BookCon was an enormous, magical display of Young Adult fiction and crazy, wide-eyed authors. The final date of the four-day book overload between Book Expo America and BookCon certainly did not disappoint. What better way to spend a Saturday than surrounded by people who love to read books?
Starting our day off by getting our BookCon passes and some much-needed coffee, we went to our first panel discussion. It was called “What is Light Without Darkness? Balancing Good and Evil in YA Literature” with Veronica Roth (The Divergent Series), Lauren Oliver (Replica), Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes), and Melissa de la Cruz (Something In Between).
It was surreal to see these big name authors in the flesh. But when it came down to it, they were actually just real people who happened to have written extremely successful books. The discussion was largely focused on the “evil” from the title of the panel and there was lots of talk of Hogwarts houses, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones. Veronica is a Hufflepuff, Saaba is a Gryffindor, and Lauren and Melissa are Slytherins. Veronica Roth seemed like a very down-to-earth person!
In between the panels we checked out the ever-busy show room floor. There were hordes of bookworms everywhere going from publisher stand to publisher stand. A lady’s giant plastic bag busted open, leaving a heaping pile of new arcs on the floor. Backpack-wearing kids born in 2001 were lining up to get their newly purchased books signed by their favorite authors. And I felt like a kid in a candy shop; I could wander this intricate book maze forever.
Another mention-able panel discussion was the “YA Blockbusters: From Books to Film And Beyond” discussion panel with Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments series), James Dashner (The Maze Runner trilogy), and Richelle Mead (The Vampire Academy series).
James Dashner talked about how the Maze Runner books got started because he fell in love with the Matrix. Cassandra Clare talked about working with German film producers and did a great mock accent. According to the authors, having your book turned into a film is a scary thing because everything is out of your hands from that point on and your book might turn into something else entirely. However, the thing that the authors talked about the most was the feeling of meeting the actors who played the characters that they had written about their whole lives. It was like meeting the character conjured up in their heads.
Our next stop was the “Reality Bites – Contemporary YA Takes the Stage” panel with authors David Arnold, David Levithan, Jennifer Niven, John Corey Whaley, and Nicola Yoon. The authors talked about contemporary literature and how their ultimate goal was just to have their voices heard and hopefully to speak to some young readers out there.
Last, but not least, was the extremely crowded (standing room for us!) “Book-Hooked” panel with Sarah J. Maas (The Throne of Glass series), Victoria Aveyard (The Red Queen series), and Laini Taylor (The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy). They talked about their world-creating techniques and their multi-novel story arcs.
Sarah was one of the craziest authors I’ve ever had the opportunity to see, but she was pretty honest. Who among us in the author world doesn’t stare at themselves in the mirror to act out scenes?
The take-away from BookCon 2016 was that we writers and book readers are not alone. My only disappointment with the event was that the pamphlet did not use the oxford comma.