Each month, we ask one distinguished author or illustrator to write an original post that reveals insights about their process and craft. Enjoy!
Hi blog readers,
I recently attended BookExpo America (BEA) in New York City. I feel very fortunate that I get to attend conferences like BEA, for a couple of reasons. First, because I think of myself as a reader, even more than a writer. I love to read, and the authors whose books I love are among my heroes. The big book conferences mean I have the chance to hear other authors speak, and sometimes I even have the thrill of meeting a writer whose work I really admire.
Yep, when you come right down to it, I’m a book-and-author groupie. Big time.
At BEA, I got to see writers like Neil Gaiman and Suzanne Collins and Jon Scieszka receive awards for their work; I got to hear speeches by Shannon Hale, Katherine Paterson, and Mike Lupica; I got to chat with Sherman Alexie; I got to have dinner with Mary Downing Hahn. In addition to those luminaries, I was able to say hello to several other authors and illustrators who may not be famous yet, but they will be someday!
Fiction writing is in many ways a strange life: When I’m at home working on a writing project, I can go for days, sometimes even weeks at a time, when I hardly talk to anyone except my family. But unlike many writers, I’m an extrovert, and I love meeting people and getting to know them. Even though my schedule at these conferences is sometimes alarmingly full, I love the opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones.
Besides meeting other writers, I get to meet other readers! At BEA, it’s booksellers. At the American Library Association conference, it’s librarians. At IRA and NCTE, it’s teachers. Whoever they are, they’re book lovers! Everywhere you go at these conferences, there are people talking about books and reading and writing. That’s my kind of fun.
At BEA, I got to meet twenty tables’ worth of booksellers at the “Speed Dating with Children’s Authors” event, where I talked about my latest novel, Keeping Score (Clarion 2008). They’re all VIPs as far as I’m concerned. Because it’s these book lovers who will leave the conferences and return to their jobs and hopefully introduce my books to the people who really count: the young readers I write for. For every bookseller I met, I felt like I was saying hello indirectly to dozens, maybe hundreds of young readers. What an honor to be able to do so.
One more thing. We’ve been hearing for years now that reading is on the decline in our culture, and recently, the publishing business has suffered along with the rest of the economy. But at BEA, I saw thousands of books on display, and met so many people who still believe in the power of books. I came home inspired!
And the icing on the cake? Because BEA was in New York this year, I also got to attend a New York Mets game in their new stadium. The weather was gorgeous, it was an exciting game, and the Mets won.
Talk about a perfect weekend!
An original article by author Linda Sue Park.
Book Guide for Keeping Score from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion 2008).