Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by the Boston Teen Author Festival—a day of YA in Boston organized each year by some fantastic, fellow Emerson College alumnae! I am crazy excited to be attending this year’s BTAF on September 26 with my fabulous critique partners, but I was even luckier to get the chance to duck into the pre-BTAF event in the Cambridge Public Library called “Ladies Living Dangerously” as well!
When I first heard about the event, I was massively psyched to attend because it was also Erin Bowman‘s launch event for Vengeance Road. This book has received such amazing buzz and word-of-mouth for a while, and has also added some freshness to the ever-growing YA table as a killer YA Historical Western. I’m of the camp really hoping this genre takes off. After binge-watching all of Strange Empire on Netflix over the course of a few days, my craving for female-led Westerns is something FIERCE. Also, can we talk about how seriously gorgeous that cover is?
Long story short: the novel follows a girl setting out to avenge her father’s murder in a gritty Wild West adventure filled with strangers, dangers, and a bloody quest for gold. Yeehaw.
Laurie Faria Stolarz was also a featured author promoting her latest book in her Dark House series. I remember reading her Blue is For Nightmares series a while ago, which was among the first YA books that initially introduced me to the genre—so it’s an understatement to say that meeting her and hearing her read an excerpt from her new book was all sorts of exciting. Her new series is YA Horror, and I knew I just had to pick up the first book Welcome to the Dark House after hearing her read from it. My heart was, no joke, POUNDING because of how eerie it all sounded. Obviously, I was sold.
Long story short: the novel follows a girl with a tragic past who conquers her fears by entering a filmmaker’s horror contest based on the entrants’ worst nightmares. Unfortunately, winning means having to relive them. Yikes.
The last author featured at this event was Eva Darrows who promoted her crazy-cool looking book The Awesome. Of the authors, she was the only one I hadn’t heard of before—but oh my goodness, she was seriously one of my favorite people to listen to at the event. It really is dangerous attending author panels because once you hear them talk and adore their personality, then it just makes you want to buy their books even more. This author is so hysterical in person and just a very fierce speaker overall. When she started talking about her book and the ideas behind it, I couldn’t help but pick it up as well.
Long story short: if you like Supernatural, the novel follows a mother-daughter duo of supernatural hunters who face a slight problem—the avid hunting daughter can’t actually get her hunting license without losing her virginity first. Awk.
The panel was a great discussion which, to no one’s surprise and everyone’s delight, surrounded the theme of the event: Ladies Living Dangerously. As such, all of the authors talked loads about how their protagonists lived dangerously, the inspirations behind the stories, and which female characters they truly admire and view as well-constructed heroines with agency and strength. Naturally, there was a lot of Harry Potter and Firefly fangirling as well, which is always appreciated.
However, some of the more intriguing points of the discussion was the conversation surrounding YA being dominated by female authors, the origins of the “strong female protagonist,” as well as the question to the authors concerning if they ever felt pressured to include romance in their stories. All pretty much said yes (those who didn’t usually already included it), what with YA tending to be associated with romance and readers gravitating toward it. Romance sells in a big way, but that’s not to say it’s a bad thing to have in stories by any means! Although there is a lot of push for romance, the undeniable pros of including it allows for more conflict in the story, ups the stakes in many ways, and can most times texture the story really well if done with purpose. Also, just think of all the ships. Who doesn’t love a good ship?
Erin Bowman didn’t go into writing Vengeance Road with certain themes in mind. She emphasized the importance of moral ambiguity in her characters—especially her MC, who says and does really bad things on her path of revenge. It doesn’t make her a bad person, it just makes her a person. Anti-heroism at its best, am I right?
Laurie Faria Stolarz revealed that the story kernel for her Dark House series came from a dream she had about how horror film bigwig Wes Craven (may he rest in peace) created a contest for his fans to reveal their fears.
Eva Darrows talked about how the inspiration for her story didn’t come from Supernatural, but one of the maybe-precursors to Supernatural—which is a game I believe that holds a lot of the rules and urban legends as featured in the show.
All of the authors were so wonderful during their panel that it was no shock at all how lovely they were in person. Usually when I have authors sign my book, I ask if they could include a quick writerly nugget of wisdom (because writers need ALL the wisdom they can get their hands on), and they did not disappoint.
Unfortunately I did not get a pic of Eva Darrows signing my book like the other authors (I must’ve forgotten in between all the laughing), but she did say that she liked my name! 😀
“Write long, write hard.” ~ Eva Darrows
“Good luck with your writing! Perseverance is key!” ~ Laurie Faria Stolarz
“Dissect your favorite books, movies, TV shows—what do you like? What do you hate? Apply that to your work. And don’t give up!” ~ Erin Bowman
This was such a great event to attend, which makes me even more pumped for the actual Boston Teen Author Festival happening in just over two weeks! Clearly, I have a lot of reading ahead of me—which is not a bad problem to have at all 😉