This conversation comes with an artistic advisory: prepare to dive deep into your imagination and be surprised by what you might find. You’re about to enter the place where dreams (and stories) begin. National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), founded in Berkeley in 1999, has grown into the largest writing event in the world, boasting 500,000 annual participants, including 100,000 kids and teens in its Young Writers Program. Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone’s story matters. NaNoWriMo is all about getting that story on the page. If something has been holding you back—whether it’s lack of time or knowledge, or the idea that writing novels is something only adults can do—then let teen author Meridith Lackey, middle grade author Shanthi Sekaran, and YA author R.C. Barnes help you get your creative juices flowing, banish your inner critic, and take the creative risks to write the novel of your dreams.
It’s a love letter to her adolescent years in Berkeley, R.C. Barnes’s first book in her YA Tattoo Teller series Ink for the Beloved, featuring a fearless teenage detective who possesses a unique psychic talent involving tattoos. R.C. (also known as Robin Claire) was a long-time executive at Walt Disney Studios and has published many short stories in sci-fi/mystery and dystopian anthologies. Barnes works as a writing coach and is a college essay reader at Berkeley High. Full bio.
Shanthi Sekaran is a novelist who lives in Berkeley. Her first middle grade novel, The Samosa Rebellion, will be out in the fall of 2021, and her last novel for adults is Lucky Boy. When Sekaran isn’t writing novels, she is part of the writing team for New Amsterdam, an NBC television series. She plays soccer and the ukulele and has two sons and a cat.Full bio.
This year will be high school sophomore Meridith Lackey’s first year of officially participating in NaNoWriMo, having never done so before due to school. She has completed three co-authored manuscripts in the past four years and is presently beginning work on what she hopes will be her first complete solo project. In addition to writing, Meridith also plays tuba, is an advocate for proper representation of asexuals in the media and, now that she is stuck at home, is finally getting those extra 2-3 hours of sleep she needed. Full bio.
Marya Brennan is NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Programs Director. She believes that writing fiction is a transformative experience, and she loves helping people (young and old) discover the magic of this process. She taught middle-school English for five years, has written several beautiful, messy novels (one still in progress), and traveled Europe as part of a two-person street circus. She loves revising words she’s already written and making herself laugh. She’s less fond of writing third-person bios. Full bio.
At Girls Garage in Berkeley, girls use power tools to build the world they want to see. But a different kind of world-building also takes place at Girls Garage: the kind that creates a vision for a better and more equitable future. Proving that words and pictures can be just as transformative as power tools, a class called Protest + Print empowers girls to translate their hopes, dreams, fears, and anger into activism around the issues they care about most. Led by instructor HyeYoon Song and Executive Director Emily Pilloton, Protest + Print is a cohort of high school girls channeling the legacy of printmaking to make art that’s visually arresting, powerfully participatory, and unapologetically activist. Also featuring teen Protest + Print participant and recent high school graduate Malaya Conui (Oakland School For The Arts, 2020), this conversation will center on how art and writing can amplify activist voices, particularly in a political moment charged with racial and gender inequity.
As a young designer, Emily Pilloton was frustrated by the design world’s scarcity of meaningful work: work that incorporated a human factor. Unable to find a model that spoke to her, she built her own. Fast forward to Berkeley, where Pilloton founded Girls Garage, a nonprofit design and building program and dedicated workspace for girls ages 9-18. Their motto? “Fear Less. Build More.” Pilloton has taught thousands of young girls in Berkeley how to use power tools, weld, and build projects for their communities. Her latest book, Girls Garage: How to Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build the World You Want to See, was released in June 2020. Full bio.
Artist and arts educator HyeYoon Song is the lead instructor for Girls Garage’s PROTEST + PRINT program, a venue for girls to explore and express the complex personal and political issues that impact their daily lives. Born in South Korea and with experiences of migration to New Zealand and, eventually, Berkeley, Song explores landscape, identity and narrative in her work by exploring the vocabularies of print and the multiple in an unconventional and multi-disciplinary context and her practice extends into designing project-based curriculum integrating technical skills to equip youth to exercise their voices and power. Full bio.
Malaya Conui is a young visual artist and student from Oakland, California. Her work, both in art and community organizing, focuses on Asian American identity, representation, education, social justice, and community building. Conui’s primary mediums are painting, screen printing, and digital design. She has recently graduated from Oakland School for the Arts and is currently attending UCLA. Full bio.
The Graton Writing Project is a series of writing workshops open to middle- and high-school Native students from Sonoma, California, that culminates in a published youth anthology. This year, students were asked to write on the theme of environmental issues. Come hear the students read excerpts from their pieces and share their insights. Presented by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.
The Bay Area Book Festival’s Writing Contest aims to encourage people to engage with the craft of writing. This year’s prompt was centered around the theme of expectations, and submissions were judged in three categories: Adult (18+), High School, and Middle School. There was a first, second, and third place winner in each category, and we’re excited to showcase many of them here. To read their full pieces, visit this page: https://www.baybookfest.org/2020-writing-contest/.
One war, three continents, and a quartet of necessary voices in conversation. Seventh-graders Quinn Boyd-Roberts and Tej Wong interview bestselling authors Lois Lowry and Jan Terlouw in a fascinating look at war, heroism, and humanity that transcends geography, nationality, and time. With On the Horizon, two-time Newbery Award medalist Lowry draws from her own childhood memories of Hawaii and Japan in an honest and empathetic account of lives lost and forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Jan Terlouw’s Winter in Wartime has been in print for almost fifty years, for good reason: this beloved novel, based on Terlouw’s own boyhood in wartime Holland, is a young-adult classic with the suspenseful pacing of a thriller. Heroism, not war, takes center stage in this conversation: the everyday heroism of young people in extraordinary times, drawn from a well of universal humanity.
On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Kenard Pak Winter in Wartime by Jan Terlouw and translated by Laura Watkinson
In a world that’s rarely quiet, listening is an underrated skill–and, for little ones living lives full of distractions, it can be the toughest skill to master. With Yes, I can Listen!, author Steve Metzger and illustrator Susan Szecsi make the art of listening fun and easy, with playful rhymes and warm illustrations that’ll help kids excel at school, follow safety rules, and show others that they care. Tune in with your kids, and learn how to turn listening into a game they’ll want to play again and again!
They say history is written by the winners. But when important stories and facts are suppressed, disguised, or forgotten, the worst patterns of history are doomed to repeat themselves–and no one wins. Kate Schatz and illustrator Miriam Stahl’s Rad American History A-Z: Movements & Moments that Demonstrate the Power of the People, uncovers the hiding-in-plain-sight histories they don’t teach you in school. In this conversation, which touches on Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March, the Stonewall riots, and Trump’s recent trouncing at the hands of teen Tiktok users, moderator Sammy Destin–member of Gender Sexuality Alliance, burgeoning activist, and eighth-grade wunderkind–steals the show, and shows us exactly how bright the future can be when we truly understand our history.
Event Aired: Saturday June 27, 11:00 AM PDT
Kate Schatz, Miriam Klein Stahl, Rad American History A-Z: Movements & Moments That Demonstrate the Power of the People
The Bay Area Book Festival is joining up with the hugely popular, community-building writing initiative National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) for a special virtual “write-in” for middle-grade and high school writers, led by two popular YA guest authors, Mitali Perkins and Maggie Tokuda-Hall, who will provide writing tips and interactive prompts for participants. In this time of social isolation, NaNoWriMo has reported great demand for this communal, interactive “writing lab” that takes the self-consciousness and “inner editor” out of writing, sparks a spirit of playfulness and adventure, and includes options for participants to chat and build a sense of community.
Maggie Tokuda-Hall, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
Mitali Perkins, Between Us and Abuela
Do you want to turn your favorite book into a podcast? This is your chance to learn how to do it! Even how to play a… dog! Legend has it whoever sees the Demon Cat of Capitol Hill is cursed; Fina Mendoza, the daughter of a congressman , just saw it, but can she save her family from “cat”astrophe? Join public radio veteran Kitty Felde and a host of talented actors to talk about turning the award-winning book “Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza” into the episodic podcast THE FINA MENDOZA MYSTERIES.
This empowering, informative program, moderated by Khepera Lyons-Clark, senior of Bentley School and a member of Cinnamongirl, Inc, is the young-adult complement to BABF’s robust Voting Rights Program, a centerpiece of our 2020 virtual programming in response to this year’s hugely consequential election and the challenges posed to voting rights due to COVID-19. Aimed at teens who will be first-time voters in 2020, this panel features bestselling National Book Critics Circle Award winner Carol Anderson with the YA edition of her seminal book One Person, No Vote; award-winning author Liz Rusch with You Call This Democracy?, and author and journalist Jeff Fleischer with Votes of Confidence: A Young Person’s Guide to American Elections.
Want to take action in response to what you hear? Check out our Resources page!
Our series on Voting Rights has been generously supported by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation, Guy and Jeanine Saperstein, and Mal Warwick Donordigital.
And a special thank you to our distribution partners, including AJC Decatur Book Festival (Decatur, GA), JLF Colorado (Boulder, CO), Literary Arts (Portland, OR), and the Wisconsin Book Festival (Madison, WI).
Carol Anderson – One Person, No Vote (YA Edition): How Not All Voters Are Treated Equally
Elizabeth Rusch – You Call This Democracy?
Jeff Fleischer – Votes of Confidence: A Young Person’s Guide to American Elections