Last Thursday, the NMHS BookChat! club skyped with young adult author, Sara Zarr. What an outstanding experience!
Several months ago, one of our members asked about the possibility of bringing in an author to speak with our group. Having conducted author visits in the past, I know both how valuable and how expensive that would be! I also knew that Skype, the free software-for-online-communications service, would probably provide a workable solution.
I browsed the list of writers who participate in http://www.skypeanauthor.com/. While most of them serve a younger crowd, there are some wonderful young adult authors too. I researched the young adult authors' books to see if I could find several choices for BookChat!
At our April BookChat! meeting, members chose one of the books I had proposed -- knowing there would be a skype possibility. We selected Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. I contacted the author's representative, agreed to the modest honorarium, had email discussions with a recent reference, and set up a date. It was BookChat!'s good fortune that the NMHS Student Council agreed willingly to pay the author's fee. We are very grateful for their generous action!
Sara was very easy for me to work with. We sent several emails back and forth to settle various details. Prior experience had taught her the wisdom of checking in advance that all the necessary tech elements would work well, and we did test them out the week before the session.
In advance of our June 10th skype session, members read Sweethearts. There was palpable excitement about the upcoming chance to see and hear a real, working author talk with our group.
We had 13 members of BookChat! take part in our skype session, and it will remain a wonderful, memorable experience for all of us who were there. Sara filled a full hour with discussion about Sweethearts, her motivation for writing it, the craft of writing itself, and answers to direct questions from many of our club members. She was very natural -- some club members were surprised at how down-to-earth a real author could be -- and, we found it very easy to chat with her. Sara encouraged our club members to keep reading and writing, and to contact her if she could be of help.