On Sunday, my mom (whose birthday we were celebrating!!) and I went to the YA Fandom Frenzy (hosted by Anderson’s Bookshop). There were 40 YA authors there, and probably about 200 attendees. It was all a bit crazy, but also really fun!!
Here are some of the highlights:
- Cassandra Clare and Holly Black were up first (both with very colorful hair!), and they talked about their process for writing The Iron Trial. They said that basically, one of them would write a chapter (or section) and then the other person would edit it, write over it, etc. and then write another chapter or section. Then they would pass it over to the other person and do the same. Sounds simple, right? But you’d have to really work well with the other person for it to work! They said that even Holly’s mom wasn’t able to tell who wrote what when it was all finished.
They also talked about using an outline to write. Holly says she wishes she could stick to an outline, but she never does (and it drives her and her beta readers crazy!) and Cassie says that she sticks to an outline most of the time. Makes you wonder how they managed when working together! (There was no time to ask since the outline thing was the last question).
- After that, we did a speed dating thing. This was really hectic. The authors had one minute to pitch their book to a table full of people and for them to ask questions. Um, yeah, not really enough time. At one minute, the organizers would twirl a noisemaker and everyone was supposed to get up and move to the next table. It was very chaotic with 200 people milling around, trying to figure out where to go next and waiting for random people to move so they could sit down. There were supposed to be enough segments so that you would get to see every author, but there weren’t. We missed out on talking to several authors. Stephanie Perkins didn’t pitch her books to us (probably because she know everyone on the planet already knows her books), and instead we sat and talked about the chaos. She suggested that they should have had the authors move instead of the attendees – she said it was nice of them to try and make the authors do less work and all, but it would have made a lot more sense the other way around. Gotta love a famous author who’s not hung up on herself – she was super sweet!
- Next the authors did something called A Chorus Line, where they had to come up with on-the-spot answers to random questions. Demetria Lunetta (who wrote In the After and In the End) was sitting at my table for most of the day, and she commented that these activities were like torture for her and other introverted authors. I loved getting to know Demetria a little bit – she had a bit of sarcastic wit, but I could definitely tell that she didn’t love the spotlight. I made sure to buy her book and had her sign it – I’ve heard such good things about it, and I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet! Watch for a review coming soon!
- During lunch, some of the authors did musical performances, which was a fun surprise! I missed the first couple because I was in the bookstore, but I got to hear a fun duet of “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” sung by Kevin Emerson (I think – can anyone who was there confirm this for me?) who framed the song as a post-apocalyptic tune, and was accompanied by Len Vlahos. And I was really glad I didn’t miss Joelle Charbonneau’s performance of a song from Smash (I hadn’t realized that she was an opera and musical theatre star!).
- After lunch, they put the authors on the spot a bit more (in very fun ways, of course!). First, they had to tell a story – they gave them a topic, and then one author would start the story and the others would each add a line or two. The stories got very crazy, with women who’d been fused to dogs and random, now-grown child stars. It was pretty hilarious. Then they had to come up with Thank You Notes (like Jimmy Kimmel does on his show). There were some really clever thank-you’s, one thanking the authors for referencing so many old child stars so that half of the room (YA girls) would have no idea who they were talking about. And my favorite, which went something like this (said in a very serious and sincere voice, of course) – “Thank you, Jimmy Kimmel, for coming up with your Thank You Notes bit so that we authors could be forced to come up with, on the spot, what takes you weeks and a whole team of writers to do.” I REALLY wish I could remember which authors came up with these so that I could give them credit, but I can’t (anybody out there remember?)
- Next up was a trivia game. They split us into groups and we had to come up with book titles and authors for book mashes (like “A young mouse finds a home with the Ingalls in a log cabin” would be “Stuart Little House on the Prairie), books and authors based on covers – for both YA books and classics – and then name that book, author, character and actor for YA books that have been made into movies. This was SO much fun!! I was sitting with the Lex half of Lex Thomas (I’ll explain that in the next bullet point) and Adele Griffin, who were both great people. We also had a very competitive 7th grade teacher on our team and Lex and she just pretty much cracked me up the whole time. When we won a round, you’d think we’d won a major award by our cheering, and then Lex loudly announced, “We don’t care about winning. Really. No big deal at all. Means nothing to us.”
Um, except we used our phones to search for authors, which we were apparently not supposed to do, and I felt really guilty about it since I had actually heard them say that at the beginning and told my team about it, but when I looked around I saw lots of phones and it looked like everyone was pretty much disregarding that rule. We were right in the front and not trying to hide it – but I’m normally a total rule follower, so I felt like I should turn in my little mini-clay pack when they announced the rule again way later (yep, the prizes were fantabulous – I also could have chosen a large pink die or a tiny rubber snake!). So, I officially apologize to any teams who actually followed that rule the whole time (I have a feeling that our team wasn’t the only one ignoring it). Still, even my guilty conscience couldn’t take away from the high that we were already on at that point – the game and our competitive, snarky team was just way too fun!!
Then we moved on to the autographing and mingle with authors time. There were SO many books that I would have loved to buy, but I had to limit myself a little because my husband wouldn’t be happy if I threw my (non-existent) blogging budget out the window. 🙂 I will be keeping A LOT of these books on my radar.
But, my mom and I did buy a few and we got them signed (check out the pictures too!):
- The Loners, The Saints and The Burnouts by Lex Thomas (I look so short next to Lex & Thomas!!)
- Conversion by Katherine Howe
- In the After by Demetria Lunetta
- Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
- 33 Minutes by Todd Hasak-Lowy (for my son)
- Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
Here are some other random fun facts and observations before I end this post:
- Lex Thomas is actually two guys named Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies (as you can see from the picture above). Like I said, I sat with Lex for the games and he’s just plain awesome. I was really glad that we had decided to buy the Quarantine series for my son (and for me too!) because by the time the games were over, I totally wanted to support him. I didn’t get any personal interaction with Thomas, but from his responses to things on the author panels, he seemed pretty hilarious too.
- Adele Griffin’s new book, The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone sounds like so much fun! It sounds like this really collaborative work that involves social media, photography, interviews, etc. She actually adjusted the story to fit with the profiles of the people she used to “play” her characters. I wish I could explain it the way she did. Her description made it sound like something so incredibly unique – I’m really kind of kicking myself for not buying this one, but I’m definitely going to check it out!
- Simone Elkeles is practically my neighbor! Her kids go to a high school that’s one district over from ours (some of the kids in my town go to their school). I was planning to pick up one of her books, but was overwhelmed by the sheer number of them and didn’t have time to figure out which was first (she’d told me, but of course I forgot). Looking on Goodreads now, I see she’s hugely popular and I don’t know why I haven’t read her yet! That will be remedied very soon! I think I’ll start with Wild Cards – I know I’ve seen that one around the blogosphere and have read great things! (Read it? What did you think?) Oh, and Simone’s Thank You Note was really funny too. It went something like this (slight paraphrase, not an actual quote): “Thank you, Anderson’s for inviting me here and telling me to bring my son. When I told him he had to come, he said, ‘I can’t believe your making me go to this thing!’ I told him that there would be like 50 teenage girls there and almost no boys. He’s been smiling and laughing all day. Thank you for helping me to reinforce that Mother really does always know best.” It was pretty hysterical!
- Another book I didn’t pick up, but wish I had was Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. I just read a review of this book not long ago and the person raved about it. My mom sat next to Holly Goldberg Sloan during the trivia games and apparently totally talked up my blog (Isn’t that what moms are for? She’s way better at marketing my blog than I am – I just need to bring her with me to all events) – so Holly came over to talk to me. But Holly was really sweet – she barely mentioned her book at all, she just wanted to introduce me to Meg and tell me about her book. So now I totally need to read both Belzhar and Holly’s newest book, I’ll Be There.
A few more random pictures:
- Alaya Dawn Johnson, Trent Reedy, Lisi Harrison and Eliot Schrefer
- Katherine Howe and Adi Alsaid (doing his photobomb expression – minus the arms out, which you can see in the picture at the top of the page)
- Joelle Charbonneau singing.
- Meg Wolitzer and Holly Goldberg Sloan
So, all in all, a great event! Can’t wait to do it again next year!