RT's Teen Day From An Author's Point Of View
With over sixty YA authors taking part in this year’s second annual Teen Day at the RT Booklovers Convention, we asked a few of our favorite writers to share their favorite moments from this year's convention. Get an inside look at what it was like for Richelle Mead, Beth Revis, Carrie Ryan and Alyxandra Harvey to hang out with fellow booklovers, authors and, of course, YA fans!
I never get tired of meeting my readers. When you hole up alone in your office all day, there’s nothing better than actually getting to talk to the people who read your work. They’re all so wonderful, and meeting them and hearing what they think of the books reminds why I write. I met a lot of great people at the RT Book Fair this year. I always do, and the stories I hear are amazing. People drive in from incredible distances, make their own t-shirts, and tell me how they never liked reading until they found my books. It’s wonderful and humbling, all at the same time.
Often at signings, I meet people who are getting books signed for friends and family who can’t be there. This year at RT was no exception, but there were a couple of examples that really stood out for me. One was a grandmother who waited through the lines and crowds to get my books signed for her granddaughter. She told me, “I’ve never been to anything like this and don’t know what you write. But, my granddaughter loves you, so this is for her.” I think it was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen.
Another young woman came and told me that her sister was a huge fan of my books but was unable to make the book fair. This woman not only got her sister’s books signed — she also got her sister’s picture taken with me. She brought her sister’s headshot up on an iPhone and had me pose with it. I’ve seen thousands of people in my years of signing, and I’ve never done anything like that. It was great — and turned out to be a pretty awesome picture too!
It’s a powerful thing for an author to hear from people who’ve been profoundly affected by her books. And it’s just as powerful for an author to meet people who’ve noticed how much their loved ones are into those books. I’m so grateful for the chance I had to meet all of those people at RT this year and am looking forward to more in Kansas City next year!
This year was the biggest and best year of teen programming, thanks to the wonderful organizational skills of YA author Melissa Marr. Teens (and teens-at-heart) had a chance to visit several teen panels throughout the conference, but the real highlight was Saturday, Teen Day. The day started out in YA Alley, with two full rows of YA authors signing books and visiting with fans. The highlights for me was getting a signature from Francine Pascal (given that my name is Elizabeth, guess who my favorite Sweet Valley High character is!) and meeting so many readers. Meeting anyone who’s read my works is a wonderful feeling, but it’s extra special when it’s a teen. I nearly cried when a girl told me that my book was the first novel she’d ever read for fun, and I loved hearing how passionate a group of girl book bloggers is about the books they read.
After that, teens took over the lower floors of the conference hotel, hosting simultaneously “speed dating” with authors, readings, and workshops. Teens got a chance to really connect with the authors they read, ask the questions about writing, stories, and publishing directly from the source, and listen to authors as they read aloud the words they’ve written. While everything was amazing, I don’t think the day could be topped when Ally Carter brought the house down by telling us about her own youth and involvement with steers … up to and including how to castrate them!
That is, I didn’t think the day could be topped until the Teen Day Party, the perfect wrap-up to a perfect day. The ballroom was filled with teens and adult readers mingling with authors. The teens were given bags of books and swag, and there is nothing more charming than having someone approach me with my book in her hand. Added to the fun was a scavenger hunt as teens had to track down the dozens of authors in order to win a prize.
In short: if you love books, especially if you love YA, get yourself to next year’s RT! I’m not sure how the programming can be topped from this year … but I have no doubt next year will be even better!
Last year RT Book Reviews began hosting a Teen Day at their annual Booklovers Convention — an entire day dedicated to young adult books all capped off by a party where authors and readers get to hang out together. And this year’s Teen Day in Chicago blew me away! Riding the elevator down in the morning and seeing so many excited teen readers gave me (and every other YA author I talked to) a total thrill!
I think my favorite moment of the RT Booklovers Convention came in the middle of the Teen Day party — it’s actually two moments really. Partway through the event I noticed a teen standing off to the edge of the crowd. She was always within sight, but never approached anyone. I know what it’s like to be in a crowd but still feel a little out of place — how hard it can be to approach a total stranger and start up a conversation.
So I walked up, introduced myself, and asked if there were any particular authors there she wanted me to introduce her to. I just assumed it wasn’t me she was waiting to talk to — I still have a hard time thinking of myself that way. But as it turns out, I was wrong. In a shaking voice she told me I was her favorite author and asked if she could take a picture with me. After we chatted for a bit about recent books we’ve read and writing, I reassured her that all the authors in the room were really nice and cool and she shouldn’t be afraid to approach any of them (and I saw her talking to several other authors over the course of the party — yay!).
A few minutes later, I was talking with an author friend when we noticed another author standing by herself in the middle of the crowded room. “OMG, it’s Francine Pascal! The author of the Sweet Valley High series!” I squealed in my quietest voice. My first thought was, “I totally want to meet her and tell her how amazing she is and that she’s a reason I’m a huge reader!” but I was terrified to approach her! I mean, it’s Francine Pascal!
And then I had to remember the advice I’d given earlier … that most authors are really nice and want to talk to readers. So I took a deep breath, walked up, and introduced myself in a shaking voice (and asked if I could take a picture — lol). Francine Pascal is so delightful and gracious and she made me feel at ease immediately. I had the chance to tell her just how much of an impact she made in my life and soon after she was swarmed by other authors telling her the same thing.
It really was an amazing moment — to go from author to fan, being on one side of the coin and then the other. Sometimes it’s easy to think of writing as a job, to focus on the day to day. And then I get to stand in a room with readers who adore books as much as I do, and authors who have written books I adore, and I realize how lucky I am. Than you RT Book Reviews for giving us all the chance to come together!
RT Booklovers Conventions are always fun ... I mean, hundreds of readers and writers all gathered together under one roof? What could be better? Well, I suppose if you could manage to get Mr. Darcy to, I don’t know, be real, that would be quite the coup. In the meantime, I’m quite happy to walk the halls of a crowded hotel and hear people talking about books and characters as if they were close personal friends.
There are just too many delicious moments to choose the very best. For one, it’s a treat to get to meet other writers since I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere and talk to dogs more often than actual people.
The Book Fair is always a favourite with me. I love the buzz of energy, the suitcases filled with books, the literary t-shirts ... even the fan line-ups are fun! It’s still a little surreal for me to be sitting behind a table with a stack of my own books, so forgive me if I beamed at every one like a cheerful lunatic all morning. And I met Francine Pascal, which instantly made me time travel to 1986. Yes, I created the hole in the ozone layer with my super-teased bangs, all while reading the newest Sweet Valley High book, which I bought with my $3 allowance on Friday afternoons.
I also adore the panels at RT. I love participating and attending. Either way, the audience questions are thoughtful and inspiring. And, as always, I thoroughly enjoy meeting readers at the Teen Party. The scavenger hunt was a great idea ... even if my question had to do with my middle name, which is very French and caused many confused head tilts.
So kudos to everyone who helped make this RT as brilliant as it was! I, for one, am very grateful. And inspired.