Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Notes from Y'ALLFEST: My True Love Gave To Me Edition

Last weekend, TATAL correspondents Nico and Kady went to Y’ALLFEST, the biggest YA Festival in the country. They’ll be bringing you the low-down on what they learned:

The My True Love Gave to Me panel featured many of the authors whose short stories are included in the collection: Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan, Gayle Forman and Matt de la Peña. They were asked questions by the moderator, E. Lockhart. 

Here are some highlights:
They were asked to talk about the fact that the stories in the collection are all romance stories and whether that was a change from what they normally write. 
- Rainbow Rowell discussed the fact that "romance" is also a genre with conventions and rules (such as writing a certain number of books a year and devoting a certain number of pages to one point of view or another), so you can be romantic in your writing without necessarily thinking of it as "romance." 
- Stephanie Perkins said that she gravitates towards things other people deride. Everyone knows that "romance" is a little bit of a dirty word in literature, but that's because it's a genre that's associated with women readers. She's happy to wear the label. Her books revolve around the love stories.
- Gayle Forman said that she thinks of Stephanie Perkins books as 'coming of age' books. They are about character transformations with a gooey romantic center. She also said that even though romance and fantasy are looked down on, even the most serious books and movies benefit from a love story. 
Matt de la Peña talked about how happy he was to be part of the collection. He loves writing romantic stories, but he has felt like they are not what he's supposed to be digging in to. He felt like he's sold as someone who writes about working class boys and therefore even if his readers actually like the romantic storyline that can never be on the cover or part of the blurb.

Stephanie Perkins was asked about how the idea for the collection came to her. She remembered that a year ago at Y'ALLFEST she was having breakfast with Myra McEntire. They are good friends who came together because they both have dealt with serious depression. Last year they had both recently been dealing with this and were finally in high spirits, drinking crème brûlée lattes and talking about how much they liked decorating for the holidays and watching cheesy holiday movies.  They talked about how weird it was that there isn't a lot of holiday romance for teens when there is basically a whole genre for adults. Outside of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares  and Let it Snow, they couldn't think of any. From there the idea spiraled and it was under contract in under a month and published in under a year! She was amazed to find that even though taking on this project tripled her work load it actually helped her fall back in love with writing. She remarked that it's amazing what you can do with friends on your side.

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