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March 14, 2018 Reader Muriel Logan Reports on the Tucson Festival of Books

Posted by tom

For the first time, reader Muriel Logan and her husband attended the Tucson Festival of Books, which took place on the University of Arizona campus on March 10th and 11th. Muriel had such a wonderful time that she decided to share some of her experiences at the festival with us, along with a couple of photos from two of the panels she attended.


I feel so fortunate that my husband and I were able to attend the Tucson Festival of Books while vacationing in Arizona. I’ve been told this is the third largest book festival in the US, and with the crowd there and the number of presenters and booths, I can believe that! 

We began by attending a presentation titled “Humor and More” featuring Alan Zweibel (one of the original writers on “Saturday Night Live”), Jim Borgman (co-creator of the Zits comic); and Jerry Scott (co-creator of both the Zits and Baby Blues comics). This panel, with Dave Barry’s brother Sam as moderator, was quite witty and humorous.

Next, we saw Jamie Ford, Celeste Ng and Tom Perrotta. They were all very personable and pleasant to listen to as they got into a discussion of mothers --- what is expected of them and how it relates to their books. Ng revealed that Reese Witherspoon had contacted her about LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE being adapted into a movie. She professed to being quite in awe of the actress. When the moderator asked Ford about the possibility of a film being made based on one of his books, he related the comment a former agent had made to him. This man, who is no longer associated with Ford, said that his books would never be movies with male leads who are Chinese, Chinese/American or Japanese. Ford used strong language as he told us what he said to him in response. It’s unfortunate that there would be risks in producing films with a majority of Asian characters.

Our third presentation featured Melanie Benjamin, Fiona Davis and Melodie Winawer, the latter of whom I was not familiar with. Winawer is a physician and neuroscientist who writes while on her three-hour, round-trip subway commute to her job each day. Her medieval-based novel, THE SCRIBE OF SIENA, released last year and is now in paperback. With all three of these ladies writing historical fiction, much of their discussion centered on their research, and how they “captured the atmosphere” and made their characters and settings from a different time period feel real for their readers. Benjamin commented that if you can’t enter a different time, maybe you shouldn’t read historical fiction. They also discussed a typical day for themselves, how much time they spend writing and how they approach it.

Our last session of the day was put on our itinerary to please my husband, who is a reader of fantasy. We attended a panel featuring Myke Cole, Sam Sykes, Ken Liu, and the only one of the group my husband was familiar with, L.E. Modesitt. These gentlemen delighted in bantering with one another and being humorous, especially Cole and Sykes, who seemed to try to outdo each other. When not joking around, they mainly described their writing process.

I’m so thrilled we had a chance to attend a book festival like this, and I hope other readers also will have that opportunity.


Photo #1: Jamie Ford, Celeste Ng, Tom Perrotta
Photo #2: Melodie Winawer, Fiona Davis, Melanie Benjamin