Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ALA 2011

I've wanted to visit New Orleans ever since I tried fried green tomatoes at my local cajun restaurant. When I found out I'd be attending the American Library Association's 2011 convention, which happened to be in The Big Easy, my stomach growled its approval. While I did indulge my tastebuds (many, many times), I was there to work. So here's a rundown of the highlights:

After arriving at the New Orleans airport, I got at the end of a huge line to grab a taxi. Finally third from the front, I noticed someone exit the baggage claim area and look at the taxi line with probably the same exhausted look I gave it. But this wasn't just any exhausted passenger. This was Sarah Dessen! Although I'd never met her in person, I recognized her from the cover of this month's Writer's Digest magazine. Since she's also a Penguin author, I assumed we were heading to the same place. She began walking toward the back of the ever-growing line, and after asking the guy behind me to hold my place ("Dude, I don't even know you"), I ran after Sarah. It was a scene right out of a very cheesy 80s movie. Guy runs through airport after girl, shouting "Sarah! Wait, Saraaaaaah!"

The entire ride to the hotel, I kept thinking, "I'm sharing a taxi with Sarah Dessen. And she seems so...normal. Doesn't she realize she's Sarah Dessen?"

Although I did get a couple of hours here and there to check out the city (a ghost tour, lots of eating, and trying to get people to throw beads at me), most of my time was spent at ALA-related events.

While Carolyn Mackler and I were there mostly to promote The Future of Us, we both had autograph times scheduled for our last books. When Carolyn signed Tangled, I just had to stop by. It's weird to think that less than a year-and-a-half ago, we hardly knew each other.

When Carolyn finished signing, David Levithan and Sarah Dessen came over and the four of us began chatting. After several minutes lost in our own conversation, we realized that we were being watched.

For the reverse view of the photo above, check out this post at Nori's Closet.

Between my signings and speaking engagements, I stumbled upon a few brilliant authors and added to my collection of books.

Tomie dePaola

Ruta Sepetys

Nikki Grimes

Random House held a party at a wax museum where they had someone reading tarot cards and another person drawing caricatures of attendees. Thanks to Phil Bildner (organizer of the recent author/illustrator It Gets Better video), I was able to attend this event and schmooze until way past my bedtime.

The next day, during lunch with Tom Angleberger, I got a sneak peek at the premise of the third Origami Yoda book. Trust me, you're gonna love it!

Penguin held a cocktail party that evening and each Penguin author sat or stood at a table, signing books for the librarians in attendance. One table was occupied by two authors who were making their first public appearance as collaborative writers. Don't they look happy?

Early the following morning (and, again, I'd stayed up way past my bedtime), around 40 YA authors met at a nearby hotel for the Coffee Klatch. It's basically speed-dating with authors. A table full of librarians gets to speak with one author (or two authors if they happened to write a book together), for five minutes. Then someone blew a whistle and the authors moved to the next table. This event was also my introduction as the spokesperson for this October's Teen Read Week. So before the rest of the authors came in and sat down, I gave a little speech about being selected as spokesmodel...I mean, spokesperson...and gave the rules for the Coffee Klatch. For example, when I read through the names of the 40 authors as the authors walked in, the librarians were supposed to hold their applause until the end. Somehow I forgot my own rule as I read Carolyn's name, and soon the entire room was applauding for her.


Carolyn and I had a lot of fun talking about our book in less than five minutes at a time.

At the end of the Klatch, the authors gathered for a group photo. Unfortunately, Carolyn and I had to skip out early in order to make our next signing. As we waited on the side of the street for a taxi, I was about to change from my "spokesperson shirt" into something funny for our signing. I'd bought a t-shirt with the Facebook logo printed on the front, but the syllables were reversed to say BOOKFACE. As I was about to pull off my shirt to do a quick change, Carolyn suggested that I turn around first. Standing on the sidewalk were two librarians about to snap my photo.

Since when did librarians become paparazzi?

When we finally got to the convention (I changed inside the taxi), our mouths dropped open. People had been waiting in line for over an hour to get signed copies of The Future of Us!

Then Carolyn and I did a video interview for BookPage, which I'll link to when they post it. That was followed by a pizza lunch with a room full of teens and librarians. We spoke for a half hour about writing our book, and then another half hour answering questions. Unfortunately, I forgot to grab my camera for that event.

Even more unfortunately, Carolyn then had to leave for the airport to fly home. It'll probably be another five months before we're in the same place again, around the time our book comes out. Until then, I'll be having contests on my blog so you can win signed advance copies of The Future of Us.

Before I also left for the airport, I did a bookstore signing with Maureen Johnson and Ingrid Law. By the end of that signing, I really started to feel the effects of missing my bedtime several nights in a row.

I was also really missing my family back in California. Thankfully, the night before I left home, I'd installed Skype onto JoanMarie's computer. This is from my very first night in New Orleans.

Books picked up at ALA (unsigned)
The Poisoned House by Michael Ford
Why We Broke Up written by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman
David by Mary Hoffman
Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera

Books picked up at ALA (signed)
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Let the Whole Earth Sing by Tomie dePaola
A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp
Tangled by Carolyn Mackler (have the hardcover signed...needed the paperback!)
The Qwikpick Adventure Society by Sam Riddleburger
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff


Matthew MacNish said...

Looks like an absolute blast. Enjoy!

Bonnie said...

Awesome Jay!! I actually grew up in Mississippi not far from New Orleans! Looks like an awesome trip, congrats again on your success!

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Love the pics, Jay! Wish I could have been there :-)

Catherine said...

I LOVE SARAH DESSEN! Wow. I know that you're an author and all that, but I can't believe you got to meet her!
If you happen to see or speak to her again, could you ask her what possessed her English publishers to publish all her books with white covers now? Because my new white one doesn't match all of my other black covers on my shelf :(

Thank you :)

Catherine :)

Kristina Springer said...

Looks like so much fun!

Sash and Em said...

love it love it! i'd be the sad looking girl in the white V neck shirt. i didn't notice you were taking a photo until i turned around! haha. so glad i got to meet you! ps - that baby is ADORABLE :)

Sabrina Steyling said...

What a terrific post! Thanks for sharing. Wish I could have been a part of that - it all sounds so cool :)

Christina said...

Oh I love all these recaps I've been reading today -- almost like being there. Thanks for sharing -- can't wait to read The Story of Us!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jay Asher!
I'm a fan of Thirteen Reasons Why.. HUGE fan! I looooove Clay, he's my favorite character!

Just wanted to ask, when is your new book coming out?

and is it as edgy as Thirteen Reasons Why? Thank You So Much!! I'm a huge fan!
And the baby is so cuuuuuutee <3

- Blair

shelley said...

Your son looks very confused to see Daddy in a box. Thanks for the ALA update.

Candace said...

Sounds like you had a BLAST! I am very jealous that you've got a copy of The Name of the Star, I absolutely love Maureen Johnson's books.

Joan said...

Looks like it was as great as Anaheim in 2009. I have my photo with you and the one with Laura Halse Anderson on my blog.

Patti and I are talking about Anaheim again next year.

Claire Dawn said...

I really want ot go to a big industry event. Some day...

Nori said...

Thank you for the link to my blog! I love that both pictures are posted, so people can see both sides. And I am so glad I got to meet you at ALA!

Anonymous said...

Hi Carolyn and Jay, I was really thinking you should write a series on this book and you should Make a movie just saying

for the future of us