Saturday, March 2, 2013

Do you have a date for Saturday night?

This will be a brief post, but just to follow-up on what Judi just said, this has been a great night. Sitting in an intimate setting with five different authors on the same night was just wonderful. Looks like we will make this a yearly event!! Watch for more blog posts as the conference winds up!

Speed dating with an author

Saturday night is date night--so what better way to kick off the MSLA conference than a little speed dating with some terrific Massachusetts authors.  When it was finished, we agreed we go out again with all of them.

The event, organized by Sharon Shaloo of the Massachusetts Center for the Book, worked just like a speed dating night for singles in search of a mate.  Librarians sat at tables enjoying appetizers and drinks, and every ten minutes a new author came to our table and talked with us.  The authors were varied and engaging, including:
  • Carolyn DeCristofano, author of science books, such as A Black Hole is Not a Hole
  • Laura Harrington, author of the popular YA crossover novel Alice Bliss
  • John Lechner, author of graphic novels and picture books for younger children
  • Leslea Newman, author of over 60 books, including a recent novel in poetic verse about Matthew Shepherd
  • Melissa Stewart, author of over 170 nonfiction titles for children 
It turned out that ten minutes was an adequate time to get a sense of each author's work and personality.  Our table started with charming and funny Carolyn DeCristofano, who told us how she went from working at TJ Maxx after graduating from Brown University to writing books for kids about topics you wouldn't imagine they'd grasp--from Leonardo DaVinci to the Big Bang and Black Holes.  Just as we were sure, she was the one for us, the buzzer rang, and on we went to a quick talk with John Lechner about his work at Fable Vision and how his work with animation impacts the way he writes his graphic novels about Sticky Burr and his Burr pals in the woods.

The nicest part of the event was the informal discussion.  When Laura Harrington came to talk about her novel, concerning a young girl coming of age while her father is serving in Iraq.  Our discussion got involved in a whole offshoot about how the war is hidden from view and just a small percentage of Americans are directly impacted by it.  We agreed that this was an important book to get this discussion started in both the communities that do have a military tie, but also to bring it to the attention of those communities that have little direct understanding of the toll this has taken on so many families.

The variety of the evening kept it exciting.  We were just taking in how Melissa Stewart's background in journalism helped her manage to write so many books so well, and discussing why she was drawn to nonfiction, when it was time to switch gears for Leslea Newman.  Newman's newest book about Matthew Shepherd's tragic death in Wyoming.  Newman told us that she'd been asked to speak at the University of Wyoming the week this tragedy was unfolding.  Her story was riveting, and made the books genesis clear. 

As the event concluded, many people stayed to purchase books, enjoy a glass of wine, and mingle with the authors and other guests.  It was fun to hear what each table talked about, and to feel as though we'd met some new authors that we'd like to see again.