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The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

Trinity Writes a New Chapter for Author Fest

Olivia Kortman
Steven Vagnini and Jen Calonita were among the 21 authors who hosted panels during Trinity Prep Author’s Fest on February 9, 2024.

   The 9th annual Trinity Prep Author Fest was held on Friday, Feb. 9 in the Rich Library, and included 21 young adult and middle-grade authors from across the country.

   8th grade English teacher and Author Fest organizer Georgia Parker first started the event as a way to support Trinity’s mission to promote reading, not just on its campus but in the Orlando community and beyond. 

   “It started off focusing on just our Trinity students, and then we wanted to reach out to the community, and then it got even bigger with COVID,” Parker said. 

   Last year, 10,000 participants both domestic and international attended Author Fest virtually and in-person. 

   “My hope is that people that aren’t necessarily readers will be inspired to read and even people that haven’t thought about writing will think about writing and the publishing process,” Parker said. 

   New York Times Bestselling author Nic Stone, the author of ‘Dear Martin’ and ‘Chaos Theory,’ served as the keynote speaker this year due to her books being integrated into the 8th-grade English curriculum.

   “One of the initiatives in our mission statement is to focus on mental health and so I thought that would also be a good fit,” Parker said. “Health and wellness is a big initiative for our school and [Stone’s novels are] going to really speak to that.”

   The planning process is a year-round venture. As soon as one Author Fest is over, she immediately begins to plan for the next year’s event. Fast-forward to the fall, she figures out which authors will be on which panels and finally start to fine-tune the weeks leading up to the event.

   To ensure that all deadlines are met, Parker greatly encourages the student body to volunteer.

   “We couldn’t make this happen without the student volunteers that help by running some of the panels, helping behind the scenes, and buying the t-shirts,” Parker said. “It is definitely not a one-person event, it is the whole Trinity family coming together and making it happen.” 

   Furthermore, the authors played a crucial role in bringing about this event. Alyson Gerber, a New York Times Bestselling author known for her three critically acclaimed middle grade novels, will be appearing at the 2023 Trinity Prep Author Fest for the second time. 

   Most of Gerber’s novels are based on obstacles from her own life.

   “‘Braced,’ ‘Focus,’ and ‘Taking Up Space’ are about scoliosis, ADHD, and disordered eating,” Gerber said. “All three of those things I have personal experience with.” 

   Gerber has had the opportunity to visit many different writing events across Orlando and loves to connect with her audience. 

   “It’s funny because when I first started writing, I didn’t realize that [writing events were] going to be a huge part of the job,” Gerber said. “I wrote ‘Braced’ as my first book, and it’s about wearing a back brace for scoliosis, which I wore for 2 1/2 years. It was embarrassing and disgusting. Painful and horrible. All of a sudden these people were responding to the book in this way that made the book even more amazing.” 

   “The Liar Society,” a middle school mystery set in New England, is Gerber’s newest series, which launched the week she attended Author Fest. 

   Gerber emphasizes in many of her speeches to students that certain books are not for everyone and hopes everyone finds a book that actually intrigues them. 

   “I hope that every kid that comes to the Trinity Prep book festival finds a book that excites them, interests them, and just wants to pick up and if it’s not a book that they find there that they’ll keep looking,” Gerber said.

   Gerber believes that any student who aspires to become an author should write something that actually excites them.

   “I always loved to imagine a grander world,” Gerber said. “I was in The Nutcracker, and I was a ballerina when I was younger. As a kid, it felt like magic, like creating a world that maybe is a little bit more inflated than the world that we live in.”

   While Author Fest hosts many authors and teachers, it also provides a great way for students to learn more about their favorite authors while giving them a space to learn the fundamental mechanics of writing a book. 8th grader Srian Kondapalli, who has been taking part in this function since he was in 6th grade, had a great time at Author Fest, an event he had been eagerly waiting forward to ever since last year. 

   “I just wanted to meet new authors that weren’t here last year,” Kondapalli said. “I felt like I didn’t know many of the authors, so I just wanted to learn more about them and their new books.”

   Because this event was post-COVID, Kondapalli found it much more enjoyable than in previous years as there was more time to interact with the authors. With the event having more authors and participants than ever before, everyone had an outstanding time and can’t wait for next year. 

   “[Author Fest] was interesting because I actually learned a lot about many of the authors, their thought process, and how they write their books,” Kondapalli said.

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About the Contributors
Aarav Gupta, Staff Writer
Aarav Gupta is a freshman entering his first year on staff as a news writer. In his free time, he likes to fence, participate in Forensics or play video games such as Fifa. Contact him at [email protected].
Olivia Kortman, Co-Editor of Photography Department
Olivia Kortman is currently a senior entering her second year on staff, where she will be co-editor of the photography department. Olivia is on the cross country, track and weightlifting teams. In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting and listening to Taylor Swift. Contact her at [email protected].    

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