National Book Festival Trip

I know this post isn't a normal post. But I want to start a new thing. I want to start doing picture posts documenting places I go. This will both give you a look at the things I get to see, and work on my photography skills.

Today's topic is the National Book Festival, held in DC. If you are ever nearby or want to travel to see it, I highly suggest it. There are over a 120 authors of almost every genre. You can buy books in the book store they set up, get authors to sign your books, and listen to their words of wisdom. This is one of my top things to see each year.

This is the layout of one of the speaking rooms. There are a bunch of chairs in rows with a stage in front. The National Book Festival used to be held on the National Mall. There were beautiful white tents, tons of dust, and plenty of sun. Now they hold it inside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which is so big it feels like it could have more than one zip code.

The area with the book signings, kids activities, and book sales. See how huge it is?

With all those authors, there's sure to be at least one you know. This year, the authors included Stephen King (who you had to get tickets for), Lois Lowery, Shannon Hale, Patrick Ness, and Katherine Patterson. We were able to see three of those talk.

First up was Lois Lowery. You may know her as the author of the Giver quartet. Did you know she's published a book every year for almost four decades? She's amazing, and she was funnier than I though she'd be.

Lois Lowery, first from the left

Things I learned from her talk. 1) When she wrote The Giver, she meant the ending to be open, so you could decided what happened. The she wrote more books in the seires, and that changed. 2) Put in enough details so the reader can form an image, but no more. You just need to let their imaginations take over, which you can do best if you give only a little description. 3) If she could live in any of her dystopian worlds, she would live in the village from Son.

The second session we were able to attend was the Books to Movies panel featuring Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls, Chaos Walking series) and Katherine Patterson (The Bridge to Terabithia, The Great Gilly Hopkins). This was certainly my favorite of the two sessions, though it was a close call.

Patrick Ness, second from the left, and Katherine Patterson, to his right
At the Books to Movies panel, we were able to watch trailers and clips from both authors upcoming films, A Monster Calls and The Great Gilly Hopkins respectively, as well as hear from the authors. It was interesting and fun, though I wish it was longer.

A few things I learned from the Books to Movies panel. 1) Don't judge a movie by it's trailer. The Bridge to Terabithia trailer turned off a lot of fans, even though the movie was quite close to the book. So, please don't judge a movie just by it's trailer. 2) Everyone is a filmmaker in their own head. When you read a book, you kind of make your own movie, so filmmakers have a difficult job. 3) Books and movies are different and people need to realize that. Books are personal, movies are shared. Each medium has different requirements.

On to the authors. Here are some things I learned from Katherine Patterson. 1) She likes to see what other people do with her book. She likes them to evolve and change. 2) The Terabithia in the movie wasn't the way she imagined it.

It was nice to hear from those other people, but Patrick Ness was easily my favorite speaker there. He didn't mind telling you his opinion, and he didn't apologize for it. I like people like that. His accent was also awesome. Besides that, he had really good advice.

First, he calls movies a remix of a book, which I think is a great way to look at it. Second, he said he considers all books fantasy. They all are made up stories and made up characters. To him, fantasy and realism have a blurred line, and sometimes one leaks into the other, which is what he does in his books. And he also repeated one of my favorite pieces of writing advice. Write the book you want to read, not the story you think people want. Write what makes you passionate.

Each year as we go to the National Book Festival, it increases my determination to be invited there someday. One day, I want that to be me on the stage, talking about my books to all those people who love them.

Have you ever gone to a book festival? What's your favorite piece of writing advice? Let me know in the comments.


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