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Women of the Texas Book Festival

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Phoebe Robinson, Mimi Swartz, Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce discuss the upcoming Texas Book Festival.

By Shelby Woods, Photos courtesy of respective authors 

The 23rd annual Texas Book Festival returns to the Texas Capitol grounds Oct. 27 and 28, with 280 writers attending this year, including many accomplished female authors. Austin Woman spoke with four authors about the books they will bring along with them.

Phoebe Robinson

Actor, podcast host and comedian Phoebe Robinson recently published, Everything’s Trash, But it’s Okay, a collection of essays about gender, race and dating.

Austin WomanCan you tell us about your latest book?

Phoebe Robinson: It talks about immediate things, like when I had $60,000 in financial debt, my complicated relationship with feminism and meeting Obama for the first time. It’s a mix of moments of luxury and the more serious topics I write about.

AWHow would you compare writing to other forms of media you work in?

PR: It’s like using a different muscle. In writing, you don’t get an immediate reaction, but you still get a high from it. You have to be around yourself. I really think writing is sort of the introverted part of me, while the other kinds of media I work in is the extroverted part.

AWWhat are you looking forward to at the festival?

PR: I always have fun doing book festivals. Books don’t get a lot of love a lot of the time. When you’re a writer, you don’t get to interact with a lot of people the way you might get to in stand-up. I’m excited to see people like me who love reading there, and falling in love with different voices.

See Robinson at the festival Oct. 27 at Kirkus Reviews Tent at 4 p.m.

Mimi Swartz

Author of Power Failure: The Inside Story of The Collapse of Enron and two-time National Magazine Awards winner, Mimi Swartz has been a nonfiction author her entire life. She will highlight her latest book, Ticker, this year at the Texas Book Festival.

AWCan you tell us about the book you’ll discuss at the Texas Book Festival?

Mimi Swartz: I will be talking about my book Ticker, which is about the quest to build the artificial heart. Houston has a long history of heart surgery, as it’s the home of heart surgery. I knew the history would get lost if I didn’t write about it.

AWHow long have you been writing?

MS: Since high school. It’s been a long time. I’ve always enjoyed doing it. I believe writers are born and not made. Even as a child, I was an observer, and I think that’s contributed to my writing.

AWWhat was your experience with writing Ticker like?

MS: I loved it. The people involved were so interesting.

See Swartz at the festival Oct. 28 at C-SPAN 2/Book TV Tent at noon.

Mary Pope Osborne

Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

Natalie Pope Boyce

Mary Pope Osborne is the woman behind the bestselling Magic Tree House book series, which stars fictional characters Jack and Annie, who travel through time in their treehouse. Osborne’s sister, Natalie Pope Boyce, writes the nonfiction research guides that accompany the popular children’s books. Combined, the two sisters have written more than 100 books.

AWWhat books will you be discussing at the festival?

Mary Pope Osborne: I’ll be talking about Hurricane Heroes in Texas, which is about Jack and Annie traveling back to the Galveston hurricane of 1900. I feel like only people in Texas really know about the hurricane, so I thought it was time that everyone knew.

Natalie Pope Boyce: I wrote a book about the history of Texas. Texas has such a complicated and incredible history with some amazing characters. There’s nothing quite like it.

AWWhy did you choose to write children’s books?

Mary Pope Osborne: I kind of fell into children’s books. I’ve always loved talking to young people, but the world of 7- and 8-year-olds is so magical. I could never get away from that age group. I feel really lucky to have them as my target audience.

AWWhat are you looking forward to most at the Texas Book Festival?

MPO: I suspect it’ll be an adventure. We’ll have fun onstage and then do a big book signing. There’s so much community and energy and things to do in Austin. If I had been born there, I would have never left. I’m always amazed with the warmth and hospitality I receive.

NPB: People in Texas are enormously friendly and a lot of fun, but the highlight is going to be the book festival. Also we’re looking forward to eating some barbecue.

See Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce at the festival Oct. 27 at the Kirkus Reviews Tent at 2:30 p.m.

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