LA Times Festival of Books


“Once you have your readers and your characters in the palm of your hand, you can do anything.”

–Laurie Halse Anderson


Young Adult Fiction: Adrenaline Rush panel. From left: Lauren Oliver, Stephanie Kuehn, Abby McDonald, Sarah Skilton, and moderator Aaron Hartzler

“One of my favorite things to do is go on Goodreads and search one-star reviews for classics. One of them, for Harold and the Purple Crayon, said: ‘This book is monochromatic and infantile.’”

–Lauren Oliver

Having been at UCLA working on my undergrad degree while the LA Times Festival of Books was held there, you’d think I would have attended. But I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer then, despite being an English major and taking an undergrad creative writing workshop (this probably should have tipped me off). Plus, the influx of children on campus during the event made me think it was a kid-focused event and discouraged me from seeking further info about it.

So when I finally went to the Festival of Books for the first time a couple weekends ago, I was appalled that I had never attended. Such a wealth of authors and inspiration. I attended six panels and two and a half author conversations. I learned from Laurie Halse Anderson, Veronica Roth, Rainbow Rowell, Ruth Ozeki, Marissa Meyer, to name a few. There were too many events happening simultaneously to choose between, and I only wished I could have attended more! I was especially sad to miss out on John Green, but his conversation conflicted with another panel I just had to attend.

The children, by the way, did not detract from the experience at all. (We will say nothing about the campus on which the event is now held, though I will say I took the LA Metro for the first time to get there and it was incredibly easy and cost-effective).

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These days I’m rereading Tenth of December in preparation to lead a book group about it next month. I love George Saunders and it is oh-so-good. Can’t decide which story is my favorite. My writing group has recently accepted a new member, an awesome writer I met at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference last summer (check out my welcome blog post for him here). And my work for The Riding Light Review is moving steadily along. I’m reading, editing, and writing—in my recent RLR blog post, I share how my love affair with books began. As for ClayQuarry, I’m prepping for my May shows with plenty of sculpting and I’ve been experimenting with making canes and slicing them for nail art embellishments!photo (3)