Performancing Metrics

There's A Book

As many of you know I attended the 2012 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend. It was beyond brilliant!

In the matter of a few short hours spent at this festival (my third year in a row!) I have a renewed love of books and all things that make my love of reading soar. For those of you unfamiliar with the festival, I’d highly recommend checking out the main site for the LA Time Festival of Books and see how you can make it next year. The short and sweet of what it is…a huge outdoor book festival held at USC (though originally at UCLA) that includes dozens of panels with the authors of books from every genre. There are booths that number in the hundreds filled with anything from local bookstores to publishers to authors and illustrators. It’s truly an incredible event, especially if you happen to be a bookish nerd like myself.

First of all, my biggest excitement going into the festival was finally being able to meet up with some of my favorite book bloggers:

Early in the day I met with these fabulous ladies: Anastasia from Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog, {me}, Amy from My Friend Amy and Florinda from The 3 R’s Blog.

Later I was able to catch up with two other gals I’d never met before, but was so thrilled we finally caught each other:

{Me}, Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy and Cathy from Picture Books, Novels and Bios, Oh My!

Besides the meeting of some of my favorite book bloggers I was also able to see a couple of panels before heading out for the day. The first of the two panels was one with John Green being interviewed by none other than Lev Grossman:

(Sorry about the quality on this one, the theater was rather dark and they didn’t allow flash photography.)

This was an incredibly fun panel primarily because of the audience interaction. Amy had gotten there quite early because we both thought the panel was earlier and as such we ended up with front row seats! Both Amy and I mentioned feeling slightly bad about being so close up when neither of us was screaming with shaking fits of glee as the “Beetle-esque” author entered the room. Seriously though, it was a great time and really fun to see John being loved by so many passionate young readers. My favorite though would be the announcement by a young man who came to the microphone to ask a question and told about his first tattoo that happened to be a quote from John Green’s book, An Abundance of Katherines. John was quite distraught by this and hoped it wasn’t his first, but the guy admitted it was his first…his second being a Zelda tattoo. We couldn’t help but all laugh at that. Overall though, this was a wonderful panel and I’m so glad I was able to see him John Green in person!

Without a doubt the highlight of the event was finally seeing an all time favorite author of mine in person, Patrick Ness!

This was amazing because it not only featured Patrick Ness, but John Corey Whaley and Mal Peet as well! Each had incredible things to say and I honestly learned quite a great deal about new ways to write. We even learned a few things that we were sworn to secrecy about! It was wonderful. A few of the things I took away from the panel were these:

  • Mal Peet’s love of the exploding diagram! I loved this and his explanation. It astounded me that so few people knew what one was, but it makes a huge impact on his writing (obviously, his book is named for one: Life: An Exploded Diagram).
  • Patrick felt strongly that parents don’t need to be present in YA to make it an authentic teen experience. In much of A Monster Calls, Conor’s mother is not present primarily because she’s dying of cancer, but his experience is absolutely genuine. What matters is that the story is honest.
  • One of my favorite quotes was this from Patrick Ness, “Make the best book you possibly can and people will read it. Make it a beautiful thing.” At the time they were discussing the ever increasing popularity of illustrations in novels as well as the importance of cover art. They all agreed they thought it was a wonderful thing going forward and Mal Peet even mentioned the likes of Shaun Tan in regards to the positive influence he’s having on the industry. Of course, what Patrick said really struck home to me and made his books even more powerful than they already were.
  • Patrick also discussed how he plotted his books and stated that he never begins a book without knowing at least two or three major events within the book as well as the final sentence of each book. Not only did this astound me, but as soon as I had the chance I read each of the last sentences of his books and they suddenly had new meaning to me. Each of those last sentences made each book bring on a new life, subsequently placing an even greater hold on my heart.
  • Finally, during the Q&A I got up to ask a question (I know! Eeck!). This is what I said: “First of all, thank you so much for writing A Monster Calls. I read it during a time when I was waiting on a diagnosis of potential cancer and after finishing it the first thing I could think after the sobbing stopped was how grateful I was to have a book I could give to my two children if something did happen to me to help comfort them.” (I wanted to make sure to say this because earlier they’d been discussing the issue of whether YA and MG books were really appropriate for such young readers. Of course they are!) My question was this: “How do you feel the ‘noise’ from the Chaos Walking trilogy should be portrayed in the upcoming movie and perhaps would he entertain the idea of how it sounds on the audio version read by Nick Podehl?” He answered by saying he really wasn’t sure because he has his own version of the characters tucked away in his mind and also because the movie producers will do what they will, but that he’d heard nothing but praise for Nick Podehl’s version of the story.

Oh! I really could go on for hours, but this post is getting really long! I have to say though that I have never acted more like a teenage fan-girl than I did when I met Patrick Ness. Before the panel started he waved to me from the stage and later told me he knew exactly who I was…seriously, I almost died on the spot. I feel like such a nerdy dweeb, but honestly…he’s an incredible writer and his books have truly inspired me. If you’re interested in reading more I’d highly encourage you to take a look at A Rep Reading, Teresa has compiled all the tweets from this last panel and it’s amazing! As a final note, look at this fantastic inscription he left in my ARC of A Monster Calls:

PS…one last thing the girls who love Beth Kephart so much decided to take a pic together. Even if Beth couldn’t be there, her upcoming book Small Damages could be!

22 Responses to Just Floating In: I’m Really a Nerdy Book and Author Fangirl at Heart

  1. Alex Baugh says:

    This looks like it was a wonderful Festival of Books, and I would love to have seen Mal Peet in person. Thanks for the indepth report.

  2. Raquel says:

    I am so incredibly happy for you! I’m so glad you had this experience. And how brave it was to stand up and were able to share your very personal thoughts on A Monster Calls and to ask Patrick Ness a question.

    Now I have to turn you into a Mal Peet fan (I love both Life and Tamar especially and am really partial to Keeper).

    • Oh my, I nearly died getting up to ask the question! Amy kept pushing me to go and I’m so glad she did. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.

      And yes! I feel sad now that I didn’t get a book of Mal’s signed, because I’m afraid I’m going to read his books and love them too. Eeck! 😉

  3. OMG how awesome!
    I wish I was there.
    Thanks for the breakdown and fun pics!

  4. Gina says:

    Yay! I’m so glad you had a blast…reading your post made it feel like I was RIGHT THERE too. ^_^ Happy reading!

  5. Okay. Insanely jealous here! 🙂

  6. Tif says:

    It looks like you had so much fun and I’m feeling very envious right now!! I have heard so many amazing things about Patrick Ness’s work, but still have not yet read any myself. I really need to get on this!!!

    • You really must read his books! If you want to start off with A Monster Calls, it’s a bit shorter but heart breaking. All of his books are fantastic, so you can’t go wrong!

  7. Swooning right along with you as I read the things Patrick Ness said. Thanks for sharing his wisdom!

  8. It was fun to experience this with you via Twitter as it was happening. It shows the value and impact of sharing of books on Twitter. What a wonderful weekend. Thank you for being there for us, too!

  9. PragmaticMom says:

    How fun! I am a book nerd and author fan as well!

  10. Beth Kephart says:

    OH MY GOSH! I have just come home from a 14 hour day and this photo is VERY happiness making. Can I have it? Can I steal it? I love the entire blog post, by the way. But I do love this!!

  11. *HI Patrick!!!! HI!!! Over here in Minnesota!!!!!*****


    This is so awesome!!!! I want to go! Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful pics and the memories!

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