BookCon 2015

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In case you aren’t familiar, BookCon is a fan-oriented, book-focused event, similar to a Comic-Con, with panels and authors autographing. My focus during BookCon was on attending panels with some of the great guests that were attending. Here are some of the things, good and bad, from BookCon.

Saturday

BFFs Forever panel: featuring Sarah Dessen, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Han, moderated by Sarah Petrie, founder of Forever Young Adult

BFF panel cropped

Takeaway: the YA community as a whole is wonderful. All of the authors seem to support each other and root for each other and the friendship was so wonderful to see. I think the whole room was smiling and laughing the entire hour. Also, YA authors really like to crash proms.

And thanks to Penguin Random House, you can even watch this panel on YouTube!

Rainbow Rowell in Conversation with Rachel Fershleiser

RR at BooConRainbow Rowell is a great speaker in front of an audience. Most interesting thing I learned: she doesn’t approach writing an adult book any differently from a young adult book. Another interesting fact: Carry On is the first book she’s written in first person. And it has SIX narrators. While preparing and writing, she only read British literature and watched British TV/movies to get the sentence structure and language right.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, and author Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl bookcon

I saw a screening of the movie a few days before and met Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke. Because of how much I loved the movie, I still wanted to see this panel. The panelists included actors Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, and author Jesse Andrews. They were funny and interesting and gave the audience a great look at how the book was turned into an award-winning movie. Fun fact: the high school in the movie is the same school that author Jesse Andrews attended. And the house that Greg (the main character) lives in is the same house Jesse grew up in—Greg’s room is Jesse’s childhood room!

Paper Towns film panel: John Green, Jake Schreier, Michael H. Weber, Nat Wolff, Justice Smith, and Ryan Lott (Son Lux)

PT panel PW

Photo credit: Publishers Weekly

I want to start off by saying the entire “Special Events Hall” process at BookCon was a mess. The show floor officially opened at 10 but the queue hall opened at 8 for people wanting to get wristbands for special events. I wasn’t willing to wait an extra 2 hours when this panel wasn’t even until 6:00 pm, so I was really disappointed but decided I would have to pass on this panel. The only reason I was able to see this was thanks to two nice girls waiting in line in front of me at the BFFs Forever panel, who told me there were still wristbands left when doors opened at 10. They ran out about ten minutes after I got one…

For the panel, my view was terrible (and blocked by a cameraman!) but at least from where I was sitting I got glimpses of John Green and Nat Wolff and could see the rest of the panel on screen.

For what we learned about the Paper Towns movie, click here!

Sunday

Fierce Reads tour kickoff: authors Jennifer Mathieu (Devoted), Anna Banks (Joyride), Emmy Laybourne (Sweet), and Courtney Alameda (Shutter)

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 2.36.00 PMPhoto credit to Fierce Reads twitter account because I sat in the front row and couldn’t fit all of the authors in one picture!

Fun facts from this panel: part of Emmy’s research process involved going to the mall and lightly stalking teenage boys to see how they walked and then imitating them. Her advice to aspiring writers was that “you can’t write and judge at the same time.”

Anna wants to write a sasquatch romance but so far has been shot down by her agent. Apparently, “the market’s just not ready for that.” Her advice to aspiring writers was: “When you have writerly constipation, reading is the best laxative.”

Jennifer’s books come from things she is fascinated by, often things that are considered “extremes” in society. She can spend hours on Wikipedia doing research. Her advice? “Read widely and write for yourself first.”

Courtney loves writing the monsters and is most definitely a “pantser” when she is writing a novel. Courtney’s advice to aspiring writers is to “never give up, never surrender.”

Kick Off Your Summer with Kick A** YA Reads from Jodi Picoult, Samantha van Leer, David Levithan, E. Lockhart, Jennifer Niven, Nicola Yoon, and Meg Wolitzer

BookCon panel 1 cropped

Again, this panel reinforced just what a wonderful community this is. They had the audience (and each other) laughing the whole time.

Fun facts: Jodi and Sammy (her daughter) wrote both of their books over a summer. Jodi typed and she and Sammy talked through the story together, adding sentences to each other’s thoughts. I loved reading Between the Lines when it came out and can’t wait to read Off the Page.

The idea for Nicola Yoon’s debut Everything, Everything (coming September 1) came after her daughter was born and she wanted to protect her from everything she possibly could.

This was also when I experienced the biggest disappointment of BookCon: I went to the signing of Off the Page immediately after the panel to find that all signing tickets had been handed out already—so if you attended the panel, there was no way to get a signed book by them! I felt that was unfair since I’d spent an hour waiting for the panel and an hour listening to them speak. Here’s to hoping that system will improve in the future.

Crafting Illustrated Stories for Kids: Julianne Moore and Brian Selznick

Julianne Moore BookCon

One of the biggest takeaways from this panel was how much of their stories came from a desire to show kids that what they are going through is normal when they feel like they don’t fit in. The idea for Moore’s first book, Freckleface Strawberry (an old nickname of Julianne’s), came when her son was seven and feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious.

Also interesting was the fact that The Invention of Hugo Cabret was originally intended to be a novella. Selznick took the first part of the text and it turned into pages upon pages of illustrations. Luckily for us, Scholastic loved the idea and ran with it.

Watch this panel on YouTube here.

Review of BookCon as a whole: I enjoyed going to BookCon because of the wide variety of authors they had attending. I sat in on seven panels and enjoyed them all. The biggest problem I had was with the lines and crowd control. There was an immense amount of line-cutting. I waited over an hour to see many of the panels and there were people jumping way ahead of me just five minutes before a panel because they had someone hold their spot. The BookCon staff did try to cut down on this on Sunday but I hope it’s improved next year.

I also didn’t have a chance to meet any of the authors or get autographs because of how the schedule was organized. In order to get an okay seat at a panel, you had to be in line at least half an hour before. This kept me waiting in line after line and didn’t give me time to go to the autographing area or explore the show floor. Even if I HAD wanted to get a book signed, many required purchase on site (which I understand), but the bookstore was unorganized and the line was ridiculous so it was not worth it, in my opinion.

Lauren is a 20-year-old student living in Northern Virginia. She loves to read YA books and watch movies. Lauren is passionate about many things, but reading has always been a huge part of her life. Ever since she first learned to read, her parents have always had to pry books out of her hands when it’s time for other commitments. Lauren loves everything from The Hunger Games and Divergent, to Percy Jackson, mysteries like State of the Onion, and other YA books, like The Fault in Our Stars, and is always eager to try a new book, author, or series. She also loves music, public health, Harry Potter, and the Washington Capitals. Follow her on Twitter: @LWengrovitz.