My panel on YA fantasy was scheduled at the exact same time as the YA fiction panel that well-known YA fantasy authors Lesley Livingston (Wondrous Strange, Once Every Never), Adrienne Kress (Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, The Friday Society), and also Max Turner (Night Runner, End of Days) were on. And while I’m known in the US, I’m not really well-known in Canada, even though Scars was a GG Finalist, likely because my US publisher (who I love!) did not have good Canadian distribution and the book was hard to find here. And I’m not yet really known for fantasy, since Hunted is a recent release, AND my US publisher has had some changes in their company, so HUNTED didn’t get into US bookstores, and it’s only just come out in Canada from Fitzhenry & Whiteside. And I’ve never been to an Ad Astra conference before, so I knew I probably wouldn’t be known there…at a conference very specific to literary fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal fans.
So I went to my panel–which the fantastic Lena Coakley(Witchlanders)was supposed to be on with me, but unfortunately she was sick and unable to attend–and only a few people in the audience were there. Adi, the organizer, so kindly got a lovely book blogger to sub with me, and I started looking over my notes. And then, in walked Lesley Livingston, a guest of honor at Ad Astra! (Our panels were on the same floor, a room apart.)
Lesley said hi to me, looked around, hugged me, and said that we should combine our panels. I couldn’t believe it! Lesley was so incredibly generous and kind. So off I went with her–into a room so packed some people couldn’t get seats. I had a brief moment of fear, which passed as Lesley and Adrienne were so incredibly welcoming, and the panel became such a lively, fun discussion.
And throughout the panel, both Lesley and Adrienne kept mentioning Scars and how powerful it was, and what a page turner. Adrienne prompted me to tell the audience about the kinds of responses I get from teens (like that Scars have helped readers to know they’re not alone, to be understood, to stop cutting, to get help, or even had kept them from killing themselves, or for people to just “get” why someone would self-harm), and she told people that Scars was a Governor General Literary Award finalist (I keep forgetting to tell people about the awards). And Lesely told people Scars was such a powerful book and they all had to go out and read it.
The panel was lively and fun–it felt like a discussion between us–and I didn’t need all the notes I’d made. (smiling) It was such a relaxed, happy atmosphere! And both Adrienne and Lesley kept making sure I was part of the discussion, bringing me in or referring to me. They were both so gracious and giving and incredibly supportive.
And then at the end a bunch of the audience came to get my bookmarks (which I’d mentioned had a way to get Hunted freebies), and people thanked me for speaking, and said that they’d read my book. So it worked out SO beautifully! But if Lesley hadn’t added me to her panel, if she and Adrienne hadn’t been so incredibly supportive, it would have been a very different experience.
I am so grateful to them both, and thankful. And it’s something that I’ve found over and over in the YA writing world–how kind and supportive writers are of each other and our books, how kind and helpful book bloggers and librarians are. We have a wonderful, wonderful community!