It was amazing.
Even more amazing than the building (There was a free Jane Austen seminar going on upstairs from the YA festival for goodness sake! A free Jane AUSTEN seminar! *swoon*), were the people present. There were tons of amazing YA authors in the (relatively small) auditorium. Name the author, they were probably there. David Levithan? (who organized and moderated several panels) - Yep. Libba Bray post breaking two of her elbows? - Double Yep. (To see a full list of authors and events, you can go to the NYC Teen Author Festival facebook group page here)
My favorite panel by far during the afternoon was called "I Think I Love You (But Maybe I Don’t?) – Writing About Teens in Love." I didn't realize that it would be my favorite because, so far, writing about teens in love is something I don't do that well - although, I do like reading smart love stories (Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson by Levithan and John Green are some of my all time favorites).
Terra Elan McVoy went first, and her steamy love scene in verse from After the Kiss made the whole audience want to take off their collective cardigan and have a long tall drink of something. (or maybe a post-listening smoke). Her love triangle tale told in verse went on the TBR pile immediately.
Emily (or E. as she is known to her readers) Lockhart blew my bedazzled socks off by reading a scene from her latest Ruby Oliver book, Real Live Boyfriends. The scene involved a heartbroken Ruby and a stalwart mailbox who would never leave her side, not like... a boy. (those traitors!) It was fan-USPS-tastic. I couldn't BELIEVE that I was Ruby-uninitiated - a character who likes to talk-talk-talk and live in her head, making quippy remarks about love and snarky observations about life -- the perfect heroine for me. I made quick work of correcting that and am currently loving the first in the series (The Boyfriend List)
Sarah Mylnowski made vivid the anxiety and awkwardness of 'the first time' - reading a scene from her forthcoming 10 Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have). The protagonist of this book cannot figure out why her boyfriend won't just ask her to the basement already. Does she smell? Does she have garlic breath? Is he nervous about getting on the condom? Can the darned movie REALLY be that interesting?
Patrick Ryan read from his Gemini Bites - a tale of twins, one a boy, and one a girl, each possibly in love with the same guy. Oh, yea, who might or might not possibly be a vampire. The scene he read was tender, smart, and hilarious (oh, yes, and rather cardigan-removal-inspiring as well!) - about the male main characters' first romantic encounter with another boy. Well, it's not his first kiss - that was with his best friend, but it felt like kissing two pieces of uncooked macaroni. This 'first' is nothing like that (no macaroni here) - even though he can't get the recurring thought out of his head that 'something gay is about to happen now.'
I absolutely can't wait to read all these authors - who write with honesty, yes, but more importantly a whole lotta smarts and humor - about teen love. Luckily, I'll have each of their voices in my head as I read their words.