Tuesday, 7 September 2010

My NYC - YA Trip

I haven't really told people in detail about my New York trip in the first two weeks of August.  I've posted about the Cassandra Clare book event, the National History Museum and that's about it.  I thought I would tell you about what I got up to, especially as it was largely a YA orientated pilgrimage.

Beth Fantaskey (Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side & Jekel Loves Hyde)
I was lucky enough to hang out with Beth and see the wonders of Pennsylvania.  Some people have scoffed at this in comparison to NYC but it was amongst my favourite things I did on my trip.  In a singular walk with Beth I saw a squirrel (first time, Australia is squirrel free), two fraternity houses (first time) and finally got to visit a normal American country town that are the setting for many YA reads.

And I got to have lunch at a Country Kitchen which was hysterical for the waitresses (Pilgrims x nurses), creamed corn (porridge x SUGAR) and sweet potato and pecan concoction that was delish.  All things I had never seen nor eaten before.

I got to have a gander at Bucknell University too.  I loved it due to the hilarious photo I saw in their local Barnes and Noble.  If you look you can see every woman who was a member of the Phi Mu Sorority in 1931 wore a mink!  Classy times.

I also got to feed a goat via pulley system, see tomatoes the size of my head and had my first slice of American pizza (albeit Dominos).

Elizabeth Scott (Grace, Living Dead Girl, Something Maybe)
Elizabeth managed to squeeze me after a long day of meetings and I was a little bit petrified.  Let's just say that my first time walking anywhere in NYC with only a subway map for assistance wasn't a great way to navigate.  I managed to find her and was immediately taught about head sized onion rings and fried cheese - yum.  Elizabeth was incredibly sweet  and she was able to tell me a little about how Grace was received at BEA and ALA as well as her panels there.  It was like being at those conferences...but not :)  I also got to meet the vivacious Diana Fox from the Fox Literary Agency who was divine (and eased me into the NYC subway system like a pro).

Gayle Forman (If I Stay)
Gayle is this remarkable ball of energy and kindness - I simple don't know how she accomplishes everything she does so well.  I spent a morning walking around Brooklyn with her and it was great to see it through a local's eyes.  We stopped at the Brooklyn Esplanade and the view of Manhattan was amazing.  She asked if I wanted my picture taken there (which I waved off as I hate having my pic taken) which I later regretted for a reason I can't impart.  Let's just say it's awesome, like the view.

That afternoon I was able to make a visit to Penguin USA and meet a whole host of wonderful people who spent some of their valuable time talking to me about the YA blogosphere, Gayle's teaser tour for Where She Went and the books that were coming out (across the industry) that had buzz.  Anna Jarzab, a YA author and online marketing guru, handed over a whole host of books for me to read which I was both surprised and completely overwhelmed by.  Mostly it was nice to speak to people in the flesh that were so enthusiastic about YA...it had been a real long time for me.

Mitali from Alley of Books
This divine creature took me on a book tour - from Books of Wonder to The Strand to the Union Square Barnes and Noble.  I had to keep reminding myself to pace myself as I saw books that I wanted.  I also spent a lot of time waiting around for the Cassandra Clare function with her (and some great people around us) and I couldn't think of anyone better to do it with.  Mitali is the only person I have ever met that speaks faster than I do and honestly, it was kinda awesome.  I've spent the last 9 months speaking to the same 4 people so hearing English and plenty about YA in general was like a dream come true.  Is there anything she doesn't know? Seriously, Mitali has tireless optimism and energy of which I am envious of.

I spent another day with Mitali later in the trip where she suffered through Step Up 3D for me (the dialogue makes Jersey Shore sounds like Shakespeare) and then took me to all the places in NYC I hadn't been yet.  I will always remember Mitali in connection with Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, The Mall, Grand Central Station and a whole host of other places.  Her kindness and patience with me was limitless and I could not have hoped for a better person to be my tour guide.

Michelle Zink (Prophecy of the Sisters, Guardian of the Gate)
There is no better people to be stuck in a humongous line in horribly hot weather than the Zink clan.  I say clan because I met the entire Zink family plus Kaiden Blake (who is sweetness incarnate and an artist in his own right).  They accompanied me to Ellis Island and the whole Status of Liberty ferry as I am a huge history nerd.  The weather was painful but the museum on Ellis Island was fantastic on an information, architectural and all round awesome level.  I was in particular love with the windows hence the photo (left).

Zinks have four (plus more) and they are remarkably sane.  Something my family doesn't seem to grasp when we get together :)  I want to thank them for sharing their day with me - I had a blast!

Stacy Kramer (Karma Bites)
Stacy and I had lunch together but it seemed like a lot longer than that.  The sheer volume of topics we discussed was mind blowing.  She's a screenwriter and a YA author which seems like more than one person can handle plus she's a mum.  Wow.  Stacy co-writes her novels and that was really interesting to hear how that works for them, they write separately and then swap as opposed to some writing teams I have heard of that write together.  She's currently working on a YA novel that can be summarised as The Hangover but with teens - I know, brilliant!

Steph Su from Steph Su Reads
I love Steph Su.


And I was a little nervous to meet her.  Not because she's scary or intimidating, I just didn't know what to expect.  We arranged to meet at the Shake Shack where I proceeded to have a Peanut Butter shake (which I didn't know existed) and realise she's exactly my kind of gal.  Steph's just as deliberate as her reviews, her brain ticks away because she always considers her thoughts before she speaks. That's rare in people these days and I really responded to it.  She doesn't make stupid statements like me - she's all class.  She's analytical, sweet and just a wonderfully calming person to be around.

We spent the afternoon at the National History Museum as she's giant astrophysics nerd (I could be more specific but she lost me after that :) and I like big skeletons.  We sat in the planetarium (which was amazing, if weirdly narrated by Whoopi Goldberg), saw the Earth in relationship to scale, realised the huge hanging whale looked a little like an alien smiley face and walking amongst the dinosaurs.  We were in geek heaven.  There is no better person to geek out with than Steph as she knows so much about so many subjects.  She's one terrifically smart cookie.

Also we had a little chat about writing which was thought provoking and encouraging.  Steph said something that she's probably forgotten that made a huge impact on me.  Vague I know but that doesn't make her words any less important.

Amrie from My Take on TV
Amrie's a little outside the box as she's a blogger who writes about TV, not YA.  I love me some TV so reading her blog, listening to her podcast and tweeting with her excessively has been a joy.  Amrie came down from Pennsylvania for the day and we immediately hit off.  We spoke TV for the entire day.  I am not kidding.  It was fabulous.  She knows everything in front of and behind the scenes and IT IS JUICY. We walked all across Manhattan including FAO Schwartz, Rockefeller Centre, Times Square and spotting the Ed Sullivan Theatre (where David Letterman is filmed).

Going to NBC store with Amrie was hysterical as I was dithering constantly between which tee shirts I should buy.  In the end I settled for a Friday Night Lights' DILLON PANTHERS grey tee shirt *(ala Riggins) and a Jeffster shirt (from Chuck).  And just like Amrie suggested...they were both too large for me.

*Nothing about how the Panthers suck now as the Lions shirts were U-G-L-Y and the Panthers were awesome seasons 1-3.

Melissa Walker (Lovestruck Summer, The Violet Triolgy)
Melissa invited me to attend a private Charlotte Sometimes show on the roof of Atlas (where the Project Runway cast live). The show was incredible as Charlotte is amazing live especially as the sun set over Manhattan!  The Empire State Building was in the background and the melodies just seemed to hang in the air.

 I met Melissa there and she's exactly as she seems - approachable, sweet, funny and wonderfully articulate.  I had great conversation about contemporary YA with her that really resonated.  I also got to hear about how she started out with Seventeen, moving to New York and how things are going on her upcoming novel, Small Town Sinners.  Of course Sarah Dessen came up and gushing occurred.

Every time I would look at her I would think I was in a vlog, it was extremely surreal but altogether incredible.  Of course I have no filter so I told her that!  She's a sweetheart.

Lisa Ann Sandell (A Map of the Known World, Song of the Sparrow)
Earlier this year I listed my ten favourite YA titles and Lisa's Song of the Sparrow made the ten.  It's a wonderful novel of poetry that perfectly represents medieval life for women in war camps.  Based loosely on the story of the Lady of Shallot, it weaves a new tale around King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere.  Meeting Lisa (at the Scholastic office no less) was incredible because a) her hair is more incredible in real life and b) she's probably the most lovely person I've ever spoken to.  Hearing about her travels was so inspiring as she really encapsulates what it means to be a global citizen.

At the time she was the Readergirlz author in residence and it was great to hear about that from the horse's mouth.  Not that Lisa's a horse....

As you can see I didn't take photos with the majority of authors.  It's not really something I feel comfortable asking though it would have been nice to have.  It was a lovely trip and I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak to some of these amazing women (yep, there were no males to speak of) in the flesh.

I feel even more fortunate as I am from a part of Australia where authors rarely do author appearances.    In the case of NYC this was my first time meeting authors outside of a conference environment (even then I had a handful of minutes or a moment with them) and it was a honour. Each one of these ladies lived up to, and surpassed, their online presence and I find that remarkable.

A sincere thank you to the authors and bloggers who made my trip to NYC so memorable!

INTERESTING NOTE - the title that came up most favourably in most conversations about YA releases this year was Courtney Summers' Some Girls Are (and deservingly so).


Lynsey Newton said...

WOWSERS, you sure fit a lot in to your trip and got to hang out with some amazing people!! Glad you made the most of it and it sounds like you had an awesome time! :)

Karen Mahoney said...

Adele, thanks SO much for sharing these wonderful experiences with us. :)

I'm incredibly happy for you - that you got to HAVE the experiences and to meet all those great authors and bloggers. Fab opportunity and, as I knew you would (and admire you for so much), you grabbed that opportunity with both hands.


p.s. Love that you hung out with the Zink family! So cool!!

Michelle said...

It looks and sounds like you had the most fantastic trip. Hopefully one day, when you're Stateside again, we'll be able to meet up and chat!

Robyn Bavati said...

Sounds amazing. Lucky you!

Steph Su said...

Adele, I love you too. So freaking much. Reading your post this morning completely made my day. Your words made me tear up--why are you so awesome?!?!? Your awesomeness cannot be expressed in words, which is unfortunately the only way I can currently express it.

Nevertheless, I loved the day we spent together too. I had been nervous too, haha, but was so happy at how well we got along. It doesn't always happen that way for me, so it's nice to know that!! :)

Steph Su said...

Adele, I love you too. So freaking much. Reading your post this morning completely made my day. Your words made me tear up--why are you so awesome?!?!? Your awesomeness cannot be expressed in words, which is unfortunately the only way I can currently express it.

Nevertheless, I loved the day we spent together too. I had been nervous too, haha, but was so happy at how well we got along. It doesn't always happen that way for me, so it's nice to know that!! :)

cat said...

Steph Su loves you so much she posted her comment twice! ;)

What an amazing trip you had! Good heavens! I'll bet you slept like a log when you were done all of that. I am so happy you had a wonderful time!

Mari - Escape In A Book said...

Oh wow! It both sounds and looks like you've had an amazing trip. It must have been great fun meeting all those wonderful authors and book bloggers. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us :)

I wish I weren't so scared of flying then perhaps I could have seen some more of the world too.