This past weekend I was in Austin, one of my favorite cities, for the Texas Book Festival. It was wonderful to be back. I’m originally from Houston and lived in Austin years ago before heading to college (to Alaska – where I discovered there is a rivalry between the states and I would get teased “What’s a Texan doing up here?”) A nostalgic fun fact: in Austin I worked for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper as a data entry clerk in the Classifieds Department. Now that feels like a lifetime ago!
The first thing I saw when I stepped off the airplane put a big smile on my face…
Friday night I was thrilled to attend the gala at the Four Seasons and hear Margaret Atwood speak. Daniel Handler a.k.a Lemony Snicket was the host and Taye Diggs spoke as well. It was a fabulous night. On the way to the ballroom, this dramatic wall hanging of horns caught my eye, and in the ballroom, every seat had a book on the chair. I chose The Burma Spring because years ago I helped on a theater performance about Aung San Suu Kyi’s life. I love this picture of the book on the table.
Saturday’s top highlights: “Everything But the Kitchen Sink,” a talk with Daniel Handler and Amelia Gray, moderated by Owen Egerton in The Paramount Theatre (which I heard is celebrating its 100th year!)… Stopping by Typewriter Rodeo‘s tent and getting a poem written for me. (I’m going to do a whole blog post just on that next) … and hearing some incredible jazz at the Elephant Bar – a bar that was rated one of the top ten jazz bars in the US. I highly recommend you go if you’re in Austin.
Sunday I headed to the Texas Monthly building to check in for my event which was called “Thrills, Chills, and Genre Defiance” with Vu Tran, author of Dragonfish, and moderated by Geoff Rips. Here we are heading to the Capital Building, which is opened up for the festival. Our talk was in one of the chambers inside – a one-of-kind experience.
The event had a fantastic turnout. Vu and I both read the first few pages of our books and then did a Q&A. Afterwards we headed outside to the book signing tent. (These pictures below were taken by one of my friends, Charlotte Schillaci.)
Right near the tent I found a consignment shop and art gallery, Old Bakery and Emporium, in an historic building. Inside they had some wonderful art, including this stained glass artwork made by Stephen Moy, who I discovered is a 93 year old artist. I took a dragonfly and a flower with me back to LA to remember this fantastic weekend.
Thank you, Austin!