From the Lit Director Desk: The YA Situation

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With exactly one month left to go until the Texas Teen Book Festival (October 1!) and just about two months until the Texas Book Festival (November 5 and 6!), it seems about time we address a key component of this year’s Festival life: The YA Situation.

Let’s start with the Texas Teen Book Festival (TTBF).

I’ve had the great fun and privilege of working on the TTBF team for several years now, first as part of BookPeople’s marketing department (cue the muscle memory of hauling hundreds of boxes of YA novels in and out of rented U-Hauls) and now as part of TBF. What began as a grassroots gathering of teens and authors in the Westlake High School auditorium has gone more or less SUPERNOVA.

 

supernova

 

TTBF has sprawled into a multi-armed, cannot-miss-it, star-studded, action-packed, non-stop, unforgettable, epic day of YA on the campus of St. Edward’s University. 30+ authors, a full day of panels,  a Costume Contest sponsored by Fierce Reads, the Texas Throwdown Game Show, a super exciting pre-TTBF event I can’t even mention yet – y’all, this year is BLOWING UP. (I’m using caps and bold so you will understand the degree to which I am not at all kidding around about this situation, in case the animated gifs of our amazing universe aren’t enough.)

TTBF has always been a labor of love. This year, to celebrate its eighth year of being, TTBF is a labor not only of love, but of STAR POWER.

 

star power

The biggest names in YA are heading to TTBF 2016: Sabaa Tahir. Leigh Bardugo. Laini Taylor. John Corey Whaley. And so many more.

But that’s not all. Also heading to TTBF this year, in a last minute, holy pajamas, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-I-wasn’t-even-sure-this-human-was-actually-real SURPRISE is…. I can’t tell you yet. We have press releases to finalize and social media squares to build and we just aren’t ready to say the name.

But I’ll give you a hint. This person is really famous. And this person writes books.

Do you think you know who it is?

You’re wrong.

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The YA experience doesn’t end after October 1. This year, we’re going all out for YA at the Texas Book Festival. It is with great fanfare and much excitation that I now officially announce the launch of….

 

YA HQ! 

 

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This year, we’re moving our author YA sessions out of the Capitol building at Texas Book Festival and putting them front and center in a tent on Congress we’ve dubbed (wait for it) the YA HQ. (Hashtag it if you want, no one’s going to stop you, even though #yahq sounds like either yak or yuck, depending on your pronunciation, neither of which applies to this tent. But you do you and #yahq will do #yahq and we’ll all be all right.)

In addition to giving you the opportunity to catch some of the best and brightest YA authors in the business, we’re also developing the TBF YA HQ (holy acronyms, Batman!) as a place for YA lit lovers to discover new voices. We’ll open the tent on Saturday morning with a Buzz Panel featuring authors with some of the freshest, ready-to-be-the-next-big-thing novels on shelves this Fall. Meet them in the morning, then catch them on panels throughout the day.

From there, the weekend in the TBF YA HQ will segue into a series of conversations that move beyond the books to address what we’re all dealing with, teen or otherwise, every day: who we are, how we got here, and what it is we’re supposed to do with ourselves now that we’ve arrived. We’ll talk love, life, and which protagonist could totally run for world leader and win. We’ll talk about the real stuff, the hard stuff, and the totally make believe stuff.

And we’ll have a place to charge your phone.

And we’ll be giving away free swag all day. 

YA HQ is brand new this year, just a little starling crawling out of its galactic nursery, but we’re excited for its future.

Because this, my pals, is what YA looks like to me: a psychedelic, awe-inspiring universe of literary rocket power whose full potential to change our cosmic trajectory we’ve only just begun to comprehend.

saturn gifFar out.

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***Please Note: no thirty-five year old literary directors were injured in their attempts to download and figure out Snapchat while writing this blog post. Certain thirty-five year old literary directors were, however, quite pleasantly surprised to discover how easy this whole animated gif thing has become to manage.