Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reflecting on The LA Times Festival of Books

By Jenny Hilborne
Author of mysteries and thrillers

As the Murder We Wrote team gathered bright and early last Saturday morning, we anticipated a fun-filled weekend on our booth at the LA Times Festival Of Books. We weren't disappointed.

First, if you've not yet attended the LA Times Festival Of Books, it's an exciting annual event and probably the largest congregation of authors and readers in the western US. The event attracts somewhere around 150,000 visitors each year. Live music, food, all kinds of books and all kinds of people can be found here. Famous authors and celebrity speakers meet and entertain their fans every year.
This year, TV crews were wandering the campus, interviewing authors on their booths. Perhaps that's happened before, but I hadn't noticed. Murder We Wrote attracted the attention of an interviewer from KPCC radio, Pasadena, who questioned Gayle Carline and me about our books, about the event, and asked about our concerns regarding safety in light of the tragedy in Boston. The presence of additional campus security helped put our minds at rest, so we could place our focus on enjoying the event and meeting our readers.

Murder We Wrote is a team of about ten mystery/thriller authors who gather several times a year at different book festivals and events in Southern California. Now in our 3rd year at the LA Times Festival Of Books - our biggest event - we've become great friends and we are becoming more well-known on the campus. We have our own growing fan base of readers who seek us out, compliment us on the books they purchased from us the previous year, and ask us about our new releases. It's a wonderful feeling, and a real pleasure to chat with these people who come back each year to see and support us.

Our team name attracts a lot of attention, and an interesting moment on our booth this year came when we met Tom B Sawyer. He'd noticed our banner and strode over to introduce himself. Turns out Tom is a novelist, screenwriter, and playright. As the Head Writer/Showrunner, he wrote 24 episodes for the TV mystery series Murder, She Wrote. He enjoyed the twist on the name and it was our pleasure to meet him.

We also had the pleasure of meeting Kate Yackley, Vice President of Advertising for the Los Angeles Times. As a fellow Brit, she and I enjoyed reminiscing a little about our homeland, before she purchased a copy of my latest release, STONE COLD; a Brit thriller she said she was looking forward to reading. My thanks again to Linda Boulanger, owner of TreasureLine Publishing, for such a great cover. Stone Cold was my biggest seller at the festival and the cover drew many compliments.

Murder We Wrote offers a varied selection of mysteries and thrillers, including humor from Gayle Carline, Terry Ambrose, and Jim Stevens; my own psychological and suspense; legal by Teresa Burrell; romantic suspense by Anne Carter (aka Pam Ripling), noir by Paul D Marks, and paranormal romance by Susan Griscom. We had a lot to offer and we encouraged readers to browse.

For 2 days talked about books with thousands of readers who wanted to hear all about them...or so we thought. One of the funnier things we heard came from one or two visitors to our booth who, when prompted: "what kind of mysteries do you like to read?" responded with: "Oh, I don't read books." Yes, it left us without a response and wondering why they were at the book festival.

Another cute visitor was a gorgeous little 11 year-old girl who tried her hardest to convince us she was "quite mature" and ready to read our dark and gritty thrillers. We gave her a lollipop instead and she went away contented.

Not everyone at the festival is a reader. Our booth attracts its fair share of authors looking for advice on how to get started, how to find an agent, a cover designer, editor and so on. We especially loved it when young people told us they write. We attracted other sorts, too...and certain types of behavior we don't encourage at a book festival (which Gayle Carline will cover in a later post).

We all worked hard in the heat, sold lots of books, and still found the time for a good laugh. Here's Gayle Carline to prove it. I have no idea what she's laughing at, but this was the mood on our booth for the whole weekend.

As 5 o'clock rolled around on Sunday, we sat back for a few minutes to reflect, made plans for other events, then packed up our booth, said our goodbyes, and headed out in 8 or 9 opposite directions.

I know we'd all like to send our huge thanks to the thousands and thousands of readers who attended the festival. Once again, you made this such a fun event for all of us authors, and we look forward to seeing you again next year. 

Below is editor Jodie Renner's very helpful link to a list of other book festivals across North America for 3013-2014


  1. It was a fun weekend, Jenny. I loved sharing a corner with you - we should do this again!

  2. Definitely, Gayle. It's such a great festival to attend.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Jenny! Sounds like a lot of fun! And good weather, too! I really must try to make it to this book festival next year, and stop by and chat with you all. Good stuff!

  4. We'd love to see you, Jodie. It's always a lot of fun and quite a few CFC contributors are part of Murder We Wrote.

  5. It looks like you all had a great time. Book festivals are awesome.

  6. Great to read all this from afar. And the concept of working together under the 'Murder We Wrote' flag is really inspiring... Consider yourselves lucky in such a supportive group.


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