody was told some of her dialogue was outdated, which we all found funny since she wrote the book about a year or two ago. Alex tried to stay away from Aussie slang and she used an example like the usage of saying “T” for “totally”, in the sense of agreeing with someone. Both she and Kody have tried to stick with language that is universal and timeless, like “cool”.
Halo was originally set in an Australian setting, but changed to a US one when the book was sold.

Having tweeted back and forth with Alex and even interviewing her, I was really excited to introduce myself afterward and we were both excited to finally meet in person. I also introduced myself to the wonderful Kody Keplinger and told them both how much I enjoyed their panel and that I would see them later at the autograph session. Before I left to head down to the ballroom, I met Courtney Allison Moulton, author of the upcoming YA novel Angelfire! It was awesome to meet her because we live relative close and had yet to meet. I’m really looking forward to seeing her again at her launch/signing in February.

The first half of the conference ended with an autographing session in the ballroom. The side walls were lined with tables with signs indicating which author was sitting where. Since the lines were huge, I got my books signed in rounds. I went over to James Klise, who was happy to see me again, and after, I went over to Kirsten Miller. Then I went across the room and waited in line for Claudia Gray. While I waited for her, my amazing father who went with me went to get my extra ARC of Nightshade signed by Andrea and when he told her it was for me, I guess she got excited and said she couldn’t wait to finally meet me. Claudia Gray was extremely nice and I had brought my ARC of Afterlife, the last book in the Evernight series, for her to sign and she told me it was the first one she has signed. We talked about her upcoming werewolf-Titanic novel, Fateful, and how much research went in to it. It was a pleasure to meet her and I had to keep myself from gushing about the Evernight books! My dad came back and told me to go see Andrea before I did anything else, so I made my way over and when she saw me, she smiled widely and got up to hug me. I don’t know who was more excited to meet the other, me or her. πŸ™‚

Okay, that’s all for now. Part Two will be posted tomorrow! I’m sorry that this post is so long and probably boring. I’m having a hard time restraining myself from going all fanboy and gushing over everything and everyone. πŸ™‚

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7 Comments

  • Reply Darlyn September 27, 2010 at 3:14 am

    Wow! You really had a great time!And it’s only in part 1!

  • Reply Elzahh September 27, 2010 at 8:43 am

    WOW..look at all those books! (first picture)…. they look so lonely :(..but it’s okay because they can all come home with me! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Antony John September 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Hi DJ: That is so funny that you thought I was saying “death” instead of “deaf.” Yup, I’ve gotta say that would change FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB quite dramatically. (Although, if there’s a sequel, I think I might go for a deaf grim reaper figure, per your suggestion.)

    Wish I’d got to meet you, but I’m so glad you had a great time at the conference. I was a total blast for the authors too, believe me!

  • Reply Kelly J. September 28, 2010 at 2:13 am

    It was great to meet you, DJ and it was nice reading your recap since you attended a couple sessions I didn’t get to!

  • Reply Abby September 28, 2010 at 2:41 am

    Great to meet you, DJ! Also: Werewolf Titanic? That sounds AWESOME!! O_O

  • Reply Liz September 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I’m so angry … I live near Naperville and knew (somehow — I guess I haven’t been reading my Sunday papers as closely as I should have been) nothing about this conference. Sheesh, and I was even in Naperville — though I confess I don’t know where that hotel is. I was right across the street from Anderson Bookstore though — that place is fabulous. I’ve taken my kids, through the years, to book signings there. Fabulous place.

    My kids are reads, I’m a reader, I would have just loved this… My oldest keeps my supplied with YA fiction she thinks I’ll like — next up is “A Wind in Montana” which actually promotes responsibility and a strong decision-making platform. She says the book illustrates that teens face difficult situations earlier than in the past — so they have to make these mature decisions when their brains can’t function yet at the level it needs to. Interesting thought, don’t you think? Good plot, too.

  • Reply spicyreaderguy December 13, 2011 at 4:14 am

    That guy who asked about the accent was me.

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