October 16, 2005

Lit Crawl YA Venue a Success!

Though I had to miss our own Meeta at the VONA venue, the Lit Crawl's first annual YA reading venue was definitely a success. Valencia Street Books had a nice, intimate atmosphere for a reading, but by the time things got going it was standing room only, as a crowd of about 35-40 people spilled out of the chairs and into the aisles.

I felt lucky to be able to introduce the group of authors and give our blogs a little plug before and after the readings, and I enjoyed listening to the variety of different styles the authors brought to the reading. The only minor setback to the evening was that the author who we had intended to read first was late, so the order got shuffled around slightly. We started with Kathryn Reiss, who read passages from three of her works, including her newest, along with a little explanation of some of the ways a book can set a creepy tone.

After that was Katherine Sturtevant, who read from her period piece At the Sign of the Star, whose narrator is a young woman in 1600s London who works in her father's bookshop and publishing house and yearns for more than a typical woman's domestic life. After hearing what seemed like an all-too-brief passage, I'm now eager to go and read more. This was true of the other authors whose work I wasn't familiar with, such as the next reader, Gennifer Choldenko. She first took a few minutes to explain how her work as a docent on Alcatraz helped inspire her novel Al Capone Does My Shirts, and showed some pictures of the island at the time during which her novel takes place (including a fascinating image of the elaborate setup used to transport Al Capone to the prison--I had no idea that they were so concerned about security that they just drove his entire train onto the boat, to avoid any possible escape while getting him off the train!). Then she read the first brief chapter of her book, which is written from the point of view of a boy who lives on the island, where his father works in the prison. And, even for the families of workers on the island, guess who did the laundry?

The fourth reader was Michael Cadnum, who explained with dry humor the difficulties of writing about a character who is a Greek god before reading a passage from his latest release, Starfall--the story of Apollo and Phaeton. Joyce Maynard, the fifth and final reader, recently published The Cloud Chamber but read from her previous release The Usual Rules, which describes the profound change in the life of a young woman whose mother is working in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Afterward there was time for one question from the audience--all five authors spoke about a few of the writing-related challenges they faced as authors of young adult fiction.

Overall it was a great evening, and although I was a somewhat nervous emcee, it was a great experience and I really enjoyed myself. It also reminded me that going to readings, art exhibits, plays, etc. can really get the creative juices flowing. Having a chance to see a variety of authors was inspiring and I found myself coming up with a few ideas for new work before I even left the bookstore. If you didn't have a chance to drop by this year's Lit Crawl, definitely consider it for next year.

1 comment:

TadMack said...

Yay, A.F.! Thanks for representing for us! Hopefully it'll be even bigger next year, and maybe some fine day we'll be reading our own work there!

Here's hoping!