Sunday, April 27, 2008

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

My enthusiasm bubbled over from yesterday into today as my husband and I made the treacherous drive into Westwood for the second day of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Anjin was a little less enthused, still recovering from the day before. He hung in there as best he could though with only minor grumblings.

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!


  1. I loved reading about your weekend. I am so jealous. Enjoy your new books.


  2. I really enjoyed reading about your trip over the weekend, Wendy! I think it's wonderful to meet the authors in person and discuss about their books, but then I think I might have cold feet if I ever have this chance! LOL.

  3. I've read a lot of Alice Hoffman, but not so much recently - I didn't even realize she was there. I really need to pay more attention to the panels next year!

    And I very much agree that "fiction writing offers insight into reality, sometimes more clearly and truthful than reality itself" - in fact, I mention something similar in a post I'll have up tomorrow.

    Thanks for such a thorough report on the Festival, Wendy! Your adventures will help me make the most of it next year.

  4. What was your honest opinion of Joe Hill? Anything like his Daddy, Stephen King? Thanks, Pamela

  5. Barbara - Thank you. I had a fun time at the festival this year, and I think I came home with several promising books.

    Melody - Thanks. I took notes now and then so I wouldn't forget something I might want to share with you. :-)

    I was so nervous talking to the authors but they made it so easy to feel comfortable around them. Everyone was very friendly.

    Florinda - The first place I go on the festival website is the panel section to see who all will be speaking that I want to hear. I think my husband wonders what my fascination is with attending so many panels, but he's usually good about going along with whatever I decide we should see. It was nice this year that there were actual panels he could get excited about as well.

    I look forward to reading your post tomorrow! I'm still behind with my blog reading. I don't think it will happen tonight. I need to go to bed.

    Pamela - I was very impressed with Joe Hill. When he was first introduced there was no mention of his paternity, which I thought was in good taste. Joe Hill later talked about how he changed his name so he could live outside of his father's shadow and make it on his own, and it's obvious he deserves to be where he is. He seems like a very intelligent and thoughtful man--at least from his comments. He did say that his wife and his father are the first to read anything he writes and he trusts their input.

    There was definitely a family resemblance, although Joe Hill's hair is still very much brown. :-)

  6. Reading about your weekend gives me goose bumps...I'm so glad you had fun!

  7. Glad you liked the festival, am wondering if you write also ? did you happen to see the Mariner Software booth they make a pretty cool writing software

  8. "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."

    Me too. I would have loved those pannels! How cool that you got to see Joe Hill! And Alice Hoffman (I haven't read her yet, but I've heard great things about her and I recently mooched The Ice Queen).

    The whole festival sounds like a lovely experience :)

  9. Hi Wendy,
    It was great meeting you yesterday. I've discovered it can be very challenging selling books in that kind of heat, especially after two days! Wish I could've seen Joe Hill as well.

    Hope you enjoy Point Surrender, and thanks for [dragging Anjin] stopping by the booth!

    Warmest regards,
    Anne Carter

  10. It sounds as though you had a very wonderful time this wkend, Wendy! It was so much fun to read all about it. Are there very many book festivals that take place near you that you get to go to?

  11. Ya know, I'm normally very happy living in my backward little corner of the country...

    then I read things like this and I am jealous!

    But, I'll still take my backward part of the country.


  12. J. Kaye - I only learned about the festival about five years ago and could kick myself for not realizing it existed before then. I enjoy going quite a bit, although I think we may have to start going for just one day instead of two. :-(

    Cator - I did see the Mariner Software booth, yes. It's amazing all the helpful software that is available these days. I do write, but not with any current aspirations to be published.

    Nymeth - You really would have enjoyed the panels. They were very interesting. The authors all seemed very personable, and I definitely plan to follow up by reading some of the works of those I am not too familiar with.

    Anne - Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! I enjoyed meeting you too. It was rather hot out, wasn't it? Your efforts were appreciated by this reader at least. One of my favorite aspects of the book festival is meeting authors, especially ones that I am not yet familiar with. I am looking forward to reading Point Surrender and am sure I will enjoy it.

    April - Oh, I did! It was fun. There aren't too many book festivals near me, and definitely not as large as the LA Times Festival of Books. It's quite a big event in my house.

  13. CJ - I can only take Los Angeles in small doses and am glad I don't live there myself, but I do admit that living close enough to drive into the city now and then is something I am grateful for.

  14. My husband and I were just saying that we need to get down to L.A. for the next festival. We have got to experience this!
    I'm glad you had a great time and thanks for the informative posts on it.

  15. I do hope you will be able to make it one year, Jaimie!

  16. Next year I have to plan my trip better. We just showed up on Day 1 and then looked at the schedule, rather than deciding from home who we wanted to see. It just didn't work out very well (although we had a nice day!) Day 2 was too hot for us, so we skipped it. You did the Festival right!

  17. Sounds like Day Two was just as fun as Day One. Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you! :)

  18. I second Tanabata's thanks for giving us a vicarious thrill. You are very lucky to have gone. I heart Joe Hill so much!!

  19. Sounds like you had a fabulous time! I'm reading one of Joe Hill's books right now - I would have loved to have been there.
    Have you been reading Naomi Hirahara's series? I think I'd like to give that one a try. Anyway how fun and thank you for telling us about it!

  20. What fun! I envy people who live in real cities where there are things to do. I enjoyed Joe Hill's short stories, so it would be fun to see him speak.

  21. LisaMM - I admit that a third of the fun is in planning who I want to see and where I want to go sometimes. Sometimes I over do it. :-S

    Tanabata - Day Two was a bit shorter than the first day, but I did have just as much fun. :-)

    Kookie - Joe Hill was great. I'm glad I got the chance to see and hear him talk about his writing. I think it will enhance my enjoyment of his books when I get to them.

    Iliana - I look forward to reading what you think of Joe Hill's books.

    I haven't read anything by Naomi Hirahara yet, these two books will be my first of hers. They sound good though!

    Nancy - Having a city like Los Angeles within driving distance does have its advantages, I admit. :-)

  22. Kevin Anderson - of all the authors you've mentioned, he's the one whose books I cannot get enough of. I could sell them 20 times a day IF I could get them. Raymond E Feist too - although his stuff is more readily available.

  23. What a wonderful way to spend the weekend!

  24. Ooooh. I am now drooling over how you spent your weekend!

  25. i actually own three of the 4 books you brought home wendy!!

  26. I like that ... "the treacherous drive into Westwood"! I try to avoid driving in that area, but this would be worth the trauma :o)

  27. Julie - I wasn't too familiar with him before the festival--my husband had to fill me in on what he'd written. From what he told me, I'm not surprised you'd see his books flying off the shelves.

    Jenclair - It was wonderful!

    Heather - I wish there was another one next month. Of course, then I'd really have no money.

    Marie - Have you read them yet? If so, what did you think?

    Terri - With my husband driving, it's extra treacherous. LOL I try and avoid driving in Los Angeles too.

  28. I am so jealous! This sounds so amazing. I get so tongue tied around authors though! Anyway, this seems like reason enough for me to visit LA someday!

  29. Tara - Make sure you come for the last weekend in April--that seems to be when the book festival is held every year. :-)

  30. I am avoiding book fairs, Wendy. There's one happening right now under my nose and I'm avoiding it. I don't trust myself... I'll come out with a box full of goodies and I can't do that...

    Your husband is really good with self-control.

  31. You have very strong willpower, Alice. I don't know if I could stay away if I had one so close. :-)

    Yes, my husband is much better than I am when it comes to self-control. LOL


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