So this around the time of year when I would tend to do a lit news dispatch, rather than a review, telling you how all the YA events at the recent LA Times Festival of Books went.
Except that given the filing schedule here at GLW, and where those “third Tuesdays” fall, it turns out that that posting would be nearly a month away.
So what we’re going to do instead is tell you what’s coming up at the LA Times Book Fest, weekend after next (Sat., April 30, and Sun., May 1). This way, if you’re a GLW reader in the SoCal area, you can come. Or can email your cousin Geoff in Bell Gardens or your Aunt Jen in Cerritos to get over there.
First though, note that two whole days of YA events -- on a “YA Stage” no less! -- is a recent development in Times Book Fest history. The overall gathering is the largest public literary fest in the country, and of course, being L.A., there are awards -- in the form of the LA Times Book Prizes. There’s a YA category, too, and for a long time, there’d usually be one YA panel comprised of that year’s nominees. So one panel, four or five people, and that’d be it.
For YA readings, you’d often find yourself on an outdoor stage, with jugglers and costumed characters designed to capture the attention of younger readers, those perhaps still in the “board book” phase of their reading lives. (Of course, by the time they grow into the “YA” demographic, the challenge for the Times may be fomenting a “Festival of Digital Reading Devices,” so perhaps we shouldn’t be too hasty in giving up the jongleurs after all).
One of those stages has been the Target Children’s Stage, which has included MG writers (this year, for example, R.L. Stine and Lisa Yee), but again, those slots were few, and both MG and YA were generally underserved.
Now, though, there’s a whole YA area, and a slew of panels with authors who don’t even have to be nominated for book prizes to hold forth. Which means that a lot of L.A.-area writers (and yes, the visiting ones in near-mythic sent-by-their-publisher-mode) can talk about their craft, and their works, too.
Over the two days, there will be panels on co-writing YA fantasy, writing about addiction, “historical” fiction (which, as it turns out, now include the years when I was “YA-age” myself), and graphic novels. Most of these are moderated by the SCBWI’s Aaron Hartzler, or Cecil Castellucci, of Plain Janes, Beige and other renowns. She was also a co-founder of the LAYAs, that Algonquin-y agglomeration of Angel City YA writers.
And it was her steadfast series of conversations with the Times, over a period of, well, times, that was one of the key factors in getting them to swing ‘round to consistent YA programming, so a doff of the hat to her. (Since it is likely to be sunny at the book fest’s new home-- the USC campus now, after a multi-decade stay at UCLA -- you can keep that same hat handy).
The panelists, by the way, tend to be those authors who have had books out recently. Those of us who haven’t -- this would include me (is it too much time spent writing columns and reviews instead?) -- will be helping cap each day with Layapalooza!, a live, on-stage trivia show. YA trivia!, about your favorite books and writers. No, not just the L.A. ones. Heck, not necessarily the still-alive ones, either. There will even be prizes. Of books.
Not to be confused with the "book prizes."
So come by and win one. Or send Cousin Geoff. Who needs to be reading more anyway.
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