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Our site deals exclusively with works of fiction across the media. Getting the chance to hear broadcast journalism legend Dan Rather speak about his life and career was worth crossing the divide. Rather was at Book Expo America to promote his newly released memoir Rather Outspoken. The book covers everything from his early childhood through his forced departure from CBS News.
Rather began the panel by talking about his pre internet and pre television childhood. He grew up in a rough neighborhood in the Houston, Texas area. He loved listening to the news and other radio programming. His parents supported his desire to become a reporter. In elementary school, his teacher allowed him to write a one page school newspaper.
During middle school, he developed rheumatic fever and was bedridden for over a year. “Radio became my constant companion, ” Rather said. His persistent pursuit of his dream not only gave him the motivation to recover from illness but to realize his career goals.
Two other “small moments” defined his early life and shaped his later career. One of his professors talked him out of becoming a football star. A lady in the local park (later revealed to be a social worker) introduced him to new worlds at the local library.
Rather started his career not in broadcast but in newspaper writing. Eventually he got a job working at a radio station in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1962, Rather started working for CBS News. On his first day he met his childhood reporting idol, Charles Collingsworth. He realized that he would have to “raise his game and raise it a lot” if he wanted to advance his career.
His reporting not only shaped the industry for years to come but also shaped American opinion on several historic events. Rather invented using radar and maps for hurricane coverage. CBS was called was called the “Colored Broadcasting Station” by racists because Rather and his colleagues covered many Civil Rights era protests. Tears came to his eyes as he recalled seeing white cops turn high pressure fire hoses on black women and children. Rather also covered the “unspeakable horrors of the Vietnam War” and the “widespread criminal conspiracy” of the Watergate scandal. He has interviewed every US president since Truman, countless celebrities, and many world leaders.
This panel was the most informative one I have ever attended at a convention. Hearing the stories of someone who has lived through historical events is so much better than reading a book.
So, I know the Daily Hey Now has moved on and BEA is old news(even though today was the last day), but hey now, I want to jump on the bandwagon and talk a little bit. I didn’t go to any awesome panels or talk to awesome famous folks like the other gals here did, but I did get to man the Prestel Publishing booth(I am an intern) and collect some good swag on my rounds about the convention floor.
There were so many publishers giving away such great stuff ranging from galley copies without covers to finished and published books and great tote bags.
The booths with lots of great freebies(that I hope all of you grabbed something from!)
Penguin Group (USA)
Simon & Schuster (specifically Atria imprint)
Chronicle (great tote bag)
DK publishing (another great bag suitable for work with its pen/cellphone/random pouches and sturdy material)
ABRAMS gave away the new graphic novel ECONOMIX (Not a galley! I repeat! Not a galley!)
Bloomsbury (They really have such great books in general!)
Barron’s, known for its study guides, had a title (Little Boy Blue)about a dog named Blue who survived a horrific experience at a kill shelter. His fur was so soft!
What a sweetie! By the way, a percentage of proceeds from the finished book will go to PetFinder.com to help pets find forever homes! Isn’t that great!?
Amazon also had a booth with free stuff - which had everyone’s panties in a twist because Amazon is perceived as a threat to the publishing industry. It is so interesting how Barnes and Noble was the threat and now they are best buds with publishers while all eyes have turned to Amazon as the nemesis. They recently purchased Avalon publishing - this news has a lot of publishing professionals worried and alarmed. I for one am not so concerned because I think Amazon is simply another turn on the bumpy road that is publishing.
So I’m going to end this with a final note:
Hope you swag hunters did a better job than I did!
Just a few years ago, graphic novels were just an often ignored subsection of comics. Today, Book Expo America placed a spotlight on four soon to be released graphic novels. Panel participants Zack Giallongo, Mark Siegel, Raina Telgemeier, and Noah Van Sciver discussed their creative process as well as the industry at large.
Zack Giallongo cited Jim Henson as one of his many sources of inspiration. His graphic novel, Broxo started out as a webcomic before moving to print.
Mark Siegel’s Sailor Twain is a 19th century romance. He was afraid of audiences rejecting the slow building story before they even read it. Growing up in France exposed him to many comic influences rarely heard about for American comic book fans.
Memories of school heavily influenced the story of Raina Telgemeier’s Drama. Reading Manga and newspaper comics such as FoxTrot and Calvin and Hobbes cemented her vision as a black and white artist. Telgemeier said Drama’s plot is “funneling backwards my high school experience.” Dealing with adolescence in writing aimed towards middle schoolers is a delicate process. She said Scholastic editors convinced her to remove a passing PMS reference in an earlier graphic novel.
Noah Van Sciver said ”comics is something you do as a kid and you never stop.” He didn’t want his graphic novel The Hypo to be yet another book about Abraham Lincoln. Many elements of the narrative and illustration were designed to set the story apart from the crowd. He opted for black and white rather than the usual sepia tone color work for 19th Century material.
The panelists debated and discussed two main ideas in great detail:
Self Publishing vs. Mainstream Publishing
- Broxo and Sailor Twain started out as webcomics before moving to print. Webcomics are the newest way many artists are gaining fans and publicity for their works. Years ago, artists relied on cheap printing and word of mouth for self publishing.
- Total control of every stage of the process is the main benefit of self publishing.
- All of the panelists agreed that mainstream publishing reduces the hassle of distributing comics and graphic novels.
- Telgemeier likes being published by Scholastic because they are “experts in getting books into kids’ hands”.
- While mainstream editors have a reputation in the comics world for being uncaring or micromanaging, all of the panelists have had the opposite experience.
- Siegel believes a good editor is “a coach from the sidelines”. Giallongo agreed and said he will “not claim to know the best thing for a story at all times.”
- All of the panelists found the constructive criticism from editors and multiple readers of a work invaluable.
Spacing Of Action/How A Graphic Novel Is Made
- Telgemeier finds the process of figuring out which panels get more action than others “challenging and exhilarating”.
- Siegel used cheap notebooks and standard pencils to sketch thumbnails wherever he went.
- Giallongo cited a C.S. Lewis quote about stopping to think about tying a tie in relation to how the creative process works. The process is hard to explain and analyzing it ruins the work.
- Van Sciver, Giallongo and Telgemeier worked from thumbnail sketches to write the script. Siegel on the other hand scripted out his story before drawing thumbnails.
The panel ended fittingly with an audience member asking BEA to give graphic novelists expanded attention at the convention. They envisioned an entire area of exhibits, panels, and other programming devoted to graphic novels in the future.
**please don’t mind the picture quality. I mixed up where the panel would be SILLY ME! and had to hang out on the side for most it. Hence, they could be better.***
“I didn’t set out to write YA. My characters just so happen to be in high school.”-Tonya Hurley
Out of every genre in the industry today the one with the most growth and potential is Young Adult. The YA craze has come in waves, sometimes it’s there and sometimes it isn’t but as of late it’s proved that its here to stay. With the success of books such as The Hunger Games and Twilight, YA has found the traction that it needs in order to build a cute little home in both the world of literature and pop culture. As it was said during the panel, when Steven King reviews The Hunger Games, you know there needs to be more coverage of it. The panel was a great insite into what some bestselling authors in the genre thought about it as a whole, fame over seas, and the very important topic that we all love, what about the adults?
The panelists were all ladies, and the girl power atmosphere was empowering for any female writers out there who have any doubt that they could be successful in the field. As the editor of an all girl blog I found this really great that there are so many women out there getting it done.
- Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. Han is the best selling author of The Summer Series and Vivian is the writer of such books as The List and Not That Kind of Girl together the two college buddies, have a new trilogy coming out called Burn for Burn. Might I mention they are adorable? Vivian said that Han was her biggest fan and vice versa. They Skype chat and edit each others work through google docs. It’s a literary girlmance. But what makes them the most interesting is that they are the only two authors in the panel that don’t write paranormal or dystopian YA, instead they stick to the more realistic tones of adolescence and the theme of coming of age.
- Bethany Griffin, the author who would do Edgar Allen Poe proud with her re-imagining of the his short story The Masque of The Red Death. She takes a story that screams “required reading” to any high school student and turns it into something relatable, it’s the perfect essence of the young adult genre, it teaches kids without making it obvious that it is.
- Melissa Marr a New York Times Bestselling writer of The Wicked Lovely series, and her new book Carnival of Souls which takes place in two dimensions (human and demon) and contains themes of love, family and violence. She has one of my favorite sound bites from the whole panel: “It’s a story about love, families and also fighting to the death because that’s just good fun!”
- Elizabeth Norris is the author of Unraveling, which is a science fiction novel. At the time she was writing it the number of Scifi YA books were slim, although now the times have changed and the shelves are cluttered with them. Norris had a friend tell her “No one will buy science fiction, that’s just for nerds!” to which she responded “But there’s such good potential!” As a fan of science fiction I only have one thing to say to that and it’s “you go girl!”
- Tonya Hurley who is the best selling author of the Ghost Girl series and her new series due out later this year called The Blessed, which once again uses paranormal elements but also utilizes a character I’m personally excited about and that’s my hometown of Brooklyn! “Brooklyn is just as much of a character as the three martyrs.” I’ve lived in Brooklyn my whole life so I will just quote my notes here where I say YESSS!! to that statement. Glad to have a story that takes place in Brooklyn that will utilize it as an asset to the arc rather than just a passing mention.
All together the panel had some great discussion on the genre and it’s ever changing trends and topics. One question that was posed was whether or not the panelists set out to write YA and the general consensus seemed the same, that it’s not about writing to the genre it’s about writing for the story, and if it just so happens to be about young kids than so be it. The great thing about YA is that it takes adult themes and turns them into something relatable, the panelists all do that with their books; you can connect to the characters like you know them. One would think it’d be hard when a character is paranormal, but it’s not. Teens learn and heed advice from the characters created. Which begs the other question asked, what about the adults that read YA?
There was some mixed responses to this. Yes the ladies are aware that adults read their books but are they going to change the way they write their stories to satisfy them? Probably not. Han stated that yes sometimes they read reviews and reviewers try to nit pick how chaste certain things are, but Marr made a good point that YA writers make sure it’s not too much because they are still writing for teens, not their parents. But Hurley also made a good point to the contrary that young adult readers are sophisticated and could handle the themes. Essentially it’s finding that mix that keeps both the adults enthralled in the series and teens that it’s written for.
Another hot topic was “white washing” certain characters. Almost all of the authors on the panel said that they try to steer clear from defining race because when readers dont have set description it’s easier and also a lot more fun. That way they can see the characters the way they want to and create fan art. Jenny Han said that as a woman of color she does read everyone as being white, it’s just an assumption that she makes, which is why it was so important for her to have an Asian character in her books. It’s kind of this double edged sword, the genre sets out to help teenagers connect but it’s hard for girls of color to connect to characters they assume to automatically be white. Hopefully more multi-racial characters are put into books so that those that are unspoken for have characters to champion for them.
You know YA is a success when a lot of these authors have escorts when they visit other countries to promote their books internationally, it’s a true sign of the ever growing popularity of the genre globally. You can never see a best seller list without at least one Young Adult book being on there. It’s popularity is a great thing for young people who can finally see that reading is something cool rather than just for us nerds.
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