Day one at Tucson Festival… The Pain!

2015 Tucson FoB_crowdDay one of the Tucson Festival of Books is complete. I didn’t get to see exactly every panel I wanted, (sorry Beth and Yvonne, I missed the kick-ass women) but it was still a fun and productive day.

That started quite a bit earlier than I expected. For some reason the dogs decided that 5 a.m. was playtime, so I gave up on that last hour of sleep and hit the road, hopped up on Dutch Brothers.

It was around Maricopa that I realized I’d forgotten my cane. The back would be angry.

It wasn’t too bad though, and I arrived early enough to grab a quick bite and great parking. Great parking has become a prime motivator for me.

The festival is amazing. The entire length of the UA campus is lined with booths hawking everything from new age remedies to celebrating the National Park System.

And the authors!

I did a recent write-up for the New Times featuring some of the big names at the Festival, and it barely scratches the surface.


Beth Cato Credit: Corey Ralston Photography

I started out at a panel on writing diversity featuring personal Austin Aslan and and the Valley’s best steampunk baker and Nebula nominee, Beth Cato. Joining them was Native American comic creator Jon Proudstar, author of the first Native American comic, Tribal Force. A great discussion about the importance of diversity and the dangers of stereotyping and appropriation. I tried to ask about the current row over J.K. Rowling’s “Magic in North America,” but we ran out of time.

At the signing afterwards, Beth surprised me with a copy of her upcoming novel, Breath of Earth. Due in August, it follows a mage who can control the earth in turn of the century San Francisco. She also shared her lemon, cornmeal shortbread cookies. They were a win. Austin was pretty excited about an upcoming panel with Paolo Bacigalupi — I’m looking forward to that one.

Terry Brooks

Terry Brooks

From there it was off to queue for the big panel of the day — Diana Gabaldon, Terry Brooks and Chuck Wendig talking about adapting to and from the big screen. Diana was regal, walking through the crowd, posing for fan photos, while Terry brought the house down with his “The book is better!” shirt.

I didn’t have anything for Diana or Terry, so I didn’t want to brave the ginormous line, especially with the people hauling multiple milk crates of books.

Fortunately Chuck’s line was much shorter, so I got to find out how I would die. Something to do with a serial killer on a book tour. He also remembered me, which made me feel good. Sometimes I feel like I’m toiling in anonymity, especially as updates have gotten less frequent. So it’s nice to see I’m making an impact. He even remembered our interview last year. We’ll be talking about the aftermath of Star Wars: Aftermath
tomorrow. Look for that interview somewhere in the coming months.


Weston Ochse

The day wrapped up with a panel on tough guys in sci-fi featuring the inimitable Sam Sykes, Weston Ochse, Jonathan Maberry and Jon Proudstar. Blame Sam, but this was easily the most fun of the day, starting with him telling dad jokes to Weston and finishing with an argument about Superman’s relative toughness. Sam also gave me a copy of his upcoming novel, The Mortal Tally, which features broken heroes and ape fights.

Then it was back to the hotel for a hot bath and some muscle relaxants.

Tomorrow is still a bit hazy. I’m going to try and catch a few panels, but my main priority is interviewing Chuck, Paolo and Charlie Jane Anders. Then it’s back to books

About Michael Senft

I am a freelance writer and critic from Phoenix Arizona. I spent 10 years covering music, the arts and pop culture for the “Arizona Republic” before life circumstances took me away from newspaper. But I never lost my joy at writing. Or reading.
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