Friends and Writers at the BBF

What most surprised me about the Brooklyn Book Festival was how big it was, and how many people were meandering around looking at books, reading on the steps, and filling up the chairs for the panels.  At first, it was too much to take in, but once I had a map and saw where the Youth Stoop stage was, I had my landmark for the day.

Caragh M. O'Brien, Bill Willingham, Jewell Parker Rhodes, and moderator Susan Chang. Another World Panel, Youth Stoop, BBF.

I enjoyed being on the Another World panel with Jewell Parker Rhodes and Bill Willingham, especially since they went first and I could see how they talked about their work and answered questions.  Jewell gave us a nice big spoiler, which was funny, and Bill described his talking animals, with no spoilers.  Susan Chang was a gracious and thoughtful moderator.  Thanks, Susan!

Team Adam

Cory Doctorow, Gayle Forman, and Jacqueline Woodson were interesting together on the subsequent panel, Making Difficult Choices, in part because their books are so different.  I was happy to moderate because I was able to ask what I most wanted to know and think about the ways books change individual readers and then the world.  Gayle’s pins for “Team Adam,” if you haven’t yet heard, are in support of guys who are really nice, solid guys and not self-absorbed jerks.  I’m paraphrasing.

Caragh M. O'Brien, Casey Scieszka, Steven Weinberg, Nancy Mercado, and Tommy Greenwald

Afterward, I had the chance to hang around talking with some very nice readers and bloggers.  Then I met up with Nancy Mercado, my editor, and some of the other writers who have her as an editor: Tommy Greenwald, Casey Scieszka, and Steven Weinberg. We had conspired via email to meet in person and secretly gawk at each other, wondering what we must have in common that Nan had chosen all of our different books.

Front: Laura Toffler-Corrie, Tommy Greenwald, Nancy Mercado. Back: Nan Marino, Lauren Tarshis, Caragh M. O'Brien. Not pictured: Tracy White.

Over dinner at Noodle Pudding, I discovered that Lauren Tarshis, Nan Marino and I are all writers who don’t write with outlines, but rather immerse ourselves in the scenes and plan to rewrite massively after we have a complete draft.  It made me think our editor must be especially good at seeing the kernel of a valuable idea in a manuscript and trusting that she can help us work to develop that.  At least, that’s my new theory. It was great to talk with Laura Toffler-Corrie and Tracy White who joined us, too.

It was an inspiring day, and fun, and filling.

Thanks to Nancy Mercado and the rest of the BBF committee for putting together a stupendous event.  If you’d care to see more photos from the day, check out Nancy’s album.

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Caragh's Latest Favorite Reads

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
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