The Other Side of the Mic
May 12, 2014
I’ve been coming to the Gaithersburg Book Festival for several years now. Not as an author, but as a reader and a parent. This will be my first year there on the other side of the mic, and, of course, I’m absolutely thrilled. We’ll talk Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, monsters, mythology, and so much more. But I tell you what, I really hope my reading doesn’t conflict with Tom Angleberger‘s. Because that guy is awesome.
The first time I met Tom was at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. We had the same publisher at the time, and I remember it was right when the first book in his bestselling Origami Yoda series came out. The next time I came, I brought my two sons. Tom was there again, reading from the newest book in the series. His reading, his drawing, the way he interacted with the kids was magic. In fact, in that 45 minute interval, he turned my sons, one of whom was a reluctant reader, into diehard fans. I say WAS a reluctant reader, because “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda” changed that forever. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that Tom is my son’s favorite author. My son is passionate about these books in a way that brings a tear to my jaded author eye. My son is autistic and the hero of the Origami Yoda books, though not explicitly autistic, has many of the same challenges. This was, I believe, the first time he recognized himself in a book. And if the piles of homemade paper finger puppet versions of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper, Luke Skyfolder, and many, many others is any indication, it had a profound impact on him.
But that’s not the only reading I’m looking forward to!
Debbie Levy, author of “We Shall Overcome” and the award-winning “The Year of Goodbyes,” will be there. Debbie and I used to be in the same critique group, and let me tell you, she is a font of wisdom and charm.
I’m also looking forward to seeing the graphic novel powerhouse known as George O’Connor. I met George back in 2009 at a teen book festival in Texas, where he was promoting “Zeus,” the first of his breath-taking series of graphic novels based on Greek mythology. It’s difficult to say which I love the most about this series. The expressive, epic artwork? The effortless way he weaves the myths into each other? The fact that it’s a series my sons and I can sit down and enjoy together? Probably the last, but regardless, George is a singular talent.
And let’s not forget my fellow YA authors, Anna Banks, Katie Finn, Emmy Laybourne, and Lindsay Smith. I was fortunate enough to be on a few panels with Lindsay Smith. “Sekret” is her debut novel, but with the poise and insight she brings to the conversation, you’d never know it.
This, of course, is just a small sampling of what will be in store at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. And that’s probably what I’m looking forward to the most. Each time I go, I discover someone new.
Jon Skovron has been an actor, musician, lifeguard, Broadway theater ticket seller, warehouse grunt, technical writer and web developer. Now he is the author of multiple young adult novels, including “Struts & Frets,” “Misfit” and, most recently, “Man Made Boy.” He generally likes stories that are dark, strange and occasionally funny. He lives just outside Washington, D.C., with his two sons.