The Tucson Festival of Books: A Recap

Tucson Festival of Books 2016

Tucson Festival of Books 2016

 The Tucson Festival of Books was fabulous this past weekend, with 350 authors, countless performers and volunteers, and over 130,000 attendees occupying the University of Arizona’s sunny campus. The children’s and YA authors were highlighted in six tracks of panels at the College of Education, so the big challenge was deciding which event to attend.

Lacy Farris, Tiffany Appell, Kristy Landavazo and Caragh O'Brien

Lacy Farris, Tiffany Appell, Kristy Landavazo and Caragh O’Brien

Saturday, I began with a podcast interview in a small, enclosed tent. It was cool and shady inside compared to the hot bustle beyond the flaps. Tiffany Appell and Kristy Landavazo, two high school students who knew my books, asked me thoughtful questions about writing while Lacy Farris offered quiet moral support. Special thanks to Amy Morris and Reyes Suanez who handled the technical aspects of the recording, and Pam, the librarian who coordinated the interview. It was a neat experience.


Caragh O’Brien and Tui Sutherland

Just before my panel with Rae Carson and Margaret Peterson Haddix, I learned that Rae and Margaret were once in the same writers’ group, so they were friends already. It was easy to talk to them, and our moderator, Susan Corapi, kept us on track with her carefully prepared questions about the challenges of writing multiple series. Check out Rae’s Walk on Earth a Stranger for an amazing gold rush story, and Margaret’s great Missing series which begins when 30 babies appear on a mysterious plane. 


Karen Benson, Caragh O’Brien, and Jenny MacRunnel

I had a lovely time meeting up with old friends Cammie McGovern, whose Just My Luck is a gripping, unique MG novel (I consumed it on my plane ride home), and Tui Sutherland, author of the dragon books my nephew loves (the Wings of Fire series). I also met up with two of my Goodreads friends, Karen Benson and Jenny MacRunnel, and had the chance to make new friends, too. Everyone was friendly and happy to be there.

On Sunday, I enjoyed my second panel with Zac Brewer, Carol Goodman, and Sara Raasch. Our moderator Celeste Trimble opened up our discussion about world building, and I especially appreciated the way Zac encouraged a writer in the audience, and the rest of us writers, too, to be fearless.


Caragh O’Brien and Karen Stephens, who kindly picked me up from the airport at 2 AM!

I left inspired and buzzing with new ideas. I love the book community and the way people come together around reading and imagination. Special thanks to Kathy Short who organized the children’s and young adult portion of the TFOB, and to the volunteers who made the logistics of my trip so easy: Karen Stephens, Julie Andrews, and Jerry Short. You have something great happening in Tucson, and it was a pleasure to be a part of it.

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