Teachers & Librarians

Penguin Young Readers

Nova Ren Suma

Invite an author or illustrator to speak at your school or library today! This month's featured author is Nova Ren Suma.

Nova Ren Suma has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and a BA in writing & photography from Antioch College, and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Corporation of Yaddo, and, twice, from the MacDowell Colony. She has published short stories for adults in literary journals and is the author of the tween novel Dani Noir (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, 2009).

Imaginary Girls marks her YA debut. She is at work on a new YA novel, tentatively slated for release in 2012 from Dutton.

Visit her website »

If you are interested in hosting an appearance by Nova Ren Suma at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or send an email to authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information


Author Appearance Q&A with Nova Ren Suma:

What could a school, library, or conference expect when you are making an appearance? What would you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?

I especially enjoy giving readings, and have been doing so for years at venues including bookstores, libraries, art galleries, and universities, so a school, library, or conference could expect me to give an engaging reading to audiences of varying sizes and ages. No matter the size of the audience, I encourage questions after a reading and hope to inspire aspiring authors with my experiences leading up to publication. I'd also hope to intrigue readers who may be interested in exploring deeper questions about characters and other issues my book may raise. In addition, I'd enjoy taking part in dynamic panels with other authors and discussing issues of craft and the industry.

If making an appearance for writing students, I would be especially interested in being involved in a workshop environment. Much of my identity as a writer was formed from taking part in workshops—from a young writers' summer program in high school to college writing courses and writing conferences to earning my MFA in fiction from Columbia University. I've been involved in many fiction workshops and find that they can be a great way to kick-start new work or give direction on work-in-progress. With new writers, I find it important to focus on the positive first so the writer knows what is working, before then moving on to the more critical and what isn't working, and my participation in a writing class with teens would reflect that.

What would make your author appearances unique?

I formerly worked in book publishing, and bring with me that knowledge and experience. I also came to writing YA after first trying my hand at writing for adults, including getting an MFA in a program specifically focused on adult literary fiction. My discovery and love for YA and my decision to stop writing for adults and embrace writing only for teens and younger readers might make me unique or lend a different perspective.

Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?

I have done many appearances for adult audiences, most often literary readings, and occasionally with an added component to the presentation on why I chose to write YA fiction. As a guest author at a writing class for adults who were working on teen fiction, I've talked about my road to publication and advice on finding an agent, discovering your YA voice, and what goes into deciding to get an MFA in writing. I do enjoy presenting for adult audiences, either made up of fellow writers or adult readers who are open to reading YA.

What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?

All I'd hope for is an engaged audience that wants to be there. If I'm doing a reading, it's not necessary for the audience to have read my book before—in fact, it's always wonderful when someone who hasn't read the book is there to discover it for the first time. If the presentation includes a workshop component, it would be ideal if students' writing could be distributed and read beforehand so an active and informed conversation about it could be had.

Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?

Though I currently live in New York City, I've enjoyed traveling to the Hudson Valley for appearances, as that is where my book takes place and where I'm originally from. I haven't had the opportunity to travel elsewhere for appearances, but I would love to, especially to take part in conferences.

Would you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?

I would be open to doing more than one school visit in an area, and I would certainly be open to schools and libraries joining together to host me.

What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?

I hope the audience would come away interested in reading more. And I'd hope writers would come away inspired to dive in to their own stories.

What was your most memorable presentation experience?

I was recently a resident at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, which hosts artists of all disciplines, including writers. While there I did a presentation about my novel Imaginary Girls, including showing projected images of the Ashokan Reservoir, which inspired the reservoir in the story, talking about the history of the region, and then reading from the opening chapter, in which the characters swim in the reservoir itself. The incredible reaction from the audience made it such a memorable presentation for me. Not only was it a wonderful, encouraging experience, but I found that adding the media component to my talk gave me ideas for future presentations I could do for school visits, about the real-world inspirations behind my novel Imaginary Girls and how history and real places can be reimagined in fiction.


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