I went down to YALLFEST with the YA Series Insiders (YASeriesInsiders.com), which is our sister site dedicated to all things series and supporting reader engagement. For those of you who don't know, YALLFEST is an incredible book festival in Charleston, South Carolina that brings together about 65 New York Times Bestselling YA authors and about 4,000 fans for a day and a half of panels and signings. I also did writing panels on the Friday before the YALLFEST events and on Sunday at the Charleston library after the events.
As an author, getting to hang out with readers like this is incredible. You get to see what books mean to teens, and there's nothing more beautiful than a young reader who is literally starry-eyed when speaking about your characters--or those of another author. Readers bring so much to each book they read, and it's fascinating to see what they found within the pages of a book that connected to their own lives.
As authors, we think of books as things we give ourselves, the products of our own creative efforts. But they are more than that. They are gifts we give our readers, and sometimes those readers give back to us more than we could ever have imagined.
That's why we write, isn't it? To connect? To inspire? To let someone feel.
It's impossible not to love the readers who love our books. Meeting even a few of those in person can truly make you remember why you do this. And they make it all worthwhile!
In short, this is a love letter to readers. Thank you for reading my books, or anyone else's. Thank you for bringing characters into your hearts and bringing them to life!