Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Awesomeness of the Decatur Book Festival

VCL Photography. Kendare Blake
     When I told the fam that I was going to be out most of the weekend with DBF, hubs quirked his head and said, "But you're not speaking this year."
      Yup. I don't have a new book out, so I wasn't on stage (except to introduce an awesome author--more on that later). But that meant I had more time to drink in the considerable authorial awesomeness all around me.
       DBF weekend started for me on Friday when I escorted author Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares) to her school visits at Renfroe Middle and Decatur High
      I just gotta say that I loved Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares. It should be noted that I am not--and never have been--a fan of horror stories. But I kept hearing such good buzz about this book, I became curious. I devoured Anna and was grateful to have had the sequel (Girl) in my hot little hands because I had to know how the story continued/ended.
     Anyone who can make a murderous, rampaging ghost-girl dressed in blood sympathetic is one masterful writer. Kendare killed at both school visits and at her DBF presentation. I was glad to see that her signing line was huge.
VCL photo. David Levithan, Jackson Pearce, Margie Stohl
     Another highlight was David Levithan's presentation. His latest release, Every Day sounds awesome. Unfortunately, the festival sold out of the book before he even reached the stage. I seriously cannot wait to get my hands on this one. I'm just sad that I won't be able to get it signed. Still, I can say (brag?) that I sat next to him at dinner that night! I tried to pretend it was no big thang, but it was. 
VCL photo. Rebecca Stead (L), Kendare Blake, moi, David Levithan's arm.
     Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers) sat across from David (did you catch that? I used his first name, subtly implying that I am friends with him! But, really, I'm just a fan-girl). Newberry Honor winner Rebecca Stead (When you Reach Me and her latest release, Liar and Spy) sat across from me (!). Margie Stohl (co-author, with Kami Garcia, of the Beatiful Creatures series), Dan Krokos (author of False Memories), as well as my daughter's hero, Jackson Pearce (Fathomless) rounded out the table. Thankfully, down-to-earth Kendare kept me grounded, as did Vania Stoyanova. Otherwise, I might have squeed myself into complete and total mortification.
     Before dinner, I'd chatted with Neal Shusterman, author of UnWholly, the Everlost trilogy and many other excellent books. He'd also given a great presentation earlier that day. Just gotta say, dude is brilliant.
VCL. Vania Stoyanova, Dan Krokos, Barry Lyga.
     My only regret is running out time to hear archaeologist Brian Fagan who spoke about his latest book on ancient seafaring, Beyond the Blue Horizon. I did introduce myself to him at the author party, in which I made a complete and utter fool of myself as I stumbled and stammered through our awkward conversation. Oh well. I'm looking forward to picking up a signed copy of his latest.
Blogger breakfast with (front) Neal Shusterman and Kendare Blake.
     On Sunday, I volunteered at the Carlos Museum Bookstore tent for a couple of hours, then later introduced Gail Tsukiyama, author of A Hundred Flowers.  She was a delightful speaker--warm, funny and accessible. Flowers is a moving look at one family's attempt to survive the chaos of Mao's Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1954.
     I also saw lots of writer friends such as Elizabeth Dulemba, Annette Laing, Shelli Johannes Wells, Laurel Snyder, Terra Elan McVoy (the woman behind all the great speakers) and others.
     About 70,000 people came out to the festival. Every year, I think the festival can't possibly get better and every year it does. An amazing weekend.


Cathy C. Hall said...

Well, dang. If I had known you were dining with that crowd, I might have accidentally-but-not- really bumped into you.

Sadly, I did not get my act together enough to get over to the DBF--and I've been pouting ever since. But yeah, sounds like you had fun. I'm happy for you. Really...whatevs. :-)

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

I know, right?! Vania and Kendare where kind enough to let me crash...

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Sounds like you did it RIGHT! So happy for you! :) e