Ok, so you know how I said that this year's Texas Book Festival might be the best one yet? Well, not that you were disagreeing with me or anything, but I TOLD YOU SO. Seriously, you guys, it pretty much melted our faces with awesome. From the fancy pants parties to the flagrant YAngelism to the panel with Libba Bray and Sarah Dessen (!), the 2011 festival will go down in history as one of FYA's greatest
swimfan moments. Join me as I recap the living shizz out of it!
Friday night, Jenny and I were honored to attend a party for Children's & YA authors at someone's super nice house in Austin. Bonus: there was queso! We didn't take any pictures, because we were trying to play it cool (keyword: trying), but we got to chat with the fabulous Libba Bray and meet James Dashner (who is super nice!!!) and E. Lockhart, who WE DID NOT REALIZE WAS E. LOCKHART. Look, ok, it was dark! (We were outside.) And she said her name was Emily! So Jenny and I are just chatting away with her, totally oblivious to the fact that we were talking with THE WOMAN WHO CREATED FRANKIE BANKS. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT. Fortunately, we saw her again later so we could properly get our swimfan on. P.S. She's totally cool and really nice!
On Saturday, I woke up bright and early to attend one of the morning panels. PSYCHE. I meant to wake up early to attend one of the morning panels, but... yeah. That didn't work out. The point is, I eventually made it to the festival! Because I am a capable adult!
All of the panels and sessions actually take place inside of the Texas capitol, as well as in surrounding buildings and a few tents pitched on Congress Avenue (which is closed to cars, obvs). Some of the tents are filled with books, like this one:
And the best part is that if you purchase a book, the proceeds benefit public libraries in Texas! In other words, this festival is a huge enabler for book addiction. HUGE.
I met up with my friends Leslie and Erica for the Literary Death Match, which is held each year in the gorgeous, historic Paramount Theater. Just being in this place makes me wish I owned a pair of opera glasses.
I took some video of the event, but it didn't really come out well, so I'll just share the highlights and send you over to look at photos on the official page. The basic structure of the event goes like this: four authors each have seven minutes to read an excerpt of their work. Three judges, also writers, evaluate them on literary merit, performance and intangibles. The judges then select two finalists to compete in the second round, which changes with each show. Last year, it involved musical chairs. This year, the hosts brought up 17 people from the audience to hold up photos of famous authors who wrote books with a number in the title. The two finalists then went back and forth, choosing pictures (not always being able to identify the author) and gaining a score based on the sum of the numbers in the titles. And the thing to keep in mind, if it's not already obvious, is that this whole thing is the opposite of serious.
Libba Bray was a contestant, and she totally rocked it! However, she ultimately lost out to Martha Foose Hall, who, in all fairness, is incredibly Southern and adorbs, PLUS she gave the judges fudge. And not even the Supreme Court can be impartial when homemade fudge is involved. Thankfully, these judges were way more entertaining than the third branch of our government: Adam Mansbach (totally rad), Chuck Palahniuk (totally a dick) and Lisa Loeb. Yep, you read that right, LISA LOEB WAS THERE. Because she wrote a children's book. And because also, as it turns out, she's really cute and funny!
Next up on le schedule was a panel with Libba Bray and Sarah Dessen, aka GREATEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE THUS FAR. I was serving as the moderator, which meant that I tried to stay out of the way so the audience could soak up as much Sarah & Libba awesomeness as possible. It also meant that I got to hang out with Libba and Sarah for a bit before the session began, and in the least shocking internet reveal ever, I can tell you that they are both incredibly charming and super duper nice. We even took a picture together! WHICH I WILL FRAME AND KEEP FOREVER.
The panel was basically Sarah and Libba talking to each other, so obvs it was the most entertaining panel of the entire festival. This video won't really do it justice, but here's a few of the highlights:
Seriously, HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE THEM? SO MUCH.
Afterwards, I offered to give Sarah, a fellow Friday Night Lights fan, a tour of some of the Dillon landmarks around Austin, and she got really excited... until she realized she had no free time before her early morning flight. So now I've got a rain check for a date with Sarah Dessen at the Alamo Freeze! WHAT! To quote David After the Dentist: IS THIS REAL LIFE?
Once I'd finally stopped sweating profusely with nervousness, Erin and I attended an author cocktail party in someone's uber posh house downtown. Check this place out:
Oh, and that's James Dashner on the stairs! Hi James!
This party was so swankeroo, waiters would come up to you and refill yr wine glass BEFORE IT WAS EVEN EMPTY. That's my kind of social etiquette.
Speaking of etiquette, Erin took a picture of the bathroom in this house because it was AMAZING (a walk in shower... that leads to a hot tub... that's on a balcony) but I won't post it here, because I'd like to be invited back next year. Needless to say, Posh Deluxe has DISCOVERED HER ROOTS.
That night, we headed to the Texas State Cemetery for a spooktacular event with all of the YA authors at the festival. Erin and I came prepared, of course. Cos that's how LadyNerds roll.
Ok, maybe a LadyNerd would've remembered to bring her flask, which looks classier than ginger ale bottles half-filled with whiskey, but whatever. It was night time at a cemetery! We were kicking it high school!
After making our way through the graves, we scored a spot on a blanket with Jenny and fellow Austin book clubbers Erica and Holly. Thanks for adding another layer of separation between us and the coffins underground, ladies!
It was certainly one of the most atmospheric book events I've ever attended, complete with the authors playing rounds of Hideous Corpse.
See if you can spot any of yr fave authors in this (incredibly dark) video:
Once the event ended, the authors scattered throughout the cemetery so fans could hang out and talk with them before heading home. A graveyard hasn't been this exciting since Spike performed "Rest In Peace"!
Jenny, Erin and I held our own after-party at a bar down the street, where we toasted to the amazingness that is the YA community. We're incredibly lucky to be a part of it, and we can't wait to see how next year's festival will manage to top this one. In fact, the only way I think that's possible is if one of us actually moves into that fancy pants house and then invites all of our fave authors for a slumber party where there's endless supplies of queso and waiters to refill our wine glasses. Yeah, let's make THAT happen.