The National Book Festival 2012

Well, I’ve forgotten my Six Sentence Sunday again this week, but attending the National Book Festival was an exciting alternative. If you hadn’t seen the advertising, the beautiful poster by Rafael Lopez is terrific.

Wildlife reading! Yes! The theme graced the banners and backdrops and gazing at them was definitely a highlight of my day.

But I diverge. I spent my time Saturday in the Teen and Children Tent, arriving early enough to secure a front row seat among John Green’s fans. I’m a fan—Hey, I got there early!—but I don’t have the time to devote like a teen, er young adult.

However, their enthusiasm was contagious, followed by an incredible talk by the author. I’m not going to try to do a review of any of the authors I heard, but note little snippets that stood out to me.

For John, it’s that he imagines his story plottings as geometric figures. The Fault in Our Stars was a spiral. He had to keep growing the heroine’s story out and picking up others. Will Grayson, Will Grayson with David Levithan was an X. The heros started in different places, their lives entangled and then went separate ways.

Next up was Mike Lupica. I’ve never read his books, but I know Mike’s (Notice how now that I’ve spent 45 minutes in their presence, I can’t help but call these authors by first name? Every talk is that personal.) Anyway, Mike Lupica writes sport books, of which a number fall in the Middle Grade genre and are very popular with boys. Now I know why. His energy is incredible. The books center on friendship, teamwork and loyalty—good themes for any story. He noted that the biggest stories in sports turn on the smallest moments. That could also be true of any good story.

Lois Lowry reminisced that The Giver came about at the time her grandfather (I think!) began to lose his memory, causing her to explore how memory works, why it fails and how we control what’s remembered. She said most books come of creative musings like this, initiated by an event that stirs an emotion in us.

Maggie Stiefvater has incredible energy and stage presence in speaking. Before becoming an author, she was a musician and a portrait artist. When asked how she created the rich characters in the Shiver series, she responded that she develops a character like a portrait. However, there are three methods of portrait creation:

1) The likeness is as good as a photograph. 2) It’s better than a photo. Or 3) The likeness is more realistic than a photo could be. She aims for the third method.

Melissa Marr chose to write her Wicked Lovely series in third person point-of-view, even though first person POV is more common for today’s YA market. I got the reason why at the time, but am finding it difficult to reconstruct from my notes. Here’s a go: She feels that the narrative story takes place not in the events of the story, but what happens between them through the various voices. She feels she can better capture the story through diving into the characters and letting them tell it, rather than placing herself there as a viewer and teller.

The National Book Festival continues today with more great authors and storytellers. I can’t make it down again today, and maybe you can’t either, so it’s heartening to know that the Library of Congress records the talks (Check for the list of video webcasts) and some sessions will be available through C-SPAN2’s Book TV.


About Laurel Wanrow

Fantasy romance tuned to the magic of the land.

Posted on September 23, 2012, in Favorite Authors, Middle Grade Novels, YA Novels and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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