Monday, April 28, 2008

TLA 2008 Conference Notes, Day Two: General Session I

Day two is April 16, 2008.

This was the session featuring Dave Barry (his official site) and Ridley Pearson (his official site).

(As I look over my notes, I notice I got a bit snarky on this one. Part of it was that this session is the type of session where you have to wade through the usual business stuff, to use the polite term, before you get to the actual speakers. Add to it that I personally do not like the speakers much, especially Dave Barry, and it made for something akin to torture. Hey, if Dave Barry's humor is your thing, rock on. I like mine darker a la Lewis Black, for example. The initial entertainment I did not find particularly amusing. Anything that usually involves audience participation reminds me of summer camp, parts of which I hated then and I hate now. And don't even get me started on librarians with hoola hoops.)

  • The TLA President gives us the welcome. Of course, the mandatory greeting from the mayor of Dallas. Remember to go eat at the nice restaurants and do some shopping while you are at it. (Yes, that is what he actually said. Thank goodness the West End was within walking distance, or I would have starved. Downtown is not exactly brimming with easy eating locations). Of course, the governor had the mandatory librarian anecdote (I think the ones in Houston and San Antonio did too. It must be written somewhere in their "How to run the city" manual that when a conference comes to town, you need an anecdote related to the professionals in the conference. I can only imagine his anecdote had we been the Texas Proctologists' Association instead.)
  • There was also the mandatory introduction of the sponsors. This works on levels. Level One are those who get an intro and are given time to give some small remarks. Level Two are the ones they just read the names (holding applause to the end) and then they just get a small applause (i.e. the ones who did not give enough money to get to Level One). Don't forget to visit their respective booths.
The speakers: They are promoting their Peter Pan prequel, the Starcatchers series. Find Wikipedia entry here and the official site to the books here (warning, the official site, which is part of Disney kicks in with music and graphics and the music apparently cannot be turned off in a readily apparent way.)
  • Barry opens. He jokes about Miami, the bad rep. of the city, that it is outside the U.S. Parenting by embarrassing philosophy. Sing in public for effect. Reason for writing a kids' book with Pearson is that they are both parents. Talked about the Rock Bottom Remainders (official site) and their "hard to listen" music style.
  • Pearson tells of the band tour; they raised money for charity. Stephen King is described as a well-read guy, like a teen. It's his fans who are psychopaths.
  • Barry says you need to go buy Ridley's books, which are his outlets for his criminal musings (this refers to Pearson's adult books, which are crime thrillers). Ridley's poison the coffee grinder idea as Barry grinds his coffee beans. (I have to admit; that was one idea that never occurred to me).
  • Pearson on the Peter Pan sequel, which he collaborated with Barry. There was some babble about some bad waiter in France, which Dave turned into a column (I am still not sure where this fit in other than as a joke, which was only so-so). They did a "ping=pong" method of writing (e-mailing drafts back and forth). Now they do kids' book signings. A Broadway version of the book is coming up. (By the way, at this point, it was only 9:25am, and it already felt like I had been there for a couple of hours).
  • Barry. Discussing how Captain Hook became the Black Moustache. Then to complicate matters for the writers, some kid then asked what Capt. Hook was called when he was small (sans moustache). The authors discussed other new characters they created and their plotting. They then took about ten minutes saying how wonderful it is writing for kids. Then we had the mandatory librarian suck-up moment (see my note about the mayor above) about how good librarians reach kids via reading.
Questions from the audience (at this point, a good number of people left in droves. My guess, confirmed when I left the arena, was they all rushed to get in the book signing line.):
  • "Would you consider writing for a high school audience?" Pearson said that he thinks a lot of his books could be read by high school kids, which elicited some laughs from the audience.
  • A comment from a librarian that they liked the series because they had a strong female character. The authors said this was the case because they both had daughters.
  • There was the mandatory question of "how did you start in writing?" Barry said he was lucky he had good, encouraging teachers. In newspapers later, he eventually worked up to writing humor after being stuck writing the sewage coverage. Ridley says he taught himself to type at ten, then began writing short stories. He took a course that was influential on the topic of literature and insanity (I want to take that class, hehe). The final exam in that class allowed him to either to an essay or write a short story, and he picked writing the short story. Barry made a crack that at the time of that test, 8 people were killed.
  • It ends with another mandatory librarian suck up moment for the authors: Please bring your band to Houston (Houston is the next TLA conference site. I hope to see many of you there.)
(I guess for me, after listening to Isabel Allende last year, this was really a letdown. Pearson seems the better speaker of the two, then again, he is the straight man in the duo's routine. I can only hope that overall they are better writers than speakers because I am really curious about the Starcatcher series. I may pick up the first book sometime soon, maybe give Pearson a try. Yes, I have read some of Barry's works, in case anyone says I am just being snarky for the sake of it. Did not like them then, and I don't now. However, as any good readers' advisor will tell you, read what you like and never apologize for it. If I do pick up the book, I will try to review it. We'll see.)


The Never Fairy said...

Hey there...
Though the Barry/Pearson books are wonderful adventure stories, they contradict the original stories of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. In fact, all of the prequels and sequels do.

Perhaps you might be interested to know about an upcoming Peter Pan book that does not go against Barrie's words and is in fact based on his notes and idea for more Peter Pan adventure.

Click on my name for the announcement page!


Angel, librarian and educator said...

Well, folks, there you have it. Looks like another alternative or possible item to the reading lists out there.