I admit that my impressions of the National Book Festival were colored by its Mo Factor, but indeed other things were going on during the day.
We started with the author signings, which were chaotic. There were a lot of authors and a lot of people, which led to many disorganized and confusing lines. The best thing I can say about the signings is that the authors I saw all stayed past their time to get in as many fans as possible. Jeff Kinney even gave an extra signing after his author session to accommodate the many kids who had come to see him.
Our late start limited our author events. I caught only part of Megan McDonald’s talk, really just enough to hear that there is going to be a movie made based on the Judy Moody books but with the character a little bit older. I did see all of the Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi presentation, which was quite entertaining. Holly talked about the idea of the rat king and how it led to the idea for their latest book, The Wyrm King. Along with drawing this Hydra-type character, Tony also took on a cartoon portrait of Holly’s cat complete with little cat clothes.
Over at the Teen tent, Patrick Carman talked about The 39 Clues, and whether a book from the ten-book series might be set in China. (Maybe, he winks.) Jeff Kinney was next, looking as humble as a world-famous author can be. He talked about his years of work on Diary of a Wimpy Kid before it came to publication and his own view of himself as writing a cartoon for adults. As he lightly said, “When I come to these things, I don’t feel like a real author. I feel like a failed cartoonist.” He encouraged the packed tent to cheer loudly for him as he left so that Judy Blume would worry about measuring up.
Judy Blume talked about being shy and imaginative in sixth grade. When she had to give an oral book report, she found it easier to make the whole thing up title, plot, theme and she began to realize her calling as a writer. She got a great deal of applause for her advice to teachers encouraging readers with this line: “For God’s sake, don’t use Accelerated Reader!” She addressed the first day of Banned Books Week by recognizing the difficulty as a writer, where you have to be true to your vision and “get that censor off your shoulder and stomp it down.” The tent was packed for her talk, and people seemed mesmerized by being in her presence.
Now, my daughter caught one talk that I missed, so here is TeenReader’s Rick Riordan Report:
The author of The Lightning Thief gave a book talk (read: hosted a crowded, screaming rally) with people lining up long before he was scheduled to start. (Kate DiCamillo thought they were her fans). There were crowds. There was rain. And after hours of waiting in line, these people were ready for some flippin’ Book Talks! And Rick delivered.
Riordan was brought to the top by the Percy Jackson series. He plans to write a story about the next generation of Half-Blood campers. He’s also gonna milk this “gods” thing as much as he can, because some stories about the Egyptian deities are coming out soon. From the tiny excerpt he read, it’s going to keep the same humorous style and adventure as the Percy books, but with a whole new setting. They both sound like definite must-reads.
I really wish I could have concentrated more, but I had to stand during his talk which I had already been doing for the past hour and I was suffocating because of all the breathing people in the tent.