[Small Chirp] Tattoos, Name That Author, & Gender Politics at the National Book Festival

Today is the second day of the National Book Festival and – coincidentally – the beginning of this year’s banned book week. (You can read about my yesterday here.)

Gorgeous day to be reading


Today, the weather was gorgeous, the readers were everywhere, and if you were at the Teen Fiction pavilion at 3:20pm today, you too were handsomely trolled by Tamora Pierce!

Tamora Pierce at the National Book Festival

“I wanted something I could believe.”

When Tamora Pierce came onto stage, she opened with a reading from her newest book, Battle Magic (read our review here). Pretending to be decrepit and old, coughing every few lines she shakily palming her bottle of water. The she looked up and said, slowly, laboriously, in that same feeble voice:

“I have been speaking at these kinds of events for twenty years. I never get tired of looking out on the sea of frozen faces all thinking, “Oh no, we have the writer from hell. She is going to drone at us till the end of time.” They are going to find us in the next century, skeletons dead of boredom…and the thought of your pain and suffering makes me happy.”

Our laughter was one part relief, and three parts sincere hilarity. The next forty minutes flew by in a flurry of hilarious one-liners and thoughtful commentary on the publishing world, diversity in writing, and her upcoming books (namely, Numair’s and Tris’ story, and the Tortall Companion). At a request from the audience, she also shared the story behind the two tattoos on her arm, the cat paw-prints (“Because my cats walk all over me.”) and a feminist symbol (“I was officially a feminist before they threw me out for a sense of humor and sleeping with the enemy.”).

“I wanted to write characters I could believe in,” Pierce added, when asked about how she came to write the kind of stories and strong female characters that feature in her novels.

I can’t wait till the webcast is up on the National Book Festival site so I can quote a few more jewels without them suffering from my shorthand notes.

Elizabeth Moon at the National Book Festival

“I am here for the long haul.”

This day also included the Graphic Novels & Science Fiction selection of writers. Though the featured speakers leaned heavily to the Graphic Novels end of the spectrum, Elizabeth Moon represented Science Fiction brilliantly. An author who has written epic fantasy (think Paksenarrion series) , space opera (Vatta’s War, say), and lit scifi (the Nebula Award-winning Speed of Dark, for example), she spoke about her experience as a new author over twenty years ago, the joy of working with and learning from the late Anne McCaffrey, and her love for the genre.

“I never get bored. Boredom doesn’t exist in my world. I’m always busy, always curious, always learning,” Moon said when speaking about her reasons for writing science fiction and fantasy novels.

When it comes to great book-related things to chirp about, the National Book Festival always delivers. Here are a few more shots from today – and from a few of the other genres.

Name that author

Can you name these authors?

You can also read about yesterday’s awesomeness here – a missing author, lots of rain, and Veronica Roth.

Can’t wait for next year!

Canaries, who would you like to see at next year’s National Book Festival?


9 thoughts on “[Small Chirp] Tattoos, Name That Author, & Gender Politics at the National Book Festival

  1. TAMORA PIERCE IS THE BEST EVER. I should really get on top of reading Battle Magic, I’ve had the ARC sitting around for a month. She said she was apprehensive to write it….

  2. Pingback: [Small Chirp] Rain and Disappeared Author at the National Book Festival | thecanaryreview

  3. I LOVE Tamora Pierce! I talk about her in my blog post of strong female characters, which I feel she does better than anyone! I think she should be required reading for writers! 🙂 http://jellysideupblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/strong-female-characters/
    I actually got the amazing opportunity to meet her once, because I won an essay contest where I described how much her books meant to me! I should write about that story. 🙂
    Anyway, thank you for this account! It’s great for those of us who weren’t there to be able to see what we missed. 🙂

    • I saw that post! And I read it, and I almost commented, before realizing that I was way too sleep deprived to even attempt to put even a slightly intelligent comment response together. On the morning, though, I will.

      This is one of those topics I can’t help but wanna talk (discuss.rant.complain.grumble.chatter) about.

      • Ooh, I’m glad you liked it! I can’t wait to see your thoughts on it. 🙂
        Isn’t it such a HUGE topic? It goes back to the dawn of time, and I have a feeling it will never stop being a discussion topic. I really appreciate that many male authors are setting a good example for other men by taking an interest in Strong Female Characters, too! 🙂

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