A couple of weekends ago, Kat and I headed to Arlington, VA to attend the first ever NoVA (Northern Virginia) Teen Book Festival ! When I first saw this event pop up on Twitter I was so excited to see a large YA event in Virginia.
The day opened with a keynote from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Shiloh, The Alice Series) followed by a main panel and multiple break out sessions every hour. Each panel was a little different. Some were discussions among authors, while others were more laid back and allowed readers and authors to have a Q&A.
Originally, we planned to only attend a few panels and leave until the signings, but we ended up staying the whole day.
Sara Gilloury, Ellen Oh and Lamar Giles were on the first panel about identity in YA. It really hit home about all the lack of diversity and problematic trends in YA. Meg Medina (from RVA) was one of the moderators and she had some great stories and insights. It was nice to see a diverse panel on stage discussing YA and how their point of views shape their book.
|Yep, even Peeta was there.|
The second panel we attended was with Marie Lu and Ellen Oh. I am a big fan of Ellen Oh's Tumblr and she was great in person, plus she has read Marie Lu's new book so, we are also very jealous of her.
When I go to events like this, I always like to meet authors I know nothing about. So one of the panels we went to was called Superfreak with Jon Skovron, Jenna Black and Hannah Barnaby. They talked about how literal freakishness mixes well with the perceived freakishness a lot of YA books deal with. Barnaby's book won the Morris Award last year and reminded me of Water for Elephants, so I grabbed it.. - Kat
The last panel we attended was entitled Once in A Lifetime, but was more of a Cristin/Kristen panel with Kristen Simmons and Cristin Terrill. At the end I awkwardly told her how I really liked All Our Yesterdays.
Marie's Lu's end of the event keynote speech was pitch perfect for the teens and adults in the house. She talked about the books we choose to read during our school years and how important those books will be to us later. She encouraged teens to read as many books as they can, so they can look back on them.This certainly made me nostalgic about how I wished I read more YA when I was a teen.
The best thing about events like these is that we discovered so many authors and book we would have
never thought about picking up. We wish we could have brought books from every single author there, but that's what library's are for!
The best part of the YA community is of course the people. It was awesome hanging out with YA event extraordinaire Markella over at It's A Hardcover Life and the members of the DC Forever Young Adult Book Club chapter. They were great company on the walk over to the signing,
There were even a few other Richmond people including Kristi from James River Writers (@RCfiction) . I love how she is is so enthusiastic about YA !
We can only predict bigger and better things for NoVaTeen in the future.
|The authors ! (photo from novateenbookfestival.tumblr.com)|