New York City Teen Author Festival Recap: Part 2

Hi! I’m back with the final installment about my time checking out the NYCTAF festival. Unfortunately, due to work, I couldn’t attend any of the awesome-sounding panels that were going on the Friday of the festival. (For details on who attended, check this out.) Luckily, I didn’t miss out on all Friday events:

Friday, March 30th: Reading/Signing at Barnes & Noble in Union Square:

Who was there:

David Levithan (Every You, Every Me)
Andrea Cremer (Nightshade)
Emily Danforth (The Miseducation of Cameron Post)
Lucas Klauss (Everything You Need to Survive the Apocolypse)
Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss)
Siobhan Vivian (The List)
John Corey Whaley (Where Things Come Back)

What happened:

This particular events ranks number 1 for anything I attended for NYCTAF. Each author got to have a chapter of one of their books acted out. It was pretty hysterical and a great way to experience new work. I even took some semi-crappy pictures! Enjoy!


  • The authors opened by reading various one liners from different YA books including Sweet Valley High and good old Judy Blume. (It was funny to see which lines you could identify.)
  • David Levithan and Andrea Cremer tangoed.
  • After weeks of staring at the cover of The Miseducation of Cameron Post at Barnes & Noble, the scene performed from this book made me finally buy it.
  • Lucas Klauss played St. Clair in the “performance” from Anna and the French Kiss and it was beyond hilarious. His British accent was a cross between a butler and a vampire? Neither of which was sexy and just sort of the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.
  • Afterwards, I totally forgot how to speak when I met Siobhan Vivian, told Emily Danforth how much I loved the cover of her book, and told Stephanie Perkins that her hair reminded me of Ariel. (Clearly, I am horrible at speaking at authors. But not so much the people on line with me. How weird that I meet a girl (hi Laura!) who grew up a town over from where I did?)

Saturday, March 31, 2012: New York Public Library

A full day of panels while it was gray and dreary outside! One thing about Saturday is that it ran 5 hours with one 10 minute break. I was fully expecting to go grab a snack during the “Killer Instincts:  Death, Murder, and the YA Novel” (not my thing) but all the of panels started right after the other. By the end, I was pretty much starving. (A suggestion for next time… longer break? Granola bars, something? I should have been more prepared but I thought I’d have more time to step out.)

Rising to the Challenge: YA Characters Facing Down What Life Throws Them

Who was there:

Tara Altebrando (Dreamland Social Club)
Matt Blackstone (A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie)
Susane Colasanti (Something Like Fate)
Kody Keplinger (Shut Out)
Siobhan Vivian (The List)
K.M. Walton (Cracked)


  • Three of the authors on this panel were teachers — Susane, Matt, and K.M. Both K.M. and Matt talked about how experiences in school helped them to write their books.
  •  Susane is a Jersey girl! Many of the experiences that happened in her newest book, Keep Holding On, are based on real bullying she experienced as a kid.
  • Kody says her writing doesn’t tell her own story, instead she writes about what she saw and what she wanted to read when she was in school.
  • K.M. was very delighted she could use the “f-bomb” in her novel.
  • Tara wanted to write a book about Coney Island and high school as a freak show. First draft didn’t work out and her editor suggested something more emotional had to happen. She went back to writing about the loss of a mom. “I’ve said all I need to say about dead mothers.”
  • David Levithan was Siobhan’s editor. She first pitched The List coming from one girl’s perspective. David asked about the others girls and writing about them actually made the whole thing more of an intimate experience. “The line between feeling pretty and unpretty is fragile.” She was able to put a piece of herself in all the girls.

Moments of Truth: Characters at a Crossroads

Who was there:

Natasha Friend (For Keeps)
Margie Gelbwasser (Pieces of Us)
Jennifer Hubbard (The Secret Year)
Stewart Lewis (You Have 7 Messages)
Sarah Darer Littman (Want to Go Private?)
Jess Rothenberg (The Catastrophic History of You and Me)
Daisy Whitney (The Mockingbirds)
Moderator: E. Lockhart (The Boyfriend List)

This panel flew by! Everyone read a bit from their books (which took up some time), Stewart Lewis brought his guitar and sang a song, and they all answered some questions. I didn’t take a lot of notes on this one but here are a few highlights:

  • Littman talked about writing Want to Go Private? and how she didn’t want to face what happens to her character. As a victim of sexual abuse, Littman had nightmares while writing this and she couldn’t sleep. “Hardest thing ever.”
  • Whitney says The Rivals was the only book she outlined. There also wouldn’t be a third book in the series and this second book is all about choices.
  • Rothenberg used the 5 stages of grief as an outline for her book: The Catastrophic History of You and Me.

Looking Forward to Fall

In the final panel of the day, authors went up and read a bit from their books that will be released later in the year.

David Levithan, Every Day
Brian Meehl, Suck It Up and Die
Marie Rutkoski, The Shadow Society
Alyssa Scheinmel, The Stone Girl
Eliot Schrefer, Endangered

One comment… while all of these sounded amazing, Endangered probably intrigued me the most. It’s not a book I would normally pick up but I was very very moved by the reading,

And there we have it! I’m so glad I was able to take part in these events and I hope to attend more in the future! Thanks to all those involved for making it a great week!

New York City Teen Author Festival Recap: Part 1

During the last week of March, I depended on Lara Bars for dinner sustenance and headed downtown for a bunch of New York City Teen Author Festival events! Of course, I made sure to make an appearance because a) there were so many authors participating that I have grown to love b) I wanted to discover some new writers and c) I wanted to listen to authors talk about writing. It feels like forever since I’ve graduated college as a writing major, and it’s always nice to feel a surge of inspiration coursing through your veins.

I attended four events during the week so I thought I would split this up into two parts. Like a geek, I took some notes. Okay, a lot of notes. So I hope you find my recap enjoyable and maybe discover a few new books along the way as well.

Day 1: Plotting Dangerously (Doing What It Takes to Find the Story)
A.K.A. The day I met the sweet & enthusatic Ghenet (who is a budding YA author herself) and an author I know (Morgan Matson)

Moderated by David Levithan (Every You, Every Me). The panel included:
Coe Booth (Bronxwood)
Jen Calonita (Secrets of My Hollywood Life)
Paul Griffin (Stay with Me)
Deborah Heiligman (Intentions)
Melissa Kantor (The Darlings in Love)
Morgan Matson (Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour)
Kieran Scott (She’s So Dead to Us)
Melissa Walker (Small Town Sinners)

Whew! What a crew, right? For about an hour, the authors answered questions posed by David and also read a bit from their current (and yet-to-be-released novels), and took some time to do a Q&A with the audience.

The highlights:

  • It made me feel a bit relieved that many of these writers did not plan out their stories ahead of time. Many began their books with just an idea, a feeling, or a character and went from there.
  • Just like us readers, authors fall in love with their characters and don’t want their relationship with them to be over. “Endings are hard.”
  • Coe Booth on the voices in her head: “If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be institutionalized.” She hears the voice of these characters and figures out how to “screw up their life.”
  • Kieran Scott is a Jersey girl! I had no idea. (I am,  too.) She mentioned her trilogy, “He’s So/She’s So”, and how she wrote it so that if a person picked up a book out of order they wouldn’t be lost. (I found this amusing because Magan did this very thing so obviously Scott’s plan worked!)
  • Morgan Matson on Amy & Roger’s: She knew the book would be a road trip from California to Connecticut but wasn’t sure of the in-between. She actually had to cut about 150 pages because she kept the trip going too long.
  • Melissa Kantor talked about how she would take an intense feeling from when she was a teenager and start writing from that. Admittedly terrible with plot, Kantor likes to focus on the characters talking.
  • Morgan Matson on her writing process: “Write your character into a corner on purpose and try to get them out.”
  • Books I was most excited about afterwards: Second Chance Summer (Morgan Matson), Small Town Sinners (Melissa Walker), Intentions (Deborah Heiligman). Keep in mind these were the standouts. I added books from every author to my TBR list that evening.

Tip: This started at 6pm, and I came from midtown on the subway. We just made it about 10 minutes before it started and there were still chairs to spare. (I know I was worried about crowds before attending these events so just something to keep in mind.)

Day 2: The Mutual Admiration Society Reading
A.K.A. The day I felt like a huge stalker.

Moderated again by David Levithan (Every You, Every Me), this group included:
Madeleine George (The Difference Between You and Me)
Jennifer E. Smith (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight)
Ellen Hopkins (Crank)
John Corey Whaley (Where Things Come Back)

This event was more of a reading but there was a Q&A at the end.

Did you know?

  • David Levithan edited The Hunger Games. I had no clue.

The highlights:

  • Hearing Madeleine George read a passage from The Difference Between You and Me. I had such an emotional response to that book so to hear her take on the stuffy character and make everyone in the room laugh and laugh just amazed me. Not because I didn’t think the book was funny. It was! But because it makes such a difference to hear a book read out loud like that, and even more so, I was impressed with the strength of her characters.
  • When asked about the YA community: Madeleine George said it was “nice to participate [in a community] that was rah rah reading, literacy, and art!”
  • On STAT: Jennifer E. Smith said it was a “logisitical challenge” — writing a book that takes place over a span of 24 hours makes you realize just how long 24 hours is. (It’s long.)
  • On Where Things Come Back: It was about finding “a balance between small town absurd commedy and sincerity of a teenager losing his borther” and also “tragic moments can be funny.”
  • For David Levithan, place is “not in the top 10” of his story priorities. Mostly, his stories take place in suburbia, so they can be anywhere. “It’s all about words, place isn’t important.”
  • Jennifer E. Smith told a story about how she handed in a piece of writing told in the first person and her teacher came to her all worried about her subject, thinking it was true. This is how she ended up writing in the third person exclusively. She sort of stuck with it.
  • Carley Moore of The Stalker Chronicles was sitting in front of me at the reading, and I surprised myself by tapping her on the shoulder afterwards and congratulating her on the release of her book that day. Yes, I know what she looks like because I had been on her website & twitter account the day or two before setting up my review. So ha. My own stalker moment. (She was very gracious and super nice!)
  • Books I most want to read afterwards: Every You, Every Me (David Levithan), Where Things Come Back (John Corey Whaley), and anything by Ellen Hopkins.

Tip: This particular event was held on one of the floors at McNally Jackson Bookstore at 52 Prince Street and it was CROWDED. It started at 7 so I was half hour early and in the end, it turned out to be standing room. This was also a great bookstore. If you are in the area, I would check it out.

Okay! Part 1 complete! Next week I continue with the remainder of the festival!