In September, I attended my first bookish event and it was a really incredible experience. 40 young adult authors were invited to attend, there were a number of different panels and a signing at the end.
My mom and I drove all the way to Boston to attend (thanks mom for going with me) I don’t regret it at all. Even though we had to get up early and scramble to find somewhere to park once we got there, it was such a fun day.
9:30: Doors Open
10-11: Intro panel with all authors
11:15-12: Group A Panels
12:15-1: Group B Panels
1:15-2: Group A Panels – Reprise
2:15-3: Group B Panels – Reprise
The intro panel was a little crazy and disorganized, but once everyone was settled it was fascinating to hear from each author about their books, and the unique way they answered the questions posed to them.
There were so many intriguing themes for the panels that it was tough to decide where to go, but I figured I’d pick my favourite authors’ panels first and see where it led me. The first panel I attended was Out of Character which featured Leigh Bardugo, Kerri Maniscalco, Ashley Poston and Jason Reynolds. It was all about making established characters their own.
They talked about what Hogwarts houses their main characters would be sorted into, what inspired them to write and more! You can watch the footage I took of the panel here (it’s long and a little shaky because the person in front of me kept moving their head and I kept trying to film around them, plus I was actually watching the authors talk rather than paying attention to my camera screen. Sorry, not sorry.)
After that panel ended, I immediately rushed to the next panel (which was of course on a different floor and the other end of the library, which is huge by the way.) My mom stopped to go to the bathroom and guess who was in line behind her? Susan Dennard, they chatted for a while and are friends now. I am soooooo jealous, and sad.
Thankfully, her panel was the one that I was going to see and that was called Tropes on You – featuring Susan Dennard, Brendan Reichs, Sandhya Menon and Elizabeth Eulberg. It was all about, you guessed it, busting tropes.
They didn’t have a moderator for their panel, so the lovely Elizabeth took charge and the group had a fun time together.
I was too excited and didn’t take a lunch break, so the next panel I attended was Their Dark Materials with Traci Chee, Rin Chupeco, Amanda Foody and Linsey Miller. These dark, gritty fantasies were the perfect picks for this panel.
Yet another panel without a moderator, what happened guys? This time Traci took charge and got everyone chatting about their books. By this time, my camera battery had died (even though I brought three!!) and so I started filming on my phone. (Is it just me or does it sound better and is less shaky? Maybe it’s just because we were in a smaller, quieter space than the Out of Character panel which was in a huge auditorium.)
Finally, I attended the last panel of the day which was Lens Crafters featuring Victoria Aveyard, Cinda Williams Chima, Lisa Maxwell, and Tara Sim. It was all about books with multiple points of view.
I actually already had Cinda and Lisa’s books on my TBR, but after hearing everyone talk I was even more excited to read them. Sadly by this time I had filled up my phone’s memory and could only record about 3 minutes of footage (which was back in the auditorium, so the sound was terrible). They had some good advice about tenses and points of view, as well as finding a character’s voice which really made you think if you write yourself.
Finally, it was time for the signings! I didn’t know how crazy it would be, so I only brought three books with me – but I saw a lady who was wheeling a legitimate storage bin behind her. For reference, they’re those huge ones you put in the garage or store like… twenty comforters in. She was definitely dedicated and I hope she managed to get all of them signed.
It was another unorganized part of the festival. Imagine the authors are inside a big square room and the line starts at the door then continues clockwise around the whole thing, wrapping around the room twice. Does that make any sense? The volunteers decided to move part of the line to make space in the hallway, so where I was standing in line.. we ended up basically having to walk around the entire outside once… and then somehow got put at the end of the entire line. As a result, I spent about an hour just waiting to get into the room, which wasn’t fun and meant I had very little time to see authors.
By that time, the line for Leigh Bardugo was super long and I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to see her if I went to anyone else. My mom took my Windwitch book and got in line to see Susan Dennard and get it signed. Hindsight being 20/20, I realized that I could have had my mom wait in line for Leigh while I went to see Susan Dennard, but it was just so chaotic that I handed her the book and she rushed off. So I was again sad that I didn’t get to see Susan Dennard, but my mom had a lovely conversation with her and I got a bunch of gorgeous Witchlands stuff. I already put the poster in a frame and will hang it up in my library.
After about 45 minutes, I was at the front of Leigh Bardugo’s line! She was such a sweetheart and took the time to chat with each person who waited to see her. I had donated to the Boston Teen Authors Festival’s Kickstarter and received a signed copy of Wonder Woman: Warbringer as a result. Leigh commented that she remembered signing my book earlier that day (benefits of having an unusual name)! She also signed my copies of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, which I will treasure forever. Most exciting, I got a picture with her!!
By the time I saw Leigh, the signing was pretty much over. I scooted over to say hi to a few authors who didn’t have lines, got some bookmarks and pins, then headed home.
It was a long, but so fun day! I hope you enjoyed this little recap and that my videos weren’t too terrible? Let me know what you thought in the comments below and what panels you would have attended!