Malorie Blackman is launching an online book festival for teens

20/02/15

Book Fest flyer

Malorie Blackman, in her role as Children's Laureate, is launching a new online book festival for teenagers.

Teen Fest takes place on 4 and 5 March as part of World Book Day and will see authors and readers chatting on social media, as well as podcasts and career advice.

Rainbow Rowell, Marcus Sedgwick and Holly Smale are all on the line-up.

"First and foremost I want to highlight the fact that reading is a great deal of fun," Malorie tells Newsbeat.

The activities will take place on sites including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google Hangout.

Malorie Blackman

"Most of the correspondence I receive now is via Facebook or email from fans who love my books," says Malorie, who has written many novels for young adults, including Pig Heart Boy, Thief and Hacker.

"Sometimes it's a bit of a double-edged sword but on the whole I love it because it means you have got instant access to your audience and they've got access to you."

Other authors announced for the event include Meg Wolitzer, Darren Shan, E Lockhart and David Leviathan.

Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus Sedgwick, whose novel The Ghosts of Heaven has been shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2015, has written one of the special World Book Day novels.

He sees Teen Fest - and World Book Day - as an opportunity to reach people who feel that books "aren't for them" and make the event more inclusive.

"We need to make sure, as always with these things, that it isn't just a small community that's talking to itself and promoting to itself," he says.

"Here's a chance where every child in the country have this voucher to go and get a book for free.

"In many houses, where there isn't a lot of money, the chance to be given a book for free is an amazingly wonderful thing."

Marcus thinks everyone has the potential to enjoy reading.

"It's my belief that if you don't like reading, it's just a question of you haven't found the right book to read," he says.

Holly Smale

Holly Smale, author of the Geek Girl series of books, agrees that if you keep searching, you'll find something to read that you like.

"It makes me really angry when people try to force children to read certain books," she says.

"Whatever book you're drawn to, is a book you should read.

"You should go for books that are fulfilling a need for you at that time and not feel pushed."

In addition to celebrating books and authors, Teen Fest will also provide information about how to start a career in publishing, whether that is as an agent, editor or even writer.

"Author is a normal job that people do," explains Holly, who says teenagers regularly get in touch with her on social media to get writing advice.

"I think it's great that it's now less of a mysterious occupation and actually something that's more every day."

The Teen Fest website has the full line-up of authors, as well as details about how to sign up for news about the event.

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