I am still smiling as I think of my two amazing, wonderful, interesting days at the 2011 Tucson Festival of Books (http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/). In 2010 I visited Green Valley, Arizona just in time to read about this event that would take place in Tucson on the University of Arizona campus the day after I left. I decided then and there I would not miss it in 2011. What a good decision that was!!
This is the third Festival that is held during the University's Spring Break. It is held on a Saturday and Sunday. Thousands attended it this year on two perfect spring day. In addition to the usual publishers' tents, special children's events, lots of food there were about 20 different author events, each an hour long, held from 10 AM through a 4 PM presentation. There were non-fiction and fiction authors, romance authors, mystery writers, authors who wrote for adults, authors who write for children, and special topics of interest to anyone who might attend.
My first session on the first morning was a high - 3 authors whose work and I had read and enjoyed - talking together and separately, answering audience questions and doing so a in a casual, friendly and well-informed way. In this case they were the authors of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Still Alice and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. After each session, just outside the area where the presentation was held the authors were available to talk and to sign books. Could it get any better than this? I asked myself as the session came to a close.
Well, if not better there was no session that as a disappointment!! I attended sessions discussed their own writing processes, issues of content research, dealing with problems that hit in the middle of writing a book, how they felt about options or selling of books for film or TV, and issues dealing with digital publications.
I was particularly interested in the session that discussed how to write family histories using journals and letters. The two authors spoke of so many issues that one would never have thought of when using and searching for these materials. In this session there were more than a few persons who had been left family materials and wanted advice/suggestions on how to approach personal and surprising information contained in the materials and, when the writing is completed, what to do to protect these original materials.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the consistently well-prepared moderators in each session. Each had clearly read the work of each of the authors in the session. The questions they asked were designed to go across the topics so each author could comment in terms of their own work. It was also set up so the answers frequently led to comments between the authors as a result of the question being asked.
I will read the works of the author I heard through new eyes. I will see their faces, hear their voices and remember enjoying their excellent comments and, often, the great sense of humor that was often displayed.
The only disappointment was that several authors I really would have enjoyed cancelled at the last minute. At the session of one of these authors it appeared there was a sudden and valid reason for the cancellation. In the other case, a VERY well-know author, no one seemed to know why he suddenly cancelled and he had been scheduled for about 3 different sessions.
I can hardly wait until next year. I hope to see you all there as well.