Tonight, a friend had tickets to Ally Condie's book launch for ATLANTIA, her new YA novel set under the ocean, and invited me to tag along. I haven't read any of Condie's work yet, but I fell in love with her and plan to remedy that soon. Here were the highlights for me:
1. She shared a bunch of photos and stories about where her inspirations came from. It was fun for me to see the creative process of someone who has done so well, and having heard from other authors who are kind of scattered in their process, I loved hearing from someone who seems methodical in her research, what she includes in her books, and why she feels they're important.
2. When asked about her favorite authors, her inspirations, and writers who have taught her about craft, her interests were all over the place. It was obvious that she is widely read--from fairy tales to science fiction to classics to religious texts to poetry, she is no slouch in the literary department. It gave me a sense that YA is in good hands, and it's not just dumbed-down genre fiction like some people believe.
3. Apparently, her books have a lot of themes about difficult choices, conflicted characters, good vs. evil, etc. She was asked hard questions about how her own feelings are manifested in her writing and how she reconciles questions of faith. This is something that always fascinates me about authors and writing, so I was grateful she didn't shy away from the questions. She said something very profound--something to the effect of, we want to identify teens as having crises of faith, but whenever you have faith, there's always a crisis. You're always trying to determine where you fit and what you believe. I loved that personally, but I also think it speaks volumes for why YA is important. Not just about faith, but teens figuring out where they stand on any issue.
4. Her husband and kids were there, and it was obvious they were her biggest fans. Her husband laughed the loudest at all of her jokes and seemed so proud of her. I had a bit of an emotional moment when she apologized to them for being crazy sometimes while writing, but said, at the end of the day, they were the most important and she loved them more than anything. I think it's important for authors to acknowledge that finding balance between writing and "real life" will always be difficult, but both are worthwhile.