Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anderson's Recap

(I know, finally, right?)*

On Saturday, September 24 I was in Chicagoland for the 7th Annual Anderson's Bookshop Young Adult Literature Conference.  This is my third time attending this conference and what I love about it is the opportunity to meet and hear a whole bunch of awesome authors in a fairly intimate setting.  I believe I heard that there were about 270 people attending the conference, mostly teachers and librarians (but some teens and others, too!).  Really, for the number of authors that I heard and met, it was well worth the registration fees (and even the drive up to Chicagoland and the hotel beforehand).

My partner in crime for this adventure was the lovely Kelly of Stacked.  (Check out Kelly's recap here!)  We headed to Naperville Friday evening and had a lovely dinner and many geeky conversations about blogging and books.  We arrived at the conference hotel nice and early to peruse the bookstore, collect swag (including a couple of ARCs!), and scope out our seats.

While perusing, we randomly met another book blogger, DJ of DJ's Life in Fiction.  He's totally sweet and you should definitely check out his fantastic blog.  (Check out part one of his recap here!)

A-conferencing we go!
So, we scoped out a table near the front of the room and we ate breakfast and checked out the program schedule while we waited with bated breath to see which author would claim the RESERVED spot at our table.  It turned out to be Antony John, he of the adorable accent and the fabulous upcoming novel The Five Flavors of Dumb and 2008's Busted: Confessions of an Accidental Player.  And Antony was very, very nice and personable and it was great to talk with him about his book and the gorgeous cover (being featured this week at that cover girl).  In fact, talking with him convinced me that I had to buy his book and I'm so glad I did because I really enjoyed it (review to come).

Many lovely books to buy!
The conference featured a combination of headline talks and panel discussions.  We started the day with brief talks from three of the headliners - Blue Balliett, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Kenneth Oppel.  Blue shared photos from the teeny weeny town of Three Oaks, Michigan, which was the inspiration for the setting of her latest novel The Danger Box.  Pam talked about the research she did for her latest novel The Dreamer, which is based on the childhood of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.  And Kenneth Oppel (who is unexpectedly snarky and hilarious - hurrah!) talked about the inspiration for his latest novel Half Brother, which is based on actual chimp experiments performed in the 1960s and 70s.

James Klise, author of Love Drugged (which I loved), in the local authors panel
After these talks, we split up into smaller panel discussions.  I attended a panel called "You Thought You Knew Them", featuring the three authors we had just heard, each of which makes a departure with their latest books.  After that one, I attended a panel featuring local authors Simone Elkeles, Stephanie Hemphill, Stacy Kade, and James Klise.  I'm not going to go into great detail on the panels because this post is long enough.  Suffice it to say that it was a great opportunity to talk with authors and ask questions.  Simone Elkeles is hilarious, Kenneth Oppel has a book coming out in 2011 that's about a teen Victor Frankenstein, James Klise says that he's "addicted to writing for teens", Stephanie Hemphill assures aspiring authors that there is "enough room in this world for everyone who wants to write", and Stacy Kade encouraged us to let kids write what they want to write (even if it's horror!).

After the morning panel sessions, it was time for lunch and a talk from Charles Benoit, author of You.  But before we headed back in for lunch, I had the pleasure to meet Karen from Harvard, IL and I just have to give her a shout-out because she said some very sweet things about my blog.  Hi, Karen!  Okay, back to Charles Benoit.  He is hilarious and a very engaging speaker.  Though he's a newbie to writing YA, having written adult mysteries previously, I've heard nothing but great things about You.  Charles talked about his storyteller mother and how she inspired him to be creative.

David Levithan, John Green, Siobhan Vivian, Dana Reinhardt, Charles Benoit

Then it was time for more panels!  I attended the Contemporary Edge panel with Charles Benoit, John Green, David Levithan, Dana Reinhardt, and Siobhan Vivian.  There we learned a bit about Siobhan's new novel, Not That Kind of Girl, and had a very interesting discussion about language in YA novels.  David Levithan points out that a YA author's job is not just to write how kids talk but to "use words to find truth".  Sometimes four-letter words most aptly express a feeling.  While David has an adult novel coming out next year, John Green expressed that he has no desire to write for an adult audience, saying, "Teenagers matter to me as readers in a way that adults don't."

Next I was off to a Supernatural Panel, featuring Claudia Gray, Nancy Holder, Sophie Jordan, Kiersten White, and Debbie Viguié.  There was a very interesting question asked about research for fantasy novels.  Debbie said that she likes to examine lore that most people aren't familiar with and Kiersten said that it's difficult to compete with popular culture.  People read a certain series or watch a certain TV show and think that's how vampires/werewolves/faeries/etc. have to be.  But the truth is that there can be many interpretations of the same lore and there's tons of lore to interpret, too.  Kiersten also said that she sees paranormal creatures as metaphors for human emotions. 

After this last breakout session, we gathered in the ballroom once more for talks from Dana Reinhardt and David Levithan & John Green.  Dana showed us a bunch of proofs of her cover, which had many incarnations until they settled on the current one.  And David Levithan did an interpretive dance while John Green explained that the idea of two characters with the same name was inspired by David's experience at college with another student named David Leventhal.  Here's a little treat for you getting to (close to, I promise) the end of this post: 

(It's just a snippet, but it gives you an idea of the awesomeness.) 

Now, during the conference there were several times set aside for getting authors' autographs and I got a bunch of books signed.  I knew that hearing the authors talk would make me want to buy books, and I managed to get away with only purchasing four books:  The Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John, Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian, The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt, and You by Charles Benoit.  

AND I got a treat for one lucky reader!  Tune in tomorrow to see what signed ARC I'm giving away!

Thanks to Anderson's for a lovely conference!

*And I apologize because, though I took about eleven billion pictures, almost 100% of them were terrible.  I am not a photographer... I will stick to blogging, thanks.