A festival of books? It's a festivus for the rest of us!

19th October 2010

Friday afternoon, I ditched the office, the pup, and Beaumont, Texas to go with my parents to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas. We went last year and had such a great time, we decided it had to be an annual event.

I had plans, people, big plans: I had my panels mapped out. I booked a hotel close to the site with breakfast included so we wouldn’t have to run around hunting for a Starbucks. My dad, on the other hand, had no clue. Yet somehow he made it to seven panels, while I only made it to four. Ah, beginner’s luck.

The four panels I did make it to? Incredible. Plus, I got to meet up with some other Texas book bloggers and end the moratorium on book buying. Throw in a little honky-tonkin, and you’re looking at one exhausted, but pleased picky girl.


Julia Glass

Luckily, I was close to finishing her newest book The Widower’s Tale. In fact, I brought my library book into the Capitol with me to read before the panel started. (Review coming later this week.) Ms. Glass was not all that inventive a speaker, and I was a bit disappointed. The moderator was excellent, though, and asked a couple questions I certainly had about the book. For example, the novel is told from the perspective of four men. Was that a conscious decision, and was it difficult to write from the male perspective? Ms. Glass answered it was most certainly intentional; she apparently feels very comfortable writing in the male voice, though she did admit the 20-year-old perspective was difficult to write (a complaint I had about the dialogue in the book). Here’s the panel and a pic of my mom and I before it got started:

Scott Westerfeld

Fantastic. Funny. Charming. Scott Westerfeld rocked – plain and simple. He really gave the sort of lecture I strive to give to my students – informative, humorous, practical, and interesting. He talked a bit about his series Uglies, but as I cannot speak to those books, I’ll focus on what I was there for – Leviathan and Behemoth. Westerfeld spoke about where the idea for the books came from. He has a blog, and his fans post art inspired by his books. When he found the Japanese version of his first series had drawings, he was a bit taken aback; his fans were jealous. As he said (and I paraphrase), there’s nothing like an oppressed teenager….

Westerfeld pondered why we, as Americans, avoid illustrations in adult books. Why do we reserve illustrations for the young and then take them away at a certain point? Why do we assume illustrations narrow the imagination instead of expanding it? So with Leviathan, he found illustrator Keith Thompson, and they collaborated quite nicely. He says the illustrations “allow for alternate story lines” and that if you look closely, the illustrator works these in carefully. The challenge, though, is making the story active enough – “with illustrations, characters have to move around, so the drawings can change.” Otherwise, the scenes become repetitive. He also had to think differently in terms of setting the stage. Keith would send him sketches, lacking a couple characters Westerfeld had in the scene. When asked about this decision, Keith would tell him it looked too crowded. So Westerfeld revised.

Westerfeld ended the talk with questions, and my personal favorite was when he was asked if he would venture into graphic novels. The answer? An enticing ‘yes.’

In between Saturday’s panels, I met up with some great Texas book bloggers, including Iliana at bookgirl’s nightstand who encouraged me to get into book blogging. It was really great to put faces to the names although since I only knew what Amanda looked like, I was a bit nervous. Thankfully, I spotted the group pretty quickly, and I had a great time chatting with Iliana, Carin, Karen, Trish, Debbie, and Amanda. Jason, Amanda’s husband, was gracious enough to take our photos (please notice how antisocial we are; we are standing like a foot away from each other). ๐Ÿ˜‰ All in all, it was great to meet everyone, and I can’t wait for next year to do it again.

From left to right: Carin, me, Trish, Amanda, Debbie


From top left to bottom right: Iliana, Karen, Carin, and Amanda

Of course, I couldn’t wait to get to the tents to buy my copy of Behemoth, and I also picked up these little gems from one of my favorite artists (don’t worry – I’ve got a whole post lined up to give you a peek at the inside):


Stay tuned for a wrap-up of Sunday’s awesome panels!!!

Until then, happy reading,


aka picky girl

  • Aw, this Texas book fair sounds so great! I’ve heard other bloggers going on about it. I should at least have gone to me local book fair. I didn’t sound good fun, but maybe it would have been. ๐Ÿ™‚

    My screen doesn’t display the pictures of the bloggers – is it just me?

    • Oh no! I don’t know why it’s not showing up. It shows up in my feed as well as on my blog.

      It really was great. This was the 15th year, and it really is a fantastic event.

  • I wish we’d had more time to get together. I (as usual) overplanned and was attempting to get a picture book autographed for my school library at the same time I wanted to meet up with the Texas book bloggers.

    Scott Westerfeld asks a question that is interesting to me. Why don’t American adult books have pictures?

    Nice to put a name with a face. Let’s stay in touch. Did you know, for example, that Salman Rushdie is coming to Houston in early December? Tickets are $5.

    • I thought it was really interesting as well. He posits that the photograph takes away the need for illustrators (who had, before that, illustrated magazines, catalogs, ads, etc.), so it became more difficult to find good illustrators.

      I did not know he will be in Houston. I may have to try to make that. $5. Wow. Is it for Arts and Letters?

  • Darn, I can’t see the pics either! Ah, it was so fun to meet you and everyone. Well, actually I didn’t get to meet Debnance! See, another get together is in order ๐Ÿ™‚

    Can’t wait for your post on the artist. I didn’t realize he was at the festival. Grrr, I totally need a poster for my studio and really like his work.

    • I wonder what the heck is going on? Does it black out all the pics? Or just specific ones? I need to be more tech savvy.

      Yes, he was the festival artist this year (although the poster wasn’t my favorite). He is really incredibly talented and lives in Austin, I believe.

  • Dang, what’s going on with the pics? I want to see all the debaucher–I mean, fun! I CAN see the gems and they look super cool.

    Sounds like you had as much fun as I had at Bouchercon this past weekend. We are sisters in booknerdism. Looking forward to more!

    • Ok, now I’m plain PO’ed. Hmmm. I teach a night class, but I’ll try to figure it out when I get home.

      Yea for booknerdism!

  • Oh, wait, two pictures just materialized! I can see you and your blogger posse!

    • Thank goodness. I was just about to email you back. On my school computer I can see all BUT the two books at the bottom. So strange. I don’t know WHAT is going on.

  • I, like everyone else, cannot see the pictures. That’s ok though. I was there! I wish I had been able to see Scott Westerfeld. I love those illustrations. They are AMAZING! I’m going to start Behemoth as soon as I finish The Windup Girl (hopefully tonight…this Windup Girl is taking me forever!).

    Did you not see Iliana at Julia Glass? I think she was there too. I guess that was before we had all met up. I also missed Iliana at Justin Cronin on Sunday. I had great fun. Hopefully we’ll all see each other again. Oh, and I’m totally going to follow your Madame Bovary read-a-long. I need to read some different perspectives!

    • Oh, after I submitted my comment I could see half the pictures…even the one of me shoving my face full of food. Haha! I will check back to look at the Westerfeld pictures because I want to see them!

      • So weird. I don’t know what is going on with this post.

        Ooh – I am finishing up a library book (Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand) before I start Behemoth. I am so excited!

        I didn’t see Iliana there, but of course I had no idea what she looked like. I went back Sunday but for two panels. It was great. Thanks for stopping by, and we will definitely have to plan another gathering.

  • For all I know we sat nearby at the Julia Glass event but didn’t know each other yet ๐Ÿ™‚

    I was able to see two of the pics on a pc but my mac isn’t being cooperative. Weird. But like Carin said, I guess we know one another now! haha.

  • Sounds like so much fun!! I was excited to go to the SIBA Trade Show in Daytona Beach last month — that was incredible!!

    I am all about illustrations in adult books — and I agree, why are illustrations only reserved for the young?? No fair. That’s one of the things that has been fun about The Historian readalong — I’ve been posting pictures of the places that the characters are visiting so that the other bloggers in the group can visualize it even more so what the places mentioned look like. I like that part of it the best, and totally think that it just gets more fun when you combine mediums.. Why not put writing and pictures together? What rule is out there that says you can’t? And I’m waiting for my copy of Leviathan to come to me — I cannot wait!!

    • Yea! I can’t wait to see your thoughts. I’m so busy right now, otherwise I would have finished Behemoth. Hopefully after grading mid-terms today, life will slow down and allow for some reading.

      I need to pop over to your Historian readalong. Is it on your blog or elsewhere? You’re in my GR, but I don’t recall seeing posts about it.

      Sent from my iPhone

      • Stop on by! The site for the readalongs is at http://ontheledgereadalongs.blogspot.com. I did it separately because I might want to do another one again! The button is on my sidebar which also gets you there as well — let me know what you think of the pictures posted! It makes me want to visit Budapest, Hungary, Romania…sigh! One day!

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