Nancy Barber (nlbarber) wrote,
Nancy Barber

Decatur Book Festival, day 1

I spent most of today at the Decatur Book Festival, and will be back tomorrow for at least part of the afternoon. I was really pleased to see that the DBF folks and Dragon*Con have gotten together at least a little, so that several people who I assume are primarily in town for D*C ran over to Decatur to participate in a DBF event. It makes so much sense to both groups (or so it seems to me), and I hope it will continue and expand. I must drop the DBF group an email next week and say thanks, and ask them next year to see if Tamora Pierce will come. I almost fought the D*C hassles this year because she is there...almost.

Anyway, I started today at the Children's Stage where pop-up book artists Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart were giving a well-practised tandem demonstration of the basics of how to make pop-ups. They shared the patter between them as each did the same steps on pieces of paper to make 3 pop-ups. At the end of each mini-demo, they'd diverge to decorate the piece with markers. For instance, a bird-beak with blinking eyes became a flamingo for Sabuda and a triceratops for Reinhart. Sabuda did a birthday cake where Reinhart did a ship with a passenger overboard and a shark nearby (all these last details just drawn in, of course), so Sabuda leaned over and added lots of blood in the water. Clearly two guys enjoying themselves. I was glad I didn't stop and grab some of my shelf of Sabudas for signing, though, as the line was instantly long and was out in the sun.

Next I moved to air conditioning: the Old Courthouse Stage is the second floor of the old county courthouse. This session was a Dragon*Con cross-over: "Young Ones to Watch" (rather badly named, given the mix of participants) with Kevin Anderson, Tobias Buckell, Cherie Priest, and John Scalzi. I had heard Anderson at Denvention, but have read none of their books--Scalzi's Old Man's War is in the to-be-read-soon stack, though. I'm still unlikely to read Anderson or Priest (not my sort of stuff) but might look at Buckell. It was an entertaining panel.

I decided that I wasn't ready to buy any of their books and wait in the signing line, so I went back into the heat and cruised another line of tent-stalls. I avoided the self-published authors trying so hard to sell their books, browsed the academic presses, and looked at some of the "other stuff" like leather pouches, jewelry, etc. Spotted one bumper sticker that really hit home: "At least the war on the environment is going well."

The heat quickly drove me back to the Courthouse Stage for the next slot, mystery writers Mary Kay Andrews/Kathy Hogan Trocheck (that's one person), and N.M. Kelby. For the 4 SF writers the room was maybe 1/3 full--for this session, people stood around the sides and back. The crowd was there for Trocheck, who's local and popular. And I've added a couple of her books to my library list for the next time I want a mystery read.

I grabbed a quick bite to eat (chicken fingers, the choice of what was close and fast being that or a hot dog) then walked half a block to the Conference Center Stage (a real mini-auditorium, in the Decatur Holiday Inn conference center wing) for Sarah Addison Allen. I read her Garden Spells after it got mentioned on RRA-L. Or was it RomSF? Pretty sure it was a romance list, as the book is by all my definitions a romance, though I think it was marketed as general fiction. And it qualifies as SF for the bits of magic, especially the tree that, in the vein of Korval's Tree, influences its human family. Allen spoke mostly about the writing of her book that's just out, The Sugar Queen, and I ended up buying both it in HB and Garden Spells in trade paper (I'd read it from the library) and getting both books signed.

Since I was in the conference center, I walked through the semi-separate antiquarian book fair and marveled at the prices. Andre Nortons (in hardback with dust jacket, granted) for $125? The A.N. Rocquelaire (Anne Rice in pseudonym) "Sleeping Beauty" erotica trilogy for $750?

It was about 3 PM at this point, and I moved to the Escape Stage, the YA venue, for the last of Brandon Sanderson's talk labeled "Fantasy vs. Sci Fi Smackdown". He was already taking questions when I got there, so I don't know what that topic generated. He took a couple more questions and then had to run to get back to D*C. As I was standing around debating my next move, in came sister-in-law and older niece with 2 friends. S-I-L and I were dressed as a matched set in "Will Work For Books" T-shirts from I'd been getting comments on my shirt all day and with two of us together that increased. The girls wanted to roam, so S-I-L and I trailed them as they booth-hopped, found the gelato stand, and went back to the YA area for the 4 PM session: Harry Potter Acoustic Rock, by Animagus. Animagus turns out to be a young woman with a guitar, with HP filk. They didn't call it that, but it was, and not very good filk at that. Vague lyrics, vaguer melody, and a not-so-firm grip of pitch--I left after the second song having had enough for the day. I needed to make a long detour to get to Trader Joe's on the way home, being almost out of half-caf coffee beans.

I noticed one major difference in DBF and D*C, or SF cons in general (I don't know about other book festivals). The "Young Ones" group operated as a panel just as at a con, and sort of drafted the guy who was there to introduce them (a writer for Creative Loafing) to act as a moderator. All the other events got to had one or two writers who got an introduction but then filling the time was up to them. Trocheck just stood up and talked about herself and her writing (and she's an excellent speaker), Kelby tried a little of the "just talking" less successfully then read a little, Allen did about the same but wasn't trying for so much humor and came across better for it. I think either approach will work, but the panel/moderator gives some insurance against the author who hasn't learned to hold an audience solo.
Tags: books, dragoncon

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