I just got home a little bit ago after spending the day at the Second Annual Tucson Festival of Books. What an amazing experience: the crowds, the sessions, the authors, and, of course, the learning opportunities afforded to participants, not to mention the opportunity to spend a small fortune on books!
Like last year, I took my 100+ year-old mother along. She, who can’t remember what she had for breakfast–or even if she had breakfast, saw the newspaper article a couple of weeks ago announcing the festival and declared that she wanted to go again. That she, who has always been a book lover, remembered having gone last year was pretty impressive. I was surprised but happy to make sure she got there.
Unlike last year, we actually spent the whole day, getting there around 10 a.m. when things were just getting started. And this year, we attended a couple of sessions. I decided that, even though she might not quite get what was being offered, it was my opportunity to get something for myself. I was very interested in a session on doing research for a novel, but I was terribly disappointed. The two authors did little more than interviewing some people by way of research for their books. One of them even announced at the outset that he knew nothing about researching. Hmm . . . one wonders why these two were selected (or did they offer it?) for this session. We didn’t stay the whole session; we left when the question/answer part began. I would have preferred to have someone who had a variety of research strategies to offer–ideas for where we might go for our own research.
The second session we attended was much better. The topic was writing about the ancient southwest, presented by renowned archaeologists, something I’m interested in because of the novel I’m struggling with, which is set at an archaeological site called Romero Ruin, just north of Tucson. The archaeological record is important as background for my book, and, indeed, important for telling the stories of two of my main characters, one a woman from the prehistoric record and another from the historic record. The stories of both of these women are told through the archaeological excavation of the novel’s setting. And my main (modern) character is, herself, an archaeologist who uncovers the artifacts that provide insights into the earlier women’s lives. J. Jefferson Reid, Stephanie Whittlesey, Steve Lekson, and David Stuart were superb in their revelations about the archaeology of the southwest, offering me insights that I really needed.
It might have been nice to go to other sessions, but I didn’t want to deprive my mother of the excitement of the crowds and tents and books (and food) on the mall.
My mother enjoyed her day, especially milling through the crowds, noticing the many dogs who accompanied their masters, and surveying the books that were on display in so many tents. She only bought two books; I, on the other hand, bought five. When we got home, she promptly sat down in her favorite chair and nodded off happily.