Kate: As always, this was a big highlight of the conference for me. I, too, had a great mix of authors I had read and those new to me. I am so jealous about Sarah Dessen, I feel like there would be so much I would want to say to her (sadly the reality may be that I would freeze up in the big moment, the whistle would blow and I would never share my great story anyway, so maybe it is better this way). One of my favorite things about the Coffee Klatch is that it makes the authors more real to us (and I don’t mind the pandering when they tell us how much they love librarians).
Emily: I also met some people whose books I hadn’t read, including Blythe Woolston, who wrote this year’s Morris winner The Freak Observer. She was really interesting – not only does her book sound amazing (how have I not read it yet?) she had a fascinating day job. She’s an indexer! She reads non-fiction books then creates the index for them. She talked a little bit about how what she reads in that job inspires her writing, which was pretty interesting. I’ve been wanting to read The Freak Observer anyway, but it’s been bumped closer to the top of my â€œto-readâ€ list after meeting her.
Kate: She must learn a lot from all of those non-fiction books! It is amazing to hear about what writers do when they aren’t writing. For instance, I met Joe Lunievicz, author of Open Wounds, a book about many things, one of them being fencing. The author is a competitive fencer! How cool is that?
Sharon: Hi guys! My favorite author was Alden Bell, who wrote The Reapers are the Angels, an adult zombie book that’s got lots of teen appeal too. He said he loved Judy Blume and one of the sex scenes in the book was inspired by her book Forever. The book was also ½ inspired by Faulkner and Buffy. He also said he’d just read The Hunger Games and loved it. He started to tell us about female sexuality and then looked around the table (all women) and said â€œBut I guess I don’t have to tell you about this!â€ I know we’ve profiled him in The Hub in the past.
Sharon: I also met Blythe Woolston who explained why the cover of her book had the creepy heart on it – vs. the brain on the back. I’d read the book and liked it and it was great getting to talk to her. She told us a lot about the plot of her new novel Catch and Release and how it’s a road trip about 2 kids who go on fishing trip out west after surviving a widespread epidemic & how it’s more about biology and how you get born (but there’s no straight sex in it). I also got to speak to cute Marcus Sedgwick and ask if he was nervous about giving his Printz speech. He said they’d asked him for his speech ahead of time but he said â€œI haven’t even given it yet.â€ I think he probably improvised it on the spot. I can’t wait to read White Crow, his gothic contemporary novel.The other authors who I met were Leila Sales, whom I haven’t read any of (Mostly Good Girls and Past Perfect) but want to now; 2 other authors I adore: Alex Flinn & Catherine Gilbert Murdock, and several others I’d not heard of or read: Amanda Cockrell (first YA book, What We Keep is Not Always What Will Stay, usually writes for adults), and Beth Fehlbaum who’s written a series of books (Patience books) on popular topics like bullying, book banning, and racism that seem more message driven for classroom discussions.
I also enjoyed Jay Asher as the MC. He was cute and funny. I liked when he said that he’s the â€œspokes modelâ€ not spokesperson for 2011 Teen Read Week and that TRW is also the abbreviation for his book Thirteen Reasons Why and he’s glad he didn’t write 14 Reasons Why. I also liked his story of when he worked in a library and he found just the right book (Stargirl) for a girl who didn’t usually read. After a few days he hadn’t seen her again and wasn’t sure she’d come back to the library but then she did with a friend and wanted him to recommend something for her as well.
Emily: I agree – he did a great job! Jay Asher and his co-author Carolyn Mackler also stopped by our table to talk about their new book The Future of Us. It’s set in 1996, and the two main characters accidentally get a view of their future Facebook profiles, giving them a chance to see their future before it’s happened. Everything they do in the present changes the future, so they’re constantly trying to figure out what their lives will be and how to make them better. It sounds like a fun read! It was a great event–one of my conference highlights, too, Kate–and I know I’ll be going back next time I have the chance to go ALA!
–Emily Calkins, reading The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
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