So last year, my sister and I made the drive down to Austin to go meet some of our favorite authors at the Austin Teen Book Festival, but mainly it was me because I read a lot, and my sister barely does, but I digress. We had so much fun last year, that we decided to drive five hours to do it all over again (now called the Texas Teen Book Festival).
This year was a completely different experience. It was held at St. Edwards University, which has an absolutely beautiful campus, albeit confusing. They had a map telling us where to park for the festival, and we ended up parking in the wrong spot because 1) I don’t know how to read maps, and 2) it was just all so confusing. I panicked, and I parked where I found a spot. I didn’t get a ticket, so I guess it was all good. I guess it’s impossible for us to go to the festival without getting lost, because we got lost last year too. Oops!
We were overall confused by the setup of everything, so we just sat down in the gym where most of the days’ activities were being held, including the announcements. (Before I go on, I want to point out that their gym was carpeted. I don’t understand why. Is there such thing as temporary carpeting? I don’t know, but I just found it strange that their basketball gym was covered with a carpet. Moving on…) During said announcements, the authors walked across the stage and someone read an interesting fact about them. It was a lot of fun to see all of the authors’ personalities. I hadn’t read books by most of them, but I started adoring them after seeing them throughout the day.
The first activity was the Texas Throwdown Game Show. A girl named Sarah moderated, and she was so adorable and hilarious. It was three against three – Paolo Bacigalupi, Frank Portman, and Simmone Howell versus Marie Lu, Jason Reynolds, and Joelle Charbonneau. They did lots of fun tasks like karaoke (I’m still obsessed with the song Frank Portman sang inspired by his book, King Dork. The song was called “Cinthya with a Y,” and now that I’ve typed that, it’s going to be in my head for the rest of the day), chubby bunny (everyone’s favorite game, and Jason came out victorious), and a talent portion (Marie Lu won with her drawing of a chubby bunny). Just overall fun times.
A very important thing I need to mention is that I got to meet a fellow blogger at TTBF! I met Brenda from The Daily Mayo, and we took it upon ourselves to pose with this not-so-artsy sign because we like big books, and we cannot lie.
Next, was the first panel. Sister and I attended the “Come On Feel the Noise” panel, which I loved because it was filled with authors who had big music influences in their books. I read two of the books from this panel – If I Stay by Gayle Forman and The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos – but now I really can’t wait to read the other two – King Dork by Frank Portman and Exile by Kevin Emerson.
After the panel, we stood in line for an hour and a half to buy books. I kid you not. I don’t know what they did differently last year, but when we bought books, it took a max of 20 minutes. This year, it was absolutely ridiculous, and what made it worse was that we were outside, so we stood in the blazing sun for an hour and a half just to buy books, and we missed the panel we wanted to go to. I hope they work on that for next year, because it was seriously awful. I’m glad I was able to buy the books though, because a couple of the authors left before I got them to sign a book for me, but I bought a couple books that were pre-signed.
I also had a fun moment in line with Frank Portman, who is probably my new favorite person. After he left, I realized I should’ve asked for a picture, but I let the moment pass, and I’m sad. He retweeted me, and when I mentioned it to him, he thanked me, and he was just so humbled by the fact that I did that, and it really just made me happy. He seems like a nice guy, that one. And he writes catchy songs for his books, which gets him an A+ in my book (not that I have a book…yet).
After waiting an hour and a half to buy books (only putting emphasis on that because I’m still upset that we missed meeting a few authors and some panels), we went back to the gym for all the keynote speeches/special talks. First was James Dashner, who is just as dashing as one would imagine. He really inspired me because he talked about his journey as far as writing goes. He shared how his first novel went from selling dozens of copies to getting The Maze Runner published. He also shared some fun bits about his family and how he gets to hug Dylan O’Brien. #jealous
What I was most looking forward to was Scott Westerfeld’s Special Talk. I’ve been reading his books since middle school. My favorite series are The Uglies series (obvs) and The Midnighters series. I got him to sign the first book in both series, because I’m just a tad bit excessive like that. Anyway, during his special talk, he talked about his writing journey, where he comes up with ideas, the importance of having a writing group, and he shared tidbits about Uglies and his new book, Afterworlds, that I really really really want to read, because it sounds incredible.
The last panel of the day was the “From Shelf to Screen” panel, which was incredible. It was so interesting to hear the process of getting a book to the big/small screen. Books discussed in this panel were The Maze Runner by James Dashner, If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, and The 100 by Kass Morgan. It was moderated by Ransom Riggs, whose novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, will eventually become a movie. Ransom reminded me of Matthew Gray Gubler. I couldn’t get the picture out of my head. They don’t look like twins in pictures, but in real life, Ransom really looks like Matthew. It’s uncanny. He even has some of the same mannerisms.
The closing speaker was Lauren Oliver, who is just absolutely adorable. She also talked about her journey to becoming a published author, and of course, her words were very inspiring to me as well.
The last part of the day was book signings! There were other signings held throughout the day, but I couldn’t get to any of them because I was either 1) in a panel, 2) hearing a speaker, or 3) waiting in line for an hour and a half to buy books, which makes me so mad, because I really missed out on meeting some authors that I really wanted to meet. I didn’t get to get books signed by James Dashner and Gayle Forman, even though I specifically bought books before the festival for them to sign. Arghhhh!
I did get to meet Scott Westerfeld, which I’m thrilled about. He was my main reason for wanting to go to the festival. I have to admit, that I was so awkward, and when I told him that I had been reading his books since middle school, he said that I made him feel old. My bad. I’m happy that he was willing to sign two books for me though.
I also met Lauren Oliver, who was super nice. We weren’t supposed to take pictures at this point because the festival was ending, and all the authors were trying to get through their lines. Hence, this monstrosity. Eek!
I got to chat with Frank Portman in the line, as mentioned above, but I didn’t get him to personalize my book. Luckily, I bought a signed copy. I also got my book signed by Kass Morgan, who is just so sweet. I finished reading The 100 before the festival, and I’m excited to read the second book in the series and watch the TV show as well.
I met many of the other authors as well, and got them to sign my poster since I couldn’t afford to buy everyone’s books. I have a lot of books on my TBR list though.
I have to say that I had a better time at the book festival last year because it seemed like everything was more organized. Everything was in one place. There was no need to go outside for anything. I was able to attend almost every panel (this year, you could only choose two panels to go to aside from the “From Shelf to Screen” panel, because that was held by itself. The others were held three at the same time and only once each.). I also didn’t have to wait so long to buy books last year (last time I’m mentioning it; promise).
All that said, I still had a fun time at the book festival this year. I loved meeting the authors, meeting a fellow blogger, and getting lots of advice from authors that I really admire. Plus, I got tons of compliments on both my hair and my deathly hallows tattoo, which was really nice and unexpected. If there are awesome authors coming next year, I may find myself going for a third year.
Have you ever been to a book festival? What authors would you like to meet?