This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the annual YA Lit Conference at Anderson’s Bookshop with my mom. We look forward to this event every year! It’s technically geared toward teachers and librarians but book enthusiasts are welcome as well. 🙂
I thought I’d give you a little rundown of the featured speakers. Enjoy!
- He gave his speech in numbers:
- At 8, he read IT by Stephen King(!!) and fell in love with stories.
- At 13, he saw himself in the character of Rickie in My So Called Life—a gay brown boy, which he’s never seen outside of himself.
- At 14, he was touched by The House on Mango Street
- In 2017, only 7% of children’s books were written by Black, Latinx, and Native authors combined
- 43 – The number of times his first manuscript (not Anger is a Gift) was turned down. Many agents told him it just wasn’t believable to have a protagonist who was both Latino and gay. Because, you know, he doesn’t exist.
- When she was in school, they didn’t have an extensive library. She only saw books by dead male authors. She thought her dream of writing was pretty hopeless since she was neither dead nor male.
- Then the librarian gave her The Outsiders and said she might like it. Her life was changed.
- She pointed out how women’s voices are often silenced or demeaned. They made a whole “Chick Lit” genre as a sort of throwaway genre that only women should read.
- Because of this she purposely named her first Remnants Chronicles book a name that declared that it’s a book about love.
- She pointed out that Kiss of Deception could appeal to anyone—men (and boys) are just as romantic as women, they just express it differently.
- Sometimes it’s hard to write in the current world, but letters she gets from her readers inspire her to keep going. She told the story of a woman who left her abusive husband because she was inspired by The Remnant Chronicles’ main character and the strength that she shows.
- She has gotten more political with her books. Her newest book (People Kill People) uses Violence as a narrator and shows how it seduces people.
- The WIP she’s working on now is even more political. She read us an excerpt (that may or may not end up in the final book—she just got editing notes) and it sounds like it’s based on a more extreme version of Trump America—sort of an idea of where she sees it could lead. (She admits she’s going to get in trouble with some people over this one.)
- She pointed out that often kids on the fringes join hate groups or gangs because they are desperate for a place to belong.
- She also talked about how we don’t want to listen to each other anymore. She wants to hear opinions different than hers and she wants to be heard.
- She talked about the things she’s learned about herself via storytelling: her sexuality, themes she’s passionate about, etc. (Sorry, this one was mostly personal, and I didn’t take notes.)
- He worked with his son Jarrod on one of the short stories in UnBound. He said he only did minor edits to Jarrod’s story. When he submitted the book to his publisher, they knew he’d been working with his sons (and maybe some other people?) on it, but he didn’t tell them which ones they’d worked on. He asked for his editor’s favorite story, and they said it was definitely Jarrod’s.
- So, he asked what they thought of them writing a whole book together and the publisher said yes right away. Of course, they asked what they had in mind, but they didn’t have any idea yet!
- They came up with the idea for Dry while sitting in LA traffic on a way to a meeting.
- Someone mentioned the concept of “72 Hours to Animal” to them, which is basically the theory that it will only take 72 hours for society to break down in a disaster situation.
- He talked about how people will either become Sheep (followers with no real drive to survive on their own), Wolves (people at their worst), or Sheepdogs (those who work to protect others).
- By the end of the drive, they were set on this story idea!
- Only 8% of California’s water comes from groundwater or the interior of California. The rest all comes from the Colorado River, which runs along the border. (He mentioned that they have water towers that are completely empty and some have been torn down). This river supply could technically get shut down at any point.
- Right now, people are just paying more for water and hoping the problem will go away. Neal says that even conservation alone can’t possibly solve the possible water crisis there.
- South Africa actually did face a water crisis right after the first draft was written, and a lot of the things that Neal and Jarrod wrote about ended up being true (for instance, since people weren’t allowed recreational water like swimming pools anymore, they didn’t have that as reserve water when it suddenly became unavailable).
- Movie & TV news!!
- The rights to Unwind have been sold to HBO and they are planning to make it into a series!!!! They say they want it to be their Handmaid’s Tale. This just happened last week, so it’s brand new news!
- Jarrod and Neal wrote the script for the movie of Dry for Paramount and just got notes on the first draft.
- They’re also working on a series unrelated to their books called Cry Victory, which is about the world after a war with an alien race. The war has been won, but what happens after that? (You can read a description of it in the Scripted Original Series Development announcement).
I also attended three panels: Fantastical World Building (with Ellen Goodlett, Kristen Simmons, Mary Pearson and Tracy Banghart), Thriller! Suspense! Survival! (with Neal Shusterman, Jo Treggiari and Megan Miranda) and Out of This World (with Emily Suvada, Jason Walz, Kass Morgan and Maura Milan). I didn’t write many notes from the panel, but it was great to hear all of these authors talk about their writing process and their work!
The authors I bought signed books from:
(It was so tempting to buy them ALL!! Sorry, a couple of these aren’t great pictures because of the backlighting)
I decided to pick up a copy of Mary Pearson’s Kiss of Deception so I could offer it to all of you! Sorry, but this giveaway is US only. Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter to enter.