L.A. Times Festival of Books Roundup

Tips from writers in young adult, memoir, and satire

Yi Shun Lai

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Even though I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for over a decade now, and actually grew up here, I’ve never been to the L.A. Times Festival of Books. Part of that is just inertia: I’ve never liked driving to L.A., say. But I finally went this year, and I’m so glad I did.

The Festival of Books has a gazillion exhibitors. But I wasn’t there for the exhibitors, really. I was there for some key panels. I went to one on romance in young adult fiction; one on satire, and one on memoir. These are all fields I’m actively working in, so I was lucky there happened to be great content that day! Here’s what I learned from each of the panels:

“There’s No Love Like Young Adult Love,” Ella Cerón, Marie Lu, Maurene Goo, Amy Spalding, Sarah Enni (moderator)

In this panel, about how these writers see and depict romance in their young adult works, I learned to see romance from a few new angles. The panelists pointed out, for instance, that romance in a YA novel isn’t just about seeing the relationship from the main character’s point of view, but also from the love interest’s POV; getting to know their motivations and interests. Here are a few quotes that resonated:

  • “I couldn’t get over my own YA romances, which were nothing, but I try to tap into the overwhelming emotions.” -Maureen Goo
  • “Even if you’re on a top-secret mission, you’re like, ‘HE TOUCHED MY HAND FOR THE FIRST TIME!’ YA love is immediate, fruaght, and extreme.” -Marie Lu
  • “The further you are removed from the immigrant experience, what are your relationships to your mother, your grandmother? -Maureen Goo
  • “Internal motivations count for so much more than external shenanigans.” -Amy Spalding

Satirical Fiction: Laughing Through the Chaos: Rasheed Newson; James Hannaham; Elaine Hsieh Chou; Traci Thomas (The Stacks podcast), moderator

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Yi Shun Lai

Author: A SUFFRAGISTS’S GUIDE TO THE ANTARCTIC (2024), Pin Ups (2020). Columnist, The Writer. theGooddirt.org; @gooddirt. Psst: Say “yeeshun.” You can do it!