Note: Here's my recap of day one.
For day two of the Book Festival, I decided to take things a bit easier. I knew we would have a 4+ hour drive back home at the end of the day, so I wanted to finish up relatively early (we were supposed to meet some friends when we got back to town). This meant skipping out on a couple of presentations that came at the very end of the festival but, thankfully, nothing that I would be absolutely torn up about missing.
I started my day off with what I was sure would be a popular session: a conversation with Justin Cronin. Earlier this year, I read and adored Cronin's The Passage and couldn't wait for the sequel (I have it in my possession now, though reviews have been mixed). I'd never read anything of Cronin's before that, but I'd heard his name - he always seemed to receive critical acclaim. After reading The Passage, I could see where the good reviews came from. The session was essentially just an interview with Cronin in front of a live audience. He talked about his writing process, the role religion/spirituality plays in his books, advice he'd give to young authors, his opinions on genre, and more. I found him to be a very engaging and easygoing speaker - I was not surprised to discover that he is also a professor. I really enjoyed listening to his stories.
I had a short break after that before my next session: The World Turned Upside Down. This session featured a number of middle-grade fantasy authors discussing the genre: Katherine Catmull, Greg Leitich Smith, and Lisa McMann. Catherynne M. Valente was scheduled to appear as well, but couldn't make it because of Hurricane Sandy. I was disappointed, as she was the author I was most interested in seeing, but I was familiar with the other authors as well, so it didn't completely ruin it for me. I thought this panel asked a lot of interesting questions: all of the authors scheduled had created unique new worlds (well, except for Greg Leitich Smith, whose novel Chronal Engine takes place in the Cretaceous Period, which is almost like a new world) as the settings for their novels. They talked about how they came up with these worlds, what sort of notes they had to keep (in order to ensure consistency in their world building), and the pros and cons of writing about a world that doesn't exist in actuality. Of course, there was also advice for young writers (there was a lot of that throughout the festival) and various other topics touched upon. Unfortunately, this was probably my least favorite panel of the festival. The moderator, who is apparently an author herself, kept providing her answers to her own questions. I don't mind that so much, but this felt like a case of "Let me remind this captive audience that I also write books and have wise things to say so maybe they'll go buy MY books too." It felt very intrusive, to the point where she seemed to be cutting off the panelists and interrupting them to insert her own agenda. Maybe that's not exactly how it went, but that's what it felt like on my end. Kind of ruined the panel for me.
My last mission of the festival was to get a book signed by Bob Shea. As I mentioned in my last post, I had purchased some books and gotten them signed as presents for my nieces and nephews (because I am the Book Aunt). I had already purchased a Bob Shea book on day one - he was scheduled for a signing at around the same time as Adam Rex. However, he apparently finished early and I missed him. No problem; he had another signing scheduled later that day. Well, his second signing on day one came...and went, with no sign of Bob Shea then either. There seemed to be a lot of confusion regarding this signing - he was listed on the Children's Tent schedule but they sent me to the Adult Tent. He was listed there, but I waited 15 minutes (well after the other authors scheduled at the same time had all arrived) and he didn't appear. Okay then, one last chance. Mr. Shea was scheduled for one final signing, in the afternoon of day two, immediately following a presentation in the Children's Activity Tent with Jon Klassen and Loren Long. Since I had nothing better to do as I waited for his signing, I decided to watch said presentation: Animals, Animals, Animals. Mr. Shea, Mr. Klassen, and Mr. Long were allegedly teaching the children in the audience how to draw various types of animals. I say allegedly because it really just seemed like the three were goofing around with each other and cracking jokes that went over the kids' heads. I laughed the entire time I watched this little activity - the three illustrators had large sketch pads and took turns drawing animals that the kids shouted out at them. They also ended up collaborating for a flying dogtopus - a sight truly spectacular to behold. The presentation finished up and I killed the 15 minutes immediately following (all the authors were scheduled to sign 15 minutes after their sessions). Then I made my way to the tent and asked where the line for Bob Shea's signing started. "Oh, he's not signing," I was told. "But I just saw him present with those two guys who are signing now," I retorted. "Well, he decided not to do a signing." EPIC SIGH. Curse you, Bob Shea, curse you - foiled three times from getting my copy of Dinosaur vs. the Library signed. I left the festival, dejected and frustrated.
Not a very good end to my first attendance of the Texas Book Festival, but overall, it was a lot of fun. I thought the panels showcased a variety of authors, all of whom seemed to really enjoy speaking to their readers. If possible, I'll definitely try to attend again in the future.