A couple of weeks ago, GeekyCon 2015 took place -- and the Orlando North FYA Book Club was there to take in all the fun! Here are Lisa and Rachel to tell us all about it (and make us MAJOR jealz).
While still remaining true to the spirit of Harry and his friends, LeakyCon has grown and transfigured into GeekyCon, expanding and embracing enthusiasms of all geek persuasions. At this con, it’s all about the fandom: Harry Potter, Glee, Disney, Supernatural, Doctor Who and -- apparently the star of this year’s show -- Welcome to Night Vale, among countless others. It’s about letting your geek flag fly proudly and loudly (I’m looking at YOU, Glee Sing Along) and basking in the warmth of like-minded folk in a safe space.
Naturally, being crazy, rabid YA lit fans, our attendance skewed toward LitTrack offerings (elegantly coordinated by authors Maureen Johnson and Leigh Bardugo) with a smattering of general programming to spice things up. Attendance at all of the panels, meetups and guest meet-and-greets that caught our fancy was impossible without the aid of Hermione’s timeturner, but we were thoroughly entertained by what we did see. We share with you a mini-travelogue of our adventures.
That Old Story
Featuring Stephanie Perkins (moderator), Holly Black, Tahereh Mafi, Megan Morrison, Ransom Riggs
Megan Morrison, the YA “newbie” explaining how “authenticity is what readers respond to”
Focus: Are there no new stories but merely new ways of telling the same tale? Panelists discuss how cliches can be comforting and how modeling other voices helps you find your own.
Highlights: Stephanie Perkins tease the new anthology she’s editing, Summer Days and Summer Nights, set to drop in 2016! Ransom Riggs ensuring the audience that modeling your own voice after those you admire while trying to develop your own is “Normal. Not weird. Encouraged.” Holly Black shares an early experience finding her own voice--a story where vampires are captured by a dragon!
Fun Facts From My Notes: Everyone’s jealous of Tahereh’s voices-in-her-head and writing flow.
Let’s Make Out and Explode
Featuring Leigh Bardugo (moderator), Tahereh Mafi, Stephanie Perkins, Jason Reynolds, Veronica Roth (and obviously the best panel title of the weekend)
Veronica Roth mesmerized by Jason Reynolds’s glorious hair?
Focus: The adventures of writing scenes with high action or heavy smoochies. How do these authors deal with the “kicky and the squicky”?
Highlights: It’s official. Leigh Bardugo is a laugh riot. Her duties as moderator of this panel kept us, and the rest of the panelists, in stitches. Tahereh Mafi, so adept at writing violent scenes, actually hates writing them. They depress her. But her rowdy brothers help fight check her scenes. Jason Reynolds uses a mirror to visualize the punches before committing them to paper. His kissing scenes, on the other hand, are more of a struggle between what is real and what is “teenage boy fantasy.” Veronica Roth’s first instinct is to write her action scenes from a five-year-old boy’s perspective, also utilizing her own personal kickboxing training. Her love scenes are more of a process of checking off items on the “kissing scene” list, and she puts those off until last. All the panelists agree that Instalove, Instadeath and Instableed are NOT good things.
Leigh’s Lightning Round:
Jason: Back of a bus
Stephanie: Behind the band room
First R-rated movie?
Stephanie: Terminator 2
Veronica: Die Hard
Weapon of choice?
Jason and Stephanie: Knife
Veronica: Wasp spray!
Tahereh: Fancy sword
Fun Facts From My Notes: According to Jason, “it takes a few punches before the blood starts.”
Geeks Who Speak
Featuring Anthony Rapp (moderator), Mary Kate Wiles, Maxwell Glick, Cecil Baldwin, Dylan Marron, Jeffrey Cranor
Mary Kate Wiles being totes adorbz filming Maxwell Glick. / Look, kids! It’s Anthony Rapp!
Focus: Discussion of what it takes to realize a story by only using your voice.
Highlights: Adorable Maxwell Glick has a dead-on Yoda voice and has recorded over 70 audio books--many from his tiny closet! Mary Kate Wiles is all about voice-over enthusiasm: “I will do a game. I’ll do anything!” The Welcome to Night Vale crew had more than a few audience members swooning and seat bouncing when a few of the character voices were brought out. Advice to those interested in breaking into voice work--visit voices.com or voices123.com.
Fun Facts (Not) From My Notes: Cecil Baldwin has THE best voice.
Phenomenal Social Powers...Itty Bitty Content Space
Featuring Jackson Bird (moderator), Amanda Brennan, Peter Hollens, Thomas Sanders
Storytime with Thomas Sanders
Focus: Panelists talk about building an online audience via platforms like tumblr, Vine and YouTube.
Highlights: Thomas Sanders discusses the pressures to be funny in his Vines as well as the responsibility he feels to be a positive influence. Amanda Brennan waxes on the power of Tumblr, how posts of a candle smelling like Chris Evans led to retail stores marketing a “Boyfriend Candle!” She also stresses that tags are important to getting your content seen. Peter Hollens loves YouTube because it gives content creators the ability to bypass traditional gatekeepers and go straight to the consumer, thus creating a culture around things we like rather than geography.
Lydia Bennet Book Review
Featuring Bernie Su (moderator), Mary Kate Wiles, and Rachel Kiley
Bernie Su, Mary Kate Wiles (aka Lydia Bennet) and Rachel Kiley (co-author of The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet)
Focus: Panelists provide an exclusive preview of The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet: A Novel
Highlights: Episodes were written for Lydia’s story that weren’t filmed and those plot points were redirected to the book, which starts off shortly after the last book. Mary Kate provided a reading, which was lovely. If you’re bummed that you missed it, you’ll be able to hear her read the whole thing - cuz she’s narrating the audiobook.
Fun Facts From My Notes: Maxwell Glick asked a question in character (as Mr. Collins), which eventually lead to Mary Kate revealing her audiobook voice for Mr. Collins.
Featuring Robin Wasserman (moderator), Jenny Han, Ransom Riggs, Veronica Roth, Adam Silvera, Courtney Summers, Leigh Bardugo
Hardest question in Round 1; nobody knew the book whose opening line is.
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” Do you know it?
Focus: A raucous all-YA edition of the classic game show! Three authors compete in the first game; three more in the second. The winners of the two games go head to head for Final Jeopardy.
Highlights: Nobody on the first game’s panel knew the opening line “There’s 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it” belonged to Phineas and Ferb and had to shield themselves from the audience’s incredulity. All is forgiven, however, when the crowd raps along with Veronica Roth to the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Jenny Han wins the first game. There’s quite a bit of smack talk between Jenny and Leigh Bardugo before the second game begins. This just in: Adam Silvera has never seen Back to the Future! Final Jeopardy is down to Jenny Han vs. Leigh Bardugo (victor of game 2). The answer: In this tile-based game, you trade resources such as bricks, sheep, wood and wheat. Leigh risked all her money on an incorrect question. Jenny Han wins the day with “What is Settlers of Catan?”!
Fun Facts From My Notes: Ransom Riggs is an anglophile and there was much smack talk between Robin Wasserman and Leigh Bardugo...about mustaches.
My Selfie, Myself
Featuring Rachel Fershleiser (moderator), Jenny Han, Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, Megan Morrison, Courtney Summers
Bonjour, Jenny Han from Beauxbatons!
Focus: Panelists discuss their online lives--the fun parts and the stressful bits. They also share their early online selves (before anyone really knew who they were) and the difference between online presence and the real-life person behind it.
Highlights: Jenny Han’s online past includes devotion to General Hospital fandom; Marie Lu was more of a Days of Our Lives girl. Tahereh Mafi was the “tough kid on the internet.” Courtney Summers’s publisher insisted she get a MySpace when she first started out. It’s a pity it’s not still there. Most of the panelists have both a private and public online presence, which they feel is the smartest choice.
Teenage Dreams & Fandom Schemes
featuring Leigh Bardugo (moderator), Katie Rain Hill, Jason Reynolds, Veronica Roth, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Sabaa Tahir
Sabaa Tahir thinks you’re wrong.
Focus: The authors discuss the things they love, guilty pleasures, and Uncle Jesse
Highlights: This session was hilarious and full of potentially embarrassing anecdotes. Cynthia has seen Star Wars 382 times in the theater and that’s just Episode IV. She saw Episode V over 200 times. Sabaa devoured the first three books of Harry Potter in one day while in college. Jason originally said his major fandoming was for Michael Jackson, and he even had the glove and red leather jacket, but we soon discovered his real love was for Uncle Jesse. He informed us that Uncle Jesse “was the coolest person in the world” and “it was Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, and John Stamos” AND “he influenced my LIFE.” Leigh has a major love for Stevie Nicks because “witches, beauty, sparkles!” and she has put Stevie references into her books. Cynthia loved Princess Leia because she “owned her awesome” and she was a princess who saved herself.
What are your patronuses?
Leigh: Stevie Nicks (actually a crow)
Jason: Uncle Jesse (actually a honey badger)
Sabaa: Snow leopard
What’s your OTP?
Sabaa: [soulful] Spike and Buffy
Leigh: Starbuck and Apollo
Crossing Streams with OTPs
Veronica: “I want a fandom dating service.”
Sabaa: “Evangeline from Red Queen and Helene from my book.”
Veronica: “Sirius Black and Uncle Jesse!”
Fun Facts From My Notes: In Jason’s book When I Was the Greatest, the father may have subconsciously been partially Uncle Jesse.
Best Quote of the Session: “I’m really into murdering anyone who puts you in a gold bikini and a chain around your neck.” - Cynthia
When Worlds Collide: Comparing the Universes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural
Featuring Meghan and Kristen Corless
Focus: Two teenage sisters dissect and discuss storytelling tropes that Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural share.
Highlights: The discussion was unfortunately adjacent to the room where the Glee Sing Along was taking place. The noise temporarily stymied the Corless sisters, but they quickly got back on track comparing Willow and Charlie, a shared notion of self sacrifice and differences in the two universes’ monsters (Buffy’s are more lumpy and campy, Supernatural’s more anthropoid and scary.
Featuring Jon Cozart, Maxwell Glick, Thomas Sanders
Focus: Panel shares their lifelong love of all things Disney and how they channeled that love into the online content creation.
Highlights: This session was packed standing room only with a multitude of Disneiacs, many cosplaying their Mouse House love to the hilt. The crowd decided Elsa was a Slytherin. Most thought Anna a Hufflepuff. Lots of love for Disney Channel live action TV shows, to the point of a swelling chorus of "Best of Both Worlds". Jon Cozart is working on Hercules and a prince version of "After Ever After"! What Disney character would they be? Thomas Sanders identifies with Goofy (and has the laugh to go with it!), Maxwell Glick is Mickey, and Jon Cozart would be Pegasus.
Featuring Maureen Johnson as emcee and feuding families
The Bardugo Family: Leigh Bardugo, Jason Reynolds, Ransom Riggs, Stephanie Perkins, Megan Morrison
The United Colors of Jenny Han: Jenny Han, Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, Adam Silvera, Sabaa Tahir
Focus: Teams of YA authors compete against each other in the classic game.
Highlights: Maureen Johnson actually polled 100 people for each round’s question! That’s top notch game making right there. Team Bardugo, naturally, was from Spain. Team Han was a single mother with very tiny children. Her daughters Amelia (Lu) and Bedelia (Mafi) were only three years old. Maureen tried to gain sympathy from the crowd for Team Han’s loss to the Bardugo Family (Tiny children! Single mom! Have you no heart, people?!). The audience apparently left their hearts in the Marketplace and the Bardugo Family claimed their victory.
Questions (and Their Best Answers):
Signs a writer is on a deadline
Best Answer: “Failure to shower.”
SURVEY SAYS: on the board!
Best place to hide a dead body in Disney World
Best Answer: “Inside of Mickey.”
SURVEY SAYS: on the board! (No really, “inside a costume” was allowed for this answer.)
Something you bring home from a con
Best Answer: “Illness.”
SURVEY SAYS: on the board!
Signs you are about to die in any kind of story
Best Answer: Frankly, all of them, but “You’re in a John Green book” got a lot of ooohhhs from the audience.
SURVEY SAYS: not on the board!
Something you find on a writer’s computer
Best Answer: “Food stains.”
SURVEY SAYS: on the board!
I Was A Teenage Writer
Featuring Leigh Bardugo (moderator), Megan Morrison, Jason Reynolds, Jenny Han, Adam Silvera, Veronica Roth, Holly Black, Sabaa Tahir, Ransom Riggs, and Marie Lu
Focus: This panel is considered the highlight of the Lit Track - the authors dig up their old writings from their teenage years and read them in front of an audience. Hilarity ensues.
Highlights: Here's a videof of Adam Silvera's reading - a discarded scene from his Cedric/Harry slash. It's AMAZING.
Spotted Around GeekyCon
When fandoms collide: Human Skele-Gro sporting a TARDIS purse!
Hiram McDaniels, the five-headed dragon from Welcome to Night Vale
Tulio & Miguel from The Road to El Dorado “conning” the Civic Center
Have we mentioned Jason Reynolds’s glorious hair?
I mean really, is anyone more adorable than Stephanie Perkins?
Draco and Fleur. Even the authors cosplay!
Honeydukes Express trolley witch passing out free candy from the cart!
Luna Lovegood supporting Gryffindor
The early bird gets the wristband.
Erin Wert, the lady with the snacks, providing sustenance to hungry con attendees. ❤
Post-It from the swag bag put to good use?
Thanks for stopping by, Lisa and Rachel! You can find the Orlando North FYA Book Club on Goodreads, or just show up at their next meeting! And follow their #YASummerShowdown progress on the #FYAON Tumblr!