Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Five Hours with Four Authors

Last Saturday I went to the Teen Book Festival at the Provo Library. It was a perfect way to celebrate my birthday.... spending time with bookish people and listening to authors! I thought I'd write a post telling you a bit more about it then just the quick mention from Sunday's post.

This event highlighted four YA dystopian authors and had a bunch of fun things for teens to do. I, not being a teen (ha)  ignored the "fun stuff" and just went from one author presentation to the other to other for five hours straight, along with Jenny who was with me and is thus the "we" in this narration.

The first hour: Ally Condie author of Matched and Crossed

Ally was the keynote speaker and kicked off this event. She showed some awesome pictures of southern Utah and talked about how these cool places were the inspiration for the setting in Crossed. (Check out the road trip she and Rob Wells have planned just for you!) She spent much time here as a kid hiking and exploring and it was only natural, she said, that it ended up in a book. One of the main things she wanted to get across is that we all end up at some sort of turning point in our lives where we have to decide do we go forward with courage and face the canyon that's ahead of us, or do we turn back. We all have "crossings" to make.

Someone asked her, which character in her book would she want to date? She laughed and said that she put the best things about her husband into both Ky and Xander so that she, as a writer would be torn as to which one was the "best," just as her character Cassia is torn. There's no way she could pick!

After she was done, we ran to her signing to get our Crossed ARCs signed, then off to the next presentation.

The second hour: Rob Wells author of Variant

Rob spent his hour talking about the characteristics of dystopian novels and how they are different from post apocalyptic novels. He first defined "utopia" which is "a good place."  So dsytopia is a good place gone wrong.... or a utopian society with a fatal flaw. He felt like dystopian books would have:

  • a society that plays a major role
  • elements of control and loss of freedom
  • restricted information
  • characters are dehumanized
  • an illusion of a perfect world
  • antagonism to nature
  • conformity is good, individuality is bad
  • a hero that feels trapped, recognizes a problem, discovers restricted info, is NOT an outsider, is willing to take risks... etc.
So, what do you think? With those parameters, are we defining our dystopian stuff correctly? Or do we all have a tendency to get dystopian mixed up with post apocalyptic? Or does any of it even matter? 

With all that being said, I wondered if he thought his own book was dystopian, and he did answer that question by saying not really, that it is dystopian-ish... a term I totally love. 

Afterwards he took questions which included explaining his book a bit and telling about the Amazon book bomb his friends pulled off last week.

When he was done, we ran across the hall to get his autograph on Variant, (where he revealed that he had been "stalking" my blog which made me feel oddly content) then back over for....

The third hour: Kristen Landon author of The Limit

I haven't read this book, so I bought it then and there. It is more of middle grade type book about a kid who, because his parents are in debt, gets sent to some sort of work house. I'll let you know what I think, if I ever get to read it!

She spent her hour listing some of her favorite dystopian YA books, including like Uglies, The Giver, Birthmarked, The Ship Breaker, Brave New Wold, 1984, Divergent, Matched, etc.

After running across the hall to get her to sign the book I'd just bought, we started...

The fourth hour: Elana Johnson author of Possession

I found Elana's presentation interesting because she is sort of new to the whole author thing. Most of authors I notice have been writing forever and may or not have been trying to be published forever too, but Elana just sort of decided a few years ago to write and then she went for it, received the obligatory gazillions of rejections, but got her one (you just need one she said!) offer and away she goes! Her presentation was the journey of a book from beginning to end... all the steps it takes from being written, to getting queried, to finding an agent, editor and publisher, to going through revisions and copy setting and keyboarding entry (did you know someone has to re-type the whole book out?) and then the ARC is made and then changes are again made and finally, the book comes out. It takes roughly two years. Really really interesting.

She answered a bunch of questions regarding querying and talked a little about her book. I already had her sign my copy of her book at an earlier event this summer, so for our break we stretched!

The fifth hour: Dystopian panel

All the authors joined together to discuss their books, their writing, dysopian stuff, and their favorites. I love panels. It's very fun to see the different personalities all together. The only thing I wrote down from this discussion was what they mentioned as their all time favorite book:

Ally: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Rob: It was Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, but changed to Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Elana: Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey
Kristen: Holes by Louis Sachar

Very fun to see what they came up with off the top of their heads.... all these with rave and passionate reviews and pleas for us to read them. Millions and Skin Hunger... now on my list to be read!

What a lovely lovely day. Other bloggers I saw there for just a brief moment (besides Jenny of course) were Jenni Elyse, Emily, Enna Isilee and Diana. My sister and her friend also joined us for Ally's part. Who else came? What'd you think about it all?

Next year, they plan to have Susan Beth Pfeffer and Jonathan Mayberry as guests! Time to finish up the Life as we Knew It books and read Rot and Ruin! Maybe I can get into zombies after all.


  1. I'm glad you were able to stay for the whole thing. It sounds like the other authors were a lot of fun to listen to. I wish I would've been able to stay.

  2. sounds like it was a lot of fun. and pretty informative. thanks for sharing.


  3. Ugh! Don't give in to the zombie craze. I thought Rob Wells presentation was the most interesting but they were all great. I need to add their favorites to my TBR shelf too.

  4. Great write-up. My sis-in-law once again got some books signed for me (I hope). Pfeffer? So jealous. And FWIW, I actually liked Rot & Ruin, despite the zombies :)

  5. Thanks for the mention! Wasn't it such an awesome time? I was mostly downstairs, but snuck upstairs for a moment to get a Society pin and a tablet container.



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