by staff writer Laura Davis
That’s it for LATFOB 2013. What a dizzying assortment of books, talks, characters and people! The Trojan marching band was spectacular despite the heat, and it seemed that after a week of heartbreaking and terrifying news, everyone was ready to enjoy a pleasant weekend. Festival organizers made not only the impressive food court at USC available to attendees this year, but about a dozen gourmet food trucks were also on hand, so people had a huge variety of choices, and were generally able to get food in a reasonable length of time. Many festival fans are still upset over the venue change from UCLA to USC, but USC has plenty of shade and plenty of places to sit and take a break, a flat campus, and better parking and accessibility. As great as the festival was at UCLA, it’s better at USC.
This year, Warner Bros. had an even greater presence in the Children’s area, featuring the Mystery Machine and Scooby Doo, and Justice League characters, activities, and photo opps. Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Flash put in an appearance on the children’s stage to read from I Am Aquaman: Justice League Visits Atlantis, and the kids were mesmerized.
Lucy Dahl, daughter of Roald Dahl and inspiration for his Matilda, gave a warm talk, and in reply to a question about advice for young writers, she shared a letter written to her by her father on December 10, 1986, while he was writing Matilda:
“Dear Luke (that was his nickname for Lucy, she explains), the reason I haven’t written for a long time is that I have been giving every moment to a children’s book…and now at last, it’s finished and I know jolly well I’m going to have to spend the next 3 months re-writing the second half. The first half is great, about a girl who can move things with her eyes, and about a terrible headmistress who lifts small children up by their hair and hangs them out of the upstairs windows by one ear. But I have got now to think of a really decent second half, the present one will al be scrapped: three months’ work gone out of the window. But that’s the way it is. I must have re-written Charlie 5 or 6 times, although no one knows it.” She laughs and adds, “Well, now you do! So, I think that to answer [the] question, it’s not easy to write stories and to get them right. I know that one of his biggest fears while writing, and I’ve heard him say this many times, was to lose the attention of his reader and to keep them with him all of the time.”
Authors Austin Grossman, Scott Hutchins, Lydia Netzer, and Robin Sloan formed a lively panel, Fiction from the 22nd Century; and John Scalzi gave a great talk, in conversation with Richard Kadrey. We’ll feature full coverage on both of these events shortly. Stay tuned!