We are just under a week away from the sixth annual Ontario Teen Book Fest! Today, I'm spotlighting young adult and middle grade author Elana K. Arnold. Make sure you read on for a Q&A as well as a giveaway for a signed poster.
Before we get to that, here's the important stuff to know about the festival so you can plan and find your way there.
When: Saturday March 12th, 9 am to 5 pm
Where: Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761
The Ontario Teen Book Fest Website: http://www.ontariotbf.org/
FREE -- No tickets necessary!
Side note, if you attend, you will be fed. Panera sandwiches and water/sodas are provided for attendees (since it's kind of hard to leave campus real quick to get some food--you might miss a panel!). I usually bring snacks anyway (and sandwiches are verboten on the anti-inflammatory diet I am currently on, so I do have to bring my own grub this time).
Books will be sold by Once Upon a Time. There will be t-shirts and posters as well.
At the end of the post, make sure you enter on the Rafflecopter for a poster signed by all of the authors!
Also, please share details about the fest on social media, and use the hashtag #OntarioTBF.
Last but not least, show the event bloggers some love by heading over to their websites, reading their posts, and leaving a comment! Not mandatory but it would be super nice of you. And you can see by the schedule who this year's authors are!
Blog Tour Schedule
February 22nd - Spotlight on Andrew Smith - What A Nerd Girl Says
February 23rd - Spotlight on Alexandra Monir - The Consummate Reader
February 24th - Spotlight on April Tucholke - Adventures of a Book Junkie
February 25th - Spotlight on Alexis Bass - A Traveling Book
February 26th - Spotlight on Marissa Meyer - Read Now Sleep Later
February 27th - Spotlight on Sara Elizabeth Santana - Movies, Shows and Books
February 28th - Spotlight on Robin Reul - Recently Acquired Obsessions
February 29th - Spotlight on Katherine Kottaras - iFandoms Collide
March 1st - Spotlight on Stephanie Diaz - My Fangirl Chronicles
March 2nd - Spotlight on Virginia Boecker - The Reader's Antidote
March 3rd - Spotlight on Mary McCoy - Book You Very Much
March 4th - Spotlight on Brad Gottfred - Seeking Bazinga
March 5th - Spotlight on Michelle Levy - My Fangirl Chronicles
March 6th - Spotlight on Elana K. Arnold - Read Now Sleep Later
March 7th - Spotlight on Kristin Halbrook - What A Nerd Girl Says
March 8th - Spotlight on Jessica Brody - The Windy Pages
March 9th - Spotlight on Nicole Maggi - Nite Lite Book Reviews
March 10th - Spotlight on Jay Asher - A Bookish Escape
Now that that's all squared away, here's Elana!
Spotlight on Elana K. Arnold
Elana K. Arnold is a Southern California native, and author of Sacred (RH/Delacorte, 2012), Splendor (RH/Delacorte, 2013), and Burning (RH/Delacorte, 2013). Her latest book about young adults, Infandous, was released by Carolrhoda Books in March 2015. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction from the University of California, Davis.
"Once there was a mermaid who dared to love a wolf. Her love for him was so sudden and so fierce that it tore her tail into legs."
Sephora Golding lives in the shadow of her unbelievably beautiful mother. Even though they scrape by in the seedier part of Venice Beach, she's always felt lucky. As a child, she imagined she was a minor but beloved character in her mother's fairy tale. But now, at sixteen, the fairy tale is less Disney and more Grimm. And she wants the story to be her own. Then she meets Felix, and the fairy tale takes a turn she never imagined.
"Things don't really turn out the way they do in fairy tales. I'm telling you that right up front, so you're not disappointed later."
Sometimes, a story is just a way to hide the unspeakable in plain sight.
More books by Elana K. Arnold:
Q&A with Elana K. Arnold
Read Now Sleep Later: What was the seed that grew into your latest YA novel, Infandous?
Elana K. Arnold: When I began working on the book that grew into Infandous, the first thing that came to me was Sephora’s voice. She was the loudest, clearest character I had ever heard. And it was clear from her art and her obsession with the goriest, most awful fairy tales and myths that she had a secret. I, however, literally had no idea what that secret might be. So I wrote to find out. About fifty pages into the book’s first draft, I was fooling around online and came across a list of 26 real words that we don't use anymore; “I” was for “Infandous,” which, I learned, means “that which is too terrible to be spoken of aloud.” At once, like a sickening wave, I was overwhelmed by the truth of Sephora’s secret. In that moment, I had found a title and direction... and a terrible sense of dread.
RNSL: In Infandous, Sephora is seeing "beyond the veil" that some popular fairytales wear (i.e. Disneyfication). I assume you had a revelation about this at some point, since you wrote a character with this point of view. What did you think when you first came to realize that fairytales aren't the euphemistic, sanitized versions served up in the mainstream?
EKA: I was fortunate to have been raised in households full of books, with no restrictions prescribed because of our age. If we found it and picked it up, and if we were capable of decoding the information, the book belonged in our hands. We had both at home and at my grandparents’ house (where I spent a lot of time) collections of fairy tales, fables, and mythology—the original stuff. I actually met a lot of the characters that star in Disney movies first in their source material. When I later re-met them, sanitized for the screen, I was put off by their transformations.
RNSL: Why do you write for young people? Did you choose the audience, or did it choose you?
EKA: Adolescence for me was terrifying, often lonely, and overwhelming. But sometimes it was also ecstatically free and dangerously exciting. I don’t write books for teens, particularly; I’m firmly in the “about, not for” camp, more and more as my career progresses. It’s up for publishers to decide if my books are YA… and, honestly, with both Infandous and my forthcoming YA, What Girls Are Made Of, I was pleasantly surprised that they found homes as such.
RNSL: Were you a writer and/or a reader as a child? If not, when did your road to becoming an author begin? Do you have a particular author, relative, or teacher who helped you on this path?
EKA: I was a myopic, dreamy, constant reader. My dad was a huge reader, too, as is my paternal grandmother who has a “real” library in her home—a room dedicated entirely to books. I spent long swaths of time there, happily following the patch of sunlight on carpet, reading indiscriminately and eating bowls of fruit.
RNSL: In general, people think of fiction as made-up stories, tales about things that are not real--however, fiction often exposes greater truths. For you, does the truth come first and have the story grow into being around it, or does the story lead you there?
EKA: For me, truth and fiction are always tightly paired, sometimes in ways that, when I’ve gotten some distance, shock and embarrass me. It’s most often in unconscious ways that truth seeps into my fiction, forming the emotional landscape of the book. The events may be fictional, but the heart is real.
RNSL: Do you write on schedule, or do you find that you have to carve bits and pieces of time out to write in the midst of your day-to-day activities?
EKA: I tend to write in big chunks sometimes, and in bits and pieces other times, and also, sometimes, not at all. Growing up, well-meaning adults loved to tell me that “writers write,” and yes, sometimes this is true. But writing is only part of the craft of being a storyteller. Living, and loving, and failing and hurting and all the other mess of life counts, too. When I finally released myself from the “butt in the chair every day” prescription, the stories began to demand space and time. Different approaches work for different writers, but as someone who struggled with eating disorders, I find that an all-or-none dictum usually leaves me self-flagellating and miserable. Which leads me to your next question…
RNSL: Do you have a favorite piece of writing advice you've received from or given to someone else? What is it?
EKA: Be gentle with yourself. There is time.
Elana K. Arnold lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. Her latest middle grade novel, Far from Fair, will be out this week, and if you're lucky enough to be in Long Beach, California, check out Gatsby Books at 7 pm on Tuesday, March 8 for her launch party! Her next YA novel, What Girls Are Made Of, is due out in Spring 2017 from Carolrhoda Books. You can find more information about her and all of her books at elanakarnold.com/home.html and tweet her @elanakarnold