The UCLA campus was buzzing with activity when we arrived. Exhibitors and volunteers were ready for the crowds, authors were starting to arrive for their panels and book signings and mother nature graced us with another beautiful day.
Of all the author discussion panels this weekend, I was most looking forward to one entitled The Outer Limits: Horror and Science Fiction. Not only did I think this was the perfect panel for my husband who enjoys reading both fantasy and science fiction, but I also knew that I would enjoy it as well, especially with Raymond Feist scheduled to appear. Unfortunately, Raymond Feist had a family emergency and was unable to make it as was David Brin, another author I had been hoping to see. Sitting in their place was author Harry Turtledove, most known for his alternate history novels. Also present were authors Kevin J. Anderson and Joe Hill.
Moderated by Nick Owchar from the Los Angeles Times, the panel spent quite a bit of time discussing the recent increase of crossover writing, merging of genres and other types of writing. Mr. Turtledove was quick to point out that this sort of writing is not new and has been going on for decades now. Joe Hill and Kevin Anderson both argued that while that may be true, the current climate has widened the audience for science fiction, horror and fantasy as a result of the free flow of writing from one genre to another. One panelist mentioned that people are often reading books without realizing they are genre fiction.
The second panel I attended this Sunday touched on similar themes, only from a different perspective. Christine Smallwood of The Nation moderated the panel called Fiction: The Magic in Everyday Life. Authors Aimee Bender, Alex Espinoza, Yxta Maya Murray, and Alice Hoffman offered their thoughts on the subject at hand. Each of these authors is very different in style and approach, and yet their answers were still very similar. The authors discussed how magic played a part in each of their books, sometimes in a very real and ordinary way. They also talked about authors who have been a big influence on their writing, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley and Ursula K. Le Guin.
One thing in particular came out in both panels: that fiction writing offers insight into reality, sometimes more clearly and truthful than reality itself, regardless of how fantastical or out of the world the story may be. One of my favorite quotes by Jessamyn West is "Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures." It is something I truly believe myself.
You would not think there would be a business in scalping tickets at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, but evidently there just might be. At least I could get a meal out of it. A woman was offering twenty dollars for two tickets to one of the author panels Anjin and I went to see today. Alice Hoffman is just that popular. Honestly, if I had tickets to spare, I would have given them to her freely. The tickets to the panels are free other than a 75 cent surcharge if you go through Ticketmaster to get them.
I dragged Anjin one more time through a couple of booth areas just in case I missed something the day before. I was lingering a little too long outside of a small publisher's booth trying to remember if I had ever read a book printed by that particular publisher and was coaxed inside by a woman handing out cards. While one of the authors tried to sell my husband his book, I commented to author Anne Carter,who I was standing next to, that the other author had the wrong reader, that I usually kept my husband close because he was my no man, and I all too often said yes when tempted by a book that looked good. Just as I expected, Anjin was able to get away book free, but I walked out of the booth with a book in hand.
A little later in the afternoon, I completely passed by a booth that my husband drew me back to. "Too bad you didn't bring that book you bought yesterday back today. The author could've signed it," Anjin said. I could have kept walking, but now I was curious. I hadn't filled my quota of book buying for the day, and I could always get her to sign the second book in her series, right? Naomi Hirahara couldn't have been nicer. She told us a little about her series and, of course, signed her second book for me.
Sitting next to her was author John Hamamura who was deep in conversation with another passerby. The cover of his book caught my eye, and so I thought I'd thumb through his book while he was preoccupied. I was sold after reading the back cover blurb. Anjin and I stood talking with the author for a short while about his book as he explained how it was similar to the story of his own father's life.
Only four books made it home with me today, if you can believe. I was trying to be especially good after yesterday's little stockpile:
Point Surrender by Anne Carter
Color of the Sea by John Hamamura
Gasa-Gasa Girl by Naomi Hirahara
Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama
Wearily we headed home soon after. Anjin is taking a nap. Too much sun and time on his feet, I think. I imagine the cat is napping nearby too. My dog wants some make-up playtime after being left along for too long. After I take care of his needs, I am going to settle in for the rest of the evening, curl up with a book and try not to think about how much I wish I could have taken tomorrow off from work to recuperate after such a full and fun weekend.
Have a good week and happy reading!