Good afternoon, my fellow bookies!
As you know from my April Book Haul post, I recently attended my VERY FIRST book festival ever! And before we dive in I should let you know — in advance — that this post’s title is deceptive. Because I had zero chill. Zero chill whatsoever. Like this was practically me:I mean, not really. But kind of. But could you blame me? Look at this line up and panel selection! For those that don’t want to click the link here’s a list of just SOME of the fabulous authors that attended this year’s festival:It’s a pretty intimidating bunch for a first-timer. Four of the “heavy hitters” (Angie Thomas, Dav Pilkey, Cassandra Clare, & Leigh Bardugo) required wristbands to meet and you could only choose 1 of the 4! *Dun Dun Dunnnnn* Thankfully I met Angie a month earlier at the Hope Nation book launch party, so that left one obvious choice (for me):No mourning necessary, because I was fortunate enough to score one of the 200 wristbands that made me eligible to meet Queen Leigh! After snagging my wristband (and notifying my supportive hubby), I headed straight to the book sale line, which as you can see from my text was already fairly crowded! In addition to a wide selection of books written by the authors attending, they were also selling some early releases and across the board pre-signed copies were limited.
Despite the lines, I was able to snag 2 early releases and a few others on my list — although not all of them were signed. But don’t worry, I took care of that later! =D After grabbing some books (which I should note was also a requirement because you were only allowed to bring 2 books from home — to get signed — for every 1 purchased), I grabbed some cool swag from the Epic Reads booth and then headed to my first panel of the day. And by grabbed I, of course, mean that I was practically mauled while hordes of teenagers pushed and shoved their way toward the booth. Don’t get me wrong the Mafi poster is enviable, and the Three Dark Crowns cards are cool, but Lord I almost lost the war during the first battle. I was simply not prepared for the enthusiasm that comes with free shit.
Swag safely secured, I headed to It Takes Two – Discover the Benefits of Co-Writing with HOLLY BLACK, Cassandra Clare, Jenny Han, and Siobhan Vivian. Not a bad way to start the day, am I right? Black and Clare were there to promote their MG Magisterium series while Han and Vivian were promoting the Burn for Burn trilogy. They shared fun facts (Clare: I know a lot about WW2 tank maneuvers, Han: I could tell you the episode name and plot of every episode of Buffy, Vivian: My name is weird let me teach you how to say it, and Black: I haven’t had enough coffee yet), what inspired their series, and how to reap the tax benefits of your friendships. Ex: I know we live less than 5 miles from each other, but wouldn’t we feel more inspired poolside in Croatia? Joking aside, they did provide really insightful tips on how to write when you’ve hit a roadblock, how to handle disagreements with your coauthor, and what to do if your coauthor drops out, gets too busy, or, you know, gets taken out by a bus…thanks, Holly! My favorite part was the rapid fire question round:
- What was your high school superlative? V: Most Unique (code for weirdest) H: Most Cheerful C: I went to hippie school and we didn’t do that because they thought it was “labeling” B: I went to a public school and apparently I was most nothing because I wasn’t anything. Just lurking around in the background.
- What book made you a reader? V: Rabbit Run H: Gone With The Wind C: Danny the Dinosaur, but that’s just the first one I remember. Pride and Prejudice B: The Chronicles of Prydain or Wrinkle in Time
- Do you have a literary crush? Author or Character? V: Charles Dickens or Gilbert Blythe H: Sirius Black C: Mr. Darcy B: Yates (which she was quickly — and entertainingly — berated for)
And while the first panel was lighthearted and fun, the second panel was my favorite one of the day: Villains & Vagabonds with Holly Black, E. Lockhart, Claire Legrand, Michelle Hodkin, and Sabaa Tahir. The panel was devoted to the art of making epic villains and antiheroes stand out from the standard archetypes. I trust that you can comprehend my level of fangirling for THAT topic with THIS panel!!! They broke down the mindset of the villain, how to make their plights relatable despite their fantasy settings, and how to make them empathetic. I seriously could go on for days, but I’m honestly trying to be brief. I recorded the whole thing so if y’all want to know more I’ll deliver more in a future post. After some amazing tips, we moved on to some laugh-out-loud panel shenanigans. I learned some new verbs (ex: don’t you Vader on me right now) and even got to ask my own question: Who is YOUR favorite morally grey character? T: Professor Snape H: Gollum LG: Lord Asriel & Mrs. Coulter L: The Incredible Hulk B: Lucifer…not like actual Lucifer, but the one from Gaiman’s series. Shocking no one, my favorite part was the lightning round where they had to answer with the first thing that came to mind. Namely because of Holly’s facial expressions upon realizing she was the outsider.
- Who is your favorite Disney villain? T: Ursula H: Ursula LG: Ursual L: Ursual B: Maleficent
- What Harry Potter house would you be in? T: Ravenclaw H: Ravenclaw LG: Ravenclaw L: Ravenclaw B: Slytherin
I took a lunch break after this panel and went on the hunt for ARCs, which, as you know, from the haul I scored two! I’ll spare you additional panels for the moment because this post is getting long, and dive right into the loot. Thanks to tips, friendly advice, and ridiculous levels of planning I was able to meet almost every author on my short list. Getting all of these babies (on the right) signed. It was absolutely amazing getting to talk to each of these wonderful authors about their works. From Robin Roe asking me if I was in a public place crying over her book to Tiffany Jackson complimenting my jacket and geeking out about Allegedly‘s audiobook narration. One of my favorite interactions was with Nic Stone who upon learning that I had left my copy of Dear Martin in the car (assuming her line would be too long to mess with) signed my Post-It note so I could have her signature twice! I just couldn’t believe how friendly, animated, and down-to-Earth all these mega authors were after dealing — for hours — with crazed fans. But man, am I glad they did. I was running out of time before the festival closed so after Nic’s line I made my way to Queen Leigh’s. I was not only racing against the festival’s clock, but I was also attending a Foo Fighters concert that night so I seriously needed to book it. Luckily, her line was moving quickly by the time I made my way over and around 30 minutes later it happened: I MET LEIGH BARDUGO. She was super kind and laughed along to my extreme gushing of all things Six of Crows and Nikolai. My Nik confession made her laugh out loud and that was the highlight of my whole day. She also let us each pick one of the playing cards from her #troublemakerstour and I got Nina! Seriously, click that link for a close up they’re STUNNING!
Overall, it was an amazing day and I don’t think I did too shabby. Thank you so much to ANYONE involved with putting this festival together. I can’t wait to attend again next year!
Thanks for sticking around till the end. Did you attend NTTBF? What was your favorite part? Have you attended ANY festivals before? I want to hear about it!! Comment below!
And, as always: Happy Reading!
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