Monday, October 03, 2005

WEHO Book Fair Wrap Up

I love books. And I love book fairs/festivals. And this weekend, I had the best time at the West Hollywood Book Fair. Started my morning off participating on a panel with Adreana Robbins, Seth Greenland, and Frances Norris called In The Beginning: On Writing The First Novel.

I think between the four of us, we served up enough advice and information for all the aspiring novelists in the audience. It's weird being on the other side of the panel. A year ago, I was sitting in the audience... dreaming of publication!.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun... and the best part is that we all were equally entertaining and no one was a panel monopolizer. (Because I'm sure you all have been to panels where the most boring person on the panel goes on and on and on and on... and on, and then you realize you're asleep or waking up or doodling or texting someone) Well, Adreana, Seth, Frances and I were a great team. No snooze factor there!

Let's see. I saw a lot of writers and friends: Bebe Moore Campbell (wonderful speaker and exudes so much class... love her!), Denise Hamilton (great L.A. mystery writer), Kerry Madden (my mentor), Gary Phillips (an L.A. legend), Michael Datcher and Jenoyne Adams (the husband and wife literary team conquering the world), Lisa Teasley (fun and insightful writer and speaker), Leslie Schwartz (who pushed for me to get into the PEN Emerging Voices program), Ben Patrick Johnson (you've heard his voice in tons of commercials), and others.

They saved the best for last. The most fun panel I watched was the Chewing on Chick Lit panel, featuring Liza Palmer, Mary Castillo, Jennifer Coburn, and Tamara Gregory. No snooze factor here either. But of course, when you write books that are popular and entertain, that's to be expected. What I liked most about the panel was they were wholeheartedly confident in writing about and for women, and felt no need to apologize to the "literary critics" who say that entertaining people in books is bad. Such a great group!

One of the panelists, and I can't remember which one, said what's the point of writing beautiful prose, with all the literary elements, big words, themes, blah blah blah... if your reader falls asleep or puts the book down at page nine... forever! Never to be picked up again. That the job of the writer is to make sure the reader makes it to the end of the book.

I think there is room for all types of books and literature, and that all types can be successful in their own way, but I also think that in a world where there's so much doom and gloom, a nice entertaining book can make your day and help you escape for a few hours. And obviously readers agree, since chick lit is one of the fastest growing genres of books out there.

Some books you might want to check out, that I think I'll like since hearing the authors talk about them: 72 Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell and Passport Diaries by Tamara Gregory and Blue Plate Special by Frances Norris. Bebe Moore Campbell's novel centers on mental illness and families, something I didn't think I'd necessarily be interested in, but after hearing her speak on her panel I was sold on the book. And Tamara Gregory's book is a nice new addition to the chick lit genre, with a bold black heroine who travels around the world and keeps a travel diary of her experiences. Something new and unique. And I've already read one of her books, but I want to check out the entire collection by Paula Woods, who writes mysteries set in L.A., and the heroine is a black, female cop named Charlotte Justice. Inner City Blues was awesome!

Anyway, great day. Wished you were there!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tayari Jones author of The Untelling was on a local talk show here in Atlanta. She was wonderful,insightful and just down to earth.

Side note: I wonder whatever happen to April Sinclair, author of "Coffee will make you black". I have not seen new work from her in years now.

Kevin C