If someone gave me a choice to spend a day among authors or a day among famous actors I'd choose the day with authors without hesitation. Tomorrow is such a day. Tomorrow there will be more than 80 published authors in Washington DC between 14th and 7th Streets on about 12 acres of land.
Tomorrow is the National Book Festival on the National Mall.
This will be the third year I've attended, and the first year I didn't volunteer. The first year - 2003 - I got to see several of my favorite authors who write for children and young adults. It was a cold damp day but I was prepared with sweaters, gloves and raingear. I was lucky enough to be working with the signing tables, so saw these men and women up close. I also heard a few during their talks. I was not brave enough to talk to any of them - most were preoccupied with signing hundreds of books. I wished I had talked to Nancy Farmer whose The Ear, the Eye and the Arm was a favorite of mine when I was a teacher. Her line was the shortest and she was free for a few moments before the end of her designated signing period. I also got to hear Avi, Jane Yolen, Sharon Creech and R. L. Stine. I was surprised that Stine was the most outgoing, but maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised.
The second year, last year, was a beautiful day, however I had a less interesting job of picking up debris and straightening chairs between authors in the Children and Children and Teen tents. I was able to hear a few interesting speakers including Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi who co-wrote the Spiderwick Chronicles. Another interesting author was Richard Peck. He happened to be reading from his book The Teacher's Funeral. During his talk he claimed to have thought up the best opening line in the world for the book he was writing: Here Lies the Librarian which comes out in January 2006.
So tomorrow I will get to hear some of my favorite authors but not have to work. Here is my schedule for tomorrow:
I'll try to get there by 10 so I can go to the pavilions and maybe pick up one of the coveted Book TV(?) bags that usually run out by noon.
I'll head over to the Fiction pavilion close to 11:30 to get in line to get a seat for John Irving's interview at 11:50. Getting a good seat for him will be great since Neil Gaiman follows him at 12:40.
I will probably try to find a bite to eat, or eat a bag lunch I brought and then head over to see Sharon Creech in the Teens tent and then Phyllis Reynolds Naylor in the Children's tent. Finally, if I still feel up to it I want to see Jon Kabat-Zin.
Sunday night I plan on going to Virginia to see Neil Gaiman once more. So I guess this will be a literary kinda weekend for me.