Texas Book Festival Itinerary—Debut Author Edition
One of the great things about the Texas Book Festival is that it doesn’t play favorites with well-known writers. Many first-timers debut at the Festival, and we’ve compiled this itinerary for readers who want to check out new writers before they become household names. Say hello—they’ll be grateful—and pick up a copy of these debuts so you can brag to your friends that you knew about them before they were cool.
SATURDAY, OCT. 26
At 1:30 p.m., UT’s Michener Center presents Domenica Ruta (in her second Festival appearance) and Fiona McFarlane in Capitol Extension Room E2.028. Ruta and McFarlane are both Michener grads. McFarlane will be debuting The Night Guest, a chiller in which widowed Ruth takes in Frida, who claims she’s a care worker sent by the government. Mystery ensues. Ruta will present her memoir With or Without You.
Another debut memoirist, David Berg, will participate in the “Violence in the Family” panel with Justin St. Germain at 1:45 p.m. in Capitol Extension room E2.030. Berg, a longtime Houston defense lawyer, recently published Run Brother Run, an exploration of his brother’s murder by notorious hitman Charles Harrelson.
Amy Brill and J. Courtney Sullivan go “Behind the Novel” at 2 p.m. in Capitol Extension Room E2.010. Brill’s debut, The Movement of Stars, inspired by a 19th-century female astronomer, follows a young Quaker girl who dreams of discovering a comet. Sullivan’s most recent novel, The Engagements, tells the story of four marriages intertwined with the development of the diamond industry in America.
At 2:30 p.m., mosey over to the Lone Star Tent for “Behind Closed Doors: Fictional Family Secrets,” where Bronwen Hruska will talk about her debut, Accelerated, which was inspired by real-life pressures to medicate her children. She will be joined by veteran author A.M. Homes.
At 2:45 p.m. in Capitol Extension Room E2.030, join Carson Mell and Stephen Elliott for “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll.” Mell will present Saguaro, The Life and Adventures of Bobby Allen Bird, an illustrated novel, and filmmaker Mell’s debut. Though Elliot isn’t a debut author, his novel Happy Baby was recently adapted for the big screen.
At 3:45 p.m., debut writer Lea Carpenter and veteran authors Aminatta Forna and Bob Shacochis will be featured on the panel “What We Talk About When We Talk About War” in Capitol Auditorium Room E1.004. Carpenter’s debut novel, Eleven Days, is as timely as it is emotional: a mother’s son, a Navy SEAL, goes missing during the raid for Bin Laden. Publishers Weekly called it “the sweet pitch before the violin screeches.”
SUNDAY, OCT. 27
Catherine Chung and Daniel Wallace discuss folklore in fiction at “Once Upon A Time,” which starts at 12:30 p.m. in Capitol Extension Room E2.030. Chung’s The Forgotten Country takes off from family folklore holding that every generation loses a daughter—a prediction that haunts young Janie, who dedicates herself to keeping her little sister safe from the myth … or the reality. Wallace is the author of Big Fish.
At 1:30 p.m. in Capitol Extension Room E2.030, discuss the “Known Unknown” with debut writer Mario Alberto Zambrano, Aurorarama author Jean-Christophe Valtat, and Nina McCogingly, author of Cowboys and East Indians. Zambrano’s debut, Loteria, has been compared to Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao for its focus on Mexican-American life. In Loteria, 11-year-old Luz is taken into state custody after her father is incarcerated. No one can get her to speak, but she writes journal entries based on images inspired by the colorful Loteria cards from her Mexican bingo game. The effect is a snapshot portrait of her childhood.
Finally, Stephen Graham Jones, author of Flushboy, Austinite Neal Pollack of Matt Bolster mystery fame, and Chris L. Terry will be featured at the “On The Fringe” panel in Capitol Extension Room E2.030 at 2:30 p.m. Terry’s debut, Zero Fade, chronicles eight days in the inner city, tackling what it’s like to be a young black man growing up in ’90s hip-hop culture, where a bad haircut can ruin a reputation.