Here Are 12 Interviews With 2014 Texas Book Festival Authors

By Trace LevosOctober 23, 2014 6:28 pm

Are you going to the Texas Book Festival?

Some 250 authors are descending on Austin for the festival this weekend. And Texas Standard and KUT have sat down with a dozen of them.  Here’s a roundup of authors appearing at the festival, both big literary names and under-the-radar authors.

(Editor’s note: This post used to contain nine interviews – but we’ve since recorded a few more and updated accordingly.)

Lawrence Wright:

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright speaks with Texas Standard’s David Brown about his new book, “Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin and Sadat at Camp David,” a detailed account of the Camp David accords between Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Facilitated by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the agreement brought peace between Egypt and Israel.

James Ellroy:

His previous works including “L.A. Confidential,” “The Black Dahlia” and “The Big Nowhere” delve into forgotten times and seedy locales, where even the good guys have a bad streak.

Carrie Fountain:

Carrie Fountain is searching for something.

The Austin-based poet recently released “Instant Winner,” her second book of poems. In it, she reflects on parenthood and captures vignettes of moments from everyday life

Cristina Henriquez:

People across the nation – especially here in Texas – were riveted this summer by the crisis unfolding at the border as thousands of children arrive on their own. So desperate to flee their home countries in Latin America, children set off on a perilous journey, unsure of how they’d be received once they get here.

It was amid this news that author Cristina Henriquez’ new novel, “The Book of Unknown Americans,” was released. Nestled between the chapters of an age-old story of teenage love float brief, first-hand accounts from men and women who have their own tales to tell of crossing into the US. She speaks to Emily Donahue.

Chris Tomlinson:

It was not until after he returned from 11 years in Africa as the Nairobi Bureau Chief for the Associated Press that Chris Tomlinson decided to delve into his family history. What he learned not only changed his sense of family, it changed his sense of history as well. The result of his search is the book “Tomlinson Hill,” a family history of slaves and slaveholders. He speaks to David Brown.

Sarah Bird:

Sarah Bird’s newest novel, “Above the East China Sea” is the entwined tale of two teenaged girls, one American, one Okinawan. Both are struggling with great loss. The Okinawan, Tamiko, has been pressed into service as a nurse by the Japanese military during the 1945 battle of Okinawa. The American, Luz, finds herself on the island in the present. She considers it just another of her mother’s many military postings until her world is torn apart by a tragic loss. Both girls’ stories deal with family and how one fits into it. Sarah Bird talks about her novel with Emily Donahue.

Meg Gardiner:

Imagine there was a disaster. You were there. But you saw something no one else saw, something that would change everyone else’s mind about what really happened. That is, if they believed you. Now, imagine there’s another person who saw exactly what you saw. But no one believes him either. What would you do? Austin author Meg Gardiner’s new book, “Phantom Instinct,” pursues that question through 356 action-packed pages. She speaks to Emily Donahue.

Robert Bryce:

What do transistors, lithium batteries and AK-47s have in common?

Each one of those inventions fast-forwarded human history. They and many more, argues Austin-based author Robert Bryce, are examples of a trend in nature and society toward making things, faster, cheaper and – Bryce argues – better.

Bryce’s new book is called “Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong.” He speaks with David Brown.

Debra Winegarten:

Oveta Culp Hobby helped establish the Women’s Army Corps and received a distinguished service medal – the first woman in the army ever to do so. She also served as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The first biography of this noted Texan is finally in bookstores: “Oveta Culp Hobby: Colonel, Cabinet Member, Philanthropist,” written by Debra Winegarten. The Texas Standard’s David Brown spoke with Winegarten about Hobby’s achievements and obstacles.

Elizabeth Crook:

On August 1, 1966, a UT student and ex-marine named Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the UT Tower and opened fire on the pedestrians below. 16 people were killed. Dozens were injured. It was the first mass shooting on a US college campus. And it changed many lives.

Austin novelist Elizabeth Crook has used the events of that day to craft a vivid and emotional novel, “Monday, Monday.”

Russell Gold:

Wall Street Journal energy reporter Russell Gold took fracking and the people who made it the buzz word of the new millenium in his book, “The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World.”

“This revolution is transforming the United States,” Gold tells David Brown. “To a remarkable extent, this once-obscure oil-field technique defines the nation’s economic and environmental future.” A hundred new wells are drilled and fracked every day, he writes.

Jeff Abbott:

Inside Man is Jeff Abbott’s fourth novel about CIA-trained operative Sam Capra. In this novel, Capra declines to help a long-time family friend in trouble. When that friend is then murdered, Capra finds himself going inside a shady Miami family to try and avenge his friend’s death. Abbott spoke to KUT’s Jennifer Stayton.

Bonus Q&A on Maria Venegas:

In June, Kirkus Reviews editor Clay Smith recommended listeners to read “Bulletproof Vest: The Ballad of an Outlaw and His Daughter” by Maria Venegas.

“[Venegas] is a Latina writer who is very well acquainted with violence as well as violence south of the border…. her father was a killer, a drunk, and really not a great guy. He abandoned Maria and her family when she was three.” The book goes on to explore how Maria questions her father and his decisions 14 years later. Venegas eloquently avoids convicting her father, while at the same time commenting about the state of affairs south of the border.