Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Colorado Teen Literature Conference - Local Authors

This year's Colorado Teen Literature Conference was, as always, informative, as well as fun. In addition to presenting the Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award workshop, I had the opportunity to hear Maggie Stiefvater talk about her childhood, her Wolves of Mercy Falls Series and her upcoming novel The Raven Boys, which is the first book in her new series about a clairvoyant. She also played her bagpipes! However, my favorite part of the conference was hearing local authors Todd Mitchell and Denise Vega talk about their writing careers and their new books.

Todd Mitchell gave us delightful insights into writing his new book The Secret to Lying, which is about fifteen-year-old James who gets a scholarship to an academy for gifted students. James celebrates the chance to start over. No more boring Mr. Nice Guy; he’s going to recreate himself as a punk rebel. All the nerds at his new school are dutifully impressed by his rebellious pranks, except the beautiful “Ice Queen” Ellie Frost, on whom he has a crush.  He starts having dreams about being a demon-hunting warrior, which prompt him to engage in self destructive activities while he is awake. As his pranks begin to backfire and he becomes a danger to himself and others, the only person he can confide in is an IM presence named ghost44. Although Todd denies that the story is autobiographical, he shared a slide show of his antics at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, a school that he says changed his life.  The book fully explores the dangers of trying to be someone that you are not.

Denise Vega's new book Rock On: A story of guitars, gigs, girls and a brother (not necessarily in that order) was inspired by her love of music.  Ori Taylor, who is the lead singer for a garage band that he starts with his friends, is looking forward to the Battle of the Bands contest and to stepping out of his older brother Del’s shadow.  But then Del returns from college in disgrace and just won’t let Ori enjoy the limelight.  In addition to his stage fright, and lack of finesse with girls, Ori now has to contend with sibling rivalry. Whenever things get tough, Ori disppears into his music.  Denise said, "It might seem strange for someone who is (a) not a guy and (b) not musically inclined to write a book about a naturally gifted guitar-playing singer-songwriter dude, except...(a) I grew up listening to my dad and my brother play their guitars, (b) Dad would spin the Beatles, Jose Feliciano, the Kingston Trio, John Denver and Charlie Byrd, among others, on the record player and (c) I spent hours listening to albums and singles."This book is a unique story about brothers which is filled with wonderfully drawn, sympathetic characters. I would highly recommend it.

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