- 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!