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April 26, 2012

A Reader Talks About the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Posted by tom

This year Carol's schedule did not permit her to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, but we are lucky to have a report from Kathy Jund, a reader from Rancho Cucamonga, CA, who Carol has enjoyed spending time with at the Festival the past two years. She interviewed Kathy (in photo, second from the left) earlier this week while she was still on a high from the weekend. Here is her report, which we think will have readers motivated to attend next year!


Carol Fitzgerald: You’ve been attending the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for eight years now. What do you most look forward to about the event each year?

Kathy Jund: I look forward to seeing and meeting authors that haven't visited us before --- and the opportunity to listen to their story and meet with them face to face afterwards and get my books signed.  I really enjoy watching the excitement on the children's faces as they discover the wonders of books.

CF: What authors were you personally most looking forward to seeing this year?

KJ: I was really looking forward to meeting Anne Rice!

CF: How many panels or events did you attend? And were you able to get into everything that you wanted to see?

KJ: I attended eight panels/interviews over the two-day event. I wanted to see my local favorite Robert Crais as he is always very entertaining, but he was scheduled at the same time as Anne Rice.







CF: Did you have a favorite panel or event, and since I know this can be an impossible question tell us about up to three.

KJ: I really enjoyed the one-on-one interview with John Cusack as he provided us with a glimpse of what he went through to transform himself into the dark foreboding character of Edgar Allen Poe in his upcoming movie The Raven. One of the events that really grabbed my attention was author T.C. Boyle’s. He read one of his short stories and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up! Although he is a Southern California author and has been teaching classes for over 25 years at USC I had never had the opportunity to listen to him. Ultimately, the interview with Anne Rice was I think was my all-time favorite. She is a woman who is not afraid to voice her opinions and she spoke to a packed auditorium!  

CF: Any great author stories that you can share with us here that you heard on panels over the weekend? 

KJ: I can tell you Anne Rice reads every posting on her Facebook fan page and loves interacting with her fans! 

CF: Last year you had your daughter --- as well as a friend of hers and a friend of yours --- with you when I saw you at the Book Festival. Who joined you this year?   

KJ: This the same group traveled with us again this year and I am proud to say we introduced six more of my friends to the Festival this year! Saturday marked the first time two more of my friends who read on the train with me accompanied us. One of my friends brought her 9-year-old nephew and 16-year-old niece. On Sunday, another one of my friends who has had to endure listening to me go on and on each year about the Festival decided to also join us as she was curious to see what all the fuss was about!   

CF: What were their reactions to the Festival as you got to see it through their eyes?

KJ: Jeff Kinney the acclaimed author of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series was on hand for signings and we braved a two-hour line in the very hot Southern California sun so that our youngest member of the group could meet his favorite author and get his books signed. The look on his face was priceless! I'm confident he'll be begging to come back next year! 

CF: What were some of the highlights for your fellow attendees?

KJ: I can tell you for sure meeting Gregg Hurwitz made somebody's day! Just watching her reaction I can guarantee I've got another new member of my “Festival Crew,” and he has gained another new fan. John Cusack also impressed everyone. I love my job as “Festival Tour Director” to my friends! 

CF: Since there is always so much programming are there any panels you wish you could have cloned yourself to see?

KJ: Most definitely! I would have loved the chance to sit and listen to Betty White and to hear Cheryl Burke and Ricki Lake, and as mention earlier our awesome Robert Crais! I really wanted to meet Bob Staake, the renowned illustrator of this year's mascot Thesaurus! Fortunately, my daughter stood in line to get his autograph for me!  

CF: Did you and other members of your group buy books? Do you buy them there just so you can have authors autograph them?

KJ: Yes we all did, as well as brought our personal copies from home!  I'm still a traditionalist at heart and love print books --- and my "books" come with me every year. The opportunity to buy books written by authors you may have not had a chance to become familiar with until after attending a panel is a great, and getting them signed too is an added bonus! 

CF: How about the exhibit area? Did you spend time there? If so, any highlights?

KJ: I was able to get around to the exhibits more on Sunday than Saturday that is for sure, they were great!! The McDonald's McCafe samples were my favorite part! My proudest discovery was to learn that the previous season's Festival Banners are recycled by being turned into tote bags!  How apropos considering Sunday was Earth Day! How awesome is that! Mine has "signing area 8" on it, one of my favorite spots! 

CF: How were the crowds?

KJ: I was impressed to see big crowds both days. The weather was better on Saturday, but Sunday turned out quite a large crowd right from the start. It traditionally can be a bit quiet in the early morning. I was impressed!  

CF: The Festival moved from UCLA to USC last year and there were some “moving/growing” pains. What do you think was improved this year

KJ: I believe you can't keep a booklover away for long, we certainly are a loyal bunch! Although last year was a bit difficult with the change in venue after 15 years moving from UCLA to USC, I was confident the fans would come back. I think the planning committee did a good job in scheduling some "heavy hitters" for the Sunday schedule which oftentimes sees a sharp decrease in attendance. The whole program was moved up a week earlier this year, traditionally the Festival is held the last weekend in April. I suspect this change may be due to another event that is held in the area at the same time each year and may have also played a part in the "moving pains" we saw last year. Of course being located in the middle of central Los Angeles parking can be difficult, but I can honestly say the public transportation situation is remarkably easier to negotiate at the USC campus than it ever was at the old campus at UCLA.      

CF: Anything you would want to see at the Festival in the future?

KJ: More wonderful authors!  Every publisher should be courted to send their authors to us! Even more attention to YA Authors would be fantastic. We need to stimulate readers starting young, so they carry the passion for reading through their teen years and onward! Also, you can't beat Southern California in late April!

CF: So do you have the dates booked on your calendar for next year?

KJ: Absolutely!! My daughter accompanies me both days of the Festival each year as a standing commitment. I consider the LA Festival of Books to be my own personal trip to Booklover's Disneyland!  Anyone who knows me knows about the Festival!  I already can't wait for next year! Mark your calendars for April 20-21, 2013.