ICYMI: Boston Teen Author Festival

This past Saturday, September 23, marked the sixth annual Boston Teen Author Festival at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and the Cambridge Public Library! This year co-founder and president, Renee Combs, announced that it was also the festival’s first year as a nonprofit!

This year’s theme for the festival was “Class of 2017”. 39 authors were in attendance (40 were planned to be there but Margaret Stohl, co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series and author of Rolls Royce, the series Black Widow, and The Mighty Captain Marvel, had trouble getting to Boston). At the intro panel in the auditorium of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, wherein all 39 authors were onstage, each author introduced themselves, gave a one-sentence synopsis of their most recent release, and answered three questions. With three rows of authors, all rows answered two of the same questions and each row had its own individual question.

In keeping with the festival’s theme for this year, questions included: what would be your main character’s superlative? If your main character could go to the prom with any other fictional teen media (ie. books, movies, TV) character, who would it be? What are three things that would be in your main character’s locker? To the first, Adam Silvera, his most recent release being They Both Die at the End answered that his two main characters would win the superlative “most likely to die.” To the second question, most authors answered that their main character wouldn’t go to the prom at all. Mackenzi Lee, author of A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue answered that her protagonist, Percy, would be too busy making trouble to go to the prom. As to the last question, a surprising amount of characters would have some sort of weapon in the lockers, and for them I hope they are never subject to locker searches!

10 panels were organized for Saturday’s event, a record for the Festival. The panels were split into two groups and each panel was repeated twice, giving attendees the chance to see up to four panels during the day. One of the panels that day was “Out of Character”, wherein authors of retellings discussed what it was like to work with and around the boundaries of the original stories their novels were rooted in. Panelists included Leigh Bardugo, author of Wonder Woman: War Bringer, Jason Reynolds, author of Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Ashley Poston, author of Geekerella and the upcoming Heart of Iron (described as “Anastasia in SPAAACE”), and Kerri Maniscalco, author of Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula.

Another panel featured was “Not Destiny’s Child” in which authors talked about their characters taking their fate or their lives into their own hands, and not following the path their world was trying to force unto them. Panelists included Ashley Herring Blake, author of How to Make a Wish, Lilliam Rivera, author of The Education of Margot Sanchez, Kristy Acevedo, author of Consider and Contribute, and Akemi Dawn Bowman, author of Starfish.

Books were sold by Porter Square Books throughout the day. At the end of the day all authors were in the cafeteria of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, and were more than happy to sign books, take photos, and give away some swag such as bookmarks and buttons. Overall the event seemed to be an overall success for the organizers of the festival. With the opportunity to interact with other fans of the YA genre and with the authors we love to geek out over, it was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday, especially considering that the event is free! I look forward to going back again next year!