Lynn: I am just home from attending the L.A. Times Festival of Books last weekend. What an amazing event! We started Friday night with the awards ceremony where the winners of this year’s L.A. Times Book Prizes were announced in the gorgeous Bovard Auditorium on the USC campus. I was lucky enough to be one of three judges this year for the Young Adult category along with Angelina Benedetti and Rollie Welch. We had 5 tremendous books on our shortlist and it was a real struggle to choose a winner as they were all so good. We did eventually, of course, and the winner is A.S. King for Ask the Passengers (Little, Brown 2012). Three of our shortlisted authors were able to come and I greatly enjoyed meeting them: Martine Leavitt, Elizabeth Wein and A.S. King.
Saturday the Festival started and it was astonishing! Rows and rows of white tents lined the sidewalks and inside those tents were publishers, authors and illustrators signing books, activities for children, book-related vendors and so much more. There were performance stages with musicians and speakers, there were cooking demonstrations from authors of cook books, there were panel discussions with a star-studded list of authors and it was all free to the people of LA – a gift to the city from the Times. Discussion panels of more fabulous authors were also going on all over the campus and we judges were put to work being moderators. I moderated a wild panel on Sagas and Series with Jaclyn Moriarty, Ridley Pearson, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The weather joined in the celebration and gave us bright sunny skies and warm temperatures and the Festival was packed with happy book-lovers.
My thanks and admiration goes out to the super-organized Ann Binney and her super staff, the cheerful volunteers, the many participants and to the L.A. Times for their wonderful event. I’m home now in rainy Michigan and have started reading for next year’s prize already! Honest!