Earlier this week, I talked about my experience with #YALLSTAYHOME, which was Y’All West held online this year due to the current state of the world. On Saturday, the first day of Y’All Fest my schedule was jam-packed with different panels that featured my favorite authors on webinars through Zoom. For me, the second day of Y’All West was much more chill as I only visited four panels during the day.
Here’s what I watched:
Suckage is Part of Writing
The first panel that I watched on Sunday was Suckage is Part of Writing. This panel was moderated by Jay Kristoff (Aurora Rising) and featured Janella Angeles (Where Dreams Descend), Marisa Kanter (What I Like About You), Amie Kaufman (Aurora Rising), Alex London (Black Wings Beating), Tara Sim (Scavenge the Stars), and Maggie Tokuda-Hall (The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea).
This was one of my most anticipated panels of the event. I was interested in this panel because I love writing and I wanted to see if published authors faced similar struggles that I have had while writing. Plus, I read Aurora Rising this year and loved it so, it was cool to see Aimee Kaufman and Jay Kristoff as part of this panel.
This panel was very encouraging for me because the authors were very honest about how sometimes they love what they are writing, but other days they think that everything they write is awful. They also gave some great tips, like writing everything before editing, to help you finish a book.
Worldbuilding Beyond Wikipedia
The next panel that I watched was Worldbuilding Beyond Wikipedia. This panel was moderated by Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves) and featured Renee Ahdieh (The Beautiful), Gwenda Bond (Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds), Jennifer Donnelly (Poisoned), Marie Lu (Rebel), and Bethany C. Morrow (Song Below Water).
I’m not a huge historical fiction person, however, there were many authors in this panel who are great at worldbuilding which is something that I’ve been really interested in recently. It was interesting to hear how some of these authors build the worlds that their characters live in and how they build the world helps shape the characters that they write.
Remember High School?
After the worldbuilding panel, I stopped by the Remember High School? panel. This panel was moderated by Kami Garcia (Beast Boy), Julie Buxbaum (Admission), Leah Johnson (You Should See Me in a Crown), Samuel Miller (Redemption Prep), Rachel Lynn Solomon (You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone), Abigail Hing Wen (Loveboat, Taipei), and F.C. Yee (Iron Will).
In this panel, the authors talked about how their experiences in high school impact their books now. Viewers also got to learn some interesting facts about who these authors were in high school which I enjoyed. My biggest takeaway from this panel was that the authors said you might not remember specifics about your high school experience, like the table you sat at during lunch, but you remember the feelings, like looking for your table at lunch, which is very important to them when they are writing contemporary YA.
The American Experience 2.0
As I mentioned in my previous post, there was some controversy surrounding The American Experience panel on the first day because of the moderator’s insensitive comments towards members of the panel. In response, Y’All Fest held a second panel with a new moderator, Nic Stone (Dear Martin) which featured the same authors as the original panel, Angie Thomas (On the Come Up), George M. Johnson (Not All Boys are Blue), Natasha Diaz (Color Me In), Bill Konigsberg (The Bridge), and Jennifer de Leon (Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From).
Nic Stone did a great job of moderating this panel. From her questions to the authors, you could really tell that she put time and effort into researching their books to ask them thought-provoking questions about their individual experiences and how this influencers their writing. The authors featured in this panel were also incredibly supportive of each other, even having a cake with a birthday candle to celebrate the book birthday of George Johnson’s book.
The last panel that I watched on Sunday was All-Star Juvenalia. This panel was hosted by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments) and Maureen Johnson (Truly Devious) and featured several guests.
This was one of my favorite panels of Y’All Fest. It was hilarious to hear author’s read some of their works from their younger years and to see how the core of their writing is still present with their books, but how their style has greatly matured in their published books. It was also fun to see pictures from when they were younger.
While it was disappointing to panelists and attendees who expected to see Y’All West in person, I appreciate that the founders of Y’All West, Melissa de la Cruz and Margaret Stohl, moved the event online. As someone who wouldn’t normally be able to attend Y’All West, I appreciate that I was able to participate in this unique experience and that the event was extended to other people like me all over the globe.
All of the panels during Y’All West were recorded and are planned to be posted online in the future. I would highly encourage you to check out some of these panels!