YA in Bloom – A New Author Event

Alethea Allarey from the book blog Read Now, Sleep Later has put together a terrific new event called YA in Bloom, which is sure to be a hit. She graciously agreed to a short interview to help explain what YA in Bloom is all about and the planning that has gone into the event.

What is YA in Bloom?

It’s a combination luncheon, literacy meeting, and networking event for YA book lovers. It’s Bridge to Books’s–our literacy group’s–kickoff event, sort of a prototype for events we’d like to host in the future. It takes place in Pasadena at Vroman’s Bookstore, on Saturday, June 25 between 1 and 4 pm.

What inspired the idea for YA in Bloom?

Well, my friend Alyson Beecher and I love to go to author signings and book events, but most of them are structured so that we get almost no time to meet and greet our fellow book lovers. We attended a huge convention and got most of our friends to go–but spent so much time standing in line or being quiet during speeches–so we wanted to plan an event where the whole point is to hang out and visit with your book people. We thought about how the YA genre is blossoming right now, and how that would be a great focus for our first meeting–hence the name and theme of our event!

Putting together an event like seems like quite a challenge. What has pleasantly surprised you about the process?

We were initially worried that what sounded like fun to us might not sound interesting at all to others. We took a poll of potential attendees, crunched some numbers, and put our ideas out there. The surprise was, other people were excited about it too! We’ve had a lot of support from bloggers, authors, teachers, and librarians–even if they can’t make it to the event this time. We’re excited that some of our favorite authors will be attending, including Nancy Holder, Cindy Pon, and Lisa Yee!

The authors and publishers have been really generous with us too–especially Flux Books, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and others who have provided raffle items. Nancy Holder is raffling off a whole set of her books! Our jaws dropped when we read that email. We’ll be updating our blog at bridgetobooks.org with the names and links for all the other great people and companies contributing to the event.

What experience do you see as your most significant “lesson learned?”

I don’t know if I can answer this one yet–ask me after the event!

What is your vision for YA in Bloom? Where do you see it a year or two down the road?

I’m seeing it as an annual, maybe twice-a-year event. I am already looking forward to future ones, and the first hasn’t even happened yet! We’re definitely driven by three core things: people, books, and food 🙂 All good things! I don’t see it as being such a big event–it’s definitely something we want to keep low-key so people can relax, make friends, and form real connections. We’ll be doing some spin-off events for younger readers as well, and development workshops for educators and parents.

When did you start reading? Who were some of the authors that most influenced you?

Oh my. I started reading when I was three. I woke my mom one morning with some random facts about moths, read from the children’s section of the weekend Straits Times (we were living in Singapore). I love so many authors… it’s so difficult to choose! When I was 10, I was all about Agatha Christie (I’d exhausted all of the juvenile mysteries in my school library by then). When I was 15 I just about idolized Lewis Carroll and P.G. Wodehouse. I went through a huge sci-fi/fantasy kick, which continues to this day, and those authors are just too numerous to name!

If I had to pick a single author right now, whose every book and short story I read ravenously, it would have to be Maria V. Snyder. It’s almost like she has a direct link into my brain… What would Alethea like to read next? And that’s precisely what she writes.

Is it an open event? In other words, can anyone attend or are there restrictions of some kind?

Well, not having an unlimited supply of money (we wish we did!), our group had to raise some cash to buy food and materials for the event, so lunch tickets are $12.50. Crashers can come by, certainly–all YA book lovers are welcome to participate! We’ll be meeting in a public place after all. However, only ticketed attendees will receive lunch, freebies and raffle tickets. We’d love to be able to bring the attendee costs down for future events, but that’s all a-ways down the road right now.

What can a person who signs up to attend YA in Bloom expect from attending the event?

Our main goal is to connect people. There are so many differences between us, but we can connect over books. YA in Bloom’s attendees include teens and adults, students and educators, school and public librarians, book sellers and book buyers, published and unpublished authors–and we have so many different perspectives to share! I know I’ve learned so much from Alyson (who is a school principal) about education and literacy, while she’s learned about aspects of the book industry and technology from me. We want to keep sharing information and teach others to do the same!

Attendees can expect a fun book-centric program, lots of giveaways, tasty food and best of all, great people.

On the website, you mention that there may be other events in the future. Will they all be in the Los Angeles area? Is there any chance that you’ll spread out to other locations, other states, or even go online?

For now, we can’t really see how far we can go with this. We’re definitely planning events for younger readers, and the next YA event will be within the next 6 months. We’d also love to be able to teach others all over the country how they can help encourage kids to read, and seek out those resources that might be hiding in plain sight. For now, though, we’re focusing on our own neighborhood. We’re working on some outreach, and our next big step will be online. So while we like to dream big (today Los Angeles, tomorrow, the World!) we’re taking a few baby steps to get started.

How can people help to support YA in Bloom? What about the people who can’t attend, but who want to help in some way?

Anyone who has a blog or twitter feed can post something about the event! The main event page is at http://bit.ly/YAinBloom, including links to further updates, purchasing tickets, and notification lists. Donations can also be made to our nonprofit partner, Book by Book. (https://www.wepay.com/donate/131801) We’re also looking for people who want to share their ideas about literacy and getting people excited about reading–those folks can contact us via email!

Where can people go to learn more about YA in Bloom and Bridge to Books?

Our blog can be found at http://www.bridgetobooks.org, on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_199294110085587) and they can contact us at bridgetobooks@gmail.com for more information.

This interview has been cross-posted to the Book Bloggers Association’s website.

About Erin Underwood

BIO: Erin Underwood is the senior event content producer for MIT Technology Review’s emerging technology events. On the side, she reads, writes, and edits SF.
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