The L.A. Times hosted its annual Festival of Books at USC on Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14. I attended the festival on both days, and the experience was one that I will never forget. Being surrounded by people that came together through their mutual passion for books and reading was incredibly special.
Walking around to all of the different booths was very fun. One in particular that stood out to me was one that raised cultural awareness for the country Azerbaijan. I also liked The Epoch Times booth. The women at the booth were very nice and easy to talk to, and I was glad that my favorite newspaper was being represented at the festival.
The first panel I attended was “Young Adult Fantasy: Worlds Beyond Imagination.” It featured authors Cecil Castellucci, Kathi Appelt, Ally Condie, Hafsah Faizal, and Marissa Kennerson. One of the topics they discussed was how they built the worlds in their books. I really enjoyed hearing about their different processes for world-building, and how they went about researching unique details they wanted to include in their worlds.
One author travelled to the city she based her book’s world off of, another scrolled through Pinterest and Instagram countless times, and one even started with a hand-drawn map and went from there. Listening to how the authors helped their characters adapt to their worlds was also interesting to learn about.
The second panel I attended was “Young Adult Fiction: Who Am I Anyway?” The authors that spoke on the panel were Elissa Sussman, Kayla Cagan, Brandy Colbert, Sarah Enni, and Sandhya Menon. The authors discussed their characters and their individual journeys in learning how to navigate the worlds they explore in the books. I especially liked how one author was inspired to write one character based on her 15-year-old daughter and her experiences. While I have never read any of these authors’ books, I could tell that they were all very invested in their characters and the development of their journeys throughout their books.
My main role in the event was emceeing two panels at the YA Stage. All of the emcees on the YA Stage, including me, are student leaders at High School Insider. Meeting all of the authors before each panel was super fun. I had my picture taken with the authors from the second panel and HS Insider student leader Sarah Nachimson, who was my co-emcee. I even had the chance to briefly talk to author Sandhya Menon before the panel started, which was quite wonderful.
At first, I was nervous about emceeing, as I had never done it before. After the weekend, I was very glad that I decided to try it out, since I was able to meet all the authors before the panels started. More importantly, the event provided a great opportunity for student leaders to raise awareness for High School Insider and hang out. By the end of the day, I was extremely glad to have had the chance to emcee for this event.
I really enjoyed my time at the Festival of Books, and I can’t wait to go again next year.