Growing Up Hard: 2019 National Book Festival

Growing Up Hard: 2019 National Book Festival


>>Maria Russo: Welcome
everyone. I am Maria Russo. I’m the children’s books
editor of the New York Times. And I am going to read
the general intro remarks and then I’ll introduce
our wonderful panelists who are going to
join me up here. Welcome to the 19th annual
National Book Festival brought to you by the Library
of Congress. This festival is free of
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please do so on the festival app under the word “donate”
on the apps home page. We appreciate your support for this great celebration
of books and reading. We hope this day
inspires you to make use of the incomparable resources
of the Library of Congress, your very own national library. You can visit us in
person, on Capitol Hill or on the web at LOC.gov. We’re thrilled to announce the
libraries brand new national book festival presents series,
which will extend the reach of the festival with
more exciting book events at the library starting
next month. Please check LOC.gov for
updates on all the programs. For children as well as adults,
and ticketing for each one and I know about one of them,
David Pilky there’s going to be a Dave Pilky day. So anyone with younger kids. So we’re going to
welcome your questions at the end of our presentation. And if you have one
for our authors try to keep it brief
and to the point. And if you do ask questions
you’re giving us permission to use it for the webcast. And finally, please turn
off your cell phones. Thank you. Okay, so now I am so happy to introduce our YA
author panelists, we’re going to be talking
about difficult topics in YA. We have Jarrett Krosoczka,
did I say it right?>>Jarrett Krosoczka: No.>>Maria Russo: So close. So close.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Krosoczka.>>Maria Russo: Krosoczka. He is the author of many
books for young readers, including I’ll just – just
off the top of my head. The Lunch Lady series,
which you may know. His YA book that is the
reason he’s up here today, Hey Kiddo was published
last year.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Maria Russo: To wide acclaim. That’s Jarrett. We also have Monica
Hesse, who is a ->>Monica Hesse: Hesse.>>Maria Russo: Hesse. Why didn’t I check – sorry? She is a columnist right
here in Washington, at the Washington Post. And also writes these
incredible historical novels, The Girl in the Blue Coat. American Fire, and she
has a book coming and then of course the book coming
in the spring is called ->>Monica Hesse: They went left.>>Maria Russo: They went left. And the book that’s out now, which I just should
have written down also ->>Monica Hesse:
The War Outside.>>Maria Russo: The War Outside. All of them historical novels and so we have two
different kinds of difficult subject matter
that you guys deal with. So why don’t we start with a
little bit of an introduction to your books and why
you chose to write about the topics
that you write about. Do you want to start Jarrett?>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Sure,
Hey Kiddo is a graphic memoir. So oftentimes people will say
it’s a graphic novel memoir and that is incorrect because
you would never say something is a novel memoir, right? So it’s a graphic memoir. It’s a memoir about my own life
told in the format of a comic. And it’s about my upbringing
because surrounded by addiction. My mother’s addiction to heroin,
my grandparent’s alcoholism. I was raised by my grandparents because of my mother’s
heroin addiction. And it’s all about my wanting
to be an artist when I grew up, and all about how art
really saved me and booed me through all of those
experiences.>>Maria Russo: And Monica?>>Monica Hesse: So The War
Outside, as Maria said most of my books are historical
fiction. And while I was researching
a previous book, I came across this
photo that I was – I was just deeply curious about. It was a photo of a young
woman who was wearing a tiara and carrying a scepter
and she had a sash on that said “Prom Queen.” And – and then I learned
that she was a prom queen of her internment
camp in World War II. And I was just really deeply
interested in – in what kind of school she would have
attended and what kind of life she would have
lived that she was – that she was the prom queen
of her internment camp; so I wrote The War Outside
to explore this period of American History through
the eyes of teenagers who are growing up in it.>>Maria Russo: And what about
the idea that you were writing for teenagers about topics
that many of the adults in their lives might be a
little uncomfortable about. How did you both approach
that, that challenge?>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Well
we probably approached it from different spaces, because
you’ve written a lot of books for grownups, and I’ve
written a lot of books for very young people. So for me it was – also I had to
get over the anxiety that I had because I’m known as the lunch
lady guy in writing these happy and cheery graphic novels for
young people or picture books. And wanting to also in the book
was publishing this signal boost to everyone that this you know,
this wasn’t a middle grade book. And graphic memoir is very
popular in middle grade. And so I think a lot of people
had assumed this was going to be middle grade. So via the tagline of the title, so it’s Hey Kiddo How I Lost
my mother, found my father and dealt with family addiction
down to the color pallet that didn’t feel
like middle grade. So I had to get to the point
where I had to have the courage to write the book, and I gained
that courage from meeting so many of my young readers
who also had addiction in their lives, who
had maybe a parent who was either incarcerated
or had died of an overdose. And it was through those
interactions that I realized that these young people
really needed the story.>>Maria Russo: And what age
reader were you picturing when you wrote it?>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
I always thought of it as young adult, so 12 and up. But I do – but I will say
though when I was on book tour, I was very conscious of
the fact that you know, if I saw someone coming in
with a much younger reader, I thought well they’re here because they think it’s
[Inaudible] lunch lady and so – but I had quotes that
would – that would pull up about people – what
people were saying about the book while
they were sitting. That’s pretty – going
to be a signal boost if they need to leave they can. Because I don’t want to – anyone feel like they’re
unwelcome to be there. And there was one event where there was this one
reader was nine years old. And they came through the book
signing line and she was there because her eldest brother, who
was 12 died of a drug over dose. And so sometimes people would
say to me “Well it says 12 and up, but I would
wait until maybe 14.” To which I would say
“That’s your choice, but look my mother
started using drugs when she was 13 years old.” And there are difficult truths
in people’s lives and our lives in humanity and I personally
with my own children, the way we raised them
it’s best to experience that through the comfort of a
book before they have to face it and the harshness of reality.>>Maria Russo: And Monica?>>Monica Hesse: Yeah – [ Applause ]>>Monica Hesse: You
know you mentioned that I also write for adults. I don’t approach writing
YA any differently than I approach writing
for adults. I don’t try to soften themes,
I don’t try to soften language, I don’t try to soften feelings. I think that when we say
that teenagers aren’t ready to read something,
what we often mean is that their parents are not
ready for them to read that – their parents are not ready
to have that conversation. But – but I think about when
I was 15, 16, 17 the kinds of things I was thinking
about and the kinds of things I was trying to process were the same
things I struggle with now. And – and so I – I tried to
give my characters the dignity and the intelligence that I
think – that I think a lot of teenagers have, if
we – if we empower them and give them the
respect to believe that they already have it.>>Maria Russo: So when you were
looking at doing your research on the internment camps, did
you feel – were you looking at our current situation
with you know the camps on the borders for
migrants and refugees, or was this beforehand?>>Monica Hesse: Yeah I mean
it was really fascinating because I started writing this
book before the border crisis was in popular news. And – and my book is
set in Crystal City, Texas which is very – it’s a very specific camp
called Crystal City Family Internment Camp. And then about half-way
into my research and writing process
we starting hearing about these migrant camps in
Texas, just a few miles away from where this internment
camp had been set. And the way that we talked
about internment then and justified internment then
and the language we used was so similar to the
language that we use now. So it was hard to
not see parallels.>>Maria Russo: And actually
maybe you should explain a little bit about the
lives of the teenagers, because one thing you
did do in the book that was interesting is
dig up this bit of history that people might
not know about. That there were actually
German Americans incarcerated or in internment camps along
with Japanese Americans.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah so
Crystal City – I won’t – I promise I won’t turn this
into a long boring history, but if you ever come
hear me talk alone I will and I’ll give you
a whole history. So Crystal City Family
Internment Camp was the only internment camp in
the United States that had both Japanese American
and German American families. And it was a camp that
was specifically created for people they believed
to be spies. So if you were there they had
evidence against your family as flimsy and spacious as
that evidence might have been. But if you were a child growing
up there or a teenager growing up there the government decided that they wanted this
to be a model camp. So they had ->>Maria Russo: A prom ->>Monica Hesse: A prom. They had a football team. They had a football team that had an absolutely
perfect winning record. Can anyone guess
whey a football team in an internment camp
had a winning record? Because they couldn’t
play anyone else, because they were in a prison. So – so all of those facets I
thought were really fascinating and belonged in a novel.>>Maria Russo: And
maybe you know, everyone here is
obviously a YA fan, but maybe we should also have
both of you explain what it is that you think is the
difference between a YA book and a book that’s written for
adults but about teenagers? What are you trying to do by
making your book, your story YA?>>Jarrett Krosoczka: I think
it’s from the point of view of a teenager I would say. I mean that’s how I
would approach it. The voice – so I wrote Hey
Kiddo specifically with my 16, 17 year old voice; so there’s
some pieces that I didn’t give that character the
knowledge that I later gained. And then there are some
elements in the story that I had to communicate to the reader. And when that happened I
communicated through the art, and not through the narration. But I mean I think –
it’s like you said, there’s nothing stopping a
teenager from reading one of your books that was written
and then not written for but then marketed
towards, right?>>Monica Hesse: I mean
I think that the only – the only difference that I think
about is that I think a lot of teenagers live with
their hearts a lot closer to the surface then
a lot of adults do. And part of that is just due
to the fact that they haven’t – they haven’t kind of gotten
the protective shell yet, that we learned to get for
better or worse as adults. And they haven’t gotten
as calloused and a lot of that is due to the fact that
they’re living in circumstances that are often beyond
their control.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Yes.>>Monica Hesse: So I try to
reflect that in my writing. But ->>Jarrett Krosoczka: And
there’s also the enthusiasm of experiencing life
for the first time.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah.>>Maria Russo: Right like so at
one way I look at it is a grown up novel is kind of looking back at the experience
of being a teenager. And even if the teenager is the
main character you have a sense of an adult sensibility. Whereas in a YA book
you’re right there in the middle of
being a teenager. And you – like you say you
really don’t know what’s going to happen next. So when you travel around the
country talking to teenagers about your books could you tell
us about some of the reactions that you get and
some of the ways that you have come
to know your readers? And what you’ve learned
from them?>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
Well I’ve come to recognize the body
language and the expressions on one’s face when
they might want to share similar experience. And there have been moments
in schools and libraries and book stores where that might
be the first time the young person spoke aloud what
they were dealing with, which is very empowering
thing for a young person. To the point where
there’s a – young – he was probably 10 or 11. He confided in me that his
father was incarcerated and he just broke down in
tears in sobs, you know? And of course the
adults were like “We want to take a picture
with the author.” I’m like “Let him
have a moment.” You know? And we’ll
take a photo. So – and I think as a young
person too I remember the first adults that I uttered
some of those truths, and what a weight was lifted
off my shoulders then.>>Maria Russo: But
in your case it wasn’t through an author, right?>>Jarrett Krosoczka: For
me it was other adults.>>Maria Russo: It’s amazing
that you guys go and meet kids and you have become kind
of a way that they can deal with their own experience.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
And it’s almost safe because they’re not going
to see me the next day. They give that to the person
they know that I can understand, they know that I’ve
lived with it. And then I’m off to wherever I’m
off to when they’re hopefully – and then hopefully too maybe
there’s another person – if it happens at a
school I certainly – if another adult isn’t
right there to hear it. I make sure there
is one instance where I was handed a note that had some really
difficult truths. And I have to convince the
librarian like this is something that you need to help
this young person.>>Maria Russo: Right.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
But I can’t be that person on the ground.>>Maria Russo: But you
said that – you meet them for one day and you leave. But your book stays with them.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Yes.>>Maria Russo: And
that’s making a difference.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: And it’s
a safe space to encounter.>>Maria Russo: That’s
really true. Monica have you had
experiences meaning your readers that have surprised
you and moved you?>>Monica Hesse: I mean I would
live in a high school if I could because I think like – like
humans between the ages of 14 and 17 are the most
magical humans. But what I – what I love are
the connections that they make that are so much smarter than what I even intended
to make in the book. And in my first YA book, Girl
in the Blue Coat, which is set in the Dutch Resistance
of World War II. There’s a group of – there’s
a group of young people who join underground camera, which was a real
resistance organization where photographers
were taking – were documenting secret
photographs of Nazi atrocities. And it was run mostly
by teenagers. And they were doing this to
sort of say we’re not going to let you lie about
what happened later. We’re going to document
this, this happened. And I was in a high school
and I said this and one of the students was like oh like we use our camera
phones to film the police. And I was like oh my God that’s
so – that’s so brilliant. This – this impulse to – to use
what means are at your disposal to speak truth to power, to
make sure to bear witness. And so I – I am always
learning about things that are in my books that I didn’t
even know were in my books until some start young
reader tells me they were.>>Maria Russo: And just
to get back to our idea of difficult topics and how
sometimes they’re easier for the teenagers
then the adults. Can you talk a little bit about
reactions you had from adults that maybe have been surprising
or challenging as you’re trying to get your message out?>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
You know I had a lot of anxiety before Hey
Kiddo was published. Just wondering what I would
be confronted with of people who didn’t think it
would be appropriate. But honestly knock on wood, I mean I haven’t
had one instance pop up where someone said this
doesn’t belong in this library, this doesn’t belong
with this reader. I perhaps, because also a lot of adults have those
same conversations with me that the teens do. And sometimes it’s
because of their own lives, maybe they’re the
parent or maybe it’s because their children’s
addiction. You know sometimes, I’ve
met a lot of grandparents who are raising grandchildren
as well.>>Monica Hesse: I think
most of my experiences – most of my interactions
with adults that are my favorites are really
actually wonderful experiences. I heard from – I
heard from a man who had read the Dutch
translation of one of my books, Girl in the Blue Coat who – who said my father was
Anne Frank’s teacher. And – and he died
before I could ask him about what Amsterdam
was like then. And I learned about
Amsterdam through this. Or, I heard from a woman whose
mother had been a prisoner at Crystal City Internment Camp
and – and who refused to talk about it, until she died. And so I like hearing from
adults who – who are getting to learn about their own
experiences, via novels. I do get – I have gotten
responses from adults who say this isn’t
appropriate for children. I had a librarian of all
people tell me she wasn’t going to carry Girl in the Blue Coat because it had a
gay character in it. And I felt really sad for
her – for her students. And I felt sad for her thinking
that you could protect – protect your students from
learning about something that they already know exists
and is normal to exist.>>Maria Russo: And you
know Jarrett it occur dot me after I read your book that
it’s actually a historical novel in a way.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: I
did a lot of research.>>Maria Russo: Because
it’s set in sort of the ->>Jarrett Krosoczka:
80’s and 90’s ->>Maria Russo: Yeah
which is now ->>Jarrett Krosoczka:
And some 40’s too. I go back into the ->>Maria Russo: Right. Oh that’s true, your
grandparents courtship scene. But so we could talk
about both of you as historical novelists now. How do ->>Jarrett Krosoczka: As old
as that makes us – it’s true. You know you’re in trouble when like the American Girl Doll
Company rolls out with a doll from when you grew up.>>Maria Russo: Right.>>Monica Hesse: Her
name is Jennifer.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
She has jiffy pop. [ Laughter ]>>Maria Russo: It’s true. Wacky packages ->>Jarrett Krosoczka: Yeah.>>Maria Russo: So could you
talk a little bit about that? About writing for teenagers
living in this world today, which is so different. I mean especially
obviously from World War II, but how do you think about that? About speaking to teenagers
living in our world now about the way teenagers lived
in a different time period?>>Jarrett Krosoczka: I mean all of the emotions are the
same, just the technology. I grew up with the Wonder
Years, my favorite TV show, which was set in
the 50’s and 60’s. But that didn’t – that
time difference didn’t mean that I couldn’t project myself
onto Paul Pfeiffer, right? That was me and Pat growing up.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah, I mean
I think that – I always think that historical fiction is
never really about the past. It’s about today and just
finding a different way to talk about it. I will say though I was talking
with Phyllis Reynolds Mahler, do you guys know her
Shiloh DeAllis books, yeah. So she – she and I were
talking about this and she said that she prefers to write
books set in the past because the more you write in the past the more
current your books will feel. If you write something set
now and you have like a bunch of kids using tick-tock it
will seem – it will work now. Next year it will be like ->>Maria Russo: It’s over.>>Monica Hesse: Its’
over, it’s already passed. So I will say that writing
in the past allows things to feel actually
presence and not dated.>>Maria Russo: That’s
so interesting. Wow.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Because
kids can totally more relate to say passing notes than
logging into My Space, right?>>Monica Hesse: Yeah.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
Or Frienster. If you’re really from
the early – you know?>>Monica Hesse: When you write
– like today there are so many – there are so many problems
and situations in my books that could have been solved
if people had a cell phone.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
Right; yeah.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah, so it’s
nice to be writing in an era where it’s just like
not an option. You have to ->>Maria Russo: You have to
bring that note over in person.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: But there
is something about just you go down a rabbit hole,
like even though like Hey Kiddo is a memoir
I would find this letter, which led to that
letter, which led me to learn things I
never knew about. And I’m sure definitely you
experienced that I’m sure. Scratching at the
service and leading from one thing to the next.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah in
research I usually start off with – I start off with a time
and place and a vague idea. And then I just go bury
myself for a couple of weeks in the National Archives
or the Library of Congress or something. And then – and just
sort of digging in well what would
this look like? Where could that happen? Where would that take place?>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
And what a gift to have in this institution. So I worked with Wister
Historical Museum. Because there are
a lot of buildings that are no longer standing,
that are featured in the book like the elementary
school I attended. And so I worked with them
to find archival photographs of some of these spaces.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: So you
know the 1% of the people who will read Hey
Kiddo, who also attended that building they’ll
recognize it, but then for everyone else
you’re like that looks like a real place
from a real time. Even though you were
never seeing it in person with your own eyes.>>Maria Russo: Because
you had the ->>Jarrett Krosoczka: Because
I could draw what I would see from the photo. Yeah.>>Maria Russo: That’s
fantastic. One other cool thing
about having these two with us is we have the two
sides of what’s really exciting and current in YA, which is the
graphic memoir and novel side, and then the straight
up novel side. And it’s so good to have in
conversation with each other to see how they’re really
doing the same thing. But could you talk a little
bit about sometimes when I talk to writers they are
jealous of the illustrators. Because they get
to convey things with their pictures visually. Then when I talk to the
illustrators they’re jealous of the writers, the straight
writers because they get to fill in history and things that
you can’t do in a picture. So do you – do you guys –
can you talk a little bit about how writing just words
is different than writing with words and pictures. And how maybe both are
the best thing for kids is to have both in their life?>>Jarrett Krosoczka: I think
they definitely should have both in a wide array of literature. I mean you – it’s probably
tough to answer that question because you’ve never
illustrated a book. I’ve never just written.>>Monica Hesse: What I
am really curious to know about is – is you’ve
all heard the term like are you a plot or a pancer? Yes okay. So ->>Jarrett Krosoczka: And in case some people
didn’t, what does that mean?>>Monica Hesse:
I’m glad you asked for the few people
who didn’t know. So – so people often say
the novelists are plotters or pancers. And plotters know
where things are going like from the beginning to the
end, they have chapter outlines, they’re these like
beautiful organized unicorns. And pancers are like me
and they – you just sit down like vomit words
for a couple of hours and then go eat a Pop Tart.>>Maria Russo: Coming
– it comes from – [ Cross talking ]>>Monica Hesse: But like – but
I always feel like I can fly by the seat of my
pants because I only – I only have a Word Document. And I wonder do you have to be
more organized in your process and more meticulous
about where you’re going?>>Jarrett Krosoczka: That’s
a great question, yes and no. So I start by writing
everything. I use final draft, which is
a screen writing software, you know? So it’s written out
like a script, just like a movie would be,
character’s name, dialog, character’s name,
dialog, stage direction, what you’re going
to see in the art. And I can more – I mean I kind of had a big picture
idea, right? So before I do that for at
least Hey Kiddo I wrote ideas on post it’s. Memory is on Post-its and
I tried to organize them. But when it comes to the art
it – you’re so – everything is so carefully planned because
there’s this thing called the page turn, right? There’s the art of the
page turn, which I learned from making picture
books for so many years. And by that, what I mean is
say if your character is going to open the door
of a shed to see if there’s a monster in there. When you get to the bottom
right hand corner of those – those two open pages,
you should not reveal if the monster is there. I call that the hand
on the doorknob moment. So the character has their
hand on the doorknob. And so for that split second
when the reader turns the page, they’re there with
the character. It’s the constant moment for
little mini cliff hangers. And so – sometimes when you turn
the page maybe you’ll have a full page spread, where the
monster is jumping out at you. So with that if something prior
to that needs to get edited, and your page count
goes of you have to – you have to make
amends for that.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah so you’re
not only thinking that this as to – like I’m
thinking this chapter has to end in a cliff hanger. But for you it’s specific
as like this has to happen on page three, not page four
because that’s where the ->>Jarrett Krosoczka:
Turn the page and see what’s on
the other side. So for instance in
Hey Kiddo at the end of I think chapter seven, you know I received –
I’m getting the mail. And you’re like oh, something – and then you turn the page an
it’s a full page spread close on the characters face when
you realize that the character, me is hearing from their
father for the first time.>>Maria Russo: All
right, did you ever think about writing a book
that’s just words? Or will you always
want to work – is thinking visually just
too organic to your process?>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
It is very organic. I have had a story knocking on
my head, where I think the – the illustrations
might give away some of the aspects of the story. And so it may be picture less. It might be just
[Inaudible] so we’ll see. But I wrote The Platypus Police
Squad books were written as pros within using big
pieces of illustrations to help expand what was
happening in the art.>>Maria Russo: Wow.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: So
a little bit less 50/50.>>Maria Russo: Interesting
well it makes me think of wonder for example, right? It’s so great that we
don’t know what Augie looks like in the book at least.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah.>>Maria Russo: Because that
would take something away from our own imagining. But Monica, many word writers
these days are writing scripts for graphic novels. They’re teaming up with an
illustrator, is that something that you would be
interested in or think about?>>Monica Hesse: I will say that
my background is in journalism. I was a journalist
before I was a novelist. And one of the things that
journalism is really good at is making you
attuned to dialog and how people actually speak, because when you’re getting
quotes exactly right you realize that they’re often
not these beautiful Shakespearean sentences. They like fall off
in the middle, there are likes and
umms and ha’s. I try to put those into dialog. And so whenever I’m having a
really awful writing day I let myself just do pages
and pages of dialog. Because I love that
and it’s easy. So I could see that
transitioning into a graphic novel as long
as someone else was doing all of the illustrating; yeah. Someone else was
taking care of all that.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Not
seeing your family for a month.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah.>>Maria Russo: It’s true. We should talk about
the relative timeframes of writing a graphic
book like Hey Kiddo and writing a straight novel because the graphic books
are very time consuming.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Very
time consuming, a lot of hours. So I devour audio
books and podcasts. Because sometimes when I listen to just straight music
then my mind drifts. I need to – my butt
needs to be in the chair. When I’m making the
art a lot of the – all of the story telling
decisions have been made. So anything that ->>Maria Russo: The
kind of inking ->>Monica Hesse: I’m just
inking and drawing and inking and replicating and
taking it to final. So anything that gets this
part of my brain really engaged so I can sit for hours on end.>>Maria Russo: Wow and how long
do your novels generally take?>>Monica Hesse:
If I am a good girl and I have done everything the
way that I plan on doing it, a novel would take 80 days because I write 1,000
words a day. And – and they’re
about 80,000 words. And I’m – I’m really
disciplined. I always try to be
really honest with people that to write a book you either
have to be just wildly talented or wildly disciplined. And the first you don’t
have so much control over, but the second you do. So ->>Maria Russo: But wait, I thought you said
you were a pancer?>>Monica Hesse: Once
I sit down there’s like it’s anybody’s guess ->>Maria Russo: But the
point is you’re sitting ->>Monica Hesse: What’s
going to end up onto page.>>Maria Russo: I got it.>>Monica Hesse: The point is
I won’t make myself sit down and I’m not going to get up
until there are 1,000 words.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: But
it is amazing how much external factors. Like am I hungry? Am I feeling okay
so – am I sick? Am I feeling depressed? And what time of day is it? Well now its 1:00 and now I’m
exhausted and I have to pick up the kids from school;
so you really have to know when you’re going to be at
your best to just get that ->>Maria Russo: And make that
you’re writing or drawing time.>>Monica Hesse: Yeah, I mean to be clear I’ve never actually
finished a novel in 80 days because life gets in the way. But I think you learn that
creativity is something – is like a muscle that you
can grow and you can flex. So that on the days when you
don’t feel inspired you can still force yourself to
sit down and do work. And it might not be your best
work and it might be work that you erase the next day. But ->>Jarrett Krosoczka: That helps
you get to the next level ->>Monica Hesse: But you still
need to go through the slump to get where you’re
trying to go.>>Maria Russo: Interesting. Well we only have about 10
more minutes before we’re going to open it up for all
of your questions. Why don’t we talk a little bit
about other books that you want to bring to the attention
of our audience, that you think are
kind of exciting. And doing the – making YA
into what it’s becoming and they’re taking us to the
next place because they’re so many great YA
books right now. And I think historical;
I would say two of the really strongest parts
of YA are historical fiction and graphic memoirs and novels. So it’s great to
have you guys here; so can you give us some shout
outs to some other books that you’re interested in?>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Sure,
well I think that we’ll see more and more young adult
graphic memoir. Like I said it’s been huge
in the middle grade space. So I’ll give a shout out
my friend Mike Corato. You might know him from
the Little Elliot books. He’s just finishing
up the art for his – its young adult graphic novel
loosely based on his own life. And it’s called Flamer, and it’s
about a boy who is bi-racial who comes out as gay at a sleep
away camp in the mid 1990’s.>>Maria Russo: Oh wow,
when is that coming out? I can’t wait to see
that; that sounds great.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
The art is beautiful.>>Maria Russo: Fantastic. Any other – any books that
you’ve been excited about?>>Monica Hesse: Well I just
downloaded onto my Kindle and I’m very excited to
read [Inaudible] new book – anyone who reads historical
fiction knows Ruta’s work. Don’t spoil it for me if any of
you have read this before me. So I’m excited to read that. I also – the favorite YA
book that I read of last year which again I’m sure many of you have read was
Sadi by Courtney Sumner.>>Maria Russo: Oh yes. Thriller that’s another
genre that’s – that’s really hot
right now in YA. That’s fantastic. Anything else we can open
it up to questions too, but let’s give a few more
shout outs to other books to ->>Monica Hesse: I’m going to be
honest because my book shelf is so boring well – no my
book shelf is fascinating. But I’ve been – I’ve been – or the last six months I’ve been
working on a book set in Poland in 1945 after the war. Everything on my
bookshelf has a title of like Food rationing
in Warsaw in 1948. So I’m not the best
to ask for some like ->>Maria Russo: That’s good to
know that’s what you have to do when you’re really hard at work.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
I’ll throw in another book on your radar that’s
not out quite yet. His name is Jonathan
Todd and he’s someone who I’ve been talking to
for a number of years now about getting published
and I’m so psyched for him. His book is called Timid. It’s upper middle grade
graphic memoir and it’s about his own experience
being Black in a predominantly White school, and then how he navigates the
friendships when other children of color who come in
from the inner city. And where his – where
his culture is and how he feels he fits in
between the different groups.>>Maria Russo: Fantastic. Well these are all
good recommendations. Can we – do we have
someone to use a mic – can we have our questionnaires
just ->>Jarrett Krosoczka: There’s a
mic right there and right there.>>Maria Russo: Okay or you
could just speak really loudly. [ Inaudible ]>>Jarrett Krosoczka: So the question was how
long do you write for and how long do you
read each day. But there’s no – every
day is so different. I have three children at home. Yeah, so ->>Monica Hesse: So for me,
I had – I work for the – I’m a columnist for the
Washington Post full time. So I’m writing – I’m writing
– I mean I’m writing every day for eight hours a day and then
I come home and I write for two or three more, so it’s a lot — it’s – I kind of have no other
hobbies or life to speak of.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: But
that’s a remarkable life.>>Monica Hesse: I have a dog.>>Maria Russo: The dog gets
you out doing the walking.>>Monica Hesse: She’s a
good companion for writing.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
Good for self-care.>>Maria Russo: Yes. [ Inaudible ]>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
So the question is so it probably would be easier
if people go to the mic, right? So we can all hear – so
I think your question was when you’re reading something
that’s pros you can really spend a lot of time with it, but
in a graphic novel you feel like you’re done in the day. So my question back to you
would be how much time were you spending reading the pictures? Because what you might be
doing is as adults and even when I’m ready picture
books to my children, I sometimes breeze
past the illustrations. But remember that just
like picture books with graphic novels, half of
the story is told with the art. And so we have to take a
moment to read the pictures, very carefully because
there’s going to be all sorts of other information in there. And yes when you are spending
years trying to make this book and you hear someone
has read it in a day; you’re like it took me
so long to make that. But not all graphic novels – but not all graphic novels
are the same as well. You’re going to have
some graphic novels that are very text heavy. And you’re going to
have some graphic novels that are very illustration
heavy. And to take the time to read all of the art will take
you longer as well.>>Maria Russo: And I find
graphic novels I re-read probably more often than
I re-read straight novels, and it might be for this reason, because I find something new
each time in the pictures.>>Hi I wanted to ask this
is mostly for Jarrett, if you can tell me what
it’s been like for you to have people essentially
know your story and feel like they really know you when
they don’t actually know you.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: That’s
a good question, so what is it like when people know me
but don’t really know me? When the book was
first published a lot of people tweeted to me
selfies of themselves crying. That was kind of – I’m
glad to have the direction and then I felt that
people wanted to hug me when they saw me because I’m
the physical manifestation of this character that they
spend so much time with. And – but because I delivered
Ted talk some years prior I was prepared for that. So having given that
Ted talk putting myself out there really
helped me navigate. Obviously talk therapy
helps quite a bit with everything in life, right? So I wouldn’t have gotten
through writing the book if it were going to talk
therapy on a regular basis or having gone out to
tour for it as well.>>I’m a therapist myself,
so I appreciate that.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
That’s great. And also, so I know here’s a
question that most people ask. They ask because there’s
a scene in third grade where I get my finger caught
in an escalator railing and yes there is still
a scar and sometimes – if I do this is makes
a little sound. You can’t hear it. Pretty gross, right?>>Maria Russo: We
go on this side?>>So I was wondering
for – this question is for Jarrett specifically about
the graphic memoir creation. How you approach painting people
who were still in your life in a negative light or
just as versions of them that you felt were
like very personal. Like did you ask –
did you talk to people about the graphic novel before
you gave yourself permission to do that and let go? Or did you just do it
and hope for the best? I’m wondering – personally
working on writing ->>Jarrett Krosoczka: I have
either learned of or talked to enough people who have
written memoirs whose family dynamics have shifted
in the negative way because of writing memoir. So it’s very conscious of
having these conversations. As dark as it sounds, it
does help to outlive people when you’re writing about
what happened, right? And so I – I had a lot of people
– anyone who was in the family and featured in the
book and still with us, I had them read early
drafts to see if my memory served
me correctly. The best piece of advice I
received about writing memoir. I went to go see a lecture
by David Saderis and just like you I was sitting in the
crowd and then raised my hand, which I understand
takes a lot of courage. They called on me and
now I have to talk in front of all these people. And – and so I asked
him how did his family – how does his family
deal with that? And he said I don’t reveal
any of their secrets. So one I was like what the
hell are their secrets? But too, also he was so right
and so I don’t reveal any of my families – any
of their secrets. You know my mother has
passed and when we die, stories are all we
leave behind to those that are still on this earth. So that’s what I
inherited from her. So I navigated it in a
way that was sensitive to other people’s needs as well.>>Thank you.>>Maria Russo: Okay we’re
going to have to wrap it up. Can we do one more question? One more? Okay let’s
do one more over here.>>So I’m kind of a little bit
of a digital art kind of person; so I do have a few questions
– I just have one question ->>Maria Russo: Very
brief question.>>Let’s see, how did you
get started on drawing and as a young teen can
you write a book early and then publish it
when you’re an adult?>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
Well you know I, I just always loved to draw. You know for the young artists
that are in the room I would say for now just focus on
the joy of the craft and working on your craft. Don’t worry about getting
published or “famous” because your work is going to
change so much over the years. And so your work is
in constant evolution, so just enjoy the process.>>Maria Russo: Can
we do one more? Are they banging at the doors? Okay let’s ->>So like a couple
months ago I went to the Holocaust
Memorial Museum in DC. And there were a lot of teens
there wearing MAGA hats. If you were in my place would
you say anything to them? And if so what would that be?>>Maria Russo: I guess this
one is for Monica since you ->>Yeah. [ Laughter ]>>Monica Hesse: Are
you sure we’re not ->>Maria Russo: MAGA,
Make America Great Again. [ Laughter ] Right, so as a columnist
and an author of books set during
the Holocaust.>>Monica Hesse: First of
all you should never feel like you have to put
yourself in a situation where you don’t feel safe. So deciding whether or not to
approach a group of strangers that you don’t know in a public
space is a really on the ground in the moment decision. If you do feel like you’re
in a space where you want to have a dialog or have a
conversation, I think that one of the things that the Holocaust
teaches us and that periods of history teach us is
that symbols are important. And symbols are meaningful
and regardless of what their intentions of
wearing that hat might be, it’s grown to mean
something to a lot of people. And I think it is worth having
the dialog, that just says when I see that symbol
this is what I hear. And this is what it
makes me think of. And when you put that on your
head, is that what you’re trying to say, and is that the kind of personality you’re
trying to convey? Not in an accusatory way, but
in a way that’s just saying that this is the message
that you’re putting out. Do you want to be
the kind of person that puts out that message?>>Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Maria Russo: Thank you all. We’re still one? For being here.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
Thank you for Maria Russo.>>Monica Hesse: Yes.>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
Russo, Rizzo ->>Maria Russo: Oh my – [ Laughter ]>>Maria Russo: I
thought there was going to be someone else
introducing us. [ Laughter ]>>Maria Russo: Our
wonderful authors are going to be signing – where
are you signing?>>Jarrett Krosoczka:
Eight I believe.>>Maria Russo: Please ->>Monica Hesse:
Right next door.>>Maria Russo: Right
next door, conveniently; so please come and
bring your books. And thank you again
for being here.>>Jarrett Krosoczka: Thanks
so much; thank you everybody. [ Applause ]

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