Monday, March 14, 2011

Saturday in Heaven - I Mean- At the Book Festival!

The Festival of the Books had a grand beginning.
Frog and Toad were there. Stormtroopers marched. 7 Pipers were piping!!
There were balloons. There was a parade. I got goosebumps.

I found a seat on a bench next to a very dapper gentleman.
Author Thomas Perry!!
We chatted and visited ( he said that we 'loitered together.')
I was off with a bang.

First session - Favorite Fiction: What Book Clubs are Reading Now

Helen Simonson, Lisa Genova, Jamie ("I'm a Dude") Ford, and
moderator, Sue Everlove

What a terrific panel to start off the festival!! I was pleased at my choice as it was a tug-a-war with other classes to choose from and this one won out. I decided to really mix up the genres this year and go to differing presentations. This was a home-run! Helen Simonson is a riot!! All of the authors are thoughtful and even spoke in beautiful was delicious. When they read from their books I was in "book lust"! (Helen Simonson was different though - with her reading I 'heard' the humor that I have been missing as I am reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand...I am going to have to go back a few pages now and re-read with her voice in my head. She's a stitch and now I can catch it in her characters. I can also hear her British accent in my ears and that was a help :)

Favorite moments -

Lisa Genova: Felt that the message of Still Alice is that "we are more than what we can remember." She feels that the message of her new book, Left Neglected, is "slow down and make different choices." As a neuro-scientist (PhD from Harvard) she always hoped to contribute in some way to the world around her. She felt a sense of loss when she wasn't able to really do that on a day to day basis. Now after Still Alice she has become a speaker for Alzheimer's and feels like she is finally beginning to make a little of a difference. She has spoken before Congress even and feels like she is making her Nana proud. Funny how she is making a much bigger impact as a novelist than as a scientist.

Jamie Ford: He wrote the book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as a tribute to his parents and his grandpa. I loved it when he told the story about his grandpa and how after the death of his grandmother, his "grandpa pushed the re-set button on his heart." He said that his grandpa had a "great third act!" You could feel his affection for the family. He also stated that his book is a love-letter to the Seattle area.

Helen Simonson: Well she basically stole the show with her wry British humor. The authors all adored her as well. When asked she explained what fairy cakes were she told us that they are round sponge cakes cut in half and turned into butterfly wings with butter frosting in the middle. She also explained about having tea in England. "tea time" is 4 o'clock with scones and cakes and "High Tea" is at 6 o'clock with a fish or egg dish and is also called "a poor man's supper." Although she was wont to admit it, her book is more than a fiction-light, it is a social remark on cultures in England and far beyond.

Second Session - Wild Science: Adventures in Crime Fiction

Graham Brown, Susan Cummins Miller, James Rollins, and
moderator - Christine Burke

This was a fun panel and although the title of the session was chosen by the festival, it was kind of science-lite. They did address the science 'illiteracy" of our nation as a whole, but I conjectured that it is because science has become so specific. You can have a general idea of science (ie., the circulatory system) but people specialize in so many areas that pretty soon your general knowledge seems small and inconsequential.

Graham Brown is new to me as an author as was Susan Cummins Miller. Graham Brown has recently been asked by Clive Cussler to write the next NUMA files book with Clive. Wow. What a feather in his cap. Susan Miller writes for a university press so has to go before review boards with all of her 'facts' in her mysteries. Imagine that! She has to prove that if she talks about a ground squirrel that it is accurate and documented!! That would take the fun out of things for me! (And evidently others too! Graham Brown is content to have 'his' Mayan Indians populate the Amazon jungles no matter if it is true or not!) He said that he is just out to have a good time!

James Rollins said that his audience has always been picked for him by his editors. He says that it is fun to play with technology and science as it affects his characters. He limits his research to 90 days and this is to commit himself to writing. On the 90th day he stops researching and starts writing. He considers himself the laziest researcher and just calls up places - "Hello, this is James Rollins, where do you store your anthrax?" He mentioned that he finally called up NASA and asked about the plans for flying the space shuttle. The next day a thick operators manual for the space shuttle appeared on his doorstep (with no return address!!) He is a fun author both to read and listen to!

Third Session - Writing the Opposite Gender

Alan Jacobson, Thomas Perry (my dapper loitering partner from the morning,) Elizabeth Gunn
moderator (and author) - Robert Dugoni

This was a lively panel and included three new authors for me. The only author I knew the work of was Thomas Perry, but I love his characterization of Jane Whitefield so I would go hear him any day!!

I really enjoyed discovering other authors and I look forward to reading books by all of them. The conversation was lively and spirited and filled with laughter. Bob Dugoni (Yep, we're to nicknames now :) was an excellent moderator. He led the conversation along and only pushed his books a few times. He asked some terrific questions and you could see his lawyerly skills at work. They gave away autographed copies of books when "key" words were asked. That really contributed to the fun and frivolity.

Alan Jacobson and Thomas Perry
(They asked me to take a photo and then were more than indulgent for me to snap one of my own!)

One question during the discussion led me to wonder who the questioner was...I was curious about them when she said her name was Jill. Later that afternoon I heard her voice again (in crowds of 75,000 - 100,00 people this was astonishing on its own) and I thought I recognized the other gal who she was with!! I finally spoke up. It was Jill and Alyce. What a fun connection to book bloggers!! We stood and talked in real life and it was fantastic for me. I really felt like I was meeting super heroes - they have awesome blogs and read well and carefully.

(Jill from Rhapsody in Books and Alyce from At Home with Books)

Fourth Session - Genre Wars

Jacqueline Winspear, Diana Gabaldon, and J.A. Jance
moderator/author - Jennifer Lee Carrell

What a great backdrop in one of the Student Union Ballrooms at the University of Arizona.

By this point in time my note taking skills were trailing off but my listening ears were in full swing!! I sat next to two enjoyable women and we each came to hear a different author on the panel. Too funny! We each thought that Ms. Gabaldon was quite full of herself but that Jacqueline Winspear could be our new best friend. We decided that Judy Jance would be our quirky next door neighbor and that she would always be the one to invite to a party because of all of her great stories. Wow, it's fun to meet folks at the Book Festival!

Jackie (I told you I was up to nicknames now) Winspear stated, "Genre Wars smacks of snobbery and people looking down their noses. A good story is a compelling story whatever it is. The entertainment business is what this is no matter if I'm writing for myself or not!"

None of the panel outlines at all and both Jackie Winspear and Judy Jance were about 50 pages from the end of one of their books when they were surprised at "who dunnit"!! They were both taken aback as they had not had any idea at all. Judy Jance stated that sometimes people will come up to her and say, "I knew who did it all the time." She says she laughed at one and said, "Well good for you because I didn't!"

After visiting with new friends I shopped and wandered and soon it was 5:00 and Rich and I finally reunited. He was as excited as I was and we talked all the long walk to the car. We soon rendezvoused with family and enjoyed great Mexican food at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant called El Sur. (Thanks for the recommend, Ben, we'll go there again!) There were 12 of us there and the kids were fantastic. I loved seeing all of them together. We stayed at Hotel Mellor (mom and Bob's house) and had a great night visiting with them too!!

The Book Festival was great,
The Book Festival was fun,
Tomorrow is another one!!

Yippee - Sunday recap to come.


Susan said...

What a lovely post! I can't believe the authors you were lucky enough to meet - Jacqueline Winspear, James Rollins, Thomas Perry! I've been reading Perry for ages now. Helen Simonson (sp?) and Mr Pettigrew's Last Stand is very popular up here. oh, you sound like you had a wonderful time, and you got to meet some book bloggers too. Thanks for sharing with us!!!

Jo said...

May I share copy your photos of Thomas Perry for his website?
Thank you.
Jo Perry

Suey said...

What awesome fun! I'm so jealous! Especially of you getting to listen to Helen Simonson. That sounds like such a blast! Wow. Cool. Can't wait for the next recap.

Awesome to meet and Jill and Alyce too.

Molly said...

Oh my -- this does indeed sound like Heaven to me!!

Jenners said...

This does indeed sound like heaven...and you got to meet Jill and Alyce--two of my best blogging buddies! I am truly jealous.

Inside A Book said...

Susan - It was a wonderful weekend. You would have reveled in it!

Jo - Be my guest. What an amazing man.

Suey - You would have loved it!! Helen Simonson really was super and stole the show, innocently enough. Finishing Major Pettigrew after hearing her made the whole book EVEN better!! And you're right, I loved it! I bow to you...

Molly - After all you're going through it would be a real get-away. My students knew I was very excited about it and they gave me specific things to do and listen for. It was a great start for Spring Break.

Jenners - Alyce and Jill are a riot.We stood and talked right through our last session and never even knew it. If you can be like our blog persona that we create through our writing then they are. It was like meeting a cyber-buddy. Try explaining that to someone who doesn't blog?!? I told my non-techno mom that it was like meeting a penpal and she finally understood. You would love them. Next year...think Arizona in the spring. It would make a great getaway from the cold weather....hint, hint

Alyce said...

I missed the parade and the storm troopers! I was a few minutes late to the first session each morning (entirely my own fault each time) and so I didn't get to see much of what was going on around the booths in the mornings. I was tempted to go to the panel with Lisa Genova (really wanted to) but couldn't miss the one with Diana Gabaldon. Now that I've seen her in a couple of panels I think I'm good though. If I went again I'd be sure to see more new authors - my favorite panels were those with authors that were new to me.

Jo said...

Thank you for the use of the photos, Susan.