It surprises Kara Thomas that her new book is about a murder. “I’m a very nervous person who grew up triple-checking the door to make sure it’s locked,” she says.
And yet, she is fascinated by crime. “The Darkest Corners” (Delacorte Press, $17.99) is about an 18-year-old girl who returns to her crumbling hometown in Pennsylvania to say goodbye to her dad, who is dying in prison, and gets caught up in helping to catch a serial killer.
Thomas, 26, of Holstville, is one of eight middle-grade or young adult authors who will speak at the fifth Authors Unlimited book festival on Saturday, April 16, at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. The event is being co-sponsored by the public libraries of Suffolk County. The authors will participate in a panel discussion focused on the art of writing, and then kids will break into sessions with two authors leading each one. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
Thomas grew up in Patchogue, graduated from Bellport High School and Stony Brook University, and now lives in Holtsville with her husband, Kevin, who is an actuary. She’s written other books prior to “The Darkest Corner,” which officially comes out on April 19 but will be available at the festival, along with a series of books called “Prep School Confidential” written under the name of Kara Taylor. She plans to explain the publication process, which of course involves editing. “It always blows their minds when I tell them sometimes I have to rewrite my book three times depending on the editors’ notes,” she says.
Here are three more authors who will appear at the event:
Kat Yeh, 51, Lloyd Harbor
HER LATEST WORK “The Truth About Twinkie Pie” (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99) is about two sisters who move from their trailer park in South Carolina to a wealthy community on Long Island when they win $1 million in a cooking contest.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW Yeh grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated from Villanova University. She and her husband, Peter Russell, have two children, a daughter who is a junior at the University of Michigan and a son who is a junior at Cold Spring Harbor High School.
WHAT SHE’LL TALK ABOUT “What I really like to talk about with kids is how to get the idea from your head onto the page. A lot of kids get distressed by that first draft,” Yeh says. Her first drafts are quite messy, she says. “We have to figure out ways to get excited while we’re trying to get to that polished place.”
Adam Silvera, 25, Brooklyn
HIS LATEST WORK Silvera’s first book, “More Happy Than Not” (Soho Teen, $18.99 hardcover, $10.99 paperback), was published in June. It’s a novel about a 16-year-old boy growing up in the Bronx at a time when a memory alteration procedure became available to the public. The main character wants to use it to forget that he’s gay because he thinks living as a straight teenager would be easier.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW Silvera, who grew up in the South Bronx, couldn’t afford college so he devised a concrete goal for himself — to publish his first book by the age of 25. “I was very ambitious,” he says.
WHAT HE’LL TALK ABOUT Using your fears to spark your writing. Silvera was afraid to come out as gay when he was in high school. “I was able to explore what that would look like through the safety of a book,” he says.
Chris Grabenstein, 60, Manhattan
HIS LATEST WORK “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics” (Random House, $16.99) came out in January and is the sequel to Grabenstein’s best-selling “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.” Teams from all over the country are competing to be the champion of the libraries by winning 12 library-related challenges, from library-cart relay races to naming a book from its first line. But important books suddenly start disappearing off the library’s shelves, and the rival teams have to work together to solve the mystery.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW Grabenstein graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and moved to New York City at the age of 24. He started out in improvisational comedy, bumping up against a young Bruce Willis and Robin Williams, and has since published more than 35 books for adults and children, working on some with fellow author James Patterson. He is married, has no children, and has two cats — Parker and Phoebe Squeak — and a dog named Fred.
WHAT HE’LL TALK ABOUT “I love talking about structure and techniques,” Grabenstein says. “I think I might talk about plotting and the importance of rewriting.” Grabenstein says he tries to write 2,000 words a day. The next day, he revises the previous 2,000 words and then writes 2,000 more.
WHAT Authors Unlimited young adult book festival
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 16 (doors open at 9:30 a.m.) at St. Joseph’s College, 155 W. Roe Blvd., Patchogue
INFO Free, but bring your own lunch or buy it in the St. Joseph’s cafeteria; for middle and high schoolers, but adults welcome; advance registration recommended; 631-286-1600, authorsunlimited.org