What They Said: The 2017 LA Times Festival of Books

This past year brought a cacophony of noise, with very little signal – which made this year’s LA Times festival of books even more of a joy than usual, and even dare I say a relief. Thousands of people, willing and eager to listen to actual conversation! People who both read AND listen! And as I sat, in panels, in auditoriums, around stages, listening to ideas being shared and explored, to patience, kindness, and curiosity, I found myself feeling as if a species I had thought extinct had suddenly reappeared before me. And it was wondrous to behold. So here’s a taste of what I heard and saw this year: 

“The secret to being human is, we’re all a little strange.”- Ellen Klages

“Characters are their relationships with other people” – Shannon Hale

“We have to stop acting like somehow literature is only pure when you take [all the romantic relationships] out.” – Seanan McGuire

“It doesn’t matter what the genre is when you’re talking about human emotion.” – Ellen Klages

“I like genres, they’re useful, but they’re a bit like clocks – it’s fun to take them apart and see how they work.” – Frances Hardinge

“What I want to see is sincerity. That’s what I want to see in anything I read.” – Seanan McGuire

“The only thing I’ve found that’s like a jam session is comics.” – Cecil Castellucci

“Color can make or break your book.” – Faith Erin Hicks

“I love that you can have these moments of pause, of silence, of quiet, in comics.” – Cecil Castellucci

On the feeling of completing a graphic novel: “You know those movies that people wake up with a knife in their hand, what did I do?!” – Matt Phelan

“I wouldn’t worry about stakes so much as purpose.” – Becky Chambers

“I always think identity is a totally personal choice.” – Kip Fulbeck

” ‘This is just the way it is ‘- this is a very dangerous trap in fall in, because we invent the rules.” – Becky Chambers

“We are all unique individuals, and it’s the thing we have in common, rather than the thing that sets us apart.” – Ellen Klages

“No one gets to tell you who you are. But that’s usually what people try to do.” – Kip Fulbeck

“When we talk borders and walls, our parents would never have met under those conditions.” – Velina Hasu Houston

On what a demagogue is: “1) I’m the only one to solve the problems of our time, 2) two groups, us who know everything I say is true, and the lying enemies, 3) shut off outside influences, don’t listen to anyone but me.” – Jeff Guinn

“Cults often turn into cultures – Christianity started out as as Roman cult.” – Douglas Preston

On whether Jim Jones today would still chose to be a minister: “I don’t think he would be a minister anymore. I think he would seek political office, probably the highest political office.” – Jeff Guinn

On inclusivity across all racial barriers: “Diversity is not just for white people.” – Velina Hasu Houston

“You have to tell the truth. But the truth is sometimes very ugly, and it damages other people.” – Douglas Preston

“If you’re not pissing off somebody, you’re not doing interesting work.” – Kip Fulbeck

“Readers count. Do something, just don’t bitch about it.” – Jeff Guinn

“Little victories. Change is glacial.” – Kip Fulbeck