YA LIFE & MUSE OF NIGHTMARES: Morristown Book Festival

Books and bookish events ALWAYS go hand in hand.

On Saturday I attended the Morristown Book Festival with Emily from @emily_reads_everything. This year, the festival hosted a variety of authors, including some of my favorite YA authors.

After a quick bite to eat in Morristown (one can never go wrong with Panera macaroni and cheese), Emily and I made our way to the main square. The Morristown Book Festival is a bit smaller than some other well known festivals, like YALLFest, so there aren’t any publishers’ booths. It’s mostly composed of a few book-for-sale tents, food trucks, and hand-on activities for young kids. In the “YA Loft” of a local church, we caught the end of the Rebels, Romantics and Everything In Between Panel with Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova, and Kass Morgan, where they were discussing how long it takes them to write a book.

Soon after, the YA Life As We Know It Panel began with Emily X.R. Pan, Ibi Zoboi, and Jennifer E. Smith. Everyone can guess that this contemporary reads girl was super excited for this panel, especially since Jennifer E. Smith is one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. I had also read all the books that these authors were promoting at the festival, including The Astonishing Color of After, Pride, and Windfall.

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Emily X.R. Pan, who was wearing the cutest dress with giraffes all over, kicked off the panel by discussing how color comes into play in The Astonishing Color of After. She said that her husband would associate her drafts with colors, one day saying that her story felt so orange! She also said that when she originally sold the book, it including an entire fantasy realm instead of the finished version’s touch of magical realism. When someone from the audience asked if Emily inserts herself into her characters, she comparing herself as horrocruxes in her characters.

Ibi Zoboi talked a lot about how she used the framework of Pride and Prejudice for her P&P remixing, Pride, but still made changes, such as Zuri’s first-person point of view. While discussing Windfall, Jennifer said that Leo was one of her all-time characters that she’s written. Ibi and Jennifer also both said that they like writing about characters who are in the transition stage between high school and college (hello Jennifer’s 2019 release that I NEED to get my hands on, Field Notes to Love). They laughed at how much they knew about today’s college application process from all the research they’ve done for their books!

The YA Life panel was then followed by a Fantastical Sequel panel featuring Laini Taylor and Muse of Nightmares, moderated by author Emmy Labourne. Since she didn’t want to give spoilers for both Strange the Dreamer and MoN, she described MoN as a story of reclaiming your identity and life after destruction. Laini said that Sarai has been a character that’s been with her for a while (even before writing Strange the Dreamer), but she felt that she needed to make the first installment Lazlo’s story. Emmy and the audience agreed that Lazlo was every fantasy bookworm’s crush, and Laini responded with the Strange quote, “His nose was broken by a falling volume of fairy tales his first day on the job, and that, they said, told you everything you needed to know about strange Lazlo Strange”.

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After the panel, there was an autographing session with Laini. This was my second time meeting Laini, who is seriously the most sweet and heartwarming author that I’ve ever met, and she signed my copy of Strange the Dreamer. Her and Emily discussed what an elilith looks like and even drew a quick sketch for Emily as an inspiration for a future tattoo. With my signed Strange the Dreamer and hot chocolate in my hand (it’s finally starting to feel like fall on the East Coast), that wrapped up our day at the Morristown Book Festival.

Have you attended any book festivals? If there’s one that I NEED to get to, it’s YALLFest! Have you met any of the above authors? Share in the comments!

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