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April 26, 2013 Reader Kathy Jund Talks to Us About the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Posted by nicole

For the second year, Carol was unable to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. So once again, we tapped into our LA resource, Kathy Jund, a reader from Rancho Cucamonga, CA, who along with family and close friends…and friends and family of friends…had the opportunity to experience what she calls the “Disneyland of Books.” After her early morning drives in notorious LA traffic and then a crowd-pleasing event with Debbie Reynolds, the addition of a romance panel and her return home after two long days with multiple author-autographed books, Kathy shares her wonderful literary experience under the California sun.

Carol Fitzgerald: You've been attending the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for nine years now. How did this year’s Festival compare to other years?

Kathy Jund:This year was very unusual for me as I started my “Disneyland of Books” weekend with a Friday night kickoff in Pasadena as Lisa Scottoline (who used to be a regular at the LA Times Festival of Books), made a signing appearance for her new book DON’T GO (which you reviewed in the recent edition of the newsletter), at one of our oldest Independent Books Stores in California, Vroman’s Bookstore. If spending an hour with Lisa didn’t get you in the mood for books, I don’t know what would. We are all charged to face the weekend --- early mornings and all!

At first glance, this year’s program schedule appeared that the author listing was more on the light side than past years, I don’t know if that was the result of other author conferences/engagements around the country during the same time or not. Traditionally, many of the author panels are made up of mystery and suspense authors but I was very happy to discover that there was going to be a romance panel as well. I am hoping this will become a trend for future events as the celebration of books should encompass all genres. 

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

KJ: I had hoped to see Elizabeth Berg as this was her first time here but unfortunately due to our late arrival I missed seeing her as she was in one of the first panels of the morning.

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 two panels on Saturday which gave me time to walk around and pursue some of the exhibitor’s tents a bit and attended three on Sunday. There is never enough time to see it all even with two full days!

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 definitely wanted to see Debbie Reynolds on the LA Times open air stage as we had a feeling we were really going to enjoy it.  I can tell you she surely didn’t disappoint. Her snappy comebacks and glimpses into the past she provided with her anecdotes from the stars she worked with during her Hollywood days were priceless! I really think the crowd was highly entertained as much as we were. We should all look so good at 81! I also attended a panel with Marcia Clark, T Jefferson Parker and Denise Hamilton that was moderated by Paula L. Woods that I enjoyed very much. These are some terrific Southern California authors, Los Angeles is lucky to be the home of many talented authors.

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

KJ: Well, one of the funniest comments was from Debbie Reynolds when asked by the moderator:  “You wrote your first book back in 1998, what made you want to write another one?” Debbie responded “I’m still alive since I last wrote it, I figured I had more to say and maybe you just wanted to hear it!” The crowd loved that one.

CF: Who joined you at the Book Festival this year?   

KJ: I was joined this year by my daughter who is on her ninth festival appearance right along with me as well, along with her best friend and two of my best friends, one of which also brought her niece and nephew making this their second festival. On Sunday however, Amber’s best friend, her two young daughters and her father came with me. I was very excited for them since this was their first time attending the Festival. I am always looking to recruit more of my reading crew to attend, unfortunately a few of our regulars had last minute changes and weren't able to attend. We are already gearing up for next year.

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

KJ: The girls were very excited to see what the Festival was all about and enjoyed the Target Children’s Stage where live performances and many of the exhibitor’s tents kept them very busy. There is something at the Festival for everyone and just watching them take it all in was terrific.

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

KJ: I think the girls were just as excited as I was coming home with autographed books! Being able to interact even for a short time with the authors during the signing period is something I’m sure they will not soon forget. Although I didn’t get to spend much time with them in my running around from panel to panel, we all had a great time.

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

KJ: I had hoped to see Valerie Harper on the LA Times Stage but our late arrival hindered that one, too. The cooking area also had an event with Valerie Bertinelli. Unfortunately her event conflicted with one of my other panels which happened to be placed way on the other side of the USC campus. I have to say the food pavilion has really gotten to be popular in the last few years, must be all those cooking shows on TV and stars writing books!

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: I both brought my own from home and purchased some at the event. The two young girls who accompanied us did the same. Fortunately, I was not carrying a truck load of them as I have been known to do on many an occasion!

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

KJ: The McDonald’s fruit smoothies sure helped everyone cool off. I enjoyed walking through all the local bookstore booths to see what they had. Many held their own author signings which afforded a great opportunity to meet and greet new authors and buy their books. The music stage kept the atmosphere lively and the crowds really seemed to enjoy that.

CF: How were the crowds?

KJ: The weekend proved to be California picture-perfect, with both days in the low 80’s which definitely brought in the crowds.  However, along with them was also the traffic Los Angeles is infamous for. We were in heavy traffic which resulted in arriving an hour and a half late on Saturday and since panel tickets obtained at the event are on a first come first served basis, many panels were sold out. Although disappointing from a personal perspective, it was great to see the reader support represented by those that were filled up.     

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

KJ: Personally, I would like to see more Romance authors attend. Also, it would be great if there was a larger concentration of authors for the Young Adult attendees as they are the foundation for our future adult readers. 

CF: So do you have the dates booked on your calendar for next year? And if so, what are they?

KJ: Absolutely! And it’s even earlier next year! The announced dates are Saturday and Sunday April 13th and 14th! Mark your calendars now!