Irving—The Irving Public Library’s North Texas Teen Book Festival (NTTBF) presented the “Haunting Reads” online panel on Thursday, Oct. 22. Moderator Sara Roberts spoke with authors Kalynn Bayron, Zoraida Cordova, Nina LaCour, Shelby Mahurin, and Ellie Marney.
“A quick pitch is queer black girls team up to overthrow the patriarchy and the former Kingdom of Cinderella,” Bayron said of her book ‘Cinderella is Dead.’
Bayron wanted to shift the lens and write a book from a black woman’s perspective, because the theme of Cinderella involves a white princess looking for her prince charming.
“We have this very patriarchal, heteronormative society,” Bayron said. “Who is the most vulnerable in a situation like that? Clearly, it’s a black girl, and that kind of mirrors our society today. I think the most vulnerable among us are people who are in the LGBTQ community who have marginalized intersecting identities.”
Cordova spoke about her series, ‘The Hollow Crown Duology.’
“The first book is ‘Incendiary,’ and it is about a girl who is a memory thief,” Cordova said. “Her people’s magic is outlawed in this kingdom, inspired by 15th century Spain. After an attack on her rebel group, she goes back to the palace to infiltrate and try to bring down the king, so it’s lots of teen girls kicking butt.”
Cordova published three books this year including ‘Incendiary’ and ‘Wayward Witch,’ the third book in the ‘Brooklyn Brujas Series.’
“[‘Watch Over Me’] is a modern ghost story about a girl named Mila,” LaCour said. “She is 18, and she is displaced out of the foster system. She accepts an internship on a remote Northern California farm. Her first night there, she sees ghosts on the field and has to figure out whether this place is safe for her and what the ghosts want.”
“[‘Serpent & Dove’] is a series set in a French-inspired medieval kingdom with a witch, Lou, and a witch hunter, Reed, who are forced into a relationship, and they fall in love,” Mahurin said. “It’s an enemies to lovers situation.”
While many of the books had a supernatural element to them, Marney’s book ‘None Shall Sleep’ deals with a more realistic terror.
“My main character, Emma Lewis, has survived being kidnapped by a serial offender,” Marney said. “She is a trauma survivor. It was really important to me to be able to put a trauma survivor front and center in a book like this.”
Marney’s character needed to be a survivor to become a strong woman who overcame her traumatic experience as a child.
In light of the pandemic, Roberts asked the authors what their experience had been like to connect with their readers at a distance, rather than face-to-face.
“I do think that these online events have sort of opened up our ability to connect with more people,” Cordova said. “People who otherwise couldn’t come to New York can now get access to a launch party and interact that way.”
“I was really sad actually going into it, just feeling like ‘Oh this is when I usually would like be with friends and family in a bookstore,’” LaCour said. “But after the first event, it was exciting to see people who live all over the country who wouldn’t be able to come in person and it felt like, ‘Oh we are all together.’”
Marney is an author from Australia, and although she could not travel to the U.S. for her book release, she found that the online world helps.
“I can talk to you now in my morning time and on the other side of the world,” Marney said. “It’s just opened up a whole different world.”
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