Two weekends ago now (man, am I timely!), we hit BookCon and loved every minute of it… but sssh! Don’t tell your friends, because we started going to NY Comic Con back when people could still breathe in the Javits Center, and now it’s drowning in its own popularity. The hardest thing was balancing our desire for free book swag with our desire to hear the author’s speak in person.
Okay, waiting in the autograph lines wasn’t always fun, but at the end you got an (often) free, autographed book out of it, so, how much can you really complain? Without further ado, here’s my rundown of our highlights:
Patrick Ness (signing & Reality Bites Panel with Ellen Hopkins, Jason Reynolds, Lauren Oliver, Melissa Kantor): Our first signing, and in fact, the author that made me commit to the ticket price in the first place. Candlewick Press kindly gave free copies of his books, all of which I already owned and loved, but an extra never hurts. Certainly not a signed one! Also, I had a deep meaningful conversation with Ness, and we are now best friends. (Kidding. In fact, I think he might have revealed himself to be a cat person….) The panel was great… until I had leave because my wife had to go to work, and I was stuck alone with a baby who wouldn’t stop fussing EVERY TIME Patrick Ness started answering a question. (A classic cases of children knowing exactly how to get back at their parents.)
Room Film Panel Featuring First Look and Cast Discussion with Emma Donoghue, Brie Larson, and Jacob Tremblay: Jacob Tremblay, as kids tend to do, stole the show. Perfect example: an audience member asked what traits his character had that he could relate to, and he replied, with no irony whatsoever, “I’m very pale.” However cute he was, though, listening to Emma Donoghue speak about the inspiration behind the novel was my favorite part. While listening to a new story on the radio about a girl who had been taken hostage and forced to live, bear, and raise her child in captivity, she was struck with how, even in the best circumstances, so much of parenthood happens in isolation. That there are so many moments when your baby just WON’T GO TO SLEEP and, even if they are in a public space, the only two people who exist in that time are the parent and child- and that, no matter how much the child was wanted and planned for, there will still be this trapped feeling. It was the idea of this regular isolation being amplified by actually being trapped in a literal room that gave birth the novel.
Rainbow Rowell in Conversation with Rachel Fershleiser: So Rainbow Rowell used to be a publicist, and she talked about how she used to play different roles for different clients. We walked out, saying how she must have KILLED IT in that job. She knew how to make a crowd like her. Maybe she just is that adorkable in real life, but she was essentially the bubbly, nerdalicious, down-to-earth best friend you dream about up on that stage! It was great to hear her on the subject of fandom and how it has changed, since I am the generation just below her, and experienced those changes with less awareness. As she said, in the ’80’s when you found someone else who also loved Star Wars, it was a revelation. Now that you can go online and find thousands of fellow fans with the same obsession with a simple google search, the landscape is quite different.
Azziz Ansari/Modern Romance: I love Azziz Ansari, but I have to say: he was pretty much exactly like he is on TV on stage live (big shock, right?). I really enjoyed when his research partner, the sociologist, began to speak as well, because the juxtaposition between the comic and the scientist made a great dynamic.
Paper Towns Film Panel: I have to say, the best part of this panel was Nat Wolff (I think it was Wolff anyway- there were a lot of people on the stage to keep track of!) doing his impression of John Green. About fifteen minutes later, when John Green began responding to an audience question, “Well, although I… but every book does also belong to its reader…” It proved what a perfect impression it had been!
There’s Safety In Numbers: Survival Tips for Writing Epic Series from James Dashner and Ridley Pearson & Dashner signing: So, I learned that if you want to look good in an interview, sit down with James Dashner. Pearson may have all the good stories… things like, oh, being in a rock band with Steven King and having unfettered access to all Disney Parks across the globe… but Dashner was the one who rolled the conversation in all the right directions, so it never felt forced or braggy. I also learned that if you want to make Dashner happy, bring a baby to your signing! He loves them (or maybe he’s just good at faking it!)
Crafting Illustrated Stories for Kids: Julianne Moore in Conversation with Brian Selznick: Another fine panel we had to leave because our daughter wouldn’t settle down. We gathered that Julianne Moore’s children’s books are derived from her personal traumas- and listening to her try to have a serious conversation about the artistic process and characters named “Freckleface Strawberry” and “Windy Pants” was in and of itself kind of funny. Selznick’s books seemed to stem from more abstract ideas.