Event Recap: The 2015 Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival!

I had been waiting the whole year since the last TBF for this year’s event, and I can happily say that TBF 2015 was everything I wanted it to be! I met some amazing authors, people, and listened to great panels. I bought a few books and most important of all I had a blast! I was a bit disappointed because it was announced that Sarah J. Maas was unable to be there due to an injury, I was really looking forward to meeting her and attending her panel, but of course her health is the number one priority — we want more books by her of course!

The day started out with book sales, where I purchased three books (four if you count the one my mom bought for both of us to share). I bought Unchanged by Jessica Brody, Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, and The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. My mom and her friend were planning on going to a panel for Michael Buckley, author of Undertow, so she bought that one for us to share!

Opening Session: All Authors

In TBF fashion, author Charles Benoit reprised his role as game show host for an author version of truth or talent! Being that there were 29 authors, I can’t remember all of their truths and talents, but the highlight for me was Jessica Brody wrapping a Spice Girls song! Yes, you read that right.

Session #1: Jennifer Niven

*I’m actually just starting her book today as this session left me needing to read it ASAP.* I chose to see Jennifer Niven as my first author, and I’m so glad that I did because it was an emotional and amazing one. I got there a bit early and waited in the short line to get into the room. I met Val from The Innocent Smiley in line, but neither of us mentioned that we were book bloggers, so I only realized this when she followed me on Twitter after the event. (It was great to meet you, Val!)

  • Jennifer was inspired to write because her mother was a biographer.
  • She went to film school to become a screenwriter.
  • You may not know, but she first wrote non-fiction and adult books.
  • She reads YA for pleasure, which was part of what made her want to write a YA novel.
  • The character of Finch was based off of a real boy that she loved and has died. His uncle attended the event with her.
  • When writing All the Bright Places she talked to people she knows battling mental illness and specialists in the field.
  • All of the places featured in the book are real, except for the Bookmobile. We talked about how we should start one in every city!
  • She gave us some top-secret info on the All the Bright Places movie. I can’t share it with you but I’m pretty sure it will make all of you fans very happy!
  • Jennifer talked about how when she was writing she pictured Violet as Elle Fanning, who was cast as the character in the movie. She also said that she hopes that Dakota Fanning could play Violet’s older sister in the film.
  • Violet is not really based off of Jennifer, but aspects of her she put in the book.
  • When asked if she has had her “perfect day” she said she’s had a few, but most recently was last year when her and her fiance skipped out on a trip to the Arctic to visit her mother. She said the whole trip was her “perfect day” as her mother died shortly after.

I also want to mention that there were multiple brave girls at the panel who shared their battles with mental illness and how the book saved their lives, or a friend’s life. This was definitely the most emotional panel that I’ve ever attended, and I was tearing up.

Session #2: Lunch Break

By this session it was already 12:15, so I decided to meet up with my mom for lunch at the food trucks, and plan the rest of the day!

Session #3: Jessica Brody & Emmy Laybourne


I enjoyed Jessica Brody’s panel two years ago so much, that I decided to see her again, this time with Emmy Laybourne. I had just finished Sweet by Emmy that morning so I was excited to hear her talk about the book as well. Jessica and Emmy are good friends, so their panel was more of a “show” as Jessica called it. They played some games with funny interviews questions and lots of laughing ensued. The last 20 minutes or so they dedicated to “real” questions.

  • Both Jessica Brody and Emmy Laybourne are huge outliners.
  • Emmy’s favorite book that she’s written is her upcoming book releasing June 2nd, Sweet.
  • Jessica Brody mentioned that Unremembered is in the works to become a movie!
  • She also told us that she’s working on another novel titled A Week of Mondays.
  • Emmy is also working on a new book involving vikings!

Session #4: Julie Kagawa & Katie McGarry


This was the last panel of the day, and I really enjoyed it! Julie Kagawa and Katie McGarry are both good friends, so the conversation was flowing. The opted to run their panel as a Q&A session.

  • Katie McGarry spent 6 months with a motorcycle club in preparation for her upcoming book, Nowhere But Here.
  • Grimalkin in the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa was inspired by and named after and Irish mythical creature, and the name means gray cat.
  • Katie had a rough childhood and lived with her best friend and her family for a while, and she passed away at age 20. She transferred this grief she felt into the characters of Pushing the Limits.
  • Katie also originally named Echo’s character as Sarah, but soon decided that since the parents name their child, that her name should be from mythology. She read many myths until she found the name Echo. (She also said that she often times goes on Twitter in search of character names).
  • Julie said that she would love to live in either Narnia or the world of Harry Potter.
  • Julie loves Japanese folklore, and while her favorite mythical creature is a dragon she loves the kitsune.
  • Originally the Iron Fey series was supposed to be a trilogy, ending at The Iron Queen. But the publisher requested she write more so that there would be a happy ending!
  • Katie’s favorite kind of food is Mexican.
  • Julie started writing because she read a book and it made her cry, and she wanted to make other people cry like that, too!

The Signings!

The signings were the last hour and forty-five minutes of the day, and boy were the lines long. At the beginning of the festival they announced that this was the largest turnout of all the past festivals, which was great, but made it crowded!I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t be able to get all of my books signed, but I did with time to spare!

Jennifer Niven, Jessica Brody, and Emmy Laybourne all remembered me from the panels when I chatted with them after. I actually didn’t get to talk with Jessica Brody after her panel as everyone was crowding her, but she remembered me from two years ago!! 😀 Katie McGarry and Julie Kagawa were super nice and awesome as well.

I wasn’t planning on going to get a signature from Gayle Forman as when I passed her area earlier in the festival I could barely walk through the wall of people, but I had a half hour left after visiting all the other authors again, so I gave it a shot. The line was really short as it was nearing the end and people were clearing out, so I got my book signed and got a picture!

All in all, the day was great but exhausting. It was definitely worth it, though!

Have you been to book festivals? What authors did you meet? What was your experience like?


8 thoughts on “Event Recap: The 2015 Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival!

  1. That is seriously so cool, Emily! 😀 I haven’t been to any book fests/cons yet… but I think I’m definitely going to Yalfest this year. So I’m pretty excited. Since I’m a huge TMI fan, I’d love to meet Cassandra Clare one day. Sarah Dessen is another favorite author, so her too. 🙂

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