If you ever doubt that today’s youth are into reading, all you need to do to is attend a book festival like this last weekend, where over ten thousand teens from all over Texas came to hear their favorite authors, ask them questions ranging from what inspires them to how they come up with their complex plots; sign hundreds of books, get the latest on booktubing from the pros, win prizes, buy swag, and of course, hear the answer to that age-old question: Can I be a writer, too?
Despite the cold temperatures (for Texas!) and strong winds, the line outside was long as teens and adults waited for special stickers and arm bands that would get them into closed panels with the undeniable favorites: Veronica Roth and R.L. Stine.
They might have been the biggest names, but they were joined by a mighty crowd (not alphabetical): Allie Carter, James Ponti, Gordon Korman, Allie Condie, Heidi Heilig, Stuart Gibbs, Kekla Magoon, Matthew Kirby, Shannon & Dean Hale, Hena Khan, Chris Grabenstein, Soman Chainani, Brittany Cavallaro, Elizabeth Eulberg… I could just keep going on, but I’ll put the link to the actual festival rather than listing them all here.
With 53 panels available in only 5 hours, it was hard to know what to pick.
In case you didn’t see one of our earliest author interviews… Heidi Heilig was there – in the flesh! – and it was great to see her sequel, The Ship Beyond Time in print, as well as hearing about her research/writing process.
Also, in case you didn’t know, authors are really funny, especially when they gather as a flock.
I learned that James Ponti would like to live in J.K.Rowlings’ house rather than Hogwarts; Sarah Mlynowski was actually inspired to become a writer when she heard Gordon Korman speak at her school (which came as a nice surprise to him when she shared that while sitting next to him!); the Mystery Machine panel shared which mysteries they were most proud to have written (without spoiling their books!), and great advice was heard all around.
Just as impressive were the young readers and aspiring writers who asked deeply insightful questions that impressed their idols with their thoughtfulness and
Plenty of books found new homes on Saturday as well, as fans of all ages snatched up signed copies of newly discovered treasures, or brought valued favorites so they could get them personalized by the authors.
Kudos to those who waited to have a word with an author, and all the librarians and other volunteers who made this day possible! It was a blast being in such a fun and creative environment!
You can look forward to some reviews of my personal finds soon!
Katie, signing off
*Picture credit of line goes to Deborah Fleck.