1. Lauren Oliver (author of BEFORE I FALL) should sing on Broadway
I am beginning to suspect that Lauren is the Meryl Streep of publishing. You know, the type that can do everything (including walking in 6 inch heels), and do it enviously well? As we walked the streets of Bologna, Lauren broke into a rousing rendition of the The Little Mermaid’s Part of Your World and we sang Part of Your World (Reprise) together. Then we sat in her hotel lobby and drank French tea (packaged in cashmere sachets) while Daniel regaled us with stories of his childhood chasing rats (don’t ask).
Another day, Daniel, Ann and I met Lauren for dinner together with her agents Stephen Barbara (a rock star of publishing) and Hannah Gordon Brown. It was excellent food and conversation (see Lauren’s recap) if not a tiny bit frustrating to be sitting at a table with 2 of the 3 people in the whole world (besides Lauren) who have read Lauren’s forthcoming dystopia DELIRIUM and listen to them rave about it when I won’t get to read it for such a loooooong time. She did share some tidbits on her WIP (a middle grade fantasy) and it sounds amazing (of course)!
2. Some 12 year olds are not as innocent and sheltered as we would hope
Author Ellen Hopkins spoke at the SCBWI symposium and shared letters from her readers that would break your heart. She advised us not to write down to teens. Don’t sanitize your stories. YA is a hungry market, and what they hunger for is authenticity.
Ellen shared a startling statistic that she became aware of while researching TRICKS – the average age of a prostitute in the US is 12 years old. Not every 12 year old comes from a happy family, and even those who do may feel empty inside, and yearn for someone to understand what they are going through.
Ellen’s not afraid to court controversy in order to give her readers what they want. She talked about how Karin the Librarian won an author visit with her for her school in Norman, Oklahoma and how a parent forced the school to cancel the event on the eve of banned books week (the venue was changed). The story was picked up by the national news media, and sales of Ellen’s books soared.
Author Richard Peck also spoke to us at the SCBWI symposium, and told us the reason he got into writing fiction at the age of 37 was because he realized he wasn’t reaching students the way he wanted to by being a teacher. Was it because his students were terrified of him? His “mean teacher” face does rival the famous author photo of Shel Silverstein…so it’s possible!
Here are a few nuggets of his wisdom:
- Stories should move in a straight line with hope at the end.
- Make your character jump in the deep end…you can protect or create a character, not both.
- Dialogue is best written standing up – it improves the pace. Get up and act out every one of your scenes.
- No one ever grows up in a group.
Richard’s new book, coming in October 2010, is called THREE QUARTERS DEAD. It is paranormal horror, a deadly serious story about those two inter-reacting killers: distracted driving and peer-group allegiance, a story about a girl with a cell phone in one hand and the steering wheel in the other.
4. You never know who you’ll see walking around the Bologna fair
Two years ago, Scott Westerfeld was the author-to-spot. This year, I saw Cassie Clare and Kristin Cashore. Though I didn’t get to chat with Cassie, Ann and I spent a few minutes with Kristin at her Italian publisher’s stand. When I gave her my card, she said she knew my blog (*squee*) and she tucked in into this fab photo album she had with her FULL of pictures of her new nieces.
5. If you want books, you better stay until the last day
Reps at the Bologna fair are so busy, they actually have appointments on the last day (unlike in Frankfurt). I saw beautiful copies of AS King’s PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ, Linda Gerber’s TRANCE, and Lesley Hauge’s NOMANSLAND, and I had to walk away from them. I did, however, get a copy of Mary Hooper’s new one FALLEN GRACE and Maggie Stiefvater’s LINGER.
6. Even though Italy & Germany are both part of the EU, you still need a passport to fly by plane between them
Well, not that Germany cares, since I managed to fly to Italy with no problem whatsoever. But when Ann took the earlier flight on Thursday, she called to tell me that they had checked her passport 3 times, and that Lufthansa reps told her one could absolutely NOT fly without a passport. So, I spent my last day in Italy on a train to Florence to visit the US consulate. I got to pay $100 to get an emergency passport with 3 months of validity (which of course means more headache later, when I have to get a whole new passport and German residence permit). The kicker? I was not asked even ONCE for my passport at the airport and boarded my flight without incident. Next time? I’ll bring my passport no matter what.
And guess what I have for you?!
I have a signed hardcover of Lauren Oliver's BEFORE I FALL and a signed hardcover of Ellen Hopkins TRICKS for one lucky reader anywhere in the world!
This contest will remain open until April 3o, 2010 at 11:59 PM CST. To enter, just leave a comment on this post that lets me know you've read at least some of it. "Filler" comments (i.e. "I want to win") will not be accepted as a contest entry. I'd also appreciate it if you'd tweet a link or post this contest in your blog sidebar. Thanks for spreading the word, and good luck!