North Texas Teen Book Festival Special Episode

First Draft, Ep. 100: North Texas Teen Book Festival Special Episode (Transcript)


The original post for this episode can be found here.

[Theme music plays]

Welcome to First Draft, with me, Sarah Enni. This is the 100th Episode of this here show. Wow. I am so thankful to every author who has been so generous with their time. And, so grateful to every listener who gave the show a chance. This project has been a steadying force that carried me through a tumultuous personal time, and on top of that, it brought so many incredible people into my life. And drew attention to authors, and books, that I believe are so important. It feels appropriate that the 100th Episode is a collection of input from some of the many authors who attended the 2017 North Texas Teen Book Festival. With the help of listeners, I brainstormed random questions. And in the festival’s green room, I sidelined as many authors as I could get, to have them answer. They are funny, bizarre, and occasionally, thoughtful and profound. Which, I think, describes every episode of this show so far.

So, if this is your first time listening… enjoy! And then, check out the archives, where many hours of listening pleasure await you.

Okay. Here’s the show.

[Background chatter and laughter]

R.L. STINE: Oh, hi! This is R.L. Stine. I write the Goosebumps books. And I have to read the question, yes?

ENNI: I can read it if you want?

STINE: “When writing, is it harder to lay down the foundation? Or fill in the cracks?” I think, mainly, it’s harder – hardest – to get out of the basement.

ENNI: [laughs]

STINE: Especially if it’s a scary story! You want to stay away from the basement.

ENNI: Isn’t that where all the scary things are?

STINE: Yes! You want to get away from that.

ENNI: I like that. That’s all I’ve got for you.

STINE: That’s it? That’s all? [chuckles]

ENNI: Yes, thank you so much.

STINE: Any time, really.

ENNI: Thank you, I appreciate it!

Victoria AVEYARD: Hi, my name is Victoria Aveyard. I’m the author of THE RED QUEEN SERIES. (The most recent book in the series is out now KING’S CAGE). And my question is, “Aliens or Robots?” And now I’m thinking in terms of films. Do I like Independence Day? Or, do I like Terminator? But my heart will always belong to E.T. He protected me as a child, when I was really afraid of aliens. He was a good alien, so I’m gonna have to go with aliens. (Listen to her full First Draft Interview here).

ENNI: Ah, I like that. Thank you.

Maureen GOO: I’m Maureen Goo. I am the author of SINCE YOU ASKED and the forthcoming [K-Drama rom-com] I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE, [out May 30th] both YA novels. [Listen to her full First Draft Interview here] And, here is my question, [chuckles] “If you were an ogre, under a bridge, what would you make people do to cross?” Okay, so Sarah and I are actually taking this MMA class – introductory MMA – oh, Mixed Martial Arts, for those of you who are not fighters like us. So, maybe, I’d make them shadowbox across. Because shadowboxing is the most embarrassing part of that class, right?

ENNI: Yes.

GOO: So, yes. I would make them do it in proper form.

ENNI: And then, what would you do to them if they weren’t able to do it?

GOO: I would push them over the bridge, and they’d fall into the very shallow creek and die!

ENNI: [laughing] I love it. Thank you, Maureen.

GOO: You’re welcome.

Kate HART: My name is Kate HART and my book is AFTER THE FALL [listen to her full First Draft Interview here] And my question is, “Invisibility or Flying?” Ooh, that’s tough. I’m gonna go with flying because I live in the middle of the country, where it’s difficult to get to my friends. And if I could fly, I could get there much easier.

ENNI: Thank you Kate!

Veronica ROTH: I’m Veronica Roth. I wrote DIVERGENT and CARVE THE MARK [listen to her most recent First Draft Interview here … and the first one here] and I’m gonna pull this question! The question is, “What’s your favorite part of book festivals? And your least favorite?” My favorite part is being on panels with other authors, and seeing teenagers, yay! My least favorite is… how cold it is in the convention center. We’re in Dallas, and I’m freezing my butt off!

ENNI: It’s always freezing in convention centers, conferences, anywhere you go. Do you remember, years ago, I was writing a blog post about how to pack for festivals? And I was like, “Pack like it’s in Iceland.”

ROTH: I totally read that blog post, and took its advice! Usually, I pack a lot of layers, but I think I’ve lapsed in years past.

ENNI: Maybe we need this experience to remind us to always bring excessive amounts of layers

ROTH: Yes, always layers. Every conference. Ever.

ENNI: Thank you Veronica.

ROTH: No problem.

ENNI: Okay, start by saying your name and your books, and then we’ll have you draw the question.

Samantha MABRY: Okay. I’m Samantha Mabry. My book is A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON.

ENNI: And, what’s your forthcoming book?

MABRY: Oh! It’s ALL THE WIND IN THE WORLD it comes out in October, 2017 [listen to her full First Draft Interview here].

ENNI: Okay, now Sam is pulling a random question from our question bag.

MABRY: “Who, really, should play young Han Solo?” Who is currently playing young Han Solo?

ENNI: I don’t know his name, but Maureen thinks he looks like a middle-aged man. So, she put that question in there. Do you have opinions about Han Solo in general? Are you a Han Solo acolyte?        

MABRY: I don’t have opinions about Han Solo, and whenever I think of attractive young people, I get like, “Should I be thinking about attractive, young, boy people?” I don’t know any young actors. Can we make [it] Diego Luna, and then just pretend he didn’t exist in the other one? And then make him young.

ENNI: I think that’s the correct answer. I think that’s a good one. Thank you, Sam!

MABRY: Perfect. Of course.

Maggie STIEFVATER: I’m Maggie Stiefvater, the author of THE RAVEN CYCLE  [THE SCORPIO RACES and the SHIVER series]. Alright, I’m pulling a random question. “Aliens or Robots?” I actually dream all the time about aliens, but I’m gonna have to go with robots. I love everything mechanical, and I just saw an amazingvideo of a robot that can jump four feet in the air. So, yes.

ENNI: I saw that too! It was in Boston, or…?

STIEFVATER: Yes. It was absolutely amazing, and also, incredibly intimidating. All I could imagine was being chased by one of those, and I thought, “This is gonna be a good future.”

ENNI: I love that. Do you want to do another question?

STIEFVATER: Let’s do it. I’m pulling another question. “Does Sasquatch have a soul?” This is a terrible question to ask, because I was raised Catholic, by nuns. So, we’re gonna have to go with, “No. Sasquatch doesn’t even get to go to hell.”

ENNI: [laughing] Oh, poor Sasquatch.

STIEFVATER: I know. Are we doing another one?

ENNI: Oh, yeah!

STIEFVATER: “What did you want to do in your books, but weren’t allowed to?” Alright, so, the only time that I’ve ever been stopped from doing something in one of my books, was the first time I ever wrote a Middle Grade novel. I thought it was gonna be super easy. I gave myself a month to write it. I had an outline. And then, when I turned in the manuscript, the first edit that I got back said, “Did the child narrator just lop off the arm of an unarmed man?” And I said, “Should I give the other guy a sword?” And they were like, “No! The lopping is the problem!” And so, we had to take that out. It was a tough shift for me to go from Young Adult to Middle Grade.

ENNI: [laughing] I love that one. Thank you so much Maggie.

STIEFVATER: You’re welcome!

Stephanie PERKINS: Stephanie Perkins, my most recent book was SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS, an anthology, and my new one is THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE a horror novel [due out September 2017. Also, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISSLOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, and ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER] And my question is, “If you were an ogre, under a bridge, what would you make people do to cross?” And I love this question. If I were an ogre, I assume I would be pretty hideous, and cruel, so… definitely not a riddle. Despite the fact that I write things for a living, I’m not so good with being clever. So, I think I would ask for a blood sacrifice.

ENNI: And then, what would you do if they refused?

PERKINS: What would I do if they refused? Um… Oh! I would just kill them [laughing].

ENNI: That’s the best answer, thank you Stephanie.

PERKINS: Thank you!

Renee WATSON: My name is Renee Watson I’m the author of PIECING ME TOGETHER [Also, THIS SIDE OF HOMEWHAT MOMMA LEFT ME, and more. Plus, the founder of I, Too, Arts Collective. Listen to her full First Draft interview here] And my random question is, “What’s your favorite thing to eat or drink while writing?” So, I’m not a coffee person, I’m a tea person. And I almost always have a tea with me when I’m writing. And it’s usually a Chai, or Earl Grey, with cream and honey.

ENNI: Is that a ritual thing, where your brain gets going when you start the tea making process?

WATSON: Yeah, I think so. I don’t know what it is about that, but it’s comforting to have that. Every morning, that’s the first thing I do. I make my tea, meditate, and then I write.

ENNI: I love it. Thank you so much Renee.

WATSON: Nice to see you again.

Kirsten HUBBARD: Is it recording? [laughs] I’m Kirsten Hubbard, author of WATCH THE SKY and RACE THE NIGHT  [Also, WANDERLOVE and LIKE MANDARIN] And my question is, “Aliens or Robots?” Which would I rather be? Or, which would I rather fight?

ENNI: That’s the unspoken, underlying… what do you think?

HUBBARD: I think I’d definitely go for aliens. Because they are sentient, and beyond our wildest dreams.

ENNI: How dare you say, and imply, that robots are not sentient!

[Both laughing]

HUBBARD: They might be, eventually.

ENNI: They’re getting more that way all the time.

HUBBARD: Are you a sentient robot, Sarah Enni?

ENNI: I can neither confirm, nor deny, [laughs] my sentience or robotic-ness. Do you want to do another question?

HUBBARD: “On the internet, dogs dressed as people, or, cats in space?” So, not in real life, but on the internet?

ENNI: Mm-hmm.

HUBBARD: I think in real life, I’d say dogs dressed as people. But on the internet, cats in space always make me smile. Cats in space in real life would be great.

ENNI: That’s really true. Thank you, Kirsten.


Brendan REICHS: Hello, my name is Brendan Reichs and my new book, NEMISIS comes out March 21st and I’m about to play the lightning round. So, here we go! Question is, “If you could be a flower, what flower would you be?” This is not the best question I could’ve pulled, because of my flower knowledge, but I’m gonna say a petunia. Because I know the word petunia, and I think they’re pretty. And I want to be pretty, like a petunia.

ENNI: [laughing] That’s an awesome answer. Do you want to do another question?

REICHS: I’ll do another one, just in case [laughing] that’s not the greatest answer you’ve ever gotten. Okay, number two, “Owl café? Or cat café?” Owl café. NO, Cat café. This is a hard question! I’m gonna stick with Owl café, cause I like big birds, and I’m out at night.

ENNI: I think that’s the perfect answer. Thank you, Brendan.

REICHS: I think I did that terribly. You’re very welcome.

Jennifer E. SMITH: Hi, I’m Jennifer E. Smith I’m the author of seven books for young adults including THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT and WINDFALL which is coming out on May 2nd. Okay, “If you were an ogre, under a bridge, what would you make people do to cross?” I’m a firm believer that everybody should have one good trick, one good joke, and one good poem.  So, I would make them recite a poem, or, do a really good trick, like juggling or something. And, potentially, make a joke as well.  Actually, I would really want them to do a joke, let’s be honest.

ENNI: That’s a really interesting philosophy! Did you come up with that?

SMITH: I came up with it. Juggling is my one trick. I’ve always loved memorizing poems, and I love silly jokes… fourth grade level type of jokes. I feel like they’re all good things to have in your arsenal, and I always tell that to people.

ENNI: I love that. I’m totally gonna tell everyone that. That’s amazing. Thanks Jennifer.

SMITH: You’re welcome, thank you.

Nina LACOUR: I’m Nina LaCour and my new book is WE ARE OKAY [Also, THE DISENCHANTMENTSEVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU and more. Listen to her full First Draft Interview here]. And, my question is, “What Disney character do you most relate to?” Oooh, let’s see, I’ve been watching a lot of Disney movies. I’m gonna say Ratatouille. Is Ratatouille a Disney movie?

ENNI: Yeah, oh yeah.

LACOUR: Well I recently watched Ratatouille again. I love to cook. I love the concept of a little creature, who’s not supposed to be doing something, doing something, and then proving himself. At first, not taking credit for it. Just doing what needs to be done.

ENNI: I love that. Our friend Maureen was like, “People are gonna say Sleeping Beauty, or something.” And I was like, “I don’t know, I think Scar!” [both laughing]. Thank you so much Nina.

LACOUR: Thank you.

Sara SHEPARD: Hi, I am Sara Shepard, I’m the author of THE PRETTY LITTLE LIAR series, and a couple of other series, and also THE AMATUERS series, which is out now. Alright, let me see, random question… this is so fun! Okay, “To MFA, or not to MFA?” [Masters in Fine Arts] So, I actually got an MFA. I got it because it was right after September 11th, and I felt like I needed to do something nice for myself. I lived in New York. I did not get it because I thought I was gonna get published. When I went there, I had great teachers, I wrote stories, I made great friends. There were a lot of people in my class who got published, incidentally, I think we were just like a good crop of people. Do you need it? I don’t think so. I don’t think you need an MFA to be a successful writer. I think the more you read, the more you write, I think that helps too.

ENNI: Well, and, I promised you a silly question, and that wasn’t one. Do you want to pull another one?

SHEPARD: That was not one! That was a serious question.

ENNI: That was, but it was a great answer.

SHEPARD: Oh! “How do you eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup?” Wait! There are different ways to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? [laughing]

ENNI: This is a question from the internet, and I had the same reaction.

SHEPARD: Alright, so, um… if I had a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, I would unwrap it, and then I would eat around the sides. No. I probably wouldn’t eat around the sides, I would take bites through it.

ENNI: Yup.

SHEPARD: Yeah. I would take bites through it, I would not eat around the sides.

ENNI: I think that is a solid answer!

Kiersten WHITE: My name is Kiersten White my newest book is AND I DARKEN the sequel, NOW I RISE, comes out in June. [Also, PARANORMALCY and so many more. Here her full First Draft Interview here]. And my question is, “Aliens or robots?” To date? Or, to fight? Because, that’s a pretty big distinction!

ENNI: To date?

WHITE: Yeah. To date? Or, to fight?

ENNI: I didn’t know those were the binary options [laughs].

WHITE: I mean, what else is there?

ENNI: Elucidate on both of those.

WHITE: Okay… I would say probably date alien, because I’d rather date organic. Fight robot because I feel like there’s planned obsolescence. You’re gonna be able to find a way to shut them down. Whereas aliens… [voice winds down] I don’t know.

ENNI: That was the best answer [laughing]. Thank you.

WHITE: Alright, alright! You’re welcome.

Christina SOONTORNVAT: My name is Christina Soontornvat. I’m the author of THE CHANGELINGS [And the forthcoming RAMBLE SHAMBLE CHILDREN due in 2018!]  I’m drawing a random question, “What did you want to do in your books, but weren’t allowed to do?” Oh, my goodness! Originally, I wanted to write my first book much longer [laughs]. So, it ended up getting revised, and revised, and cut down, and cut down. I guess it wasn’t that I wasn’t allowed to make it longer, but it’s definitely better now.

ENNI: Do you want to do another question?

SOONTORNVAT: Sure, yeah.

ENNI:  That one was a little more serious. We have some very funny ones.

SOONTORNVAT: Come on lighthearted, softball question! Oh no… “What cheers you up?” Oh, going to the movies. Yeah, I love going to the movies. Anytime. Always cheers me up. Actually, sad movies cheer me up more than happy movies.

ENNI: Why?

SOONTORNVAT: I think just getting it all out. It’s cathartic sitting in a room with strangers, and crying, during a sad movie.

ENNI: I love that. Thank you so much.

Adam GIDWITZ: Hi, my name is Adam Gidwitz. I’m the author of A TALE DARK AND GRIMM and it’s companions. Also, Star Wars SO YOU WANT TO BE A JEDI? And finally, THE INQUISITOR’S TALE

ENNI: Okay, so he’s going to pull a question from our random question bag.

GIDWITZ: Here’s my question, “If you were an ogre, under a bridge, what would you make people do to cross?” I would make them choose their favorite song, and perform it for me. The entire thing, and with a lot of feeling. Otherwise, I would definitely throw them under the bridge.

ENNI: [laughing] That is an amazing answer. And, actually, there is another question over there, but I’m just gonna put it to you, because of your background. It’s one Maureen put in there, “Who should really play young Han Solo?” Do you have an opinion about that?

GIDWITZ: Maybe this is too obvious, and maybe he’s already being spoken about for it. But I think that, oh, I forgot his name now.  The guy who was in Guardians of the Galaxy?

ENNI: Chris Pratt?

GIDWITZ: Chris Pratt. Are they already asking him? He seems like a very logical choice.

ENNI: They picked a guy, but he’s a young guy, about 22.

GIDWITZ: Oh, younger!

ENNI: Yeah, and Donald Glover is playing young Lando.

GIDWITZ: Wow, there are people younger than Chris Pratt in movies?

ENNI: [laughing] I hear tell of these things.

GIDWITZ: What about child labor laws?

ENNI: [laughing] We’re just going to go with Chris Pratt. I think Chris Pratt would probably be a phenomenal choice.

GIDWITZ: Well, he essentially played the Han Solo character in Guardians of the Galaxy, and he did such a good job of it.

ENNI: Awesome, dude, thank you for the questions.

GIDWITZ: Yeah, that was fun.

Julie BUXBAUM: Hi, I’m Julie Buxbaum and my book is TELL ME THREE THINGS [Also, the forthcoming WHAT TO SAY NEXT due July 11th. Listen to her full First Draft Interview here]. And now I’m scared to see what this question is. Okay. Ah! “What’s your favorite thing to eat, or drink, while writing?” Coffee. I want coffee in an IV. Though recently, I’ve become a little bit of a caffeine addict, so I recently switched to half-caff. It’s not solving the problem. But, coffee. 100%.

ENNI: Does that need to be part of your routine? Is it harder to write when you don’t have coffee?

BUXBAUM: It’s harder to do everything when I don’t have coffee! So, yes, it is much harder to write without coffee. Also, the half-caff was the idea that maybe it’s about the warmth of the cup, and the ritual, more than the caffeine. But, it turns out, it’s the caffeine!

[both laughing]

ENNI: Well, that’s good to know. Thank you, Julie.

BUXBAUM: Thank you!

Claire LEGRAND: Hi, my name is Claire Legrand and my book is FOXHEART . [Also, SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS, and the forthcoming ASHBORN, due in 2018. Listen to her full First Draft interview here]. And my question is, “If you were magically transported through time, what era would you want to end up in?” Hm. Oh, my goodness. So, I’m watching Downton Abbey right now, and it’s at the point in the series where they’re in the twenties, and I am obsessed with everyone’s clothes. So, I think I would choose the twenties. It was between wars, and things were pretty good. Depression hadn’t happened yet. Fashion was great. That’s the one I would choose.

ENNI: I think that’s a great one! Thank you, Claire.

LEGRAND: You’re welcome.

[Background music plays]

Thank you to all of these amazing authors. And, special thanks to Kristin, Rose, Mandy, and the rest of the crew of librarians and volunteers who make the North Texas Teen Book Festival possible. In just its third year, the festival has grown by leaps and bounds. Filling a convention center with more than 10,500 kids, eager to hear from, and interact with, their favorite writers. It’s a really special event, and I’m honored they asked me back to participate this year.

You can find this show on Twitter @FirstDraftPod and me @sarahenni. You can also find the show on Instagram, and Facebook, but for links to all of the authors who jumped in on this episode, as well as archives to audio and transcripts from past episodes, as well as a link to sign up for the First Draft newsletter, check out This is also the final episode during March, which is the unofficially, official, podcast awareness month. Share your love for First Draft, and for any other podcast you’re obsessed with, using the #trypod. And, tell your family and friends all about podcasts. How they’re free, and available on any smart phone, or computer, and how there’s literally a podcast for every possible human interest. About 75% of people do not listen to podcasts regularly, and honestly, they are missing out. Together, we can cure podcast unawareness!

If you like what you heard, think about leaving a rating or review on iTunes. It helps let more people know about the show, and every five-star review gets me closer to my dream of living as a troll under a bridge, forcing people to answer Monty Python questions before they cross.

Thanks to Hashbrown for the theme song and to Collin Keith and Maureen Goo for the logos. Thanks to super intern, Sarah DuMont and to transcriptionist-at-large, Julie Anderson. And, as ever, thanks to all you podcast audience superstars for listening.

[music fades]