One passion my oldest friend and I have always shared, since we were little girls, is for the written word. We both dreamed of being writers, we both wrote and read obsessively. As women, we both participate in Nanowrimo every year and are always comparing notes on books.
So when I saw there was a massive book fair going on at the USC campus when we were there, I didn't see how we could stay away. And I wasn't disappointed.
|Behold USC's Tommy Trojan|
As it was, on this sunny Sunday, I was dazzled by a sea of booths with white canvas roofs. All filled with books and authors! Chicago has a similar annual event, The Printer's Row Lit Fest (sponsored by The LA Times' big sister, The Chicago Tribune), but it doesn't sprawl through a big campus like this fair does.
I met two authors whose work I have enjoyed, and I acted quite starstruck.
First, Hallie Ephron. I read her earlier book, There Was an Old Woman, and quite liked it. It wasn't the plotting -- I figured out whodunnit rather early on -- but the details that touched my heart. The "old woman" of the title displayed Empire State Building collectibles because she worked there at the time of the 1945 crash (which I'd known nothing about until the book) and a drawer of "get well" and sympathy cards, stamped and ready to go, because that was the reality of her friends' lives at this time. When I told Hallie how memorable those little traits were, how they brought her character to life for me, she said, "Thank you. If I could, I'd jump over this table and give you a hug." She signed a copy of her new book (Night, Night, Sleep Tight) for me.
Then I got to say something that meant a great deal to me. "I miss Nora." Nora Ephron's kid sister smiled and said, "I miss her, too."
Then I met Lisa Scottoline. A NY Times best selling author of the popular Rosato and Associates series about an all-woman Philadelphia law firm. Seriously, she's sold like a gazillion books, and quite a few were sold to me.
I can't believe this, but I told this rock star of a mystery writer that "next time" she should "add more Murphy." Anne Murphy is my favorite of the fictional lawyers and she's gotten short shrift in Scottoline's recent efforts. "She'll be in the next one," Scottoline assured me. "I've got to give each girl a turn." She didn't sound anywhere near as interested in thoughts as Hallie had been. And why should she be? Do I have brass balls or what?
Scottoline did tell me that the evil sister adventure in Think Twice was loosely based on her own tribulations with a suddenly discovered, rather awful sibling. I thought, "how fascinating." At the same book table were two authors -- one who had a dream of an older sister and one who suffered a nightmare older sister. And then there was me, with my own heinous sister issues.
By the way, Lisa Scottoline looks just as good as on her book jackets and is a slim and stylish 59 year old. Good for her!
Whenever I travel, I always bring back something for the team at the office. Because we had such fun at the LA Times festival, I chose these matchboxes, each one bearing the cover of a classic book. I disposed of the matches before I checked out of the hotel. I can't imagine how the TSA would respond to someone trying to board with more than 300 matches in her carry on.