Monday, April 2, 2012

Friends of library hosts award-winning author

Friends of library hosts award-winning author

Published 7:28pm Thursday, February 16, 2012
Shape-shifters, witches and vampires, oh my. They’re hot sellers these days — in books, on TV, in the movies. The dark, fantasy genre appeals to many, but confounds many more. So what’s the draw? In regards to young-adult fiction, author Leslie Connor has a few ideas.
“I think these are the readers that are often going through a period of struggle for acceptance,” she explained via email. “They may feel ‘other than’ in some way or another — or want to. An alternative world can offer an escape into a place where outcasts shine, and become heroes, find love.”
Though fantasy is not Connor’s genre, the “other-than” facet of preteen and teen life resonates with the author and has led to four published novels and national recognition for “Waiting for Normal.” In 2009, the novel about “a girl’s giant spirit as she seeks stability amid a broken family” won the Connecticut Book Award and the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award.
“Personally, I was stressed out all through junior high. I feel as though I didn’t so much chose the genre as it chose me,” wrote Connor.
Friends of Brown Library has chosen Connor to spend Saturday afternoon in the gallery of the Washington Civic Center signing books, reading from her work, and talking with children, parents, and grandparents.
For the Ohio native who grew up in upstate New York, the event represents Connor’s first visit to eastern North Carolina, though she is no stranger to presenting her work in schools and libraries, as well as leading creative writing workshops.
“It’s a significant part of my work,” Connor explained.
“(Connor) is a charming and lucid purveyor of the ways to children’s hearts and minds through stories,” wrote Rachel Mills, president of Friends of Brown Library.
Friends of Brown Library, the organization that provides special programming to library-goers throughout the year, specifically sought out a young-adult novelist for the occasion, in hopes of exploring the disparity in the teen reading tastes of yore and the lure of fantasy today, according to Mills.
“I think it’s fine and healthy reading,” Connor said of the genre. “In the best of the vampire/fantasy books, the reader is following characters that must demonstrate positive traits to overcome troubles.”
Connor mentions J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books as an example, a series thought by many to have leapt the generational divide — and made it cool in school to actually be seen with a book.
As for the generational gap in pop-culture tastes, Connor brings up the bemusement of older generations with Beatlemania in the early 1960s.
“I don’t think the parents of the Beatlemania generation understood what all the screaming was about — not at the time,” she said. “Of course, it’s obvious now!”
Friends of Brown Library will host Connor in the Washington Civic Center Gallery at 2 p.m. Saturday. The event is open to the public.

Written By: Vail Stewart Rumley for the Washington Daily News

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