If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me talking about how excited I was for the Boston Teen Author Festival this past weekend. My day ended up completely living up to my expectations – perhaps even exceeding them – as I had a fantastic time! This was my second year attending and I’ll definitely be trying to go every year because I have so much fun at this event. Today I wanted to take some time to talk about what my day was like since I know some of you were curious to see how it went!
On Saturday, I had the chance to attend three different panels. It was honestly incredibly difficult to pick which ones to go to. There were 8 different options and all of them sounded fantastic, but you could at most only see four of them and I wanted to skip one so that my mom and I had the chance to eat lunch. Ultimately, I decided upon the “Not Destiny’s Child” panel with Akemi Dawn Bowman, Kristy Acevedo, Ashley Herring Blake, and Lilliam Rivera; the “Their Dark Materials” panel with Traci Chee, Amanda Foody, Rin Chupeco, and Linsey Miller; and the “Lens Crafters” panel with Victoria Aveyard, Tara Sim, Cinda Williams Chima, and Lisa Maxwell.
The first panel I went to was the Their Dark Materials panel which, again, had Traci Chee, Amanda Foody, Rin Chupeco, and Linsey Miller. I was really excited about this panel for a few reasons: the authors on this panel were all either authors I had already read or whose books I really wanted to read and I love dark books, so I was really interested to hear them talk about the darkness in their own books. This ended up being a really laidback, but still super interesting panel. I particularly loved when someone asked them what their Google search histories look like because their answers were quite hilarious. Linsey said hers would be completely uninteresting because, having studied to forensic pathology, she already knew everything she needed to know for Mask of Shadows. Rin Chupeco, however, mentioned having to research how long it takes for certain body parts to decompose (fun fact: it takes the head the longest, apparently) and so her search history is probably a bit more questionable, haha. Amanda Foody said that there was one time where she was researching how someone would pull off a specific type of investment scheme (for her next book) while she was at her job as an accountant. I honestly thought that was hilarious. I can’t imagine what her company would think if they saw!
After that panel, I went to the “Not Destiny’s Child” panel with Ashley Herring Blake, Akemi Dawn Bowman, Lilliam Rivera, and Kristy Acevedo. Admittedly, I had no idea who Acevedo was before this panel nor what she had written, but after hearing her talk about it, I definitely want to pick up her book, Consider. It’s a sci-fi book where the heroine has generalized anxiety disorder! Sign me up. I really enjoyed listening to these authors talk about their characters deciding to take things into their own hands and changing/escaping things they didn’t really think they could. I noticed there were quite a lot of similarities in Bowman and Herring Blake’s books as both of them talked a lot about abusive family situations and their protagonists feeling stuck in said situations. Considering I’ve already read and loved Starfish, seeing these similarities makes me that much more excited to read How To Make a Wish (which I will hopefully be doing soon!).
At this point, my mom and I took a break from the panels to grab a quick lunch and take a look at the bookseller’s table. I had already brought a ton of books with me (I think I had 10 with me), but I couldn’t resist grabbing a couple more, especially since it meant supporting a local indie bookstore, Porter Square Books. I ended up getting Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, and The Reader by Traci Chee. I had to get myself a copy of Starfish considering it not only meant that I’d have a hardcover before they officially go on sale tomorrow, but I’d also be able to get it signed by Akemi Dawn Bowman. It’s already a very, very special book to me and it means so much that I have it signed as well. The other two books are books that I’ve been meaning to read for awhile so I’m quite excited to finally have copies – and signed copies, no less!
Finally, my mom and I headed to the last panel of the day: Lens Crafters. This is the panel I was probably most interested in, in terms of the actual topic of the panel. It was all about writing from multiple POVs and the challenges and advantages of doing it. The authors on this panel, like I mentioned above, were Victoria Aveyard, Cinda Williams Chima, Tara Sim, and Lisa Maxwell. Writing from multiple perspectives has always seemed ridiculously difficult to me, but I also love reading books told from multiple POVs. One thing that the authors talked about that honestly hadn’t really ever occurred to me was how they decide which scenes to tell from which characters POV. That’s worded kind of poorly, but basically: if both characters A and B are in a scene, how do they decide whether character A or character B should be the one to narrate? Cinda Williams Chima said that she often went with whichever character had the highest stakes in the scene. For example, if character A is trying to rescue their sibling while character B is only helping character A, it makes more sense to narrate from character A’s point of view.
Something Victoria Aveyard mentioned in this panel that was really interesting to me was how difficult it can be to really get inside another character’s head when you’re writing from their POV for the first time. In the Red Queen series, the first two books are told exclusively from Mare’s POV, while the third book introduces two new POVs. She mentioned that one of those new POVs was really hard for her to write at first because she just wasn’t used to thinking like this character would, but that once she realized a few things that would be more important to this character than they were to Mare, it made it much easier and it really clicked for her.
One last thing mentioned in this panel that was really interesting to hear about was how switching between POVs often means having to take into account really small details that change between characters. Tara Sim mentioned how she has one POV character who isn’t a human and so she’d find herself writing things like “he took in a breath” before realizing that this character couldn’t do that because he has no lungs. I never even thought of how difficult keeping track of those little details could be!
After this last panel was over, it was (finally!) time for the signing with all of the authors. Honestly, I think the signing should have been held in a bigger area if that were possible because it was really cramped. Because of how crowded it was, I actually ended up having a bit of an anxiety attack because I was just so overwhelmed with everything that was going on. But it all worked out okay! Out of the 13 (I think?) books I had with me, I was able to get all but one of them signed. I am kind of disappointed that I wasn’t able to get my copy of Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee signed, but I can’t be too upset about it, considering all of the other books I got signed. I was in her line for awhile, but it was moving so slowly that I ended up leaving so I could get to other authors. I realized later that her line was moving so slowly because she was drawing in everyone’s books! I thought it was kind of cool, but I do wish the line had moved faster. Oh well – it is what it is! I was so, so pleased that I was able to talk to Linsey Miller and Akemi Dawn Bowman. Their debut books are some of my absolute favorites and I connected so personally with Starfish so it was just absolutely amazing to meet the authors behind their brilliance! And, of course, I was ecstatic to meet Victoria Aveyard. Red Queen is one of the books I read back in 2015 that really got me started on reading a lot again and I feel like I personally owe her so much for that. I was able to get my copy of King’s Cage signed and get my picture taken with her! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have already seen this since it’s now my profile picture on both, haha.
Well, that’s pretty much how my day went! It was an absolutely fantastic time. I loved getting to hear all these authors speak and it was wonderful having the chance to meet them and get my books signed. Overall, it was a really fantastic day and I can’t wait to attend again next year!!
Oh and before I close this out, I have to give a shout-out to my mom for being awesome and taking me up to Boston so I could attend. 😀
If any of you are interested in learning more about the Boston Teen Author Festival, head over to their website! If you’re thinking about attending, I can’t recommend it enough and I’d be happy to tell you a bit more about it if you have any questions!
As a side note: what do you all think of my new theme?! I wanted something different, so I decided to change things up yesterday, haha. I still have to go through and change the pictures for my older posts, but I really like this new design! 🙂
Did any of you attend the festival?