(Photos taken on my new phone. The era of the flip phone has ended. Good riddance.)
Okay, with that overly simplistic statement out of the way, the first Teen Book Fest at the Provo City Library was an enormous success in this girl's humble opinion. Several hundred people turned out for Scott Westerfeld's keynote address, and many more people came for three hours of book giveaways, signings, and readings by Westerfeld and 15 Utah authors, including Chris Crowe (my YA Lit professor), Brandon Mull of Fablehaven fame, the prolific Brandon Sanderson, up-and-coming novelist Ally Condie, and two of my personal favorites, Ann Dee Ellis and Carol Lynch Williams. Other festivities included DIY Specials tattoo face painting, steampunk jewelry making, Smash Brother Brawl on the Wii-ing (sorry, I just really wanted you all to say Wii-ing in your heads), Literary Jeopardy, and much general merry-making.
Sigh, my heart is full.
And you gotta love a dozen or so librarians dressed in steampunk garb. Not sure what steampunk is? Talk to Wikipedia. There's also an interesting article about steampunk costuming with great pictures here.
Why the steampunk? Westerfeld, probably best known for the Uglies series, has just released book 2 of the Leviathan triology, a steampunk take on WWI (what would happen if the Archduke were murdered... and you were his kid? And the world had its high tech revolution 100 years ago?). I confess that I have not read Leviathan, or the second book, Behemoth, but after yesterday's cultural immersion, I am fascinated and have both books waiting for my indulgence. Trick is, I have to finish Tenderness by Robert Cormier first. Shudder. I'm not sure how much more I can take inside the mind of an 18-year-old psychopathic serial killer. It's taxing, let's put it that way.
Anyway, back to Westerfeld. He was a fantastic lecturer, talking primarily on the experience of collaborating with illustrator Keith Thompson. FASCINATING. It all began when he received the Japanese edition of Uglies, complete with illustrations. Westerfeld posted one of the illustrations on his blog - Tally and Shay on their hoverboards - and mayhem ensued on the internet.
English-language fans were outraged - where were their illustrations??
Westerfeld said a wise 12-year-old Japanese Manga reader explained that in Japan, about 90% of what is published includes illustrations throughout. It's part of their reading experience. It would be weird NOT to have illustrations, even in a novel for an adult audience.
So Westerfeld thought that was pretty awesome, and because he was cool and famous enough to boss around his editors (I assume), he was able to write an illustrated novel. Hello Leviathan. Westerfeld describes the artwork in the books as "Victorian Manga". Westerfeld said that after the first 5 or 6 chapters, Thompson caught up to him in the illustration process. Thompson was like, "Hello, I need more chapters to do my job!" So Westerfeld said he should move forward with a few illustrations, and he would write them in. And so they procdeded, Westerfeld and Thompson co-developing some of the wild steampunk inventions that feature in the novel.
Westerfeld was a great storyteller. I know Provo Channel 17 taped everything. I'll post when/if I ever find it rebroadcast. The whole thing was quite tasty. Can't wait for next year's Book Fest.
(Will I even be here??)