What I Learned at my First YA Panel Event

On Saturday, August 27th, Chapters held a YA Panel featuring Roshani Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen), Leah Bobet (An Inheritance of Ashes, Above), Ryan Graudin (Wolf by Wolf, The Walled City), E. K. Johnston (Exit, Pursued by a Bear, A Thousand Nights), and Lindsay Smith (Sekret/Skandal, Dreamstrider).

But first, I went to a team building event for work, where I finished the scavenger hunt first but ultimately lost because my partner had given me the wrong symbol, and where I was too competitive in a quiz game and ended up losing in a tie-breaker.

But that’s now what you’re here for. You’re here for the YA Panel, right? I hope so.

I was running behind schedule, and though I showed up just as the authors were taking their seats, all of the chairs had been claimed.

Note to Self #1: Come earlier next time.

With my copy of The Star-Touched Queen gripped in my left hand, I grabbed a copy of Exit, Pursued by a Bear (which I’d recently borrowed from the library and loved) with my right, and bought it while the guests introduced their books. The Chapters staff were super friendly and helpful, which is always awesome!

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(Left to Right: Roshani Chokshi, Leah Bobet, Ryan Graudin, E. K. Johnston, Lindsay Smith) (Photo Credit: Chapters Brampton on Twitter)

I stood at the back with my books and other late-comers. I saw some bloggers I’ve spoken to online sitting near the front – Giselle of BookNerd Canada and Sarena and Sasha of The Writing Duo – but never got the chance to say hi, though I wish I had.

E. K. Johnston was pretty much the master of ceremonies, because not only did she do a lot of the introductions, but she’s also the one who invited the other authors up for a writing retreat (which I enviously caught glimpses of on Chokshi’s Instagram). They started by talking about their books, upcoming projects, etc. And then Johnston announced that it was time for the audience to ask their questions.

For 5 full, awkward seconds, nobody raised their hands.

Note to Self #2: Come prepared with questions next time.

Slowly, but surely, people began asking questions. I don’t quite remember all of the questions and answers (thanks to my poor memory), but I’ll try my best!

“What is your writing process?”

  • Smith: outlines
  • Johnston: binge writing
  • Graudin: screen staring
  • Bobet: it changes
  • Chokshi: visuals/Pinterest

“What are your Harry Potter houses?”

  • Smith: Slytherin
  • Johnston: Hufflepuff, possibly Slytherin
  • Graudin: “Gryffinpuff”
  • Bobet: Ravenclaw
  • Chokshi: Slytherin

“What authors would you write with?”

Okay, the only answer I remember from this question is Chokshi & Graudin fighting over Laini Taylor. Although I vaguely remember Graudin also saying she’d work with Maggie Stiefvater, if she couldn’t have Taylor.

Note to Self #3: Take notes next time.

“Which of your books would you live in?”

Once again, I can’t remember all the answers. E. K. Johnston had said Exit, Pursued, because she “fixed the legal system” (TRUTH), and Chokshi had said her upcoming novel, a Crown of Wishes.

“How did you get an agent/published?”

Some of the authors got in more traditionally – writing, sending out query letters, etc. E. K. Johnston, funny enough, got an editor before getting an agent.

After that, it was time for the signing! I felt bad for only having two books, while a lot of the people in the line had at least one book from every author up there. I was worried about standing in front of one of the authors awkwardly, having nothing for them to sign because, well, I hadn’t read their books! After hearing them all talk during the panel, though, I definitely want to check out all their writing – especially Leah Bobet, because that woman has an awesome reading voice.

After a 30 minute wait in line (seated people got to go up first), I approached Roshani Chokshi. She is honestly one of the sweetest people in the world, and we ended up talking about how nice Bobet’s voice is. I had wanted to tell her that TSTQ had gotten me out of my reading slump, how beautiful her book was, and ask for a picture, but I was honestly too star-struck (author-struck?) to function properly, so I didn’t do any of that.

Note to Self #4: Stop being awkward.

E. K. Johnston signed her book for me next, although we were all kind of busy admiring another girl’s victory rolls to say much.

Note to Self #5: Wear something that will start a conversation.

I left the stage quickly after that, not wanting to block the lineup. It was then that I remembered that I’d wanted to get a photo with Roshani Chokshi, but decided that it was too late now. My mother and brother (who had come with me but went elsewhere in the store) were purchasing books for themselves, and when I told them about the forgotten picture my mom said “Go back! The line is short, and you don’t know when they’ll be coming back to Canada!”

So I went back, and snuck in a picture with the infinitely beautiful Roshani Chokshi (sorry my gross face ruins the photo)

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Thanks to the Chapters staff member – Leisha? – for taking the photo!

I would have asked for one with E. K. Johnston, but she was deep in conversation with some other people. She’s a Canadian author, so I’m hoping to have other photo opportunities with her another time.

And then, finally, I headed home, which is where I opened the books to see what the authors wrote.

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I posted this and my photo with Roshani Chokshi on my Instagram.

Overall, it was a really cool event! I’m glad I went and got to hear these wonderful authors talk books and writing. In fact, I think going really inspired me – but that’s a story for another day.

Until next time, lovely readers.

~ Becca

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