Hi everyone! It’s that time of year again… The Ontario Teen Book Festival official blog tour! *throws confetti* Join us as we count down to one of my favorite book festivals in SoCal, with daily author interviews spotlighting all the attending authors and a blog-wide giveaway hosted by Sara from What a Nerd Girl Says! Read on to find out more about OntarioTBF and to check out my interview with my lovely friend, Julie Buxbaum!
What: The Ontario Teen Book Fest is an annual book event that features over a dozen bestselling YA authors. It is a FREE and UNTICKETED event but teens will have priority seating, so come one, come all!
This year’s author lineup includes Julie Buxbaum, Stephanie Garber, Robin Reilly’s, Cindy Pon, Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka, and more! Check out the blog tour schedule after these event details to see a full list of which authors will be joining us this year!
When: Saturday, March 9th, 9am to 5pm
Where: Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761
A FREE lunch will be provided by Panera Bread! You’re welcome to bring your own lunch, of course. 🙂
Also, when sharing photos from the event or just spreading the word, please use the hashtag #OntarioTBF
There will be books available for purchase at the event, as well as t-shirts and posters. You are more than welcome to bring books from home, but try to help support Once Upon A Time by purchasing a book or two from them. 😉 Trust me, once you see all the books lined up there, it’s so difficult trying not to buy at least one. Or ten.
Blog Tour Schedule
Spotlight on Abdi Nazemian – What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on Cindy Pon – Bookchelle
Spotlight on Suzanne Young – Movies Shows N Books
Spotlight on Isabel Quintero – Read Now Sleep Later
Spotlight on Amy Spalding – Nite Lite Book Reviews
Spotlight on Julie Buxbaum – My Fangirl Chronicles
Spotlight on Demetra Brodsky – Adventures of a Book Junkie
Spotlight on Kayla Cagan – Movies Shows N Books
Spotlight on Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka – BookCrushin’
Spotlight on Jeff Sweat – Movies Shows n Books
Spotlight on Robin Reul – What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on Jessica Brody – The Readers Antidote
Spotlight on Stephanie Garber – Adventures of a Book Junkie
Spotlight on Jennifer Brody – Bookschief Managed
Spotlight on Carrie Arcos – Read Now Sleep Later
Spotlight on Nicole Maggi – Bookchelle
Spotlight on Mary Weber – BookCrushin’
Today’s author spotlight is…
Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, her young adult debut, and the critically acclaimed novels The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Julie’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and an immortal goldfish.
May 7, 2019
Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future.
Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing.
Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counsellor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope.
Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?
Interview with Julie Buxbaum
1.) I understand that you have a new YA book coming out soon, titled, Hope and Other Punchlines (which I cannot WAIT to read!). What inspired you to write a story that has specific ties to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11?
A few years ago, a young writer I really respect on Twitter was complaining about how her school repeatedly made her learn about the September 11th attacks on the anniversary each year. I’m not sure if it was her intention, but it felt very much like she was belittling their import and I found the tweet shocking. I realized there was a major disconnect between those of use who came of age before 9/11 and those who came of age afterwards, and I wanted to teach a new generation that while the attacks may feel like distant history for them, there are literally thousands of people who are still getting sick as a result. This tragedy is not over. At the same time, I didn’t want to write about 9/11 directly—I wanted my story set today, in it’s long aftermath, and so from there, the story of Baby Hope (who in the novel is famous for being in a photo on that day) was born.
2.) What was the most challenging part of writing Hope and Other Punchlines?
It was really difficult to write to two very different audiences. I know that most of my readers will have been young children when 9/11 happened or may have not even yet been born, and so therefore have no memories of the attacks. But I also have readers who are adults and have distinct memories of that day. Making sure that the book worked for both perspectives was tricky. More than that though, since this is a book about the lasting ramifications of 9/11, but set in the present day, striking the right note tonally was super important to me. This is one of those books that is meant to make you laugh just as much as it is meant to make you cry. When you are dealing with something as heavy as 9/11, that can get complicated.
3.) Did you have to do any sort of research for this book? How was that process like? I can’t imagine being able to get through it without shedding a few tears or getting chills.
I did a ton of research and I’m not going to lie: I shed a lot of tears. A lot. Like bucket-fulls. But I also learned a ton.
4.) How would you say is Hope and Other Punchlines similar to your two previous YA novels, Tell Me Three Things and What to Say Next? How is it dissimilar?
I think all of my books like to play in the space between comedy and tragedy. My hope is to make you laugh and to make you feel, sometimes within the same paragraph. And I also seem endlessly interested in creating romance between two people who are struggling in very different ways.
5.) What do you hope readers will take away from Hope and Other Punchlines?
I want my readers to fall in love with Noah and Abbi and to get lost in their story, but I also hope they learn something about the larger context of the book. Not just about 9/11 and 9/11 specifically, though that too, but more about the lasting legacies of loss.
6.) With the success of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the adaptation of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, and then most recently the announcement of a short-series adaptation for Leigh Bardugo’s YA fantasy series on Netflix, do you think there’s a chance we’ll get to see Tell Me Three Things on there too someday? I would totally fangirl over that.
I would LOVE that! Nothing is set up just yet, but never say never.
7.) Is there a genre that you hope to write for one day that you haven’t yet? I could definitely see you writing a thrilling mystery novel.
I’ve written two novels for adults and three for young adults, but I’ve never written for younger children. I’d like to one day write a middle grade novel, but I have to hurry and do it before my daughter graduates as a reader to YA!
8.) If you could co-write a book with any person in the world, living or not, who would you choose and why? Also, what kind of book do you think you two would write?
I think John Green and I could write a kick-ass heartbreaking hilarious love story together. I’ve never met him but I admire his books, and I feel like our voices would blend well. There are obviously a million other writers I’d love to work with only because I’d love to peer over their shoulders and watch how they make magic.
9.) Can you tell us a little bit if how your writing ritual goes? Is there a certain time of day you usually write? Do you have drinks and snacks? A music playlist or silence? Etc.
I generally keep normal working hours, like one would with a normal 9-5 job. I work at a writing space with headphones. I either play one song on repeat all day (so that I stop hearing the lyrics) or listen to classical music. Otherwise I get distracted. I use Freedom to block out the internet, and that’s been a life saver.
10.) What is the best writing advice that you’ve ever received?
How you feel about the work and the process of creating the work is something wholly separate from how a readership might receive the work.
11.) What would you say is the key to creating well-rounded and realistic characters?
It’s important that your characters feel like real people to you, not placeholders for characteristics. They need to be layered and complex and not simply be used as vehicles to tell a story. They ARE the story.
12.) What has been your most memorable reader encounter so far?
I once signed a kid’s forehead. That felt like a moment.
13.) What are some of your current favorite books that you’ve read recently?
I loved loved loved Picture Us in the Light. My favorite YA of last year.
14.) What is your favorite part about attending book festivals?
Meeting and chatting with readers and book lovers!
15.) Since Ontario Teen Book Fest is a teen centered book event, if you could give your teenage self a message from your current self, what would it be?
A lot of what happens during your teenage years is not okay—it’s just not. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be okay. You will be! It’s hard to know that when you are in the thick of facing all that not-okayness.
Prize: One (1) Ontario TBF poster signed by all attending authors! (giveaway sponsored by What A Nerd Girl Says, no guarantee that all authors will sign)
Thank you so much for chatting with me, Julie! I learned a few new things and am looking forward to Hope and Other Punchlines even more!
Ontario Teen Book Fest is next weekend, are you attending? Let me know in the comments! And if you are, stop by and say hello to Julie! I also highly recommend bringing your books for her to sign, but you can also buy copies at the event, too. Most importantly, don’t forget to have an amazing time!