Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Texas Teen Book Festival: A Review

It happens once a year. Teens all over Texas converge on Austin in a one day celebration of books, authors, and readers. A collaboration of the Texas Book Festival, BookPeople bookstore, and tons of volunteers brings readers and authors together in a unique event. It's a day of panels featuring the various authors and their genres, giving readers an in-depth opportunity to get to know them and ask them questions. Where did they get the idea to write their specific book? What are their fears? How do they research? Where is the craziest place inspiration has struck? Throughout the day, and at the very end as well, readers have the chance to get their books signed by the attending authors or snap a quick photo.

Marvel Girl and I spent last Saturday at this amazing event.

At the Truth, Truth, Lie panel featuring Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Libba Bray, Aaron Hartzler, Stephanie Tromly, and Suzanne Young, we learned that "fictional friends matter" (Jennifer Lynn Barnes) and that books should be told like a striptease, "on the first page take off the glove" (thank you, Aaron Hartzler for that gem). Please note, Libba Bray will now be adding more clothes beginning in the first chapter. We also learned authors take chances being placed on government watch lists with their search histories. The dangerous risks they take to bring us valued entertainment.

One fascinating thing we learned is there is actually a study of the psychology of books. When Jennifer Lynn Barnes isn't writing, she teaches psychology at a university. Not just the regular kind that delves into the human mind, but the kind that analyzes books and the effects it has on people. How people become attached to the characters they read and how these characters form a sort of tribe for the reader. And how it is all perfectly okay. Where was this course when I was in college?!

The Future Possible panel featured authors Pierce Brown, Claudia Gray, Sophie Jordan (our personal favorite), Jenny Martin, and Rick Yancey. Rick Yancey revealed his greatest fear is . . . hair clogs. Yes, the kind that stop up drains. A grown man fears those. Although I cannot blame him as they are quite disgusting. Sophie Jordan did not visit a penitentiary to research her YA series, Uninvited, about kids who possibly contain a kill gene. But she did watch hours and hours of a television program documenting kids who really do kill. The sacrifices these authors make for us. Pierce Brown was a fan favorite among the female population. Look at that face, any guesses as to why? Yes, yes he's a cutie, but he was also very endearing to his fans and is extremely dedicated to his craft. The woods, at night, do not scare him. Ha! He gallantly goes into said woods with nothing more than his laptop and noise blocking headphones to write. Though this may seem a bit extreme and no way would you ever catch me traipsing through the woods at night, even with the world's brightest flashlight and a hazmat suit to keep the creepy crawlies off me, but hey, kudos to Pierce for his courage. I'll just remain here on my couch and wait for his next release.  

Our last panel of the day was the Tru Love 4Eva panel, featuring Huntley Fitzpatrick, Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, Margo Rabb, and Jennifer E. Smith. I have to be honest here, this was the most awkward panel we have ever attended. These authors write YA romance, but when put on the spot were tight lipped to answer much of the questions. Had it not been for the amazing moderating done by Sarah Pitre of the Forever Young Adult blog, this panel would have been a flop. She was witty, the perfect amount of snark, and completely hilarious. Although, we did learn a few tidbits, such as Margo Rabb keeps journals that she refers to when she needs to write a scene pertaining to that magical moment when characters experience their first kiss, and Jennifer E. Smith found her audience when delivering what her own family groans at what she calls jokes. "Why are seagulls called seagulls? Because if they flew over the bay, they'd be called bagels."

We skipped the closing keynote this year and opted to hit the signing lines early. This gave us plenty of time to visit with the lovely and amazingly talented, Sophie Jordan. She is a Texas native and writes in multiple genres. Did I mention already that she's one of our favorites?

Once the lines got into full swing we got to visit with Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Rick Yancey, Jenny Han, and the beautiful Suzanne Young.

I have to say all the authors we met were very welcoming and open to their fans. All in all it was a fantastic day. See ya next year, TTBF!

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