If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last year, it’s that FYA book clubs tend to attract the sort of people you can’t help but love – people who love fancy cocktails, swooning over celebrities, and pulling out the props for no end of hilarious photos. There was really no reason I should have been nervous about flying to Austin (for the first time!) to visit the Forever Young Adult mothership, but I was. Sure, I could hide in the darkness of the Alamo Drafthouse during Forever Fest and cling to Mandy W. like a very large and needy barnacle, but I also wanted to experience everything that Austin has to offer. (Like cocktails, food, and history nerd things.) At worst, I thought, I’d just go it alone.
Mandy W. and Jennie, ATX interlopers. On Saturdays we wear black and white polka-dotted dresses.
I shouldn’t have worried. The ATX club is full of awesome ladies who were incredibly generous with their time – and their transportation! (I didn’t rent a car, being from the land of I Will Walk, Bus, or Cab It Everywhere – much to my surprise and delight, there always seemed to be a ride for me.)
Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I was introduced to Meredith before I left, who immediately offered to join me on my tour of the Texas State Capitol. (We also bonded over a mutual admiration of Matthew Goode.)
We toured the Capitol – which was utterly gorgeous – and Meredith filled me in on some details the tour guide didn’t have time to provide. After the tour, we picked up Mandy W., just in from Edmonton, and were off to Chuy’s for some delicious Tex Mex. After all, one must always try the local cuisine.
Left: is this baby skinning a snake? Right: by "local cuisine," you know I mean "cocktails." And baby's first queso.
After that, we checked out this incredible Gone With the Wind exhibit on the University of Texas campus, and swooned over the intricately detailed dresses.
Then it was time for Forever Fest! Mandy W. will fill you in on all the details later this week, but it was the first time I got to meet our fellow FYA writers Sarah, Mandy C., Meredith, and Kandis – plus ATXFYA members that I instantly recognized from their YA Summer Showdown photos. (Celebrities in our midst!)
L-R: Mandy W., Kandis, Meredith, Mandy C., Jennie, Emily, and Posh!
Saturday morning brought a little quality time with my fellow Outlander recapper Kandis, and a brief exploration of the Rainey Street district. I had chili verde queso fries and a Bloody Mary at Javelina that made me damn near weep with junk food joy. Later, I had my new favorite cocktail at the Highball, The Heirloom: tomato water, basil, pepper-infused vodka, and a smoked salt rim. DELICIOUS.
Left: the chili verde queso fries that my soul cried out for. The Heirloom, right, with bonus Mallory Ortberg in the background.
Sunday, after Forever Fest ended, the ATXFYA ladies took Mandy W. and me to their local meeting place, Red’s Porch (we saw the airstream trailer that houses up to 25 of them at any given time – damn!), a swanky downtown coffee shop for steaming hot beverages, and a fancy French restaurant for dinner. By the end of the trip, I felt like I had seen the best of Austin – and that was all due to the kindness of these new FYA friends.
I love that ATXFYA meets in this trailer.
If you’re traveling, I highly recommend that you look up the local FYA chapter to see if they’d like to hang out! SFFYA has been lucky enough to meet Mandy W. and Amy from Vancouver, BC this year; I was so excited to meet everyone from Austin! (You might also recall that Posh, Mandy C., and Mandy W. also got to meet the members of NYCFYA during Book Expo of America.) Let’s make FYA tourism a thing in 2015 – and if you do have a meetup, we’d love for you to tell us all about it!