Authors Invade Austin for Texas Teen Book Festival


Avery Deen

TypewriterRodeo poet types up free poem for senior Aubrey Minix at the Texas Teen Book Festival on Oct. 1.

Avery Deen, Reporter

The Texas Teen Book Festival (TTBF) made it’s annual appearance at Saint Edward’s University on Oct. 1. This year the event boasted 34 authors including special guest Mindy Kaling, author of “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” and keynote speakers Leigh Bardugo, author of “The Grisha Trilogy” and “Six of Crows” duology and Laini Taylor, author of  the “Smoke and Bone” trilogy. Lasting from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., the day was full of panels, signings and other activities that festival goers could attend.

Last year, I found out about TTBF around the week before it happened. I had no idea what a book festival was, only that it sounded amazing and that I just had to go. Three festivals later, I was a pro and knew that if I really wanted to get the full experience I would have to prepare. Step one, stalk the website until the author list is posted. Step two, scream in excitement that Mary E. Pearson, author of “The Remnant Chronicles,” is coming. Step three, look at the rest of the authors and start making a list of all the ones you want to meet. Step four, wait patiently (or not) for them to post the schedule so that I could hyper analyze minute details and plan my day down to the minute.

Despite my enthusiasm, I didn’t actually arrive at the festival until 11 a.m. As excited as I was about the fact that Mindy Kaling would be there, her signing and Q and A were the only events happening before 11. I understand that they wanted to make it a big deal that she would be there, but I wish they would have scheduled more things in that time frame for those who didn’t feel the need to meet her. Last year, there were almost twice as many panels and signings throughout the day than there were this year due to the fact that they cut out almost half the day for Kaling. This caused lesser known authors to be overshadowed as people scrambled to try to get their books signed by the more famous ones in attendance.

However, this is also a fault of the people themselves. I’ve seen it at every festival I’ve gone too; people camp out in the lines for the majorly famous authors and completely ignore the other thirty odd people whose books may be just as good. A majority of the time I’ll try to go to panels with one or two authors I know and several I don’t, this gives me a chance to see both of those who I already wanted to see and give some lesser known authors time to shine and tell me about their books and their writing and whatever else they have to say. These panels can also be wildly entertaining, the authors have fun and play off each other, making jokes and telling stories about their crazy lives.

This year, since the festival has grown in popularity, they were able to add several new booths and vendors, a favorite of many was TypewriterRode, a group of poets and their typewriters who attend events and give out free poems. If you were willing to brave the extremely long line in the heat of a Texas afternoon, you would be rewarded by giving one of the poets a topic of your choice and watching amazed as they wrote you a unique poem off the top of their heads in about three to five minutes.

Another new feature was the Fierce Reads costume contest, the only requirements for which were that the character you cosplayed as must have appeared in a book of some kind. Personally, I dressed as my interpretation of Cecil Palmer from the popular podcast “Welcome to Night Vale” and it’s spin off novel. While I did not win, I enjoyed watching the other cosplayers wander around the event and admired their efforts and dedications. The winning outfit was one of Lapis Lazuli from “Steven Universe,” with second place going to a Snow White who made her dress entirely out of duct tape. Third was a very dedicated Alice from “Alice in Wonderland,” and the best group was several friends dressed as the main characters of  Bardugo’s “Six of Crows” duology.

The end of the day mass signing is always hectic, no matter what festival you attend and how they try to remedy the problem, but I managed to come out of it with almost all the books I had brought signed. My wallet appreciated the fact I had only bought two new books and instead focused on the ones I already had this year. A kind of self control I lacked at the first TTBF I attended where I spent easily $100 on new additions to my collection.