I’m back from the Teen Book Festival in Rochester, New York. It was amazing!
In the limo on the way to the Teen Book Festival, I sat across from Laurie Halse Anderson and Robin Brande – two of my favorite YA authors. And it gets better, also at the festival: Mari Mancusi (wearing awesome shoes), Marissa Doyle, A.S. King, Amy Kathleen Ryan, Lisa McMann, Barry Lyga, Daniel Kirk, Holly Black, Matt de la Pena, and more…the longest list of authors they’ve ever had at TBF!
As we got closer to the school where the festival would be held, we were trying to get a look out the window to see Ellen Hopkins on a motorcycle with Terry Trueman in the sidecar (no, I’m not kidding – Ellen had “requested” this after last year’s festival and the brilliant organizers complied). Then I think it was Laurie who announced: “Oh my God! There’s a marching band!”
Yes, a marching band. Arrayed in white uniforms with sparkly blue sashes. And a color guard with blue flags. It was off the hook. We were then greeted by a cheering crowd, and a drum line played as we walked down the red carpet and into the school.
This doesn’t happen to YA authors very often, let me assure you.
And it gets even better: Marissa Doyle and I met our volunteer “handlers” for the day, who were amazing. (Here I am with two volunteers, Whitney and Molly). They had breakfast with us and answered any questions we had. First there was a rapid-fire Q&A with the whole crowd in the gymnasium (awesome) and then we were brought to our sessions.
And this brings me to my favorite part: the festival attendees. In every session, Marissa and I fielded great questions from the audience – different questions every time, both from teens who had read our books and others who were interested in historical fiction and history in general. (One reader asked what my favorite Edgar Allan Poe poem is – “Annabelle Lee!”). Their questions were insightful and interesting and engaging.
So here is my message, both to the organizers of the Teen Book Festival (especially the AMAZING Stephanie Squicciarini) their esteemed volunteers, and the attendees: YOU are the reason why I write young adult novels. YOU are the reason why writing young adult novels is so utterly cool, because there are readers out there this excited to read them. And I want to sit down now and write a book that you all will love to read, as my thank you for your enthusiasm. Seriously. I can not thank you thank you thank you enough.