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September 19, 2017

A Night with YA Authors Leigh Bardugo and Daniel Jose Older --- Guest Post by Teen Board Member Alice D.


There's nothing Teenreads loves more than a great book event featuring amazing authors discussing life-changing books. With our expanded Teen Board, we are able to cover more of these events than ever before. At the beginning of September, one of our new Teen Board members, Alice D., had the incredible experience of seeing both the legendary Leigh Barudgo and the kick-butt Daniel Jose Older at the same time. Read below to hear more about this dynamic duo.

I still haven't fully recovered from missing a chance to meet one of my all-time favorite authors after waiting for several hours in line at BookCon this summer. Luckily for me, my disappointment didn’t last long. Leigh Bardugo stopped in my hometown (NYC) on September 6th during her book tour celebrating the release of WONDER WOMAN: Warbringer. This time, I was determined to meet her and rushed over after school to the vast four-story Barnes & Noble in Union Square. As I made my way there, I imagined it would be like BookCon --- a chaotic herd of eager fans waiting for countless hours before the mad rush to be among the chosen few to meet their beloved authors. I arrived three hours early and made my way to the fourth floor, where a small stage and a few rows of chairs had been set up. I was surprised to find only the first two rows had been filled.

The three hours passed quickly. As it turns out, I was sitting next to Dana, an intern at Teanreads. I also had a chance to meet fellow Teen Board member, Gabby V. from Connecticut, and to chat with some amazing fangirls. We had an engaging discussion ranging from Sarah J. Maas’ books to Tom Holland and "The Vampire Diaries."

We could barely contain our excitement as 7 pm approached and the space started to fill up. When Leigh Bardugo and Daniel José Older ascended the stage, the audience erupted into cheers and applause. Daniel peppered Leigh with questions mostly revolving around her latest book, WONDER WOMAN: Warbringer, but the camaraderie between the two YA authors made the Q&A seem more like a conversation between friends rather than a staged discussion.

Leigh began by explaining her relationship to Wonder Woman, how she had loved the character as a child but had grown less attached as an adolescent when she realized she would never have Wonder Woman's physical strength. More recently, however, Leigh has begun to appreciate Wonder Woman as a symbol of feminism because of her brawn, which is something seen as very masculine, despite her sexy clothes. Leigh then went on to talk about her deliberate choice to include diversity in her book. This was something very important to her since minorities are often underrepresented, especially in literature, but it was also a struggle since she's not a person of color. Leigh turned to close friends for their experiences as people of color and also asked people of color to read her work and give her feedback on whether it was appropriate. 

Towards the end of their Q&A, Daniel and Leigh exchanged thoughts on their writing process. For example, Leigh makes outlines of what she's going to write and writes several drafts. Daniel added that being a perfectionist will simply kill you and to trust your gut in knowing when you’re done. Leigh said that that’s why she never rereads her old books because she would just want to keep on correcting them. When asked how to succeed in male-dominated jobs where women can sometimes be oppressed, Leigh answered that realistically the only way to surpass people and get back at them is to do better than them.

After the discussion, Leigh and Daniel signed books and took pictures with fans. Leigh took the time to talk to everyone and had a kind word for all. Leigh Bardugo continues to blow away all of my expectations by being such a strong, good-hearted, intelligent and talented woman, role model and inspiration.