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Highlights from The Thrill of the Chase Panel at Austin Teen Book Fest and Banned Books Week

Jennifer Lynn Barnes kept a swift and engaging discussion on this weekend’s The Thrill of the Chase Panel at Austin Teen Book Fest.

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(Moderator Jennifer Lynn Barnes and author Will Richter)

Ally Carter is known for her popular Gallagher Girl series (for which there will be a 6th book released), which mix lots of comedy with the thrilling storytelling. When asked how she balances the high stakes with the humor she responded, “You pick your moments. Funny often comes from the supporting cast.” She got huge laughs from the audience as she went into several examples of times not to add a joke.

Gallagher Girls

Will Richter compares his book Dark Eyes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He discussed how family (whether it’s a traditional one or a constructed one), is the most critical component in young adult’s lives. He also shared advice in writing saying, “If you target what you’re writing next by what’s already out and popular, you’ll always be two or three years behind.” He went on to explain that after a book is written there is a long lag time before it is actually on the shelves and therefore chasing trends is useless.

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                                                                                                           (Eliot Schrefer and Ally Carter)

Eliot Schrefer’s book Endangered doesn’t fit easily into any genre. Sophie begrudgingly visits her mother in the Congo and falls in love with an infant bonobo. Simultaneously unrest in the nation is building and they become embroiled in the revolution. Schrefer fell in love with bonobo when he discovered their peace loving and matriarchal nature. He was influenced by the memoirs of Jane Goodall and the creatures’ similarities to humans. Bonobos share a whopping 98.7% of the same DNA as humans. Eliot shares that a theme in all of his books is that they are about outsiders trying to fit in and his advice to new writers is, “Be very kind to yourself while you’re creating.”

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Lex Thomas (the writing duo Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies) discuss the dark nature of their book Quarantine. When asked how they knew if they were taking things too far they responded “Someone has their nose bitten off in the first sentence so…” to which the audience erupted in laughter. Hrabe then shared “We have a benefit that there are two of us. It’s a great way to know what works.” Both authors agreed that it’s crucial for a thriller to have high stakes. In Quarantine two brothers are struggling to survive. “You have to know what you’re fighting for.”

This week is Banned Books Week. It's a time for librarians, teachers and book lovers to spread awareness of attempts to limit what others have the opportunity to read. Each year the ALA (American Library Association) publishes a list of the most frequently challenged books and there are always surprises on the list. Each day this week I'll post two of the most challenged titles of 2011, (in descending order), as well as the reasons stated for the ban. Read a banned book today!


9) Gossip Girl
(series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

10) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language; racism


Tags: austin teen book festival, banned book week, eliot schrefer, endangered, lex hrabe, lex thomas, quarantine, thomas voorhies
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