You may remember that the Mister and I attended C2E2 (a comic book convention) a couple months ago. Later, I was super sad to find out I had missed some YA fiction panels earlier in the day. Luckily, Chicago BookCon was this past weekend, so I finally got my fix of all the bookish goodness I could ever want. ^.^
This was my first book convention, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I decided to attend just one panel and spend the rest of the day browsing the show floor. Picking a panel was a tough choice, but I decided to go to the first one of the day: a panel on good vs. evil in YA lit run by Lauren Oliver, Sabaa Tahir, Melissa de la Cruz, and Veronica Roth.
That’s right. We’re talkin’ world-famous-author-of-Divergent Veronica Roth. I was so excited/nervous that I had to run back into the house two different times before we left because I forgot my phone and jacket!
Like the troopers we are, the Mister and I arrived 45 minutes early for our panel (if there are big-name speakers on the panel, you pretty much have to come early if you want good seats).
I may have gotten just a little squeally when the panel host came on stage…and turned out be MARGOT FROM EPIC READS! If you’re not familiar with her, she hosts Tea Time and makes regular appearances on Book Nerd Problems—two of Epic Reads’ Youtube shows.
….and I may have gotten just a little bit more squeally when Veronica Roth came on stage. I WAS 5 ROWS FROM THE FRONT, YOU GUYS. IT WAS AWESOME. * cue fangirl faint *
The panel itself started with Roth explaining how you can use Dungeons & Dragons alignments to describe heroes and villains in books (which the Mister appreciated, as an avid D&Der). Then all the authors went on to discuss how the evil in their books is grounded in reality—sometimes inspired by real-world dystopias and dictators.
I think my favorite quote from the panel came from Lauren Oliver, who said, “Dystopia is created by a desire for a utopia, a lot of times rising from the shambles of civil war.” She also pointed out that the reason why literary villains are often more memorable than heroes (and sometimes even more interesting) is because authors spend more time getting to know their villains in order to better justify them.
All the authors recommended great questions for potential writers to ask themselves when writing villains: Do I believe in evil? Do I believe in such a thing as absolute evil? Are evil people still human?
I took a lot of notes for the YA fiction novel I plan to write this year for NaNoWriMo!
Attending only one panel left us plenty of time to explore the show floor. There were TONS of publisher booths and vendors selling cool book-themed knickknacks like Slytherin stationary and book quote mugs. One of my favorite bookstores, Anderson’s Bookshop, had a booth were I picked up some Alice in Wonderland tea!
If I had one piece of criticism for BookCon, it would be that the show floor wasn’t organized very well. Instead of having unbroken rows of booths, BookCon had partial rows broken up with giant “block areas” devoted to the big-name publishers. This made browsing the booths in a methodical way difficult, partially because it prevented people from developing natural “lanes” of walking traffic. Instead, everyone was milling around, and the Mister and I spent a lot of time dodging people walking in the opposite direction. I think it would have been better if big publishers had been arranged around the walls or on the outside edges of the show floor.
After trekking through the show floor, it was time for a little R&R.
When I ordered our BookCon tickets a couple months ago, there was a drawing for free VIP passes to the Hatchette Publishing private lounge, and we won one! We stopped by after our preliminary run through the show floor, and I gotta say it was pretty awesome to have an oasis of calm in the middle of the all activity. There were snacks, a coloring corner, a phone charging station, free posters and totes, and tables decorated with book displays that were free to take home.
We relaxed, refueled, and colored some pictures of Captain America. Then we went out to do our final run of the show floor, where I picked up The Beautfiul Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron—a Bram Stoker Award winner—from the Skyhorse Publishing booth!
Despite the difficulties with navigating the show floor, BookCon was still a ton of fun. I plan on going next year for sure, and I’ll probably attend an extra panel. The folks selling Slytherin stationary promised they’d have Ravenclaw stationary next year, so guess who’s gonna be signing all her letters “From the Desk of Rowena Ravenclaw” next May?