Tuesday, April 24, 2012

La Times Festival of Books 2012

This past weekend was one of my very favorite local bookish events...the LA Times Festival of Books! The festival takes place on the campus of USC and it's two days packed full of authors, signings, and panel discussions.

Tameka and I showed up nice and early on Saturday for John Green's panel. He was being interviewed by Lev Grossman and the two talked about The Fault in our Stars, Nerdfighteria, and writing in general. It was an awesome hour, of course.

Lev and John

This is my third time seeing John Green in person. I'm a HUGE fan of his writing, his videos, and what I know of him as a human being. (He could kick puppies for all I know, but at least he keeps it a secret, and for that I thank him.) Every time I have my minute or two of face time with John Green I always try to figure out that special thing to say to him that will make him realize we should be best friends, but I always end up just muttering something silly and flailing around. 

Look at me flailing

So, the bag I was carrying around with me all day, well, I grabbed that bag from the corner of my bedroom before I left the house on Saturday. As I was shoving my books in it, I noticed a page torn from a magazine shoved at the bottom...probably from a visit to my parents' house, since they love to tear articles from magazines and newspapers that they think I'll find interesting. As we were waiting in line for John Green's signing I pulled it out and saw that it was actually the review that Lev Grossman wrote of The Fault in our Stars for TIME magazine! What are the odds? I decided that since we were there I would have Lev sign the article.

Thanks Lev!

I folded the signed article up and stowed it away in my copy of The Fault in our Stars. I feel like that's a pretty cool thing to have hidden in there. 

Once we were done with the John Green signing we headed over to the YA stage where this awesome panel was going on:
Blake Nelson, Siobhan Vivian, and Jessi Kirby

We were able to find a shady spot under a tree to listen to the panel, and I was super excited to spot two of my awesome students in the audience!

After that signing we snarfed down some food, unfortunately missing the panel with Corey Whaley and Patrick Ness. But we were able to hightail it across campus in time for their signing, so I was able to get my copy of Where Things Come Back signed and snap this picture.

Corey Whaley is SO nice

There was more hightailing as we took off back across campus to get to the Judy Blume panel that was already in session. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Judy Blume and hearing her speak this past summer at the SCBWI LA conference, but since she is a living legend I wasn't going to pass up a chance to see her again. Plus this time I could get a book signed!

Her talk was amazing. She talked about her books and why she wrote them. She talked about her writing process and her life, and I just loved every second of it. Like many women my age, I absolutely grew up on her words. 

My favorite was Just As Long As We're Together. I read that book over and over and over again. I wished more than anything that I had my childhood copy for her to sign, but I know it's in a box in my parents' garage, so I made a special trip to B&N prior to the Festival to get a copy. It doesn't have the great 80s-tastic cover, though.


The line for Judy Blume's signing was long, but it's Judy Freaking Blume, so we all waited happily. Tameka and I chatted with the awesome gals behind us, so that made the time fly by. (Well, maybe not FLY, but, you know, not crawl.)

Judy Freaking Blume

I don't think I need to tell you that Judy Blume was awesome. And meeting her on Saturday was just as cool as it was the first time. I guess getting face time with your heroes just never gets old. 

For the first time since I started attending the festival, I went to both days. On Sunday I met Claire at our local train station and took the Metrolink into Union Station in LA where the festival had a shuttle bus that took us over to the USC campus. I always like taking public transportation when I can, even though it isn't always an easy thing to do in LA. 

Claire and I were wandering down a little aisle between tents when we heard a golf cart right behind us. It was hot on our heels in a "I wish these girls would hurry up already" kind of way. As we reached the end of the aisle all of these photographers jumped out at us. We smiled and posed and were excited to be such a big deal, but then we turned around and saw that it was actually Florence Henderson getting out of that golf cart, making her way to the stage for her appearance. 

Florence Henderson is so adorable!

We eventually met up with Tameka and made our way into the panel I showed up for...Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle, Maggie Stiefvater, and Jacqueline Woodson. 

Moderator Susan Carpenter, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle (excited about all of the amazing women on the stage), Maggie Stiefvater, and Jacqueline Woodson

This ended up being one of the best author panels I have ever had the pleasure of attending. These women are all so intelligent and funny and they are all doing such bold things with their writing and their stories. They talked about sex, race, gender, and writing in general while making everyone laugh and think. I loved getting a chance to listen to them for an hour; I learned a lot, I laughed a lot, and I was inspired as a writer. 

After the panel we walked over to the signing area where I met up with Liz and her husband and I got to say hello to the authors and get some books signed. 

We didn't have much of a plan after than, so Claire, Tameka, and I just wandered around the festival a bit before we left. Our legs were getting a little tired, so we hopped on a pedi cab and let him pedal us over to our shuttle stop while we snapped a photo or two. 

We are smiling because we are finally sitting

This year's LA Times Festival of Books was the best one yet! I saw so many amazing authors, bloggers, friends, and people, and I had so much fun surrounded by books. I can't wait to see if next year can top it.

40 comments:

  1. Wow, that sounds like one amazing festival!

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    1. It really was. There were a zillion other awesome authors I didn't get a chance to see.

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing! It sounds like an amazing time and with your pictures and commentary, I felt like I got to be there :) Maybe next year though, especially since I'm only about an hour or so away!

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    1. If you're that close then you NEED to make it next year!

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  3. What an amazing event Jessica. Thank you for sharing your time there & the pictures & the tweets. One day we'll be lining up get YOUR autograph at this Festival.
    All the best,
    Rob

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  4. It sounds like you had an amazing time! As always, I'm totally jealous (and thinking I live in the wrong place...all we get up here are local authors talking about salmon fishing and logging. I mean, good for them, but, yawn.)

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    1. Believe me...I totally realize how lucky I am that so many amazing authors come through this way. I have to drive a bit sometimes, but I don't mind!

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  5. Loved reading about it! I wish I could go someday!

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    1. YES...you need to come out here for this one year. It's awesome.

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  6. This is amazing. I love all your pics. I love that you author stalk as much as I do. I can't wait until we're in LA together (!)

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    1. YAY FOR BEING IN LA TOGETHER! Can't wait.

      And, yeah, I author stalk like it's my job. I like to call it "being supportive." Haha.

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  7. OMG so cool!! I really wish I had gone!! My grandparents went because my grandma just came out with an autobiography and they both got to meet lots of awesome authors.

    Glad you had fun :)

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    1. Oh wow...that's so awesome about your grandma! I bet she had a blast.

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  8. It was an awesome event! Loved seeing you again. :)

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    1. I'm so glad we got to see each other!

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  9. That is so awesome. How did the world not explode from the cool factor of having so many instrumental authors there?

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    1. This isn't even everyone who was there. Libba Bray! Pete Hautman! Patrick Ness! I couldn't even see all the people I wanted to see. It was ridiculous.

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  10. So sad that I couldn't go! Sounds like you had an awesome time--thanks for sharing pics with us. :)

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    1. You would love this event Pam...maybe one day you will be out this way for it! (Or signing in it ;-) )

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  11. JUST AS LONG AS WE'RE TOGETHER is my favorite of Judy Blume's novels! My copy had that cover, and I read it so many times the spine cracked and the whole book fell apart! I would LOVE to meet Judy someday... She is absolutely my writing goddess!

    Looks like you had a great time, Jess!

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    1. She is a total goddess! There is no other word for her!

      And my copy is exactly the same. I opened my new copy to random pages and I could remember exactly what was happening at any given part. I can't wait to read it again.

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  12. Sounds like such an amazing festival! So cool you go to meet both John Green and Judy freaking Blume. :)

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  13. What in the what? John Green, Judy Blume, and Maggie Stiefvater? I can't even. That's amazing--thanks for sharing your rundown and pics! So much fun to see! I feel the same way about John Green--it's hard to imagine a better human being.

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    1. RIGHT? Too much awesome. My head almost exploded.

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  14. Oh, man, Jessica - that sounds like an amazing 2 days! John Green? Maggie Stiefvater? And Judy Blume? Why can't these amazing authors ever come up to Seattle? Or why couldn't this festival have been next week, when I'm actually coming down to LA??????

    That is so much awesomeness packed into one weekend. Completely and utterly jealous!

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  15. I just found your blog and decided we should be friends :) You commented on the YA?Cuz we Write blog about race in books and I feel similarly.

    ANYWAY, thanks for sharing these picks from the LA book fest. I just missed John Green at an event near me a few years back because I hadn't read any of his books until a few months after. He's pretty much my fave as far as YA goes. Jessi Kirby's Moonglass really surprised me and became one of my top contemporary YA picks of last year, I can't wait for her next book. I just joined SCBWI so maybe one day I'll make it to one of their amazing sounding national conferences.

    Looking forward to keeping up with your blog!

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    1. Hi new friend! :-D Thanks for coming by! It's good to meet you!

      Yay for joining SCBWI! I love that organization!

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  16. I live in LA, as in Louisiana. ugh, but if I lived in Los Angeles, I'd go to all the events you go to. So really I'm living my author dream life through you. hahaha. That's great you got to meet Judy Blume!!

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    1. I try to go to as many events as I can...you know, so I can blog about them so everyone feels like they were there. :-D

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  17. Thanks, Jess! :D
    Your pictures and the way you describe the events make feel like I was right there with you! :D

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    1. Aw man...I wish you were here for these fun events!

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  18. Hey Jessica!

    I'm embarrassed it has taken me this long to get over to your fabulous blog. Loved meeting you and Tameka in line for Judy Blume! Standing in line with awesome ladies always makes the time pass quickly. :)

    I was also totally bummed that my copy of Forever was all 2K10'd. I guess side ponytails and white-washed denim don't sell books anymore.... wouldn't it be awesome if some publisher had a vintage YA imprint with all the old Judy covers? And Sweet Valley, and Baby Sitters Club and Christopher Pike....oh man. This needs to happen!

    Anyway, LOVE your recap! You guys totally dominated the fest. I'm impressed! :)

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    1. That is seriously the best idea. Nostalgia Imprint would sell so many of those vintage book covers! Well, to me, anyway.

      It was so great meeting you! :-D

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  19. I could have sworn I came and commented on this blog already and said something like, BEST BOOK FESTIVAL BUDDY EVER!!!

    I am sure I also would have mentioned that getting Lev Grossman to sign the TIME review was a damn near genius idea! :-D

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