Thursday, May 28, 2009
Nevada Novelist Community
About four years ago Ellen Hopkins, Teri Sloat and I stayed up very late at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator's conference in Los Angeles brainstorming about a mentor program that would help aspiring writers and illustrators who were "almost there" and but had reached a plateau in their work. As the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program (which we are in the third round of running right now) took shape, I began to imagine a time when many of the great writers we were working with would be published. There was a long list of probable people. Wouldn't it be cool to surprize people with a group of novelists whose connection was Reno, Nevada? I imagined a "school" not in the teaching sense but in the identifiable sense - a school of writers for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers who were mostly serious, mostly contemporary, mostly reality based - but not necessarily all of those at once.
Today I had coffee with Ellen, our friend and fellow author Heidi Ayarbe, and her daughter. Several years ago we were all in critique groups together and none of us had published fiction. Ellen was first with Crank published in 2005. So check it out now - Ellen is a New York Times best selling author several times over for her verse novels Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, and Identical. Tricks in it's great red cover comes out in August. Heidi's debuted in 2008 with her novel, Freeze Frame and she has another one on the way. Freeze Frame recently won the IRA (International Reading Association) Young Adult Book Award for fiction, 2009 - given for an author's first or second book for young readers. And as for me, Bull Rider was released this February and is a Junior Library Guild Selection.
Also in the Nevada Novelists Community - Terri Farley, author of the Phantom Stallion, Wild Horse Island series and Seven Tears into the Sea - with a gazillian books in print, Fran Cannon Slayton who is from Virginia but completed our first Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program (Ellen was her mentor) so we proudly claim her. Her first novel comes out in June from Philomel - When the Whistle Blows. One reviewer called this historical novel set in a 1940s West Virginia railroad town "an understated masterpiece." And we'll claim Lindsay Eland from Colorado - another novelist who completed the mentor program. Look for her novel, Scones and Sensibility in 2010. There are more names we fully expect to add soon - but I won't say them here. I'm not planning to jinx anyone but there are some really talented people around. So, how about a big Nevada YeeeHaaa for these authors. I think the dream is happening.