Every Sunday night after NCTE is officially over there is a tremendous cocktail party for ALAN. Not ALAN as in me, Alan – though don’t think I am not considering suing over such a mildly convenient coincidence for them – but ALAN as in ALAN, an organization which, for $20 a year, is an absolutely a fantastic group to join. YA lit is hot and being a part of The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) brings you the inside poop on the hottest of ‘em all.
My first year at ALAN I knew no one. Sat in a corner as a first time author and felt entirely out-of-place. I caught glimpses of celebrated writers like a hungry orphan standing in the cold looking through a large pane glass window at rich people eating magnificent steaks. These days, I guess I must look like one of those people dining on New York strips to those new authors first getting an invite to join in on the fun. I’m in on “the schmooze”.
Let’s face it, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it’s totally cool to be on a first-name basis with Laurie Halse Anderson, Jacqueline Woodson, Neal Shusterman, Jon Scieszka, Gordon Korman, and on and on and on. I mean these folks write AWESOME books and now, I’m like a peer? I still can’t get over that one.
At the ALAN cocktail party Laurie told me how she scrapped three book projects because she just knew “they were crap”, felt her tank was running low on gas, trained and ran her first marathon, and is now cooking at the keyboard again. I could tell by the light in her eye that this next book is something we are all going to want to read.
Neal Shusterman explained to me how he keeps up with his writing schedule, cranking out 2 books a year, how he’ll often sign a contract for one book but as he is working on it, matters will evolve and it will turn into another book entirely. Interesting indeed.
There are picture book authors, YA award winners, folks who were just naturally blessed with an abundance of personality and talent (like John Green… hello, unfair to be that personable and that great with text) and folks who are quiet and demure yet burst like ferocious lions on the page when you read their works. Plus there are books editors and publishers galore at the shin-dig. Buying them a drink now and then doesn’t hurt the ol’ career at all either. (Okay, it’s open bar with free drinks. But still…)
As one of the few Alan’s at ALAN I gotta say that ALAN rocks.
Oh yeah… next year, NCTE will be in Vegas! Nuff said.