Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sunday Salon: Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Day One

My Saturday morning started something like this:

5:15 a.m. - *scratch* *scratch* Pawing at the blanket covering my shoulder, my early bird of a cat cries, "Mew. Meow. MEOW!" In my sleepy daze, I offer him a little pat on the head and promptly roll over to get a little more sleep. It is Saturday after all.

5:30 a.m. - "Meow." *scratch* Ugh. "Fine," I tell the wicked little devil who is keeping me from sleeping in. "I'm up!" Of course, now the dog is up too and wanting to play.

The weather was lovely, if a little too warm. Still, no complaints from me. It was a perfect day for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and nothing was going to dampen my enthusiasm. My husband and I had a great time, browsing through many of the booths, attending book signings and some of the author discussion panels that were held throughout the day.

My favorite panel turned out to be one that Anjin was particularly interested in attending. Jeph Loeb, most recently of Heroes fame, was joined by Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) to discuss Comics: Superheroes of the Page and Screen. Moderator Geoff Boucher (L.A. Times Reporter) did not have to do very much to get the three men talking about their careers in the comic book and film industry. The conversation was entertaining as well as informative. The stigma surrounding comic books was a roadblock for a number of years in getting the books taken seriously as movie fodder. With the popularity of the genre in recent years, it is getting much easier. Jeph Loeb, sadly, would not give away any spoilers for the third season of Heroes.

Rushing across campus, we were able to make it to our second panel of the day just in time. The topic of the morning was Mystery: The Literary Detective. I admit that one of the reasons I was interested in this particular panel was the chance to see Peter Robinson, author of the Inspector Banks series. However, I was also very curious to see how the topic itself would be addressed. Joining Peter Robinson were authors Leslie Klinger and April Smith. Sarah Weinman was the moderator. There was a little discussion of the history and evolution of the literary detective, beginning with Edgar Allan Poe. April Smith and Peter Robinson shared details of their own process of writing and creating their characters while Leslie Klinger offered his input based on past research he had done for his nonfiction work. It was an interesting discussion that touched slightly on the literary fiction versus genre fiction debate, if only to demonstrate how ambiguous such labels can be.

I could not pass up the opportunity to take in the Fiction: Lives on the Page panel, featuring Elizabeth Berg, Anne Taylor Fleming, Joanne Harris, and Elizabeth Strout, moderated by Amy Wallen. It was quite interesting to learn how each author breathes life into her characters, pulling from her own experiences initially, but then branching out from there, letting the characters take the lead.

The time we spent checking out the different booths proved quite fruitful. We got to see authors Harlan Coben, T. Jefferson Parker, John Lescroart, Laura Levine, Robert Crais, and Joanne Fluke among others. My heart skipped a beat just being around them all! I did tell you about my being star struck by authors before? It's awful.

I met a couple of authors I was not familiar with: Dan Fesperman and Louise Ure, both of whom were the nicest people. Looking back, I think I made a fool of myself in front of Dan Fesperman. I asked a couple of inane questions. He was extremely polite, however, and his books sound especially good. Louise Ure's books also caught my interest set in Arizona, one of my favorite settings. I felt a strong bond with Louise Ure immediately. Maybe it had something to do with her admission that she buys a lot of books too. Louise Ure said she thinks she might have stopped by my blog at some point, which both scared and thrilled me. Scared because, well, I am a shy person and feel more comfortable as a wallflower. Thrilled because she'd actually heard of my little blog!

This was the first year the festival sported a Comix Strip section, which really wasn't much at all, but it was something, I suppose. Anjin came upon one booth in particular that drew him in. We got the chance to meet comic book writer Michael Alan Nelson who seemed like a great guy.

I did manage to find a few books that caught my fancy. Several made their way home with me:
The Woods by Harlan Coben
Lie in the Dark by Dan Fesperman
The Small Boat of Great Sorrows by Dan Fesperman
The Jane Austen Club by Karen Joy Fowler
Summer of the Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara
Sun Storm by ├ůsa Larsson
Dissolution by C.J. Sansom
Forcing Amaryllis by Louise Ure

By the end of the day, my feet were sore, and both my husband and I were ready to head home. We had a fun time and are looking forward to heading back tomorrow. You didn't really think one day would be enough for the likes of me, did you?


  1. The furry alarm clock sounds so familiar! Sounds like you had a great day and came home with some good books too.

  2. WOW! What a day and I am so jealous! =) I would have loved to see the presentation by Berg, Harris, et al. I hope you enjoy your Sunday there as well.

    =) Jill

  3. It sounds like you had a wonderful time! I know what you mean about being star-struck in front of authors, lol.

    The panels you attended sound very interesting, especially the first!

    I hope the second day proves to be as great as the first :)

  4. What a great day you had! I'd love to have been there. You got to meet and hear some wonderful authors.

    I expect that Louise Ure has stopped by your blog. It's great! She has a new book out, THE FAULT TREE, that I have heard great things about. I need to read both her books soon. Let us know what you think of the first one when you get to it.

    Have a great time today!

  5. I didn't realise that peter Robinson had made it across the Atlantic. He is one of those writers who started off rather slowly but has got better and better as the books have rolled in. I hope you have another good day today.

  6. Yes, indeed, sounds fantastic-- actually meeting Crais, Coben, Parker et al - wonderful!

  7. We just hit the booths and did a little shopping - stayed for about 3.5 hours and enjoyed ourselves quite a lot.

    We didn't attend any of the panels, but I think Tall Paul would have enjoyed the comics one - next year we do need to study that schedule a little more!

    Enjoy your second day at the Festival, Wendy! Maybe next year we'll get to meet each other there. :-)

  8. Sounds like a fun day! I would have loved to hear that panel with Joanne Harris and Anne Talylor Fleming in it.
    Enjoy your self today!

  9. We were there too, but I made the mistake of bringing the kids, so we spent much of our time in front of the Target Children's stage or buying frozen lemonade while listening to complaints like, "It's too hot!" and "When are we going home?"

  10. Back when I was single and the cat was allowed to sleep with me (hubby is allergic and hates the cat hair), she used to bring this little stuffed mouse right by my ear and start meowing for me to play. But, if I would throw the mouse away from my head, she would bring it right back to my ear. Little mouse found a home in the trash after a while.

    Sounds like a perfectly wonderful day! I'm sure the sore feet were well worth it.

  11. Sounds like a great day!! I can't wait for the Miami Book Fair. I've never been to one and I'm looking forward to my first! I have to wait until November, though. Hope you have a great time today, too. ~Kristi (Passion for the Page)

  12. I think my definition of a few is like your's. Anything less than 10 counts as a few when it comes to purchasing books. LOL

    Thanks for letting us live vicariously through your adventure on Saturday. I sympathize with your wake-up call.

  13. Sounds like day one was a lot of fun!
    And the 5 a.m. furry wake-up call sounds familiar. Bailey will start with meowing, then move on to scratching something, then maybe a paw on my cheek, then he'll knock my alarm clock off the bedside table and by then I'm pretty much always up. I'm a night owl though so usually head back to bed for a couple of hours after the boys have had their breakfast.
    I look forward to hearing what you think of 'Summer of the Big Bachi' whenever you get around to it. I've eyed it at the bookstore but have yet to bring it home.
    Hope day two is just as good!

  14. What fun!! It sounds like so much fun.

    My furballs wake my kids up instead of me in the mornings, heheh.

  15. You know - some year I'm going to go to this...I'll make a vacation out of driving down the coast, arriving just in time for this amazing event. *makes note for self to put this in her travel binder* Thanks for sharing, Wendy - and have a GREAT week!

  16. Sounds like a great day. I am envious. =)

  17. What fun! It sounds like you saw some fantastic panels. And what a yummy stack of books that came home with you!

  18. It sounds like a blast! Wish I could've been there...maybe next year!

    So thrilled you met Louise Ure. She is one of my favorite people and one of my favorite authors. FORCING AMARYLLIS is great; her new book THE FAULT TREE even better, IMHO.

  19. Sounds exciting! I wish I've the chance to attend one... and it's always good to meet the authors too! ;)

  20. Wow! That sure sounds like a fun day. What fun.

  21. Mrs. S. - As annoying as those furry alarm clocks are in the moment, they sure are funny to think on after the fact. I'd rather wake up to them any day rather than my actual alarm clock.

    Jill - It was a great day. Elizabeth Berg seems like such a nice person--the kind you want to invite over for lunch or something. Joanne Harris was quite spunky. She'd be a lot of fun at a party.

    Nymeth - I tend to be such a mess when I'm standing in front of an author. LOL I did a lot better this year--at least in comparison to last year.

    Kay - It was such fun! Louise Ure did have her latest book sitting on the table and I was so tempted to get it. I'm really trying hard not to get hardback books (unless there's a really good sale)right now though so I settled for her first book. I read the prologue yesterday, and I can already tell I'm going to like it.

    Ann - I was so excited when I heard Peter Robinson was going to be at the festival. I wasn't familiar with any of the other people on his panel, but I sure wanted to see him.

    Maxine - It really was! I have a friend who adores Harlan Coben. She wanted me to tackle him and steal his shoe. I didn't, of course, because I didn't want to spend the night in jail, but it was tempting. :-)

    Florinda - I'm so glad you had a good time. I did keep an eye out for you, but I didn't see you. I wish I'd had Anjin look at your photo before we left so he could have been watching too. Anjin and I always manage to go to a few panels each year. Some are better than others. This year I enjoyed them all fortunately.

    Jaimie - Have you read Anne Taylor Fleming's book, Jaimie? It sure sounds good and I was considering picking up a copy.

    LisaMM - The children's section was quite popular, I noticed. I mentioned the festival to a coworker last week and encouraged her to take her son. He's new to reading and I think would really enjoy himself there.

    My husband sounded a lot like your kids today (Sunday) although a little more subtle. :-) I think two days was too much for him.

    Trish - Oh, that is so cute! Annoying I imagine when you are trying to sleep, but still cute. :-)

    I feel like I got good workout this weekend--much needed exercise.

    Kristi - November must seem too far away! I hope you enjoy the book fair just the same. I think everyone should try and make it to a fair or festival if they have one close enough.

    Love2b Tekey - LOL I'm definitely not one to walk out of a bookstore with just one or even two books.

    Both the cat and dog let me sleep in this morning, fortunately.

    Tanabata - Bailey has his routine down! Haha If I let Parker go long enough, he'll start using me as a spring board and will jump on the bed, walk all over me and then suddenly jump off of me onto the floor, then repeat.

    I will definitely let you know what I think of Hirahara's books. The author told me today that if I like Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, I will like her books as well. I think her books are more actual mysteries than Smith's books.

    Trisha - Lucky you! I wish they would wake my husband up for once instead of me . . .

    Wendy - I hope you do make a weekend trip of it one year. It's worth the effort. :-)

    Irish - It was a lot of fun. I took all of you in spirit. :-)

    Andi - The panels were great this year. One of the things I especially like about the festival is being able to buy books from the independent bookstores that have booths set up. They're too far for me to drive to on any given day, but the festival is a perfect setting--they're all there in one place!

    Karen - I wish you could have been there too. I'd love the chance to meet you. Maybe you could even be on an author panel!

    I can see why you like Louise Ure. She seems like a terrific person. I'm really looking forward to reading her books.

    Melody - I wish you could attend one too. If you ever come to the U.S. to visit, you should plan it around a big book festival. :-)

    Samantha - It was great fun. I can't wait until next year!

    Julie - It was just like being in a book lover's heaven.

  22. The Woods was a very good book! I will be anxious to hear your thoughts on it! I would love to meet Harlan Coben - as well as all of the others that you mentioned, lol!

  23. April - I've heard great things about the book and am looking forward to reading it. I've still only read one of Coben's books, if you can believe it. Too many books out there I want to read and not nearly enough time to get to them . . .

  24. Which was the one that you read? Just One Look was the first one of his that I read and after all the ones that I have read, that is still my absolute favorite one!

  25. April - I've read No Second Chance and just loved it. Coben really knows how to keep the reader on the edge of her seat!

  26. Ooooh! I can't talk to authors either--I never know what to say-aside from my normal ramblings, or even worse--just gushing over them. I'm SO jealous! It sounds like you had a lot of fun despite the weary feet.

  27. Oooooo ... you got to go to the panel with Peter Robinson! I love his Inspector Banks novels too. I was disappointed that I couldn't go to the festival this year.

  28. Dynamic Uno - I'm so proud of myself this year. I didn't hide behind my husband like I usually do. :-)

    Terri - I wish you could have gone this year. Peter Robinson was great. I really liked him.


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