Léna's Lit.Life

Léna (me): Lit, as in literature, Lit, as in light, Lit, as in a little kooky: Life.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In Which I Tear Up on Panel and Have Dinner with Literary Luminaries

The Panel (Irish TV series)Image via Wikipedia
It would have helped if I had gotten a good night of sleep, but I lay awake on Thursday night perseverating on the NYC Teen Author Festival, and the panel I would be on called Under the Influence, with literary luminaries Libba Bray, Carolyn Mackler, Barry Lyga, Susane Colasanti, MaryRose Wood, Alexandra Bullen and Adrienne Maria Vrettos.

I knew that I was invited on the panel because of Gran. What would I say? I am not her, but to say she hasn't had a profound impact and influence on my life just isn't true. You who read my blog regularly, know that I explore this dance between paying homage to her, and having my own voice. People would be mighty disappointed to read my work and expect another Madeleine L'Engle.

How could I possibly be her?

Yet sleep evaded me, so I treated myself to a pedicure and electric green toes before hopping on the train to get to the main branch of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street. I met fellow debutante author Arlaina Tibensky, whose book And then Things Fall Apart comes out this July. (She is also the curator for the fabulous Pen Parentis, for which I read in December. If you are a parent and a writer, please check them out!)

Arlaina was on the debut author panel, and she KILLED. Really, I can't wait to read her book! I wasn't nervous through her panel, or the next panel, until it was my turn. Then all of a sudden . . .

You all know that I heart Carolyn and Barry, and that I was dying to meet Libba. Just dying. I sat in between Carolyn and Susane Colasanti. Barry was moderating the panel as well as being "on" it. (Or "of" it?) I was cold, which didn't help my out-of-body feeling. Fortunately, I was #5 to talk about my "influences" after Susane, who talked about The Outsiders. (Hell, yes!) Libba before her, talked about Stephen Sondheim and John Irving (more head nodding.) And then me. I was going to add Shakespeare and Marion Zimmer Bradley to the mix, but instead I said: "I'm nervous to tell you who my influence is. It is is my grandmother . . ." and then I said her name and the audience gasped. I talked about how she has help shaped my world view and introduced me to the world of literature, and I choked up when talking about getting the chance to read to her during her years of decline.

I got through it! Afterward, they had to kick us out of the library, and we stood on the outside steps for ages, authors everywhere getting to know each other. Nine of us went out to dinner at a Mediterranean Brasserie called Pera: Adrienne, (who has written three books while juggling a full time job and two small children - can I just say, WOW!) - Carolyn Mackler, Libba Bray and I sat on one end of the table, David Levithan sat in the middle, while his assistant Zach, Barry Lyga, Arlaina and another debut author Margie Gelbwasser (Inconvenient) sat at the other end.

We had so much fun - I was loath for the evening to end! Libba and I have more in common than I had originally thought - I was floored by how similar our backgrounds and interests are. And I probably talked WAY too much! Nerves have a way of doing that to me . . . and I'm kicking myself for not having pictures!

Up next on the blog and in RL? The big Teen Author fiesta book signing at Books of Wonder tomorrow, starting at 1PM! I will be there as a fan gurl, and signing Edges from 1:45 to 2:30. It will be veritable mayhem! Join us!

And then: big train trip to Richmond, Virginia on Monday, appearance on Good Morning, Virginia (I know!) and then a workshop and book event at Fountain Books!
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  1. Yay for you! Wish I could have sat in on the panel!

  2. You were wonderful and genuine and fab, Miss Lena! I had an absolute blast getting to know you. But how did we get away without exchanging phone #'s (in addition to bedazzling our matching pink sateen jackets)? Must remedy this ASAP. xo Lib

  3. Lish - you know I can't wait to be on a panel with you and be roomies at a conference sometime! ;D

    Arlaina - I'm so glad I got to share it with you, and Courtney, I adore you!

    Lib - yes! We will fix these minor issues! But you already know what I'm thinking, don't you? (I'll bring my staple gun . . .) And we'll hug it out!

  4. It was absolutely delightful sharing panel-time with you! You were charming and eloquent and lovely, and I for one was hanging upon your every word. See you at BoW tomorrow!

  5. Thank you for your generous words Maryrose! See you later this afternoon!

  6. Can I just say a resounding "Huzzah!!!" You are doing it Lena. You are the real thing, don't forget it!

  7. I just wanna give you a big hug and smooch, Word Diva!

  8. Sounds like an amazing panel and a great experience! You are obviously making your own gorgeous mark on the literary world!

  9. I wish I'd been able to sneak away for some of this festival, Lena. Sounds amazing! So glad you got to be a part of it. I've been so lax in my blog-reading lately. Trying to catch up!

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