As October came to an end and the Thanksgiving season started, Colorado had its annual Teen Book Con hosted by the Tattered Cover Bookstore. The con consisted of opening and closing keynote speakers, five panels hosted by published authors, and an epic end of the day book signing. This was my second year attending Teen Book Con with some of my fellow Scoop members and a few other friends. Both years have brought a unique and exciting experience with a variety of authors and panel topics. This year’s opening keynote speaker in particular was really someone to note.
Jason Reynolds is an American poetry author who writes for adult and middle-school audiences, and he is phenomenal, both in his speaking and writing capabilities. For his opening keynote, he talked about his life growing up, where he found his original inspiration, and the trials and hardships he faced before he became a published author. Jason had the whole audience laughing, crying, and really listening to what he had to say. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, I strongly urge you to do so. At the very least, give some of his poetry a try. From what I’ve read of his book “For Every One” he writes just like he speaks, with emotion and sincerity.
Throughout the day, everyone had the opportunity to sit in on 3 of 5 panels:
- Young Love
- Job and Family
- All the Feels
- The Internet and Technology
- Fantasy Worlds
The first one we attended was “Young Love”. The panelists, who were all Young Adult romance writers, talked about how unrealistically teen relationships are portrayed in most media today and the importance of showing different kinds of relationships – good and bad. They also discussed their writing process, helpful tips, and answered audience questions. Overall an interesting and insightful hour about YA romance.
Next, we headed off to “All the Feels” which was probably my favorite of the three. They talked about just what you’d think: emotions, and more importantly how to invoke specific ones in your reader. Each author had a different genre of book which helped bring a well-rounded perspective of every emotion from terror to boundless joy.
Unfortunately, our last panel of the day, “Fantasy Worlds”, was severely disappointing. Last year there was a similarly themed panel about dystopian worlds. It discussed world building, character motivation, mixing of real and fictional technology and more. This panel covered none of that instead focusing on how difficult it is for women to break into fantasy writing as a whole. Now this was the third cycle of that particular panel, so they may have stayed on topic for the first two hours and we’ll never know. Still, it was disappointing and a bit frustrating going in thinking I was about to learn how to improve my fantasy world building but instead came out knowing all about why female fantasy leads are important for a young female audience.
The closing keynote was done by Laini Taylor, a fairly well-known YA fantasy author. Before this year’s con I had never talked to Laini in person or heard her speak before. Even so, I was pretty excited just based off what some of my companions had told me about her. They said she was energetic, funny and interesting, and for the first 5-10 minutes she was. After that she mostly talked about the importance of voting and school, which I completely agree with but the way it was presented and the amount of time she spent on it, made me and many others quickly lose interest.
Finally, to wrap up the day, we went to the book signing which all the authors participated in. I actually talked to and got a book signed by Laini, and she was everything my friends had said she was, so perhaps it was just my lack of interest in the topic or a poor presentation. Either way, she’s been fully redeemed in my eyes.
Since books are expensive, I decided to have all the authors sign a deck of cards I had on hand instead. If you plan on going next year, don’t worry about not being able to buy every book, you can still get something signed by your favorites. If you do have the money, supporting these fantastic authors is greatly appreciated.
Teen Book Con is a great experience for readers and writers of every genre. It really encompasses what I personally love about books and I intend to continue to go as long as I can. If you love books or you want to get into reading/writing, this con would be a great annual adventure for you and some friends.
- Jason Reynolds (For Every One)
- Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
- Stephanie Kate Strohm (Love a La Mode)
- Parker Peevyhouse (The Echo Room)
- Will Walton (I Felt A Funeral In My Brain)
- Julie Kagawa (Shadow of the Fox)
Check out all the authors from this year’s con: