YALLFest, a celebration of the vibrant world of young adult fiction, concluded its fourth, and biggest, festival on November 8 with an epic gathering of 60 of the world’s best young adult authors. Thousands of fans from all over the country, and abroad, capitalized on this unique opportunity to mingle and meet their favorite authors in charming Charleston, SC. Though the festival was compressed over the course of a just a day and a half, there were plenty of notable highlights to keep the buzz going until YALLWest (a new sister festival) launches in April 2015.
1. Margaret Stohl. Margaret Stohl. Margaret Stohl. Marget Stohl was hands down the hostess with the mostess and effortlessly and impressively led the festival with her energy and enthusiasm. How she was able to be everywhere at the same time, we’ll never know- but we’ll happily attribute it her superhero prowess and an abundance of coffee.
2. Jonathan Sanchez, owner of Blue Bicycle Books, was again crowned “the most beloved man in Charleston,” his dedication to literacy outreach is tremendous. Mr. Sanchez, along with fellow board members Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia, Melissa de la Cruz, Brendan Reichs and Pseudonymous Bosch, hosted a remarkable event that cast a coolness on reading, literacy, and YA.
3. For future reference, Charleston, South Carolina is the premier location for basically any event anybody is ever thinking of hosting. It’s charming, beautiful, walkable and filled with nice people.
4. James Dashner owes Sara Zarr some money. Maybe even a lot of money: “The original version of The Maze Runner deserved to be rejected; it needed a lot of work. But my wife loved the story. She told me it was the best book idea I’d ever had, and she made me dig it out and revise it. So I did. Even though I hate the revision process, I knew The Maze Runner needed it, so I rewrote the whole thing,” said James. “Then I signed with Sara’s agent, Michael Bourret, and fired my agent. Michael sold The Maze Runner to Random House in three weeks. Without my wife and Sara, The Maze Runner wouldn’t be where it is.”
5. Adam Gidwitz hosted a game of Taboo with James Dashner and Veronica Roth, and as if the anticipation for this epic showdown wasn’t enough, Mr. Gidwitz slipped in some hilarity with his shamelessly competitive example slide, which set the tone for a shamelessly competitive, hilarious game of Taboo.
6. Pseudonymous Bosch wore a croissant on his head for a whole day. A croissant, people.
7. The “My Name is <Writer> And I Am A Basketcase” panel. Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility,” the writers on this panel who candidly spoke out about their journey with ADHD, anxiety, and depression deserve tremendous admiration for their determination to use their platform to inspire and encourage others.
8. Natalie Standiford got dared by an audience member during the “Middle Grade Truth or Dare” panel to conduct a school visit, and she agreed with zero flippancy and lots of class.
9. Aaron Hartzler was brilliant as the host of Hollywood Squares Smackdown. Hartzler stole the show with his genuine enthusiasm and clever banter, a classic demonstration of why these authors are so likable.
10. Don’t mess with Rita Williams-Garcia. Reading from her childhood diary, Ms. Williams-Garcia recited one of her early letters to publishers – “You best publish me.” Glad they listened.
Visit The Children’s Book Review for our full YALLFest 2014 Event Recap and read more about YALLFest at www.yallfest.org.