As you know, I went to the Texas Teen Book Festival in Austin this October. I got to meet a lot of great authors!
I went to the Stakes are High, Tensions Run Higher panel that featured Paolo Bacigalupi Lauren Oliver, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Jason Reynolds, and Becca Fitzpatrick.
One of the statements made was how money (or the lack thereof) was involved with each of their new books.
Becca Fitzpatrick said she grew up in a small town, where no one had money, and it wasn’t something she ever thought about. She moved during her senior year in high school to a city where people had money and large homes. Money made people popular. Her book is set in this same city. She found out money can change people. Those people had their identities based on money, and money made them powerful.
Jason Reynolds said that family dynamics change when people don’t have money. Figuring out how to make things work on little, like how to make dinner when all you have is a bottle of syrup, some pepper, and a lemon, is the glue that holds families together, when they live this way. He said his book deals with the pressures that people who don’t have any money have to deal with.
Alaya Dawn Johnson said that she grew up in D.C. in a high pressured society because people there had all of this political power, and money. Money and power are different, but they go hand in hand, don’t they? She grew up with money, but know that D.C. had two distinct social scenes, one with money, and one without, and that people don’t see these inequalities. Her book touches on these differences in social class.
Lauren Oliver said that we all live in a classist society. She said she is very liberal, and it is a very liberal thing to say money doesn’t matter, but they only people who say this have never been poor. She got flack about her book because people didn’t want to read about poor people. She said 45% of people live below the poverty level. In the book kids will risk their lives not to be stuck in that town, in that life.
Paolo said “I love money! My life is better with money!” Small amounts of money can change people. Money becomes an incentive and people can justify anything for money. In his book he talks about the makers of aspirin, and how something in aspirin causes kids to die. The makers of aspirin delayed getting warning labels on their medicine for four years, even knowing that people would die, just because of the amount of money they could make. Each year 400 kids died, because they took aspirin, and the corporations made decisions based on money. 1600 dead kids was worth it to them.
Someone asked “When did you know you wanted to be a writer?”
Lauren Oliver said “Right now!” and laughed.
Paolo said that he had two people tell him, one after the other, about a story that they both thought was super interesting, and then he knew he wanted to be the one they were talking about.
Alaya Dawn Johnson said that she has written since she was 5 years old, and discovered her first novel.
Lauren Oliver said to think of a job that would allow her to sing Little Mermaid all day, and she would consider it, otherwise, she would just write.
Jason Reynolds said that he has written poetry since he was 10 years old, and wrote his first novel when he was 24. He said he never wanted to be a novelist.
Becca Fitzpatrick said that she was 8 and saw Romancing the Stone, and it inspired her to be an author.
Someone asked “How do you feel about hurting your fans?”
Lauren Oliver said “I love it!”
The person said “I cried!!”
Lauren said “Sorry, not sorry! Crying is good for you.”
Did you attend the Texas Teen Book Festival this year? What was your favorite panel? Any thoughts on how money and class affected each of the authors books in the Stakes are High panel?