Thursday, March 27, 2014

NoVa Teen Book Festival: A Day of Panels and Attempted Witticism

NoVaTEEN Book Festival | March 8 2014 | Arlington

NoVa Teen Book Festival was on March 8th in Arlington, Virginia. Some of my book club buddies were going and the girls from Books and Sensibility (link to their post about the event at bottom) Jess and Kat were too. The day promised a heaping butt load of author chats and personal time with some favorite writers.

The Festival started at 10:00 am with the opening remarks from Phyillis Reynolds Naylor, author of the "Alice" books and "Shiloh." I had seen Phyllis talk at The National Book Festival, heard of "Shiloh" but never read it and never heard of "Alice" so I wasn't too interested. It was a Saturday; my ten hours of sleep could not be compromised. 

The halls of the high school transformed into a book store
When I did get there at 11:00, I caught Kat and Jess going into the first panel with Lamar Giles, Ellen Oh, Sarah Guillory as speakers and Meg Medina and Diana Peterfreud as moderators. They were talking about diversity in YA. Lamar brought up that his book was about a little seen member in YA, the young black male protagonist. He commented that he hadn't seen many YA books that were accurate for that voice. Ellen Oh also talked about wanting to see more Asian main characters. Not really sure what Sarah Guillory said about her book since I don't think it sounded like it had too much diversity in it (small town white girl wanting to get away from guessed it, small town.) 

The role of the moderator got a bit confusing in this first panel as Diana and Meg were as large a part of the conversation as the actual panelists.

Anyway, next I went to a smaller Breakout Session with Ellen Oh and Marie Lu. Marie was the big attraction of the event so her first breakout session was full by the time I got there (damn you beauty sleep!). I knew I had to get to the next one since it was her last. Kat, Jess and I raced out of the auditorium to get a seat in the classroom the session was being held in. 

We got some of the last seats in the back. That's Kat, Jess and I in the right corner of the photo!

Taken from
 I didn't realize that "Legend" was so popular! I guess I got out of the loop about that somewhere. I had tried to read it a while ago but it didn't keep my attention so I was onto the next. I bought a paperback copy to get signed at the Festival since I know Marie lives in Los Angeles and I might not have the chance to meet her again if I did like the book. Also, I usually buy at least one book at events like these. 

Marie just seemed like the sweetest person ever. Ellen Oh was her usual outrageous self, telling it like it is. They shared that they are critique partners; you could tell how proud they were of each other and how close they are. Definitely an interesting dynamic between them .

Marie talked about a future book set in Renaissance Italy that was like the X-men. She divulged how her main character in the book was going to turn evil (guess it's not a spoiler?). It sounded so interesting to me. I would definitely pick it up. 

When the session was over, Marie was pretty much chillin' so I went up to her. I told her how young she looked compared to her author picture (Compliment? Dunno. I meant it to be though I'm not good at the whole talking to other humans thing). She seemed to take it as one. I honestly didn't recognize her from her author photo. 


I think she looks better naturally but whatever. 

Here's pictures of me getting my picture taken. Thanks stranger for the picture Inception!
I ended up staying in the main auditorium for most of the Festival instead of other breakout sessions. I had heard the authors I'm interested in talk about their books at other events (except Marie Lu) so I just wanted to hear their opinions on other topics instead. 

The next panel was on Survival: How dire circumstances and high-stakes situations unite and shape characters to defeat the odds with Kristen Simmons, Claudia Gray, Meagan Spooner and moderators Lisa Maxwell and Jessica Spotswood. The moderators in this panel really pushed the questions back to the panelists; it was endearing to see authors wanting to help promote other people's books. Don't ask me what was actually said at the panel. 

The last panel I listened to was about Bad Boys. I like Victoria Schwab a lot after seeing her the last time she came to the area (only a few weeks before the festival) and thought she would be fun to listen to about this topic. And of course she was. This panel had Elisa Nader and Aimee Agresti as moderators and featured Elle Cosimano, Erica Cameron and Victoria Schwab as panelists.

Marie Lu was the last speaker of the day. She was introduced by Ellen Oh. Marie talked about the books from her childhood that affected her, the weirdly grim stories she used to write when she was younger, and about her books. 

The day ended at the Arlington Library across the street from the high school the Festival was held in. I thought it was going to be really busy and crowded but it was actually really quick. Two minutes in the Marie Lu line and two in Victoria Schwab's and I was done. 

When I was getting "The Unbound" signed by Victoria Schwab I said I had just seen her at the Bethesda library. She said that she remembered me because I have a memorable....

I thought she was going to say face Which is better thing to be memorable for in my opinion. I thanked her for coming back to the area because she knew I wanted my book signed. Since I got "The Achived" at her last signing (I just liked how she described it), I said she must have known I now wanted "The Unbound" signed. So kind of her to come back just for me. 

She laughed. Oh Markella, your attempts at witty banter is even more embarrassing when recounted. 

All the authors

Anyway, it was a great event! About 300 people came for 24 authors. This was the first all day panel event I have ever been to. I thought it might feel a bit like school. Luckily, it didn't. Hope I can go back next year!

More posts about NoVa Teen Book Festival:

Also, I made a tab about author events coming the the Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia area. I don't promise I get everything but it's a good place to start. Email me if you hear of any others!