So, this year was my first experience volunteering at the Texas Book Festival. It’s basically book nerd heaven.
I’ve gone to a couple of panels before basically on accident (for example: last year I went on a zombie walk – which is exactly what it sounds like, everyone dresses up like zombies and then does the zombie limp through town – and we passed some of the tents downtown and I sat in on a couple of readings). This year was way, way better.
I volunteered to be an author escort for pretty much every available shift without having any idea what to expect. It turned out to be, based on my preferences, to be the best thing to do. There were a lot of volunteers whose job it was to sit in a particular room and just make sure people left when a talk was over and generally acted well, or who walked a specific area of the Capitol helping people find stuff. Being an author escort meant that authors had to talk to me! I led them to places and since they are all reasonable humans they all made awkward small talk with me. It was pretty awesome. It also took up less time than the other duties since once an author had reached their last destination I was done with my shift. So in any given 4+ hour shift, I really only had about an hour worth of responsibilities. I also moved around a lot so I never felt like it would be a convenient time to nap.
So I got to sit in on a lot more talks than I was expecting! And wander around in the tents a bunch – I think I looked about a million books. And most of them were beautiful. I even got to see the Penguin Book Truck. Which is a work of social media marketing genius (also probably super convenient for book festivals) because people take pictures of it constantly and then put them everywhere (for example, what I am doing right now).
Miracle of all miracles, I managed not to spend all my money on books. But I definitely wanted to. Especially on this awesome collection of classics that I’m still obsessing over.
Anyways, while I wasn’t shopping for books I don’t need, can’t afford and have no place to house, I met Jeff Guinn and Lawrence Wright and then got to see their panel, Cults of Personality, where they discussed the similarities between Charles Manson and L Ron Hubbard (there are a lot). Apparently Charles Manson actually studied Scientology for a while and used some of its tactics on his followers. The world is a weird, weird place.
I also met Gordon Korman who you may not know unless you read a lot of middle grade books or are a child. But he’s ridiculously nice and he apparently published his first book when he was 17. Proving that I am, in fact, failing at life. And has been publishing books pretty continuously since then on top of that.
What I’m really saying here is that the Texas Book Festival is amazing and if you didn’t go this year, you should definitely go next year. And volunteer if you’d like to meet authors who will have no choice but to talk to you – sometimes for as much as an hour!