One day I was scrolling through one of my book-related facebook groups and saw a few people talking about book conventions that they were going to.
I decided to look up book festivals near me and found a listing for one taking place in Cambridge in September. It was already the second week in September so I was thinking that the event had already passed and I could plan to go next year. So I clicked on the event and saw that it was not the coming weekend but the next weekend. I then looked at the lineup for the panel and saw that not only did they have 40 authors coming, they had quite a few popular YA authors like Leigh Bardugo and Victoria Aveyard. I then went to check the cost of the event and saw the best part of the event; it was free! Cue the storm of cap-lock texts that I sent to my best friend. We both freaked out because some of our favorite authors were going and we could go meet them. We planned out how we were getting there and waited for the day to come.
The day of the event finally arrived. We had all the books that we wanted signed picked out and packed and a general idea of what panels we wanted to attend. We arrived at the venue early like many other bookworms who were attending the con. Once the door finally opened, we were funneled through the venue past a goodie table and towards the auditorium for the first panel. All of the authors were seated on stage, while the attendees filled the auditorium. Once everyone was settled, the moderator introduced the event and then had the authors introduce their books in one sentence. Two of my personal favorites were Leigh Bardugo’s talking about Wonder Woman (“It is Wonder Woman but Diana finds a woman instead of Chris Pine.”) and Jason Reynold’s talking about Miles Morales: Spiderman (“It's Spiderman.”). After the initial introduction, the moderator asked questions like; “what superlative would your character have had in high school?” “what would your character have in his or her locker?” “Would your seventeen-year-old-self be friends with your protagonist?” and “Which fictional character from another series would your character take to prom?”. It allowed for the audience to get to know the authors and their books in a way that many people wouldn’t normally think of. After the initial introduction panel, the authors split up into groups of 4-5 for smaller panels based on their newest book. My friend and I went to two panels: Their Dark Materials featuring Traci Chee (The Reader), Linsey Miller (Mask of Shadows), Rin Chupeco (The Bone Witch), and Amanda Foody (Daughter of the Burning City) where they discussed what made their books “dark” (and defining what dark meant to them) and some of the research that went into writing their book, and In a World featuring Rhoda Belleza (Empress of a Thousand Skies), Axie Oh (Rebel Seoul), Cindy Pon (Want), and Gregory Scott Katsoulis (All Rights Reserved) where they talked about the challenges of writing Sci-fi books and some of the aspects that go into publishing a book including cover design.
After an afternoon of panels came my favorite part: the author signing. Before the signing, I ended up spending an hour in line talking with the other people around me and people who were promoting their business (I got a few really cool freebies from it and found more bookish stores to support). After the wait, we entered the area where all of the authors were set up to do signings and got into line for the authors we wanted to see. I decided to only go to three authors (which is my only regret because I had enough time to go to more than that) and I hopped in line for Leigh Bardugo since her line was the longest. After awkwardly fumbling for words while she signed my book, I moved on to one of my favorite Sci-fi authors, Rhoda Belleza. Since her line was shorter I was able to talk to her a bit more than I was able to talk to Bardugo. I told her about how I got her book in my Fairyloot box and we made some jokes while she signed my book (and messed up spelling cheers which made me love it even more!). Then I moved on to get my copy of Mask of Shadows signed by Linsey Miller and thanked her for writing the book the way she did (if you like assassin’s read this book, it is so good).
This place was pretty much a paradise for someone who is a bookworm like me. Not only did I get to meet some of my favorite authors but I was able to find out about books that I normally would not have known about. If you think that you might be interested in attending next year, check out their website here!