Today The Austin Teen Book Festival announced their lunch speakers will be none other than our beloved Sarah Dessen AND Rob Thomas, the co-creator of Veronica Mars.  Check out the awesome Q&A the ATBF got from questions our brilliant Teen Press Corps drafted, and mark those calenders for September 28!

Now that you are an adult, do you still read YA?
I do, actually. Not all the time, as I’ve found it’s better for me not to know what everyone else is doing as it can be a distraction. But I will always pick up a new Laurie Halse Anderson, Gayle Forman or John Green book. Some of the best writing I’ve read in the last year has been YA, in fact.

What are your writing rituals?
I write at the same time every day—from about 3-5 pm—and in the same place, my home office. I always have two Hershey’s Nuggets (Special Dark Chocolate with almonds) beforehand and allow myself about twenty minutes of total procrastination on Twitter or Tumblr. Then it’s off the internet and to work, although I rarely want to. I find writing to be like working out: I’m never dying or eager to do it, but am always so glad I did.

What is your favorite romantic movie?
How to even pick just one? Oh, dear, the PRESSURE. I do love Bridget Jones’s Diary: I could watch that over and over. Also Say Anything. Nothing has ever captured the angst of finding and then losing love in high school like the story of Lloyd Dobler. I get emotional with that boombox scene EVERY TIME.

What is your favorite book set in Texas?
I’m a huge fan of Mary Karr, and I loved The Liar’s Club. It was one of the first books I read set there. But really, what makes me think of Texas most is Friday Night Lights. I have not read the book, but am outright obsessed with the TV show. Each time I am in Austin I look for landmarks and try to picture myself running into Tim Riggins. I wish! Maybe someday.

Thank you, Sarah! Now, let’s learn a little more about Rob Thomas!

What were you like in high school? Were you a “book nerd”?
I wasn’t a “book nerd,” but I was certainly a reader. I read quite a bit of science fiction and fantasy in those days, but sports, extracurriculars and, yes, Dungeons and Dragons, prevented me from spending the time necessary to fully qualify as a “book nerd.” Clearly, however, I had some more standard nerd traits. My two biggest interests in those days were sports and music. I wanted to either write for Rolling Stone or for Sports Illustrated.

You played in bands when you were younger. What is one of your best memories?
I started a band with five high school friends and none of knew how to play an instrument when we began. An early great memory was the first time I can remember, after weeks of practicing, like for eight hours a day together in my parents’ garage, when our version of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” sounded recognizable. We were in a groove. It wasn’t much, but it made me feel strangely legit. I’m happy to say that the final show I played in the band was a great one. I knew it would be our last, and we opened for Uncle Tupelo in Houston. As is typical when you’re the opening act, people linger away from the stage, and they’re sort of waiting impatiently for the band they paid to see, but that final night, we managed to win over the crowd. By the end of the night, they were pressed up front and clapping enthusiastically, dancing. It was a nice night to go out on.

How did you push through the doubt when you were first starting out? 
I’d started and stopped different writing projects a couple times, succumbing to doubt and a lack of discipline. I began writing Rats Saw God right as I gave up playing in a band, and I had a huge creative void in my life. I think that spurred me on. I felt a void. I had to fill it by doing something. I would’ve gone crazy otherwise. I tried not to think about it in terms of “Will people like it? Will it get published?” I tried to think of it like a mountain climber thinks about a mountain. I’m going to climb the thing. I’m going to hold a completed novel in my hands at the end of the day. I’ll worry about the other stuff when I can look down from the mountain.

Who has the best chips and queso in Austin?
I confess that I’m not the biggest expert in this field. I could talk sushi! This is what 15 years in Los Angeles has done to me. That said, I love taking my West Coast friends to Fonda San Miguel. I love the food there, but the ambience just knocks out visitors. And, yes, I love the chips though I’d lean toward the salsa.”

BookPeople is proud to sponsor The Austin Teen Book Festival as well as act as the official bookseller to the fest. We hope to see you there! It will be a day of literary fun, and YA madness. You’ll meet authors, have the opportunity to have your books signed, as well as meet tons of other YA fanatics AND it’s all FREE!