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Teen Author Carnival 2014

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I was very excited to learn about the Teen Author Carnival from a colleague's blog. It was held at the regal high-ceilinged Jefferson Market Library. There were many teens in attendance, and some adults joined the crowd later on. The event has been going on since 2009, and it is organized by Mitali Dave. It was a great venue for teens to get the opportunity to meet their favorite authors.

Book Trivia

The program commenced with a Book Trivia Challenge. Three lucky teen contestants were chosen by lottery. They were given bells or buzzers to indicate when they had the answers. The categories of questions included the following: Deserted Island, Beautiful Creatures, Stuck in an Elevator, and First Lines. The contestants were able to choose a category and a point value of 200, 400, 600, 800, or 1000. Questions included the following: "What is the Southern town setting of Beautiful Creatures?" and "Who wants E. Lockhart as a mate?" Some questions specified teen authors who were present in the audience of the carnival. Gift bags were given out to the contestants.

I'll Be There panel

There were four panels at the carnival, two simultaneously at 6 p. m., and two simultaneously at 7 p. m. I attended the "I'll Be There" panel. The moderator was Adele Walsh, who is a teen book blogger. She is from Australia, and I spent the entire program entranced by her lovely accent. She even distributed caramel koalas to audience members who asked the panel questions after her queries. The panelists included Ann Stampler, Rebecca Serle, Kara Taylor, Elizabeth Eulberg, and Sarah Mylnowski.

Walsh wanted the authors to describe their books in six words.

Stampler said "Intense female friendship goes south spectacularly."

Walsh asked if their current book titles began as something else. 

Authors responded that sometimes their original titles morph into other phrases. Taylor commented that Wicked Little Secrets began as Boarding School Bedlam. Her editor objected to the bedlam idea.

Walsh wondered what the characters in the authors' book would likely be reading. 

The authors mentioned a variety of works.

Walsh wanted to know if the authors could write someone's autobiography whose it would be. The question required the authors to examine who they would like to know most intimately.

High School is a Hell Hole

Walsh opined that high school is a hell hole. She asked why it is such a delicious thing to play with.

The authors mentioned that the later teen years are filled with the raw emotion that accompanies crushes and friendship. There is such an intensity about the feelings that saturate teen life. Teenagers are not very mobile; they cannot go anywhere without parental permission; consequently, their entire worlds are resolutely anchored in one place, filled with school and family. Unlike adults, they cannot switch jobs and cities at will. It is very interesting for authors to write about people who are trapped.

The terrific thing about writing teen fiction for the authors is that it gives them a chance to relive their teen years and rewrite history. They can be themselves as they were in high school, only much wittier and more suave. 

Walsh was curious about where realist contemporary teen fiction went. 

The authors do not sit down to write stories that will be labeled as belonging to specific genres. Instead, they are simply trying to tell stories. One of the authors used to write picture books, which people mistakenly believe are easy to write. The words "romance" and "chic lit" should not be used in derogatory ways, and the authors do not appreciate being pigeon-holed as producing one category of literature.

Walsh invited each author to read from her work for two minutes.

Walsh then asked book-specific questions to particular authors.

She wanted to know how authors present an authentic picture of grief without being too depressing and having other elements of the plot present.

Walsh asked the authors of crime fiction how they incorporate a consistent narrative flow into their works.

The panelists commented that they have to be supportive of the characters involved in order to make the stories plausible. The "how" and "why" have to be made understandable, and the character's reaction to the event and their growth and development have to be present in order to make the book work.

Audience Questions

The floor was opened to audience questions.

One attendee asked whose mind the panelists would like to read if they had the chance.

One author responded that she would like to put on all of her outfits, walk down the street, and know what people were really thinking. Another mentioned that, as a 10-year-old, she was a Harry Potter fan, and she liked to write fan fiction.

Walsh asked the contestants intriguing questions, and the trivia game was very fun. I loved my first Teen Author Carnival experience! It was very similar to the Teen Author Festival, hosted by David Levithan, which occurs in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building every March. The Jefferson Market Library is such a lovely architecturally interesting building. 

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