The 2011 NYC Teen Author Festival

76 Authors. 7 Days.

Prepare yourself…

The  details for this year’s Teen Author Fesitval (held once again in New York City because, y’know, New York City) are now available. I’ve listed the entire schedule below. I’ll be specifically “on-stage” for a few of the events, including as a moderator (you can see my event calendar for those), but I should be loitering around most of the events. Previous TAFs (TAFi???) have been amazing, and I expect no less this year.

If you’re anywhere near New York the third week in March, you owe it to yourself to check this out.

2011 NYC Teen Author Festival

Monday, March 14   (Chatham Square Branch of the NYPL, 33 E Broadway., 6-8): Finding Voice, Giving Voice:  Speaking Up for Characters
featuring: Cathleen Bell, Jen Calonita, Cecil Castellucci, Brent Crawford, Elizabeth Eulberg, Brian James, Kekla Magoon, Melina Marchetta, Marie Rutkoski

Moderator:  David Levithan

Tuesday, March 15  (B&N Union Square, 7-8:30):
YA Reader’s Theater
 Holly Black, Judy Blundell, Gayle Forman, Eliot Schrefer (aka E. Archer)

Host: David Levithan

Wednesday. March 16 (South Court, 6-8):
YA Rocks, featuring Tiger Beat!
Tiger Beat:
 Libba Bray, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Barnabas Miller, Natalie Standiford

With music-related readings from: Philana Marie Boles, Libba Bray, Barnabas Miller, Jon Skovron, Jeri Smith-Ready, Rita Williams-Garcia

Host: Jack Martin / Chris Shoemaker

Thursday, March 17 (Five Borough Read, 10-12):


Seward Park Branch, 192 E Broadway, Manhattan, 10am
 Alma Alexander, Philana Marie Boles, Leanna Renee Hieber, Lena Roy
Mark Shulman

96th Street Branch, 228 E 96th St, Manhattan, 10am
featuring: Violet Haberdasher, Kimberly Marcus, Micol Ostow, Eliot Schrefer, Natalie Standiford

Washington Irving H.S (in conjunction with Mulberry St Branch)  – 40 Irving Place, 10am.
featuring: Eireann Corrigan, Jocelyn Davies, Anne Heltzel, Matt de la Pena, Patrick Ryan, Leila Sales

Muhlenburg Branch, NYPL, 209 W 23rd St   
featuring: Alexandra Bullen, Helen Ellis, Sarah Mlynowski, Matthue Roth, Adrienne Maria Vrettos, Robin Wasserman


Central Branch, Brooklyn Public Library, Dweck Auditorim, 10 Grand Army Plaza
featuring: Cathleen Bell   , Gayle Forman
Christopher Grant, Melissa Kantor, Jeri Smith-Ready, Melissa Walker


Bronx Library Center, 310 E Kingsbridge Road, Bronx
featuring: Margie Gelbwasser, Sarah Darer Littman, Arlaina Tibensky, Maryrose Wood


Long Island City Library, 37-44 21 Street, Long Island City (718) 752-3700

featuring: Brent Crawford, Barry Lyga, Melina Marchetta, Neesha Meminger

Staten Island

St George Branch, 5 Central Ave, Staten Island, 10am
featuring: Elizabeth Eulberg, David Levithan, Michael Northrup, Danette Vigliante

Friday, March 18th, Symposium (South Court, 42nd Street, 2-6)

2:00  Introduction

2:10 – 3:00:  Telling the Truths – Hard Topics, Illuminating Fiction
featuring: Eireann Corrigan, Donna Freitas, Sarah Darer Littman, Kimberly Marcus, Micol Ostow

Moderator: David Levithan

3:00 – 3:50: Debut Author Showcase
featuring: Jocelyn Davies, Margie Gelbwasser, Christopher Grant, Anne Heltzel, Kimberly Marcus, Arlaina Tibensky

  Jack Martin / Chris Shoemaker

3:50 – 4:00:  Break

4:00 – 5:00:  I Think I Love You (But Maybe I Don’t?) – Writing About Teens in Love
featuring: E. Lockhart, Terra Elan McVoy, Sarah Mylnowski, Patrick Ryan

Moderator:  David Levithan
5:00 – 6:00:   Under the Influences:  Discussing Influences on YA Fiction
 Libba Bray, Alexandra Bullen, Susane Colasanti, Barry Lyga
, Carolyn Mackler, Lena Roy, Adrienne Maria Vrettos, Maryrose Wood

Moderator:  Barry Lyga

Saturday. March 19th, Symposium (South Court, 42nd Street, 1-5:30)

1:00 – Introduction

1:10 – 2:00:  The Ties That Bind, Part One:  The Struggle Against Darkness
featuring: Kim Harrington, Lisa McMann, Maggie Stiefvater, Robin Wasserman

Moderator:  David Levithan

2:00 – 2:45:  The Ties That Bind, Part Two:  Family Bonds
 Melissa Kantor, Melina Marchetta, Alyssa Sheinmel, Natalie Standiford, Danette Vigilante

Moderator:  Jack Martin / Chris Shoemaker

2:45 – 3:30:  The Ties That Bind, Part Three:  Friends and Community
 Matt de la Pena, Torrey Maldonado, Michael Northrop, Leila Sales

Moderator:  Barry Lyga

3:30-3:40 – Break

3:40 – 4:20 – Tribute to Michael Cart

Host/Opening:  Jack Martin

Speakers/Readers:  David Levithan and Jacqueline Woodson

Acceptance:  Michael Cart

4:20-5:30:  LGBTYA:  Past, Present, and Future
Nick Burd, Michael Cart, David Levithan, Martin Wilson, Jacqueline Woodson

Moderator:  Jack Martin / Chris Shoemaker

Sunday afternoon:
Books of Wonder Signing (1-4)


Lizabeth Zindel  (A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills, Penguin)
Maryrose Wood  (The Hidden Gallery, Harper)
Suzanne Weyn  (Empty, Scholastic)
Danette Vigilante  (The Trouble with Half a Moon, Penguin)
Maggie Stiefvater  (Linger, Scholastic)
Natalie Standiford  (Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters, Scholastic)
Mark Shulman    (Scrawl, Roaring Brook)
Alyssa Sheinmel  (The Beautiful Between, RH)
Kieran Scott  (She’s So Dead to Us, S&S)
Leila Sales  (Mostly Good Girls, S&S)
Patrick Ryan  (Gemini Bites, Scholastic)

Marie Rutkoski  (The Celestial Globe, FSG)
Lena Roy  (Edges, FSG)
Michael Northrup  (Trapped, Scholastic)
Sarah Mlynowski  (Gimme a Call, RH)
Neesha Meminger  (Jazz in Love, Ignite)
Terra Elan McVoy  (After the Kiss, S&S)
Lisa McMann   (Cryer’s Cross, S&S)
Kimberly Marcus  (Exposed, RH)
Melina Marchetta (The Piper’s Son, Candlewick)
Torrey Maldonado  (Secret Saturdays, Penguin)
Barry Lyga  (Archvillain, Scholastic)

E. Lockhart  (Real Live Boyfriends, RH)
Sarah Darer Littman     (Life After, Scholastic)
David Levithan  (Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, RH)
Melissa Kantor  (The Darlings Are Forever, Hyperion)
Carla Jablonksi  (Resistance, First Second)
Gwendolyn Heasley      (Where I Belong, Harper)
Kim Harrington  (Clarity, Scholastic)
Christopher Grant  (Teenie, RH)
Margie Gelbwasser  (Inconvenient, Flux)
Elizabeth Eulberg  (Prom & Prejudice, Scholastic)
Helen Ellis  (The Turning, Sourcebooks)

Daniel Ehrenhaft  (Friend is Not a Verb, Harper)
Sarah Beth Durst  (Enchanted Ivy, S&S)
Matt De La Pena  (I Will Save You, RH)
Brent Crawford  (Carter Finally Gets It, Hyperion)
Eireann Corrigan  (Accomplice, Scholastic)
Susane Colasanti  (Something Like Fate, Penguin)
Marina Budhos  (Tell Us We’re Home, S&S)
Kate Brian  (Book of Spells, S&S)
Philana Marie Boles  (Glitz, Penguin)
Judy Blundell    (Strings Attached, Scholastic)
Cathleen Bell    (Little Blog on the Prairie, Bloomsbury)

Speaking of Mental Health…

…which I was just the other day…

I neglected to mention last year’s discovery that an actual psychiatrist has read Boy Toy and reviewed it for other psychiatrists. You can find the details here, along with a link to the actual review. Those of you interested in real-world mental health and my books should find it interesting.

That is all.

Writing and Mental Health

I was recently contacted on Facebook by a woman who wanted to ask me some questions. But she was concerned that my answers would lead to “a thousand more questions.” Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to answer THAT many questions, so I asked her to come up with just a couple.

She sent along three questions that all revolved around mental health in my fiction. The questions were good, so I asked if I could answer them publicly and she graciously agreed.

For those of you who read this blog for insight into a writer’s mind, this may be of some interest to you. I hope. 🙂

1. Are you familiar with mental health issues on more than a surface level? For example: have you ever studied psychology, experienced psychological issues personally, through a friend or family member, done research…)

I hesitate to say that my familiarity with mental health issues is anything more than skin-deep (apologies for the skewed metaphor). I always hate it when some author or actor or whomever claims some great understanding of an issue or subject simply because he or she has researched it for a book or a role or what-have-you. People spend their entire LIVES studying things like mental health, and it would be crass of me to claim to have anything more than the most basic understanding of it on the basis of having read some books and taken a class or two in college.

(This is another pet peeve of mine: The person who took a few classes on some topic in college and now thinks he or she is an expert. Puh-lease!)

So I think it’s accurate to say that familiarity with mental health issues comes from a combination of life experience (i.e., being as messed up as any other human being on this planet!), observation (helping friends and family with their issues), and pure absorption (watching and remembering what other people do and how they act; all authors do this to a degree). If my work seems particularly resonant in this area, I’d say it’s most likely that I’m just good at synthesizing all of this stuff on an unconscious level.

Oh, but the Dr. Kennedy character who helps both Josh and Kyra is based on a therapist I knew. Cool guy. Gruff. Sort of the opposite of every therapist you see on TV.

2. As an author of young adult literature (I specify your role in this question because I’m interested in your answer despite the fact that this might be a question better posed to a Psychologist,) do you think that the characters you’ve created and characters in other YA books with similar issues, have the potential to be used as therapeutic tools to help real teens deal with their own mental health issues?

Oh, sure! I get e-mails from kids all the time telling me that reading this book or that book helped them through some issue of theirs, or that they identified with a specific character at a specific moment and it helped to see themselves in that spot. So the books are being used unintentionally as therapeutic tools already.

I would hesitate to say to anyone, “Oh, feeling depressed about that abuse you suffered as a child? Read Boy Toy and put it all in perspective!” I mean, a good book can go a long way towards helping someone, but — speaking for myself — I don’t write the books thinking about their therapeutic value or potential. Professional help is always the best way to go, in my estimation, and if the book helps, too, then great.

In those instances where someone is unwilling or unable to get professional help, it’s immensely gratifying to think that one of my books might do a little good. I’m sure any other author would feel the same way.

3. While writing Hero-Type were you conscious of the fact that Kevin was dealing with some interesting psychological issues of his own, his voyeurism for one, and doesn’t that realization sort of fascinate you? The fact that while all of an authors characters may not be suffering from a debilitating mental illness, a good author can create such intricate facets of a fictional persons psyche that they can create psychological issues that are real enough to be diagnosed by the actual DSM?!

Yeah, I was aware of Kross’s issues from the start. And in fact, Hero-Type is the book I revised more than any other, mostly because I had set up a situation where Kross is a pretty messed up kid, but unlike Josh or Fanboy, he’s not a genius-level brain who can examine himself and figure out his problems. I needed Kross to sort of stumble into his own epiphany, but still let the reader in on the fact that this kid is a mess in ways that he doesn’t quite understand yet. (Someone once told me they cried at the end when Kross sets up that he has to come back to Brookdale, and I was like, “Damn! I guess it worked!”)

Does the realization that a fictional character can be diagnosed fascinate me? Hell, yeah! Then again, just about everything about writing fascinates me. It amazes me, for example, that if I change one or two key sentences in a book, the reader will have a completely different experience than the original draft.

But sticking to mental health: I suppose upon reflection it makes sense (though is no less fascinating!) because characters are created by people, and ultimately they behave in ways in which people would behave. So if I decide to write about a depressed kid, I’m not going to create a new, alien flavor of depression — it wouldn’t even occur to me! What I do is remember examples of depression I’ve seen, heard about, read about, and then chop and channel until I get something sleek and cool and workable. When you look at it that way, it’s not much of a stretch to think that such a character could be actually diagnosed.

My favorite example of this comes from Boy Toy: As I mentioned in the deleted scenes, the original draft of the book had a subplot in which Josh begins to suspect that his own mother may have molested him even before his abuse at Eve’s hands. Well, that got cut before the book went to press, but one day a child counselor came up to me at a signing and said, “Hey, I read this book and I deal with abused kids all the time and… Well, tell me if I’m crazy, but I can’t help thinking that Josh was molested even earlier, possibly by his mother.”

Obviously, she wasn’t crazy, and I was sort of blown away that there was enough stuff in the book to “diagnose” this issue even though I had removed all of the direct references to it!

I hope this digression about mental health hasn’t driven any of you crazy. (Sorry.) Thanks to Stacey for the thought-provoking questions!

Goth Girl in Paperback!

Hey, lookee here! It’s a whole boxful of gothic teen angst, in convenient paperback format!

Goth Girl Rising paperback in box.

Now, I love me some Kyra and I adore that cover, but even I don’t need twenty-odd copies of the same book.

Is there some sort of contest in the near future?

A contest in which you could win a FREE, SIGNED copy of this very book?

Why, yes. Yes, I believe there is…

Stay tuned!