Today the Austin Teen Book Festival announced their Closing Speaker for 2013 will be the amazing Ms. Holly Black! Holly’s work has an international following and anyone who has read The Spiderwick Chronicles can tell you it’s with good reason. Our Teen Press Corp also happens to be covering The Austin Teen Book Festival and came up with some questions for Holly:

Did writing papers in school help improve your writing skills?

Writing papers in school absolutely helped improve my writing skills. In fact, I think writing papers helped me improve my writing skills in four distinct ways:

1. Writing papers taught me how to do research. Learning how to research, how to find primary sources, and which sorts of books contain the most helpful information is an invaluable skill for a writer. I am always needing to figure out some weird detail (what vintage hearses run on diesel engines? what are the steps of venipuncture? according to folklore, what’s the best way of winning back someone from faeries? where was bone china produced in the United States?) and because I’ve learned how to research, I’m able to figure that out.

2. Writing papers taught me to make better arguments. Better arguments are incredibly helpful in creating persuasive dialogue, which makes for better villainous speeches and better heroic calls to arms. It also helps in analyzing the schemes of one’s characters, which is always useful.

3. Thirdly, writing papers taught me to look at a book in many different ways. In taking apart the mechanics of a book and in trying to tease out its multiplicity of meanings to write a good paper, I learned lots about taking apart books. That’s really, really useful during the editing process, when I have to take apart my own book.

4. And lastly, writing papers improved my writing skills because I was writing and all writing builds writing skills. So go forth and write!

Name three people you would have attend your dream dinner party – living or deceased.
My dream dinner party is William Butler Yeats who is going to talk to me about poetry, faerie folklore, the Order of the Golden Dawn and the various ladies he’s in love with; Terri Windling, because she is kind and wise and a fabulous writer and editor who I don’t see nearly enough of; and Oscar Wilde because I know he’d be fascinating and I’m sure he would enliven the whole thing with his bon mots.

Which one of your characters would write an amazing book on their own?
I think some of them could write decent books. I feel like Cassel from the Curse Workers series could write a fine spy novel and Corny from the Modern Faerie Tales probably has a epic fantasy series in him — he might even have a bunch of it already written. His boyfriend, Luis, is more of a literary short story guy. From The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, there are a bunch of writers: Midnight and Winter have practically written a novel’s worth of blog posts and Bill Story is a writer of some repute when we meet him. And from Doll Bones, I fully believe that both Poppy is going to become a writer when she grows up, maybe even an amazing one.

Texas is known for BIG hair! What is the worst hair-do you’ve ever had?
First of all, I grew up in New Jersey, so I love some big hair. In my teens, I teased up my hair like Robert Smith and in no way do I think of that as a bad look.

My worst hair occurred when I was in college and I had (a) bleached my hair a million times to dye it a lot of different colors and (b) tried to straighten it with an over the counter product meant for African American hair. The bangs actually turned to a rice noodle-like substance broke off and the rest of it turned into some straw-like ratty long tangle that I couldn’t even get a brush through without soaking it in conditioner first.

For more information about Holly Black and her books, check out her website.”

The Austin Teen Book Festival promises to have more exciting news coming on May 8th. Like them on Facebook and follow on Twitter using #ATBF13, and be sure to check back here for our countdown to the fest! We look forward to seeing you Sat, Sept 28, 2013 for a day of FREE YA madness at the Austin Convention Center.