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GeekyCon 2016: See You In 2018?

The Orlando North FYA Book Club reports back from GeekyCon 2016!

GeekyCon 2016: See You In 2018?

Photo courtesy of Charlie Grace Cosplay

Our intrepid Orlando North FYA Book Clubbers attended this year's GeekyCon (check out their 2015 recap here), and have they got tons of stories to share! Take it away, Lisa and Jamie!

Apparently people did care. LeakyCon in LA. BroadwayCon in NYC. GeekyCon in Orlando.. You REALLY want to go to them all, but no way can you afford ALL those feels. What do you do? You have to make a choice. While still providing con attendees with high quality programming and opportunities to find fellow fans that march to the same drum they do, the truth is that this year’s GeekyCon didn’t quite have that shoulder-to-shoulder, “excuse me but your cosplay is stepping on my cosplay” kind of vibe. But there were ribbons. There was cosplay. And, by Alexander Hamilton, there was singing.

Fans celebrated with a Cursed Child debut, a raucous Disney sing-along, a Geeky pep band and lots and lots of Wizard Wrock, but perhaps the most magical aspect of this con is its overwhelming sense of positivity and inclusiveness in a safe space that’s all about creativity, community and love. Word is that Mischief Management, the folks behind GeekyCon, LeakyCon and BroadwayCon, will be taking a GeekyCon break in 2017 to game plan how to best to go forward and make it more awesome than ever.

Fan Zoe Polk has a pretty awesome video recap of her time at GeekyCon. Your FYAers, Jamie and I, spent much of our time on the literary side of things (being the book nerds we are), and listened to all the delightful things Julie Murphy, Becky Albertalli, Megan Whalen Turner, Malinda Lo, Jason Reynolds, Cindy Pon, Kendare Blake, and many others had to say. We’ve included some panel highlights below.

Welcome Ceremony

All kinds of special guests acting out the Hogwarts ghosts book club. Add in lots of geeky references and appearances from fan fic that comes to life with Captain America making out with Loki, to the Ghostbuster girls, Hamilton characters, and Rey from Star Wars. Great show to encompass all things GeekyCon!

What is YA?

Featuring Megan Morrison (moderator), Varian Johnson, Megan Whalen Turner, Jason Reynolds

Focus: Adult, YA, or middle grade? What puts a book in one of these categories? The authors discussed what publishers want vs. what readers want.

Highlights: Jason talked about commercial writers -- they get the fame -- and literary writers -- they win the awards, but don’t sell as many books. Jason also stated he can take his 5 best YA writers and write any adult authors under the table! Megan Whalen Turner stated she doesn’t really care what the publishers say, “I just write the damn book.”

I Hate You

Featuring Dhonielle Clayton (moderator), Sona Claraipotra, Kendare Blake, Kat Zhang, and Anna-Marie McLemore

Focus: How do authors create the characters we love to hate? How horrible is too horrible? All about the evil characters we just can’t get enough of. We also delved into the limitations on female characters because of their gender.

Highlights: Authors discussed Mary Sue characters (the nice girl) and how they would rather write an unlikeable character instead. Kat stated, “The characters people fall in love with have faults.” Sona and Kat also talked about the double standard affecting female characters. Dhonielle loves her bad girls, “I hate you, but I want to see the train wreck you are going to create.”

Collaborative Storytelling

Featuring Varian Johnson (moderator), Malinda Lo, Megan Morrison, Sona Claraipotra, Dhonielle Clayton, Katie Rain Hill

Focus: As if writing a book isn’t hard enough, these authors did it sharing their creative process with another writer! From writing a single book in the middle of a series, to writing a whole book co-authored, to being assigned a co-author to help you write your memoir, these authors talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly of collaboration.

Highlights: Dhonielle and Sona are by far the most adorable author couple ever! They call each other their book wife and their chemistry is hysterical! Varian wrote a book in the middle of the Spirit Animals series and discussed the struggles of writing a continuing story from what someone else left you and having to leave something for the author of the next book. Katie was assigned a co-author for her memoir and found it very frustrating when wanting to write her own story, her own way. Who can blame her! Though she did say it was kind of like free therapy (her story is about transitioning from male to female).

The Dark Side (of YA)

Featuring Katie Rain Hill (moderator), Varian Johnson, Becky Albertalli, Dhonielle Clayton, Jason Reynolds

Focus: Abuse. Racism. Violence. Bullying. Teen Pregnancy. Sexual Assault. Drug use. Depression. These are real issues that affect real lives every single day. How do you mentally prepare yourself to write a particularly rough scene? Is there really a line somewhere that shouldn't be crossed?

Highlights: Books that the authors found so dark, they had to put them down: Living Dead Girl, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, and An Untamed State.

The L Word

Featuring Julie Murphy (moderator), Anna-Marie McLemore, Becky Albertalli, Sona Claraipotra, Varian Johnson, Renee Ahdieh

Focus: Star-crossed lovers, I love you/I hate you, friends to lovers, and love at first sight. The authors talk about what they love about writing love stories.

Highlights: Varian has the BEST LAUGH EVER! And was really jealous of Julie’s random makeout sessions, because as hard as he tried during school, he never had one.

Hey, I Know Them!

Featuring Osric Chau (the panel-tapped moderator), Dayeanne Hutton, Joanna Sotomura, Ashley Clements, Maxwell Glick, and Mary Kate Wiles

Dayeanne Hutton would like to erase the memory of the Ella Enchanted adaptation from her brain.

Focus: A fun talk about the reboots and adaptations they’ve been a part of, including The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved, and what’s in the works (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Edgar Allen Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party, among others).

Highlights: It’s always amusing watching celebrities deal with the fact that they were up late the first night of a con being all chummy with one another and fans and then having to deal with an early morning panel the next day. They may have been a little bleary-eyed, but the panel brought their A-game sense of humor and had great back and forth with the audience about what adaptations we’d really like to see.

A Whole New World

Featuring Megan Morrison (moderator), Megan Whalen Turner, Kat Zhang, Cindy Pon, Daniel José Older and Anne-Marie McLemore

Focus: World building in stories is always tricky business, but these authors have got a serious handle on it. They shared their inspirations and stumbling blocks, genius moments and self-doubt freakouts.

Highlights: Cindy Pon experiencing the huge onus to respect Chinese mythology and its treatment in her books because there are so few representations in YA: “Oh my God, we have enough white boys going on journeys!” Daniel likens fantasy world building to “harmony” and story is the “melody.” Naturally, his Shadowshaper reads like a song.

What Makes Me Tick

Featuring Julie Murphy (moderator), Kendare Blake, Malinda Lo, Dhonielle Clayton and Becky Albertalli

Julie asks a few sassy questions that flummox the panelists.

Focus: Motivations, distractions, procrastinations and determination . From idea inkling to finished work, it’s all about the process.

Highlights: Malinda wants to kill all of Julie’s characters in the game “Marry, Boff or Kill” (Ginny, Luna, Ron and Draco) except, of course, for Hermione, whom she will marry.

Babette Ate Oatmeal: The Gilmore Girls Community of Stars Hollow 

Featuring Ayana Grady

I mean really, who doesn’t love Kirk?

Focus: Uber fan Ayana takes us on a tour of Stars Hollow people, places and events and shares the life lessons we learn along with the joy we get from watching this beloved series.

Highlights: All the clips! And some of Ayana’s top five Stars Hollow secondary characters was so not what I was expecting, including Gil, Sophie and Caesar.

Old Books/New Readers

Featuring Megan Whalen Turner (moderator), Kendare Blake, Anne-Marie McLemore, Kat Zhang, Dhonielle Clayton

Focus: Extending beyond the bestsellers and perennial favorites to some great recommendations of books you might have missed

Highlights: Soooo many suggestions for my to-read list! Including The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, Tales of Pain and Wonder by Caitlín R. Kiernan, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, A Dream of Red Mansions by Cao Xueqin, The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, and Passing by Nella Larsen.

I Was a Teenage Writer

Featuring Kat Zhang, Varian Johnson, Katie Rain Hill, and more

Focus: Current YA authors swallow their pride and share their early writings which, thankfully, still exist.

Highlights: Much hilarity and delight and heartbreak ensues! Among them, Kat Zhang rips our guts out with two of her poems, Varian Johnson recalls his early attempts to woo the ladies with his own lyric genius and Katie Rain Hilll -- barely out of her teen years -- bravely shares some Jonas Brothers fan fiction.

Kat Zhang

Varian Johnson

Katie Rain Hill

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two Reaction Extravaganza

After receiving books at almost 1am during the Release Party, most pulled an all-nighter to power through the whole book and talk about it the next day.
Photo courtesy of Charlie Grace Cosplay

Focus: PotterCast and MuggleCast take to the mainstage to discuss their reactions to what they spent all night reading, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Highlights: (highlight for SPOILERS)

•  There is much love for Scorpius, who is “too good for this world”

•  Absolute shock about the union of Voldemort and Bellatrix, and the resullt of that union

•  It’s nice to see the story from both the child and adult perspectives, something we didn’t get in the novels

•  Albus’ and Scorpius’ friendship is bang-on guaranteed to inspire reams of fanfic

•  It’s amazing to feature Rose as the “jock” in this tale

•  The Trolley Lady scene was one of their favorites in the script, a sort of “Freddy Krueger meets the Hobgoblin”

•  Draco Malfoy has, by far, the best character development

•  Cedric Diggory as a death eater seems legit

•  There seems to be a general consensus that this will eventually be adapted for film

•  Did I mention the all encompassing love for Scorpius Malfoy?

And those are just some of the things we saw and did during our three day adventure. Will we be back in 2017? 2018? That remains to be seen, but until then live, love and proudly let your geek flag fly.

Spotted Around GeekyCon

Photo courtesy of Charlie Grace Cosplay

Red vs. Blue!
Mockingjay Part 2 teaser Katniss and Sadness from Inside Out wait for the Marketplace to open.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All
Be on the lookout for adorable, fuzzy Pikachus lurking about. Alas, there are not many Pokestops at OCCC, except for…..

A walking, talking lure-moduled Pokestop.

Your Aura Is Pulsing, My Dear.
Awesome Professor Trelawney cosplay with a bonus spooky prophecy!

Bellatrix or Polyjuiced Hermione?
You decide. We were too frightened to ask.

Ursulidge? Umbridgesula?
Either way, this is one villainous (and brilliant) mashup.

What's Your Damage, Heather?
Unless you had a brain tumor for breakfast, you know Heather Chandler is ALWAYS red.

Cheftastic Sookie St. James
It wouldn’t be lying to say she was one of many who are HELLA excited for the new
Gilmore Girls eps in November.

Golden Snitchwich FTW
Peanut butter and Golden Grahams you catch in your mouth, just like HP in his first Quidditch match. Oh, the humor.

Saint Augustus
Last cosplay pic snapped on the way home from GeekyCon, and it SLAYED!! We’ll go huddle in a corner and sob now.

All Are Welcome.
There were no gender specific restrooms in the main convention hallway.
These signs were taped over the tradition male & female restroom signs.

Mum's the Word
The inspiration for the #YASummerShowdown artifact and the creator of FYAON’s own mum. Together at last!

Jamie & Becky vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Hanging with the author of this month’s FYA Book Club pick who is as delightful as her story.

Thanks for stopping by, Lisa and Jamie! You can find the Orlando North FYA Book Club on Goodreads, or just show up at their next meeting! And check out their #YASummerShowdown adventures on the #FYAON Tumblr!

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