Skip to main content


May 9, 2008

The Los Angeles Times Book Festival --- Part 2

Posted by admin

I realized that I failed to write about the last panel of the day on Saturday. It was moderated brilliantly by Donna Rifkind who clearly knew each author's work and was very articulate with her questions. The panelists --- Stuart Woods, Dan Fesperman, Eli Gottlieb and Christopher Rice thus were able to shine speaking about their work, and the art of their craft. Rice spoke about writing the books that he would like to read and spoke about growing up in a house where book reading was a mandatory assignment and he was not talking about his mom, Anne Rice's books, but rather Styron or Thomas. Woods quipped that that would be a great way to diet. Gottlieb weighed in on how he constructed his characters and his storyline while Festerman spoke about the research he did for the settings and characters in his books. It was tightly run and endlessly informative panel.

With that day of formal programming over I spent some time by the pool again since it had been a very warm day even for LA in April and then headed for a book party for Kathy Preston at Arianna Huffington's home. It was an A list affair where I knew very very few faces and wished oh so much that I actually knew who these people were. I saw Ron Hogan from Galley Cat and chatted with him for a while and met some others who clearly were as un-acclimated as me. It was a wonderful setting and Arianna spoke her remarks from a spiral staircase in her home accompanied by her co-host Brian Grazer. It was a grand kind of evening.

Sunday dawned just as warm as Saturday, but the crowds were even larger at the Fair. Sun umbrellas, sunhats and fans abounded, and water was a big seller, but people again were roaming the booths and having fun.

While Lisa See has become one of my favorite authors over the past few years, I never have had an opportunity to see her mom, Carolyn See speak though she has been a regular panelist at the Festival. Thus it was fun to see them both together on a panel moderated by Veronique de Turenne, who clearly knows both authors well and was able to capture their spirit and charm with her questions. I loved not only hearing about their writing, but also watching the chemistry between them where they clearly are close friends as well as mother/daughter. They spoke about talking every day, running their work by each other and how they have written both apart and together. Hearing how they have inspired and prodded each other to make their individual work better was so inspiring. Lisa and I got to chat a few minutes before the panel began and she mentioned that her new book was just about finished. I was sorry to hear that the panel ended before she had time to share more about it with the audience.

The next panel addressed the idea of starting a series. Sandi Ault, Christopher Reich and Jacqueline Winspear were together for this event moderated by Sarah Weinman, who writes the Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind blog. Sandi is two books into her series and it became great fun to have heard her speak at this event when the following week she won the Simon & Schuster/Mary Higgins Clark Award at the Mystery Writers of America festivities. Jacqueline Winspear is five books into her Masie Dobbs series and spoke extensively about how she pulls her plots and characters together. Christopher Reich is just starting a new series with his upcoming book RULES OF DECEPTION thus he was able to share how he wrote his character, Dr. Jonathan Ransom, who is a world-class mountaineer and surgeon for Doctors Without Borders.

I wrapped up my day with a panel on graphic novels. As we are planning to cover these more on in the future I was really interested in hearing these speakers. Given the good crowd in a very overheated and non-air conditioned room I think I was not alone in this. The panelists included Jaime Hernandez, Joe Matt and Cecil Castelucci (who for the record has the best voice). Their conversation about both the history of the format, as well as the things exciting them about it now was compelling. I often have wondered how the writer and creator collaborate when they are not one and the same and Cecil's stories about this really outlined the creative process. Hernandez talking about writing/drawing for years and keeping material fresh was equally interesting. Matt talking about not working was just as compelling. Again, it was like a conversation with Deborah Vankin acting as moderator/facilitator.

One thing I failed to note is that all weekend I walked the Fair between events and saw many authors doing signings and chatting with readers. Seeing the excitement among readers was energizing. One reason I love events like this!

Back to "the Backyard" of the W where I got to spend time with Mindy Schneider, a old friend who also is the author of NOT A HAPPY CAMPER, which is now in stores in paperback. Mindy is one of the funniest people I know. Sometimes I am not even sure she knows how funny she is. We can go grocery shopping and she can do standup.

I hit the redeye flight home. Walking down the aisle I saw the two people who work in the office next to The Book Report Network offices. While I was in baggage claim I saw Susan Weinberg, who is the publisher of the Public Affairs imprint, whose offices are right above us. She also had been in LA for the Book Festival. I confess that by this moment I was jetlagged enough that all I could think of the headline that would have run if that plane had gone down --- "Four From One Office Building in New York Perish in Plane Crash." I know...morbid, but hey I did spend the weekend with people with IMAGINATIONS!!!!