I went up for the final day of the Baltimore Book Festival on Sunday. I tent hopped a lot, but started with Daniel Jose Older in the Literary Salon. He read from Shadowshaper, Shadowhouse Fall (one of my favorite scenes to be quite honest, where Izzy raps) and also from the Bone Street Rumba series. During the Q&A he discussed the idea that all stories make a statement about the world they exist in, and that writers will give you twenty tricks for setting, character building, pacing, and every other aspect of their writing and yet some will try to tell you they don't know how their characters ended up being all white, or all straight, or all cis, or all abled, it just happened. He also spoke about how writers can become better listeners instead of combative listeners, and that would ultimately help them writer better stories.
I zipped over to the Maryland Romance Writers tent and caught part of the improv plotting panel with Christi Barth, Alexa Jacobs, Lea Nolan, L. Penelope, Maya Rodale, and Mia Sosa. They got a lot of audience participation to plot this novel on the fly.
It was followed by the diverse and own voices panel with Andie J. Christopher, Pintip Dunn, Dawn Ibanez, LaQuette, J.L. Lora, Harper Miller, and Mia Sosa. They talked about writing the worlds they saw, writing people they hadn't seen enough of in fiction, and writing the world their kids were seeing.
I hopped over to the Enoch Pratt Free Library Children's Stage where they had Carole Boston Weatherford, Renee Watson, and Ronald L. Smith talking about their latest books. Weatherford's was a picture book, Watson's was a YA, and Smith's was a middle grade so the books were very different but the moderator did a nice job of trying to cover each author well.
Back at the romance tent, the historical authors discussed how accurate you needed to be in your writing. Authors Laura Kamoie, Sarah MacLean, Maya Rodale, Joanna Shupe, and E. Elizabeth Watson participated. Ultimately they agreed it was a balance as you want to create the world accurately but also remember that your audience is modern.
I then went to see Jason Reynolds at the Children's Stage where he talked both about Patina and the Miles Morales series. For Patina he said he grew up with girls who weren't necessarily flippy skirt girls, and he felt that was underrepresented in kid lit. And that he watched as the girls he grew up with were asked to take on household responsibilities way earlier than their brothers or other boys on the block and he wanted to look at that. He also mentioned that having been handed a comics franchise as a novelist was interesting, because comics writers are used to doling out information over a much larger period of time, and often reboot so there were things that he, coming from a novelist background felt were plot holes that had never been filled in, that he had to figure out explanations for.
In the romance tent I caught the end of the paranormal and fantasy panel with authors Dawn Ibanez, Lea Nolan, Andy Palmer, and L. Penelope.
I'm really lucky to live so near so many book festivals and it was a lot of fun.