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Texas Book Festival – a Guest’s Perspective

POSTED BY prbythebook ON November 14, 2012

Escape to Austin winner, Julia Janak, won a trip to Austin (all the way from Seattle) and to attend The Texas Book Festival. Today, Julia shares her time in Austin and her experience as a first-timer to the Texas Book Festival.

I had never been to a book festival and had in fact never wanted to either. I do read a lot and I always have.  I actually love reading. I admit that I stole my husband’s Kindle and stayed up past midnight with Hunger Games, 50 Shades of Grey and Game of Thrones. Some of you are unimpressed but if you have two small children at home, you understand the craziness of staying up late to read when I could have been sleeping.

But last month I won an all-expense-paid-trip-for-two to the Texas Book Festival with VIP access.  I really like Texas, and I really like books and I’ve never had VIP status. I couldn’t resist.  I happily booked the trip.  (Thank you, PR By the Book!)

I am not going to lie. I had no idea what a book festival even was. I fantasized I might hang by the Festival’s fireplace sipping scotch with famous, fascinating writers who wanted to get to know this intriguing and beautiful VIP.  (That’s me, remember.) Then I worried instead I’d wait in line for a book signing of some D-list comedian I don’t even like.  What am I doing in this line?

Not surprisingly, neither the good or bad fantasy came true. The Book Festival was a collection of big, brilliantly white tents spread out on the Capitol lawn in downtown Austin. There was a jam packed schedule of author readings and moderated discussions.  Thousands of books lined tables inside the tents, authors could be heard reading from their books, a band played quite decent country music. My VIP badge gave me access to the VIP lounge inside the Speaker’s office in the Capitol building.  I strolled about and nodded politely at people I presumed to be fascinating and famous.

Most folks were confused by my “VIP All Access” badge. I’m not a published author, or a moderator, or really anyone important to the Festival in any way. Why was I there, and what exactly did I want? Some staffers concerned I might steal something or crash a serious discussion, eyed me suspiciously.  I enjoyed my air of mystery.

The Festival introduced me to several new authors, by way of looking at their books in the tents, not sipping scotches by the fire. It wasn’t a cozy affair – I believe the locals called it “freezing cold” that day because it was in the high 50’s – but I hardly noticed because I’m from Seattle and because books are awesome no matter the weather.

The Festival allowed me an interesting glimpse of the working author’s world: discussions, readings, signings, sitting, coffee.  Without the fires and scotches, it actually looked about 90% boring to be an author at this event, but if someone published me I would gladly do lots of things that are 90% boring.

After a few hours I got lazy and hungry, so I ventured into the city.  After an enormous lunch at Magnolia Café, I wandered around town exploring. Austin is a delight. It seriously delights me. Good food and bars, rockabilly gypsy bands, what more can I ask for? And then Sunday I went to chicken shit bingo. What??! Ahh, I love it here.

The Book Festival was not what I expected. Well, the whole “I won a trip to Austin” was quite unexpected.  It’s a good thing, I think – unexpectedness. I plan to enter more contests.  I want to wear my “VIP All Access” badge somewhere random, play it cool, and let the unexpected happen.

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