Diana and I met up in Charleston, S.C. this past weekend (with our daughters, age 17 and 7, in tow) to attend YALLFest 2012 together. It was such a perfect festival we can’t help but share 10 of our highlights from the Fest. Many thanks to YALLFest director Jonathan Sanchez and his amazing staff at Blue Bicycle Books, as well as author extraordinaire Margaret Stohl (who is ridiculously charming and hilarious and beautiful) for hooking me up with other novelists with adaptations in the works and always having a smile to spare.
1. Cocktail Party: My daughter, who turns 8 today (!), and I got to Charleston a day early and were thrilled to be invited to the author’s welcome party. Unfortunately we didn’t get there until the last half hour, because we had unbreakable reservations (in my mind, anyway) at FIG. After a sketchy cab ride to a gorgeous downtown home, I walked in to see some of my favorite authors like Gayle Forman and David Levithan chatting and eating hors d’oeuvres. I had a mild panic attack (I’m used to meeting actors, but AUTHORS, c’mon!) but recovered enough from my shyness to let my daughter’s cuteness open the door to a great conversation with a young local librarian who kindly pointed me in the director of Margie Stohl, who in turn gathered Cassie Clare, Melissa de la Cruz, and Kami Garcia to chat with me about their upcoming adaptations. Sitting in the expansive kitchen and talking about movies with those four authors made me so excited to see how the filmmakers and actors interpret their worlds. What an unforgettable way to start my time at YALLFest. —Sandie
2. Stephanie Perkins: Not only did she sign our copy of “Lola and the Boy Next Door,” but we heard her speak at two panels (Good Girlz and Bad Boyz — which we thought was funny, since both Etienne and Cricket are really, really great guys and the Girl Band panel about authors who write for tween and teen girls). The day of Stephanie (who is lovely with her sunset-colored hair) was topped off by meeting her with her husband Jarrod on the street. She graciously posed with my daughter and me for a picture, since we were asked not to during the signing line. — Diana
4. Exclusive Movie Previews: We were very excited to see sneak previews of “Beautiful Creatures” and “City of Bones” introduced by Margie, Kami and Cassie. It’s rare to see behind-the-scenes footage from movies AND hear authors discussing the process and their thoughts and feelings about their page-to-screen adaptations. I haven’t read “Beautiful Creatures” yet (Sandie has, though), but I definitely will before the movie comes out in February! — Diana
Here’s the MTV behind-the-scenes video from the “City of Bones” set:
and the full trailer for “Beautiful Creatures”:
5. New Authors to Follow: I had heard of Elizabeth Eulberg and Holly Black, skimmed one of Simone Elkeles’ books, and seen the names Sarah Rees Brennan and Cate Tiernan around, but after hearing them speak at YALLFest, I’ve put them all on my TBR list. One of my favorite quotes from the entire Fest was Kami Garcia calling Simone “the pied piper of hot Hispanic men,” a moniker the romance novelist cherished so much she shared a poster of her Perfect Chemistry trilogy that indeed boasts three hot, shirtless guys! She cracked everyone up multiple times, as did Elizabeth, whose debut novel “Lonely Hearts Club” I bought, had signed, and read all in one day.
7. Surprise Sightings: In addition to Diana and her daughter unexpectedly bumping into Stephanie and Jarrod Perkins along King Street, we also bumped into an upcoming debut author who is already dear to our hearts. Lauren Morrill happened to be just a couple of people down from us in the front row of the movie panel. If you don’t know who Lauren is, don’t worry, you will! She wrote the adorable romanic comedy “Meant to Be,” which is the Selective Collective’s November book pick. In fact, we’re all posting about it this Wednesday (the book is available on Tuesday). Here we are with her; we hope five books down the road, she’ll still be as sweet and friendly! —Sandie
8. Charleston for Foodies: Technically this has nothing to do with the actual fest, although you will likely bump into authors and other attendees if you’re eating somewhere good. I like to eat at unique local restaurants when I travel, because as much as I love Five Guys and Starbucks, they’re available pretty much everywhere. But cheese grits at Hominy Grill; calamari salad at Cru Cafe; short ribs at FIG; fried green tomatoes at Virginia’s on King — these you can’t find outside the Lowcountry. I won’t lie: we ate a lot, but I still regret not eating more — we had no pie!! Even though I clearly need to jump back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon, the eats in Charleston — so, so good. —Sandie
9. YA Smackdown: This was the culminating event at YALLFEST and it was a lot of fun. All the YA authors were teamed up according to their genres and had to compete in silly events. We thoroughly enjoyed it, even though there were several slips of the tongue that Sandie’s 7-year-old found quite scandalous. It was amusingly filled with double entendres and references to everything from “Pride and Prejudice” to “Fifty Shades.” And we have to say that Team Mystery (the one genre we know little about) seemed awesome (plus Eliot Schrefer is really, really cute). —Diana
10. Size Matters: Since this was YALLFest’s second year, it wasn’t overwhelmingly huge, like BEA. The lines weren’t horribly long (even Diana’s to get Cassie Clare’s autograph), and the panels represented enough genres to please everyone and alienate no one. I actually wish the Fest were all day Saturday and then Sunday morning to lunch. At only $11 (well, plus transportation costs), this was an affordable and content-rich Festival that provided access to dozens of amazing authors in the YA community. We look forward to going next year! —Sandie