Author Fest Celebrates Female Voices


Gracie Woidat, Staff Writer

Librarian Sarah Morgan hosted the 4th annual Author Fest which featured award-winning authors Mitali Perkins and Vanessa Hua, along with 3 student speakers and French and Spanish teacher Leticia Del-Toro, in the library on May 9.

The night’s themes included female empowerment and provided encouragement for aspiring writers.

According to Morgan, she hosts the annual event in the hopes of “creating a safe place for those who love writing, and to maybe inspire those who are interested in it to write more.”

Morgan consciously sought out female authors for the event. “A lot of the books that students will read in high school will most likely be written by men and about men, and I just wanted students to realize that females can be successful writers too and they deserve just as much celebration,” she said.

Perkins has written 12 young adult novels, 1 of which, titled Rickshaw Girl, is currently being adapted as a screenplay in Bangladesh. Her story is 1 of perseverance, as she sent her 2nd novel to 22 publishers before it was finally published. “The 1st author was really inspiring because she never gave up no matter how many times she was told no, and I think that’s super admirable,” said author fest attendee sophomore Haley Hartman.

In her stories, Perkins likes to play with racial stereotypes that are often portrayed in literature and said she is fascinated by “borders.”

“I’ve always been drawn to that border between poverty and wealth, or racial differences, and exploring the different ways those borders can affect relationships and lifestyles,” said Perkins.

Hua is a short-story writer and a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, and her work has been featured in publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post. 

Hua draws inspiration for her stories from real-life events. “I believe that fiction begins when reality hands you inspiration and opportunity,” said Hua, as was the case of her short story “Accepted”, which was inspired by a news story that intrigued her.

“I wanted to create my own backstory and add humanity to what was, at the time, just a name in the paper,” said Hua.

Many French 2 students in the audience were then surprised to see their teacher, Del-Toro, present poetry of her own. “I had no idea that she wrote poetry but I thought it was really good, especially because the poem she read was in English and Spanish which was cool,” said Hartman.

The night wrapped up with 3 student authors who read original poems and excerpts from stories they’ve written. “It was a little nerve-wracking, but every time I read my story in public it gets easier and it’s really fun,” said freshman speaker Lydia Osborn.

Osborn read an excerpt of her novel, which she published when she was 13 and hoped to inspire other young writers. “I think it’s amazing when young people who love to write follow their dreams, and I hope that I showed people that it’s possible,” added Osborn.

“I would highly recommend anyone who is interested to go to the next [author’s fest] because it was very informational and especially cool to see how talented the student writers are,” said Hartman. “They deserve so much more recognition because what they are doing is very unique and requires a lot of hard work and creativity.”