Back on October 20th, I attended the Books by the Banks book festival in Cincinnati Ohio. This year BBTB hosted authors like Jason Reynolds, Mindy McGinnis, David Arnold, Adib Khorram, and Sharon Draper, just to name a few…
This was my second time attending this festival, the first time being back in 2016. The 2016 festival was EPIC with some great authors, you can read more about that event here ⇒ Book Event: Books by the Banks Book Festival 2016. Now, I wouldn’t say that 2018 outdid 2016, BUT there were some wonderful authors in attendance this year.
I attended two panels while at BBTB, one featuring new YA fiction, the other an author spotlight on Jason Reynolds. I will share a few details I learned from each panel.
Panel: New Young Adult Fiction
*Authors: Mindy McGinnis, David Arnold, Adib Khorram, Jessica Pennington, & Kerry Winfrey.
**I will only be sharing from the first three authors, since those are the authors I attended the panel for.
« Mindy McGinnis (Moderator) »
**Side note: I find Mindy absolutely hilarious & very entertaining. Anytime I am at an event where she’s attending, I always make it a point to attend a panel she sits on
- Promoting Given to the Earth
- Mindy once broke up with a boyfriend because he was shorter than her
- Her favorite characters to write are the unlikeable ones – the characters that make mistakes because they are the interesting ones.
- Mindy will never write a romance novel – it just isn’t inside of her.
- She has 5 cats.
- Her 2013 book, Not a Drop to Drink, had a recent boost with all the discussion surrounding environmental issues.
« David Arnold »
- Promoting The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
- TSFoNH was inspired by David going on a cruise (which he referred to as a mobile prison) and saw a hypnotist that was the entertainer one evening.
- He never sits down to write to a particular audience, he just sits down to write a book.
- He felt like his teen years he was unhappy for no reason.
- David likes to write flawed characters because no one likes to read about a perfect person.
- He feels that writing as a parent is hard! He used to take his kid to the gym for the 2 hour daycare services so he could write.
- TSFoNH is a different direction than his previous books, Mosquitoland and Kids of Appetite, and wants to use it as a bridge to new areas.
- Adam Silvera is one of his best friends in real life.
« Adib Khorram »
- Promoting Darius the Great is Not Okay.
- He started writing DtGiNO while in British Columbia visiting family.
- Adib is Iranian-American.
- It was easy to write this book for him & it was a “joyous writing experience.”
- DtGiNO includes themes like identity & mental illness.
- Adib wrote 4 other books before DtGiNO and they were “terrible” – his word.
- After 4 months writing DtGiNO, he left it alone for a month before coming back to it.
- With each book he writes, Adib has utilizes a different writing process. For DtGiNO, he wrote to music in short 20 min writing sprints. He also liked to write with baking TV shows playing in the background.
Author Spotlight: Jason Reynolds
- Jason grew up in DC. He was a “ramon noodles & kool-aid kid.” He grew up in the 80s amid the drug epidemic and the HIV & AIDS scare.
- Growing up, Jason didn’t read. He didn’t read books because the books that he was told to read in school were not about kids that looked like him or lived where he lived. “Why should I value something that doesn’t value me?” He didn’t read a book until he was 18 years old.
- Rap music has been very influential in his life, it is what got him into poetry. While he does admit that rap music can be problematic, he feels that it is representation. Jason also feels that the people that feel that rap is too violent have never been in neighborhoods like the one he grew up in.
- The first rap tape he ever bought with his own money was a Queen Latifah tape. It was the only one he could afford. While listening to the tape, he read the lyrics & realized that it was really poetry. He started writing his own poems around this time. The poems are what got him through the hard times. His favorite song of hers is U.N.I.T.Y.
- Growing up, his mother & brother both struggled with depression & addiction.
- Jason failed English 101 in college. The teacher gave him a passing grade his second time in the class only because she didn’t want to deal with him for a 3rd time in a row.
- Jason took an African American literature class and the teacher realized that Jason had never read a book. The teacher asked Jason to read Black Boy. It changed his life. He went back and read all the books he was supposed to read in school and never did.
- Jason was a mediocre student in college. The person giving the commencement speech at his graduation said that it was unlikely any of them would ever become a writer… He decided he was going to prove him wrong.
- Jason got a publishing deal at the age of 21 from Harper Collins. He received his first check & blew through it in 2 weeks when it was supposed to last 2 years until his book was published. During those 2 years he was a teacher, social worker, worked in radio, & other miscellaneous jobs. When his book finally did come out, it was 2008 amid the recession. Things did not pan out as he thought they would. After this he decided to go back to school, but did not get into grad school, so he got a job in a clothing store. He almost quit writing at this point in his life.
- When asked how to get kids to write, Jason said that prompts are a teacher’s best friend. He also suggested having them write about what they are interested in… “If you were a character in fortnight…” or try using artwork as inspiration. He feels we need to use the things kids love in order to get them to create.
- Jason feels that it is okay to write badly. Writer’s block comes from insecurity, you just need to power through it. You can always come back and make the bad stuff right later. The worst thing you can do is stop.
- “If you’ve never read Lord of the Flies, just go pick up Hunger Games.”
- Boy in the Black Suit is his favorite book that hes written & feels its the best written.
- Jason writes everywhere & anywhere: in hotel rooms, on planes, etc. He can’t wait for inspiration or perfection.
- His next book comes out October 2019. It is set 1,000 years from now & is about a boy born without a mouth and is unable to tell his story.
- The ending of Long Way Down was a social experiment. He wanted to reader to come up with the ending & make the decision.
» Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
*Signed by Author at BBTB*
» The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold
*Signed by Author at BBTB*
» Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
*Signed by Author at BBTB*
Have you ever attended a book festival? If so, which one?
Have you read any of the books I hauled at BBTB? If so, what did you think?
Comment below & let me know!