What I learned at ALA: Part 2 – Authors! Authors! Authors!

ALA is one of the best places to indulge in author worship.  They are everywhere –workshops, exhibit booths, stages, and even just wandering around like normal people.  Here’s who I had the opportunity of meeting, hearing or bumping into out on the floor.

At the YALSA YA Authors Coffeeklatch –in other words speed dating with authors– here’s who I met:

  • Daniel Kraus, author of Rotters – who knew grave robbing could reunite a father and son?
  • John Corey Whaley, Printz and Morris award winning author of Where Things Come Back.  Very sincere, enthusiastic, young guy, basking in the acclaim of his accomplishments.  I also heard his Printz Award speech later in the week.
  • Melissa Marr, author of the Wicked Lovely series and the upcoming Carnival of Souls.  She will send out bookmarks and things for free if you email and ask her!
  • Ellen Hopkins, author of many “issue” books for teens, has several titles out this year: Tilt for the YA audience; Smoke – a companion to Burned, out as a Kindle title only; Collateral & Triangles, adult titles.
  • As she was leaving, Ellen turned to me and said, “You look familiar.”  To which I replied, “You look familiar to me also.”  And then we realized we met at the OASL conference in 2010.  See what conferences can do for you?
  • Kazu Kibuishi, author of the Amulet series as well as others, pulled out his ipad to show the VERY cool app he’s working for the new graphic series The Mystery Boxes.  The graphics were beautiful and will take the stories into multimedia format.  Keep an eye out for it.
  • Neal Shusterman, (again!) author of recently released UnWholly, which is the long awaited sequel to Unwind.  And if you’re a fan, read UnStrung (if you have a Kindle) a novella that talks about what happens to the main character in between the two books.  And keep an eye out for UnSeamly, the final book of the trilogy coming someday!
  • Christine Hinwood, author of Printz Honor winner The Returning, flew all the way from Aussie-land.  She talked about what a quiet life she leads as an author and was in shock over all the acclaim.  And since winter had started, she was discombobulated by the return to summer weather.  I also heard her speak at the Printz Reception.
  • And finally, just before time ran out, Ruta Sepetys (se-pet-iss), author of Between Shades of Gray, appeared.  First she taught us how to say her last name (see above) and then shared how much she was enjoying the increase in sales to all those confused folks looking to buy Fifty Shades of Gray!  She’s just finished another historical about 1950’s New Orleans, titled Out of the Easy, with a publication date of Feb. 2013.

But wait there’s more…authors, that is!

The 2012 Margaret A. Edwards Award  for lifetime achievement was given to Susan Cooper, best known for the classic Dark is Rising Sequence.  In her elegant British voice and command of the language, she shared her love of writing and the process by which she creates.  We all sighed in pleasure at the end.  And the luncheon food was good too!

Later that same day, Chris Colfer, of Glee fame, gave one of the Auditorium Speakers presentations.  Everyone in attendance received an ARC of his book, The Land of Stories.  And guess what, he’s just like his character Kurt and real cutie!  (Okay, I admit, I’m a gleek.)

And the day ended with a real treat, the final performance of the incredible Rock Bottom Remainders!  It’s members have included Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Maya Angelou, Cynthia Heimel, Sam Barry, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Joel Selvin, James McBride, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount Jr., Barbara Kingsolver, Robert Fulghum, Matt Groening, Tad Bartimus, Greg Iles, and a couple of professional musicians (thank God!).

The whole performance was a hoot!  The music was mediocre at best, but a good time was had by all.  Just type Rock Bottom Remainders into Youtube and see for yourself.

Last post I talked about seeing Ally Condie and Jacqueline Woodson at the YALSA Preconference, but I also literally ran into Jacqueline on the exhibit floor.  We were both trying to get through a crush of people when we bumped into each other.  Such a rush!

I got to hear Libba Bray reading the first chapter of her new book, The Diviners.  And later, managed to get the last free ARC from her publisher’s booth.  It was a “divine” experience!  ;>)

And then there was the Newbery/Caldecott Award banquet & the Printz Award reception.  Both were remarkable for different reasons.  The program for the Newbery banquet was the most inventive I’ve ever seen.  Designed by Caldecott winner Chris Raschka, it looked like a package.  When opened, out popped Daisy’s ball!  Take a look.




Raschka gave a very heartfelt, serious acceptance speech that put my husband, Tim to sleep.  When Tim asked if he could leave, I told him to wait, it was gonna get a LOT better ’cause Jack Gantos was next.  We all know he’s a humor writer, but he’s even funnier in person.  He proceeded to tell us in great detail that he’d no idea what he’d won for at least a couple of hours because the Newbery committee was making too much noise!  His agent finally told him he’d won the Medal.

At the Printz Award reception Daniel Handler and Moira Kalman’s acceptance “speech” stole the show!  It was a VERY hard act for anyone to follow.  The good news is that the medal & other honor winners graciously thanked YALSA for the recognition.  The bad news is that the rest of us had to wait patiently for the bar to open.  ;>)

My next posts will share what I learned at a couple of workshops I attended.  I mean, it was supposed to be a professional development opportunity, not just fan indulgence, and I really did get some great ideas!