Highlights from the St. Louis Teen Book Festival

The St. Louis Teen Book Festival wrapped up this past Sunday. This amazing virtual event was presented by The Novel Neighbor, St. Louis County Library, and HEC Media, and featured 39 Young Adult authors. If you think you missed out, don’t worry, St. Louis County Library has the videos available here!

The Keynote speaker for the 11 day event was Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles, The Renegades Trilogy, Heartless, and Instant Karma. Honestly, they couldn’t have picked a better author to kick off this fun event! In her interview Marissa Meyer was adorable as always, sharing her enthusiasm about her books and promoting her newest fairytale retelling Gilded, which will be released this November!

While there were so many great panels, I will just mention my favorites here. There were 3 different panels that had authors from anthologies including Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy, Vampires Never Get Old: Tales With Fresh Bite, and Come On In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home. All three panels offered a unique take on different topics.

The authors on the Body Talk panel included I.W. Gregorio, Kelly Jensen, and Anna-Marie McLemore. These talented authors discussed the anthology and explained that it is intended to address aspects of our bodies that we aren’t necessarily comfortable talking about. Kelly Jensen, the editor of the anthology, expressed her wish to create a novel that discussed anatomy in a more open way.

The authors on the panel for Vampires Never Get Old were Zoraida Córdova, Natalie C. Parker, Mark Oshiro, and Laura Ruby. While I first thought this anthology was simply a collection of short stories about vampires, I was ecstatic to hear that the authors tried to reimagine “classic” vampire stories into something unique and modern. Perhaps the most interesting part of the interview was when Córdova said that she really wanted the authors contributing to the anthologies to think about who has power in their stories. She really focused on the importance of power and how we can use our power.

One of my absolute favorite panels was Come On In, which featured Adi Alsaid, Varsha Barjaj, Maurene Goo, and Misa Sugiura. Each author shared a piece of themselves by sharing their stories of immigration. It was touching to hear about their experiences and it made me want to pick up the book immediately. I particularly enjoyed listening to Barjaj’s and Goo’s stories, as they felt so personal. Furthermore, since Barjaj immigrated from India to, my hometown, St. Louis, it was truly both enthralling and moving to hear her struggles with culture shock. Out of all the interviews, this panel certainly tugged at my heartstrings the most!

The other panel that I especially enjoyed was the Strange Worlds panel with Amie Kaufman, Marie Lu, and Scott Reintgen. It was certainly not a surprise that I loved this panel considering fantasy and sci-fi are my favorite genres! I already knew and adore Amie Kaufman and Marie Lu, but I had not heard of Scott Reintgen prior to watching this interview, and I think I was definitely missing out. He had me at “Completed Duology.” Anyone that knows me knows I abhor reading a series that isn’t complete. On top of that, hearing Reintgen talk about his writing made me want to read his books right away. He also seemed extremely down to earth and humble, which I always admire in authors. Kaufman and Lu were also endearing as always!

This post may seem like I just summarized the entire 11 day event for you, but I promise there are more exciting books and interesting authors to discover from the panels! Here is the link again if you’re interested in watching! I hope you find at least one new favorite book or author!

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