Plenty of teens — and adults, for that matter — have had moments when they felt invisible, barely noticed by the people around them.
For Stephen, that’s reality. Cursed by his grandfather before birth, the teenager has spent his years as a true invisible man, walking unwitnessed through the streets of New York City. That all changes, though, when Elizabeth moves in next door with her family. Much to their surprise, Elizabeth turns out to be the one person who can actually see Stephen.
“What I loved about the notion was that this is an extreme case of something we deal with all the time,” says David Levithan, who fleshes out Stephen’s story as co-author of “Invisibility.”
“Here is someone who really has his own identity, his own life, but he hasn’t really interacted with other people. He’s not emotionally stunted per se, but the whole give and take of love is nothing he’s ever experienced before.”
“Invisibility,” which hit bookshelves this week, is equal parts relationship tale and paranormal adventure — which makes sense, given that it’s the result of a collaboration between two best-selling young adult authors known for their talents in those genres: Andrea Cremer, creator of the “Nightshade” series, and Levithan, whose books include “One Day” and “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.”
Fittingly, Cremer and Levithan are the keynote speakers at Saturday’s inaugural Young Adult Book Festival in Round Rock, an effort to increase the visibility of the thousands of young adult readers in Austin’s northern suburbs.
“I live in Pflugerville, and I have a bookstore in Round Rock,” says Danny Woodfill, owner of the Book Spot, which adjoins Round Rock High School. “We see a ton of kids, and when we ask about events that are downtown, they just can’t make it. … So that’s the mission, to bring the authors to the kids. It’s a lot easier to bring 22 authors to 1,000 kids than 1,000 kids to 22 individuals.”
Woodfill’s organizing team includes librarians from Round Rock and Pflugerville high schools, who started a year ago by making wish lists of authors they’d like to bring to their students. The result is a lineup of panelists that mixes nationally known authors from outside Texas, such as Kiera Cass, author of the New York Times best-selling “The Selection,” with critically acclaimed locals that include Ernest Cline (“Ready Player One”), Mari Mancusi (“Blood Coven” series) and Jessica Lee Anderson (“Callie”).
And, of course, there are Levithan and Cremer, veterans of the Texas Book Festival, the Austin Teen Book Festival and several BookPeople appearances. Friends since they met on an authors’ panel in 2010, the duo wrote “Invisibility” as a series of back-and-forth emails between other projects.
“It was kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure, written chapter by chapter,” laughs Cremer via phone from San Francisco, where she and Levithan were beginning their tour for “Invisibility.” The book alternates narrators: Cremer penned Elizabeth’s chapters, while Levithan created Stephen’s. Each played off the other author’s new developments as the book took shape. And they even kept the collaboration secret from their agents until the manuscript was complete.
They’re thrilled to make a return visit to the Austin area for a new addition to what they note is already fertile territory for lovers of the young adult genre (YA in publishing parlance).
“Austin really, really likes their YA,” Levithan says. “It’s quite extraordinary to have it be, almost more than any other city, such a hub for so much activity.”
YAB Fest: The Young Adult Book Festival
What: Panels and signings with authors including Andrea Cremer, David Levithan and Ernest Cline
When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Round Rock High School, Building 1100, 301 Deepwood Dr., Round Rock
Cost: Presentations are free; authors will sign books purchased at the festival as well as up to three books brought from home
Information and full schedule: www.yabfest.com
David Levithan and Andrea Cremer