Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Recommending YA at the North American Discworld Con

This past Sunday I spent the day at the 2013 North American Discworld Convention, where I had a great time hanging out with good friends and fellow bloggers Charlotte Taylor (Charlotte's Library) and Tanita Davis (Finding Wonderland). Charlotte had agreed to moderate a panel recommending YA fiction, and invited Tanita and I to be on the panel. The fourth member of our panel was Anne Hoppe, Terry Pratchett's Children's/YA editor in the US, who was a fascinating and delightful person.

Recommending YA books for fans of Terry Pratchett was a challenge, since, as Charlotte said introducing the panel, there is only one genius named Terry Pratchett and no one writes like he does. However, I think we did pretty well, coming through with about 25 suggestions of books that should appeal in one aspect or another to Pratchett fans. I discovered several new books/series that I'm eager to read from my fellow panelists' recommendations.

These were the criteria I used for my selections:
  • Mix of older and newer books
  • Variety of themes and styles. 
  • Books and authors who are smart and expect their audience to be smart.
  • Vividly-drawn characters.
  • Books with layers and/or nuance.
  • Books with reread value: those that are not one-time, throwaway reads but ones that you can get something different out of on each read.
  • Stories that don’t tell you what to think, but give you some space to think for yourself
See our complete list of recommendations, along with another 20 or so from the audience, in this post on Charlotte's blog and our recommendations for finding more here. Also see Tanita's wrap-ups here, here (including observations on Con diversity, or lack thereof), and here. Although, as a Baltimore native, I will strongly argue with Tanita's assertion that, "the Bay Area of San Francisco is more balanced in diversity" than Baltimore. I don't think she saw enough of Baltimore to know how diverse we really are.

The rest of the day, Charlotte, Tanita, Tanita's husband, and I enjoyed the usual con activities: attending  other panels (including "Editing Discworld" and "The Science of Discworld," both of which were fascinating), browsing the dealer room, looking at art, and costume-watching. We also enjoyed dinner together at the hotel and a delightful evening of conversation, which I think none of us wanted to end. I'm so excited that I finally got the chance to meet Tanita in person; I've considered her a friend for many years, but we've only known each other online.

I also had a very enjoyable lunch with author Catherine Asaro (well, she had lunch and I had Brie cheesecake). I've been developing her new website, although we spent the lunch talking about everything except the website — our grown children, homeschooling, singing (she sings, I don't), and life in general.