It was awesome! But you are going to have to forgive me, I forgot my camera for this trip. I do have a few photos courtesy of others, but not as many as I would have liked. Sorry.
I arrived in Austin and was picked up by this lovely woman named Charlotte in one of the biggest white cars I have ever seen. Seriously. Very very big. Now I'm not doing this whole, everything in Texas is bigger thing, Austin didn't come across as stereotypical Texas at all and I have to say I was a bit disappointed to have only seen one cowboy hat my whole visit. But this car, it was huge. Anywhere it would have been huge.
Where was I?
Ah yes. I was driven to the hotel and soon after I met up with Katie Finch (publicity with Weinstein Books and a very lovely lady) to go to this party in honour of the festival hosted by Eddie Safady in his private home.
OMG. This guy's home (and it is this particular event that makes me very sad I didn't have my camera with me). This is a guy who decided he'd like to live in downtown Austin, and so converted a building on one of the main streets into his private residence. The place is three stories tall. Has a rooftop patio complete with an infinity pool. He'd opened up the whole house so that we walked through his bedroom and bathroom and went through his drawers (just kidding folks, just kidding - his drawers were locked . . . again just kidding! Didn't even try to snoop, I'm a good girl!). All the rooms were just stunning. Absolutely stunning, the whole place. And there's a wall on the bottom floor lit by fluorescent pink lights.
So no pictures of its amazingness. I do however have a lovely photo taken on his patio of me, three lovely librarians who helped organise several of the events (Alison O'Reilly, Nichole Chagnon and Michelle Beebower), as well as authors Perry Moore, and April Lurie:
So the house was packed, and considering it was a big house, that's saying something. I got to meet Padma Lakshmi who is another author with Weinstein Books (Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet), as well as the utterly gorgeous model/actress/host of Top Chef (and ex-Mrs. Rushdie). She was very sweet, but we didn't get to chat long as I was being taken away to participate in one of the events for the festival which was called "Not For Required Reading" and took place at this awesome movie theatre where they bring you food and drinks and stuff to your seats.
I was on the panel with a number of other authors:
(Right to Left: Jacques Couvillon, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Perry Moore, Neal Shusterman, April Lurie, Me, Brian Yansky, and Sherman Alexie. photo courtesy of Oops . . . Wrong Cookie)
First we went down the panel and talked a bit about ourselves and then read from our books. I wasn't expecting to read from my book, and I couldn't think of a bit short enough so that when they got to me I said that I was unprepared and so I was just going to open my book and read whatever page was in front of me. It turned out okay.
Then we were asked some very silly questions (ie Coke or Dr. Pepper?). And then we signed books.
I had arranged to meet my friend Sean, who I went to LAMDA with and who now lives in Austin with his wife, for drinks after. And it was so cool to see him again! It's so weird how several years can pass, but it can feel like nothing at all.
The next day I met up with Katie again and we went to watch Carl Bernstein give a talk about his new biography about Hilary Clinton, very interesting. Then it was my turn, and I joined April Lurie and Cynthia Leitich Smith again for our "Tough Girls" panel. The room was packed and it was so cool because the whole event took place in the capitol building so our panel was located in a room that I am sure judges or something usually use because we were sitting at this curved desk with these little microphones and I felt like I was in some 1950's movie and doing something . . . political. But I wasn't.
The panel went well and I got to talk about children's books to adults, which is very refreshing as there is a lot to say about the nature of writing children's books that isn't necessarily directed towards kids (not to say that talking about it with kids isn't great as well, just different).
After the panel we signed some books in the tent and then that was it. Katie and I went to the airport, hung out a bit, and then went our separate ways.
The whole weekend was just lovely. The weather I am told was unseasonably warm (and by that I mean hot), so I got to wear my summer dresses one last time. The festival was so well organised, I got emails weeks in advance prepping me for the panels I was to do, and once I was there everything worked like clockwork. And Austin itself is just such a lovely city. It's a very arsty town, and the people are just so warm and lovely.
A really fab trip.
Just wish I had pictures of it.