Tucson Festival of Books 2018
Once again, it's one of my favorite times of the year. The Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona! It's a free two day festival filled with books, food, science, art, etc. There are so many booths it's hard to visit them all, try as I might.
Day one started with some wonderful humans and equally wonderful books. My day didn't start off perfect, I got stuck in a parking garage and ended up being late. I was headed to a panel when I noticed a line was already forming for Victoria Aveyard. I decided not to chance it and to just jump in and wait for an hour. Very worth it if you ask me. She is so kind! I had made a friend last year and spotted her one line over waiting for Holly Black so with her permission I joined her. I've never read a Holly Black book, but I have heard amazing things about her writing. I bought The Darkest Part of the Forrest just for this event and am so excited to see what everyone has been talking about. Have you ever met a person that just radiates joy? That's how I felt meeting Gloria Chao. My signed copy of American Panda feels right at home on my shelves.
My biggest feat of the day was making it into the line for R.L. Stine before it boomed into this crazy sea of people. If y'all were here two years ago then you'll know I got cut out of his line after an hour or so because he wasn't going to able to get to everyone. It was so important to me that this didn't happen again. He was actually the first author I've seen walk down the line rather than stay in their seat because he wanted to ensure that he made it to every single person this year. What a kind human. I am so happy to have finally met him and my lone copy of Eye Candy is happy too.
The next part of my day one adventure was making it to the panel held by Stephanie Elliot and Laurie Halse Anderson. Those ladies were really something. I could listen to them for hours. My favorite thing said was a simple statement. "When we take stories away from kids, we take away their voices." I thought about it and it is oh so true. Story telling is how we relate to one another, share pieces of our hearts as well as our minds. Young Adult literature is so important and is just as valid as all other literature. We need to keep the stories going. After the panel was said and done I took out my copies of Speak and The Impossible Knife of Memory so I could stand in line and get them signed. I really, really wanted her to sign The Impossible Knife of Memory. It was the first book of hers that I had ever read and I picked it up because it included PTSD. Somethings I personally suffer from and at the time hadn't seen represented in YA. I nearly cried when I looked at what she wrote inside. "Because you understand." And I do, I shared my story with her before we took an awesome picture to remember the moment.
Another day one highlight was FINALLY meeting Stephanie Elliot in person. After so long talking online and supporting one another it was time. We had a nice chat and McKaelen took a picture of us. If you've never seen Stephanie or her daughter in person, they are as tall as they are wonderful. I hope they visit again soon. I rounded out my author signings with Sandhya Menon, Jillian Tamaki, and Lita Judge. A perfect way to end my day. It took a second for Sandhya to realize who I was and she was just so sweet talking to me. Jillian and I discussed Jurassic Park which let's be real is just the best. I will end my day one rant with a quote from Holly Black on what would happen if she were to be thrown into her latest novel. "You would find me drinking fairy wine. I'd end up getting carried away. I'd still be there. That's my story arc." The whole room laughed.
Veronica's solo panel was pretty fun. I learned a little bit about how her mind works and how a movie isn't final until you're on your way to the premiere. I learned that she feels she unfairly skipped a couple steps on the pathway to success and that she is in fact a Hufflepuff. Also that cleaning up a bathtub full of marshmallows is a pain in the ass. You'll have to google that story, it's a good one. I went to her signing with one goal other than getting my book signed of course. I wanted her to write out my favorite quote of hers so that I could get it tattooed. I was stoked when Veronica says she really loves the quote I chose. For now it'll stay hidden on my post it and you'll see if after it's officially on my skin.
Because I was on a time crunch I actually ran to the panel titled Abuse & Deception: Breaking the Cycle with Amber Smith, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Amy Fellner Dominy speaking. My whole weekend was about making it to this one panel. The topics discussed are part of my story and I wanted to hear these women who have wrote such amazing, helpful, relatable books speak. It was Laurie Halse Anderson who said that trauma is cyclical and generational when it is not addressed. Amber Smith said that when she was writing she had to be really conscious of self-care. Sometimes going on nature walks and meditating. I will be one to say that nature is great for the soul. I even when hiking yesterday. Amy shared that a therapist once told her that the hardest thing for anyone to do is to put themselves ahead of someone they love. I could go on and on about all of the things I took notes on during this hour long panel, but I save it for anyone who is curious later. Seriously my favorite part. It was hard to keep myself together knowing what we have in common.
After sitting in a room for an hour with these women whom I look up to, I needed a small breather before I could head to the signings outside. Sometimes all you need is fresh air. I hopped in line and had Nate Evans and Amy Fellner Dominy sign my copy of Cookiesaurus Rex after which Amy eneded up giving me an ARC of The Fall of Grace so be on the look out for that review. I still have one book before I can read it, but it is coming I promise. I met Amber Smith, we hugged and it was perfect. She gets it. I almost left without saying goodbye to Stephanie so I turned around to ensure I wouldn't miss her. This time I had McKaelen get in the picture with us. Also Sandhya was wearing a super cute dress so we had to get a second picture. That's just what you do. I took two last pictures before leaving. One with Marie Marquardt and the other with Megan Beatie. I handed out so many of my business cards this weekend, it was nuts.