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Writing for Teens Today: Authors Speak (BEA Panel)

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Before the authors even arrived, there was already a long line of excited fans outside of the community room at Mulberry Street Library. These young bibliophiles were gathered for a chance to hear from some of their favorite authors, who were participating in the Writing for Teens Today: Author Speak panel, part of this year’s BookExpo America (BEA) event lineup.

A packed audience filled the space — resulting in a standing room only event — as the readers listened to authors Ally Condie (the Matched series), James Dashner (the Maze Runner series), Ellen Hopkins (the Crank series), Maureen Johnson (The Little Blue Envelope series), Lauren Kate (Torment), and Scott Westerfeld (the Leviathan series) participating in a candid conversation with Christopher Shoemaker, the Young Adult Programming Specialist from The New York Public Library. The audience was treated to a lively discussion about the challenges of writing for today’s teenagers, the difficulty of creating and maintaining an authentic voice to keep readers engaged, the methods for crafting exciting plotlines replete with thrilling twists, and the ways the authors ensure that they are getting their worlds right, from otherworldly monsters to slang. While all of the authors on the panel were speaking about writing for teens, their novels ranged from romantic adventures to supernatural romance, from the dystopia of a dying world to the dystopia of a regimented society, and from a steampunk retelling of World War I to a poetic account of a family warring with drugs; the range of writers and subject matters provided panel goers with a truly kaleidoscopic view into the world of contemporary young adult fiction. The event was capped off with a chance for fans to ask questions and have their books signed.

If the size of the crowd is any indication — and surely it is — than this was a gathering of authors who are doing an excellent job of keeping teen readers coming back for more!

Matched (the Matched series, book one) by Ally Condie

All of Cassia’s decisions have been dictated by The Society, and she knows that when she turns 17, Society Officials will tell her who she is supposed to marry. But when she is "matched" with a seemingly perfect fit, a moment of indecision causes he to question everything that she has previously accepted.

The Maze Runner (the Maze Runner series, book one) by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the mysterious world of the Glade, he has no idea where he is or how he got there. The Glade is surrounded by a mysterious maze. Every day, some of the Glade residents venture inside the maze, but many never return. Might Thomas be able to lead the others through the maze? And what waits on the other side?

Crank (the Crank series, book one) by Ellen Hopkins
At first glance, Kristina seems to be a perfect daughter: a quiet, talented, high school junior who has never been a problem. But when a boy introduces her to Crank — crystal meth — her life spirals out of control as she disappears, only to be replaced by the wholly different Bree.

13 Little Blue Envelopes (the Little Blue Envelope series, book one) by Maureen Johnson
The summer before her senior year of high school, Ginny is sent a packet of mysterious blue envelopes by her favorite aunt. Leaving New Jersey behind, Ginny sets off on a European adventure and follows the instructions left to her by her aunt.

Fallen by Lauren Kate
Sent to the Sword & Cross boarding school in Savannah, Georgia, Luce finds herself immediately drawn to the mysterious Daniel. The harder Daniel tries to state that he has no interest in Luce, the harder Luce finds it to ignore him. What is it that Daniel is so desperate to keep secret from Luce? Luce must know, at any cost.

Leviathan (the Leviathan series, book one) by Scott Westerfeld
Alek, the crown prince of Austria in an alternate 1914 Europe, is on the run from an army trying to use mechanical creations to conquer the world; while Deryn disguises herself as a boy to gain entrance into the British Air Service. With World War I approaching, Alek and Daryn will find themselves on a round-the-world adventure in this steampunk take on WWI — one that will alter their lives and the fate of the world.

Read Alike Recomendations:

For fans of the Matched series:

Delirium (the Delirium series, book one) by Lauren Oliver
In the past, many considered love to be a good thing, but that was before scientists found a cure for it, a cure which the government now mandates all citizens to receive on their eighteenth birthday. Lena is looking forward to the swiftly approaching day when she will receive the cure, until that is, she falls in love.

The Giver (the Giver series, book one) by Lois Lowry
Everything is under complete control in Jonas’s world. There is no suffering or war, and there are no difficult or simple choices to be made. Stability and order are maintained by one and all in the Community through assigned roles, which they unthinkingly fulfill. At 12, Jonas’s role requires that he receive training from The Giver — who alone knows of the the highs and lows of real life. What will become of Jonas once he knows the truth?

For fans of the Maze Runner series:

Lockdown (the Escape from Furnace series, book one) by Alexander Gordon Smith
After being framed for murder, Alex Sawyer finds himself imprisoned in Furnace Penitentiary, a maximum security facility a mile beneath the earth’s surface. With a devilishly cruel warden, screams echoing through the halls, and monstrous creatures stalking the prison, it is clear to Alex that he has no choice but to escape. But as Alex begins to uncover the horrific truth behind Furnace Penitentiary, he must risk it all to expose its secrets.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
After a terrorist attack occurs in Marcus’s city, he is arrested and mercilessly interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security. When he is finally released, he finds that his city has been turned into a police state. With his world changed into one where everyone is now a suspect, Marcus must use his hacking skills to set things right.

For fans of the Crank series:

Cut by Patricia McCormick
Callie does not want to be at Sea Pines, a residential treatment facility, and she does not want to have anything to do with the other girls in residence there. And though she may not want to acknowledge it, there is a reason Callie has been sent there.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Melinda is about to start her freshman year in high school, but when it is revealed that she called the police at a party over the summer, she is turned into an outcast by her peers. But far worse than the treatment from her peers is the reason why Melinda called the police...

For fans of the 13 Little Blue Envelopes series:

When It Happens by Susane Colasanti
At first glance, Sara and Tobey don’t seem to have much in common. Sara is focused on getting ready for college, while Tobey is focused on getting ready for the Battle of the Bands. But when Dave asks Sara out, Tobey will have to figure out how to win her over, and Sara will have to decide if she wants to be won over.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
An American boarding school in Paris is not where Anna wants to spend her senior year of high school. But when she meets the charming Etienne St. Clair, her opinion on the school quickly begins to change. The problem? Etienne is spoken for, and incidentally so is Anna.

For fans of Fallen:

City of Bones (the Mortal Instruments series, book one) by Cassandra Clare
Heading to the trendy Pandemonium Club, Clary Fray is not expecting to witness a murder, much less one involving teenagers covered in odd symbols wielding strange weapons, and even less one that only she can see. After witnessing this attack, Clary finds herself drawn into the world of the Shadowhunters, who are committed to battling demons, and into the world of the alluring Jace.

Shiver (the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, book one) by Maggie Stiefvater
There have always been wolves in the woods behind Grace’s house, and she has always watched them: one in particular, and one that seems to be watching her back. As a wolf, Sam has always silently watched Grace, and in his second life as a human, he has always kept his love secret. But once Sam and Grace discover each other, nothing can keep them apart.

For fans of the Leviathan series:

The City of Ember (the Books of Ember series, book one) by Jeanne DuPrau
Two hundred years ago, the city of Ember was built to serve as a final safe place for humanity, but now the city is begging to grow dim. With time running out, Lina and her friend Doon must race to save the city before darkness falls over the city forever.

Boneshaker (the Clockwork Century series, book one) by Cherie Priest
Sixteen years ago, Ezekial’s father invented a device that was responsible for destroying much of Seattle and letting loose a plague of zombies. Now Ezekial will set forth on a dangerous journey to reclaim his father’s legacy.

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