Friday, October 3, 2014

Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier in Milwaukee, Plus Each Offers a YA Pick.

The good news for days when I inadvertently schedule five events in one day is that I'm physically incapable of handling them all. So first of all, a big thank you to Amie, who was our bookseller for Scott Westerfeld's first event at Homestead high school, and another thanks to Jannis, who was our bookseller for Westerfeld's public event at Shorewood Public Library. We had just about 100 attendees, which we're very happy with. Congrats to Shorewood Public Library!

While this was going on, I was the bookseller at Simon Van Booy's school event for The Illusion of Separateness and our bookseller coordinating Chuck Eigen's in-store event for Inner Dialogue in Daily Life. I think this crazed schedule really puts us in the shoes of our touring authors. I can't usually sit down at these things or I fall asleep.

The great thing was that I still got to see Scott Westerfeld's presentation, as I was the bookseller at his University School event. I'm in the middle of Afterworlds (yes, I've turned into one of those booksellers reading five books at once and finishing nothing) and enjoying it a lot, with that crazy juxtaposition of a realistic New York publishing world with the paranormal setting of Darcy's novel.

As Westerfeld was generally gearing up for performing (or in the act of performing), all of us got to get to know his spouse, Justine Larbalestier, a seasoned YA author in her own right, who has been publishing since 2005's Madness trilogy, starting with Magic or Madness? Looking at her work, you can see that she's a perfect fit for Soho Teen, who will be publishing her newest novel, Razorhurst, in March 2015. It's set in 1930s Sydney, featuring two very different teenage protagonists who find themselves up against the existing mob bosses, with their lives in the balance. Oh, and one can see ghosts.

Larbalestier is well-versed in YA culture, and has a lot to say on all aspects of it. After chatting with her for a bit, I asked her if she knew another of our favorite people who speaks so eloquently on the subject, Roxane Gay. Her response? "Only by Twitter, but I'd love to meet her!" I can only imagine the amazing synergy of Gay interviewing Larbalestier next March. Someone's got to make this happen.

With their crazy packed schedule, Westerfeld and Larbalestier still got time to come by the store and browse. Westerfeld picked up Jason Reynolds' When I Was the Greatest, which of course we're already in love with, having done schools and The Gentleman's Tour on the last book. Congrats to John Corey Whaley, by the way, who is longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People for Noggin. I was curious if he'd read Reynold's next book, Boy in the Black Suit, which I hear is a January 2015 release. I think it's set in a funeral home. Now we're both looking forward to it!

And for Labalestier, her pick was Love is the Drug, by Alaya Dawn Johnson, which coincidentally just came out the day before our events. Emily Bird, the daughter of research scientists, ends a party and winds up from a coma several days later, sure she was drugged. And this is somehow connected to a virulent flu that is currently killing people around the globe, and she teams up with a diplomat's son to find out what's going on. Johnson's books are a thriller/cyberpunk hybrid and still touch on the race and class issues that confront Bird, "an assimilated DC Black girl" who "tries to stay true to herself", as the astute reviewer Eliza Langhans wrote in School Library Journal.

Oh, and we still have some signed copies of Afterworlds too.

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