My back aches, my hips hurt, and my scalp is sunburnt. That can mean only one thing: I spent Sunday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books 2012 with Matt and I’ve got to say, it was pretty great. Actually, I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to a book festival or any other event that had panels with writers. Still never been to a convention, but this was like a Con sampler platter. The verdict? It’s awesome being surrounded by people that like books, science fiction, fantasy, and being geeky as much as you do.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We woke up bright and early with a schedule in mind and drove off to USC. Wow it’s huge. I got edumacated at Cal State Long Beach and I thought that was a big campus. But dude, there are streets in the middle of the campus and giant buildings that are so tall they look crooked and magnificent architecture that reeks of history and…
Oh dear. I’m geeking out over the hugeness of the campus. This isn’t a good sign. Once we arrived, we walked around for a bit and spotted The Mystery Machine before I grabbed a cup of The Nastiest Coffee I’ve Ever Had. After that, we headed over to our first panel of the day, “Worldbuilding.” On the panel were John Scalzi, Lev Grossman, and Frank Beddor with Charles Yu moderating. All in all, a great way to start the day with lots of back and forth about the role of fan fiction in modern literary culture in terms of fan vs. author propriety over a created world. The whole thing was interesting. Of particular interest was the point when Lev noted that worldbuilding is like creating a DnD campaign–you create the world in which an adventure occurs. John then offered an interesting example of creating a world from without vs. creating one from within by using intelligent design and evolution as examples. That is, you can either create a world and manipulate every little characteristic of it before setting your characters into it to play; or, you can establish characters and let them and what they do dictate what the world needs to be. He used Middle Earth and Narnia as examples of this.
Other things discussed: authorial intent, Dumbledore’s sexuality, and how in Tolkien’s world, everyone is always rolling for initiative. Have I mentioned how awesome it was to be surrounded by nerds?
Booths! So many booths!
Following the panel, we stretched our legs a bit and hurried over to the food court area and inhaled some pizza before deciding on what to do next. See, I had panel tickets to see Anne Rice interviewed. I love Anne Rice and would have loved to hear her speak. But at the exact same time, Betty White was scheduled to be interviewed.
Betty White's Official Security Guard looking official
So yes, we stood around outside after failing to get seats and watched Betty White be interviewed about her love of animals. I just love her. Who doesn’t love her? I mean, really. Doesn’t she sort of remind everyone of their grandmother?
Next up, we walked around some more, tried to look at some books and failed because the crowds had gotten so massive. If I’m going to buy books, I need to know exactly what I’m getting ahead of time. Or, I need to have the time to browse at a leisurely pace. That just wasn’t going to happen. Though I did spot some amazing handmade leather journals and satchels that I wanted, nay, coveted!
We wandered over to the auditorium where the next panel was going to be and took an obligatory picture of Tommy the Trojan. Of course, I found him to be a bit disappointing. Seriously, look at how the statue is rendered on the festival map:
And look at it’s actual size:
The Unimpressive Trojan
Now, yes, it’s a very nice statue. But dude. I was picturing a ginormous piece of stonework. Something towering and imposing that would make me believe in an all-knowing deity. All I’m saying is I was a little disappointed.
And here we are in front of the statue. Aren’t we cute? Or, er, something like that. And hey, even though I missed the Anne Rice panel, Matt still got a photo of her. Yay!
After all of this excitement, it was time to settle in for our last engagement of the day: the nerd panel. Officially titled, “The Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth,” the panel included Maureen Johnson, John Scalzi, Pamela Ribon, and Amber Benson interviewing. It. Kicked. Ass.
They talked about a variety of nerdy subjects including the rise of the nerd in modern culture, bullying, how nerds are unapologetically enthusiastic, and more. But mostly, they flew off topic in a myriad of directions and I laughed so hard I hurt. It’s hard to describe the panel unless you were there. So I may just have to word salad this business:
Sports nerds, trapeze, Maureen’s stare, flipper Scalzi, stranger cookies, and girl-horse breakup videos.
In short: it was a good time.
And that concludes this wrap-up post. If you went to the festival, be sure to leave a comment and let me know how you liked the event. And what the holy crap was the “suspicious package” business about? Somebody left a taped up backpack in the $5 bookstore booth and the police were called. By the time we were leaving USC, it seemed like all the police showed up. Thankfully, the bag was only filled with newspapers. Crazy pants!
I may have one more post about the Festival of Books up my sleeve. It’s not about anything important, but I overhear people say funny things and they may warrant a post of their own.