Becka Oliver

Becka Oliver spent more than sixteen years in the publishing industry before joining the Writers’ League of Texas, the largest literary arts organization in Texas,  as Executive Director in 2013. Working at two of the “Big Five” publishing leaders (Macmillan and Hachette), Becka negotiated foreign and domestic licensing deals for such notable authors as Sandra Brown, Nelson Demille, Nicholas Sparks, and Jon Stewart & the Daily Show. In 2007, Becka made the transition from Associate Director of Subsidiary Rights at Grand Central Publishing to Literary Agent. She was a founding member of the Endeavor Talent Agency’s book department and, in 2009, she joined the William Morris Endeavor Agency (WME) when the two powerhouse entities merged. Her client list included New York Times bestsellers Brunonia Barry, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Morgan, Daphne Oz, and Awkward Family Photos, as well as Joanna Philbin, Susan Rebecca White, Kamran Pasha, and more. Becka is a former board member of the Women’s Media Group and is a Community Ambassador for the Texas Book Festival.

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Leslie Perkins

Leslie Perkins is a proud graduate of Huston-Tillotson University with a bachelor’s degree in Education. She has been a child advocate and teacher in the East Austin and Manor communities for over 15 years. Leslie is honored to be a catalyst in making “firsts and lasts” – Breakthrough’s work consists of making first generation college students that will be the last in their families to navigate the higher education system alone. Her commitment to the community exemplifies her belief that our children’s education is the most valuable investment we can make.

Archana Vemulapalli

Archana Vemulapalli grew up in South India and is drawn to all forms of literature, poetry and writings ranging from Urdu compositions, Shakespearean/Elizabethan era novelists, 19thand 20th century essayists and humorists from Oscar Wilde to Wodehouse to R.K Narayan. She loves the classics and literary fiction and she also enjoys a good dose of fantasy fiction and sci-fi. She lives in Austin with her two daughters and husband who enjoy books just as much. You can see some of her writings at

Rebekah Manley

After Rebekah studied Public Relations at Grand Canyon University, she worked for Carnival Cruise lines as a Social Hostess and an Assistant Cruise Director. She couldn’t shake the dream of writing to inspire and delight children and earned her Master of Fine Arts in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. In Rebekah’s website, Brave Tutu, she hopes readers will “take courage in delight and discover power in small moments.” Aside from her writing career, Rebekah is the Coordinator for the Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission; affiliate of the National Center for the Book at Library of Congress. Rebekah is passionate about individuals making personal connections to literature.


Gerry Tucker

Gerry Tucker is a college administrator, attorney and author.  Currently, as Vice President of Human Resources at Austin Community College, she is responsible for all aspects of Human Resources.  Through continuous improvement, Gerry has implemented an efficient timekeeping system, balanced the payroll, created a leadership academy, implemented a career development program and a supervisory certification program.

Gerry received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law, a Master of Arts in Student Personnel Administration from Howard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Fisk University. She also served on the Fisk University Board of Trustees upon graduation.

Dedicated to serving in the community, Gerry has served on a variety of local boards and is an active national committee member of the Links, Incorporated.  She has been recognized with the YWCA Woman of the Year Award, First Tees Integrity Award, AISD Heritage Community Service Award, African American Chamber of Commerce Award of Valor and the Fisk University Women of Prominence Award.

In her personal time, Gerry enjoys her catering business, Affairs Unlimited.  As an author, Gerry has contributed to the Texas Bar Journal and the Austin-American Statesman. She recently published her first book Bedside Chat.

Nora Comstock

Nora de Hoyos Comstock, Ph.D. was elected to the Austin Community College Board of Trustees in November 2016 for a six-year term. She is an entrepreneur, business leader, and pioneer in utilizing social media to build a community for Latinas. Nora believes that education, which translates into hope and opportunity, is the single most important factor that transforms lives. Her Ph.D is from the University of Texas at Austin in Educational Administration with an emphasis on community college management (1982) and a B.A. in History (1974), with a specialty in Latin America.


Leadership in the Austin community includes chair and member of the Capital Area Workforce Development Board (1999, now Workforce Solutions). During her tenure as Interim Executive Director of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (1999), she implemented the Hispanic Austin Leadership Program. Currently she serves on the board of the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy (Cambridge, MA) and Latino Literacy Now (Los Angeles, CA).


Nora is the national/international founder of Las Comadres Para Las Americas. She served as the organization’s Volunteer President and CEO, since its founding in 2000. She built the organization to over 20,000 women in100 cities, 28 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada. She has retired but remains active on the board.



Ami Gandhi

Ami Gandhi is a founding and Advisory Board member for the nonprofit South Asian Austin Moms. She served as an Executive Board member from 2015 to 2018. As a SAAM board member Ami has helped to organize and facilitate various cultural festivals throughout the Austin Metro area, the profits of which have been donated to charitable organizations such as Dell Children’s Hospital and the Rosedale School in Austin. Ami has planned and led all children’s educational programming offered at SAAM events and has blogged about parenting and education for the nonprofit’s web site. In 2018 Ami represented SAAM in its new partnership with Texas Book Festival and participated in general publicity and programming for the Children’s Activity Tent.  Prior to having children Ami was a high school English teacher in New Jersey for eight years. She has her M.A. in English Literature from New York University and her B.A. in English and Education from the University of Michigan. Ami resides in Cedar Park with her husband and two sons.

Reading Rock Stars Austin 2018

We’re so excited for our biggest Reading Rock Stars ever! On Friday, October 26, we’ll be bringing authors into 10 area schools. Be sure to see them at the Texas Book Festival during their presentations on Saturday, October 27. Find our full schedule here.

JAMES LUNA is an elementary school teacher in Riverside, California. He is the author of a short, bilingual novel for intermediate readers, A Mummy in Her Backpack / Una momia en su mochila (Piñata Books, 2012), and two picture books, The Place Where You Live / El lugar donde vives (Piñata Books, 2015) and The Runaway Piggy / El cochinito fugitivo (Piñata Books, 2010), which was selected by Texas schoolchildren as their favorite book on the Tejas Star Reading List.


JOHN AUGUST was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado. He earned a degree in journalism from Drake University and an MFA in film from USC. As a screenwriter, his credits include Big FishCharlie’s AngelsCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryCorpse Bride and Frankenweenie. His books include Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire.In addition to his film career, he hosts a popular weekly podcast, Scriptnotes, with Craig Mazin. He also created the Writer Emergency Pack, an educational storytelling tool that was distributed to over 2,000 classrooms in partnership with non-profit literacy groups like 826LA and NaNoWriMo. John and his family live in Los Angeles.


LIZ GARTON-SCANLON is the author of numerous beloved books for young people, including the highly-acclaimed, Caldecott-honored picture book All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, and her debut novel for middle grade readers, The Great Good Summer, as well Another Way to Climb a TreeIn the CanyonBob, Not Bob (co-authored with Audrey Vernick), and several others. Ms. Scanlon serves on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a frequent and popular presenter at schools, libraries and conferences. She lives with her family in Austin, Texas.


SOMAN CHAINANI believes in fairy tales wholeheartedly. When studying at Harvard, he practically created his own fairy-tale major. He is an acclaimed screenwriter and a graduate of the MFA Film Directing Program at Columbia University. His films have played at more than 150 film festivals around the world, and his writing awards include an honor from the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. He lives in New York City. You can visit him online at


HENA KHAN is the author of several books including Amina’s VoicePower ForwardOn PointBounce BackIt’s Ramadan, Curious George; Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns; and The Night of the Moon. Hena lives in her hometown of Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and two sons. You can learn more about Hena by visiting her website at


JUANA MARTINEZ-NEAL grew up and studied painting in Lima, Peru, and now lives with her family in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her children appear in the artwork for “Little Boy Azul,” “Twinkle, Twinkle, Small Estrella,” and “I See la Luna,” and their playfulness inspired many of the antics in the other scenes. This is her first picture book.



JEFF SMITH is the creator of the award-winning, New York Times bestselling Bone series. He was born and raised in the American Midwest and learned about cartooning from comic strips, comic books, and TV animation. Visit him online at



MINH LÊ is a writer but, like his grandfather, is a man of few words. He is a national early childhood policy expert, author of Let Me Finish! (illustrated by Isabel Roxas), and has written for The New York Times, the Horn Book, and The Huffington Post. A first-generation Vietnamese-American, he went to Dartmouth College and has a master’s in education from Harvard University. Outside of spending time with his beautiful wife and sons in their home near Washington, DC, Minh’s favorite place to be is in the middle of a good book. Visit Minh online at or on Twitter @bottomshelfbks.


DAN SANTAT is the author and illustrator of the Caldecott Award-winning The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, as well as The Cookie Fiasco, After the Fall, and others. He is also the creator of Disney’s animated hit, The Replacements. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and a menagerie of pets. Visit him at


DON TATE is the illustrator of more than fifty (as of 2016) critically acclaimed trade and educational books for children, and the author of two award-winning titles. He is a founding host of the The Brown Bookshelf, a blog dedicated to books for African American young readers; and a member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks organization, created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature.


JULISSA ARCE is a best-selling author of MY (UNDERGROUND) AMERICAN DREAM.  She was named one of People en Español’s 25 Most Powerful Woman of 2017.   She is a leading voice in the fight for social justice, immigrant rights and education equality.  Her second book, “Someone Like Me,” will be her first Young Adult book and is set for publication in September 2018. Julissa is a contributor for Crooked Media, CNBC, and one of the hosts of Crooked Conversations. Her book, “My Underground American Dream” is currently being developed as a television series at Twentieth Century Fox Television with producer and actor America Ferrera.


YUYI MORALES is an author/illustrator whose books have won the Pura Belpré Award, the Christopher Award, and the Jane Addams Award. Born in Xalapa, Mexico, where she currently resides, she lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she still maintains close relations with booksellers and librarians. Professional storyteller, dancer, choreographer, puppeteer, and artist, she has won the prestigious Pura Belpré Award for Illustration five times, for Just a Minute (2003), Los Gatos Black on Halloween (2006), Just in Case (2008), Niño Wrestles the World (2013) and Viva Frida (2014), as well as a Caldecott Honor Book.


RAFAEL LÓPEZ writes stories that are a fusion of strong graphic style and magical symbolism. Growing up in Mexico City, he was immersed in the rich cultural heritage and native color of street life. He has illustrated many award-winning books, including Book Fiesta! by Pat Mora; Tito Puente Mambo King, by Monica Brown; and The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha Vamos. In 2012 he was selected by the Library of Congress to create the artwork for the National Book Festival in Washington D.C.


MAC BARNETT is a New York Times-bestselling author of stories for children. His books have sold more than one million copies in the United States and have been translated into more than 30 languages. His picture books include two Caldecott-Honor-winning collaborations with Jon Klassen: Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, which also won the E.B White Read-Aloud Award, and Extra Yarn, which won both the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award. Leo: A Ghost Story, illustrated by Christian Robinson, and The Skunk, illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, were named two of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 2015 by The New York Times. Mac’s novels include the Brixton Brothers mysteries and  The Terrible Two series. He lives in Oakland, California.


CRYSTAL ALLEN is the author of How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy, which received a Florida Sunshine State Award Master List nomination and was a Junior Library Guild selection. She is also the author of the acclaimed middle-grade novels The Laura LineThe Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown, and The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: The Wall of Fame Game. She currently lives in Sugar Land, Texas, with her husband, Reggie, and two sons, Phillip and Joshua. You can visit her website at


VANESSA BRANTLEY-NEWTON is a self-taught illustrator, doll maker, and crafter who studied fashion illustration at FIT and children’s book illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is the author and illustrator of Let Freedom Sing and Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table and has illustrated numerous children’s books, including Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert, Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer, One Love and Every Little Thing, words by Bob & Cedella Marley, and Presenting Tallulah by Tori Spelling. Vanessa currently makes her nest in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and a very rambunctious cat named Stripes. Learn more about Vanessa and her artwork at and on Facebook.


XAVIER GARZA is a prolific author, artist, and storyteller whose work focuses primarily on his experiences growing up in the small border town of Rio Grande City. He graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American in 1994 with a BFA in Art and has exhibited his art and performed his stories in venues throughout the United States. Garza lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife Irma and their young son Vincent. His latest book, and second bilingual lucha libre cuento, Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel is available now! The American Library Association chose the book as a 2012 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book.


JACQUELINE WOODSON is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. She received the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and Children’s Literature Legacy Award. Her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, won the National Book Award, as well as the Coretta Scott King Award, Newbery Honor Award, and NAACP Image Award. Her adult book, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist, and her many books for young readers include Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster, and the picture book Each Kindness, which won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. She lives in Brooklyn.


RODA AHMED is a Norwegian author and columnist born in Hargeisa, Somalia. Roda is the bestselling author of Forberedelsen (The Preparations). Mae Among the Stars is her first children’s book. She can speak five languages: Somali, Arabic, Norwegian, English, and French. Roda lives in LA with her husband and two children. For more info check out



CHRISTIAN ROBINSON is a 2016 Caldecott Honoree and also received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his art in Last Stop on Market Street. His picture books include the Gaston and Friends series; Leo: A Ghost StorySchool’s First Day of SchoolThe Smallest Girl in the Smallest GradeJosephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker; and many more. You can visit Christian at or on Instagram @theartoffun.


XELENA GONZÁLEZ, from the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation, has roots in San Antonio, Texas, and has stretched her wings to fly all the way to Guangzhou, China, where she works as a librarian in an international school. She studied journalism at Northwestern University and library science at Texas Woman’s University, but her true training as a storyteller has come from getting to know other living beings—including plants, animals, and people who happen to speak different languages or see the world in unusual ways. All Around Us is her first book.


ADRIANA GARCIA, is a Texas-based visual artist, muralist, and scenic designer. Garcia was most recently commissioned to create a mural for the San Pedro Creek improvement project in San Antonio, Texas. She has been invited to present and speak of her work at national conferences such as the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS), and the Roots and Remedies Conference. She has created murals with many community organizations in Texas and has exhibited nationally. Of her work she notes, “I create as a way to document the lives I’ve shared in, it provides a way to honor a person’s existence and make visible the marks they have imprinted upon me and the environment.”


DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER is the New York Times bestselling author of the young adult series The Shadowshaper Cypher, the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, and the middle-grade historical fantasy Dactyl Hill Squad. He won the International Latino Book Award and has been nominated for the Kirkus Prize, the Mythopoeic Award, the Locus Award, the Andre Norton Award, and the World Fantasy Award. Shadowshaper was named one of Esquire’s 80 Books Every Person Should Read.


BOB SHEA has written and illustrated over a dozen picture books, including the popular Dinosaur vs. and Ballet Cat series, I’m a Shark, and Oh, Daddy! His characters and animations have appeared on Nick Jr., Disney Junior, and PBS Kids. Bob spends his days writing and drawing. He can be found online at


NATHAN HALE is the #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, which includes One Dead Spy; Donner Dinner Party; Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood; Big Bad Ironclad!; Alamo All-Stars; and The Underground Abductor, one of which earned a place on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List. He also illustrated the graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge, which was a TODAY show Al’s Book Club for Kids selection, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book, and a YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens, as well as the recipient of three starred reviews. Nathan lives in Orem, Utah.


RYAN CALEJO was born and raised in south Florida. He recently graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami with a BA. He’s been invited to join both the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Golden Key International Honour Society. He teaches swimming to elementary school students, chess to middle school students, and writing to high school students. Having been born into a family of immigrants and growing up in the so-called “Capital of Latin America,” Ryan knows the importance of diversity in our communities and is passionate about writing books that children of all ethnicities can relate to. Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows is his first novel.


ARREE CHUNG makes picture books, but he did a lot of other things before finding his true passion.  Arree began his career in consulting where he made lots of spreadsheets.  Arree left the consulting field for an opportunity at Pixar.  At Pixar, Arree learned the secret to success: loving what you do.  To pursue his passion, Arree enrolled at the Art Center College of Design where he learned to draw, paint, and think differently.  In Steven Turk’s Children’s Book Illustration class, Arree discovered his love for creating children’s picture books and the rest is history! In the past decade, Arree has worked in the games industry as a Designer and Art Director.  Arree’s first debut picture book, “Ninja!” hits shelves June 3rd, 2014.  When Arree is not practicing his Ninja moves, you can find him playing basketball or riding his bike.

Earn a Girl Scout Patch at the Festival!

Texas Book Festival is excited to announce that we will be partnering with Girl Scouts Central Texas to create our very own Girl Scout Patch!

The Texas Book Festival patch program encourages girls to read, engage with their community and discover new genres and authors. Girl Scouts will explore books on the Texas Library Associations Texas Bluebonnet list, nonfiction books on the Texas Library Association Topaz list, and more! While at the Festival, girls can earn the patch by meeting and engaging with authors and other attendees. During the year, Girls can earn the patch by organizing book swaps, starting book clubs and reading with the community.

To top it off, we are hosting Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts USA at this year’s Festival, Saturday October 27, 11:30 in the First United Methodist Church.

Girl Scouts can register for a Girl Scouts-only session with Sylvia before her Festival session here.