How do we know YA fiction is super hot right now? Because when YALLFest announced its 2012 lineup, MTV was the first to report on it. The teen-focused literary genre is a huge money-maker, and somehow Charleston became the hub for one of YA's biggest events. Local indie bookstore Blue Bicycle Books — specifically its owner Jonathan Sanchez — is at the root of it all. He teamed up with YA authors Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia (authors of the Beautiful Creatures series) to create the event two years ago, and it quickly took on a life of its own. The 2012 installation features 44 (and counting) of the country's top YA authors, including 25 New York Times bestsellers — people like Cassandra Clare (City of Bones), Kathy Reichs (Bones), Pseudonymous Bosch (The Name of this Book is Secret), Katie Crouch (The Magnolia League), and Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles). This year's festival will also expand into middle grade (grades 2-6) and crossover (adult) genres. The event includes signings, panels, and workshops, and the grand finale is the YA Smackdown, which brings all of the participating authors on stage to compete in storytelling games.
Erica Jackson Curran