The view outside my hotel room window.
Joan moderated a panel that included Alan Gratz, The League of Seven, Tor/Starscape, Myra McEntire, Hourglass (series), Egmont, Beth Revis, Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel, Penguin Young Readers Group, and me, with my book, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, namelos.
Each panel member was asked, "What makes your book Southern?" Of course the obvious answer is setting, but our answers were as diverse as our books. Alan Gratz's book is set in an alternate 1870's America that is predominantly Native American. Alan explained how that allowed him to include diverse characters without having to deal with the shame of slavery. Myra McEntire set a contemporary scifi story in a small Southern town. The setting was important to Myra because she spent years being ashamed of being from Appalachia, but she's learned to be proud of where she's from. Beth Revis used the sense of isolation she observed in her students in Cleveland County, NC, to write her scifi story that takes place on a spaceship. And for me, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl represents everything I love about the South: the food, traditions, dialect, and a sense of being an integral part of an extended family. Our presentation highlights just how all-encompassing Southern literature has become.
My first ALAN Conference was a wonderful experience. All of the educators I spoke with are passionate about Young Adult literature. I even had a rockstar moment, when English teacher Beth Scanlon told me The Ballad of Jessie Pearl made her cry. Nothing could be more gratifying for an author than that.