LAPL’s Teen Author Reading Series hit the road on Thursday, July 29th, and came to The Los Feliz Branch Library! Five wonderful authors read from their latest books, discussed their inspirations, romance, sharks, and science! Moderated by the fantastic Cecil Castellucci and arranged by LAPL’s teen librarian Mary McCoy! Look out for more events through LAPL!
EJ Altbacker- Shark Wars Book 6: The Last Emprex
Marni Bates- Invisible
Francesca Lia Block- Love in the Time of Global Warming
Cecil Castellucci- Tin Star
Jessi Kirby- Golden
Eve Silver- Rush (The Game, #1)
“You save our souls,” Cecil said to Francesca early in the evening. Isn’t that what books do, save our souls? Something in the artist’s soul must come out and be expressed, and tonight five authors explored how various things from their lives mysteriously (or not so mysteriously) found their way into their respective books!
For Marni Bates, author of Awkward and Invisible, that includes mini-rants on various topics that end up in her books. She said that her books are a great outlet for what she calls, “Marni’s Mini Rants!” She was greatly inspired by children’s book author Gordon Korman, and a story about a cursed necklace! The thing that has surreptitiously crept into her writing is her secret love of preposterous deaths!
The inspiration that made its’ way into Golden by Jessi Kirby was her love of the poet Robert Frost! In the story, the main character Parker may even be a distant relative of Frost. Golden integrates a dead girl’s journal entries with Parker’s life. Kirby said that, surprisingly, the journal entries were actually the hardest parts of the novel to write, especially when they had to include clues about the girl’s mysterious death.
EJ, the author of Shark Wars, knew a lot about sharks and other weird large creatures when he was 10, so he was confident that he knows the kinds of things that 10-year-olds are interested in. EJ is the type of guy who, when seeing an 800 pound frog in the news would not just say, “Wow,” but ask himself, “Where do I need to go? How can I see that frog… AND PET IT?!”
Eve is a scientist in addition to being a writer, so she had to remind herself not to delve too deeply into the scientific descriptions of things in order to keep the story in Rush moving along at breakneck speed! Expect lots of action and suspense in her new YA trilogy!
Cecil Castellucci has always been a fan of science-fiction and other nerdy things, long before it was cool for girls to be into it. Cecil argued that they’ve always been into it! Maybe people just needed to take notice. She’s also the coolest Nerdy Girl you will ever meet, and is quite an expert on science fiction and YA literature, so her latest book, Tin Star, will most definitely be out of this world!
The authors agreed that indulging your passions is what other people connect to. So if you find yourself constantly saying, “It would be cool if….” make it happen in your work! Chances are that someone else will find it very cool, too.
Marni said that celebrity culture is both fascinating and disturbing at the same time. In terms of romance, Marni looked at your usual romantic comedy and wondered, “Why isn’t the main character, who is happy at the end of the story, worried that her best friend isn’t happy?” That was the main idea behind Invisible, which stars “the best friend.”
The discussion turned to how a YA book can be about other things besides just romance. EJ mentioned that in the past, fantasy had less romance and still, many people loved the stories. In The Lord of the Rings, for instance, the romance between Aragorn and Arwen is partially imagined by the reader. So perhaps time and the genre has come to reflect more romance because that is what has been popular, and it is a part of the experience of growing up, and the coming-of-age tale. Jessi described Golden as primarily a Coming-of-Age story.
The larger story can be about a galactic war, like Cecil’s novel Tin Star, but have some romance thrown in the mix. How is that done without making it all about the romance? Good conflict with interesting sparks is what you need to bring the larger ideas into the more personal. Cecil and EJ talked about Green Lantern: The Animated Series and how the fans really wanted Red Lantern and Ia, (artificial intelligence,) to date! Fans immediately felt the sparks between the two characters and wanted more. The authors agreed that no matter what, there needs to be an arc for the characters. They need to change!
Francesca Lia Block re-read The Odyssey for inspiration for Love in the Time of Global Warming, but looked to use the encounters and the monsters to describe a more personal story. Mythology has always been a big part of her life as a reader and a storyteller, but she uses it to express her own emotional truth, rather than just relying on the action in the original story. In particular, Francesca connected to the hero’s journey because she has had some experiences lately that taught her that sometimes in life, you have to really fight.
Francesca Lia Block may continue on with an adaptation of The Aeneid, and forthcoming is an adult story about a serial killer!
EJ Altbacker is still working on finishing up Shark Wars and also currently working on the television adaptation of R.L. Stine’s Spooksville!
Up next from Marni Bates is Notable, the third book in the Awkward series!
Jessi Kirby has a new story brewing, but it hasn’t quite taken form yet.
Next for Eve Silver are Push and Crash, the next two installments of The Game Trilogy!