What They Said: The 2016 LA Times Festival of Books

LA Times Book Festival 2016 banner

Rain AND shine, the book lovers of Los Angeles showed up in droves once again (destroying two stereotypes in one go) for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – and as always, my only regret was that I couldn’t be in three places at once! So here are some snatches from the booktiferous splendor that took place this year:


“Whenever I sit down to write a book, I worry – and then I remember someone already hates it.” Cecil Castellucci

Sarah Rees Brennan on world-building: “How do you screw over your characters, that’s where you start.”

“Humor is very difficult, because it is so culturally specific.” – Tessa Dare

Ransom Riggs, on figuring out plot along the way: “You just have to make it look like you meant to do that.”

“The book is just the journey I was on.” – Michael Buckley


“I’m not adverse to being labeled, but I don’t think any writer wants to be pigeon-holed.” – Robert J. Sawyer

“We have literary forms. We have the sonnet. We have the haiku. We have the romance novel.” – Tessa Dare

“All popular fiction follows a set of rules. If you read a mystery, and at the end the detective says, ‘I guess we’ll never know,’ that book would sail across the room.”         – Susan Mallery

IMAG0095“The challenging thing about historical fiction is people are looking for you to mess up.” – Cat Winters

“Two things you have to get right: guns and horses. They will never forgive you.” – Beth Cato

“Your microfiche librarian becomes like your crack addict. (whisper) Can you get me 1977?” – Meg Medina

“There are always going to be stories about human relationships, whether it’s on-trend to call it ‘romance‘ or not.” – Ann A. McDonald

” ‘We’re not science fiction.’ That really does hurt us, when people making science fiction don’t want the label.” – Robert J. Sawyer

“In a way, science fiction has won. We are living in a science fiction novel.” – Kim Stanley Robinson

“It’s a very American thing, this subdivision into categories.”Robert J. Sawyer

“Someone else’s identity should never threaten yours.” – Romina Russell

IMAG0118Tessa Dare, on how things were before the self-pub era: “Writers used to be supplicants to publishers. You know that scene in Toy Story, with the aliens in the machine? ‘The claw has chosen!’ Being an aspiring author was like being one of those toys. You just hoped the thing came for you.”

“Fear is a tremendous motivator.” – Susan Mallery, on writing

Mercedes Lackey, on her advice to aspiring writers: “Ass glue. Glue your ass to the chair, and write.”

“Write what you can find out about.” – Robert J. Sawyer


“All of science fiction is allegorical.” – Kim Stanley Robinson

“Science fiction is a laboratory for thought experiments that would be unpractical and unethical in real life.” – Robert J. Sawyer

“What should we do – if a scientist is being honest, he’ll say, ‘not my job’.” – Kim Stanley Robinson

“The full expression of humanity is also to be inhuman.” – Viet Thanh Nguyen

“War is often used as a cover for many crimes.” – Dawn MacKeen

“Depressing but inevitable that it keeps coming back to politics.” – Kim Stanley Robinson

Rita Gabis, on life after war: “People survive, and they can thrive, but… it’s never over.”

“If you give in to cynicism or pessimism, then we lose.” Kim Stanley Robinson