The Upside of the Decatur Book Festival 2016: Teen Stage


The moderators and authors from the YA Truth or Dare panel gather to allow the audience to take pictures. The crowd claps and cheers for them as they exit the stage.

Bella Angell, Staff Writer

The Decatur Book Festival took place on Sept. 3 and 4 in downtown Decatur, Georgia. It is one of the largest book festivals in the nation where a variety of authors and readers gather to talk about all things relating to books. Bibliophiles are able to meet their favorite writers, and they get to meet new ones they have not heard of. It is a wonderful event because it encourages introverted book nerds to speak and meet others who share the same interests. It also gives those who do not read a chance to buy books and explore different genres. The festival does not cost anything to attend, but one must pay for books and other things. However, one may bring books one already owns for the author to sign.

The Teen Stage is a huge event at DBF where Young-Adult authors go to talk about their books, the writing process, food and other relative topics. After each panel, the fans were able to ask questions and meet the author or authors to have their book(s) signed. Some popular authors at the stage included Adam Silvera, Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh, Jeff Zentner and many others.

The first event was about Beth Revis and her new book, A World Without You. This panel consisted of laughter and the background of her new novel. Revis said she had written the book because her brother suffered from more than one mental illness, and she wanted to write something for him. Afterwards, Revis signed books and met her fans.

Next, Jaye Robin Brown, author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, and Jeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King, joined on a panel where they discussed the role of religion in their novels. They had similar opinions on topics, along with different beliefs. Of course, they mentioned southern hospitality. The event came to an end, and the authors signed books.

At 3 p.m. on Saturday, the “Existential Crisis” panel occurred. With Adam Silvera, Sandy Hall and Shaun David Hutchinson, the panel was full of many jokes and included serious talk. Adam Silvera is the author of More Happy Than Not. Sandy Hall is the author of A Little Something Different, Signs Point to Yes and Been Here All Along. Shaun David Hutchinson is the author of We Are The Ants. They spoke of all things that could lead to an existential crisis and were asked questions about their books in the last few minutes. The fans met the authors and had a great time overall.

The next big event was the YA Truth or Dare. All of the authors came together and some extras that may not have been there. The authors that were present included Terra Elan McVoy, Beth Revis, Jason Reynolds, Adam Silvera and Jeff Zentner. This panel was probably the most popular event of the weekend; the authors first started off by playing musical chairs, and Adam Silvera was chosen to go first. After they completed their truth or dare task, they picked another author to play. One of the most memorable moments was Jeff Zentner fake-proposing to Adam Silvera. Silvera answered with “No” and continued by reading a long message from his fake-husband, David Arnold. The event ended with a lip-sync to “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey.

On Sunday, the Teen Stage kicked off with an interview with Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night. She was asked all types of questions, everything from what she eats when she writes and what Harry Potter house her characters would be sorted into. When she was signing afterwards, the line was stretched all the way from the table to behind the tent of the Teen Stage. She gave out posters to the first 75 people in line and remained patient with all of her fans.

Next, the Urban Fantasy panel where Zoraida Cordova and V.E. Schwab. They talked about their newest books, Labyrinth Lost (Cordova) and This Savage Song (Schwab), and how they developed their characters. Cordova’s novel had not yet been released in stores, except for this special event.

At 2 p.m., Ami Allen-Vath, Beth Kephart and Alexandra Sirowy spoke about their memories from high school. They discussed how their own experiences came into their novels and how their high school crushes became their husbands and resembled characters.

The name of the last event with authors speaking at the Teen Stage was the “Star Crossed Love” panel. Renee Ahdieh, Nicole Castroman and Roshani Choski discussed the elements of love and shared their opinions about relative topics like love triangles. At the end of the panel, the authors signed books, and Castroman had a mini giveaway.

A survey was conducted and, out of ten people, 60 percent of the participants had not heard of the Decatur Book Festival. However, 70 percent of them felt positive about book festivals. This survey was anonymous, but a response from a student at North Forsyth High School was “Not really my cup of tea.” A couple more quotes from students include “Never been to one” and “Books are fantastic, and I think it would be really cool to participate in a book festival.” The survey indicates that while many people have never heard of Decatur Book Festival, they would still like to attend it or another book festival.

To sum it all up, the weekend was filled with authors and bibliophiles. The laughs were endless, and it was an amazing experience to see how people bonded over the same interests. Will you be going to Decatur Book Festival next year?