There was something uniquely special about this year’s Louisiana Book Festival. It probably had to do with the fact that every author signing table I passed, and every author panel I attended, I couldn’t help but think that next year I’d be where they were. I could be signing my own book, and I could be at my own panel. It was exciting and surreal, even a little intimidating, and I couldn’t stop obsessing about it.
Not to say I didn’t enjoy the festival itself; I absolutely did. In fact, this year’s was one of the best I’ve been to—I met one of my favorite YA authors, received several ARCs (advanced reader copies), and connected with several other debut and newcomer authors.
About the Louisiana Book Festival
For those who don’t know what a book festival is, let me give you a quick rundown of the types of things you can see/do/eat at the Louisiana Book Festival:
- Panels on Southern and Louisiana specific culture and history
- Panels on memoirs, comic artists, YA, MG, poetry, etc. by authors of said genres
- B&N book and author signing tent
- The Young Readers Pavillion/Storytelling tent for kids
- Print Workshop and book binding demonstrations
- Food stalls and trucks of funnel cakes, fried chicken, hamburgers, even gelato!
Panels I Attended
Surprise, surprise, I spent most of my time at the panels for YA and Middle Grade readers and writers. The panels were set up in a way that allowed the two authors to question each other on their books and discuss their writing, plot, characters etc.
Here are those that I attended:
Toxic: Unhealthy Relationships in YA Fiction with Heather Demetrios & Laurie Devore
Both of their books dealt with difficult relationships resulting in emotional and mental abuse. They dove deep into where their inspiration for their books stemmed from and the importance of sharing that experience through their writing. After all, many people are in abusive relationships without truly realizing it and through books and characters they could see their own situation reflected on the very pages they read.
Ghosts with the Most: Paranormal Middle Grade Fiction with Michelle Schusterman & Ronald L. Smith
These two authors discussed the craft of writing for middle graders and the “voice” that is so unique and critical for a middle grade book. While both bringing up excellent tips and takeaways, they each mentioned that kids are smarter than people give them credit for and encouraged writers not to “talk down” to an audience even if they might be [a lot] younger.
Who We Are: Discovering Yourself with Lauren Allbright & Michael Fry
Originally a comic artist, Michael Fry talked about his new book about the child of two supervillains and his journey of trying to please his evil parents while being a good kid at heart. Lauren Allbright’s book was about a classic prankster and his antics as he dodges school and the science fair. Both books had a strong humor element and stories of characters finding themselves in a world of expectations and rules.
Coming Attractions: New & Upcoming YA Books with Judith Lafitte
Co-owner of Octavia Books, an independent bookstore in New Orleans, Judith Lafitte presented four new books for young readers that would be coming out in 2018.
Authors I Met
All the authors I encountered were friendly, interesting, talented, and supportive individuals and I’m so lucky to have met them—however briefly!