Oh My God! I love this! Our favorite Strumpet… The Novel Strumpet just got back… well… not “just” but you get the idea… Anyway, The Novel Strumpet just got back from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books held at USC campus for the first time ever.
There were a wide variety of authors there, from romance, to celebrity, to thriller, to just about everything…
If you were EVER thinking about attending check out The Strumpet’s report below… It’s super detailed and a fun read!
Take it away, your Strumpetness….
L.A. Times Festival of Books 2011:
The weekend of April 30th/May 1st is significant for many reasons. For most of the world, one will be the remembrance of bringing down the most wanted man in our fight against Al Quaeda, but that is a topic for many other sites and more worldly tuned in people than myself.
The other event was the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
The F.O.B. is an annual event here in Los Angeles where many authors, publishers, booksellers, etc. come together to celebrate the written word in all its many formats. Among the throng of tents where people sell their wares, there are panels that take place all day long at different sites where authors of all different genres (Fiction, Poetry, Mystery, Biography, History, YA, etc.) discuss their works with Q&A sessions toward the end. There are also stages set up throughout the festival where more panels, readings, musical performances, etc. take place all around the Festival. Basically if you love books, love book people, love discussing and perusing books then this is a festival for you.
For the past few years the event took place on the UCLA campus, but this year it was moved to USC (I’m sure there are many political and financial reasons for the move but I’m not here to talk about those). The basic difference was set up. When I’ve gotten to go in the past (not often due to my retail job in books ironically) I remember the UCLA event being one long row of tents with stages set up here and there and a few tent sites located off this main drag. USC’s was more spread out. I’m not saying it was better or worse, just different. I think it took normal attendees a while to adjust, for me it wasn’t that big of a deal. Since I attended both days I’ll try to give you a rundown of my personal experience good and bad.
Day One – Sat. 4/30
8:20 am: My friends L__, J__ and I meet at the subway station to take the train downtown. If you don’t live in LA, then you won’t understand exactly the area USC’s campus sits in…it’s not the best…and driving down to that area can be a nightmare so the Festival (thanks to their big sponsor Target) set up a service from Union Station to the Festival and back by free shuttle. Note: I have not had coffee yet.
8:45 am: Arrive at Union Station, get to shuttle line and wait. And wait. And wait. And wait….still no coffee.
@ 9:30 am: One shuttle arrives to drive us the 3 miles from Union Station to the Festival. There were already at least 100+ people in line by then. I’d say the shuttle sat half. Not speaking too highly of the “Continuous shuttle service” the advert promised. So glad I’m not the people running this. NO COFFEE!
10:30 am: We arrive at the Festival. Yeah. I’m not kidding. I even pointed out to my friend how we were heading in the opposite direction from the campus just to get to the freeway to head back the way we needed to go. Ugh. I missed my first panel at 10 which isn’t the biggest deal (all panel tix cost $1 service charge…I can lose that w/out crying). I NEED COFFEE PEOPLE! LIVES ARE AT STAKE!!!!!
10:30 – Noon: Walk around some tents, find a truck where Ben & Jerry’s is handing out free single servings of their ice cream…yum Raspberry and White Chocolate and finally find….COFFEE!!!! I’m not an addict…I could quit if I wanted to. Now, if I could just make this tiny headache go away.
12:15 pm: I separate from my friends and head over to my first panel which is at the Davidson Conference Center (far north east of map). I seriously picked every panel that was at one end or the other. It’s a gift. Here’s the map in case you’d like to see the layout:
12:30 Panel: “Young Adult: Worlds Beyond Imagination”
Featuring L to R: Jonathan Stroud (Bartimaeus Trilogy – which the fourth book is published. Yes his math skills were brought up in panel) , Megan Whalen-Turner (Queen’s Thief Series (?) of which the newest Conspiracy of Kings won this year’s LA Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature), and Rick Yancy (Monstrumologist, Curse of the Wendigo, among many others).
I confess I haven’t read a single one of these authors, but I’m very familiar with how popular they are. The one bad thing about these panels is that I get so fascinated by listening to the authors talk about them I want to immediately read the books which is why I have more books then I’ll ever read unless I become independently wealthy and don’t have to work so I can just read all day. *sigh* Highlights were listening to the authors talk about why these “worlds” – for instance Whalen Turner chose ancient Greece because she didn’t want to do another fantasy set in ‘Middle Earth’ like so many others- , the voice of the characters – Stroud said his sarcastic, egotistical, snarky genie was just always that way which is why he changes the ‘speaker’ from time to time b/c that voice can become too much – , and the ‘type’ of fantasy/paranormal – Yancy’s sound like pure horror which he’s not a fan of. In fact he talked about how he has to check the windows and doors before going to bed sometimes if he’s writing after his family is already asleep.
1:45 pm: Meet back up with my friends who know someone that did some illustrations for children’s books which are being sold at a tent.
2:00 pm: We decide to forage for food. My one complaint was that outside of the Concession stands which are of course over priced, it’s really difficult to find the other eating places that are advertised on the map. We eventually found a place called Literatea hidden in the Cooking Stage area. Still a low grade headache, so I’ve switched to water and hoping that and food will help.
3:15 pm: I leave our group to go to my next panel in the Seeley Mudd bldg. which I’m super excited about!!!! It deals with Sherlock Holmes….eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
4:00 pm Panel: “Mystery: Elementary My Dear Watson”
Featuring L to R: Leslie S. Klinger (annotated Sherlock Holmes and annotated Dracula. He was also the moderator for this one and the only moderator I’m mentioning b/c he was actually an author pertaining to the topic at hand.), Graham Moore (The Sherlockian), Michael Robertson (The Baker Street Letters and The Brothers of Baker Street which is optioned for a TV series), and Steve Hockensmith (Holmes on the Range series, Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Dreadfully Ever After – both a prequel and sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
What was interesting about this panel is that none of the authors really wrote a book that stars Holmes/Watson but rather people affected by the stories themselves. Like brothers in the Wild West who are reading the serials at the time they were being released, a couple of brothers in present day who now live at 221b Baker Street and keep receiving letters written to Holmes asking for help, and a book about a mystery involving some present day Holmes enthusiast and jumping back to the author Conan Doyle. My favorite question (and I really, really, really hate audience questions b/c people just want to hear themselves speak) was a guy who seemed unaware of The Game. If you don’t know what that is, then you are not a Holmes fan. Look it up. It was like coming home to sit in a room full of people discussing all things Holmes/Watson. They are a touchpoint in this crazy world, a literary grounding for me. I’m dangerously close to getting on my Holmes soapbox so I’ll leave it there.
5:15 pm: Meet up with friends. We hunt down the Medieval Times booth and a cartooning booth so L__ can get a cardboard crown and put her face in one of those pic stands of cartoon bunnies. She needs a new FB profile pic for the festival.
5:45 pm: Head back to the front to try this shuttle thing again. Dreading it, but now they’ve got like three or four running. Hmmmm…maybe they caught on. L__ and I decide we’ll try this craziness again tomorrow.
6:30 pm: Get back to the train stop where I’d parked, went to get more coffee (headache is now raging thanks to bongo drum kid on the train) and go to friends house for Walpurgis Night frivolity. Basically, movie and food and some Excedrin for me. I’m pooped, it was really warm outside and the day long headache did a number on me. Got to bed around midnight.
Day Two – Sunday May 1st
4:30 am – Get up to go down to King’s Head pub in Santa Monica to watch Arsenal vs. ManU match. I am a crazy footie fan. Arsenal won btw….WOO HOO!!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀 No, that has nothing to do with the Festival, but did I mention WE WON!?!?!?!?! 😀 😀 😀 😀
9:00 am – Meet L__ at subway station to head back to F.O.B. I’ve had copious amounts of coffee and my team won (did I mention that?) so I’m running on excess adrenaline. I think my friend is rather scared of me right now.
9:30 am – get to Union Station and immediately on a tram
10:00 am – get to Festival. Let me get this straight. We leave 40 minutes later and get here 30 minutes earlier? I’ll leave that to some mathematician or probabilities expert.
10:00 – 2:00pm – L__ and I walked around the festival until her panel at noon. I decided to skip my first panel b/c I was just going to go on a whim and I haven’t really gotten a chance to look at the tents and really explore. We got more free Ben & Jerry’s. There’s a tent for the Center Theatre Group who’s running a wheel spin prize thing at the top of every hour for 10 minutes. L__ talks me into it twice, she wins the same bag both times, I win free tix to shows both times. This is my lucky day. I don’t quite know how to handle that. Hmmm…maybe I should have followed that really cute guy who was checking out the booths around us while we were in line. I really need to learn to take those opportunities. Drat! He was really cute. She leaves for her panels and I make the mistake of going into the Mysterious Galaxies (bookstore in San Diego) booth. I wasn’t going to buy anything…honest. 5 books (two of which I bought b/c the authors were there signing) later I walk out. Curses!!!
Here are some pics of the tents and one of the stages:
We’d finally found the mysterious food court first thing this morning. I got more coffee and a snack for later. I walked around all the booths…I mean all the booths…and finally around 1:30 had to sit down in some shade and just rest. It was rather warm and I’m sad to say my paleness has now succumbed to some tanning, grrrrrrr…..at least I wore a tank top so I don’t have horrible farmer tan. I’m trying to people watch, a favorite past time, but it’s so warm I can’t really enjoy. I decide to head over to my panel and go ahead and stand in line.
2:15 pm: I’m the first and only person here. In fact the volunteers are going through panel training. I play some games on my phone, check email and FB, then decide to start the new steampunk novel I picked up. More people start to show up around 2:30. We’re hoping to get in sooner rather than later so we can sit in some air conditioning and out of the sun. We’re let in around 2:40pm.
3 pm Panel: “Mystery: The Unexplained”
Featuring L to R: Michael Koryta (The Ridge, Cypress House and other non-paranormal mystery books. Also, ironically, one of the authors I had sign at Mysterious Galaxies tent since I was looking for a new mystery author to read), Chistopher Farnsworth (Blood Oath and The President’s Vampire), and Richard Kadrey (Sandman Slim novels)
It was nice to listen to these authors speak because they don’t consider themselves paranormal authors, but mystery authors who happen to have paranormal elements thrown in. In the case of Farnsworth I’d say they’re more spy/espionage novels, like the Bourne series, with a character who just happens to be a vampire. The only one who didn’t grow up really being interested in fantasy/horror was Kadrey so it was kind of fascinating that he decided to write in this vein (cue rim shot). I also found it interesting that all of them use to be reporters. It seems a lot of mystery authors start out as reporters and then segue into becoming mystery authors. They all agreed it helped with research and deadlines. I can see that…hmm…maybe I should look into going back to school for journalism. Nah, then I’d have to talk to people *shudder*
4:15 pm: Met back up with L__ and headed out.
If USC hosts again next year, I would suggest that they map out one single tram/shuttle route since all four took us on different routes, and possibly drivers who know how to take surface streets so we don’t get stuck in the same freeway traffic as the driving attendees. Seriously, it’s 3 miles from Union Station to the campus that should not take an hour. Maybe 30 minutes surface streets w/stop lights. I’m just saying. Of course if the blue line stops that are currently under construction are built by next year then this won’t be a problem since I saw at least 2 that stop in that vicinity. Also, perhaps designating the actual restaurants on campus or near campus a little better might be nice.
I will say that I like that the tents were set up with some attention to how they might be similar. Like how most of the poetry was near the Poetry Stage, kids booths near the Kid’s Stage, etc. Since I don’t generally ask questions of volunteer staff at any event of this nature I can’t really speak to their efficiency. If I have a map I will hunt things down with it come hell or highwater, or until one of my friends stops and asks directions.
All in all it was a good experience. I could’ve made it bigger by attending more panels or more signings, but: A) I wanted to enjoy a relaxing weekend within the cult of book and B) I’m not rich. You have to buy the books for them to sign, and honestly going back to point “A”, I didn’t want to spend my time lugging bags of books in that heat and not seeing anything because I was running from one booth signing to another. That’s what Comic Con’s for
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