At this weekend's Austin Teen Book Fest Sarah Rees Brennan led a rousing panel: We're Not in Kansas Anymore, and the stakes were high. The panelist with the least amount of applause and laughter from the audience was going to be taken outside and murdered! She compiled false histories for each of the panelists to lighten the audience's sympathies but as all of the authors were visible at the signing at the end of the day, I now believe that the threat was a rouse. ; )
(Moderator Sarah Rees Brennan is introducing Libba Bray (flashing gang signs in hopes to survive) and Leigh Bardugo)
Rae Carson shared that she knew that she would write high fantasy after seeing Star Wars as a four year old. "...I knew that the force was with me, I knew that George Lucas and I were destined to be together and I knew that I wanted more stories about fantasy." Rae explained that Tattoine (a planet from Star Wars), was part of the inspiration for a desert location in her books and she said that they also have Spanish and Arabic influences including caves and bullfights. She was safe from certain death when she shared with the audience the story of how she came to the idea for the The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, she was having her naval pierced and thought that an amulet in the naval would make for an incredible story.
(Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl fighting for survival and Rae Carson being adorable)
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl are the authors of the Beautiful Creatures (soon to be a major motion picture) series. Margaret worked hard to engage the audience and made sure that the moderator, Sarah, heard all of the audience interaction. She did not want to see her head on the chopping block. At one point Margaret explained the benefit of having a collaborator: "It makes it a little less intimidating. You feel less crazy because you are both hearing the same voices." One thing that the authors realized after having their book sold in over 48 countries is that teenagers are terrified in every country. "They feel that they have no say and are not able to decide anything for themselves."
Leigh Bardugo, whom according to Sarah Rees Brennan may or may not have committed a murder gangster style, chose to set her book Shadow and Bone in Russia because she grew up fascinated by the country and the story of Anastasia. "We have very disparate images of the country, brutality vs. beauty and these extremes work well for fantasy." She went on to explain how it was crucial to her to set up a distinct set of rules for the world that she was writing about. If they aren't rules then there is no reason that other worldly instruments can be brought into the story. "I remember reading Harry Potter and thinking, why doesn't somebody just shoot Voldermort? Let's muggle up and get this done."
Libba Bray secured her survival almost immediately by complimenting Sarah. She was not gonna die, not that day. Libba's new book The Diviners is set in America in the 1920's and there were many reasons why. "The 1920's feels like a film set. There is a unique language with slang and this is when youth culture really starts." She went on to talk about how our knowledge, or lack there of, changes society in dramatic ways, "...radiation was considered a health tool. Radium was sold and called "Perpetual sunshine in a bottle.'" She got a big holler of cheers further securing her survival when she said "When the going gets tough the tough get a librarian."
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!
5) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
6) Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint