|St Louis Arch|
**Warning: there will be MANY photos, specifically of food as this is the one thing people referenced the most before and after I went on my trip. You asked for it, you are getting it.
In the interest of keeping things simple I am going to break things into categories. This flies in the face of something I said at the YA Lit Symposium and someone kindly tweeted:
Seriously, is this what it is like authors? Having people quote you…I have no recollection of saying something that concise. But I’ll claim it.
Oh yeah, breaking it down into easily digestible pieces.
ST LOUIS(For those of you who kept correcting me…you were wrong. It is St Louuu-iS. Stop using Judy Garland as your truth gauge).
Favourite person.No doubt.
Miss Capillya aka That Cover Girl.
|The hour we met - I'd been in route for 29 hours, she looked amazing.|
Courtesy: That Cover Girl
The PresentationI was first up at the YALSA YA Lit Symposium with my co-presenter Cathy Andronik. And I believe we went rather well. The YALSA crowd were unbelievably welcome, responding with unbridled enthusiasm at the Australian YA authors who were unpublished in the UA that I chose to highlight. Don’t believe me…here’s some tweet action.
|Courtesy: That Cover Girl|
- Kirsty Eagar (Raw Blue, Night Beach)
- Gabrielle Williams (Beatle Meets Destiny, The Reluctant Hallelujah)
- Leanne Hall (This is Shyness, Queen of the Night)
- Vikki Wakefield (All I Ever Wanted, Friday Brown - which will be published in the US by Simon and Schuster in the US fall)
- Fiona Wood (Six Impossible Things, Wildlife in 2013)
- Tom Taylor and James Brouwer
- Kelly Gardiner
- Myke Bartlett
And then in other presentations I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and proceeded to champion:
- Lili Wilkinson,
- Gilliam Rubenstein, and
- a range of non-Australian authors.
I would not have been able to present at the YA Lit Symposium without the support of my work, the State Library of Victoria and the grant support by Copyright Agency Limited. Three weeks away was the longest time I’ve ever been away from CYL so I would love to mention my lovely colleagues Jordi, Nicole and my manager Anna for making it feel like a holiday.
Also a big shout out to all the lovely people I met at the Symposium who were enormously welcoming, kind and freaking fabulous – Angie from Fat Girl Reading, Sarah from Green Bean Teen Queen, Kelly from Stacked, Sarah from YA Librarian Tales, Liz from School Library Journal: Tea Cozy, Jessica, Jenna and the tens of people that stopped me to rave about the presentation and the authors they’d speedily purchased or ordered. It was a great opportunity to pitch Australian YA to an international audience and the response was breathtaking.
Now how about author moments…There was Torrey Maldonaldo (Secret Saturdays) aka he of the cheesy grin. Also, a lovely guy who approached the Book Bltz event in a way that many a librarian loved.
|Courtesy: That Cover Girl|
|Courtesy: That Cover Girl|
David Levithan - I wasn't sure he'd remember me. I got a hug. David Levithan gives the best kind of hugs. He could possibly be the nicest human being on the face of the earth.
Top three mealsSoul Food at Sweetie Pie’s.
|Courtesy: That Cover Girl|
For those Aussies unfamiliar – fried chicken, cornbread, beans, yams, corn and peach cobbler. I think my stomach nearly ruptured but I was in a blissful state.
Scramble at Rooster.
Imagine breakfast potatoes covered in egg scramble, Spanish onion, goat’s cheese and tomato jam. It’s heaven.
It was good but having watched five seasons of FNL I know I could do way better. This was a half serve of brisket, sausage, ribs and something else with coleslaw, onion fries and cornbread.
Bonus: The Vegetable Tart at the Missouri History Museum
I’ll be posting on the Symposium in greater detail after I present on it this week so stay tuned for more professional talk.
NEW ORLEANSThis was a fun stop.
I had three full days to do as much as humanly possible that resulted in a hurried pace that nearly killed many opportunities and me left behind. And yet, I achieved quite a bit and finished the list of “US food musts”.
PlantationsNot a pretty side of US history but one day I went outside NO city limits of a tour of a Creole plantation (Laura) and an American plantation (Oak Alley).
|Trees were planted 100+ years before house built.|
Swamp TourWhile I loved walking around the French Quarter, I yearned for a country adventure so what better than seeing swamp life from a boat. The captain was a man called Bishop (first name) who liked to yell ‘hee haw’ when we took off fast. He was the cliché but man did he know his stuff.
I also visited the National WW2 Museum, Civil War Museum and Mardi Gras World to see the work on the floats for 2013.
|We were able to see them work on the floats.|
The foods I was instructed I ‘must’ eat:
Beignets - French doughnuts (they are super heavy)
Po’boy – French bread with slow roasted beef and dressing. Delicious and necessary to have five napkins on standby)
Gumbo – this is the oyster and shrimp variety, which was really good.
CHARLESTONIn which I am beginning to feel all the flights and time zone changes but who cares…it’s YALLFest!
I really didn’t get to see much of Charleston though the food was universally good…the Charleston Eggs breakfast (with crab cakes) was lovely.
I also had a lovely dinner out with new friends where I ate everything Southern and liked it all.
But onto YALLFest. It was really odd being at a festival and not having to do anything but attend. My job in Melbourne involved organizing events similar to this (both bigger and smaller). It was nice to sit back and take it all in.
I went to the following sessions:Keynote: Literary Friendships with Cassandra Clare and Holly Black – who bounced spectacularly well off one another as one might expect of besties. I’ve seen Clare in action at Reading Matters so Black was the unknown quality. She’s kinda brilliant.
|David Levithan, David Macinnis Gill, Eliot Schrefer, Brendan Reichs and Kwame Alexander|
Publish or Perish (industry panel) – which was awesome to see Sarah Burnes and David Levithan in action. Both are awesome at their jobs and very warm, lovely people.
|Kami Garcia, Ellen Hopkins, Kiera Cass, Simone Elkeles, Stephanie Perkins, Cate Tiernan & Gayle Forman.|
|Siobhan Vivian, Jess Rothenberg, Adele Griffith, Kathryn Williams & Gayle Forman|
Writing the Real – a contemporary panel with another of my faves, Siobhan Vivian. Just when I thought I couldn’t love that lady enough I find out she’s got a Jersey accent. I was in heaven. The panel was disappointing at the moderator was unprepared which made it difficult for the authors to be punchy. (I moderate a lot. It’s hard. But never enter that situation without doing the work – it’s unfair to the authors). I was super impressed by Williams and Griffith.
|Team Contemporary doing their thing - Forman, Griffith and Natalie Standiford|
Favourite author moments
|The tiniest portion of the Forman signing line. It was nutso.|
She’s awesome in person. She’s awesome on panels. She’s awesome when her signing lines circle the block. Not only is Gayle a great writer, she’s a really wonderful human being. Really wonderful seeing her again.
|The only author photo I initiated the entire picture bc I get weirdly shy (??)|
She’s of the red hair, sweet demeanor and awesome boys called Etienne. I had no relationship with her prior to attending the event. She saw my name on the signing sticky for her book and made the Persnickety Snark connection (this happened A LOT…considering I often forget the blog existed this was mind blowing). I got a hug on the signing line. Treasured. She’s also a lovely lady. Not every one was able to get signed in her allotted time so she stood outside the tent for another hour and signed off her own bat. How’s that for class? (Also, Jared is lovely.)
I will confess to unashamedly tweet @-ing Vivian a lot hoping I'd hammer my way into her consciousness. I think what she’s achieved with ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ and ‘The List’ is incredibly ballsy (and yes, I told her this to her face) and I think she’s one of best writers writing nuanced female connections and relationships in YA at this point in time. She’s also needs to be available in Australia (publishers! I won’t stop saying this). The good thing is that having met her in person, she is now following me on twitter and I can resume being normal. Somewhat normal. Vivian has a Jersey accent, which was my favourite accent of the entire trip. She’s also super lovely, encouraged me to visit the Getty in LA (THANK YOU) and is now a “friend”.
Chocolate pecan pie – Margie Stahl (Beautiful Creatures), co-organiser of YALLFest, is a pie advocate hence the pie sales. I’d never had US pie before and I do believe I nearly fell off my chair when I first tasted this. It’s life alteringly good.
Gourmet grilled cheese.
Look at it. Seriously.
It turns out that some people still do remember this blog from when I used to review and (you know) blog regularly. One of the lovely people I met because of this (and in spite of not having 3G) was Trinity and her amazing baking sensation that was to die for.
I wasn’t that excited about LA to be honest. I booked a deluxe Warner Brothers tour and then had no idea what else to do. The lack of transport was an issue, as was the truly hipsterish dwelling I had chosen to book. Add tiredness into the mix and I didn’t really do a huge amount in the four days I was in town.
|Getty: Sculpture garden|
I also got to spend some time with my friend Alexa Young, author of the middle grade Frenemies series. She kindly took me to the place I really wanted to see – Griffith Observatory –, which is gorgeous, as you would image and the Getty – which is wow. We also had some spectacular Mexican (plus margaritas) in Silverlake. I then got to hang out with her and her lovely family. How lucky am I?
The next day I did Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, toured Hollywood and Beverly Hills on a bus (unfortunately not a star spotting tour) and went to a movie for respite. This turned out to be awesome as I saw Pitch Perfect. LOVED. I will be seeing this again next week when it is released here.
One hour later….I had seen Glee cast members Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina), Vanessa Lengies (Sugar) and Darren Criss (Blaine). Then Casey Wilson (Penny, Happy Endings) walked by. By now I am beside myself and yet not taking photos or saying anything because that would be impolite (Seriously this is what was going through my head). Then Jim Rash starts walking by with an ice tea – and I yell out “Jim Rash, you are awesome. Totally awesome.” Which is beyond embarrassing but then again he’s Dean Pelton (Community) and he won an Oscar for screenwriting (The Descendants) this year so it’s true. Lastly we had Dave from Happy Endings walk by and the tour guide says that I must be gifted because they never see anyone (and I’d been the one identifying them all to the group). I think it’s just a symptom of me remembering details that have no bearing on real life but I’ll take the credit.
And then I got on a plane for the long flight home.
And I cannot believe some of you read all this. Bravo/a.
This was what was waiting for me upon my return...
The big disappointment for me was not being able to see Sarah Dessen (I'll sneak fellow Chapel Hill author Melissa Walker in there too). Dessen is primarily responsible for my re-entry into YA world via the adaptation film starring Mandy Moore (I can't quit her). It's because of Dessen, her books and then my subsequent blogging that I am in the position I am now. It KILLED me that I was a state away from her and could not meet. I would really like the opportunity to say thank you in person and perhaps hug her extremely hard. Perhaps another conference (keep me in mind Americans)....
In a completely narcissist move I am going to post a tweet that shows she feels the same (somewhat) way.
Unless otherwise stated all photos are taken by myself.