Friday, June 4, 2010

Bestselling Authors of 2040

I've had a launch party and a book signing at Barnes & Noble. I was on a panel at Malice Domestic, and I appeared at the Kensington Book Festival, the Festival of Mystery, and the Gaithersburg Book Festival. I signed books at BEA and spoke at the Library of Congress.

The most nerve-wracking appearance of all? That would be yesterday, when I spoke to two sixth grade classes at my son's school.

I had my PowerPoint presentation ready. I had a few gags prepped and raring to go. I had a stack of bookmarks. Most importantly, I wore my Kevlar vest underneath my shirt.

I was prepared.

The classes were wonderful. The kids were quiet and respectful while I spoke (They even called me "Mr. Orloff."). They listened to my words with interest. And they came up with some of the best questions I've been asked in a long time. ("Is the second book harder to sell than the first?" "What kind of background do you need to become an editor?")

We did a little writing exercise, and these kids demonstrated some serious writing chops. Creative, tight, evocative, funny. I'm tempted to contact a few to become critique partners. (Did I mention these kids were only 12 years old?)

If anyone had any fears about the future generation of readers and writers, I'm here to tell you not to worry. If my experience yesterday was typical, the future of the written word looks bright. Very bright.



Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

I learned the same lesson from the school near my home. I don't remember my school writing projects being this advanced at the 6th to 8th grade level.
I'm just glad I'll be out of the game by the time they publish. Unless of course that's their high school project -- publication.
In that case I'm in deep doo-dah!
Giggles and Guns

Anonymous said...

Your own kid's school? You're a brave man, Alan Orloff. Imagine the hell you're delivering your child if you screw up...

I've done a couple of school visits and my schtick is always that we brainstorm a novel based on something in that day's newspaper. Some of what the kids come up with is a little derivative -- clearly wrested from their favorite TV shows -- but they also come up with some real gems. Not ashamed to say that a few of the plot twists in the YA ms I just completed come courtesy of the Mt. Saint Dominic Academy AP English class.

Anonymous said...

Did you have your telepromters?

Alan Orloff said...

Maribeth - Kids today are so much smarter, and more accomplished, than kids of my youth. One of the kids I talked to yesterday was about to put something up on Amazon for the Kindle!

Brad - Oh yeah, you can be sure I was taking notes. If I ever write a story about aliens, I'm all set!

Anon - Teleprompters? Teleprompters? I don't need no steenkin' telemprompters. (Actually, I pretty much read right off my PowerPoint slides.)

Patricia Stoltey said...

It's true all over. I participated in a critique group session for young teens and was blown away by their writing as well as their critiquing skills. And when I helped pass out awards at our library's NaNoWriMo party, half of those completing their 50,000 words were teens. The next generations of writers will be awesome!

Anonymous said...

Cool story, Allen. I was really interested when you said that you put on a Kevlar vest for a bunch of sixth graders (they can be really rough sometimes, I understand...please don't send them after me).

The imagination of kids these days is incredible, at times. Mostly, 'cause they have technology and the internet; things we didn't have almost a decade ago. Anyway, enough of my post, write on!

Guinevere said...

That's a cute story, and a nice thought. Love the line about wearing your Kevlar! lol.

Simon Hay said...

There are some talented young people in the world. I'd love the opportunity to talk to teens. What a fun day. Happy writing, Simon.