The majority of my day at The Collingswood Book Festival was spent at the Teen Tent.
The age range for this tent ran from tweens to young adults. That is my favorite genre both to read and write and I was very interested in hearing what the authors had to say.
The first author I listened to was Rob Buyea. He talked about his tween book "Because of Mr. Terupt." He drew quite an audience of starry eyed tween fans who asked all manner of questions. He was extremely friendly and engaging. The one piece of advice I took with me was to take something you have seen or something you know and then expand on it. He gave the example of being a teacher and reprimanding a student for playing with the water fountain and making a huge puddle of water on the floor. Then he read an excerpt from his book where the main character described the traumatic experience of seeing his principal slip on a puddle by the water fountain exposing her giant flowered underwear and worst of all...she had a wedgie. The kids were in hysterics by the time Rob finished reading and I may have been giggling just a bit.
The next author was Pat Hughes. She writes historical fiction for the tween crowd. She reminded me of the stern elementary school teacher who causes all of the kids to pray very hard over the summer that they get assigned to the other teacher's class. I was too scared to take a picture of her for fear of being chastised. There was a teacher there with her class and each student had a sheet of paper with four questions written on it so there were plenty of questions to go around. Someone asked if she thought the imagery and topic of war (she has written books about both the revolutionary and civil war) was perhaps too mature a topic for her audience. She asked the kids to raise their hands if they watched South Park or Family Guy and a few of the kids raised their hands. She made the point that what she wrote was historically accurate and had educational value and was no where near as mature as what is shown in those cartoons.
The final stand alone author was A.S. King.
Though her books are for teens the audience was made up of almost all adults. Just from what I could gather her books were a combination of John Greensih angsty teens and historical fiction/history lesson. She seems to link her present day character with someone from an important historical event from the past. It sounded intriguing. Her most popular book "Everybody Sees the Ants" is about bullying (though she didn't make it about bullying intentionally) so bullying was a bit of a topic of discussion. She called herself a pantser writer which meant that she "writes by the seat of my pants." That means she doesn't organize or outline, she just writes and sees where it takes her. She admitted that not all of her ideas have worked and she has a draw of failed novels and keeps them around so that she can cannibalize them. I liked that description. A.S. King was interesting, insightful and friendly and I enjoyed listening to her speak. She was also slightly sarcastic and funny which made her chat entertaining. She seemed like someone you would want to grab a cup of coffee with and sit down to converse with one on one for a while.