Monday, October 12, 2015

Southern Festival of Books Day 2

While today was much shorter than Saturday, today was still great! I started with breakfast at Puckett's with the very talented Kathryn Holmes and ended the day with her panel. However, I'll start with listing the authors that I had the pleasure of hearing today:

  • Lori Goldstein, author of Becoming Jinn, and the sequel Circle of Jinn will release May 17th. Her novels reinvent our idea of wish granting genies and the middle eastern culture that it stems from. Her story was inspired by a devastating earth quake in the Middle East and the picture of a mother and baby, named Azra being rescued. Azra, the main character in her novel, comes from the rescued baby. 
  • Martina Boone, author of Compulsion and the sequel Persuasion will hit the shelves this month (so watch out)! Her novels are southern gothic with a main character who is an innocent outsider on a haunted South Carolina plantation. 
  • Helene Dunbar, author of What Remains and These Gentle Wounds, her books are known to make people cry wherever they are, whether that be curled up in bed or on a very public train. After suffering a tragedy herself, most of her work reflects tragedy that young adults experience.
  • Kathryn Holmes, debut author of The Distance Between Lost and Found wrote her first novel about an area very near to her hear, The Great Smokey Mountains in East Tennessee. The story centers around youth culture and a life changing moment for her main character, Hallelujah. 
All of these authors were so interesting to listen to and had the best things to say about writing and the literary world in general. 

Lori and Martina's panel dealt with magic in YA fiction. Magic is an important element in fiction that, while some people believe may be going out of style, helps us to see our world in a new light. Magic must be grounded in the familiar, but the job of the writers is to give the magic something new. However, one can't run rampant with the magic. You have to have limits and rules or the magical aspect of the story will just seem careless and misplaced. In response to magic in YA going out of style, Martina Boone responded with "The best books create their trends." So as long as you write a kick butt magical book, it doesn't matter who's popular at the moment. 

Helene and Kathryn's panel dealt with complex emotions in YA realistic fiction. For some reason, their moderator seemed to be under the impression that complex emotions such as anger, jealousy, and grief were not emotions for young adults, but for adults--his premise being that young adults do not know how to deal with these emotions. But Kathryn and Helene had the perfect responses. "What happens to  you as a teen influences you for the rest of your life. And you'd real with emotions differently as a teenager," Helene said. "It is almost easier to deal with intense emotions in YA rather than in adult fiction because it doesn't have to be rationalized." Kathryn said "Emotions are heightened in adolescence because it is a time of firsts. So to write for young adults, you have to go to that raw, irrational part of your brain." Forget adult fiction (not that I want to, because it's great) but if you want plain storytelling, pick up a YA read.

Priceless advice from the authors:

"Take as much time as you can with the first book. It's a marathon, not a sprint." ~Martina Boone
"Sometimes characters drive the story." ~Helene Dunbar
"If you don't have them by the first few pages, you don't have them." ~Kathryn Holmes
"Why can't boys read about girls having feelings?" ~Kathryn Holmes
"Find out what your trolls are and dont' go there." ~Kathryn Holmes 

Again, I highly encourage you to check out these author's books! I especially support Kathryn since we are from the same alma mater, and she's just an all around awesome person! 

And that brings the 27th annual Southern Festival of Books. Next book festival on my list? Yallfest 2015 in Charleston! Can't wait until November! 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

27th Annual Southern Festival of Books--Day 1

Oh, there's so much to say in so little time! Today was beyond amazing, filled with inspiring authors, encouraging panels, and LOTS of books. So first of all, I'll list off all the authors that I had the pleasure of hearing today.

  • CJ Redwine, author of the Defiance trilogy. Her newest book--the Shadow Queen--is a modern retelling of Snow White and will be released in February. 
  • Courtney C. Stevens, author of Faking Normal. Her newest book, The Lies about truth, started off with the question "is there such a thing as a good lie?" and will be released November 3rd. 
  • Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, author of the 13th Sign, is working on a mass project with under which she and several other authors take on the pseudonym of E. F. Abbot to write historical fiction biographies of amazing historical people who's stories need to be told. Her story, about a little drummer boy in the Civil War, will be released in February. 
  • Jeff Zentner, debut author of The Scorpion King, releases his first book in March. The Scorpion King is based in rural Tennessee and centers around three very different friends, one of whom is the son of a disgraced Pentecostal snake-handling pastor. The three of these friends must find strength in their outcast status together. 
  • Lindsey Lane, author of Snuggle Mountain and her first YA novel, Evidence of Things Not Seen, which is told in the form of interconnected short stories fitting together with the disappearance of a physics nerd from the local high school. 
  • Moriah McStay, author of Everything that Makes You, a novel exploring the reality and alternate reality of a girl who endures a horrible accident. Readers see how Fiona's (known as Fi in this other reality) life would be different if she had not been "the girl in the accident." 
  • Cammie McGovern, author of Say What You Will and most recently A Step Towards Falling. Both of these books are told from the point of view young adults with mental of developmental disabilities. 
  • Julie Murphy, author of Side Effects May Vary and most recently Dumplin. Both of these books endure travesty and confusion and have to bounce back and learn how to live life right again. 
  • Martha Brockenbrough, author of Devine Intervention and most recently The Game of Love and Death, in which she throws in a surprising twist. Love is the male character, and Death is the female character.
  • Erin Bow, physicist turned author of Plain Kate, Sorrow's Knot and very recently, The Scorpion Rules, a post apocalyptic novel in which six royal children are sacrificed every year to keep global peace that is enforced by a robot overlord. 
So, I met ten amazing authors today. They are barely a fraction of the total authors that speak at the festival. The authors spoke on everything from their own favorite books to the nitty gritty details of their varying writing processes. They were so engaging, friendly, funny, and vivacious, a true pleasure to listen to. 

I don't want you to grow bored with such a lengthy post, but I just want to share a few quotes that really stuck with me today, some funny and some very useful and encouraging. So don't go anywhere:
"We put too much focus asking kids what they want to be when they grow up. We should be asking them, what do you want to be right now?" ~Kristin Tubb
"Throwing away pages is a mark of professionalism." ~Courtney Stevens
"Fail upward." ~Jeff Zentner
"It is so, so important to read both inside and outside of your genre." ~Lindsey Lane
"Let your kinds find their way to their books." ~Cammie McGovern
"Characters are the funniest when they're not trying to be funny." ~Cammie McGovern
"Even in the most serious moments, life is absurd." ~Julie Murphy
"If you're gonna create a world, create a freakin world!" ~Martha Brockenbrough
"Reading is a great way to experience choices." ~Sharon Cameron
"When things slow down, a dragon can land on the roof." ~Erin Bow

I could say so much more about today, but I'll cut myself off there! I highly encourage you to check out ALL these authors and buy ALL their books. Stay in tuned for tomorrow!