Adam Selzer

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I'm engaged at book festivals occasionally, and I always have a good time, but I usually feel that when I'm signing a book, I'm really just signing a time sheet for a kid who came to the fest for extra credit. Occasionally I'm even known to sign some books with a note saying something like "To Hannah, who was really at the book fest, and NOT out drinking with some guys she met behind the 7-11 on Water Street." Kids love this; none of us are under any illusions as to why they're there, and they tend to respect us for letting them be honest. Usually we can even win them over by the end of a panel or two. But at Rochester, we don't have to. They're already won over when they arrive - and they arrive in droves. I had heard many times through the "author grapevine" that the festival in Rochester was different. I thought that they just meant that we got treated the way I imagined authors lived when I was a kid, and we did, but it was more than that. That college was filled with what must have been thousands of genuinely enthusiastic kids. All three of my break-out sessions were packed with smart, inquisitive readers and their parents and teachers. One reader sent me an email after the session about the impact one of my books - an obscure one - had on her that honestly made me tear up. I can't imagine she ever would have HEARD about that book if it hadn't been for TBF. To get a turnout like that takes a lot more work than just giving talks at schools and adding a few big names to the roster to boost attendance. It takes a level of dedication, infectious enthusiasm and an amount of pure magic that I've never seen equalled. The Teen Book Fest is a treasure to the Rochester area, to the national community of authors, and to readers everywhere. Don't ever let them stop doing this. Adam Selzer

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