Best hidden secret of the Tucson Festival of Books

Imagine getting to read a book geared for you and then getting to interview the author in a professional recording studio. Six groups of teens from across Pima County, including library advisory boards, public school libraries, and a junior high society group, got to do just that. 2019, which marked the 11th year of both the festival and these unique interviews, these lucky teens converged at the Arizona Public Media studios for the third year to interview popular young adult authors.

Mark McLemore, Arizona Spotlight producer and host alongside Jim Blackwood, production engineer and producer of Arizona Spotlight and Classical 90.5’s Arizona Friends of Chamber Music and Community Concert radio series welcomed us as the producers during our time at the studio.


River Teen Advisory Board interviews Robin LaFevers

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“It was super exciting to actually talk to an author and know what the writing process was like. It was interesting to listen to her stories and see how that was kind of shown in her books.” –Kristin

“I had a blast interviewing Robin. It was a very informative experience that gave me insight to not only more about the book but also what the writer’s perspective was. The recording studio was the coolest thing ever in my mind. Seeing all the technology and getting a crash course on how to use it was a blast. This was one of my all-time favorite things I've done in my life just because of the excitement and newness of it all. I'd love to do it again.” – Kate

“I often listen to NPR on AZPM, so I enjoyed getting a peek into what goes on behind the microphone. LaFevers took every opportunity to encourage us, a group of young females, to find our voices, whether it be through writing or some other medium, for which I am grateful.” - Keiko

“I enjoyed working with a real, live author whose name is known around the country! She gave real and honest answers that were interesting and original.” - Bridget

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Kass Morgan interviewed by Tanque Verde High School students

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“I was surprised by how excited she was to meet us!” -Makayla

“It was nice seeing just how human and normal the author was. It was also, even though I knew they went through a lot of editing, nice to know that even a really good book probably started out bad, but with time, turned into a professional quality book. It was also good to know that many authors write a bunch of stories that may not make it before they hit one that does. I'll take away that really anyone can be a writer even if it seems like your writing sucks and isn't up to the quality it should be in order to get published, because everyone starts somewhere and even the best writers weren't always the best.” -Samm

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Rae Carson interviewed by Tanque Verde High School students

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“She was so nice and seemed genuinely passionate about what she does. I also liked that she was not opposed to answering any question posed to her. I took away that even being something like an author is not impossible as long as you try your best to make it happen.” -Emma

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Tanaz Bhathena interviewed by Oro Valley Teen Advisory Board

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“I had so much fun being able to interview such a creative YA author with my fellow TAB members! I found it incredibly interesting to see a more behind-the-scenes perspective on such an everyday thing like a radio show. All the staff members were incredibly polite and helped us stay comfortable as they taught us how to properly handle equipment and how to conduct an interview. Overall, it was a fantastic experience I was so glad to have had.” -Maryam

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Karen McManus interviewed by Amphi High School students

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.“The best advice I got from the interview training was to act natural and create a conversation with the author. I think we achieved that. We had fun. The most interesting part about the interview with Ms McManus was being able to talk to her “like a normal person.” I mean she’s a best-selling author. I attended the software editing workshop, and I realize now that editing takes a lot of time and patience.” -Brianna

“I prepared for the interview by thinking about what had me curious to form the basic questions, and then worked with my friends in the group to improve questions and make them unique.
I was very excited about having the opportunity to learn about what it’s like to be an author from an actual author.” –Mikayla

“The most exciting thing about the interview was seeing and speaking with the author in person and interacting with all the professional tech equipment. There is so much to do at the Festival—so many of the booths were enjoyable.” -Yen

“I was nervous, but it was a great experience. I’d definitely like to do it again next year. I was told I have a great radio voice, and I wasn’t expecting that.” -Jace

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Kekla Magoon interviewed by the Flowing Wells Junior High Honor Society

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“The most exciting thing about the author’s interview was hearing all their funny stories.” –Giolyna

“The interviews make you feel connected to the author on a personal level. It’s just like having a conversation, but you get to choose your best version of the conversation in editing.” –FLWJRH group

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Murphy-Wilmot Library & Kirk-Bear Canyon Library Teen Advisory Board interview Lisa McMann

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“Working with other teens and preparing an interview for a New York bestselling author was such a thrilling and inspiring experience that we would highly recommend to others!” - Sonia, Esha, Nikhil

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