“YA” Cannot Wait to Hear about Decatur Book Festival 2018


The authors of the “YA Truth or Dare Presented by YATL” panel start off by trying to figure out the flavor of the drinks in their bottles. Little does Becky Albertalli know, she will be picked as the first contestant. Authors pictured left to right: David Arnold, Julian Winters, Nic Stone, Becky Albertalli and Angie Thomas.

Bella Angell, Editor-in-Chief

Every year on Labor Day weekend, thousands of bibliophiles gather to meet authors, listen to panels and share their love for books. One stage in particular receives great attention every year: the Young Adult Stage. Once again, they put on a great series of discussions and authors for Decatur Book Festival (DBF) 2018.

The Kidnote Friday night was the first event, with Young Adult authors Becky Albertalli, Nic Stone and Angie Thomas speaking alongside various middle-grade and children authors. They shared their personal experiences with Harry Potter and how it has influenced their writing. Full of laughter and memories, the evening was only the beginning of the festival.

The schedule for Sept. 1 and Sept. 2 consisted of panels lasting approximately 45 minutes long, followed by a signing where readers were able to meet the authors and get books signed and personalized. The Teen Stage was held at the Decatur Recreation Studio.

On Saturday, the panels began at 10 a.m. with the “Who Even Am I?” panel with authors T Cooper, Allison Glock-Cooper, Rachel Gold and Will Walton, and with Julian Winters as moderator. At 11 a.m., “Sidekickin: When Secondary Characters Shine Bright” commenced with hilarious authors Mary Choi, McCall Hoyle (a former teacher of Forsyth County), Scott Reintgen and Laura Silverman, and with Stefani Sloma as moderator. “If It Ain’t Love” began at noon with Alexa Donne, Anica Mrose Rissi, Nisha Sharma and Julian Winters, and with Terra McVoy as moderator. At 1 p.m., “Green Card Youth Voices” commenced, with discussion surrounding immigration and students talking about their own experiences of being born in other countries.

After this panel was a small break in which visitors could walk around and see the various booths in Downtown Decatur. However, many fans remained at the stage, waiting for the 3 p.m. panel: “Lane Change: Writing POVs [point-of-view] That Aren’t Our Own.” Moderated by Gilly Segal, the discussion included Becky Albertalli (author of the book-to-movie adaptation of “Love, Simon”and local to Georgia), Tracy Banghart, Jeff Giles and Nic Stone (also local to Georgia). This was a very popular panel, and the discussion was full of a combination of emotions.

The panels continued with “Teens Talk Activism” at 4 p.m. This was then followed by a panel with the largest audience: “The Hate You Give” with Angie Thomas. Being an author on the New York Times Bestseller list for 79 weeks, Thomas attracted an audience of over 600 people, so large it was moved to the gym at the Decatur Recreation Center.

This was only the first official day of DBF.

The fun continued on Sunday at noon with “Jason Reynolds and The Great American Read With Support From The Great American Read and Georgia Public Broadcasting.” Reynolds also attracted a large audience and practically stood the whole time while meeting readers and taking photos with them. At 1 p.m., “Not What You Expected” started with Stefani Sloma as moderator and authors David Arnold, Tiffany Jackson, Sandhya Menon and Kara Thomas. “The Power of Poetry” began at 2 p.m. with Eve Ewing and Elizabeth Acevedo. At 3 p.m., “Strange Heroes” began with author Nic Stone as moderator and Justina Ireland, Claire Legrand, Tochi Onyebuchi, Natalie C. Parker and Lilliam Rivera.

The final event at the YA stage was at 5 p.m. on Sunday. With audience members claiming chairs before the previous panel ended, the annual “YA Truth or Dare Presented by YATL” started. Authors Becky Albertalli, David Arnold, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas and Julian Winters first picked soda bottles, each covered by a paper bag. One drink was a Shirley Temple and the author that unknowingly picked that drink received the first round of Truth or Dare: Becky Albertalli. The authors continuously chose one another to pick whether they wanted questions exposing their deepest secrets or dares that might reveal an unknown weakness. After 45 minutes of laughter and memories, the panel officially came to an end and so did another great year of  Decatur Book Festival 2018.