At the 2011 Texas Book Festival in Austin, Libba Bray and Sarah Dessen, renowned Young Adult authors, chatted like old pals about their books, families, and the Young Adult literary community during a discussion. Sarah Pitre, a local blogger, moderated.
Pitre began the discussion by asking the authors to identify their favorite book by the other— Dessen commended Bray’s “Beauty Queens”, while Bray praised Dessen’s “This Lullaby”.
“It’s not the smartest thing to start reading because it begins with a plane crash. I don’t like to fly. I’m a very nervous flyer, so there I am on plane and the first line of the book is “This book begins with a plane crash.” and I was like, “AHH!” …I had to put it down for a minute!” Dessen said.
While Dessen’s spoiler disappointed many fans, Bray’s commentary about “This Lullaby” resonated with many fans.
“Something that I like about Sarah’s books [in general] are that the characters aren’t peach-perfect. They have flaws and are trying to figure things out but they always have a soft spot…I find myself laughing out loud and saying, “NO! Don’t say that to the guy!” Bray said.
Overall, the discussion was a success among fans. Bray’s humorous life advice especially captivated the room.
“You only need two friends in life… One who has a truck, so they can help you move, and the other is a librarian!” she said.
During the Q&A session afterwards, the authors were asked to describe their writing processes. While Bray discussed her process as liberal, often finding herself thinking a lot, Dessen described a much more emotionally invested process.
“[My characters] are obviously these idealized creatures I have made up in my head. I’ll be done with the first 50 pages, and I’ll be really happy, but after that, it gets pretty crazy. I’ll be on the floor after having written all day and my husband [a construction worker] will come in after spending all day on a roof and I’ll scream, ‘MY JOB IS SO HARD!’. Because it really is… It’s a very emotional process,” Dessen said.
When an audience member thanked Dessen for “This Lullaby” and asked her for her inspiration, she talked of her high school experience in a small town, where she resides today.
“I don’t have a lot of skills,” Dessen said, much to the amusement of her loving audience.