Well read

The Tucson Festival of Books is on, and there are a ton of authors here, some native to the region and others drawn in part, no doubt, by +/- 70 degree weather. I attended a panel on YA fantasy yesterday, and may try to go see Scott Simon today (not because I’ve read his novel, but just because I find him so damned likable) (he didn’t host Weekend Edition yesterday…I don’t recall the stated reason why; “away,” perhaps—an appealingly vague description).

The YA panel was with Charles de Lint and Alice Hoffman and Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Horrible confession: I haven’t read ANY of them. Well. I think I may have read Practical Magic, but I don’t recall much about it. But I always like to hear writers talk about writing. Which is why the panel was occasionally frustrating to me: it turned out to be less of a craft conversation than I’d hoped. Alice Hoffman and de Lint in particular (N. Hoffman seemed more introverted) had a lot of interesting things to say and would try to redirect questions as best they could, but I just felt that the moderator steered the conversation into writing-irrelevant waters (ie, What are some movies that were influential to you when you were young?). Honestly, that’s the kind of thing that one can find out online…to be fair, the moderator also asked about influential books, but that info is ALSO available online. Do some research. Prompt them to talk about things you can’t find on Wikipedia.

I guess that’s the nicest angle I can apply to one of the audience questions…an elderly woman felt compelled to lower the level of discourse by moralizing about how appalling it is to encounter SEX in books, and how she thought it was so nice that YA books don’t have sex. de Lint gently inquired if she reads much contemporary YA. Following this unexpected and wholly irrelevant diversion, the woman behind me said to her companion in a loud stage whisper, “WTF?” Hee.

I’m kind of being a hater here, and I don’t mean to be. De Lint talked about his views on self-publishing, pointing out that writing is the one form of art in which creating one’s own distribution channel is looked down upon. What an interesting point. To me, however, publishing through traditional channels implies a vetting process (much like finding an artist in a gallery implies a vetting process). There’s loads of bad art out there, and while many examples hang in galleries and appear on the shelves in Border’s, there’s much worse stuff being shopped around and rejected (examples of unvetted work abound on regretsy).

Anyhoo. It’s an interesting to think about. When I’ve started submitting stories and racking up rejections, maybe I’ll change my tune.


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