I am always thrilled when it's National Book Fest time. I found this year the schedule made a lot of choices for me, such that I didn't make it to either of the Children's stages. I also found the Fiction room already at capacity twice, and am sad that they've now shoved a bunch of authors into genre fiction, and yet genre fiction did not include romance.
But, the event is free, and amazing nonetheless. Because I couldn't get into Fiction, I got in line for the third floor, where they had the main stage. The line was large enough that it stretched out across a good portion of the second floor too. My backup plan was to go down to children's but partly curiosity had me seeing if I could get into see Amy Tan. I could, as it turns out. She talked about how the writer's memoir was born, and how she learned all these things going through old family papers.
In the Teen room, Elizabeth Acevedo talked about the genesis of Poet X, and also read from both it and the "Ode to the Rat". She talked about that at the book launch too, how when she had told a professor she would write about a rat being from New York, he had told her he thought she needed more experiences. She said, as a former teacher herself, she always tried to be very careful because small things we say to students and mentees can cut you and stick with you. When an audience member asked what he said when she turned it in, she said he did not remember having said it. He said wow, where did this poem come from.
Justina Ireland read from Dread Nation and talked about how zombie stories were almost never really zombie stories, and if they were, that was almost a failure. Ireland also wanted to look at the "not like other girls" phenomenon and why girls in similar situations are often told they need to compete with each other. So this book let her look at that, look at racist structures, but wrap it in a package for zombies.
I went to the Poetry Slam next, and as always these kids did some amazing things. The Baltimore team had originally been going to participate, but could not, so they showed a video. I snuck out at one point to see if I could get into the Fiction room for one more author talk, but it was not to be, but it meant I got to see the full second round of the slam, so really, good stuff.