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October 17, 2016

Teenreads and New York Comic Con 2016, Part 2: Deep Cuts


Teenreads kicked off October in one of the best ways imaginable: heading to New York Comic Con, a celebration of all things bookish, nerdy and just plain awesome. Between editorial coordinator Rebecca Munro, interns Dana and Maya and reviewers Katherine and Matthew, we had a full team covering the panels, showroom floor and the whole atmosphere of the weekend. Click here for a quick overview of everyone's NYCC experience or read below for more in-depth coverage of the panels we all attended.

Thursday, 2:15: Villain Squad: Villains and Anti-Heroes in Literature
One of the first panels I went to this weekend was, of course, book related. On Thursday, authors Melissa Grey, Sarah Beth Durst, Nick Cutter, Eleanor Herman and Scott Bergstrom all got together to discuss their favorite literary villains for Villain Squad: Villains and Antiheroes in Literature moderated by V.E. Schwab. These authors come from a wide range of literary backgrounds so each had a unique answer when it came to talking about writing the villains in their own stories. To start, each author was asked for one word answers to the question “What makes a great villain?” Their answers ranged from “human,” to “awesome,” to “vulnerable.” These short answers spurred on some excellent and intriguing conversation on both the author’s own villains and their favorite villains in literature --- of course the evilest of all, Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series was brought up multiple times. V.E. Schwab was a terrific moderator and asked intriguing questions about considering race and gender when creating villains. I was mainly only familiar with Melissa Grey’s novels THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT and THE SHADOW HOUR, but I left wanting to know more about the work of the other panel authors, too!

Thursday, 6:45: #WeAreComics: How Women Keep Changing The Game
Also happening on Thursday was the #WeAreComics: How Women Keep Changing The Game panel which featured a number of amazing women who have created comics for both major comic publishers (you know who I mean), indies, and their own web comics. Raina Telgemeier, Sara Andersen, Amy Chu, Arielle Jovellanos, and Gabrielle Bell all discussed what it’s like to be a woman in the once male-dominated comics industry --- Amy Chu even stated that she is often the only woman in the room when working with major comic book publishers.  They talked about the difficulties and challenges they face in their industry and the best ways to get through writer’s block --- each creator provided some excellent pointers for all writers such as sticking to a schedule and not being afraid to make “self-indulgent work.” I hope to see more fun and enlightening panels like this at NYCC in the future.

Friday, 12:30 PM: Let's Get Lost: Worldbuilding with YA and Middle Grade Authors
This panel was hosted through BookCon at NYCC, which was surprisingly really nice. This featured some star-studded and bestselling YA and MG authors, who spoke about their writing processes --- specifically where worldbuilding was concerned because they all write genre fiction. James Dashner, author of THE MAZE RUNNER, and Scott Westerfeld, author of The Uglies series, definitely stole the show with their bro-mance. Their banter was hysterical to watch, but it was even more enjoyable because of their honesty. Jeff Giles, meanwhile --- the debut author of THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING --- had a unique perspective as the newcomer to the group. The most inspiring part of the panel was hearing that they all had careers before writing and that it is never too late to follow your dreams and write down the worlds and characters in your head.

Friday, 2:45 PM: Stories of Imagination: Your Must-Read Book Review from Harper Voyager and Epic Reads
Unlike most bookish panels featured at NYCC, this one spotlighted publishing professionals rather than authors. There were both editors and publicists as well as the coordinator for the Epic Reads site. This mashup of adult and young adult imprints promoted some of the best recent and upcoming fantasy and science fiction books they had to offer. The fun thing about this panel was how they pitched the books; using a slide show based on different TV shows they were able to pair up the books based on similar themes. For example, if you like the TV show Orphan Black then you would enjoy REPLICA by Lauren Oliver, because it has a play on clone-like characters.

Friday, 5:15 PM: Epic Reads: Fantasy Frenzy Meetup
Although this wasn't technically a panel, it was arguably one of the coolest sessions of the day, as it gave readers the chance to sit with some of their favorite authors and just talk. For the Fantasy meetup, authors Garth Nix (SABRIEL), Heidi Heilig (THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE) and Maria Dahvana Headly (MAGONIA) all sat at separate tables and then switched every 15 minutes. This gave every fan the chance to ask a question and get their books signed.

Sunday, 12:15: Epic Reads: Just Thrillin' Meetup
Just like the previous meetup, this session brought authors and fans together for an intimate round table discussion. For the Thrillin' Meetup, we saw authors Mindy McGinnis (THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES), Brittany Cavallaro (A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE) and Kimberly McCreight (THE OUTLIERS).

Sunday, 2:45 PM: We Need Diverse Books: Whitewashed Out
The We Need Diverse Books: Whitewashed Out panel was seriously amazing and galvanizing. As a mixed Asian-American myself, it was painful to discuss all the instances of erasure and appropriation that has occurred even within the last year alone. From Iron Fist to Mulan to Great Wall to Ghost in the Shell, stories that could have been a reclamation of culture or a restoration of authority have instead served to reinforce dangerous stereotypes and push Asian Americans to the fringes of the media. We're tired of being sidekicks, love interests, villains, or set dressing. We are not tokens. It's overwhelming, constant and exhausting, and publishing and media just has to recognize that, with #WeNeedDiverseBooks as a top trending item for months, there is a community backing this. Asian and Asian-American stories matter, and are marketable. It felt great just to hear these industry professionals discussing this, and I hope the conversation continues. I was so excited to read Jade Chang's THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD this month, and I hope she inspires more!


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