What I Learned at BookExpo America #bea16 #ranipatelinfulleffect @5puntosbooks

Surrounded by books, authors, librarians, publishers, literary agents, and other book industry people, I roamed the maze of this year’s BEA. My first. And what a privileged first. It ended with a bang when I sat on the Uptown Stage with the four other authors who were also selected for the YA Editors’ Buzz. I couldn’t help but count my blessings.

Tomorrow, I leave Chi-city and fly nine hours back to Honolulu. I’m leaving with more than I arrived with. You see, besides the armful of wonderful books I acquired and can’t wait to read, I got a fresh dose of inspiration and motivation.


Because attending BEA has helped me solidify why I write.

I write to deliver powerful, realistic young adult psychological descriptions and experiences in the form of the YA novel. For me, the plot, characters, and setting are the serving tray for the meal, which is my thematic message.

Of course I hope you love the story and characters as much as I do, but I want you to experience the world through the realistic, pained, confused eyes representative of many of my teen patients. I strive to write in a way that replicates as much as possible how these girls recreate relationships based on what they know—their family relationships. Also, how they are often not aware of what basic “normal” teen experiences they should be going through (for example, the importance of building and maintaining strong female friendships or having the time to build their identity free of excessive negative influences).

I guess I could just spell out the basic psychological tenets of some of these things. Like a girl’s relationship with her mother is essential to how she relates to girls and builds females friendships. Or how a girl’s relationship with her father can affect how she comes to value herself or how she expects to be treated by men. Or how depression, PTSD, or anxiety make a teen think, feel, and act. And so on and so on.

But there are already psychiatric and psychological textbooks that describe that.

I want the reader to be in the mind of my realistic characters, particularly my heroines. I think this may be a more effective way to reach a wider variety of teens and even adults.

I am hopeful you will read my debut YA novel, Rani Patel In Full Effect, even if it’s not your kind of book. You may be surprised if you dive in with an open mind. A wide, open mind.

Rani’s story, like the lives of some teens I treat, is not a colorful, clear-cut, or well-plotted fantasy world. It’s messy, complicated, and repetitive. That is the truth for many, many of my teen patients. Teens that handle everyday what we may think is too intense. Rani’s story is worth telling as realistically as possible. Even if it doesn’t fit the mold of what people want to read.