Tuesday, May 20, 2014

RT 2014 - New Orleans

I spent much of last week in New Orleans, being a tourist and also participating in the RT Booklover's Convention.  It was a wonderful chance for me to revisit New Orleans, and to hang with some book people.  It is often a sign of a great time when you run out of time to see everyone you wanted to.  There was also a lot of yummy food. I ate tuna ceviche cones, and fried green tomatoes, drank lots of sweet tea, and had a beignet or two. Oh, and some adult beverages, be they martinis, moscow mules, wine and more. 
So let's attempt to break this into categories a bit.
Having been to New Orleans twice before, I certainly hadn't seen everything, but I had ticked off some of the bigger stuff.  I wandered quite a bit around the French Quarter.  Turns out the yarn store was just a straight shot from the hotel and I may have ended up their twice.  (The second time was all other people's fault, I swear.)  I also took the street car out to City Park and wandered through the sculpture garden.  We also rode the St. Charles streetcar to it's end - discovering along the way that the tracks were under construction and then headed back, wandered through a cemetery and explored the Irish Channel section of the Garden District. 
Convention stuff:
I did a Weekend Pass, so went to less official events than usual.  But I chatted with many people, reconnected with old friends, and made new ones.  The lobby bar of the main hotel was predictably overrun, and did not absorb noise very well.  (We did a lot of walking around going, "What?") I managed to tell Elieen Dreyer that she was the author of one of my favorite New Orleans books (Sinners and Saints - go read it).  I feel like listing all the people I hung out with, invariably sounds like bragging or name dropping and I will also invariably leave someone out, so we're going to stop there.  I got very little sleep because everyone was so much fun.  
For panels, I went to the Monsters panel with Mark Henry, Charlaine Harris, Marjorie M. Liu, Diana Rowland and Karina Cooper.  There were great questions about what appealed to them about writing monsters (Diana's explanation involved a detailed description of autopsy), what scared them, and how their families had reacted to their books. 
The These are the Days YA Contemporary Panel featured Lucy Connors, Stephanie Perkins, Elizabeth Eulberg, Juliana Stone, Gayle Forman and Tamara Ireland Stone. They talked about writing contemporary, in the case of Lucy and Juliana, writing adult as well as YA, writing sexually active teen characters, and one audience member asked why there were so few female masturbation scenes, especially given the same was not true for male YA characters.  The panel found that a very interesting point. 
The Avon party was a madhouse, and I confess I fell down and came home with many more books than I had planned (all the pretties).  I had meant to hit the giant bookfair (getting more giant every year) but ended up prioritizing food.  If the length of the checkout line is any indication, it was very successful.  I stopped in at the Penguin lemonade social, and then went up to stake out the Adaptation to Production panel with Melssa Marr and Gayle Forman.  A special guest had been promised, but first Melissa asked Gayle some questions about the long process from having the story originally optioned to this upcoming movie.  Gayle also talked about how the process really feels more like a translation given the difference between the things you can do in a book vs. a movie.  Then we watched the trailer where I managed not to cry outright. (It's Nurse Ramirez who gets me every time.)  Then our special guest Liana Liberato came in and talked with Gayle about the process of being cast.  Her process is that if she gets a script based on a book, she goes and reads the book first.  And then, once she was cast, she made lots of notes in her book.  She and Chloe, who plays Mia became great friends during the filming.  And the filming was done in chronological order (rather than order it will appear in the movie) so that they did all the happy family bonding, and gathering, and Mia and Adam falling in love before they did all the hospital stuff.  So, once they did the hospital stuff, the cast knew each other and found it easy to be sad. 
I also stopped in at both the Fan-tastic Day Party and the Teen Day Party.  Got to chat with some more authors, met a cover model, and got a bag to help lug all my books home. 
Sunday we did end up going to the Romance at Twilight social where we saw "Contraband" which takes place partly in New Orleans, and that might be the nicest thing I can say about it.  I did win a pair of fuzzy slippers which created some packing challenges, but fortunately, they were squishy. 
All in all I had a great time.