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What Happens in Austin Stays in Austin (Austin Teen Book Festival 2013)

Saturday I made the yearly trek down to Austin for the Austin Teen Book Festival.  I was chauffeured by my good friend and the amazing High School Librarian Amianne Bailey.  I woke up at 4:30 am to make this trip for you people.  Feel the love.

Side note: If you have never gone, you should definitely go. It is full of information, good times, and my kind of people.

We met up with our former teen reviewer who is no longer a teen so now he is just our reviewer (and friend) Cuyler.  Cuyler shared some pictures on Twitter under his pen name and handle Gale Ryan (@).

Panel #1: Into the Heart of Darkness
Victoria Scott (Moderator), Mari Mancusi, April G. Tucholke, Jon Skovron, Robin Wasserman, and Holly Black

This honestly was the most fun panel that I have ever been to.  That’s right: EVER. Not an exaggeration.  Everyone was just very funny and spot on.  It’s interesting when you think about the fact that these authors are talking about writing dark things, like murder.  Interesting.

Holly Black talked about reality television, which influenced some of the ideas in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.  Namely she was interested in how we can see things and not really respond to them.

I do have to say that Skovoran talked about his new book, Man Made Boy and it just sounds so interesting.  It is about a boy Frankenstein who is also a hacker.  So, sounds like a good read for Teen Tech Week.

Lunch: Lauren Myracle interviews Rob Thomas and Sarah Dessen

A few highlights . . .

I love this idea of her and how he describes her. Definitely a porcupine. But a lovable porcupine.

On writing flawed, complex characters . . .

On happy endings . . . (and my absolute favorite quote of the day)

Panel: Dark Days
Amy Tintera (moderator), Madeleine Roux, Sherry Thomas, Mindy McGinnis, Michelle Gagnon, Rae Carson

Rae Carson is surprised by how much of her job does not actually involve writing.

Sherry Thomas described The Burning Sky as a cross dressing Harry Potter.

The Persophone trilogy by Michelle Gagnon is about technology, so more great titles for Teen Tech Week.

I actually had just finished reading Asylum by Madeleine Roux, who is new to me, so it was interesting to meet her.  There were a couple of teens who were there waiting to get books signed by her.

Panel: Truth and Consequences
E. Kristin Anderson (moderator), Bill Konigsberg, Jo Knowles, Sean Beaudoin, Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian

Bill Konigsburg is the first person to make me tear up today sharing his personal story that inspired Openly Straight.  Basically, he was at a gym and when another man in the locker room saw his wedding ring that man asked the name of his wife.  Rather than explain that he was gay and share the name of his husband, Konigsburg just answered “Rachel” because he didn’t want to get into it, he just wanted to play racquetball.  The whole discussion was a very interesting discussion about how we define homosexuals almost solely based on their sexuality, which is really only a part of who they are.

Coblogger Robin wants you to know that Jo Knowles is awesome and one of her favorites.  I loved hearing Jo talk about her desire to tell honest stories because of the things that had happened to her in her life.

Sean Beaudoin is awesome and one of my favorites, if you don’t know that you have been reading the blog wrong.  He said that of the 10 big things that happened to him in life, 8 out of them are romance related.  Romance is a big part of the teenage experience which is why it is so prominent in ya lit. He also played us a clip of a song he recorded when he was in a band.

Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian are best friends and I am not going to lie, they are very adorkable together.  I do love the idea of a good revenge story, which is what the Burn trilogy is about.  Who hasn’t wanted to get revenge on someone?  The second book in the trilogy, Fire with Fire, has just come out.

Panel: I Made You a Mixtape

Julie Murphy (moderator), Leila Howland, Sara Farizan, Trish Doller, Sarah Dessen, Lauren Myracle

Sarah Farizan shared a bit of her personal story and made me tear up (second and last person of the day).  She is funny and yet she made me cry.  Amianne was just enamored with her.  Her book, If You Could Be Mine, is such an important title because it brings in more diversity (which we desperately need), and gives us a glimpse into life in Iran that is different than what we hear on the news.

If you have not read Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller you should.  It is a very authentic look at healing after devastating life events.  Trish found the picture that became the beautiful cover herself.

Sarah Dessen once met a fan who wanted Rogerson and the MC from Dreamland to end up together.  This is disturbing.

There was a lot of talk about censorship and how do you write scenes that you think may cause problems.  All the authors agreed that you have to write the story as it needs to be told and just hope that others are receptive to it.

Other Highlights

That Time Debut Author Mindy McGinnis Saved Sarah Dessen’s Life

So I hopped on the elevator and stood right. next. to Sarah Dessen. I wanted to cry, but I held it in.  Yes, I really did. I did, to be honest, ask if we could take a picture.  I’m so sorry Sarah.  Yes, I had to be THAT girl.  As we stepped off the elevator doors started to close, almost crushing Sarah Dessen to death.  To death I tell you.  But then Mindy McGinnis threw her arms through the door and used her super Hulk strength to open them.  So if we get a new Sarah Dessen book, which will be book 12, we all have Mindy McGinnis to thank.  And Sarah of course.

That Time Karen Stalked E. Kristin Anderson. And Sean Beaoudoin

Yes, it’s true, I am apparently a stalker.  In all seriousness, I keep running into Kristin at these things.  Which is kind of funny because I am a HUGE fan of the Dear Teen Me project, which may be one of the greatest ideas ever conceived.  I ran into her a lot on Saturday.  Which is even cooler now that I know that we share a mutual love of Hanson.  Seriously folks, their newer music is very good.  And grown up.  Not mmmBopish at all.

She also hosted a panel with Sean Beaudoin, who I do stalk.  Mostly because I like his writing style.  I keep trying to find a way to describe it to others and since he is a music fan, I think I am going to go with this: Sean Beaudoin is to teen novels as alternative music is to the pop music scene.  He is the Smashing Pumpkins of teen authors.  Or maybe the Foo Fighters. I do love me some Foo.

That Time Cuyler Sat Next to Rosemary Clement-Moore

When we sat down for the lunch session, Cuyler ended up sitting next to Rosemary Clement-Moore.  She was very kind and gracious and I am pretty sure she talked to him a little bit about writing.

That Time We Talked to Sara Farazin

Honestly, Sara was just a generous spirit.  Amianne and I talked to her several times, mainly because Amianne was stalking her (we all stalk someone apparently).  I started reading If You Could Be Mine on the drive home and it really captures the aching of love so completely.

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