LA Times Festival of Books ...

This last weekend was the LA Times Festival of Books.  I have somehow managed to live in LA for many years without ever attending.  This year, however, I find myself actual in the publishing industry ... so I decided to check it out.

The day got off to a nice start when I met and had lunch with picture book legend Laura "If you Give..." Numeroff, who is absolutely delightful.  Among topics discussed was the story of how she obtained an original piece of art from Stuart Little![1. Garth Williams is a favorite of mine; he was also a major touchstone for the art in Peter Nimble (more on that another day!).]

I also had a chance to meet up with writer and frankenblogger Matt Cunningham, who runs the Literary Asylum.[2. I've got an interview coming there soon ... you've been warned.]  Like myself, Matt is a screenwriter transitioning into publishing.  He is also an incredibly nice guy.  After walking the campus a few times, we stopped to watch Lisa Yee's presentation on the Target Stage[3. Fun fact: Matt is a Batman fanatic, and he acted as Lisa's resident expert for her newest book, Warp Speed.]

Today Lisa was reading excerpts from the American Girl books she wrote. Usually I would have no interest in hearing about a girl book, but Lisa's book also involves an awesome scene with monk seals ... and she was kind enough to bring along visual aids:

I very recently became involved with a group called the LAYAs (Los Angeles Young Adult Authors).  While my book is technically middle-grade, they were more than willing to welcome me into the fold.  This included participating in a trivia show on the YA Stage.  The event was moderated by author Cecil Castellucci, who solicited book-related questions from authors earlier in the week.[4. I should also mention that she was just last week hired on as the children's editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books -- congrats, Cecil!]  There I am in the middle, playing for "Team Holden":

This is quite literally the finale of the show.  Mike Reisman (Team Holden) is  squaring off with Kami Garcia (Team Scout) in a tie-breaking lightning round. Tragically, our team lost.  Even more tragically, we lost on a question that I wrote:

All of these major children’s authors wrote books set in England. One of them, however, actually grew up in America. Who was it?[5. The answer is Burnett, by the way ... a fact I know only because of my smartypants wife.]

a)    E. Nesbitt b)   P.L. Travers c)    Frances Hodgson Burnett d)   AA. Milne

I'm pretty sure this means my new LAYA friends will never talk to me again.