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Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Day One at #BEA12

Posted by lpearle on 11 June 2012

BEA is very unlike ALA in terms of exhibits.  Librarians – at least those of us from schools or small libraries – are welcome but not their target audience**.  When you stroll the exhibit floor, you’ll see vendors talking to attendees, but they’re talking business (major sales, author tours, etc.).  The piles of galleys are smaller, and more exclusive.  And so many small publishers!  It’s well worth the experience, but if you can’t make it, that’s ok, too.  The sessions, on the other hand…

Adult Author Breakfast

Stephen Colbert gave the opening remarks, commenting that for a late night talk show host to be up before 8am it really meant something!  He also said, “This is the Lollapolloza of the quietly reading to yourself world”  AMEN!  He also mentioned several phrases that would appeal to the 50 Shades of Grey crowd… but I won’t reprint them here.  That’s for a different type of blogger!

Junot Diaz:

  • Books lead to a healthy inner life – which leads to a healthy democracy.  There’s an inner space for deliberation/contemplation
  • Questions of intimacy, love, vulnerability are difficult for men/boys to deal with – Diaz is interested in this population.  “There is no greater human vocation than love – part of why we’re here on this planet is to make that ultimate communion with another person”
  • If you’re hiding/lying about yourself, you cannot be in love: the first step is vulnerability

Barbara Kingsolver:

  • Authors are not cool – and celebrity is everything these days (me: when did that happen?  think about Dickens!! seriously, when did we lose the cool factor?)
  • The relationship between people and books is changing .  The tech at tablet store (she just bought a tablet) had 600 books on his tablet – no plans to read them, but they were free.
  • All you need to know about modern world: breakable things are still breakable… durable things still endure.  The nature of story hasn’t changed in thousands of years – what Homer did is what she does… what Cervantes did with the novel is what she does…
  • The physical form and distribution of the “book” has changed radically again and again (papyrus… moveable type… digital) and we complain and then we get over it.  The book itself endures.
  • There has always been a lot of other stuff on the consumers mind: in Cervantes’ day, >1% couldn’t even read Don Quixote.  The reader is a small, stable demographic and always will be.

Jo Nesbo:

  • When he reads his own books in English he finds long words he doesn’t understand (and is so proud that he wrote that word!)
  • Storytelling is a social reflex (we all do it; look at around the dinner table with friends)

Random Overheard Comments:

Publishing is the only industry where entrepreneurship is frowned on – DO IT RIGHT (hire an editor, don’t just use your bff as a sounding board!!)  Being a grad of a writing program isn’t enough of a qualification, either. And don’t give it away for free/nearly free if you want to be taken seriously.

Evolution of YA Literature

(confession: I didn’t read the description carefully enough.  Don’t get me wrong, this was interesting but… I thought it would be more about how YA literature has changed since, oh, when I was a young thing.  Now that would be a killer panel, wouldn’t it?)

Q: What inspired you to write your new book?

Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian: Burn for Burn (co-written YA series) – sparked by the horrible things that teen boys say to teen girls: what it would be like to be able to go back and right those wrongs (taking back power when you feel most powerless)

Bethan Griffin: Masque of the Red Death – reimagining of the Poe story – interested in Poe’s leaving real characters out of the original story

Melissa Marr: Carnival of Souls  – demon v human dimension – post-apocalyptic v “today” – love/families – sparked by Rome’s destruction by nature (we have no permanence)

Elizabeth Norris: Unravelling– SF Thriller in present day – sparked by ticking clocks, adult thrillers, high stakes but w/SF twist

Tonya Hurley: Blessed (1st of trilogy) – Three lost girls who are avatars of three martyrs – paranormal w/a difference

  • MM is more influenced by folklore, doesn’t pay attention to the market except as a reader (following the market doesn’t make sense given lead time for publishing)
  • Many felt that YA was their sweet spot (too young didn’t fit their passions, teen reading was more similar to their ideas and what they felt comfortable with).  Except Melissa, who writes the story she has, not paying attention to genre or level.
  • MM: “If you don’t have that one great nugget, you’ll burn out trying to get close to the epicenter of the trend” – so I try to avoid the trend (the further you are from that epicenter, the more diluted the idea)
  • Write the best book you can, because you can’t predict and/or outrun the trend – but if it’s a huge trend, you may want to hold off to make your work stand out rather than getting drowned in the trend
  • MM: “You have to remember you’re writing something appropriate for YA and if there are adults who love it, that’s cool but I’m not going to cross the line to appeal to adult readers”

**(overheard: they’re trying to turn BEA into ComicCon – hoping to sell more passes / have more author events)

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