Mindy Kaling wants teens to get reading at Texas Teen Book Festival

TV actor just one of the authors coming to the festival, which is also for anyone who loves young adult fiction.

Mindy Kaling might be best known for her television roles, but the creator of “The Mindy Project” has the ideal literary background for a book festival aimed at teens.

After all, her two best-selling essay collections are full of honesty about real life, complete with insecurities about friendships, romance and work. “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” and “Why Not Me?” solidified Kaling’s rep as funny and relatable: “Why” kicks off with the admission that she toted a giant bag of Skittles to her first day of seventh grade in an effort to win friends.

Kaling’s star power will no doubt attract fans to her 10:15 a.m. appearance at the Texas Teen Book Festival next weekend, but she’s far from the only draw in the lineup.

The festival – which started in 2009 as the brainchild of Austin school librarian Heather Schubert and BookPeople — has mushroomed each year in author prominence as well as attendance. It has expanded this year to include a Friday night Alamo Drafthouse screening of the 1983 teen classic movie “The Outsiders” with authors Sabaa Tahir, David Arnold and Renee Ahdieh, as well as a costume contest on Saturday for aspiring literary cosplayers. TTBF became part of the Texas Book Festival organization in 2014, and while the movie screening requires a $25 ticket, all events on Saturday remain free thanks to sponsors that include Humanities Texas and BookPeople.

Be sure to check out texasteenbookfestival.org for a full schedule as well as important details about the signing lines and parking. In the meantime, here are a few (non-Mindy) preview highlights.

  • Acclaimed fantasy authors Laini Taylor and Leigh Bardugo bookend the fest with the afternoon and closing keynotes.
  • National Book Award finalist Taylor penned the “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” trilogy, an intricately plotted tale that follows Karou, a teenage art student in Prague who is pulled into an ongoing battle between the Chimaera and the Seraphim. She will also be talking about her newest book, “Strange the Dreamer,” which focuses on a junior librarian named Lazlo Strange. (1:30 p.m., RCC Gym) Taylor appears as well on the “Just Like Old Times” panel. (11:30 a.m., RCC Gym)
  • Bardugo parlayed her world of the magical Grisha into a best-selling trilogy and then a spin-off heist story, “Six of Crows,” named a New York Times Notable Book of 2015. The sequel, “Crooked Kingdom,” finds criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker summoning his now-weakened team for another battle in Ketterdam. (4:30 p.m., RCC Gym) In addition to her closing keynote, Bardugo is part of the “Hiding in Plain Sight” panel with fellow high-jinks-heavy authors, including “Embassy Row” mystery scribe Ally Carter and “Thieving Weasels” thriller author Billy Taylor. (2:30 p.m., RCC Gym)
  • The “Where Loyalties Lie” panel knits together novels that all deal with the theme in very different settings, from a reimagined “Romeo and Juliet” set in Texas during the Mexican Revolution (Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s “Shame the Stars”) to the ripple effects of untimely death on a small town (“Seeing Off the Johns,” from Rene S. Perez II). The discussion also includes the critically lauded “We Are The Ants” from Shaun David Hutchinson and Jeff Zentner’s “The Serpent King,” a coming-of-age story rooted in the bonds of family and friendship. Debut YA author Zentner is also an accomplished Nashville musician and an assistant attorney general for the state of Tennessee. (2:30 p.m., Jones Auditorium, Ragsdale Building)
  • Augmenting the panels are three blocks of signings for groups of authors throughout the day, with a mass “all-author” signing from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Unlike most readings, the fest allows outside books to be signed — each festgoer can get three books from home signed for every title purchased at festival.
  • Kaling will sign the first 250 books purchased on-site, just before her appearance at the fest. The sales area, in the Alumni Gym, opens at 8 a.m.
  • The Badgerdog and BarrioWriters literary groups are holding free writing workshops for 13- to 18-year-olds as part of the fest. There were still spots available at press time, but advance registration is required. Go to the festival website to snag a seat.

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