This was my first time at the LA Times Festival Of Books and I had an amazing time. I am already planning to go again next year. I really enjoyed the booths, panels, and the literary souvenirs. I could have gone hog-wild had my wallet permitted me to do so. This is my advice to those of you who haven’t gone and want to go for the first time. This is what I will be doing differently next year:
1. Go BOTH days if you can. One day of literary mecca was simply not enough. I’m going to research hotels and go for the full weekend and be able to see as much as possible.
2. Take advantage of the panel passes. We had them and it allowed us to get into panels where the general non-ticketed person could not. This is imperative if there are really popular panels that you do not want to miss. which brings me to my next point:
3. Do not schedule too many panels in one day. Three was quite enough for us and we did not have a lot of time to walk around. Plan out enough time to do both and squeeze author signings in as well.
Things LA Times Festival of Books should work on for next year:
1. Disability Access- Unless you were going go a specific part of campus you were out of luck for transportation. Unfortunately our second panel was in Fowler Hall and it was a ridiculous hike from the Target children’s’ stage. I do have a mobility issue and it was extremely difficult for me to get to that panel on time due to the lack of access.
2. Train your volunteers and get bigger signs-We got very very lost finding Fowler hall and NONE of the student volunteers knew how to get us to the building and this was incredibly frustrating and perplexing to us. It wasn’t until we stopped a campus bicycle cop that we got on the right track. Also there should be bigger signs for the routes to the different buildings-the maps were not detailed enough.
3. Extend the Festival by a day. The weekend is simply not enough for the scope of the gorgeous UCLA campus and all the panels and exhibits. I would willingly take a day off of work to attend a Friday schedule.
All in all this is an event NOT to be missed. Several of my friends from graduate school and I are talking about going in a group next year and I cannot wait. April can’t come too soon for this bibliophile!
On our way to our first panel, The Editors Speak Out we stopped at a booth after I squealed “Oh My God it’s Novel-T !” Novel-T is a company based in Brooklyn, NY that makes baseball jersey-styled tee-shirts with names of authors or prominent literary characters on them. We talked to the owners who were so very nice, we connected on Twitter (and I am still following them). My friend bought the Tom Sawyer jersey. I really wanted the Poe but I told them I really want to wait for an Austen or Bronte jersey(I don’t think they liked that answer haha). The owner told me to wait for the announcement of the new team and they did add a Darcy jersey! They will be releasing more inventory of their current teams on September 1.
If you are stuck on what to get the bibliophile in your life head over to Novel-T ‘s website and think outside of the book!
After our first Panel ended we had about an hour and a half to tool around before getting ridiculously lost on our way to our second panel. My friend had heard that James Owen(Here There Be Dragons) was having a signing near the Target Children’s stage. We lined up and were third in waiting. It took a while between people waiting to have books signed and I decided that even though I had no clue who James Owen was, I wanted to buy his book. My friend and I ended up with the last two first-edition hardcover copies of Here There Be Dragons. It occurred to us that Mr. Owen not only politely engaged every fan, he was drawing a different dragon on the title page depending on the color and title of the book that the fan purchased! My friend and I stood up together and while he was signing our books and drawing our dragons we were able to talk to him about writing. He graciously showed us the mock-up cover for his fifth book coming out in October and showed us drawings inspired by the books that he was selling. My friend bought two of the drawings. I didn’t find one I wanted so I may look at his online gallery. Mr. Owen gave me some sound and positive advice about the writing process that I am grateful for. He also gave me background information on one of the characters in Here There Be Dragons after I told him that both my friend and I had Master’s Degrees in Literature. His answer mesmerized me and I am so looking forward to reading the entire series now. James Owen is extremely pleasant and it was amazing to meet him and I hope to meet him again after having read the novels.
The last panel that we attended on our Sunday trek to the Los Angeles Times Book Festival was “YA: Teens in Turmoil”. My friend has her Master’s specialization in Children’s Literature and this heavily appealed to her. Rather than list question and answer as in my previous posts about the other panels we went to I will merely summarize the events of the panel.
The panel was moderated by Sonya Sones who wrote Novels in Verse. It was her first time moderating a panel, as she very chirpily announced. Panelists included Gayle Forman(You Can’t Get There From Here), Cynthia Kadohata(A Million Shades of Gray) and Jandy Nielsen(The Sky is Everywhere). I was intrigued by Foreman’s background in magazine publishing and Jandy Nielsen’s mention that she had two MFA’s(I’m super jealous and in awe of this).
There was a small introduction to all of the Panelist’s current works and then the questioning began. A question that really stood out to me was if the turmoil the teens go through in their respective novels and ficticious lives is hard for the author to write? Answers ranged from it affords catharsis for the situation(Foreman) to eupohoric(Nelson) because the writing process for her is joyful even if the subject is torturous.
There was a great discussion about the editing process and how it shapes and reshapes the author’s work especially in Young Adult fiction. Nelson said the editing process toned down a lot of sex and replaced it with sensuality and sexual tension. Forman echoed this sentiment as some of the graphic material in her novel was made to be off the page in revisions.
This was an interesting panel for a couple of reasons and it was my least favorite panel of the day. I felt really bad for Cynthia Kadohata who was very much misplaced on the panel. Her novel was more of a documentary novel about a boy and his relationship to an elephant in a different type of turmoil than Foreman and Nelson wrote about in their works. The poor pairing of Kadohata on the panel echoed into the book signing that took place after the panel. Both Foreman and Nelson were constantly signing but Kadohata just sat there with nothing to do.
I was expecting more drama, more psychological trauma and it’s effects on teens to be discussed but the panel turned more to sex, and teenage relationships protrayed in YA. The lack of cohesion in the panelists made for a very weak panel experience. My friend bought books from both Foreman and Nelson and had them signed. Pictures from the signing are below.