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Justin A. Reynolds, author of "Opposite of Always," has a new book to discuss at YA-hoo Fest. "Early Departures" is due out Sept. 22. / Katherine Tegen Books

Readers aren't the only ones who can benefit from the immersion in literature coming this week during YA-hoo Fest, a young-adult book festival. Aspiring writers may also pick up some tips in a series of panel discussions focusing on aspects of craft and genre.

In a move that has become common in this pandemic year, YA-hoo Fest will be presented virtually Sept. 14-17. It opens Monday at 4 p.m. with a live recording of the "Hey, YA" podcast by its hosts, authors Kelly Jensen and Eric Smith. They'll interview a fellow author who is also taking part in the festival.

Main sessions take place Tuesday through Thursday, when participants can tune in via Zoom for author panel discussions at noon and 7 p.m. These sessions will offer interviews and discussions with the authors, giving in-depth insight into their lives, their creative processes and their writing goals.

Lynda LeVan, executive director of the Southern Lit Alliance, one of several sponsors, said the virtual reworking of the event has meant adapting logistics that had been humming along for the past two years.

"This is our third year," she said. "We had all that [planning] under our belts. We had to figure out how are we going to do it virtually."

The change does have its pluses. Festival chairman Joel Henderson, chairman of the Humanities Department and an English professor at Chattanooga State Community College, said going virtual expands the audience.

"We already have registrants from a dozen states and five foreign countries," he said.

Twenty-five authors are set to take part. Of particular interest to local audiences may be J. Kasper Kramer and Hannah Rials, both of whom have ties to Chattanooga.

During the virtual events, attendees will be eligible to win door prizes as well as purchase books by the authors. Book sales and signings will be handled by Follett, the campus bookstore at Chattanooga State. All virtual events are free of charge, but registration is required at

If you go

› What: YA-hoo Fest

› When: Monday-Thursday, Sept. 14-17 (see schedule)

› Where: Zoom (find links to register for individual events at

› Admission: Free



› Monday, Sept. 14: Live recording of “Hey, YA” podcast, 4 p.m.

Panel discussions

› Tuesday, Sept. 15: Craft Talk: Writing Relationships & Romance,” noon; Genre Talk: Modern Fiction, 7 p.m.

› Wednesday, Sept. 16: Genre Talk: Historical Fiction, noon; Craft Talk: The Publishing Journey, 7 p.m.

› Thursday, Sept. 17: Craft Talk: Writing Difficult Topics, noon; Genre Talk: Fantasy Fiction, 7 p.m.

Read more

› Read a review of Helene Dunbar’s latest YA novel, “Prelude for Lost Souls” on Page E8. Dunbar is among the 25 authors taking part in YA-hoo Fest.


In addition to welcoming the broader community, YA-hoo has partnered with Hamilton County Schools on two unlisted panels, giving high school students and teachers access to favorite authors discussing the social issues and historical underpinnings of their novels.

"We're really excited about that partnership too," said Henderson.

YA-hoo Fest is one of two literary collaborations to be presented this month by the Southern Lit Alliance and Chattanooga State's Humanities Department. The ninth annual Writers@Work program will feature best-selling Southern author Daniel Wallace in a weeklong celebration of his 1998 novel "Big Fish," which was adapted into a 2003 feature film by director Tim Burton. Registration for Writers@Work, set for Sept. 21-27, is available at

Email Lisa Denton at

YA-hoo Fest participating authors

Anna Birch

James Brandon

Kathleen Burkinshaw

Rocky Callen

Lindsey Duga

Helene Dunbar

Sara Faring

Kit Frick

Shannon Greenland

Greg Howard

Kelly Jensen

J. Kasper Kramer

Ryan La Sala

Claire Legrand

Linsey Miller

Claribel Ortega

Justin A. Reynolds

Hannah Rials

Randy Ribay

Natalie Richards

Debbie Rigaud

Vicky A. Schecter

Eric Smith

Amy Trueblood

Jeff Zentner